The show Dexter opens up an interesting yet controversial subject of saving innocent lives by eliminating potentially dangerous subjects (killer that kills other killers). Is this a complete novelty or have there been known cases of such killers in the past that might have inspired the show?

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    You might want to extend the question a bit by asking for possible inspirations to the show, in order to close the circle a little more toward an on-topic question about the actual TV-show rather than a general criminal historical question.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 30, 2015 at 12:53
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    Well, the concept certainly appeared in fiction before Dexter.
    – Walt
    Sep 30, 2015 at 13:07
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    There were several vigilantes in real life which did some killing, but i doubt that any did it at the level of dexter (regarding timespan, number of "victims", and research). Most of the time it was not single persons, and they did only kill a small number of specific persons, they did no serial killing. If you google for famous vigilantes you will get some examples, but its all "smallscale" compared to Dexter. Its also a case of definition, e.G. what the mossad did in the 60s (killing not convicted nazis after WW2) or some incidents during wars could indirectly also fit your description.
    – kl78
    Sep 30, 2015 at 13:40
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    @Tivep: Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004)
    – Dark Army
    Oct 1, 2015 at 10:24
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    Manuel Pardo would be the closest Dexter in real life. ca.askmen.com/entertainment/news/…
    – user26393
    Oct 1, 2015 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


The TV show Dexter itself is based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.

There is a theory that the case of Manuel Pardo inspired the character, however, that is unconfirmed. He was an ex-cop and claimed he was "ridding the streets from the wicked" as a motive for his murders. There are not a lot of similarities between the character of Dexter and that case as far as I can see.

Jeff Lindsay himself, asked how he came up with the idea, jokingly (I assume...) answered

Watching a group of businessmen eat lunch. It occurred to me that serial murder wasn’t always a bad thing

And the question

Did you base Dexter on some known serial killer?

Got the answer of


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    Watching a group of businessmen eat lunch So he watched American Psycho?
    – cde
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:12

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