10 Killer Facts About Dexter

Showtime
Showtime

When Dexter debuted on Showtime on October 1, 2006, the disturbing show changed the landscape of TV. It premiered before antiheroes like Don Draper or Walter White were household names, and it helped put Showtime on the map with its original programming.

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) works as a blood spatter specialist at the Miami Metro Police Department, but also moonlights as a serial killer. He has a code, though: Don’t kill innocent people, don’t get caught, and don’t get emotionally involved. For eight seasons and 96 episodes, Dexter literally got away with murder. But as heard through his internal dialogue (a.k.a. The Dark Passenger), he was conflicted about his real self and only shared the truth with a few people—most of whom ended up dead.

On the show, Dexter’s not-biological sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) falls in love with him, which added to the conflict—especially since, offscreen, the two got married and divorced during the run of the show. The series ended in September 2013 with a polarizing finale: Dexter lived but others died in his wake. Here are 10 deadly facts about the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning show.

1. MICHAEL C. HALL WASN’T LOOKING TO DO ANOTHER TV SHOW.

Hall’s first show, the funeral home drama Six Feet Under, went off the air in 2005, so he wasn’t looking to jump back into TV again. “I got a call about a new pilot,” Hall told Entertainment Weekly. “I was reluctant to the idea of doing another television series in general.” He heard the pitch and asked himself, “‘Do I want to be surrounded by dead bodies for another indeterminate number of years?’” He read the book and the script and decided he liked that Dexter “operated in a morally gray area.”

“The tragedy of Dexter is that it’s not his homicidal behavior that’s gotten the people in his life in trouble but it’s his appetite to play at becoming a human being—his desire to have real relationships," Hall said. "I guess a lesson that’s emerged is that you can’t have your cake and kill it, too.”

2. THE FIRST SEASON WAS BASED ON A BOOK.

Showtime

In 2004 Jeff Lindsay published Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first of eight novels surrounding the titular killer. The book was the basis for the show’s first season, but the rest of the seasons strayed from the novels. Lindsay said the inspiration for the character came to him rather randomly: “I was speaking at a business booster’s lunch. I don’t know why, but I looked out at the crowd, and thought, ‘Serial murder isn’t always a bad thing.’" That was the message Lindsay tried to get across in his book, and the idea that carried through to its television adaptation.

"I think Dexter is actually very moral—there are lines he will not cross, no matter what," Lindsay said. "I’m hoping he makes us think a little about what is and isn’t moral, and where the whole idea of a conscience comes from, but if not, hey, just enjoy the book.”

3. JOHN LITHGOW THINKS DEXTER AND TONY SOPRANO HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a reporter asked John Lithgow—who played the Trinity Killer, the main antagonist in Dexter's fourth season—who some of his favorite villains had been. “The great evil creation of the last 10 years has been Tony Soprano, and I see a lot of similarities between Dexter and Tony,” Lithgow said. “Obviously, there are a lot of huge differences, but he’s a captivating character. You can’t get enough of Tony Soprano: even when he was slapping a Russian prostitute on the butt or killing people in the most gruesome manner, you’re still with him all the way. I think Michael C. Hall and James Gandolfini are both great, smart actors who really understood that duality, that’s what made it so hypnotic.”

4. DAVID ZAYAS WAS A COP IN REAL LIFE.

Showtime

David Zayas portrayed Lieutenant Angel Batista on Dexter and was a cop in real life, too. While working for the New York Police Department, Zayas studied acting. “The moment I was involved in that world, it electrified me and I realized that it was something that I wanted to do,” Zayas told NPR. He didn’t tell many of his co-workers he was trying to become an actor, but his partner knew.

“I remember riding in the cars with [my partner] during the midnight shifts and he would run lines with me for my audition the next day,” Zayas said. For the past two years, Zayas has played another police officer on the second and third seasons of Bloodline, another show set in Florida.

5. JULIE BENZ MADE A JOKE OUT HER CHARACTER’S DEATH.

Julie Benz played Dexter’s wife, Rita, until the end of season four, when the Trinity Killer sought revenge and murdered her. But Benz felt shocked when she discovered her demise was coming.

