Hoyay: Hannibal

“Did you just smell me?”
"Do you desire Tobias sexually?"
Hannibal to Franklyn, S01E07 — Sorbet

So, as a new fan, you settle down and decide to watch a prequel to an award winning series and... wait, what? I remember Hannibal smelling people in the books, but I certainly don't remember characters getting that facially close or forcing plastic tubes down throats...

Since relationships are key to character arcs, and that we can't exactly white out the entire page, please note that spoilers can and will be unmarked. Proceed at your own risk!

    open/close all folders 

    Season 1 

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham

  • Season 1, Episode 5: "Did you just smell me?"
  • Season 1, Episode 7: "I have a date with the Chesapeake Ripper."
  • Season 1, Episode 9: "We are her fathers now."
  • And then there's (S1 finale spoilers) certain comments from Word of God:
    Interviewer: Is Hannibal's obsession with Will also an attempt to more fully understand himself?
    Fuller: Hannibal's absolutely on a journey of self-exploration, and he's fascinated by his fascination with Will. He is curious about this change that's come over him. It's sort of like somebody who is falling in love for the first time and had never felt that was actually a possibility for them. That's a fresh, unexplored territory for Hannibal that is exciting to him and interesting to him. Maybe his ultimate downfall is his attraction and affection for Will Graham.
    • Not to mention Word Of God describing, in an interview about Season 2 episode "Yakimono", Will's intent in starting their therapy again as to "seduce" Hannibal, as Hannibal has previously been "working very hard" on doing.
    • Mads Mikkelsen, for his part, talks about how much Hannibal loves Will more than a little (although he explicitly says that it's not a romantic love).
    Mikkelsen: ...But he [Hannibal] definitely, definitely loves Will Graham. As pure as love can get.

Hannibal Lecter and Other

Tobias Budge:

  • On the Foe Yay front, there's Tobias Budge, who seemed to be attracted to both Hannibal the murderer and Hannibal the man. Tobias serenades Hannibal and flirts with him; Hannibal reciprocates at first, but ends whatever game he was playing with Tobias at their dinner date.
  • As if Tobias' vaguely effeminate body language wasn't enough, the music is what seals the deal.
    • The prelude to Tobias' serenade is Christian Petzold's "Minuet in G Major", played by Tobias' student. This Petzold piece was adapted by The Toys in the sixties by the name of "A Lover’s Concerto" with added lyrics:
    "How gentle is the rain
    That falls softly on the meadow?
    Birds, high up in the trees,
    Serenade the clouds with their melodies.

    Oh, see, there beyond the hill,
    The bright colours of the rainbow.
    Some magic from above
    Made this day for us just to fall in love [...]"
    • Following the musical cues, at their dinner, the background music is Mendelssohn's "Intermezzo OP. 61 No. 2" for Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream". A song described by the composer as the music for "one's desperate search for a bewitched lover".


Tobias Budge and Franklyn Froideveaux:
  • It's not hard to read Tobias as Franklyn's jealous boyfriend in "Sorbet". He stares at Hannibal with a sour expression and comments on Franklyn's "wandering eyes", complaining of either Franklyn not paying attention to the concert or Franklyn not paying attention to him.
  • Their homoerotic subtext is lampshaded by Hannibal in the same episode, in which Hannibal directly asks Franklyn if he's attracted to Tobias.

