A mind is a terrible thing to taste...
Hannibal Lecter: God forbid we become friendly.
Will Graham: I don't find you that interesting.Hannibal
is a peculiar genre mash-up of Forensic Drama
and Gothic Horror
created by Bryan Fuller
, based on the character of Hannibal Lecter
. The series follows FBI profiler
Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as he investigates difficult serial killer cases for Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne
). Requiring further assistance, psychiatrist Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) recommends they enlist the help of the world-renowned psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen
), to both consult on cases and keep Graham from becoming too caught up in the horrors of his job....Did we mention Hannibal Lecter is secretly a cannibal and serial killer?
Set before Red Dragon
, the novel that started the Thomas Harris books
and led to the award winning film series
, the show frequently leans on Lecter's double life
and his "friendship"
with Graham and co. as they solve grisly murders. Not only is the show notable for its writing, it also built on an infamous cocktail of Scenery Gorn
and Food Porn
— expect beautifully constructed meals
made with Mystery Meat
, and corpses mutilated in some unique
Premiering on NBC
on April 4th, 2013, the show was later renewed for a second season that began airing on February 28th, 2014. The show quickly gained popularity by drawing Fuller and Harris fans together, and for spawning an enthusiastic fanbase that has been skillfully and gleefully mirrored by the official blog (MAJOR UNMARKED SPOILERS)
Additionally, provided the show continues to get renewed, Fuller has announced an ultimate six-season plan
for the show: after the first two original seasons, the third-through-fifth will be a re-ordered, re-imagined version of the book series (Red Dragon
, The Silence of the Lambs
, and Hannibal Rising
) before the show closes on an original ending come season six. note
With the current ordering still up in the air and a lot of creative freedom
, the only certainty of the show is that the Silence of the Lambs
series (should it be made) will be last, entirely based on MGM clinging to the rights of Clarice Starling
On May 9th, 2014, the show was renewed
, making Hannibal
the first Fuller show to both avoid being Screwed by the Network
before season three. Season three is currently set to first air Summer 2015
, with an announced premiere date of June 4th.SPOILER WARNING: Please note that, as Season 2 has now finished and a great deal of page was whited out, episodes prior to "Relevés"note will not be covered by spoiler tags. You have been warned.
This show provides examples of:
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- Above Good and Evil: Hannibal seems to lean toward this view. Also Will, who in "Naka-Choko" (when he appears to have finally done something unquestionably wrong) says he's "given up" good and evil.
- Adaptation Expansion: A few flashback scenes from the books are blown up into what Bryan Fuller describes as "three missing novels" in the Thomas Harris series, leading into Red Dragon.
- Adopt the Dog: Employed halfway through the first episode, to help us like the odd and decidedly unsocial Will Graham. He may not do well in social situations or know how to get along with people, but caring for his seven rescued stray dogs proves that he's compassionate at heart — in distinct contrast with Dr. Lecter.
- Adult Fear: In "Mizumono", Will helplessly watches as Hannibal slices Abigail's throat open, too grievously injured to protect her from the same man who had secretly kidnapped and controlled her since the first season. The episode ends with Will — horribly injured and bleeding out on the kitchen floor — desperately trying to staunch the blood flow from Abigail's throat.
- Affably Evil:
Pimm: He couldn't envision a dignified end of life. So it's much nicer to die — for him — to die in a meadow...a head full of bees...Have you tried the honey?
Jack: (flatly) No.
Pimm: Couldn't bring myself to either. It seemed too morbid.
- Matthew Brown, at least in regards to Will Graham. On the other hand, he definitely classifies as Faux Affably Evil to the bailiff he killed and to Hannibal.
- Alone with the Psycho: It occurs several times during "Entrée" with Dr. Abel Gideon. And unsurprisingly, with Hannibal. Example:
- At the end of "Entrée" with Miriam and Hannibal.
- At the end of "Relevés", when Abigail realizes that Hannibal is a serial killer, and he reveals that he's a lot worse than her father.
- In the season one finale "Savoureux", Hannibal with Will — but to everybody else, it seems that Will is the psycho.
- At the end of "Takiawase", Beverly discovers Hannibal's basement and reacts in horror. She flicks on the lights, which suddenly reveals him standing behind her.
- At the end of "Naka-Choko", when Freddie Lounds finds the shed in which Hannibal and Graham have hidden the dismembered body parts of Randall Tier, she finds herself with a Will Graham who certainly appears to her, and may in fact be becoming a "psycho".
- Ambiguous Disorder: Zig-zagged with Graham, who is directly asked by Crawford if he has an autism-spectrum disorder but doesn't elaborate much beyond saying "closer to Asperger's and autistics than narcissists and sociopaths." Bryan Fuller commented in an interview that, "[With Asperger's] you can't read social cues. He has an empathy disorder where he reads too much and it overwhelms him."
- Ambiguously Evil: Dr. Du Maurier.
- And Show It to You: In "Rôti", Gideon takes out several of Dr. Chilton's organs while he has him awake but under anesthesia. He doesn't quite get to his heart but probably would have if Crawford hadn't shown up.
- Animal Motif/Arc Symbol: The black deer with feathers for fur that shows up in Graham's dreams. Fandom has dubbed it the Ravenstag.
- In fact, this Animal Motif is used as a form of foreshadowing when Will spots a sculpture of a deer in Hannibal's office (Episode 5), which Hannibal notices, suggesting that Graham will eventually associate Lecter with evil. Another deer sculpture shows up in Dr. Chilton's office in Episode 6, which suggest it will be a recurring motif associated with antagonists or people who are not nearly as trustworthy as they appear.
- Appears again when Hannibal uses the aforementioned sculpture to kill Tobias.
- As Will's encephalitis worsens, he has increasingly frequent hallucinations of deer and buck antlers, usually in situations involving antagonists such as Dr. Gideon.
- In "Savoureux", it turns out it represents a Wendigo, and we see it not only in humanoid form, but in place of Hannibal himself from Will's point of view when Will realizes what Hannibal really is.
- Antagonist Title: Hannibal Lecter is the arch-villain; Will Graham is the protagonist.
- Anyone Can Die: Several recurring characters have been killed, including Franklyn, Abigail, Beverly, Gideon, and Chilton.
- Arc Words: "You see?" "What do you see?" or some variant, which references Will's empathy with serial killers, whether he's coming closer to being one, or whether he's coming close to noticing what's right in front of his face.
- "This is my design" is Will's mantra whenever he's channeling at a crime scene, or explaining for his students.
- Armour Piercing Question: As his therapist, Lecter asks Graham quite a few, notably whether Graham feels so bad because killing Garret Jacob Hobbs felt so good, and how his ability to empathize with killers has been affected now that he's felt the thrill of killing firsthand.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Despite Bella being a cancer patient recovering from an overdose, and Hannibal being a powerful sociopathic murderer, you can see her slapping him actually hurts him (even if not physically).
- Artistic License – Geography: the climax of "Apéritif" has the team rush from near Hibbing, Minnesota to Bloomington, Minnesota. Either Hobbes inexplicably waited three hours after Lecter's phone call to try to kill Abigail, or the team traveled two hundred miles in a few minutes.
- Artistic License – Medicine: Hannibal, Du Maurier and Alana Bloom are all psychiatrists, but are usually providing counseling, not medication, to their patients. Typically psychiatrists would see patients about medication and treatment of mental illness, more than just talk therapy - that's a psychotherapist's job. Justified in Will's case, since his relationship with both Hannibal and Bloom isn't a doctor-patient relationship in the typical sense.
- Alana Bloom also tells Abigail Hobbs that she isn't a medical doctor. Psychiatrists go through medical school, the same as any other MD. Perhaps also justified in that Alana may be trying to simplify matters for a layman/reassure Abigail that her goal is something very different from aiding her physical recovery.
