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Characters: The Silence of the Lambs
Characters from the film/book series by Thomas Harris focused on serial killer Hannibal Lecter.The Film Series have their own character folders, with characters appearing under the film they first appeared in.

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Characters from Manhunter, the 1986 film adaptation of the book Red Dragon.

Agent Will Graham

Played By: William Petersen

  • Anti-Hero: Petersen's Graham is much more in conflict with his own inner darkness and almost seconds away from snapping than Norton's Graham.
  • Berserk Button: Graham doesn't like it when people bring up his past experience with Lecktor.

Dr. Hannibal Lektor

Played By: Brian Cox

  • Not So Different: Lektor tells this to Graham, based on his ability to connect with murderers’ mentality to reconstruct their crimes and his Anti-Hero tendencies. Obviously he’s talking out of his ass, but it shakes Will up nonetheless.
    Lecktor: You want the scent? Smell yourself.

Francis Dollarhyde

Played By: Tom Noonan
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: His murder of Freddy Lounds
  • Kill It with Fire: How he kills Lounds.
  • Mysterious Past: We know something happened in his childhood that put him on the road to being a killer, but unlike Fiennes' Dolarhyde, we have no idea what.
  • Not So Different: With Graham, considering how good Graham is at getting into his head and understanding him. The main difference is that Graham keeps whatever bad tendencies he has in check (though not without difficulty), while Dolarhyde...
  • The Stoic: Even when he's trying to kill Reba, he has a very calm, calculated demeanor. That said, in the middle of the film, he is seen crying when he realizes that he's fallen in love and hints that he'd like to stop murdering people.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Defied in-universe by Graham. He acknowledges that Dolarhyde was abused and that the child he used to be deserves pity for having had to endure it, but he also states that Dolarhyde, as an adult, deserves no sympathy whatsoever and is a selfish, disgusting excuse for a human being.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Wears a mask when he gives his Motive Rant to Freddy Lounds, implying that he intends to let him go; Freddy even thinks that he'll be safe as long as Dollarhyde doesn't take it off. He turns out to be very, very wrong.

    The Silence of the Lambs 

Agent Clarice Starling

"You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself?"
Played By: Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore & Masha Skorobogatov

  • Consummate Liar: It's rarely dwelt upon, but in Silence of the Lambs, she lies to Hannibal Lecter's face and gets away with it for as long as she needs.
  • Face-Heel Turn: She ends up becoming Lecter's lover by the end of the series, though only in the novels, in the film series, she stays a heroine throughout
  • Failure Knight: With dead lambs forming the center of the story's central analogy.
  • Fair Cop: Whether played by Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore.
  • Morality Pet: She is the only person Lecter is good to.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Julianne Moore sometimes has Clarice's accent and sometimes does not. Justified since it was established in The Silence of the Lambs that was she was trying to lose her accent.
  • Pride: Her driving motivation.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter

"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
Played By: Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel (late teen/young adult) & Aaran Thomas (8 years old)