“I found out an hour before they put out the script,” Benz told MTV. “Then I only found out an hour before we shot the scene how I was going to die—they wouldn’t tell me or anybody. It was the last scene of the season, so my family—the crew, who I spent five years with from the pilot forward—was very emotional and upset because they couldn’t believe it. I at least had a couple of days to process it, so I brought in a Styrofoam tombstone and I floated in the bathtub that said R.I.P. just to make a joke. I needed some kind of levity! Saying goodbye to my character, my job and people I love, was just too heavy.”

6. LITHGOW DIDN’T THINK THE TRINITY KILLER WAS PURE EVIL.

Showtime

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lithgow—who won a Guest Emmy for playing the Trinity Killer—said his character was “far more than one-dimensional. Even in the first episode, you see him commit this horrific murder, and it looks like pure evil, but the next time you see him, he’s in that scalding shower, torturing himself with remorse. Something’s going on: there’s a lot more going on here than just sadism and evil.”

When he's not killing people, Lithgow's character, Arthur Mitchell, tries to be a family man and fit in with society, which humanized his character. “To me, the most fascinating thing is that he’s an evil man who does not want to be evil,” Lithgow said. “In that sense, he’s sort of a mirror image of Dexter, just a much, much more extreme case.”

7. YVONNE STRAHOVSKI THOUGHT HANNAH WOULD DIE IN SEASON 8.

Yvonne Strahovski played Hannah, Dexter’s serial-killer girlfriend in seasons 7 and 8, and was one of the few people who had enough of an emotional attachment to Dexter to survive. “I was surprised when I got to the end of Season 7, and I read that scene where she leaves the black orchid at his doorstep, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a pretty open ending. This might mean that they want me back,’” she told Collider. “And sure enough, season 8 happened and I thought, ‘Well, I probably will end up dying in this season, seeing as I didn’t die in season 7, and traditionally, most of the guest stars on that show usually die.’”

The show ends with Dexter’s son Harrison and Hannah fleeing to Argentina, with Dexter battling a hurricane in Miami. Later on Hannah hears about Dexter’s death, which unbeknownst to her was faked. “There is no happy ending in any of it,” she said. “I walked away feeling very depressed, and it really stayed with me. That feeling lingered for a while after I watched it.”

8. JENNIFER CARPENTER WANTED DEB TO DIE.

Showtime

Jennifer Carpenter told The Hollywood Reporter she wanted her character to die but didn’t want Dexter to do the deed. “In a strange way, I wanted her [death] to be a suicide,” she said. “I wanted Deb to take the one thing that was totally alive in his life away. But how it played out was much better. Deb deserved to die an organic death.”

Carpenter also said if Deb had lived, she probably wouldn’t have had a happy ending. “She always would have been making sure she was piling enough dirt on the secrets that existed with Dexter. I’m not sure a happy ending was possible for her. This was her happy ending.”

9. THE SHOW MIGHT HAVE INFLUENCED SOME REAL-LIFE MURDERS.

In 2009, an Indiana teenager named Andrew Conley strangled his 10-year-old brother. The reason? “He felt just like Dexter.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mark Twitchell built a Dexter-like kill room, lured strangers off the internet saying it was part of a Dexter movie he was making, and then murdered Johnny Altinger. In 2011 Twitchell was sentenced to prison, where he continued to watch the show and even drew pictures of Michael C. Hall.

10. DEXTER WASN’T ALLOWED TO DIE.

Showtime

The big question of the series finale was: Would Dexter live or die? He almost died in a hurricane, but Showtime was adamant he needed to live. “They [wouldn’t] let us kill him,” producer John Goldwyn said. “Showtime was very clear about that. When we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, ‘Just to be clear, he’s going to live.’ There were a lot of endings discussed because it was a very interesting problem to solve, to bring it to a close. People have a relationship with Dexter, even if it doesn’t have the size and the ferocity of the fan base for Breaking Bad. But it has a very core loyal following.” 

Dexter did sort of die, though. He faked his death and ended up at working as a log driver in the Pacific Northwest. “He banishes himself, if you will, into exile,” executive producer Sara Colleton told TV Line. “When he looks into the camera in the end [of the finale], the rest is silence; there’s not even a voiceover there anymore. It’s just emptiness ... Committing suicide is too easy; that’s letting himself off the hook.” 

Hall commented on the finale saying, “Sometimes I wish he’d offed himself, wish he’d died, wish Deb had shot him in that train compartment—of course, that would have made an eighth season difficult to do … But the idea that he imprisons himself in a prison of his own making I think is fitting [for the character].”