- Aspect Montage: Quite frequently in Hannibal's kitchen. Usually focusing on whatever he's preparing. Used for the crime scenes as well.
- Hannibal inflicts this on Abel Gideon in "Futamono".
- Also, Mason Verger cuts off his own nose and eats it in "Tome-wan".
- The Bad Guy Wins: In the first season finale, "Savoureux", Will is incarcerated due to overwhelming evidence that he's the copycat killer and violently insane, Abigail is presumably dead, and no one suspects Hannibal — except for Will, who knows, but won't be believed. Hannibal's the one outside the cell, by all appearances innocent of any wrongdoing and free to go on as he has before.
- Taken even further in the season two finale. Hannibal escapes to France with Bedelia, after leaving Will, Abigail, Jack and Alana dying in his house.
- Bang, Bang, BANG: A partial aversion to the norms of this trope in regards to volume level. In "Fromage", Graham fires a gun right next to his and a murderer's ears, temporarily deafening both of them.
- Batman Gambit: Lecter pulls these off nearly Once an Episode, and they basically always work, though as of Season 2, Will (Lecter's most frequent gambit target in Season 1) seems to have built up a tolerance.
- Tobias Budge makes an off-color "joke" to Franklyn about wanting to play a man's vocal cords like a cello and, knowing Franklyn would hear about the murder and gossip to Lecter about the coincidence. All of this is so Tobias can send a message via proxy to Lecter in hopes that they can be serial killer friends.
- Shortly after Lecter tells Gideon where he can find Alana Bloom, he tells Will — who just regained consciousness from a seizure — that he's going to check up on Alana because Gideon is on the loose. He also stops Will from trying to go himself, telling him he needs to rest up, casually sets down Will's gun (which he previously confiscated) as well as the keys to his own car, and leaves the room saying he's going to phone Jack. A moment later, he re-enters with no intention of calling Jack and entirely unsurprised to find Will, the keys, and the gun have vanished.
- Betty and Veronica: Alana Bloom's two potential love interests are troubled but ultimately heroic FBI agent Will Graham and sociopathic, manipulative, people-eating Serial Killer Hannibal Lecter. Except outwardly their roles are inverted: Will is an emotionally fragile, increasingly unstable friend she has strong feelings for but equally strong reasons why they shouldn't get involved, and Hannibal is a steady, educated colleague who shares many of her interests.
- Black and Gray Morality: No one's really innocent and everyone has unexpected facets. The titular Villain Protagonist is The Corrupter as well as being a cannibal, but he's acted against people who are arguably worse than he is. Hero Will Graham has crossed many moral lines in pursuing/cozying up to Hannibal. The show's morality is so complex that two of the sleaziest characters from Season 1 — Dr. Frederick Chilton and Freddie Lounds — have heroic moments in Season 2.
- Black Comedy: Par for the course for a show by Bryan Fuller. Most of the show is pretty grim, but there are moments of weird, twisted levity.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: The cannibalistic subtext in some of Hannibal's lines has a twisted sort of humor.
- "Sorbet" takes it up to eleven in its final scene: Hannibal serves his immaculately prepared victims to his "friends" as they applaud him.
- In "Tome-wan", a drugged-out Mason Verger eats his own nose and pleasantly remarks that it tastes like chicken gizzard.
- Four words: "You slice the ginger."
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: From "Potage", "I'll keep your secret." "And I'll keep yours."
- The Blank: Used to chilling effect in "Buffet Froid" to represent one character's face-blindness.
- Blatant Lies: Delivered by Mason Verger (newly disfigured and handicapped thanks to Hannibal) to Jack, in order to avoid implicating Hannibal, near the end of "Tome-wan".
Jack: Do you find that Dr. Lecter's therapy has been helpful to you?
- Body Horror: Hooo boy...
- The victims of the killer from "Amuse-Bouche". They have mushrooms growing out of their bodies, and are slowly being absorbed into the soil where they are buried. Katz gently peels tape off the mouth of one of them. His lips slough off along with it. Then the man gasps, showing he's still alive. He dies shortly afterward, on the way to the hospital.
- The 'Angel Maker' in "Coquilles" transforms his victims by flaying their backs and raising the flaps of skin into the shape of wings. Oh, and thanks to a paralytic agent, at least one of the 'angels' was alive for about fifteen minutes after she was given her 'wings'.
- Almost all of "Fromage" qualifies. First, the killer literally played his victim's vocal chords, and then we find out he's making instrumental strings out of human organs to sell to the public, and the BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.
- The "totem pole" from "Trou Normand". Dear god, the "totem pole". Three guesses what it's made of.
- The Glasgow smiles that the killer carves into the victims in "Buffet Froid". They are not technically Glasgow smiles - if they had, it would have been substantially less horrifying.
- In "Rôti", we have two cases; a "Colombian Necktie" and Dr. Chilton having several of his organs removed while still conscious, both courtesy of Dr. Gideon and Hannibal in the second of the former cases.
- Season 2 premier "Kaiseki" has a killer who injects victims with silicone and coats their skin in resin, in the name of preserving them like statues. The episode's victim wakes in a pit of similar corpses and unable to move without tearing his glued skin.
- Season 2 Episode 4 has a woman hammering merrily into the eye sockets of a man while he is alive and apparently paralysed. This man is then injected with bee venom which makes his face swell horribly. And that's not even the worst part: Another of her victims was merged with a bee hive, with an impressive sequence showing bees flying through the body... anyone want some honey?
- In "Mukōzuke", we find out what happened to Beverly Katz, and it's so awful that everyone who sees it is visibly horrified: she was sliced vertically and preserved between panes of glass, like a museum exhibit.
- Dear God, the Season 2 "Tree Man" is a special kind of horror. Nothing says graphic like being eviscerated alive, being stuck into a tree that is still growing, and then having most of your organs replaced with flower bouquets.
- "Su-zakana" might mark a new high on Body Horror in this show: there is a victim that is inserted into a dead horse's womb via a Caesarean section. In one case, the victim is still alive. Then again, the series has a penchant for these kind of graphic arrangements, so this standard will likely be surpassed.
- In "Ko No Mono", Mason Verger has Margot Verger forcibly sterilized by having her reproductive organs removed after bribing a doctor to claim it was medically necessary.
- Direct from the novel Hannibal, "Tome-wan" gives us Mason Verger blissfully cutting off bits of his own face to feed to the dogs thanks to Hannibal's drug cocktail, then having his neck broken. It's especially notable in that neither the book nor The Film of the Book depict the scene in as much graphic detail as the show.
- Body Motifs: Eyes, mouths/tongues, and ears. Will is heavily associated with eye imagery because he sees, and Hannibal with mouths for the obvious reason and because he manipulates people through speech both in his profession and out. It's also not coincidental that all the motifs are related to the senses.
- Book Ends:
- In "Relevés", Abigail is apparently killed in the same spot where she almost bled to death in the first episode.
- In the "Savoureux", Will falls on the same spot that Garrett Jacob Hobbs did after Jack shoots him (non-fatally) and stares at Hannibal as he says, "See?"
- The Season 2 finale, "Mizumono", has two, both referencing "Aperitif". Firstly, Will calls Hannibal and only says "They know," just as Hannibal did for Hobbes. Secondly, as Abigail's mother figure (before her mother, now Alana) lies horrifically wounded on the front porch, Abigail's father figure (before her father, now Hannibal) cuts Abigail's throat in the kitchen as Will can only watch helplessly. Before Hannibal saved Abigail's life, now he undoes his rescue as Will again tries to hold her wound closed and cannot.