  • Affably Evil: Usually unfailingly polite... providing the company is polite in return.
  • A God Am I:
    • During his conversation with Will Graham in Red Dragon, he reveals this to be the root of his pathology.
    • In Hannibal (film version), there is a recurring theme of comparing Hannibal to Jesus, complete with a Crucified Hero Shot and Pietà Plagiarism. The comparison, however, is not favourable: Hannibal compares Commandatore Pazzi to Judas for betraying him for avarice, and, by extension, himself to Jesus, forgetting that Judas decided to betray Jesus only after he said in Gethsemane (a soup kitchen, no less), ‘There will always be poor people, but only one of me,’ and that he himself, well, eats people.
  • Anti-Villain: Type I - Although this depends largely on personal interpretation. His targets are usually people who are impolite, or those he feels in some way that their death would be a service to the population at large. But he is not above killing those who would try to capture him, prevent him from escaping capture, and, when trying to secure a job in Florence, killing the man who's job he intends to take. His murders are exceptionally vicious, especially his "wound man" killing. That said, he is not without sympathetic qualities, and is a gracious, courteous host, unless you get on his bad side.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Was retconned into being Lithuanian aristocracy.
  • Ax-Crazy: A particularly civilised example.
  • Bait-and-Switch Amputation: At the end of Hannibal (film), Hannibal is forced to cut off either his own hand or Clarice’s with a kitchen knife to escape. He is shown bringing down the knife, followed by Clarice’s painful expression; the next scene shows she still has both hands, and the final scene shows Hannibal struggling to eat with one hand.
  • Berserk Button: Just try to insult or harm Clarice Starling (or children), and see how long you last. Remember what happened to Miggs, Chilton, and Krendler? Yeah, that's right. In his own words: "Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me." Being an asshole is a good way to get you in Lecter's bad book. In Red Dragon he feels that Will Graham has insulted him in their meeting so he unleashes Dolarhyde on his family.
  • Big Bad Friend: Acts like this in the opening for the Red Dragon movie, where he seems legitimately sad about attacking Graham, whom he honestly seemed to like. Apparently, he's a really sore loser, because when he and Graham meet again, it's pretty clear that he now hates the guy.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is incarcerated, but still writes highly respected articles for psychiatric journals.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Much moreso in the book than the movie. Dr. Lecter does not live in an obvious delusional fantasy (as Jame Gumb and Francis Dolarhyde do) and he rejects his Freudian Excuse (the death and consumption of his young sister). He derides psychology and behavioural sciences. He corrects Starling when she labels him as "destructive," telling her that he is most definitely evil.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He bites a guard on the face, then pepper sprays him, then bludgeons the guard's friend to death with a truncheon — friend who is unarmed, and has his hands handcuffed to the cage bars. Then listens to Johann Sebastian Bach's The Goldberg Variations, recorded by Glenn Gould in 1955.
  • Commonality Connection: Although he and Lady Murasaki are strangers when they first meet, they gradually bond over their mutual loss of family due to war, as they are now the only two surviving members. This is lampshaded by Inspector Popil.
  • Dissonant Serenity
    "His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue."
  • Due to the Dead: He buries Mischa's bones in her copper bathtub, and he leaves behind one of his mother's brooches as an offering.
  • Dumbstruck: The young boy becomes mute after losing Mischa. He is so traumatized by the event that he only starts speaking again after he meets his aunt 8 years later.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Emphasized during his escape.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Does this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Is genuinely disgusted with Mason, Chilton and Krendler. This is a major part of his character. He may be a murderer, a sadist and bit of an ass, but he can't stand exceptional rudeness or discourtesy.
  • Evil Cripple: At the end of Hannibal (film version), he severs his own hand to escape arrest, sparing Clarice the same fate. Although by this point he may or may not have gone through a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Evil Tastes Good: Besides the obvious, in the novel he hurts Senator Martin with a line ("Toughened your nipples, didn't it?" in the movie), "takes a sip" of her pain and thinks it is delicious.
  • Evil Is Petty: The whole dinner and a show he had Graham arrange in exchange for his help was done all to piss Dr. Chilton off. Even Barney and another orderly laugh at it.
  • Failure Knight: He is haunted by his inability to protect Mischa.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lecter. He gets away with being both this and Affably Evil; Faux Affably Evil is for the people he's messing with. Or plans to eat, or serve. Or is eating or serving. Played straight when he is genuinely pissed off at a person.
  • First Love: Lady Murasaki is the first woman he falls in love with.
