Dexter's greatest kills span the entire series, from the personal to the darkly comic.
When Dexter was airing on Showtime, it was one of the most popular series of the time. The only way that a show with a serial killer villain worked (besides the charm of Michael C. Hall) is if his villains were even more horrible, and for the most part, they were (you’ll notice one season is completely missing from this list). From the personally satisfying to the darkly comic, these kills are the best of the long-running show.
10. Dr. Meridian – Season 1
One of Dexter’s earliest kills, Dr. Meridian (Tony Goldwyn), gets on the radar of the Bay Harbor Butcher after he encourages a woman to commit suicide. Dexter discovers this is a pattern that makes the evil psychiatrist fit his code, and what makes the kill so satisfying is that Meridian is unrepentantly evil. That and to get close, everyone’s favorite serial killer poses as a patient, seeking help for his relationship with Rita (Julie Benz).
Dr. Meridian is so good at what he does that Dexter takes the step to make sure he’s gagged while strapped to the table, just in case he’s able to talk his way out of being killed. Ever the gentleman, Dexter makes it a point to thank him for the help in repairing his relationship, one of the earliest and still best moments of the series’ trademark dark humor.
9. Ken Olson – Season 2
Dr. Meridian never got his hands dirty, something that Ken Olson (Silas Weir Mitchell) does highly ineffectively as he tries to blame his own murders on the Bay Harbor Butcher. Olson’s first victim is his boss, followed by a burglar that picked the wrong retirement home, with each one designed to point the blame at Dexter. Later seasons show that Dexter has very strong feelings towards being blamed for the crimes of others, especially by someone that’s very bad at it, which leads to one of the best kill room discussions of the series.
After Olson figures out who the real Bay Harbor Butcher is, proving that he’s one of the many, many characters smarter than Batista (David Zayas), Dexter needs to take him out of the equation. The result is a kill room in which he has to explain how to actually set up a proper kill room to Olson, pointing out all the things that the copycat did wrong in the process. Short, simple, and darkly comic, all the ingredients for a satisfying murder in the backward show that makes a villain the hero.
8. Miguel Prado – Season 3
The main villain of Season 3, Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits), takes the time to befriend Dexter, forming a real relationship with the blood splatter expert and learning the secrets of how to be a serial killer in the process. Or so he thinks, using the “dump a body in an open grave” technique on Ellen Wolf (Anne Ramsey), a defense attorney that has publicly embarrassed him. Doing so makes Prado a target since he killed without following Harry’s Code.
When Prado is finally strapped to a table, it’s the culmination of a season-long storyline, making it one of the more emotional kills in the series. Dexter berates his former best friend for killing selfishly, explaining that’s the difference between them, even if it sounds more and more like he’s trying to convince himself that he’s different. The other reason this is a great kill is that Prado gets to be grating and annoying, and once he’s dead, the audience no longer has to deal with him.
7. Zoey Kruger – Season 4
Officer Zoey Kruger (Christina Cox) took advantage of her position and her department-issued firearm to kill her family and set up a drug dealer to take the fall. Catching on that Dexter is investigating her case, Kruger takes the initiative, trying to intimidate, threaten, and then commit straight-up murder to keep herself out of prison. The first suspect to break into Dexter’s house, Kruger realizes far too late that it’s not the justice system she has to worry about.
Dexter, enacting poetic justice, sets up her daughter’s room as a kill room, complete with a photo of the family she murdered when she was supposed to love and protect. At the moment, it’s a satisfying kill because justice was served for innocents that didn’t deserve it, but in retrospect, it’s even better considering the themes involved and where Season 4 ends up.
6. Brian Moser – Season 1
The first season-long villain, Brian Moser (Christian Carmago), is not only the infamous “Ice Truck Killer,” but also Dexter’s older brother. Presented as an opposite to Dexter, Moser’s kills are devoid of blood, and he’s not following any code, instead killing because he wants to, their cat-and-mouse game echoes through the rest of the series.