- Break the Cutie: Everything that happens to Abigail Hobbs after she wakes up only seems to drive her closer to, at the very least, mental instability.
- Will is constantly pushed to use his empathy to find serial killers, and it is slowly eroding his mental state. Hannibal is...not helping.
- Break Them by Talking: Lawrence Wells happily surrenders because his murders are his only legacy (no children) and prison would be luxury compared to the retirement he could afford. Then Jack and Will tell him that he actually did have a child, a son that was his last victim, who was hidden from him because, Will suggests, his lover could see what kind of person Lawrence really was. By the end of that scene he's looking a lot less smug.
- California Doubling: Takes place mostly on the east coast of the United States, but is filmed in Canada.
- Call Back: In "Su-zakana" Will refers back to the page quote from S1, telling Hannibal he no longer wants to kill him. "Not now that I finally find you interesting."
- Call Forward: Dr. Alana Bloom, psychologist and friend to Will Graham, has to take over his crime class for FBI cadets when Will is too distressed to teach it. We hear part of her lecture before she is interrupted, which is about how to investigate crimes involving bites, bringing to mind Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon.
- Also, Will and Hannibal are talking in his Lecter's office as Will absently peruses Hannibal's library. In Red Dragon, it's one of Hannibal's books that leads to Will discovering his secret.
- Lecter's comments on Will's aftershave ("It smells like it has a boat on the bottle." / "I keep getting it for Christmas.") in "Coquilles" are a reference to Red Dragon, where he is able to use the smell of Will's aftershave (among other clues) to track down his home address.
- Hannibal is implied to have manipulated a patient into not only attacking Dr. Du Maurier but swallowing his own tongue before he could kill her. In The Silence of the Lambs, he talks the man in the next cell into swallowing his tongue, in retaliation for insulting Clarice.
- In the final scene of Season 1, Will and Hannibal are in the opposite positions as in Red Dragon.
- In the scene where Frederick Chilton attends a dinner at Hannibal's house, Hannibal remarks that it's nice to "have an old friend for dinner", paraphrasing the final line of Silence of the Lambs.
- In "Sorbet", Hannibal comments on Katz's "educational" tip on how to track the ambulance's GPS, foreshadowing his escape from custody in an ambulance in Silence of the Lambs.
- The killer in "Kaiseki" has a hell of a lot in common with Buffalo Bill — an aesthetic interest in his victims' skin, abduction methods involving vehicles right outside their apartments, and a penchant for dumping bodies in the river.
- A lot of the advertising for Season 2 featured Will in a face mask similar to Hannibal's famous one, and "Mukōzuke" sees him similarly outfitted — face mask, straitjacket, strapped to a wheelie cart — so that he can visit Beverly's crime scene. Likewise, the orderly's warning to Freddie — "Do not accept anything he gives you..." is word-for-word Chilton's warning to Clarice on her first trip to see Hannibal.
- When Crawford rings Hannibal's doorbell early in the morning, he remarks that the last person to do this was a census taker.
- "Su-zakana" and "Tome-wan" feature appearances by Mason Verger's pet eels.
- "Mizumono" ends Season 2 like the intro of Red Dragon, as Graham is surprised by Lecter, who almost kills him by slashing his belly with a linoleum knife, forcing Graham to stop his insides falling out. This has led to fans joking that season 3 takes place in the few seconds before Will pulls his gun out.
- Camera Abuse: When Will gets into the mind of Garrett Jacob Hobbs and hallucinates slitting Abigail's throat, her blood flies everywhere, spattering the camera lens.
- Cannibal Larder: Dr. Lecter is shown to keep the organs of the people he kills stored in his freezer for later use. An unusually-tidy example.
- Canon Foreigner: Several, as the Adaptation Expansion leaves lots of undefined ground to cover and requires people to fill it: every killer after Garrett Jacob Hobbs, Dr. Du Maurier, Dr. Sutcliffe, Mrs. Komeda, Miriam Lass...
- Captain Ersatz: Since the show doesn't have the rights to characters introduced in The Silence of the Lambs, several of these are used:
- Miriam Lass, for Clarice Starling. She's a plucky young FBI trainee hand-picked by Crawford to help in the hunt for a notorious serial killer.
- Franklyn Froidevaux, Hannibal's obsessive and annoying patient, and his close male "friend" Tobias Budge are Ersatzes for Benjamin Raspail and Jame Gumb. While the former remains faithful to the book character (up to and including being dispatched by Hannibal), Budge wound up being very different.
- Kade Purnell, an official from the office of the Inspector-General, for Paul Krendler.
- Casting Gag: Gillian Anderson as Hannibal's psychotherapist, Bedelia Du Maurier. Anderson is well known for playing Dana Scully, a character inspired by Clarice Starling. The connection becomes even more apparent when Hannibal and Bedelia go into hiding together after Season 2, which mirrors Hannibal and Clarice's eventual fate in the books.
- Catapult Nightmare: Graham suffers from one in "Apéritif", after reliving the nature of the crimes he had been profiling. He wakes up rather violently from another such dream in "Potage", soaked in sweat. His dreams get steadily worse and his awakenings more troubled.
- In "Trou Normand", both Will and Abigail have them as their sanity gets steadily frailer.
- Character Focus: Will Graham is the protagonist and the series tracks his character arc most prominently. Usually an episode will further his development (or degeneration) and examine different aspects of his personality — his mental state, his impoverished background, his fears, his romantic feelings for Alana Bloom, his developing trust in Hannibal and his paternal instincts towards Abigail. However, some episodes bring other characters into the spotlight in addition to Will. Their moments in the sun parallel Will's arc, probably deliberately.
- "Potage" and "Trou Normand" focus on Abigail Hobbs and her continuing struggle with the aftermath of her father's crimes.
- "Sorbet" and "Fromage" focus on Hannibal Lecter realising he is lonely and solidifying his attachment to Will.
- "Entrée" and "Coquilles" focus on Jack Crawford, his reasons for pursuing the Chesapeake Ripper so intently, and a personal crisis closer to home.
- "Rôti" focuses on Gideon's revenge against his psychiatrists for "scrambling" his identity, including Dr. Chilton who convinced Gideon that he's the Chesapeake Ripper.
- Chekhov's Gun: The fishing lure we see Hannibal examine in Episode 4 initially seems just a detail to make him look creepy. But in the first season finale, "Savoureux", the lures are used to frame Will for Hannibal's murders; traces of his victims were found on the lures, as if Will had been keeping them as trophies.
- Chekhov's Skill: Will's empathy abilities have a more practical use when he's framed and arrested as the Copycat Killer; recalling his reconstruction of Dr. Gideon's escape, he dislocates his thumb to slip off his handcuffs and escape custody.
- The Chessmaster: While seemingly evident, Hannibal is truly revealed as this in "Yakimono". The discovery that Miriam has been brainwashed during her extended captivity means Will realizes the Ripper has planned everything up to Chilton's framing for years.
Will: I planted the seeds and watched them grow. I cultivated a long chain of events leading to this. All of this... has been my design. It's theater.
- Children Forced To Kill: The reason the fourth episode, "Œuf", was yanked from the schedule was because the killer of the week brainwashed children into killing their families. Bryan Fuller felt that it was Too Soon after certain events. Luckily it wasn't cut from international broadcasts, and made available later.
- Combat Pragmatist: Hannibal isn't above playing dirty in his occasional scuffle, what with the risk he's at if he's caught. In "Fromage", he even snaps Tobias' elbow in a ladder before budgeoning him with a statue, and in "Takiawase" he flips off the lights so he can throttle Beverly.
- Contagious Cassandra Truth: Hits no less than five characters in Season 2 as Will slowly begins to convince people of Hannibal's true nature:
- "Sakizuki" has first is Bedelia du Maurier, who is correctly scared shitless of Hannibal and skips town.
