Without This Rule, Dexter Would Have Ended Very Differently

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is prowling the airwaves once again this year in the Showtime limited series "Dexter: New Blood." The revival season of the popular series sees Dex living a humble life in upstate New York under an assumed name, but if the people who brought us the original series had their way, he may not have made it this far.

"Dexter" originally ran on Showtime from 2006 to 2013. During that time, it was an historic hit for Showtime, growing its enthusiastic fan base until it bowed out after eight seasons. The show's ending, though, did not go over well with most viewers. Nearly nine years later, it's still considered one of TV's biggest let-downs.

Showtime Wanted Dexter Alive

In the final episode, "Remember The Monsters?," Dexter not only mercy killed his adopted sister and fan favorite character Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), but he also left his young son Harrison with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), another killer who fans weren't nearly as enamored with as he was. He killed his sister, gave up his son, and left town by faking his death during a hurricane. For nearly a decade, the last image fans had of Dexter was of him in his new life, working as, of all things, a lumberjack in rural Oregon.

It turns out, there was a reason for some of the odd choices behind the "Dexter" finale. Executive producer John Goldwyn, who has returned for the new season, told audiences back in 2013 that Showtime had a rule in place regarding the finale. "They won't let us kill him," the producer told Vulture. "Showtime was very clear about that."

Goldwyn went on to explain that the team behind "Dexter" brainstormed several different endings for the story, calling the writers' responsibility to fans "a very interesting problem to solve." He described the moment the team pitched season 8 to Showtime, saying, "when we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, 'Just to be clear, he's going to live.'"

Another Showrunner Planned To Kill Him Off

Also in 2013, E! News spoke to one of the series' original showrunners, Clyde Phillips. Phillips, who left the show after the fourth season, revealed that he had planned a series finale that actually did feature the death of Dexter Morgan. His vision of the finale featured Dexter waking up on a Florida penitentiary table, seconds away from execution. In Phillips' version, Dexter would have looked out at the observation gallery and seen visions of the people he had killed or whose deaths he had been tangentially responsible for, per E! and Insider. Wow, talk about taking the story in a different direction.

In retrospect, it makes sense that Showtime may have wanted to keep Dexter alive in case the series ever had an opportunity to return in the future. It still makes a little bit less sense to throw in a hurricane, a secret lumberjack identity, and eleventh-hour choices that go against Dexter's core love for his family. So far, "Dexter: New Blood" seems to be on a mission to rinse out the bad taste in our mouths from that finale. The series has seen the return, in some form or another, of two key characters who were wronged in the finale. And since it firmly categorizes itself as a limited series, it seems like writers are ready to finally end the story once and for all.