‘Dexter’ rumor mill: Two more seasons on the way?

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Showtime has a bit of a sticky situation on its hands with "Dexter," its highest-rated series. One the one hand, the ratings have never been higher for the show. On the other hand, the producers have committed to an "end game" for the series to bring it to a close.

Some fans argue that the show has been in a bit of a creative slump and needs to end soon. Another complication is a simple matter of TV economics: The longer a show is on the air, the more expensive it becomes to make (mostly due to increased actor salaries after contracts have been negotiated).

For months, Showtime execs have been saying that "Dexter" will end with next season, the show's eighth. However, recent news seems to throw that assertion into question. David Nevins, the entertainment president of Showtime, recently stated that Dexter was a "cornerstone franchise" for the network.

Deadline reported that Nevins also said, "We're not making any announcements today about when Dexter will end. I think I will clarify before Dexter goes on this season (in June). We have clear end game in place, I can't talk about it just yet."

Further support for the "two more seasons" theory seems to come from a recent casting announcement. Two roles cast for next season include "the ex-cop owner of a private investigation company in Miami" and "a neuro-psychiatrist who specializes in working with young psychopaths and profiling criminals in unorthodox ways." Neither of those characters seem like the law enforcement "Big Bad" that seems necessary to take down Dexter Morgan in the show's most likely "end game" scenario.

It doesn't make financial sense for Showtime to get rid of its most successful series. As TV blog Warming Glow is quick to point out, "It's practically unheard of [for a show to bow out after a record season]…Even 'Friends,' 'Cheers,' and 'Seinfeld' were off from their record seasons [when they went off the air]."

It seems likely that "Dexter" is going to be around for at least two more seasons. Then again, there is another option that isn't being talked about. It's possible that the "Dexter" saga could get wrapped up with not a final season, but a Showtime movie event or even a miniseries.

Whatever form the "Dexter" finale takes, it's likely that this "cornerstone franchise" will introduce a "backdoor pilot" at some point, in order to set up a "Dexter" spinoff. Perhaps that spinoff will focus on Hannah McKay or maybe the series will skip ahead in time, so fans can see an adult Harrison coming to terms with his violent urges and his father's secret history.

One thing is clear: If Season 8 of "Dexter" shatters previous ratings records, Showtime will have do everything they can to keep the show around.

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