- Second is in "Takiawase" with Beverly Katz, who gets murdered by Hannibal.
- "Yakimono" has Frederick Chilton, whose dawning realization prompts Hannibal to set in motion the Frame-Up of Chilton he'd been plotting for two years.
- "Kō No Mono" has two with Crawford confirmed as in the loop with Graham, and also has Alana finally believe him when she sees Lounds.
- Continuity Reboot: The show isn't a prequel to the films, but an adaptation of Red Dragon that exists in its own continuity and makes changes to some of the characters and events (i.e. Freddie Lounds is now a woman named Fredricka).
- Bryan Fuller's plan is to include book villain Mason Verger in the second season, directly adapt Red Dragon in Season 4 and do The Silence of the Lambs in Season 5. What will occur in Season 3, and if it will continue on to the third book has yet to be confirmed.
- Further reinforced by the episode "Entrée", which transferred some events, descriptions and dialogue from Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, such as Dr. Chilton's description of Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling's characterisation, and the circumstances of how Hannibal was discovered to be the Chesapeake Ripper. Since these unfold with different or Canon Foreigner characters, it suggests that Hannibal's arrest and incarceration will unfold differently to the source material.
- By the first season finale, the show has veered well away from the books and films' depictions of this era in the chronology; Graham has learned Hannibal is a killer and is framed for his crimes, but incarcerated in a mental institute as in the books, suggesting the series is on-track to deal with the plotlines from Red Dragon and beyond — albeit with their own spin.
- Taken further especially with the Season 2 premiere, which opens with a Flash Forward to Hannibal and Crawford fighting, suggesting that either Hannibal will be caught and arrested by Jack (instead of Will) in this version of events... or that Jack isn't going to last as long as his film and novel counterpart.
- Prequel: The series begins well before the events of Red Dragon, showing how Graham and Lecter first met and started working together.
- Cop and Scientist: With Will the cop (or, rather, FBI, but it's close) and Lecter the scientist.
- Cradling Your Kill: In "Entrée", Lecter nuzzles and kisses the top of the head of a victim he's suffocating, almost like a parent kissing a child goodnight.
- The Croc Is Ticking: Awful scratching, irregular drumming, and an awful buzzing noise — along with the drone of an aboriginal instrument called a bullroarer — always foretell the appearance of the feathered stag in Will's hallucinations, which alludes to the fact that a sinister evil is stalking Graham. In Season 2, this carries over to the wendigo.
- Cruel Mercy: In "Takiawase," after Hannibal promises to assist Bella in committing suicide at her request and momentarily allows her to drift into a painless death, he flips a coin and decides to revive her, prompting an angry response from his patient. Later in the season, her health is shown to have deteriorated considerably.
- Also the case for Clark Ingram, Peter's social worker, who the latter opted to knock out and stuff alive into a horse's uterus rather than kill him in "Su-zakana."
- Darker and Edgier: Most of Bryan Fuller's shows are black comedies concerned with death, but Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies balanced the dark and the whimsical (the latter being unafraid to cross over into cutesy), whereas Hannibal tips the balance far in favor of dark. Minus the whimsy, the humor is more of the "what the hell did I just laugh at?" variety.
- Deadly Pharmacist: The Gardener induces his 'fertilizer' into diabetic comas. It turns out that he's a pharmacist who selects diabetics who come to pick up their medicine.
- Death by Adaptation:
- In Season 1's finale, Abigail Hobbs dies despite seeing Red Dragon in the books. Subverted in Season 2, but. in the Season 2 finale, "Mizumono", this happens to Abigail again as, despite being revealed as alive, she is fatally wounded, which suggests this is probably going to happen again. Well, unless she survives, of course.
- Beverly Katz appears in Red Dragon, but is killed long before those events play out in this version.
- Deconstructor Fleet: A theme in Season 2: Episode 7 is a deconstruction of the third act of a psychological thriller, and Episode 9 is a deconstruction of the slasher movie.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The flashbacks depicting Jack and Miriam Lass in "Entrée" come close, being heavily desaturated — but some color, most noticeably red (as in blood), is still discernible.
- Also the flashback scene at the end of "Trou Normand" where it shows that Abigail did indeed help her father murder those girls by acting as bait.
- Dénouement: Season 2 continues to tie up several points from the previous season, such as in "Takiawase", where Will's degrading health is finally explained; he remembers Dr. Lecter controlling him by encouraging his encephalitis, and by making him photosensitive (to give him seizures).
- Diagonal Billing: Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are given equal billing in the opening credits, with their names alternating positions from episode to episode.
- Disapproving Look: In "Takiawase", this reaction occurs among a number of others as Jack and his team discover just how much of a nutcase the episode's killer is.
Pimm: I protected these people. I protected them from hopelessness...and that's beautiful. (grins)
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Hannibal shoves a long, thin object down Will's throat to force him to do something against his will, for which he will be blamed afterwards. Will even has a traumatic flashback to it later, which makes it seem extremely similar to a situation of Rape as Drama.
- Will's methods for dealing with Hannibal in the second season are essentially seduction. "You gotta make [a fish not interested in the bait] bite, even though he's not hungry. [...] You have to create a reality where only you and the fish exist. Your lure is the one thing he wants, despite everything he knows." He in turn plays up his vulnerability and his twistedness to appeal to Hannibal and keep him interested.
- "Tome-wan" confirms this: Will and Jack openly discuss capturing Hannibal, and Will reassures Jack that he's "a pretty good fisherman".
- Doomed by Canon:
- As a prequel series, this is to be expected. Note, however, that the setting means they're probably worse off alive; a prime example of this is in "Rôti", as Dr. Chilton is required to survive and remain a recurring antagonist, which means he's found semi-conscious and partially eviscerated instead of dying at Gideon's hands.
- Also subverted on occasion, with book and film characters (albeit not the starring ones) occasionally dying. Especially notable in Season 2 is Beverly Katz, who acted as a forensicist during the events of the Red Dragon book.
- The canon also gives us the Mason Verger's ultimate fate.
- Dramatic Irony: The audience knows that Lecter is a cannibalistic serial killer, but none of the other characters do - yet.
- In "Potage", Graham gives his FBI Academy students a lecture on the Minnesota Shrike copycat murder, which he believes was committed by a far more dangerous and sadistic killer who'll be harder to catch. Naturally, Hannibal drops in for the last few minutes and watches keenly.
- In the same episode, Abigail wants to recreate the morning of her parents' deaths, telling Alana "You can be my mom," and Will "You can be my dad," before turning to Lecter and saying, "And you be the man on the phone!" Lecter, of course, did call Garrett Jacob Hobbs to warn him that he was about to be discovered as the Minnesota Shrike. And in a strange way, Will did "become" her father using his empathic gift.
- In "Kaiseki", the episode opens with a Flash Forward to Jack attacking and fighting Hannibal, which ends with Hannibal seriously wounding Jack and pursuing him. Returning to the present, the duo then proceeds to enjoy lunch together and discussing Will Graham's guilt, which will presumably cause their fight in twelve weeks.
- Driven to Suicide: Season 2 has Bella Crawford, not that it works. Only Hannibal Lecter could make saving someone's life an act of such evil.
- Dull Surprise: Hannibal's reaction◊ to Mason Verger casually stabbing his office furniture in "Tome-wan." Given Hannibal's usual stoicism, however, this particular use of the trope rather effectively conveys his revulsion.
- Dysfunction Junction: Yeah, these people have issues. Most are FBI agents, which means regular exposure to the worst of humanity. A couple are psychiatrists, which has its own special neuroses as a profession. The rest are victims or killers. And then there's Will. The cannibalistic serial killer is probably the most together one of the bunch.