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

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- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

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- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

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- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

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- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

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- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

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Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

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Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

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- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

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DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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25 Excellent Facts About Keanu Reeves

Jason Merritt, Getty Images
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Keanu Reeves has been a Hollywood fixture since the mid-1980s, shifting from early dramatic turns in films like River’s Edge (1986) to action thrillers like Speed (1994), The Matrix (1999), and John Wick (2014) and an indelible performance as Theodore “Ted” Logan in the Bill & Ted franchise.

For more on the actor, including why he believed he was sent to “movie jail” for a decade, read on.

1. Despite—or perhaps because of—his multicultural background, Keanu Reeves has never become an American citizen.

Sebastian Willnow, AFP/Getty Images

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964, Reeves moved to Sydney, Australia and then New York City and (eventually) Toronto, following his mother Patricia’s wedding to her second husband. Born of Chinese, English, Irish, Native Hawaiian, and Portuguese descent, Reeves maintained a connection to the Canadian city where he spent the most time as a child before obtaining a green card through his American stepfather. To this day, and despite his success in America, Reeves maintains his Canadian citizenship.

2. Hockey kept Keanu Reeves busy as a kid.

In Toronto, Reeves became swept up in the appeal of ice hockey. He played throughout school and even co-coached a hockey club. While there, Reeves had an opportunity to try out for the Windsor Spitfires, a hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. Reeves turned it down, believing his future was in performing. Later, he would portray a hockey pro alongside Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe in 1986’s Youngblood.

3. When Keanu Reeves was a kid, Alice Cooper used to hang out at his house.

Reeves’s mother was a costume designer, which likely contributed to his interest in the performing arts. He told Us magazine in 1995 that she made him some elaborate Halloween costumes—Dracula, Batman, Cousin Itt—and often had some of her clients over to the house. Among them: Alice Cooper. “I remember he brought fake vomit and dog poo to terrorize the housekeeper,” Reeves said. “He’d hang out, a regular dude.”

4. One of Keanu Reeves’s earliest roles was in a Coca-Cola commercial.

After getting parts on stage and Canadian television, Reeves landed a part as a cyclist in a Coke commercial in the 1980s. In 2018, The Late Late Show host James Corden asked the actor about the gig; Reeves remembered shooting over a three-day period, during which he drank “so many Coca-Colas.” In full commitment to the role, he also shaved his legs to look more believable as a cyclist.

5. Keanu Reeves almost renamed himself “Chuck Spadina.”

When Reeves came out to Los Angeles in the 1980s, he found that some casting agents were resistant to having him come in for auditions because his first name (which means “cool breeze over the mountains”) was hard to pronounce and seemingly too exotic. In order to combat this hurdle, Reeves began using “K.C. Reeves,” “Chuck Spadina,” and “Page Templeton III” instead. Reeves eventually abandoned the practice because he would go to auditions and tell them his real name anyway.

6. Keanu Reeves has a deep love for motorcycles.

Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Reeves first learned to ride a motorcycle while shooting a film in Germany, and purchased one for himself the moment he returned to the U.S. His favorite bike is the 1973 Norton Commando. He also bankrolled a custom motorcycle dealership, Arch Motorcycle Company.

7. Keanu Reeves also has an extensive history of motorcycle-related injuries.

If Reeves doesn’t ride his bike as fast (or often) as he used to, it’s because he’s been in a number of serious accidents while riding them. He has lost teeth, broken his ankle, gotten road rash, and ruptured his spleen, amongst other injuries.

8. In addition to his performances in River’s Edge, Dangerous Liaisons, and Parenthood, Keanu Reeves moonlighted in a music video.

In the same year Reeves appeared in Lawrence Kasdan’s I Love You to Death, he also appeared in the music video for Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush,” the lead single from her sophomore album of the same name. Directed by Stefan Wurnitzer, the clip recreates moments from Rebel Without a Cause using locations from the original film, with Reeves playing the James Dean role opposite Abdul as Natalie Wood’s.

9. Keanu Reeves has been willing to defer his salary to get other actors in his movies.

Reeves has worked with an impressive list of actors in his career, including Al Pacino (1997’s The Devil’s Advocate), Gene Hackman (2000’s The Replacements), and Jack Nicholson (2003’s Something’s Gotta Give). In at least the first two instances, Reeves willingly deferred his compensation in order for the productions to free up some of their budget to be able to afford the actors.

