The television adaptation has so far completed five season and is produced by Showtime.
- Season One
Season one follows closely to its novel counterpart, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. We are introduced to Dexter and his hidden secret (of killing the baddies) and the others in his life; Deborah, his foul-mouthed sister; Rita, his girlfriend and her two children, Cody and Astor; fellow workers Lt. Maria La Guerta, Angel Batista, Vince Masuka and Dexter’s enemy, Sergeant James Doakes.
The central focus of this season is the “ice-truck killer”, a killer who drains a corpse, cuts up the bodies, and then leaves them to be found like lovely gifts. Deborah starts dating Rudy Cooper, a prosthetics doctor while Dexter begins a more intimate relationship with Rita. However, Cooper is actually Dexter’s biological brother, Brian and is behind the murders. He kidnaps Deborah (now his fiancee) and takes her to their childhood home, where he lures Dexter to join him in killing her. However, Dexter saves Deborah without revealing his true self and he eventually kills Brian.
At the same time Rita’s abusive ex-husband, Paul, is released from prison and starts spending time with Rita and the children. After he threatens Dexter and tells him he’ll get Rita, Dexter knocks him out and sets it up that Paul’s using heroin again. Only when Paul is in jail does he tell Rita that Dexter set him up.
- Season Two
*Fun Fact: The season two premiere, “It’s Alive” of Dexter was the first Showtime television show to have more than a million viewers tuning in for the premiere, with 1.09 viewers watching in America.
Season Two begins with Dexter still having traumatic flash-backs after killing his biological brother, Brian, in the previous season, and he hasn’t killed in a month. At the same time Deborah is traumatised by her own experiences with Brian and moves in with Dexter, further complicating his life.
During this time scuba divers find the tens of bodies that Dexter has thrown into the harbour, which sets off a mass investigation, with FBI Special Agent Frank Lundy coming to Miami to head the investigation. Deborah becomes romantically interested with Lundy, despite their age difference, and media hype surrounds the “Bay Harbour Butcher” the term given (unknowingly) to Dexter after they learn that the bodies belonged to criminals.
Dexter’s relationship with Rita goes from bad to worse in this season. After learning that Dexter set up Paul (her ex-husband) with heroin, she believes that Dexter is an addict and makes him attend NA meetings, where he meets Lila. Lila, a recovering heroin addict, becomes attached to Dexter, even when she eventually learns that he is a killer. Rita breaks up with Dexter after she finds out that he slept with Lila, who he then starts a relationship with.
Dexter’s nemesis, Doakes, follows Dexter and learns that he is in NA meetings, but doesn’t believe he is an addict. After breaking into his home he finds his blood slides and realises that Dexter is the Bay Harbour Butcher. However, before he can go to the police (who through a set of twisted circumstances, believe that DOAKES is the killer) Dexter locks Doakes up in an abandoned shack in the Everglades. Although he doesn’t let him go, Dexter stops having to worry about Doakes when Lila founds out the truth and blows up the shack…with Doakes still in it. He dies with everyone believing he is the Bay Harbour Butcher.
When Dexter breaks up with Lila to reconcile with Rita, she becomes mean and turns on him. She starts dating Angel and frames him for raping her, as a way to get Dexter to be with her. When she meets up with Dexter she learns that he plans on killing her, so she retaliates by kidnapping Rita’s children, Astor and Cody, and setting fire to her apartment. Dexter finds and saves them and Dexter tracks Lila down in Paris and kills her.
The season ends on Doake’s memorial with only Doake’s immediate family, Dexter and Lt. La Guerta attending. Dexter learns that even though the public believe that Doake’s killed bad people, they still don’t view him as a hero.