Freddie: Here we are, a bunch of psychopaths helping each other out.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Expected for a prequel series. Bryan Fuller has confirmed that this even overlaps with minor details, such as a serial killer lecture Alana gives in the first series matching Francis Dolarhyde's modus operandi.
- Embodiment of Vice: The Wendigo, which the stag turns out to be, is traditionally an embodiment of gluttony/greed. Hannibal is also somewhat obviously an embodiment of pride, given his noticeable displays of various forms of superiority to other characters and constantly flashy dress.
- The Empath: A non-supernatural version (to a degree; the ability is exaggerated to the point of being a super power) — the "pure empathy" that Hannibal describes in him leads Will to uncannily accurate crime scene readings. It also really sucks for him, as the impressions he gets of the killers linger in his nightmares.
- Enemy Mine:
- In "Entrée", Crawford gets the help of Freddie Lounds to try to provoke the Ripper into action.
- Season 2 has Will and Hannibal (albeit grudgingly for the former) vs. Mason Verger.
- Dr. Abel Gideon is one for Hannibal, with many phrases from the book used about Hannibalex. being used about him.
- Much of Abel Gideon's character is a homage to Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. The name 'Gideon' is a reference to Hannibal's original name in the script for Silence of the Lambs before they knew they could use Hannibal's name due to rights issues.
- In "Rôti", Gideon sits down across a table from Hannibal, demonstrating a clear contrast between the Anthony-Hopkins-like characterization adopted by Eddie Izzard as Gideon and Mads Mikkelsen's own take on Lecter. The irony is palpable; Gideon has been made to believe he was the Chesapeake Ripper, so Izzard imitates the acting style of the original Chesapeake Ripper as played by Hopkins.
- Miriam Lass, an eager-to-please and brilliant trainee under Jack, seems a clear-cut Clarice Call Forward; much of the dialogue between her and Crawford echoes that between Clarice and Crawford at the start of the film... with the twist reveal that she discovered Hannibal was the Ripper in the same way Will did from the books (with the diagram of Wound Man). She just didn't make it to a phone before Lecter found her out too.
- Miriam Lass is also this for Will Graham, of all people. The way she discovers the identity of the Chesapeake Ripper is the same way that Will Graham did in the novels.
- Garrett Jacob Hobbs is clearly meant to be one of infamous Real Life Serial Killer Ed Gein, going by his hunting themes and desire to use all parts of his victims.
- Between James Grey's method of abducting his victims, his value of their skin, and his similar name, he is very reminiscent of Jame Gumb.
- Matthew Brown's a serial killer who occasionally slurs his speech with an obsession with an (alleged) serial killer already incarcerated and goes to kill someone under his direction. In other words, he seems to have been inspired by Francis Dolarhyde. ***He is also an orderly at Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane like Barney Matthews, whose name sounds similar.
- However, despite some viewer speculation, it has been confirmed by the writers that Matthew is not the Red Dragon.
- Franklyn Froidevaux has similarities to the book character Benjamin Raspail, one of Hannibal's patients who he killed for being whiny and annoying.
- Eye Scream: "Entrée" has Graham put himself in the mind of a killer who gouged out a woman's eyes with his thumbs.
- "Takiawase" continues the trend, with a killer who performs twisted lobotomies by sticking metal pins in people's eyes.
- Fan Disservice: It's a safe bet that whenever nudity shows up it'll be this, from a naked girl impaled on a stag's antlers to a mural of naked people stitched together (without pixellation, even).
- On the subtler side there's Hannibal's scene in "Futamono" Talking in Bed the morning after with Alana Bloom, which in any other context would be sweet but, given who one party is, becomes nightmarish.
- The general consensus among viewers is that every sex scene in the show so far is uncomfortable to watch; particularly the long, drawn out fivesome in "Naka-Choko," despite most of the participants being quite attractive.
- The bizarre psychological three-way between Will, Hannibal, and Alana, with the stag man also thrown in. It ends up just feeling uncomfortable.
- Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Hannibal and Will are associated (using scenery, favored environments, perception or their tools) with fire and water, respectively, which symbolizes their respective natures. Hannibal is often filmed in front of his fireplace, just loves flambé cooking (using alcohol on a hot pan to create a jet of flame to cook the food), describes Will's illness/madness — which he cultivates — with fire metaphors (such as oil spill), and has used flame as a murder weapon. He's brilliant and eye-catching, vital, loves life, but he's terribly destructive and changes whatever he touches; the deliberate Lucifer inspiration makes it all the stronger (since Lucifer means 'light-bringer', and is, of course, associated with hellfire). Will is a fisherman; sweats a lot; likes and repairs boats; is filmed in the shower; hallucinates rain, floods, trickles, waves and cliffs of ice (including one when he outright dissolved in water); and retreats to a serene mental river in Season 2. His empathic gift means he takes the shape of others like water in a vessel, and he can seem deceptively dreary and cold, as well as easily "diluted" and diverted, subject to constant change and motion — always from without. Someone can't touch him without changing him. That doesn't mean he's not dangerous, too, in his own way.
- In "Mukōzuke" (Season 2, Episode 5), where was Hannibal nearly killed on Will's request? At a swimming pool. The episode also had the repeated symbolism of water with blood seeping into it.
- Five-Man Band:
- Foil: Similar to the books, Graham and Lecter are foils for each other.
- As of "Sakizuki", Du Maurier seems to be the good counterpart to Hannibal's "intelligent psychiatrist" role, especially so when she becomes the first character to outsmart and evade him.
- Flash Forward: The Cold Open for the Season 2 premiere, "Kaiseki", is a brutal fight between Hannibal and Jack that ends on a cliffhanger; no context is given, and we immediately jump back 12 weeks to a Jack and Hannibal sharing a friendly meal together.
- Food Porn: Hannibal Lecter prefers to cook his own meals, even the conventional ones, and he's a gourmet-level chef (detailed here). Hence, all the food we see him prepare looks utterly delicious, be it roast "beef", "sausage" and egg, or human lungs. It's subtly yet potently suggested that any time Hannibal serves any guest any kind of meat, it's human. It's essentially Food Porn Fan Disservice — the fact that it all looks so damned mouth-watering despite this makes everyone in the audience feel like they're Humanitarians by proxy.
- Taken Up to Eleven in "Sorbet", in which Lecter throws a fancy dinner party and the camera pans up the table, showing how it's laden with terrifyingly delicious-looking human organ meats, before finally showing Lecter give a short but sweet speech:
- Even Lecter's wine and beer are made with human parts.
- Foregone Conclusion:
- At some point — maybe not in the series itself, but inevitably — Lecter will be exposed as a serial killer by Will Graham and imprisoned in Chilton's asylum, and Graham will forced to retire from the FBI.
- According to early interviews, Fuller has roughed out several years worth of plot, calling Season 1 the "bromance" between Lecter and Graham, and Season 2 "the ugly breakup", while Season 4 is "basically Red Dragon", which in turn might possibly feature Freddie Lounds' death, if they plan to kill her off in the series.
- A more minor example, independent from the books, is the flash-forward at the beginning of Season 2, which confirms that neither Hannibal nor Jack will be meeting their demise in the interim.
- The fate of Mason Verger is essentially true to the book version.
- Forced to Watch: Dr. Gideon not only performs a local anesthetic vivisection on Chilton (i.e. gutting him whilst he's semi-conscious), but he kidnaps Freddie Lounds and forces her to watch and manually keep Chilton breathing.
- Frame-Up: Hannibal does this a few times throughout the series. Season One ends with Will Graham imprisoned in the Baltimore State Hospital for Hannibal's killings, and in "Yakimono" Dr. Chilton finds himself the target of the Chesapeake Ripper manhunt after Hannibal leaves the corpse of Abel Gideon and a few FBI agents at his house.