"Is that all I have to do?" he recalled asking producers. "Sure! What else do I have to do? ‘Cause I’ll do it!"

10. Keanu Reeves’s commercial success has resulted in him subsidizing more than just a few high-profile casting choices.

Beyond deferring paychecks to work alongside the likes of Pacino and Nicholson, Reeves has earned more than enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life with a net worth reportedly along the lines of $360 million. But he gave away a portion of his salary for The Matrix sequels to provide more money for the visual effects and costume departments. And as a reward for those same stunt teams, Reeves recognized their great work by gifting them with Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

11. Keanu Reeves’s friendship with River Phoenix led to them co-starring in My Own Private Idaho.

Reeves and River Phoenix first became best friends on the set of I Love You to Death. Writer-director Gus Van Sant had written the script for My Own Private Idaho decades earlier, but continually found difficulty obtaining funding for it. However, after sending the script to Reeves, the young actor was so struck by it that he drove more than 1000 miles on his motorcycle to hand-deliver a copy to Phoenix. The two men agreed to star in the film on each other’s behalf, and history was made.

12. Keanu Reeves has been injured or sidelined by illness multiple times during shooting.

Reeves is known to be a trouper when it comes to shooting through pain, disability, and sickness, and his dedication to his colleagues is legendary. Several of his co-stars on The Matrix were injured during the wire work sequences on the film, and Reeves dealt with a spinal injury during filming when two of the discs in his back began to fuse together. He also suffered a neck injury which required fight coordinator Yuen Woo-Ping to create sequences that didn’t involve as much kicking. Later, he fought through an ankle injury before filming even began on The Matrix Reloaded. And during an extended sequence in the first John Wick movie, a scene in which Reeves's character battles several dozen adversaries in a nightclub, he finished his work despite a 103 degree fever.

13. Keanu Reeves says turning down Speed 2 put him in “movie jail” for 10 years.

After the success of 1994’s Speed, where Reeves portrayed a cop trying to save the lives of people trapped on a bus rigged to explode if it dips below 50 miles an hour, the studio was understandably eager for a sequel. At the time he was shown the script, Reeves was shooting the 1996 action film Chain Reaction and was growing wary of roles where he was “running and jumping” for little to no reason. He turned Speed 2 down, a move that he believed led to a decade of “movie jail” where he was offered no other roles by Fox. Ultimately, the sequel was made; Reeves was replaced by Jason Patric, who co-starred with Sandra Bullock in 1997’s Speed 2: Cruise Control. The film was not well-received, and Reeves appears to have no regrets about saying no to it. At the time he turned it down, he recalled telling director Jan de Bont, “You know, boats aren’t that fast.”

14. Keanu Reeves only became a part of Keanu at the last minute.

John Wick and the 2014 action-comedy Keanu were developed independently from one another, and early reporting about the latter film indicated it was a parody of the former. Consequently, Reeves’s management turned down an offer to appear in the second film without notifying their client. But when Reeves saw the initial trailers for Keanu, he reached out to filmmaker Peter Atencio and got involved, leading to the cameo in which he provides the voice of the eponymous kitten.

15. It’s possible that Keanu Reeves accidentally married Winona Ryder.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

While shooting 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Reeves and Winona Ryder—who played Jonathan and Mina Harker, respectively—appear in a scene in which their characters get married. Ryder later pointed out that director Francis Ford Coppola used a real priest in the scene and that both actors said their vows, meaning they might actually be married. Coppola agreed with this theory, although it’s not known whether the priest used their character names or the actors' real names during shooting.

16. Without Keanu Reeves, Weezer might not exist.

Reeves began the music project Dogstar after a chance encounter at a grocery store with drummer/ percussionist Robert Mailhouse in 1991. The band’s success was decidedly muted at best, but Reeves’s celebrity drove fans to the band and they toured successfully for several years in addition to recording several albums. Among the bands that performed with them on tour was Weezer, who played their first ever gig in 1992 as an opener for Dogstar.

17. Keanu Reeves has been booed offstage.

Reeves infamously toured with his band, Dogstar, in the 1990s, which played what he once described as “like, folk music,” or “folk thrash.” When they were invited to play Metalfest in Milwaukee, the band stood out in sharp contrast to the heavier acts on the bill. Reeves recalled that the crowd “threw beer at us and told us to f*** off and yelled, ‘You suck!’ It was beautiful. It made me laugh.”