Brian provides a glimpse of the path that Dexter could have walked if he was never adopted by Harry. Placed in a series of psychiatric hospitals, the future Ice Truck Killer was, like his younger brother, diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, but without a support system, he gave into his worst instincts. While the kill was immensely satisfying, especially since Dexter saved Deb’s (Jennifer Carpenter) life in the process, the late twist of Moser’s real identity robbed it of being as impactful as the later kills.
5. Santos Jimenz – Season 2
Santos Jimenz (Tony Amendola) is responsible for Dexter being who he is since, after all, he was the one that chopped up his mother using a chainsaw, showering a young Bay Harbor Butcher in blood. In Season 2, he finally gets revenge by chopping Jimenz into little pieces using a chainsaw. Not following his usual methods of careful cuts with a precise blade, the chainsaw was poetic but messy.
The personal kill still complies with the code because Jimenz was a drug dealer, a murderer, and again, that small incident with a chainsaw. Even when enacting revenge that’s been simmering for his entire life, Dexter manages to honor the code and stop himself from sliding as far as his brother and the other killers on this list.
4. Joe Walker – Season 6
Joe Walker (John Brotherton), a former star athlete from Dexter’s old high school, married and killed another of their classmates to avoid an expensive divorce. The secret comes out throughout a painfully awkward high school reunion, which was one of the heights of black comedy in the latter seasons. Showing no remorse or much emotion at all, Walker outs himself as a killer and earns himself a place on the kill table.
In another poetic twist, Dexter’s quickly cobbled-together kill room uses a football scoreboard. Desperate to plead for his life, Walker keeps trying different arguments as to why he should live, with the brilliant deadpan delivery of Dexter shooting each of them down. From the location to the circumstances and the doofus nature of Walker, this kill is one of the highlights of his killing career.
3. Oliver Saxon – Season 8
A seemingly random act of violence that was, in reality, carefully orchestrated, Dexter managed to kill Oliver Saxon (Darri Ingolfsson) in clear view of a security camera and get away with it. Saxon, known as “The Brain Surgeon” serial killer, managed to escape from a kill table earlier thanks to the unfortunate timing of Deb. In the aftermath, he shot Deb and put her into a coma, which she’d never wake up from, and ensured that he was going to be killed if it was the last thing Dexter did.
And it almost was, as Saxon is the last kill in the original series. It’s fitting that before Dexter left to become a lumberjack, he’d take care of one of the most brutal killers in the show’s history. If it wasn’t for all of the other issues with the final season, this kill would be more fondly remembered by the fans.
2. Lila – Season 2
From a love interest to a dangerous killer, Lila’s (Jaime Murray) obsession with Dexter nearly ruins his life, Rita’s, and even Batista’s. A chance meeting in AA had them cross paths, and another random meeting later, between Lila and Doakes (Erik King), results in her burning the officer alive to help protect Dexter’s secret. Fire becomes Lila’s weapon of choice, using it to cover her tracks by burning her apartment (twice) to the ground, with Rita’s kids inside it the second time.
Eventually, Dexter racks up frequent flier miles to take her down, tracking her to Paris and, finally, putting her down. At the time, it was hard to imagine anyone being a bigger threat to Dexter’s life then Lila’s crazed obsession, but that’s why her death is only second on the list, and first goes to the worst (best) villain in the series.
1. The Trinity Killer – Season 4
The greatest villain in the series, one of the greatest of all time on any show, Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), goes head-to-head with Dexter, and though he loses his wife, he wins the war. While being killed, Arthur reveals what he’s already done, killing Rita, the one person connecting Dexter to what could be considered a “normal” life. This one act sets in motion the slow turning wheel of fate for everyone’s favorite serial killer as well, influencing every following season and even the sequel series Dexter: New Blood.
Dexter should have let Arthur fall onto the rebar while building a Habitat for Humanity home. Quick and completely accidental, an early kill would have saved Rita’s life and spared Harrison from experiencing the same trauma as his father. Arthur nearly got away with all of his kills, gave Dexter the best chase of any season-long villain, and most of all, John Lithgow proved just how amazing he is as an actor, given his chilling portrayal of the serial killer.