- Freak Out: In "Trou Normand", Will has a borderline panic attack when he suddenly finds himself in Lecter's office, having no memory of how he got there, and having lost at least three hours. This is not helped by his discovery the next day that he was apparently acting completely normally during his black-out, to the point that Crawford didn't notice anything at all different about him, meaning that presumably he gave a summation of what he saw, helped build the profile and innocuously took his leave without acting unusually in any way — or, at least, any more unusually than Will tends to act at crime scenes.
- Full-Name Basis: Will Graham, Jack Crawford, Garret Jacob Hobbs, Alana Bloom... basically every character but Hannibal usually gets this treatment.
- Garden of Evil: One killer has a garden out in the forest where he grows mushrooms on the bodies of people he's induced into diabetic comas.
- Gaslighting: In "Buffet Froid", we find out that Will has encephalitis, so at least some of his issues are due to physical problems with his brain, not just psychological ones. Hannibal makes sure he doesn't find out, and continues to lie to him about what's real and what isn't, so he can push Will further.
- Gender Flip: Freddy Lounds and Alan Bloom, both male from the books, are now Fredricka 'Freddie' Lounds and Alana Bloom.
- Genius Bruiser: Hannibal Lecter.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The painting in Hannibal's dining room is Leda and the Swan by François Boucher. It depicts the mortal woman Leda and the god Zeus, who has taken the form of a swan to do what Zeus always does with mortal women. Check out the painting online. The show depicted it totally uncensored. This may well be the first time nudity of that level (not to mention the blatant swan-placement) has slipped by the censors on one of the Big Three networks. By the second season, it pinged the radar, so Leda's now draped in cloth and the swan's head is elsewhere. Still, it sure took them a while.
- Interestingly, it was straight up subverted for the scene of Mason Verger slicing off his own face. Rather than argue with the network over what could or could not be shown, before filming the episode Fuller went to the censors, laid out exactly what the scene involved and asked straight-out how it could be depicted. They told him "Darkness is your friend." The result is in "Tome-wan."
- Gilligan Cut: When discussing organ harvesting as a possible motive for the organ removal of murder victims. Missing intestines prompt Price to suggest looking for someone with a short bowel, "or the Ripper's making sausages." Cut to Hannibal in the kitchen making sausage.
- Glasgow Grin: Georgia Madchen inflicts this on her victims, and Hannibal performs a rather elaborate variation on Mason Verger.
- A Glass of Chianti: When Dr. Bloom visits Lecter's office, she requests a beer. He provides it (in a special variety he brews in wine barrels to give it certain subtle flavors), but for himself pours a glass of wine. Red, naturally.
- God Is Evil: Discussed. This is Lecter's view: "Killing must feel good to God too-he does it all the time."
- Later, he speculates whether, if God exists, his killing people could actually be called "good" or "evil".
- In "Ko No Mono" Hannibal also states that his own "modest actions" pale in comparison with God's.
- Discussed once again in "Tome-Wan", where Hannibal speculates that to God innocence is offensive, thereby explaining the suffering of innocents.
- Gorn: Many of the killers leave their victims in states that you just can't look away from. And then there's Lecter in the kitchen...
- GPS Evidence: In "Sakizuki", after finding corn residue caught in the cracked resin on the victim's skin, the FBI — and Hannibal, separately — track the killer's hideout by simply traveling upstream until they find corn.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Graham and Crawford both think that if they act as if they believe that Dr. Gideon is the Chesapeake Ripper, it will provoke the real one into proving them wrong. Hannibal's actions show that they're right; even though he is most likely aware of the plan, it clearly infuriates him to see someone else take credit for his crimes.
- It's insinuated in Season 2 that one of the reasons Hannibal is so obsessed with Will Graham is that he's actually envious of Will's empathetic abilities.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: Used to add unease when Lecter is cooking — since Hannibal is infamous in real life for being a cannibal, gratuitous close-ups up are frequent when meat is being prepared.
- Also used more frequently as of Season 2. The premier often uses a Notice This shot to draw attention, and this overlaps with dead bodies and even of Hannibal's cheek when he's being swabbed for DNA. Also done with Will remembering Hannibal setting him up, which comes with graphic shots inside of Will's esophagus.
- Hallucinations: Will has them, such as in "Coquilles" when he has a conversation with the "Angel Maker", even though the man's just killed himself.
- In "Sorbet", Jack has one of Will on a morgue table, looking like a corpse, complete with autopsy scar, and missing the same arm cut from Miriam Lass's body.
- In "Fromage", Will repeatedly hallucinates hearing trapped or hurt animals, and in "Trou Normand" we see him lecturing to his class until Alana comes in and asks if he's rehearsing. He then realizes the room is empty.
- Following this point, the hallucinations grow so frequent that there's no point listing individual examples.
- Harassing Phone Call: Crawford gets some in "Entrée". But instead of a voice being on the other line, it's a recording of Miriam Lass.
- Hate Sink: In Season 1, Freddie Lounds. In Season 2, Mason Verger.
- He Knows Too Much: Chilton, Du Maurier, Graham, Katz, and Lass.
- Heroic Dog: Winston follows Will and tries to nudge him awake when he starts sleep walking. The second time, the dogs' barking woke him before he sleepwalked himself off his own roof. In a later episode, the dogs' worried grizzling wakes Will up and alerts him to the fact that Georgia Madchen is under his bed.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Yup. An extended Gag Reel is on the Season 1 DVD for those who wish to enjoy Mads Mikkelsen repeatedly failing to catch a potato.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: At one point Crawford asks Lecter if he would "Help (us) catch the Ripper," not knowing, of course, that Lecter himself is the Chesapeake Ripper. Lecter's response: "How could I refuse?"
- Hope Spot:
- In "Entrée", Jack describes hearing Miriam Lass' voice, which turns out to be a recording as being this for him, since for a moment he honestly believed she was still alive.
- In Season 2's "Futamono", the above is subverted, where it is revealed that Miriam is alive.
- In the first season finale, Alana discovers that Graham is suffering from a neurological disorder he isn't aware of. It seems ripe for a Pulling The Thread storyline that will prove Graham's innocence and perhaps expose Hannibal's malfeasance... but no, Hannibal effortlessly spins it to avoid all blame and reinforce the Frame-Up.
- Hollywood Nerd: As seen in "Sorbet", Will Graham has the torso musculature of a Greek god. He may be scruffy and his cold demeanor be off-putting, but that is one hot FBI profiler. Also applies to the other forensic lab rats, especially Beverly Katz and Brian Zeller.
- How We Got Here: The first episode of Season 2, "Kaiseki", opens with Jack and Hannibal fighting, with Hannibal wounding Jack before it flashes back twelve weeks to the ending of the previous season.
- Human Resources: Hannibal and other murderers are shown eating people beyond just carving them up, such as one killer who places victims in diabetic comas so to grow mushrooms on their decaying bodies. Heavily implied too when Hannibal is shown serving mushroom tea and beer, which is presumably made the same way.
- Hypocritical Humor: Meta-example. Jack Crawford states that he first met Will at the opening of the "Evil Minds Research Museum". He says that Will didn't like the name because he felt "the title mythologised banal and cruel men who didn't deserve to be thought of as supervillains", even though Lecter and many other killers on this show are portrayed exactly as that, as they are far more competent and dangerous than most Real Life serial killers and their murders are much more elaborate and even artistic.
- I Ate WHAT?: Abigail's reaction when she remembers that her father let nothing from his hunts go to waste... so he would have fed his family meat from his victims.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Reflecting Lecter's liking for fine food (and the rude), every episode title is based upon foods and culinary terms:
- The first season episodes were French terms, such as "Apéritif" (the pilot), "Potage", "Œuf", "Entrée", etc.
