The Showtime flagship series Dexter introduced the deadly Trinity Killer in season 4, but the TV show actually created a paradox long before then. The first season of Dexter is based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter and seeks to introduce the serial killer protagonist, who lives by a strict code and only kills people that the law is unable to catch up with. Dexter season 1 is all about the blood spatter analyst’s attempts to find the Ice Truck Killer. Each prospective season of Dexter focuses on a different killer, but none have had quite the same lasting impact as John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer from season 4.

Arthur Mitchell, Dexter‘s Trinity Killer, maintained the perfect facade of a family man, churchgoer, and pillar of the community while he terrorized his family behind closed doors and committed heinous murders in sets of three. These crimes went unnoticed by the FBI for three decades, with only Special Agent Frank Lundy believing that the murders were connected. After Dexter got way too involved and Mitchell figured out his identity, Mitchell killed Rita as a part of his ritual, and Harrison, like Dexter, was subsequently born in blood. The Trinity killer’s influence blanketed Harrison’s life, even into Dexter: New Blood, but Dexter season 1 actually created a paradox surrounding the character.

Related: Dexter’s Trinity Killer Spinoff Idea Is MUCH Better Than Dexter: Origins

John Lithgow Appears In Dexter Season 1 (Sort Of)

Dexter and Rita Crying In Season 1

Funnily enough, John Lithgow does show up in Dexter season 1, but not as the Trinity Killer — rather, in a meta-reference regarding his film Terms of Endearment. Whilst exploring the awkwardness of the early Dexter/Rita dynamic, a scene in season 1 sees the fledgling couple sitting down to watch a movie. They end up watching Terms of Endearment, an early 80s dramedy that stars none other than the Trinity Killer actor John Lithgow in what’s considered one of his breakout roles. What this means is that the prolific actor technically appeared on the show before he was cast as his season 4 recurring character.

This definitely wasn’t a conscious decision on Dexter showrunners’ part, as it ultimately creates a bizarre paradox. Because of this season 1 scene, both John Lithgow the actor, and John Lithgow’s character exist within the Dexter universe. It’s not clear how far ahead Dexter creators planned out the series, as Dexter diverges from the books it’s based upon after season 1. Either way, the fact that two versions of John Lithgow both exist within the franchise is an intriguing paradox, to say the least. It’s doubtful that this was done on purpose, however, it does say something about John Lithgow’s casting as a whole.

Dexter’s Trinity Killer Paradox Shows How Great Lithgow’s Casting Was

John Lithgow Dexter Arthur Mitchell big villain problem

The Dexter Trinity Killer paradox created by John Lithgow only highlights what a perfect choice his casting was. Lithgow is a highly decorated and storied actor, capable of putting on many faces. However, outside of some of his voiceover work, he’s never played a villain quite as ruthless and cunning as the Trinity Killer. When Lithgow was first introduced as the Trinity Killer, many weren’t convinced that he could be so calculating and cruel as to embody such a character. However, this was part of the genius of his casting, as one must not forget that Arthur Mitchell presented a very different visage to the rest of the world.

If there was any doubt over John Lithgow’s ability to portray a sadist before, his Dexter season 4 run proved to the world just what the actor was capable of. The Trinity Killer stands out as one of Dexter’s most formidable foes, not just because of who he was, but because of what he took from the show’s protagonist and how profoundly he affected the rest of Dexter and Harrison’s lives as a Dark Passenger. The Trinity Killer paradox created in Dexter season 1 may be a fun bit of television trivia, but it also serves to highlight the perfect casting choice made by the showrunners for season 4.

Next: Dexter’s Trinity Killer Copied A Darth Vader Trick (& Made It Better!)

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