While "Mad Men" is on hiatus, "Dexter" is back for what is bound to be an explosive seventh season. While these shows are different in almost every way -- plot, tone, writing -- their leading characters share some similar compelling characteristics.
1. They both are generally charismaticFrom the first episode of "Mad Men," we learn of Don Draper's lady-seducing ways against the backdrop of the New York advertising game in the early 1960s. Meanwhile, in modern-day Miami, "Dexter" shows the audience the suave, skilled Dexter Morgan, a serial killer working as a forensics expert for the Miami police department. Despite their issues -- alcoholism and adultery, murder -- they are well-liked and respected in their respective positions.
2. They both have very clear-cut codesDexter's is Harry's code: rules for the before, during, and after of his killings. He was raised by the code, and they dictate his "business" of killing. Don's is a little less obvious, but mostly involves the advertising standing on its own, without need for the less-than-desirable aspects that come up in business (see: Joan's promotion in Season 5). They are calculated men who know if they rid themselves of their codes, they will be unable to recover.
3. They both have secrets that, should they be discovered, would lead to their downfallDexter's is obvious: He kills people. Several opponents throughout the series have attempted to expose him, but each time he manages to skirt away from anyone finding out. Don, too, is living a lie: He is actually another person altogether, having stolen his identity. Pete Campbell attempts to use this secret against him and fails, but the advertising community would surely love to take down one of their key rivals.
4. Despite obvious flaws, the audience loves themDon Draper's MO is to compulsively cheat on his wife, drink daily in the office, and deliver cutting remarks to those around him. Dexter Morgan kills people. And yet, the audience roots for them no matter what, not necessarily because they are the focal characters, but because there is room for change. The audience wants them to be good people; they find the good in them and hope for the best.
5. They both are on the edge of losing everything almost all the timeDexter could get caught at any given moment; he kind of already did by Deb in the intense Season 7 premiere. Don's business could disappear -- and it nearly has -- at any given moment. While their near-failures are observed at entirely different paces (Dexter's is more fast-paced and frenzied, as crimes tend to be, versus the slow burn that "Mad Men" gives to the issues in Don's life), they both create a sense of suspense and drama in their respective shows that keep viewers coming back, waiting for the other shoe to drop.