After Dexter: New Blood dropped this year, many fans had been excited to see what the former blood analyst had been getting up to since he had faked his death back in season 8. They had come up with a ton of unique theories about who the villain could be, how Dexter might be able to get away with his crimes, or if they believed that he might be caught. However, it turns out that it didn’t go the way they expected it to.
In fact, the only thing that they seemed to get right was the reintroduction of some complex and terrifying villains (who either complement Dexter by bringing out his best qualities or just turning the mirror towards a man who, at the end of the day, can be a monster). But while Kurt Caldwell did prove himself to be a worthy foe, did he prove to be as memorable as the other villains?
Updated on May 13th, 2022 by Kayleigh Banks: Although the season finale of Dexter: New Blood set a new TV record, this isn’t exactly going to be the reason why the show is remembered by fans. Despite all the controversial endings and inconsistencies, one thing the audience praise the writers for is the dynamic villains. While some of them are more memorable than others, each villain did prove to have a major impact on the story and helped to keep things intriguing. It’s definitely one of the reasons why fans will end up rewatching the show in the years to come.
12 Dexter Morgan, The Bay Harbor Butcher
Given that Dexter’s entire arc had been debating whether he was capable of being good despite him being a serial killer, it didn’t really surprise fans to see that Dexter became the one thing he was trying to avoid.
In season 9, Dexter transformed from an anti-hero to a fully-fledged villain when he shocked viewers by breaking his own code and killed the innocent Logan for the sake of self-preservation. He didn’t care about how this death would affect the other residents in the town and even went on to imply to Harrison that he likes to kill for his own pleasure too (which was one of the reasons for his own death). It was just severely disappointing for fans to see years of character development unravel in just a mere matter of minutes.
11 Oliver Saxon, The Brain Surgeon
The Brain Surgeon, otherwise known as Oliver Saxon, is exemplary of everything wrong with season 8 of Dexter. After spending all of season 7 setting a stage where Dexter was the only character left to reasonably create conflict, the writers instead introduce Oliver Saxon (a character who’s meant to represent who Dexter was– a foil).
It’s a good idea in theory, but ignoring the fact almost every single villain has this kind of relationship with Dexter, Oliver Saxon’s characterization never goes beyond the surface level. Not just that, Dexter ultimately deals with Saxon in an incredibly anticlimactic and unsatisfying manner.
10 Travis Marshall, The Doomsday Killer
Travis’ greatest sin is being the victim of one too many plot twists, the most egregious of which is painfully obvious to catch: Travis is the real Doomsday Killer and not Professor Gellar (who had been killed by Travis 3 years before the events of season 6).
This ‘twist’ was one that disappointed many fans as it seemed like the writers of Dexter were feeding into the stigmas surrounding mental health and disorders. Travis, as a character, really only gets worse with time due to these outdated and harmful stereotypes, and the only interesting thing to come out of his arc was his death directly leads to Debra finding out that her brother is a serial killer.
9 Jordan Chase
Jordan Chase kind of has to end up so long by design. Where other main villains either operate alone or share the spotlight with one other, unrelated antagonist in rare cases, Jordan Chases shares his villain spot with the rest of the Barrel Girl Gang– albeit he’s the face and ultimately most prominent member.
Still, Jordan is a bit bland personality-wise, which is kind of the point. He’s supposed to be unassuming to a degree, but he might come off too unassuming. His relationship with Dexter is at least interesting, though, and he makes a decent antagonist for Lumen’s arc when all is said and done.
8 Captain Maria Laguerta
Although Dexter didn’t always know what exactly to do with Laguerta, her endgame seemed obvious as early as season 2: to uncover the truth about Doakes. Everything in her career leads to her being in a position of power in season 7, where she can quietly investigate Dexter without sending ripples through the plot (something which nearly allows her to succeed).
Laguerta isn’t a very present villain even in her own season, but that honestly works in her favor. She’s narratively unobtrusive and every scene she has in season 7 is important to moving her plot and arc forward. Dexter framing her makes for a great twist and Deb shooting Laguerta is an even better one.
7 Isaak Sirko, Head Of The Koshka Brotherhood
Although Isaak, unlike most antagonists, does not survive his entire season, he leaves quite a lasting impression. Not even narratively, he’s just one of the best written and acted characters in Dexter. Ray Stevenson understands Isaak on a level that other actors in the series didn’t understand their characters (other than Jimmy Smits as Miguel.) He brings a level of depth and nuance to Isaak.
