For the book character, see Father Donovan.

Mike Donovan
Mike Donavan
Character Profile
Portrayed By
Jim Abele
Season One
First Appearance
Last Appearance
Appears in
1 episode
Full Name
Michael Donovan
Manner of Death
Neck sawn out by Dexter Morgan.
42 (at death)
Personal Status
Marital Status
Unnamed wife
Immediate Relatives
Two unnamed daughters
Professional Status
Serial Killer
Killer Profile
"No Known Alias"
Number of Victims
3 (4 in the game; 7 in novels)
Modus Operandi
Killing Method
Method of Disposal
An uncontrollable desire to rape and kill children, something he claims that he couldn't stop himself from doing.
""Open your eyes and look at what you did!" - Dexter, to Mike"

Michael "Mike" Donovan (aka Father Donovan in Darkly Dreaming Dexter) is a character in DEXTER. He was a pastor and choir conductor, who had raped and murdered at least three young boys (seven in the novels) and buried their bodies underneath an abandoned house. He was also the first person (not chronologically) to be killed by Dexter in both the novel series and the Showtime series.


Donovan is a man in his mid-40s with whitened black hair and a wide smile. He dressed in the best suits for a pastor but he drives an average vehicle.


Donovan leads a double life, acting as both a father, husband and pastor in the public eye while also having dark urges to rape and murder young boys. He clearly felt remorse for what he had done, and while it was unquestionably pedophilic urges that caused him to rape these children, it is unclear exactly why he killed them when he clearly regretted doing so. When confronted with these dark truths, he denies them...closing his eyes in fear of seeing again what he had done to these poor children. But when faced with this reality, he admits that he couldn't help himself...questioning Dexter as to why he does what he does. Dexter tells him that he can't help himself either... but he has standards, and could never do this to children, never.


He's a cowardly man when put in the face of danger, as he is responsible for taking the lives of three children, yet starts to beg Dexter for his own, until Dexter guesses that the children he'd killed had begged for their lives, also, which Donovan doesn't deny. However, in the novels, just before Dexter kills him it is assumed he thanks Dexter under his breath for "freeing him of his Dark Passenger." Dexter replies by saying "You're welcome," before he goes to work, killing Donovan.


Donovan Family

Mike with his wife and daughters

Mike Donovan had already killed at least three young boys before Dexter killed him; the names of his victims were Corey Balanti, Tyler Kale and Joe Bigalow. He is, however, living a double life as a choir conductor and pastor with a wife and two daughters whilst also being a relatively spontaneous serial killer. However, since Dexter somehow discovered that he was a serial killer, and knew to go to his house and dig his victims up from underneath his patio, it is safe to assume that at some point prior to being abducted by Dexter, he had been arrested and released on suspicion of being behind the disappearances of his victims. Mike nonetheless seemed to be very popular and well-liked which proves that he was remarkably skilled at pretending to be a good person, but since all of the Bay Harbor Butcher's victims were officially
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named as murderers, after their blood slides were discovered (including Mike), it is safe to assume that Mike's crimes are now known to the public.


"Soon you'll be wrapped into a few... neatly wrapped Hefties and my own small corner of the world will be a neater, happier place... a better place."

Season One

During the first minutes of the episode, Donovan entered his Volvo after a choir performance, where Dexter was waiting in the backseat; after Donovan started the engine, he choked him with a garrote wire, and ordered him to drive to an abandoned house which Donovan had previously rented and buried the bodies in the outskirts of Miami.

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There, Dexter forced Donovan to look at three of his victims' bodies whereby Donovan pleaded with him for his life and asked him to understand, to which Dexter replied that he did. Then Dexter used a syringe to sedate him. Dexter took Donovan to the second floor of the house, where he covered the room with plastic sheets and garbage bags and duct-taped him to a table in the center of room. After taking a blood slide through a scalpel cut, Dexter killed him by cutting his neck with a bone saw whilst still alive.

Mrs. Donovan

His wife comes to Miami Metro.

Later, Donovan's wife came to the police station looking for him... which Dexter noticed and James Doakes, who was nearby, approached him, commenting on Dexter's mysterious observation of the distraught widow. Dexter reassured himself that he was careful in this kill, without leaving any trace as to himself or Donovan's whereabouts. It is presumed that Mrs. Donovan had no idea of what her husband truly was, due to how distraught she appeared in his disappearance. However, in a much later episode, Dexter expressed surprise when he learned that Arthur Mitchell had a family who were unaware that he was a serial killer, which strongly implies that prior to this he had never encountered a fellow serial killer who had successfully kept his secret safe from his family before.


Season One

Season Seven

Dexter the Game (killed)


  • "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is..."
  • "I couldn't help myself, I just couldn't... please you have to understand!"


Mike Donovan is responsible for the deaths of over three young boys, however, in the novels this number is at seven. The three children have their bodies dug up to be shown to Mike, though it's unknown which boy is which due to their rotting remains.


Victims' remains