    Season 2 

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham

  • Season 2, Episode 1: "I can't get you out of my head."
    • "You are obsessed with Will Graham."
  • Season 2, Episode 3: "He wants to know me." As all the fans responded, in unison: "Biblically!"
  • Season 2, Episode 3: "This killer wrote you a poem. Are you going to let his love go to waste?" Also, any given shot of Hannibal sitting in his chair, staring sadly across at Will's empty chair while sad music plays in the background.
  • The Season 2 premiere could be called Ho Yay: The Episode, for all of its slashy moments. First, there was the scene where Hannibal visits Will in jail, and this statement, which out of context seems straight out of a romance novel, happens:
    Will: (to Hannibal) I can't get you of my head.
  • Then there's the fact that Hannibal and Will never seem to shut up about each other, both Frederick and Dr. du Maurier lampshade this. But the slashiest scene out of them all had to the one where Will remembers how on earth Hannibal got Abigail's ear into his stomach. Hannibal drugged him and shoved a long plastic tube down his throat, which er, symbolized something to a great deal of fans. The choking noises Will was making, dear god...a common statement in the fandom already is that they "didn't even need photoshop!" (seriously, listen to that scene without watching what's happening). Also after Hannibal removes the tube, he caresses Will's face a great deal — as pointed out in the Tumblr fandom, it's like they're not even trying to be subtle about the subtext any more.
  • In "Hassun", someone kills a bailiff and a judge so as to make it seem like the real perpetrator of Will's alleged crimes is still out there, which means Will is not guilty of the murders he's on trial for. Hannibal urges Will to use that at his trial, and when Will is reluctant, Hannibal says "This killer wrote you a poem. Are you going to let his love go to waste?"
  • In "Mukōzuke", we get a shot of Will ripping off his clothes and falling forward to his hands and knees, while antlers (Hannibal's symbol) erupt out of his bare back. Um...
    • Later, "Futamono", we see him standing in one of the cages waiting for a visitor, again picturing antlers sprouting from his back again, but much more serenely. The visitor he was expecting was Hannibal.
  • In "Futamono", Hannibal's entire conversation with Will where he expresses hurt over Will having "betrayed" (read: attempted to murder) him could out of context look like a jilted lover confronting someone who cheated on him. Hell, even in context it looks like it.
  • Season 2, Episode 7: "I have to deal with you... and my feelings about you." This after Will shows up at Hannibal's door uncharacteristically cleaned up, coat folded neatly over his arm. Hannibal, for his part, is pretty copacetic to letting a person who almost shot him (twice) and tried to murder him by proxy back into his home. But then, he has been missing Will so very sorely.
  • "Su-zakana" is basically Ho Yay: The Episode, Part II. To list a few instances:
    • The fact that Hannibal can't stop talking about Will even when he's in bed with someone else. To be entirely fair, his sexual partner is just as bad — but at least she actually does stop talking to Will when she said she was going to, unlike Hannibal.
    • Hannibal's absolutely delighted smile in reaction to Will declaring "I finally find you interesting".
    • Will makes some cannibalism jokes at dinner. Hannibal is rather pleased.
    • The extended conversation where Hannibal cradles Will's face and compares him to a butterfly. While the suspect of the week is hanging out a few feet away, but they're both too caught up in the moment to care. It needs to be noted that the butterfly quote is from the books, and was originally used to describe Clarice Starling, who became Hannibal's lover. So, if we take the parallel to its logical extreme... Just look at them!
    Hannibal: With all my knowledge and intrusion, I could never entirely predict you. I can feed the caterpillar; I can whisper through the chrysalis; but... what hatches... follows its own nature and is beyond me. (smile)
    • Hannibal getting Will to describe how he'd kill him. Will plainly states, "With my hands". Watch Hannibal's face. He's barely containing his excitement.
      • Here, this video pretty much sums up the subtext beautifully.
    • The way Will tells Peter he envies his hate, as "knowing how to feel makes it easier", suggests that Will himself doesn't know how he feels with regards to Hannibal.
  • Season 2, Episode 9: Opens with a dream where Will has tied Hannibal to a tree, in which Hannibal explains his actions obliquely as an attempt to understand his "beloved". Will is literally dreaming about Hannibal confessing that he loves him. Admittedly, just before Will decapitates him.
    Hannibal: By that love we see potential in our beloved, and through that love, we allow our beloved to see that potential. By expressing that love, our beloved's potential comes true.
    • Bryan Fuller has discussed the show's "homoerotic" subtext, particularly in light of this episode, and admits that it's "practically text in a couple of episodes". Read the interview here, and another relevant article here. However, it's also stated that the intimacy they share is something akin to brothers, and equals - a primal bond that transcends sexual love. But just see if that stops the fanfic.
    Bryan Fuller: There's a scene at dinner where we were tackling in the edit bay because it was so transparently homoerotic. They were doing something that was not sex or anywhere near sex, but it was shot so suggestively that they may as well have been.
    • "You must allow yourself to be intimate with your instincts, Will," Hannibal says as he stares at Will intently.
    • Hannibal asking Will how he felt when he killed Garret Jacob Hobbes and thought he'd killed Hannibal. It's... hard to put into words how transparently he's looking forward to Will's response, but the way he pauses and licks his lips before quietly asking Will how it felt is a good start.
  • Season 2, Episode 10:
    • Hannibal tenderly dresses Will's hand wounds from last episodes. When he tells Will not to retreat from him and what he's done, Will asks where he would go.
    • Hannibal and Will wax poetically on a killer at the latest crime scene. Given the context, it reads like they're flirting and Jack's "WTF" look does not help.
    • Hannibal tells Margot she can't kill her brother because she still loves him. Parallels have been drawn between Margot's relationship with her brother and Will's relationship with Hannibal, so if the parallel is taken to its logical conclusion, Will can't kill Hannibal because he loves him.
    • There is a brief shot of Hannibal, Alana and Will in bed together.
    • Romantic music plays as Hannibal and Will eat what is implied to be a piece of Freddy Lounds. That Will killed and brought to Hannibal.
    • While Will is having sex with Margot, he sees the wendigo that represents Hannibal to him.
  • Season 2, Episode 11:
    • Fuller told us there would be a scene dripping with hoyay. Look no further than the Ortolan Bunting dinner between Will and Hannibal. It's somewhat hilarious how heavy handed the eating of the birds is treated to invoke fellatio.
    • "It's a courtship."
  • Season 2, Episode 12:
    • The opening fantasy sequence with Will murdering Hannibal is incredibly sexualized. Bryan Fuller's tweet on the scene describes it as "WILL GRAHAM IS COVERED IN #HANNIBAL'S BODILY FLUIDS #GAYAGENDA."
    • Will notes that Hannibal doesn't want anyone else in Will Graham's life except himself, citing the relationships he's destroyed and distanced Will from.
    • There is some concentrated eye contact happening between Hannibal and Will, mainly when Hannibal is tied up and suspended.
    • Hannibal compares himself and Will to Achilles and Patroclus, known for being lovers as well as comrades in arms.
      • Possibly YMMV but the actual drawing of said Achilles and Patroclus, seems to look an awful lot like himself and Will. Hannibal's pretty much officially thrown subtle entirely out the window, and just stares at Will meaningfully, pencil in hand.
  • Season 2, Episode 13:
    • Everything Hannibal does to Will in the last few minutes of the episode is the equivalent of a scorned lover getting their petty revenge against the person who rejected them. Him gently stroking Will's face and pulling him in for an embrace before he stabs him in the gut with a linoleum knife, standing above him looking down at Will while he bleeds out on the floor... Even his slashing Abigail's throat — a young girl who Will has long viewed as a potential daughter — and leaving her for dead is completely symbolic of Hannibal destroying the life he and Will could have had together.
      Hannibal: I let you know me...see me...I gave you a rare gift...but you didn't want it.
    • Will is confirmed (by Hugh Dancy) to be alive. The very fact that Hannibal didn't ensure the wound was fatal hints at lingering feelings, despite Will's betrayal — it would have been all too easy to kill him.
      Hannibal: Did you think you could transform me?
      Will: I already did.
    • Before that, there's a scene where Hannibal asks Will to run away with him that very night rather than follow their plan. It comes soon after Hannibal discovers Freddie Lounds is alive, so it feels like Hannibal's trying to test if there were any genuine feelings on Will's part or if it was all an act. In the same conversation, Hannibal indirectly states that he will always care a mental picture of Will with him as a loved one.
    • Hannibal leaves his house wearing Will's coat. Ostensibly it's to cover the blood stains on his shirt, but he had a chance to grab a coat of his own and instead choose to grab Will's rain-soaked one as a memento.