18. Keanu Reeves was tricked into appearing in The Watcher.

Keanu Reeves in 2008.Mike Flokis, Getty Images

In 2000’s The Watcher, Reeves plays against his typical onscreen affability as a serial killer in a cat-and-mouse game with a detective (James Spader). According to Reeves, he was actually tricked into appearing in the film when a (presumably former) friend forged his signature on the contract. Daunted by the prospect of trying to prove it was a forgery, he decided to go ahead and do the movie. “I couldn’t prove he did and I didn’t want to get sued, so I had no other choice but to do the film,” he said.

19. Keanu Reeves supports several charitable causes.

After his sister was diagnosed with leukemia, Reeves founded a private cancer foundation—not in his own name—to provide research and assist children’s hospitals. He additionally supported Stand Up to Cancer and SickKids Foundations with generous contributions, to facilitate pediatric research.

20. Keanu Reeves has a recurring role on a tv show you've probably never heard of.

It’s not unusual for film actors to take roles in one of the many prestige television series airing on streaming and premium networks. Reeves, however, seems to have taken a low-key approach to television, opting for a small recurring role in Swedish Dicks, a U.S. and Scandinavian co-production about two private detectives from Sweden trying to earn a living in Los Angeles. Reeves’s friend, actor Peter Stormare, is one of the stars. The comedy airs on the Pop TV channel in the U.S.

21. Keanu Reeves has published books of his own poetry.

In 2011, Reeves collaborated with artist Alexandra Grant for Ode to Happiness, a limited-run book featuring a poem written by Reeves and accompanied by Grant’s illustrations for each line. The composition (“I draw a hot sorrow bath”) is self-aware in its overwrought approach that Grant likened to a “grown-up children’s book.” The two have since gone on to work on 2016’s Shadows, a similar poem and art project featuring photos of Reeves, and are now pursuing their own publishing imprint, X Artists’ Books, to showcase titles with a visual aesthetic that are sold via art stores or an online subscription.

22. Keanu Reeves has always actively participated in the physical preparation required for his roles.

Gearing up for Point Break, Reeves spent weeks and weeks learning how to surf, and developed the sport as a hobby. When Reeves was cast in Speed, the actor spent several months gaining muscle for the role. By the time it came to shoot the scene in which his character Jack Traven jumps from a moving car onto the bus, Jan De Bont was convinced that a stunt man would be required, but Reeves has practiced in private and was able to wow the director with his preparation and skill in pulling off the stunt. And just for the scene where Neo emerges from his pod inside The Matrix, Reeves shaved his entire body and lost 15 pounds for what amounted to just a few short minutes of screen time.

23. Keanu Reeves’s passion for—and recognition of—other storytellers’ passion—has led to many of his iconic roles.

Pop TV

As described above multiple times, Keanu took a part or played a role because of an actor ot storyteller’s dedication to a project. Always Be My Maybe was no exception. Casting him in the film was considered a “pipe dream” by director Nahnatchka Khan, but the actor was a longtime fan of comedian and star Ali Wong, so when the opportunity arose, he reworked his schedule to accommodate the film. He even ended up contributing a handful of ideas that expanded his character (at his own expense), like wearing glasses that had no lenses.

24. The John Wick franchise might not exist without The Matrix.

Niko Tavernise, Lionsgate

Reeves signed to star in the film, originally titled Scorn, after Thunder Road Pictures acquired Derek Kolstad’s script. He subsequently reached out to Chad Stahelski and David Leitch to see if they were interested in choreographing or directing the action of the film, after Stahelski performed as Reeves’s stunt double in The Matrix, and he and Leitch later helped choreograph action in the sequels. It was their vision for the film that inspired Reeves to back them not just as stunt coordinators but co-directors for the film.

25. Without John Wick, there might not have been a Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Reeves hadn’t seriously thought about reprising the role of Theodore “Ted” Logan until 2005 when a red carper reporter asked him about returning to the character. It took another five years before Alex Winter had created an idea that everyone felt was substantial or worthy enough to explore for another film. The project spent another several years languishing in development thanks to the commercial prospects of the stars, but the success of John Wick rekindled studio interest in making a third film. That franchise’s success generated heat for all of the films he was attached to, and Bill & Ted 3 picked up steam from there.