Dexter: "The only way to kill a Dark Passenger is to take out the Driver."
"The Dark Passenger" is a concept used within the DEXTER Universe. While it was being built upon as a demon in the novels, it was more or less in the TV series the level of "darkness" in a person. Regardless, a dark passenger can be metaphorical and represent the reasons why someone is driven to kill.
The Dark Passenger was Dexter Morgan's way of naming his need to kill. He was only able to keep this need at bay with a high degree of control and by focusing his urges on other killers.
Many of the murderers in the series were driven by their own distinctive dark desires, as described below.
Dexter Morgan's passenger (a need to kill) was born during his mother's brutal murder at the hands of Santos Jimenez and two other men. Although The Dark Passenger was a psychological manifestation, Dexter believed for years that it was an actual entity. At times, Dexter thought that other murderers had their own dark passengers. Dexter realized in "The Dark...Whatever" that The Dark Passenger did not exist as a separate entity and he accepted responsibility for his actions..
Dexter had viewed his murders as a type of addiction. To him, the kill ritual was "intoxicating." If he didn't kill for a duration of time, he began to display the symptoms of a "withdrawal syndrome." Although Dexter was usually able to channel his impulses away from the innocent, they did take over in certain situations, such as when he angrily killed a man he didn't know. While Dexter did enjoy dismembering his victims, it had a secondary purpose in making it easier to dispose of the bodies.
After Dexter broke a promise to Brother Sam and killed Nick, he visualized his deceased brother, Brian Moser, as a representation of his inhumane side. Brian didn't care who was killed...he just wanted to kill. Dexter felt pressured by the illusion of Brian to forgo the essentials of The Code, such as being certain of a target's guilt. In "Nebraska," Dexter imagined a life of killing without constraints, but concluded that The Code protected him. Dexter finally resolved his inner conflict by running a car into the illusion of Brian, which then disappeared.
Harry had thought that Dexter's need to kill would stay with him forever but, at one point, Dexter felt a stronger need in response to his relationship with Hannah. It is unknown if Dexter has continued to kill, however, one of the writers implied that his passenger is still with him.
Rudy Cooper/Brian Moser's passenger (an attraction to body parts) was born during his mother's terrible murder and dismemberment at the hands of Santos Jimenez and two other men. It fed his perverse fascination with limbs and prostheses. Brian had a large refrigeration unit in his apartment where he would drain his victims' blood and then cut up their bodies into symmetrical pieces. He rarely made spur-of-the-moment kills and would, generally, well plan them in advance.
Brian displayed his dismembered, bloodless victims in public as part of his scheme to force his brother, Dexter, to remember his past. He also covered a hotel room with blood to make it resemble the shipping container where their mother was killed. Because Brian was jealous of the bond between Dexter and Debra (whom Brian viewed as Dexter's "fake sister"), he attempted to separate them by killing Debra. Brian's ultimate goal was to reunite with Dexter so they could become a killing team.
Lila West's passenger (a fascination with fire) was born in the past and fed off her negative emotions. When angered, she would spontaneously burn anything, even her high-priced works of art. The cause of her pyromania is unknown, but she once told Dexter that she'd killed her ex-boyfriend (a drug dealer) in a house fire after he left her strung out on drugs. This event supposedly led her to attend NA meetings.
Lila did not have a problem using fire to get what she wanted or to manipulate Dexter. Killing people had little effect on her. She murdered James Doakes in a fiery explosion. After Dexter (whom she considered her "soulmate") rejected her, she attempted to burn him, Cody, and Astor alive in her loft.
Miguel Prado's passenger (vengeance) could have been born early on due to his father visiting physical abuse upon his children or later, as his rage built towards criminals who escaped what he believed to be an inefficient judicial system. Miguel was also power-hungry and would let nothing or no one stand in the way of his political ambitions. As an ADA, he was known for his harsh enforcement of the law.
