Common Sense Media says

Bloody drama for adults only -- we mean it!





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although he justifies his murderous behavior as doing a favor to society, Dexter gets off on blood, death, and killing. Enough said.

Positive role models

There are secondary characters who are dedicated to serving the public -- the series is set in the homicide division of a police deparment. But the show's namesake is far from a role model. It's easy to buy that Dexter is doing something good, since all of his victims are murderers themselves -- a "code" he lives by. But the bottom line is that Dexter is murderer and a liar -- both of which overshadow his ability to be a good father and brother.


This series is about a killer, so blood (dripping, pooling, clotting) abounds. There are several graphic shots of dead bodies that have been completely decapitated and dismembered. Dexter chops up all of his victims and disposes of them in garbage bags that he dumps in the bay. Other violent acts include shouting, pushing, choking, and strangling. Subjects touched on in the series include rape, pedophilia, domestic violence, and the twisted mind of serial killers.


Several sex scenes, some female nudity.


"F--k" and other curse words fly freely, including "s--t," "tits," "damn," "bastard," and "bitch."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Illegal drugs are discussed occasionally in relation to crime scenes and police matters.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this violent drama -- originally made for pay cable -- also airs on CBS in primetime. Its "hero" is a serial killer, it's extremely dark and violent, and it's not intended for kids or teens in any way. CBS has bleeped out the profanity but left the story untouched. Blood is shown so often that it's almost a secondary character, and the protagonist is probably one of the worst role models a kid could have. Expect to see graphic close-ups of severed arms, legs, and heads. And running a close second to the bloody visuals is the psychological mayhem that comes with taking a peek inside the twisted mind of a killer.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

As the macabre titular character of DEXTER (which is based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay), Michael C. Hall plays a man who metes out his own brand of vigilante justice on pedophiles, thieves, murderers, and the like by tracking them down and brutally killing them -- in the vein of Hammurabi's "eye for an eye" code -- which his adoptive father instilled in him when he saw the evil that was in his son. But the real catch is Dexter Morgan's day job: He's a blood-splatter expert for the Miami Police Department, which further assists him in his clean technique of taking care of his own victims. Of course, the other people in Dexter's life are clueless about his sick hobby.

Is it any good?


Dexter has a provocative premise and succeeds at being original by using blood and violence as a morbid punch line. But unlike American Psycho on the big screen (starring Christian Bale), fans of the series are drawn to the likability of Dexter himself. Hall delivers again (much like his character in the hit HBO series Six Feet Under) and leaves viewers wondering, "is what Dexter's doing really so wrong?"

Every character is well formed, and each season delivers enough twists, humor, scares, and cliff-hanging moments that fans keep coming back for more of a good (albeit bloody) thing.


Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fact that killing another human being, no matter what your motives might be, is 100 percent wrong. But is committing a less-drastic act that you know to be illegal ever OK if the person you're committing it against is a bad seed?

  • How far is too far when it comes to revenge? Is there a point when your actions become just as reprehensible as the people and bad deeds you're targeting? Do the ends ever justify the means?

  • Why do we sometimes root for the bad guys? Is Dexter a "bad guy"?

TV details

Cast:Jennifer Carpenter, Lauren Velez, Michael C. Hall
Networks:CBS, Showtime
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Dexter was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byLord Voldemort July 21, 2009

Television at its best, but not for the youngins'.

Alright, so there are a lot of things in this show that aren't appropriate for little kids. Does that mean it's a bad show? Absolutely not. I am consistently astounded by the severe stupidity of people on this website that will give something one star because it was too violent. Don't watch it, then. It's as simple as that. With that being said, Dexter is probably one of the best serial dramas on television today. It's refreshing, funny, sickening, and exciting. I, for one, have always despised the ridiculously repititive crime dramas (a la Law and Order, CSI, Numb3rs, Criminal Minds), and at first I thought that I might be turned off by the similarities to these shows in Dexter, but I was quickly proven wrong. Even once you get past the little twist that this show has, it's still not your typical crime program. 'Nuff said. And it's on a premium channel, for goodness sake. If you watch it and are offended by its content, you should try out for the scarecrow part in the next possible production of "The Wizard of Oz."

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 17 year old Written by84664 April 27, 2011

ok for kids 11

note i would let my kids watch it but i would not let my kids repeat the language

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
Adult Written byagcardy June 6, 2011

Has Potential But Overall a Huge Disappointment

This show has potential. I am entering the field of psychology and find the overall plot fascinating, from that standpoint. The acting is ok. However, the excessive use of violence/gore and sexuality makes it unwatchable. My husband and I are in our mid-20's and stopped watching at the 3rd season because the gore and sex were so prevalent. I've heard it gets even worse as the seasons go on. People who say their teens or 11 year-olds can watch this are, in my opinion, insane. I would never subject anyone to this show, whether child, teen or adult. Pass.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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