- The second season uses Japanese terms for its episode titles, such as "Kaiseki" (first episode, named after a formal, multicourse Japanese meal), "Takiawase", "Yakimono", etc...
- You can expect Italian titles for the third season, based on Hannibal and Bedelia's destination at the end of "Mizumono."
- I'm a Humanitarian: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, obviously. Also, the Minnesota Shrike, who displays Lecter-like tendencies when he guts and removes the liver from one victim... then sews it back in when he notices it's cancerous because, as Will realizes through his gift, "There was something wrong with the meat."
- Also, just about everyone who eats or drinks something that Lecter puts in front of them — which is most of the cast by this point (even Will's dogs, who just love the Doc's homemade sausage).
- Impossibly Delicious Food: Everyone who tastes Lecter's cooking seems to love it, despite (or because of) the fact that his meals are — unbeknownst to them, of course — nearly always human flesh.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: One of the Gardener's would-be victims in "Amuse-Bouche" is Gretchen Speck (she dropped the Horowitz in the divorce). She's even played by the same actress.
- And in true Bryan Fuller fashion, Celebrity Paradox kicks in here, as Caroline Dhavernas is in both. As different people.
- Ellen Muth shows up as a "Mulholland Drive type reinterpretation" of George from Dead Like Me. Her character, Georgia Madchen, last name translates roughly to "Lass", and she has Cotard's syndrome, believing she is dead but still existing in some form, like Georgia Lass in Dead Like Me.
- George and Reggie's last name on Dead Like Me was Lass. A "Miriam Lass" shows up as one of Jack's proteges.
- Internal Reveal: Unless someone had been completely isolated from popular entertainment for twenty years, it's no secret what Hannibal Lecter really is, and even if that were the case his special diet is revealed to the audience in the very first episode. Part of the drama is waiting to see how/when Will Graham will discover it.
- Ironic Echo: Will echoes his "I don't find you interesting" speech to Hannibal in Season 2:
Will: I don't wanna kill you anymore, Dr Lecter. Not now that I finally find you interesting.
- Season 1's "Rôti" features Will's desperate, pleading "Please don't lie to me" to Hannibal, begging his friend to bring him back to reality as he slips into a seizure. Later, in Season 2's "Su-zakana", Will confronts Lecter with "Don't. Lie. To. Me." in the midst of a therapy session, informing Hannibal that he won't put up with his continuing dishonesty.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Will goes from doing some morally ambiguous, but still understandable things, (such as trying to have Hannibal killed) to something unambiguously evil in the episode "Naka-Choko".
- Jury Duty: Beverly tries and fails to get out of it offscreen. During "Relevés", it causes her to be away during a major turn in the Chesapeake Ripper case, at a time when Will could really have used the support, before Crawford finally gets her out of it.
- Killed Offscreen: Abigail Hobbs in Season 1's "Relevés" subverted, followed by Dr. Beverly Katz in Season 2's "Takiawase".
- Kink Meme: Found here.
- Lecter-Guided Karma: Season 2 introduces Mason Verger, who has spent a lifetime abusing his sister Margot, who depends on him for her money, up to and including forcing a hysterectomy on her and ensuring that the doctors leave a big scar to brand her. Lecter arranges for him to suffer a comparable level of harm, leaving him facially disfigured, paralyzed below the neck, and dependent on Margot.
- Mad Artist: The show is brimming with them. Hannibal carries out his copycat murders in a very artistic fashion. Another serial killer arranges human body parts into a totem pole, while another installs the bodies of his victims in an eye-shaped "mural".
- Magic Realism: It's subtle, but quite possible to read the series this way, especially given Bryan Fuller's past works. Hannibal could be a fallen angel who finds humankind both intriguing and delicious. Will's empathic gift could be some type of second sight. The proliferation of gruesomely beautiful crimes around the setting could be due to some sort of dark influence drawing and aggravating those tendencies in people who are already murderous (possible Hannibal himself, if you run with the Satan parallels). There will never be explicit confirmation of any of these things, but the series can be readily viewed through that lens if you want.
- Manipulative Bastard: Hannibal Lecter in spades. It seems obvious, but the premiere of Season 2 has made it even more so. Hannibal wants Will to act on his darkest urges (or, as he calls them, "inspirations") to manipulate and kill. Will knows that Hannibal was the copycat killer, but is imprisoned for those crimes. Therefore, Hannibal has effectively put Will in a position where he has to perform some dark deeds in order to get revenge on Hannibal.
- Intersecting with his Psycho Psychologist and Morally Ambiguous Doctorate tags it's begun to be suggested that while acting as a therapist Hannibal "treats" patients by helping them to realize and act upon desires that would, in general society, be deemed "destructive". This is evidenced in his treatments of Will, Margot Verger, and Randall Tier.
- The Marvelous Stag: Except that the stag in the show is more haunting than magical.
- Mathematician's Answer
Hannibal: Am I your psychiatrist, or are we simply having conversations?
Will: 'Yes', I think, is the answer to that.
- Meaningful Echo: Season 2's second arc combines a significant example this with foreshadowing for Mizumono. Specifically, Lecter compares the effect of Abigail's death to the shattering of a teacup. Mentioning how he wishes he could reverse time to fix it, the grand finalé has Lecter effectively do so; following Will's betrayal, however, Lecter mentions smashing the teacup again, and slashes Abigail's throat in front of Will, again severely damaging Will in a seemingly irreparable way.
- Meaningful Name: Abigail Hobbs shares her name with a fourteen-year-old girl who, along with her father William, was accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials.
- Bedelia Du Maurier doubles as this and a Shout-Out; Daphne Du Maurier specialized in stories of psychological manipulation.
- Franklyn Froidevaux, being a Benjamin Raspail Expy, got his first name from "Benjamin Franklin," and his last name is a street that runs parallel to Raspail in Paris.
- The killer from the first two episodes of Season 2 whose victims form a flesh-tone color palette is named James Gray, while his last victim is named Roland Umber.
- Matthew 27:3-10 describes the suicide by hanging of Judas Iscariot. After subduing and accusing him of betraying Will, Matthew Brown tortures, crucifies, and then hangs Hannibal.
Matthew: Judas had the decency to hang himself in shame at his betrayal. But I thought you needed the help.
- Speaking of Matthew Brown, he is an orderly whose name almost sounds like a reversed version of Barney Matthews, the orderly from The Silence of the Lambs. Seems fitting since he tries to kill Hannibal whereas Barney is civil to Hannibal.
- The man who takes care of animals in "Su-zakana" is named Peter Bernardone. Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone.
- In "Shiizakana", the killer is named Randall Tier, and is obsessed with animals. "Tier" is German for "animal."
- As in the books, Mason Verger's name combines the name of a religious group associated with power and secrecy with a last name meaning a layperson assistant in church rites, reflecting the Verger family's power and secrecy, its association with the church (Southern Baptist, in this instance), and Mason's inferior but useful skills as a sadist and manipulator when he is drawn into the "game" between Will and Lecter.
- Middle Child Syndrome: It's used as a plot point to identify the killers in "Œuf".
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Graham has a non-supernatural variation; Lecter describes him as having "pure empathy," which allows him to understand and get inside the head of anyone, even people who disgust or terrify him. Naturally, as an FBI profiler, he encounters many such minds and suffers greatly for his "gift."
- Monster of the Week: The serial killers are used as this, but it doesn't happen every week.
- The Mountains of Illinois: Wolf Trap, VA, where Will lives, is nowhere near as remote and spacious as the show portrays it. In fact, the county in which it resides (Fairfax) is the most populous county in Virginia and in the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area; it is most certainly not "the middle of nowhere" as Will describes it in "Naka-choko".