Besides his view that murder was necessary to mete out justice, Miguel used killing as a tool to achieve what he wanted. After he killed Billy Fleeter, he discovered that he enjoyed it and even presented a cheerful demeanor within hours of having murdered him and (later) Ellen Wolf (an attorney who threatened to wreck his career). Miguel then attempted to kill Maria LaGuerta when he realized that she knew he had murdered Ellen. At one point, Dexter thought of Miguel as a friend but he eventually recognized that Miguel had only been using him. When Dexter tried to exert control over him, Miguel sought to have him killed by The Skinner.
George King's passenger (a demand for respect) was born in his violent past. His background of torturing and killing people for a living in Nicaragua turned him into a control freak who insisted on being obeyed. King never really accepted that he was a serial killer, although he was feared by many who personally knew him.
King came to believe that Freebo had disrespected him, and he began a relentless hunt for him. Because King always used an excuse to justify his kills, he told himself that Freebo owed him money, despite actually caring little about the money. Whether he admitted it or not, it was mostly about the respect that Freebo failed to show him. While looking for Freebo, King would interrogate, partially skin, and kill those associated with Freebo. He then left their bodies in public, most likely as a warning to Freebo and others.
Arthur Mitchell's passenger (compulsion to re-enact family deaths) was born after his sister's death, topped off by his mother's suicide, and his father's abuse and later murder (likely by Arthur himself). While on a road trip, Arthur showed Dexter the bathroom in his childhood home "where it all started." When he was ten-years-old, Arthur watched his sister take a shower. He startled her and she slipped, suffering an accidental death. His parents blamed him for her death and he always felt responsible, although he tried to convince himself that it wasn't his fault. He said that it led to the loss of his "innocence."
Arthur killed in yearly cycles - first a young boy (who represented himself), a young woman (who represented his sister), a mother (who represented his own), and a man (who represented his father). Each was murdered in the same way that each had died. After getting away with murder for thirty years, Arthur decided to commit suicide. He even constructed a coffin and let himself fall from the roof of a building. However, Dexter managed to save him (to his later regret). It should be noted that the suicides of Arthur's mother and both of his daughters, Christine and Rebecca, were all tied to his actions. While on Dexter's table, Arthur claimed that he could not control his "demon," took no pride in his kills, and was just following his "path." Knowing that Dexter was going to kill him, he accepted his fate as "God's plan."
Lumen Pierce's passenger (a need for revenge) was born during her torture and rape by The Group. Dexter had noticed her watching him as he killed Boyd Fowler - her captor. Although she was fearful of Dexter at first, he was slowly able to convince her to trust him.
Lumen was determined to kill the men responsible for raping her but, because of her inexperience and mistakes, she sought Dexter's assistance. At first, he tried to dissuade her. However, by Dexter's standards, these men deserved to die, so he eventually agreed to help her. They formed a partnership and took them out one by one, with Lumen herself killing two of them. After she watched Dexter set up a kill room, she realized that he had killed many times before. Instead of this fact frightening her, she started to rely on him even more. Their friendship grew stronger and, after she killed Alex Tilden, Lumen initiated an intimate relationship with Dexter. When they killed the last member and leader of The Group, Lumen's darkness suddenly disappeared. Unlike herself, she knew that Dexter could not stop killing. To Dexter's dismay, Lumen then left him to return to her previous life.
Jordan Chase's passenger (abusive power and control) was born when he was a teenager at a summer camp where he befriended Cole Harmon, Dan Mendell, Alex Tilden, and Boyd Fowler. One day, Jordan drugged an older girl, Emily Birch, and persuaded his friends to gang-rape her while he stood back without participating. Emily survived the ordeal and Jordan subsequently kept a vial of her blood as a reminder of the occasion.
Borrowing ideas from Plato, Jordan became a famous motivational speaker who relished the influence he exerted over his fans. Although he outwardly appeared as a normal and inspirational man, he was responsible for at least twelve sadistic rapes and murders that were committed upon his orders. He himself avoided sexual contact during the crimes, receiving his gratification by watching the abuse and verbally tormenting the victims. Jordan proved to be a very dangerous antagonist.
