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Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Abigail Cheever


Since the 1980s, Hollywood—indeed, American pop culture in general—has been captivated by serial killers. Even people who have never seen Silence of the Lambs (1991) are familiar with Hannibal Lecter’s sinister “Hello, Clarice.” Fictional serial killers have become so popular that the serial killer films of today often comment on their murderous predecessors. However, what separates the serial killer from the slasher villain, bomber, sniper, revenge killer, mercenary, mass murderer or gangster is often ambiguous. There are nearly as many definitions of “serial killer” as there are blockbuster novels and films about them. In order to constrain the sheer volume of serial killer media to something more accessible, this essay will consider American films of the mid-80’s at the earliest, beginning with Manhunter (1986), and the television series Dexter (2006-present) at the latest.