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'Dexter' stars bid emotional farewell at Comic-Con

Michael C. Hall thanked fans during the "Dexter" panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday.

With the series finale of "Dexter" just two months away, the cast and crew gathered for their last Comic-Con panel Thursday — a virtual wake for the hit serial-killer drama.

The producers and stars — including their fallen comrades — celebrated the show's eight-season run with both heartfelt gratitude and the "Dexter's" signature dark humor. Although John Lithgow, who won an Emmy for his chilling portrayal of the Trinity Killer, couldn't attend the panel, he taped a farewell message for fans: "I wish I could be with you all today, but as you know I'm dead," he said. "There's not a day goes by that someone doesn't recognize me as psychopath. I have you to thank!"

Here are some of the memorable moments from the poignant — and often hilarious — panel:

  • When a fan asked star Michael C. Hall if he had rituals to help him get in character, he said, "I think I really need to focus on some rituals to get out of character. ... At some point it becomes second nature and now I just gotta figure out how to ... stop."

  • To relieve stress, Hall quipped, "I do everything Dexter does — but then I just tickle the person."

  • Hall also had a fresh reply to a stale Comic-Con question: "I was always a big Incredible Hulk fan. In a way I felt Dexter was a way to play my own version of Hulk." But he acknowledged, "He's not as green. Or big."

  • Erik King, who played Dexter's nemesis Doakes in the first two seasons, said fans "have kept me alive for the past six years. Whether I'm in a Costco or the escalator, you always want me to say the thing I can't say" — and pointed to the "Surprise, mother------" catchphrase emblazoned on his T-shirt.

  • King appreciates that Doakes' death maintained the "integrity" of his character's story line. "We couldn't go eight years of 'I'm watching you' and eventually Dexter says, 'Who cares? I'm watching you, too."

  • Julie Benz, whose bloody murder by the Trinity Killer steered us away from the bathtub for months, said, "I've died on many shows before, but they were mostly supernatural shows so she always came back to life. I think (Rita's death) was so sudden I had to go through a mourning process ... I was very sad for a very long time."

  • Addressing Deb's final fate, Jennifer Carpenter said, "I wanted her — and want her — to die. It's because I love her. ... I don't want to be calling (showrunner Scott Gimple) in eight years asking, 'Is she OK now?' "

    Hall agreed, with a shout-out to his last hit series' memorable finale: "What's nice about 'Six Feet Under' is we all got to die. It's nice as an actor to put that to bed."

  • Meanwhile, Hall is plotting a spin-off for his character's son: "In 25 years there's going to be a new series called 'Harrison.' Dexter will have died, and I'm going to be his dead internalized father."

"We spent a lot of time making artificial relationships seem real, and our relationships are authentic," said Carpenter. "We can't be a wrap until we're all here together — especially you people who waited (in line). So it's a wrap with you now."

"Just as you waited in line, and have been here for us, we have been here for you," concluded Hall. "Thank you so much."

Fans won't have long to wait after the series finale for "Dexter" to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray. Nov. 5 marks the release of both the final season and the complete series collections — housed in a replica of Dexter's blood-slide trophy box.