  • Freudian Excuse: Initially this notion was defied by Lecter himself, saying that nothing happened to him but instead he happened, but thanks to retconning. His sister was fed to him by Nazi Cannibals when he was a child. As executed, it made everything else about Lecter mention by others (like Doemling) mesh better (and completed the Failure Knight analogy hinted at since the previous book), but the extension of it into a full story makes Lecter’s initial characterization as pure evil somewhat more ambiguous, as a few passages in Hannibal imply he resented his sister and was actually inspired by her murder, feeling awe at the extent that evil can reach.
  • Insufferable Genius: As Jack Crawford puts it to Starling, "He's very likely right, and he could have told you why, but he wanted to tease you with it. It's the only weakness I ever saw in him — he has to look smart, smarter than everybody. He's been doing it for years."
  • Karma Houdini: In spades, though Thomas Harris admitted he had grown to like his character so much this trope became inevitable. At the end of the Hannibal novel Lecter even finally settles down with Starling following the events of the novel.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: More often than not, his victims do have it coming.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: "'M' FOR MISCHA! 'M' FOR MISCHA! 'M' FOR MISCHA!"
  • Kubrick Stare: This is his default expression when revving up the creepy.
  • Life or Limb Decision: At the end of Hannibal (film), after Hannibal locks her to the fridge, Clarice handcuffs him to herself as the police is on its way. He grabs a kitchen knife and threatens her with it, but ultimately cuts off his own hand to escape.
  • Love Confession: He reveals to Lady Murasaki that he loves her, but she rejects him.
    Hannibal: I love you.
    Lady Murasaki: What is left in you to love?
  • Narcissist: Is convinced of his superiority to everyone around him and doesn't mind telling them.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Requests an hour in private with the Tooth Fairy casefile, which includes gruesome crime scene photos. Will knows that most of the time was spent with the pictures. Is also morbidly fascinated with church collapses, medieval torture instruments and cannibalism. Hannibal explicitly describes the pleasure he feels when he sees Starling consume the brain of Paul Krendler.
  • Noble Demon: Grutas and his gang are so awful that they make Hannibal seem heroic in comparison.
  • Nominal Hero: All of his victims in Hannibal Rising are war criminals, but Hannibal wants them to die for hurting his family.
  • Not So Stoic: When Miggs throws his semen at Clarice Lecter bellows down the hall at her. In the novel Clarice comments on how rare it is to see him agitated.
  • Pet the Dog: For Clarice, but he is also genuinely fond of Barney and Sammie. Was also Knight Templar Big Brother to Mischa.
  • Pretty Boy: When played by Gaspard Ulliel in Hannibal Rising.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the books, he is described as having maroon (brownish-red) eyes. He appears with bright red eyes in some posters for Hannibal and Hannibal Rising.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Definitely counts in relation to Starling.
  • The Stoic: Taken to extremes during his rare acts of violence. When he brutally attacked a nurse, which involved breaking her jaw to get to her tongue, his pulse never got above 85 bpm. Even during his escape he mostly looks bored (save for one brief second where he wears a terrifying Slasher Smile).
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Hannibal Lecter, M.D. and don't you forget it. Did you know Dr. Chilton has no medical degree?
  • Timeshifted Actor: The younger version of the character is played by Gaspard Ulliel and Aaran Thomas in Hannibal Rising.
  • Tragic Keepsake: In Hannibal Rising, he has photographs of his family, Mischa's teddy bear, his mother's letters and pearl necklaces.
  • Troll: The Dinner and A Show scene in Red Dragon was all just to tick off Dr. Chilton for removing his books and toilet seat. This antic caused the normally stoic Barney and a fellow orderly to laugh.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Mischa. He had made a promise to his sister's memory that he would avenge her death, and absolutely nothing, not even his aunt (who he does love), can dissuade him from carrying out his goal.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Lady Murasaki.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Before World War II, he was a cute and caring child.
  • Villain Protagonist: In Hannibal and Hannibal Rising (although in the latter he's more of a Noble Demon and Nominal Hero).
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: His idyllic life was shattered when his parents were murdered and he and his little sister were abducted by German deserters who ate his sister and fed him some of her in a broth. No wonder he's Ax-Crazy.
  • Wicked Cultured: His pathology is centred around this trope, as he eats (and serves) his victims as exquisite meals, apparently to prove how much better he is than them; or, in Starling's words, "show his disdain for those who exacerbate him" (or, sometimes, to perform a "public service"). Apart from this, and a more general love of fine dining and drink, he enjoys classical music, is a highly talented artist, and has sufficient knowledge of Dante, the Rennaisance and Renaissance literature to get a temp job as a library curator at a Florentine museum, and impress the board enough to nearly make it permanent.
  • Worthy Opponent: He considers Will Graham to be this, even after his incarceration.