Walter Kenney’s passenger (a desire to rip out lateral incisors) was born when he was nine years old. His mother had repeatedly hit him in the face so severely that she knocked out a lateral incisor tooth. Kenney later became a serial killer, who over several decades killed at least fifteen prostitutes. Because he would rip out their lateral incisors, he was labeled The Tooth Fairy Killer. A young Dexter found him inspiring and kept a scrap book containing news articles of his exploits.
When Keeney retired, he moved to a retirement village in Florida. After five years, he became bored and so killed another prostitute but, even after several attempts, he was unable to remove her tooth. Dexter noticed at the crime scene the specific damage in her mouth and he wondered if the murderer was The Tooth Fairy Killer. Dexter then tracked him down to learn that his name was Walter Keeney, now an ill-tempered old man. After Dexter befriended him under the alias of Dan, he broke into Kenney’s storage locker to find his trophies – a box of teeth. Kenney soon discovered Dexter’s true identity and tried to murder him, but failed. As he was about to be killed by Dexter, Kenney grumbled that all he ever cared about was killing but, in his old age, he couldn't do it right, anymore. This caused Dexter to ponder what his own future would be like.
Travis Marshall's passenger (religious fanaticism) was born when he attended the University of Tallahassee and met Professor James Gellar who was forming a theory about how to bring on the End Times. Travis came to believe that he and Gellar were the "Two Witnesses" (two powerful prophets mentioned in the Book of Revelation). However, Gellar rejected the idea that they were prophets. Travis then attempted to prove that Gellar couldn't be killed by stabbing him with the sword of John the Revelator. When Gellar died from his wound, Travis hid his body in a freezer in the abandoned church where he set up his base of operations. In his mind, Travis would interact with the deceased Gellar as he planned and created his bizarre religious tableaus. Travis was soon labeled "The Doomsday Killer" by the police and media. Dexter was viewed by Travis as the "False Prophet" or "The Beast" - enemies of God mentioned in the Bible.
It was established in "Ricochet Rabbit" that Travis was mentally ill and suffered from psychological effects, such as delusions of grandeur, violent tendencies, and a lack of empathy, along with being a master manipulator. Travis also experienced periods of amnesia, especially during the commission of a violent act. His psychiatrist had prescribed Chloropromazine, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia. Since his psychiatrist had been dead for two years, it's likely that Travis was no longer medicated.
Joe Jensen's passenger (an impulse to burn people alive) was born when he was twelve years old. His childhood friend, Bobby, set their school's gym on fire, in which Bobby was inadvertently killed. After the incident, Joe was sent to a juvenile detention center for six years. Joe blamed Bobby for this and developed a deep anger toward him. In 2006, Joe was sent to a psychiatric facility for several years.
After Joe was released from the facility, he became a serial arsonist who was responsible for several deaths in Miami. He was dubbed The Phantom Arsonist and it was suspected that he burned people alive just to watch them suffer. Joe mystified investigators with a clue that he left behind at each crime scene - the word "Bobby.' Dexter eventually captured Joe but, instead of killing him, he set him up to be arrested by the police.
Isaak Sirko's passenger (ruthlessness) likely was born during his time at an English boarding school. His history of violent behavior dated back to the act of him pushing his music teacher down a flight of stairs. After that incident, according to Isaak, he didn't have much of a sensitive side left. He went on to become the leader of the Koshka Brotherhood, a crime organization based in Ukraine.
Isaak was briefly driven by a second passenger (revenge). After Isaak's secret lover - Viktor Baskov - went missing in Miami, Isaak tracked him down, only to discover that Dexter had murdered him and dumped his body at sea, Isaak was determined to avenge Viktor's death by killing Dexter. But he first wanted to know why Dexter had murdered Viktor. Dexter and Isaak then played a dangerous cat-and-mouse game. Isaak proved to be tenacious and his quest for revenge hindered the operations of the Koshka Brotherhood. Isaak identified Dexter as someone similar to himself and even remarked that, under different circumstances, the two could have been great friends. Eventually, Isaak spared Dexter because he needed his help in killing Oleg Mickic and Benjamin Caffrey, two hit men out to kill Isaak. When Isaak was shot by a subordinate, Dexter buried him at sea where he had previously dumped Viktor's body.
