Dexter always did have killer instincts. The Showtime drama, which is now back for a revival, stars Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, who originally worked with the Miami police department as a forensic analyst — and just so happened to have an unquenchable thirst for killing people when he was off the clock. The series was a hit, but it ended with a thud in the widely panned 2013 finale, when Dexter grew a lumberjack beard and boarded a boat.
Now, Dexter is getting a shot at redemption. The limited series revival, Dexter: New Blood, premiered on Showtime on Nov. 7, reintroducing TV audiences to Dexter Morgan and his "dark passenger." If New Blood has whetted your appetite for more killer dramas, we've compiled a list of the best shows like Dexter to watch before, during, and after Dexter. It's a list of very dark comedies, psychological thrillers about serial killers, and blood-splattered crime dramas.
Weeds is the show on this list least similar to Dexter in content — there are no serial killers here — but in some ways it's Dexter's sibling. They both premiered on Showtime during the mid-00s antihero boom and ended after eight seasons in the early '10s as the dominant form of high-end drama shifted to fantastical world-building. And they're both dark comedies about morally messy criminals living double lives. Weeds follows Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), a widowed suburban mom who starts selling cannabis to make ends meet and over the course of the series becomes something like a kingpin. And finally, like Dexter, there's a revival in the works (though we haven't heard much about Weeds 4.20 since it was announced in 2019).
If what you like about Dexter is the story of a damaged man living a double life, you need to check out Barry. The Emmy-winning HBO dramedy follows Barry Berkman (Bill Hader), a professional hitman who's trying to leave his life of violence behind and become an actor in Los Angeles — but unfortunately, he has to keep committing murder to keep his secret identity hidden from the people he cares about, like his narcissistic acting coach Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) and his narcissistic girlfriend Sally (Sarah Goldberg). (It's Hollywood! Everyone is narcissistic!) Like Dexter, it's a character-driven black comedy about a guy who doesn't want to do the wrong thing but doesn't really know any other way.
Two words: "sunshine" and "murder." This crime procedural is a spin-off of the original CSI, and follows a team of detectives as they forensically investigate violent crimes in Miami-Dade County. The team is led by deep-voiced one-liner factory Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso), and they use a combination of cutting-edge science and old-fashioned detective work to solve the mystery of the week. CSI: Miami is much less character-driven than Dexter — the show doesn't spend a lot of time inside Caine's head -- but it has two things that make it very similar to Dexter: a Miami setting and a fascination with the mechanics of violence. Both shows pay a lot of attention to blood spatter analysis. On Dexter, the mysteries get investigated over the course of the season, and on CSI: Miami they're usually solved by the end of the episode, but they both have mysteries — and medianoche sandwiches.
The Fall is a bit more grounded than Dexter and other shows on this list — its serial killer is inspired by Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer — but it's a must-watch for fans of shows about the psychology of serial killers and the cops who hunt them. The great Gillian Anderson stars as Stella Gibson, a British detective supervisor who travels to Belfast in Northern Ireland to oversee the investigation of a string of murders of women in the city. The man committing the murders is Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), who seems like a normal family man. The three-season series is a cerebral cat-and-mouse thriller where they're both cats.
If the thing you find fascinating about Dexter is spending time inside the psyche of a serial killer, make Hannibal your next binge. The riveting thriller series is based on author Thomas Harris' novels about the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector (minus The Silence of the Lambs, due to complicated ownership reasons) and follows troubled FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a criminal profiler whose gift and curse is that he understands serial killers. He is aided in his investigations by Dr. Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen), a forensic psychologist who is secretly a depraved killer and eater of human flesh. Their codependent relationship is one of the most complex ever depicted on television, and the show's morbidly beautiful violence is some of the most shocking.
Dexter with computer hackers, basically. USA's four-season Mr. Robot is about Elliot Alderson (Emmy winner Rami Malek), a clinically depressed cybersecurity engineer for E Corp, the world's largest corporation, who leads a secret life as a vigilante hacktivist trying to bring the company down and free the world from debt. Mr. Robot and Dexter are both about highly competent professionals whose social outsiderness helps them see things other people can't and evade detection while they pursue their own form of justice. They have close but troubled relationships with their sisters and even more troubled relationships with their late fathers. And they narrate their shows through detached voiceovers that you'll find yourself imitating in your head as you go about your day. Unlike Dexter, Mr. Robot ends as strong as it started.
Like Dexter, Prodigal Son is a show about an investigator who really understands how murderers' minds work. Tom Payne stars as Malcolm Bright, a brilliant criminal profiler who's the son of infamous serial killer Martin Whitly, aka The Surgeon (Michael Sheen). Even though Malcolm helped put his father away and has dedicated his life to catching predators, he may have inherited some of father's psychopathic traits. When a copycat killer starts preying on New Yorkers, Malcolm has to turn to his father for help finding the perp, which puts him in a dangerous psychological position. It's a pulpy crime thriller with complicated family dynamics that fans of Dexter might appreciate.
This ruthlessly entertaining psychological thriller is the true successor to Dexter. It follows Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), a charming rare book restorer who's always falling in love. And when he loves, he loves way too hard. He's an obsessive stalker, a shameless liar and manipulator, and the jealous type. He's also phenomenal at disposing of the bodies of people he's killed. Each season, he falls in love with a woman, and does whatever he can to make her fall in love with him — and keep her from finding out what a creep he really is. Like Dexter, it's a darkly funny show where the audience is rooting for a psycho killer to get away with his crimes because we kind of like him, thanks to the ever-present narration that keeps us inside his twisted mind.
Dexter is streaming on Showtime; Dexter: New Blood airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.