The Serial Killer in Popular Culture
For the writer, the serial killer is, abstractly, an analogue of the imagination’s caprices and amorality; the sense that, no matter the dictates and even the wishes of the conscious social self, the life or will or purpose of the imagination is incomprehensible, unpredictable.
—Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938)
Dexter Morgan is the protagonist of a series of novels by Jeff Lindsay, of which Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004), Dexter by Design (2009), Double Dexter (2011), and Dexter Is Dead (2015) are probably the best known. The Dexter narrative was adopted and adapted in 2006 by Showtime into a very popular TV series that ended in 2013. The Dexter episode in contemporary popular culture has provided many subtle insights into how modern society perceives serial murder and especially the persona of the serial killer. Dexter is a forensic blood spatter analyst by day, serial killer vigilante by night who eliminates those serial killers who have escaped justice. He justifies his own killing by basing it on a “moral code” given to him by his adoptive father, Harry, which he calls the “Code of Harry.” The code hinges on two basic principles—he can kill only those who are undoubtedly guilty but have evaded justice, and he must dispose of all evidence so that he himself can avoid being caught.
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