The Dexter finale in September left avid and dedicated fans of the show totally shocked, outraged and stupefied. The smart and interesting character who struggled with his dark passenger ended up as a puffy lumberjack (?) after surviving a hurricane (??). What a pity, too, because in the early seasons, Dexter was one of the most innovative new shows on TV. Dexter was an antihero that we loved before Walter White. The finale was written off around the internet as terrible — Buzzfeed even called it "unbelievably awful." That has to hurt.
In a show that's premise was literally a serial killer who killed serial killers, you would think that at its close, the serial killer would kill himself. Or at least Dexter would die so that he could release his "dark passenger"... not mysteriously relocate and leave his son and the love of his life to fend for themselves after tossing his sister's body into the ocean. But apparently, according to Dexter producer John Goldwyn, Showtime execs explicitly forbade the Dexter writers to kill him off. Forbidden!
I guess... that makes the ending a little more understandable, but had Dexter ended with his death, it would truly have brought the series full circle, completing the story arc. We saw in Breaking Bad that the death of the antihero can make a successful ending, mostly because it abolishes any ambiguity. Now we have to wonder what the hell Dexter Morgan is gonna do. Will he go back to killing? That's the question I felt was unanswered — did he get rid of his dark passenger or not?
Even worse, the producer of the first four seasons of Dexter, Clyde Phillips, shared his idea for an ending, and it sounded so poetic and awesome:
In the very last scene of the series, Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, 'Oh, it was a dream.' And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, 'No, it's not a dream.' Dexter's opening his eyes and he's on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They're just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery.
The things that could have been! It's anyone's guess why the Showtime executives didn't want Dexter to die, or why they thought stranding him in the wilderness was a better alternative to death, but clearly, it wasn't the right choice. Dexter should have died.