Hannibal Lecter and Other

Matthew Brown:
  • Brown and Hannibal's half-naked torture session definitely brings the Foe Yay.

Frederick Chilton:
  • There was something very odd going on with their relationship in Season 2 up 'til then already, but the wink Hannibal gave Chilton in "Futamono" really came across as flirty.

Will Graham and Other

Matthew Brown
  • Matthew's intense, worshipful obsession with Will, and the way Will totally plays on it, practically batting his eyelashes at Matthew to get him to do a favour.
  • He killed his friend in an attempt to prove Will innocent, hacked and reread Will's files, seemed to go out of his way to be the one who cared for and accompanied Will in or outside the hospital, and rewired the mics so that Will's conversations weren't always being eavesdropped on. And all this occurred before Matthew even talked to him.
  • Despite knowing how dangerous Hannibal is, Matthew does what Will asks and goes after him within two days of Will's request. And then he brutally tortures, crucifies, and hangs Hannibal in a manner reminiscent of Judas Iscariot. They are also both half-naked.
  • When Hannibal tries to turn Matthew to his side by telling him that Will isn't a serial killer, he says that he doesn't care and then criticizes Hannibal for betraying Will's trust. Matthew is obsessed with Will himself, not the murders attributed to him, which he gleefully makes clear to Hannibal.
    Matthew: Judas had the decency to hang himself in shame at his betrayal. But I thought you needed the help.
  • Matthew's also the one who killed the bailiff and wrote the "love poem" (as described by Hannibal) for Will as well.

Frederick Chilton
  • These are the words Will uses buttering Chilton up in "Takiawase": "I will be under your exclusive care."