Isaak’s also one of the few villains to truly challenge Dexter. The guy tries to kill Dexter in a casual drive-by shooting. Even when he has all his resources tripped away, Isaak is a massive threat to Dexter. To quote Deb, the guy’s the “Terminator.”
6 Lila West
The sole brunette in Dexter’s long line of love interests, Lila is everything Rita isn’t. She enables Dexter’s bad behavior, compelling him not to change, and she gives him a space where Dexter can be himself emotionally– whereas the whole conceit of his relationship with Rita is so he can hide who he is. Lila sparks a good arc for Dexter, one that makes his bond with Rita stronger, but he can be very annoying.
Lila shares season 2’s antagonistic spot with Doakes, and it’s ultimately her who serves as Dexter’s “final boss.” She brings a lot of great tension to the series, but her presence is sometimes too much to handle, and she can often come off distracting, especially once the Bay Harbor Butcher investigation takes off.
5 Brian Moser, The Ice Truck Killer
Although not the first major serial killer Dexter goes head to head with chronologically (as fans will be able to see from the mini-episodes of Dexter’s Early Cuts – which predate season 1), but Brian Moser, aka the Ice Truck Killer, is the first to truly leave an impression on Dexter. It certainly helps that Brian Moser is Dexter’s long-lost biological brother.
While that seems like a silly sentence, the twist is handled exceptionally well, with Brian slowly inching his way into Dexter’s life. In a twist, Dexter doesn’t even hate Brian. He wants to connect and be with his brother. But Dexter is more complicated than he thinks, and his relationship with Brian was always one built on a murder that defied Harry’s Code.
4 Sergeant James Doakes
Doakes always knew something was a little bit off about Dexter, but no one could have anticipated he’d turn his sights on Dexter as early as season 2. All the same, this is exactly why early Dexter is so well regarded. It wasn’t afraid to do away with Doakes’ character, understanding his personality meant he needed to catch Dexter or die.
Naturally, Doakes ends up doing the latter, but surprisingly not because of Dexter. Rather, it’s Lila who kills Doakes. Still, he catches Dexter disposing of evidence and even manages to secure his trophies. Unfortunately, Doakes’ history of bad behavior results in him being erroneously labeled the Bay Harbor Butcher.
3 Arthur Mitchell, The Trinity Killer
The most successful serial killer in America… who got away with it. Arthur Mitchell, like most antagonists in Dexter, is not taken down by Miami Metro, but by Dexter Morgan instead. Unlike previous antagonists, however, there are terrible consequences for Dexter trying to save Arthur for himself.
Compared to the other serial killers on the show, Arthur was definitely one of the most memorable. Not only was he one of the few people to have a huge impact on Dexter’s life (by killing Rita and taking her away from him and his children’s lives), but he was also seen to affect the characters long after his death too. Fans will never forget the major showdown Dexter and him had at the end of season 4.
2 ADA Miguel Prado
Perhaps because he’s a serial killer and Miguel isn’t, many fans consider the Skinner, George King, to be the true main villain of season 3. It makes sense to some degree as it fits the pattern established in season 1 and George King is dealt with in episode 12 whereas Miguel is killed at the end of 11. However, it’s Miguel who drives the entire plot forward.
His relationship with Dexter is the conceit of season 3, and the manipulation at the core of Miguel’s “friendship” is what ultimately drives the plot and the last act. Miguel himself is one of the most complexly written characters in the show, lying seemingly with next to no ease– to the point where it’s hard to get a sense of who Miguel truly is. All that does, though, is make his performance that much more compelling.
1 Kurt Caldwell, The Runaway Killer
Although fans were quick to realize that Kurt was The Highway Killer the moment they saw his eyes, he did prove himself to be one of the scariest and most chilling villains to appear on the show. He might have appeared charismatic and charming on the surface, but when the writers really began to develop Kurt’s arc, the viewers were horrified by the secrets he was concealing as well as his darkness.
Unlike some of the other villains on the show, Kurt was also able to catch many viewers off-guard too, with him either creeping around in the shadows or kidnapping and killing his victims without anyone noticing (including Dexter). He was definitely one of the smartest and most cunning people Dexter had ever faced on the show.