Jack Crawford

"Believe me, you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head."
Played By: Scott Glenn & Harvey Keitel

  • The Atoner: Applies in the book version of Silence. Crawford remembers that putting Will Graham through a Mandatory Unretirement during the Tooth Fairy case ended up destroying the poor man's life. He does everything he can to help Clarice avoid a similar fate.
  • Enforced Method Acting: According to the actor himself, Real Life FBI profiler John Douglas, on whom Crawford's character was based, played audiotapes of actual serial killer victims for Glenn (in a locked van) to get an idea of the stress of dealing with serial killers. The tapes were so traumatizing that Glenn broke down in tears and, later, refused to reprise his role in either Hannibal or Red Dragon.
  • Happily Married: A significant part of Crawford's arc in the books has to do with his devotion towards his terminally ill wife Bella, who passes away in Silence. When Crawford has a fatal heart attack in Hannibal, he shifts his body to Bella's empty side of the bed as he dies.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Starling.
  • Oh Crap: When he and his men break into the wrong house, he is clearly shocked, but also mentions one name in sheer worry.
    Crawford: Clarice!!!

Jame Gumb AKA Buffalo Bill

Played By: Ted Levine
"It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."
  • Freudian Excuse: Alluded to.
  • Genuine Human Hide: His ultimate goal is to make a woman suit out of real women.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Genuinely loves his pet poodle to the point where he all but has a breakdown when Catherine holds her prisoner and his willing to sacrifice the skin and hair he covets so much to ensure her safety.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Implied to be one. Hannibal himself states "Buffalo Bill wasn't born a criminal; he was made one by years of systematic abuse."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Bill collects his victims by acting as a handicapped person lifting a heavy object, then bludgeoning them to unconsciousness when their guard is down.

Dr. Frederick Chilton

"Oh my, does he hate us. Thinks I'm his nemesis."
Played By: Anthony Heald

  • Arch-Enemy: Subverted. Chilton smugly tells Clarice that Lecter considers him one. The truth is Lecter regards Chilton as little more than a nuisance.
  • Asshole Victim: Considering that his behavior not only obstructed the Buffalo Bill investigation but put Clarice and Catherine in danger, the idea of Lecter exacting vengeance upon Chilton is both scary and gratifying.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Towards a Serial Killer, no less. He's smart enough to put Lecter in restraints first, but it's still monumentally dumb considering how much of an Evil Genius he knows Lecter is.
  • Brainy Brunette: Subverted. While he loves to put on a show of this, his fumbling incompetence is dangerous. Lecter makes a Sophisticated as Hell joke about his hair color and intelligence, obliquely calling him a shithead.
  • Failed a Spot Check: As Clarice's Threshold Guardian, Chilton goes through all of the hospital's security measures concerning Lecter, specifically banning pencils and pens from Lecter's cell. The reason Lecter escapes is because Chilton has left his own pen in the cell.
  • Jerkass: Makes a sleazy pass at Clarice? Check. Frequently taunts the Evil Genius? Check. Illicitly records Clarice's conversations with Lecter, leaks the FBI's deal with Lecter, then hogs the spotlight as the plan's brainchild? Check. Puts both Clarice and Catherine Martin at the mercy of Buffalo Bill in the process? Check. Becomes the only character in the story that we want Hannibal to kill horribly? Checkola.
  • Lack of Empathy: Perfectly willing to risk lives if it makes him feel important.
  • Threshold Guardian: For Clarice. His smug attitude and come-ons are mixed with genuine warnings about Lecter's true nature, foreshadowing how Clarice has to deal with politics, misogyny, and disturbing violence in her chosen career.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Constantly bullying and taunting Lecter. Sure, he was locked up, but did Chilton really believe he wouldn't seize his first opportunity?

