On Dexter

The Dark Passenger in All of Us

By Edward Burkley, Melissa Burkley, Ph.D.

“I just know there’s something dark in me and I hide it. I certainly don’t talk about it, but it’s there always, this Dark Passenger. And when he’s driving, I feel alive, half sick with the thrill of complete wrongness. I don’t fight him, I don’t want to. He’s all I’ve got. Nothing else could love me . . . Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me?”
–Dexter Morgan (“An Inconvenient Lie,” 2-3)

In the Dexter series, one major character is never given any dialogue or physical screen time, and yet still manages to play one of the most important roles in the show. What character, you may ask, could play such an integral role and yet stay so suspiciously hidden? This entity is known to the audience as Dexter’s Dark Passenger.

Although the audience never gets to meet the Dark Passenger, we are given brief glimpses of him through Dexter’s eyes. As expressed in the ominous quote above, Dexter often describes a kind of “tug-of-war” that wages within his mind between what he is told is the “right” thing to do and what his Dark Passenger tells him to do.

Dexter’s internal struggle between these opposing forces forms the foundation for much of the series and is a key reason for the show’s appeal. Dexter is such a captivating character, in part, because he often experiences the same struggle found in us all.

The balance of good and evil within humankind is an age-old tale, bound by neither time  …

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