Credit: Showtime

Now that Dexter has concluded, it's time for a definitive ranking of the seasons — and no, season 4 is NOT No. 1 on my list (scandal!). Be sure to check out our series finale recap, our Q&A with the Dexter producers about the final season, and our review of the show's revival miniseries Dexter: New Blood. See what you think:

1. Season 2: The Bay Harbor Butcher

Riveting, format-breaking season: The Big Bad wasn't some temporary guest star, but Dexter (Michael C. Hall) himself as hostile colleague Sergeant Doakes (Erik King) and FBI blood-hound Agent Lundy (Keith Carradine) closed in with every hour, and Dex contended with an unstable girlfriend Lila (Jaime Murray). Dexter is at its best when Dex is scrambling to survive, and season 2 felt like a potential final season story line very early in the show's run. In fact, season 2 is one of the reasons the show's writers surprised fans by not pursuing a similar narrative for the final season.

2. Season 4: Trinity

The clear fan favorite: John Lithgow chewed scenery as the sadistic Trinity Killer and worthy Dexter adversary who bled out his victims while cradling them nude in a bathtub [shudder]. The finale revealing Trinity murdered Dexter's wife Rita (Julie Benz) is the show's biggest shocker.

3. Season 1: The Ice Truck Killer

Based on Jeff Lindsay's first Dexter novel, the debut season gradually established the show's mix of tension and humor as Dex tracks a perfectionistic killer (Christian Camargo), who's revealed to be his long-lost biological brother and Debra's (Jennifer Carpenter) boyfriend.

4. Season 7: Isaak Sirko

The creative rebound: Debra agonizes over keeping her brother's secret; Dexter spars with a vengeful Russian mobster (Ray Stevenson) and Capt. Maria LaGuerta's (Lauren Velez) growing suspicions, while falling for the intoxicatingly toxic florist Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski). But the season does have the series' most ridiculous moment: Dexter sets up a kill room at the Miami airport.

5. Season 5: Barrel Girl Gang

Dexter (the character and the show) struggles to move forward in the wake of Rita's death. He hunts the sadistic Barrel Girl Gang and bonds with traumatized victim Lumen Pierce (Julia Stiles), who's one of the rare new characters to survive a full season.

6. Season 3: The Skinner

In a largely forgettable season, Dexter sparred with a vengeful prosecutor (oh yeah, Jimmy Smits) and hunted a serial killer (Jesse Borrego) who trimmed trees (exciting!), all while preparing to marry Rita.

7. Season 8: The Brain Surgeon

The oddest season. The season premiere and finale were strong (even if you didn't agree with the ending). The episodes in between squandered potential with weak subplots, plot holes, and a villain whose identity changed so many times fans stopped caring. Still, Dr. Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) had a real presence and there are a couple of standout episodes, which is more than you can say for…

8. Season 6: The Doomsday Killers

A wheel-spinning mess that took Debra discovering her brother's secret in the season's final seconds to save it: Dex plows through random subplots (Quinn's alcoholism? That creepy computer programmer? Trinity's family?) and contemplates religion as two boring apocalypse obsessives (Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks) — but one is imaginary! — create gory, over-the-top tableaus.

Episode Recaps


Michael C. Hall plays a serial killer who only murders evildoers in this gruesome drama

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