A.J. Yates' passenger (a fixation on women's feet) was born while growing up with an abusive mother. He would hide under his bed and watch her feet.. to be cont'd...
Daniel Vogel/Oliver Saxon's passenger (jealousy) was born upon feeling neglected by his mother who, unable to deal with his psychopathy, focused her attention toward his younger brother. As a response, Daniel drowned his younger brother in a swimming pool. In turn, he was sent away to a mental facility at age 14. While there, he was practically tortured by the staff who would tie him down to a chair and force-feed him medications. After three years, Daniel deliberately caused an immense fire that allowed him to escape. The fire killed seven children, one of whom was assumed to include him. A nurse was blamed for causing the incident.
After the fire, Daniel Vogel changed his name to Oliver Saxon and used his freedom to travel across two continents. Later, in his 40s, he settled in Miami where he continued to murder people. Saxon was soon dubbed The Brain Surgeon because he would carve into his victims' craniums and harvest a brain fragment (the anterior insular cortex). This was his way to draw the attention of his own mother, Dr. Evelyn Vogel, who was residing in Miami as well. After a long search for The Brain Surgeon, Dexter discovered that it was none other than Evelyn's (believed dead) son, Daniel Vogel. Evelyn and Saxon then secretly met at her house and he, at first, was somewhat pleasant toward her. However, due to Saxon's jealousy over his mother treating Dexter as a son, Saxon slashed her throat in front of Dexter. Evelyn was later avenged when Dexter killed Saxon by stabbing him in the neck.
In the Novels
Dexter is driven to kill to satisfy an inner voice he calls Dark Passenger. When that voice cannot be ignored, he "lets the Dark Passenger do the driving." In the books, it is assumed that this is Dexter's way of referring to his homicidal urges but it was revealed in the third book that it might in fact be a real demon deep inside Dexter. The idea was largely disliked by critics and fans alike and was dropped from future books. It is mentioned in the TV series but only as Dexter's way of referring to his urges and with significantly less frequency than the books.
The Dark Passenger is revealed in the third novel, Dexter in the Dark, to be an independent agent inhabiting Dexter, instead of a deviant psychological construction.
It is revealed that the Dark Passenger is the offspring of Moloch, a god who has been worshiped since Biblical times. When Dexter was 3, he and his brother were left in a tanker full of blood and dead bodies, and as a result Dexter became emotionally numb. The pain also drew the Dark Passenger to him, which may be the true reason for his desire to kill as opposed to any psychological deviance.
After Dexter in the Dark, it seems that the idea of the dark passenger being a living entity has been abandoned. As of 2013, writer Jeff Lindsay stated In The Dark was an experiment, and as such the storyline was been tested, assuming the reviews regarding the novel, Lindsay dropped the idea.
During the beginning of the novel, Dexter is still feeling the somewhat weak and backseat-like attitude of his Dark Passenger, caused by the events of Dexter in the Dark.
In the first season, the Dark Passenger is mentioned as a general term for the burden Dexter carries as a result of his trauma.
In the second season, it is used to refer to an impulse like drug addicts have.
In the sixth season, Dexter's Dark Passenger started to manifest in his consciousness as his dead brother Brian Moser, commenting and influencing his attitudes, similar to the way he interacts with his father's presence in his mind. This shows the light and dark side of the passenger, contrasting that of the James Gellar passenger in Travis Marshall.
In the seventh season, Dexter, with the insight of Hannah McKay, who had no passenger of her own, begins to start viewing his passenger as an excuse for killing that he himself adopted. This revelation is finalized with a confrontation with Joe Jensen, the 'Phantom Killer', who had his own 'passenger' that coerced him into burning people alive. Since this idea, the majority of Dexter's kills weren't ritual kills for avenging victims, but were more for the purpose of defending himself or others, such as Hannah. These kills included Oleg Mickic, Clint McKay, and Hector Estrada.