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Why Jennifer Carpenter Was Never The Same After Playing Deb On Dexter

For eight seasons of the hit Showtime series "Dexter," Jennifer Carpenter portrayed Debra "Deb" Morgan, the adoptive sister of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) and a detective with the fictional Miami Metro Police Department who eventually finds herself compromising her values to protect her sibling. She ultimately even realizes that she has fallen in love with Dexter — yes, really — and that only causes Deb to go to greater lengths to keep her adoptive brother's serial-killing habits secret. Deb both puts herself in grave danger and betrays her own morals in efforts to ensure Dexter never gets caught. And while Deb underwent major changes over the course of "Dexter," the actress who played her was also affected by the series. 

With the recent announcement she's expected to return for the "Dexter" revival despite her character's death in the series finale, Carpenter is set to rejoin the show that seems to have had a profound impact on her life in multiple ways. Here's how "Dexter" changed Jennifer Carpenter's life.

Dexter gave Jennifer Carpenter marriage ... and divorce

Prior to joining the cast of "Dexter" in 2006, which premiered on Showtime in October 2006, Jennifer Carpenter was best known for her work in the 2005 horror movie "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," in which she played a possessed college student whose death after an exorcism prompts a negligent homicide case against the priest who tried to help her. It wasn't long after Carpenter became a part of the "Dexter" crew that she began secretly dating her co-star Michael C. Hall, with E! Online reporting that the two coupled up sometime around the middle of 2007. Carpenter and Hall eloped on New Year's Eve 2008 and went public as a couple for the very first time at the Golden Globe Awards the following month (via People).

Per Entertainment Weekly, the two formally announced their separation almost two years later, in December 2010 (they had split up months prior, however). They finalized their divorce a year later. 

Jennifer Carpenter became emotional discussing her divorce with Michael C. Hall during the PaleyFest Dexter Fall Farewell event prior to the "Dexter" series finale in September 2013, according to US Weekly.

"Our marriage didn't look like anyone else's, and our divorce didn't either, so ... I said it before, just because the marriage ended doesn't mean the love did," Carpenter said and teared up when asked what it was like to work with her ex-husband after their divorce. "I'm crying. It's an awkward thing to talk about your personal life in front of a bunch of strangers, but there's nothing but love and respect [between us]. Nothing."

Both stars have always claimed their friendship survived their divorce, and Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall continued to work together on "Dexter" for five more years following their split, playing adoptive siblings whose relationship became increasingly complicated as the show progressed.

Jennifer Carpenter met her husband, Seth Avett, after her divorce from her Dexter co-star

In 2015, Jennifer Carpenter became engaged to musician Seth Avett, with whom she was expecting a child. The two married in 2016, and the actress told US Weekly she was happy to be a wife and mother. "I'm with the right man," Carpenter told the publication. "I have an incredible son. Every fraction of myself is totally invested, you know, and I'm satisfied. Everything's aligned. This is my best life!"

When "Dexter" ended its eight-season run in 2013, Carpenter said she was happy with her character's fate. "Am I satisfied with how it ended? Absolutely," she told the audience at the PaleyFest Dexter Fall Farewell event, according to US Weekly. "We built a beautiful, confusing, conflicting structure. ... The only reason I'm okay walking away is that the finale felt right."

Possible typecasting and series that don't last very long

Jennifer Carpenter's role as the outspoken and foul-mouthed law enforcement officer on "Dexter" seems to have left her typecast into playing similar characters — at least ones with a badge. After "Dexter," Carpenter played FBI Special Agent Rebecca Harris in the series "Limitless" in 2015. After that show was canceled, she was cast as former CIA Deputy Director Erica Shepherd in the short-lived series "The Enemy Within" in 2019.

In a similar vein, none of the series Carpenter has boarded since "Dexter" concluded have lasted very long, with both "Limitless" and "The Enemy Within" getting canceled after just a single season on air. That's certainly a sign that Carpenter, who's clearly a talented actress, is doing anything wrong; it seems like a typical case of bad luck. On the plus side, according to Assignment X, Carpenter said playing multiple law enforcement roles had taught her one thing: "I am pretty great at holding a gun in the way that I'm supposed to."