Movie Reviews

After Dexter: New Blood's Ending, I Appreciate The Original Finale A Lot More

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Dexter & Dexter: New Blood.


  • The original Dexter finale was disappointing but not as bad compared to New Blood’s finale.
  • Improve resolutions for characters, better ending for Debra.
  • Unnecessary epilogue leaves room for impactful sequel series.

Now that it’s been over a decade since the original Dexter finale aired, I can finally make peace with it, especially with the finale of Dexter: New Blood to compare it to. Dexter has one of the most notoriously disappointing series finales in modern television history, arguably right up there with Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother. Critics and fans alike were wildly let down by the Dexter series finale because it ultimately felt forced, rushed, sloppy, and simply not enough to end a celebrated series.

I vividly remember my speechless surprise as the final credits rolled after that controversial lumberjack scene and not wanting to believe that a series I loved so much could flop so hard in its final moments. Anticipating that ending all over again is one of the harshest realities of rewatching Dexter. Debra deserved a much better conclusion than she got and Oliver Saxon, while intense, was an impersonal villain to end the series with. However, considering the arguably worse New Blood finale, which started out pretty well until once again everything came crashing down in the final act, the original Dexter finale doesn’t seem as bad nowadays as it did in 2013.

Dexter’s Series Finale Really Isn’t As Bad As I Remember

Rewatching the season 8 finale helped me appreciate it more

Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in Dexter (Season 8, episode 7) – Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime – Photo ID: Dexter_807_1783

Many fans and critics were outraged by the ending of the original Dexter series, specifically the random lumberjack part and Debra’s death, which seemed unnecessary and overly dramatic. At the time, I was in complete agreement and basically stunned by it. The silent fade out on a bearded Dexter’s face without so much as a final voiceover nod to the audience made it nearly feel like I was watching a different show entirely back then. Dexter walking away from his entire life, particularly his lover Hannah and his only biological child Harrison, so as not to hurt them was logical but terribly unsatisfying.

It made sense that Dexter had a tragic outcome as the anti-hero he was, but to cause his own downfall seemed completely out of his character when the entire series was built on his self-preservation. He lost Harry, Rita, his biological brother Brian, his spiritual mother Dr. Vogel, both of his biological parents, etc. He would have made peace with his guilt for Debra’s death eventually, which is demonstrated in New Blood, especially since he’s, you know, a psychopath. While it’s certainly not perfect but also not completely horrible, the ending isn’t as bad as it seemed in 2013 upon a modern rewatch, with certain elements even making it poetic.


Dexter Cast & Where They Are Now

The cast of the Dexter original series has gone on to appear in dozens of films and television shows after the celebrated series concluded in 2013.

Dexter: New Blood’s Frustrating Finale Makes The Original Series Finale Seem Better

The final minutes of New Blood were worse than the original series ending

The sequel series as a whole was tonally different from the original show, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Seeing Dexter back in action in New Blood in 2021 was exciting and refreshing, especially watching him in a brand new landscape with new characters and different stakes. The series wasn’t effectively nostalgic in many ways but it did add a new spin and take the series in a new direction while still retaining much of the core elements of Dexter’s character. The ending of New Blood, however, is somehow even less satisfying than the season 8 ending.

Dexter: New Blood has several loose ends that don’t get wrapped up in its finale and also missed the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Hannah McKay, one of the more compelling characters of the later seasons. Instead, the New Blood creatives just wrote her off, saying she died of cancer when it would have added a whole new layer of tension to the series to have Hannah in it and might have offered her retribution or clarity. As new and evolved as New Blood felt, it was also missing some of the quintessential and familiar characteristics of the original series. With Dexter dying by Harrison’s hand, the ending once again feels forced and lacks a true sense of closure for Dexter as a protagonist.


Dexter’s 10 Best Villains, Ranked

Dexter Morgan has faced many formidable foes throughout the Dexter original series and 2021 miniseries. Here’s how the top 10 villains stack up.

Dexter Season 8’s Finale Would Have Worked Without The Lumberjack Epilogue

The confirmation that Dexter was alive worked against the finale’s impact

Dexter as a lumberjack on the series finale

Imagine if the lumberjack scene was never a part of the Dexter finale. Having Dexter die on his Slice of Life boat would have added some poetic justice to the original ending, with his body floating down into the bottom of the bay off the coast of Miami where he had deposited so many of his victims, as well as Deb. It’s clear now that the Dexter creative team threw in the lumberjack epilogue to leave the door open for a sequel series, but Dexter dying in the bay off the coast of Miami where he dropped so many of his victims, after just dumping Debra’s body out to sea, is really not that bad of a way to go out.

The final episode of Dexter was still fairly compelling leading up to its ending. Dexter was about to get on a bus with Hannah and Harrison, one on which Elway also boarded and nearly busted Hannah, when he felt compelled to visit Deb at the hospital for an unexpected face-off with Saxon. Angel was able to arrest Saxon before he got to Debra, but the greatest threat to Debra wound up not being Saxon at all, but fate. Debra poetically becomes Dexter’s final kill in the series after Dexter detaches her from her incubator and shuts off her life support out of mercy. It could have just ended with Dexter driving into the hurricane.


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The six original Dexter characters returning for Dexter: Original Sin will be portrayed by new cast members, some of which have interesting age gaps.

What A Better Dexter Finale Might Have Looked Like

A more fulfilling outcome for Debra would have been nice

Dexter standing over Debra in hospital in Dexter

The Dexter production team could still have made a sequel series without the original series epilogue confirming he was still alive. There might have been debate following the finale about whether Dexter had survived or not, which would have left the entire fandom in suspense. There could have been years of mystery and ambiguity that would have made the announcement of New Blood even more exciting since it would have also been the first confirmation that Dexter was still alive. If they can bring back Wolverine after Logan, then Dexter could certainly have been brought back from a hurricane without the ridiculous epilogue.

Much of the focus was on Dexter during the original finale, but other characters deserved stronger resolutions as well, particularly series regulars such as Quinn, Angel, and Vince. It would also have been nice to have given Dexter a chance at redemption rather than subject him to a forced sense of martyrdom. A more personal confrontation between Debra and Dexter might have allowed Debra to redeem herself at Miami Metro after killing LaGuerta. Less focus on new characters such as Zach Hamilton and Masuka’s random daughter might have made for a stronger Dexter finale as well.


Dexter’s New Prequel Show Can Finally Bring An End To An 18-Year-Old Dexter & Harry Morgan Debate

The relationship between Dexter and Harry Morgan will be a key dynamic in Dexter: Original Sin that will shed new light on his dark passenger origins.

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