Getting close to Dexter Morgan is a little bit like being a redshirt character on "Star Trek": Your days are numbered. But even the dearly departed favorites from the long-running Showtime series were brought back from beyond to bid fans an emotional farewell at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego.
"Our bodies five months from now will probably start knocking at the door, wondering why we're not doing 'Dexter,'" series star and producer Michael C. Hall told the crowd on Thursday.
Hall was joined onstage by co-stars Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, David Zayas, and Yvonne Strahovski. But seeing as this was the final Comic-Con appearance for the cast, former series regulars Lauren Vélez, Erik King, and Julie Benz also joined in to remember their favorite moments over the show's eight-season history.
Even the Trinity Killer himself, John Lithgow, sent in a video farewell. "Not a day goes by that someone doesn't recognize me as a psychopath, and I have you to thank for that," Lithgow joked. "And now, I, too, get to enjoy the show as a fan."
[Related: 10 of Our Favorite TV Serial Killers]
Several cast members wiped away tears during their farewells, noting that when the show first came to Comic-Con back in 2006, it was housed in one of the convention's smaller rooms. On Thursday, the cast members were given the primetime slot inside the convention's largest room. Many of the fans said they waited inside Hall H for more than six hours just to see the "Dexter" cast take the stage. And while each cast member had his or her personal recollections to share, one thing nearly all agreed upon was the difficulty in separating themselves from their characters once the cameras had turned off.
"I have a visceral reaction to everyone," said Carpenter of her fellow cast members. "Some days I want to protect [Dexter] and some days I'd like to kill him," she said, pointing to Hall, whom she was married to in real life during three of the show's eight seasons.
"I think I really need to focus on some rituals to get out of character," Hall said in response to a fan's question on how he prepared for the role of a vigilante serial killer. "Sometimes, early on, I would hang around while they were putting together the kill room, imagining I had put up all that plastic."
One thing the cast would not reveal was how the show ends. But that didn't stop Carpenter from spilling her own thoughts on concluding her character Deborah Morgan's personal story arc.
"I wanted her, and I still want her, to die," Carpenter said to gasps from the 7,000 fans who filled Hall H to capacity. "That's as an actor, because I love her. I want her to go to the abyss where all these feelings reside instead of having her in my head eight years after the show."
Even actors whose characters were killed off early in the show's run said they continue to feel the impact of "Dexter" years later.
"I don't think I'm dead," joked King, whose character James Doakes met his untimely demise way back in Season 2. "I was on the show for two years, but I feel like I'm still living it."Nonetheless, King and Vélez, who portrayed Maria LaGuerta for seven seasons, said the quality of the show's writing actually made them look forward to their own death scenes.
"I got to have such beautiful moments with Michael and Jennifer and David [Zayas] that I just couldn't wait to do it," she said. "I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't prepared for how I would feel."
"Honestly, did you people think I was going to live more than a year?" added Harrington, whose character Joseph Quinn has so far survived despite numerous potentially deadly encounters with Dexter over the years.
For his part, Hall said, after so many years of inhabiting one of television's most beloved bad guys, he can't help but take home some of Dexter with him.
"I do everything Dexter does, but then I just tickle the person," he joked. "Honestly, pretending to be Dexter has been its own stress reliever."
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