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The Truth About How Dexter's Life Code Was Created

Over four incredible seasons and also some other ones, "Dexter" explored the life of a dedicated blood spatter enthusiast who — get this — was a little weird. And heck, there's nothing wrong with that. We're all a bubble off plumb from time to time. The problem lay in Dexter Morgan's (Michael C. Hall) particular brand of strangeness. See, where many people might express their individuality by, say, wearing a pair of fun socks or LARPing on weekends, silly old Dex, pictured above refusing to drink his cranberry juice no matter how many times he has to pour it on the ground to prove that he's serious, liked to cut people open or kill them with power tools or hit them with hammers or strangle them. It didn't much matter, as long as they ended up dead.

Dexter's tendencies started popping up at a young age, around the time that a lot of neighborhood pets went to live on a farm. Luckily for the budding antihero, his immensely understanding father Harry (James Remar) was the first one to put two and two together. "You like to kill?" Harry said. "I'll give you something to kill about." We're paraphrasing.

Harry tried everything to keep Dexter on the path of the socially adjusted compulsive murderer. He took the boy on regular hunting trips in the bloodlust equivalent of finding cigarettes in your kid's closet and forcing them to smoke the whole pack. The immersion therapy didn't take, and the beleaguered patriarch did what any concerned parent would do when trying to keep their child out of prison: He consulted with a therapist.

Dexter Morgan: notorious rule follower

Dr. Evelyn Vogel: Neuropsychiatrist, consultant, and one of those rare and gifted mental health professionals with the confidence to diagnose a teenager as irreparably psychopathic without ever actually having met him. Harry's conversations with Dr. Vogel wound up being the start of something big. The two came to the conclusion that, since Dexter could never be expected to stop killing, he'd need to become the next best thing — a slaughter-happy vigilante with a code of honor and a penchant for voice-over narration.

And so Evelyn and Harry worked together to develop a set of rules to keep Dex from being arrested or, worse yet, too evil for the audience to root for. "The Code of Harry" became Dexter's guiding light, reminding him of the rules to which he'd necessarily adhere in order to stay out of prison. Never kill an innocent. Fake emotions and normality. Don't get caught. It's weird that more serial killers don't come up with that last one on their own.

Which isn't to say that Dex didn't treat himself to a cheat day from time to time. He's seen killing people out of a sense of mercy, self defense, and in the Season 5 premiere episode "My Bad," due to a nasty old case of the Mondays. But it's like mama used to say: "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few rules designed to keep you from being executed by the state."

We don't talk to mama much these days. "Dexter" is set to return for a ninth season later in 2021.