Catherine Martin

Played By: Brooke Smith

Senator Ruth Martin

Played By: Diane Baker

Ardelia Mapp

Played By: Kasi Lemmons

  • Only Sane Woman: Is probably the only consistently likeable character besides Crawford and Barney in the entire book series.

Barney Matthews

Played By: Frankie Faison

  • Black Best Friend: Probably the only staff member at the Baltimore Hospital whom Lecter was on consistently good terms with.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Has feelings towards Margot that he tries to act upon in Hannibal, but he accepts it when she rejects him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The final scene of the book version of Hannibal sees Barney visiting Buenos Aires and seeing Hannibal and Clarice at the opera. He immediately fears for his life and flees.
  • Threshold Guardian: For Clarice, in a much kinder way than Chilton — he reassures her both of the dangers she faces, and that she is up to the challenge.

Paul Krendler

"Jesus, Starling, are you writing a book or are you catching a crook?"
Played By: Ray Liotta & Ron Vawter

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Compare Vawter in Silence to Liotta in Hannibal
  • Asshole Victim: Krendler goes out of his way to destroy Clarice not only because of the Buffalo Bill case (which she solved without his help) but over her rejecting his advances (twice). Then he colluded with Verger to use her to lure Lecter into the boar trap.
  • Characterization Marches On: Evolves from a Flat Character in Silence of the Lambs to Clarice's nemesis and eventual meal in Hannibal.


Mason Verger

"When the fox hears the rabbit scream he comes a-runnin'... but not to help."
Played By: Gary Oldman

  • Cain and Abel: The Cain to Margot's Abel. He raped her repeatedly and bit her, then after his disfigurement he keeps her around to torment her in other ways.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Before his disfigurement Verger was explicitly a pedophile who abused his younger sister as well as other people, and afterwards still gets off by psychologically breaking them.
  • Fed to Pigs: In the movie. In the novel, his death manages to be even more gruesome as Margot takes his pet eel and forces it into his mouth, essentially letting it eat him from the inside out.

Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi

Played By: Giancarlo Giannini

Dr Cordell Doemling

"One's eyes adjust to the darkness."
Played By: Zeljko Ivanek

    Red Dragon 

Agent Will Graham

Played By: Edward Norton

  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Is one of the few people to get away with this, with little to no consequence. More than once. Though somewhat subverted as one of the times does not quite work.
    Hannibal: I already suggested how, the answer's right in front of you, you looked, but didn't see.
    Graham: Bullshit, no riddles. Just tell me.
    Hannibal: No! I asked you for a small courtesy and you responded rather rudely.

Francis Dolarhyde

"Before me, you rightly tremble. But, fear is not what you owe me. You owe me awe!"
Played By: Ralph Fiennes

  • Adorkable According to Reba, most women she knows, see him this way. A fact that makes him smile.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: As a child, when it was perfectly normal. His grandmother viewed it differently, threatening to castrate him. It becomes something of a Berserk Button for him.

Reba McClane

"If there's anything I hate worse than pity, it's fake pity."
Played By: Emily Watson

Molly Graham

Played By: Mary-Louise Parker

Freddy Lounds

    Hannibal Rising 

Lady Murasaki Lecter

Played By: Gong Li

  • Commonality Connection: Although she and Hannibal are strangers when they first meet, they gradually bond over their mutual loss of family due to war, as they are now the only two surviving members. This is lampshaded by Inspector Popil.
  • Damsel in Distress: She becomes this after Grutas kidnaps her.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Her character was named after the historical figure Lady Murasaki Shikibu, who was the author of The Tale of Genji.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: She knows how to use a katana, and she teaches this skill to Hannibal.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: She is beautiful by traditional Asian standards.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Hannibal.
  • Widow Woman: When Hannibal meets his aunt for the first time, he learns that his uncle Count Robert Lecter had passed away nearly a year ago.
  • You Remind Me of X: Variant 3. She tells Hannibal that he looks just like his uncle. Since the young man is physically reminiscent of her late husband, she appears to be projecting some of the feelings she had for Robert on to her nephew.

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