Why Some Fans Consider Season 4 The Series Finale

Dexter holds not one, but two of the most controversial TV endings of all time, leading some fans to consider season 4 the unofficial series finale.

Dexter may have run for eight seasons and a limited revival, but many fans still consider season 4 to be the true series finale. While other TV shows like Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother would later join the club of controversial series endings, the season 8 finale of Dexter remains one of the most divisive conclusions of all time. The hit series then returned for a limited run in 2021’s Dexter: New Blood reboot, which – although seemingly impossible – produced an even more controversial finale than the original.

Dexter season 4 saw the title serial killer take on his worst foe yet. Beginning with the return of FBI Agent Frank Lundy, Dexter Morgan and Miami Metro PD spent season 4 tracking down the Trinity Killer (AKA Arthur Mitchell), who had been killing in cycles for over 30 years. When Dexter discovered the Trinity Killer’s identity, he befriended Arthur under the alias Kyle Butler, with the title killer even briefly looking up to Trinity as a mentor for how to balance murder and family life. However, the truth behind the mask of John Lithgow’s Arthur Mitchell soon came to light, as Dexter realized that not only was Arthur’s family at risk, but also his own wife and children. After waiting too long to take action, Dexter season 4 ended with the Bay Harbor Butcher finally killing Trinity, only to come home to his infant son sitting in a pool of his wife’s blood.


Related: How New Blood’s Ending Compares To The Original Dexter Finale Plans

With Dexter’s captivating personal journey as a family man, heightened suspense as he befriends then antagonizes Trinity, and devastating finale, Dexter season 4 is considered the height of the series. While some contend that Dexter season 1 also had a perfect ending, the gut-wrenching finale of season 4 couldn’t be outdone by any other installment in the series. As Dexter returns home triumphant after finally killing Trinity, he also makes the agonizing discovery that his wife was Arthur’s final victim. Not only was Rita dead, but the cycle of Dexter’s Dark Passenger had seemingly passed onto his son, Harrison. Mirroring Dexter’s own dark origin story, Harrison was found crying in a pool of Rita’s blood as season 4 came to a close. When Dexter: New Blood attempted to give the series a new ending, it mirrored aspects of this closed circle but returning to the idea of Harrison having his own killer instincts.

As Dexter took on more villains in later seasons, no ending could live up to the tragically poetic conclusion of season 4. The correct fate of Dexter Morgan is one of the most divisive aspects of the series, as some believe the antihero should pay for his crimes while others stand by the fact that he’s truly helping society by taking down the killers that evade the justice system. Dexter season 4 perhaps presented the best of both worlds, as the ending would see the title killer still alive and on a path to continue his vigilanteism for revenge, but also receiving an excruciating punishment by sealing the doom of his wife and child through his own actions. The end of Dexter season 4 was the prime example of the series’ core dilemma: Is it worth it for Dexter to take out so many killers when his actions also lead to the deaths of his innocent loved ones?

Neither the villains nor finales of Dexter seasons 5 through 8 could deliver on the same impact and suspense of Dexter and Trinity’s conflict. Dexter season 4 continues to demonstrate the series at its highest quality, particularly in how it integrated the title serial killer’s internal conflicts with the urges of his Dark Passenger and desire to protect those he loves. Had Dexter truly concluded on a high note with season 4, the show would have maintained a legacy untainted by two unsatisfying finales and character inconsistencies, which is why many fans consider “The Getaway” the unofficial series ending.

Next: New Blood Finale Threw Away Everything The Original Dexter Show Set Up

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Jordan Williams

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