- Mr. Exposition: In Season 1, Will Graham alternates investigating serial killers with teaching about them at the FBI academy, and his lectures are a useful tool for giving the audience background information on crimes and killers that weren't shown on screen.
- Multi-Part Episode:
- "Apéritif/Amuse-Bouche/Potage": The Minnesota Shrike case and Abigail's coma.
- "Sorbet/Fromage": Hannibal coming to grips with his desire for friendship, and just who he sees as a potential friend.
- "Relevés/Savoureux": The final stages of Hannibal's plan to break Will Graham down completely are set in motion.
- "Kaiseki/Sakizuki": The beginning of Will Graham's incarceration, the end of Bedelia's professional and personal relationship with Hannibal, and the hunt for the killer who preserves his victims' bodies in resin.
- "Shiizakana/Naka-Choko/Ko No Mono/Tome-wan": Will and Hannibal seem to become explicitly partners in crime, Will and Jack set to work in earnest trying to lure and catch Hannibal,, and the abusive relationship between Mason and Margot Verger is spotlighted.
- Mushroom Samba: In "Œuf", Dr. Lecter uses psychotropic mushrooms in a tea as a means to treat Abigail Hobbs. She hallucinates that Lecter and Bloom are her father and mother.
- An even darker example occurs in "Tome-wan" when a cocktail of very powerful drugs helps induce severe hallucinations, giddy euphoria, and self-mutilation and autocannibalism in Mason Verger.
- Mystery of the Week: Subverted at least as often as used. There are some one-off killers, but it's also quite common for a killer to be significant for two episodes (often because the FBI has to deal with the complications of his death).
- Mythology Gag:
- During the development process of The Silence of the Lambs, the name Dr. Gideon Quinn was used for the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter due to Dino DeLaurentiis owning the rights to the name. He later allowed the makers to use the real names for free. In the series, Eddie Izzard plays a serial named Dr. Gideon.
- In "Buffet Froid", Lecter reveals that he and Dr. Sutcliffe, a neurologist, went to study at Hopkins, either referencing the books or the relevant actor.
- Much of the depiction of Graham's house in Wolf Trap and his home life, and the descriptions of them given to other characters, comes from Thomas Harris' accounts of where and how he lived while writing Red Dragon (i.e. collecting stray dogs, going on long walks at night, the house looking like "a boat at sea").
- Never Found the Body: In "Relevés", not only is Abigail given a suspiciously off-screen "death" by Lecter, but the next episode "Savoureux" has the only confirmed piece of Abigail found revealed as the ear Will vomits up. In the Season 2 finale, it's revealed that she had been alive and under Hannibal's control the whole time.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The promos for "Futamono" showed Hannibal seducing Alana, and implied that he was only doing so as petty revenge against Will. In the actual episode, Hannibal does it to establish an alibi for himself (though it's still very possible that he also did it for Will).
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Currently Dramatic Irony, but there's going to come a point where Jack realises how many lives he could have saved by letting Matthew Brown hang Hannibal instead of saving him.
- The Nose Knows: Lecter is well established as having an exceptional sense of smell; not only can he correctly guess the make of perfume or aftershave that people are wearing, he claims to be able to tell if they're ill from their scent: "I knew my teacher had stomach cancer before he was even diagnosed." This was used as foreshadowing for Bella Crawford's lung cancer diagnosis in "Coquilles", and to hint that Lecter smelled Will's encephalitis months before his symptoms developed.
- In Season 2, he uses his sophisticated sense of smell to solve crimes. For example, he detects the scent of a cornfield on a dead body, leading him to realize that the victim escaped from a corn farm before dying.
- Also in Season 2, after Bedelia claims that Hannibal is dangerous, he shows up at her house in his plastic murder suit to find Bedelia has emptied her house apart from some of the larger items (such as furniture). Her perfume bottle is left behind, left in plain sight so Hannibal knows that she knew he would come, and that he can't find her with his smelling power.
- Nothing Is Scarier: "Takiawase" never shows us what Beverly discovered in Lecter's basement that scared her stiff.
- After the season finale, Bryan Fuller confirmed that it was Abigail. (But that may not have been ALL she saw.)
- Not So Different: In "Entrée", Lounds and Graham snidely mention to each other that, in the list of professions psychopaths are disproportionately drawn to, journalism is number six and law enforcement is number seven.
- Especially interesting is that chefs are number nine on the list, yet therapists are on the inverse as the third least common profession for psychopaths. Considering the mix, Lecter is probably not a psychopath, but something worse.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Matthew Brown speaks with a lisp, walks with a slouch, and behaves like a twitchy, absent-minded orderly who's just trying to go about his job like any other normal person. In reality, he is Will's secret admirer and an intelligent, well-built, calculating murderer whom nobody suspects, not even Hannibal.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Subverted. At the end of "Shiizakana", Will's killing of Randall Tier takes place off-screen, but the next episode goes back and shows it (albeit with Will imagining the Wendigo/Hannibal in Tier's place).
- Offscreen Villainy: Lecter kills several people over the course of the first season, but we only ever see him helping out on cases... or cooking. Naturally, this makes him all the more creepy and his extremely rare violent moments all the more terrifying.
- Oh, Crap: Dr. Chilton has a pretty epic freakout in "Yakimono", when the true extent of Hannibal's frame-up is revealed and the FBI are found butchered throughout his home.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Any time anyone speaks to Hannibal.
- Only Barely Renewed: The show was given the 9 o'clock Thursday time slot, which is notorious at NBC for getting bad ratings, often leading to the untimely death of the shows (for context, the show Hannibal replaced was Do No Harm, which had the lowest premiere ratings in TV history). Predictably, despite good reviews, the show had below-average ratings and there was much speculation that it would either be cancelled or moved to a different network before NBC eventually decided to give it a second season due to large DVR numbers and an incredibly passionate social media fanbase. Now it has been renewed for a third.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Bella Crawford's real name is actually Phyllis—but, as she says, Crawford only calls her that when they're arguing. He gave her the nickname when they met in Italy; appropriate, as it's Italian for "beautiful woman".
- OOC Is Serious Business: In "Mukōzuke", Freddie tells Jack not to enter a crime scene out of what appears to be genuine compassion.
- Organ Theft: Hannibal deliberately suggests that this is the modus operandi of the "killer" of Episode 7, who was a trainee-doctor trying to make a quick buck taking non-vital organs from his patients to sell, but unfortunately lacked the training/skill to keep them alive afterwards. Conveniently, this allows the Chesapeake Ripper (Lecter) to murder several people for their organs without the crimes being attributed to him.
- Orgy of Evidence: In "Savoureux", Will deduces that he was being framed because while he might believe he was capable of killing Abigail in his increasingly confused mental state, there was no way he'd accept that he was also responsible for the murders of the copycat killer.
- Otherkin: The killer in "Shiizakana" appears to be one, genuinely believing himself to be an animal and creating a suit with bear fangs/teeth attached which he can attack people with. Of course, most otherkin would not want to claim any kinship with him.
- Parental Incest: Garrett Jacob Hobbs was, shall we say... a tad obsessed with his daughter. Not quite in the way the trope suggests, but the way he did go about it isn't any less disquieting.
- Parental Substitute: Lecter in particular seems to be becoming this for Abigail. And then she hallucinates that Lecter is her father and Dr. Bloom is her mother when drugged up on mushrooms. Bloom is aware of this as a definite risk, and is trying to prevent it happening, as it would not benefit Abigail's long-term good to replace her parents with her doctors.
- Made more explicit in "Trou Normand" wherein Lecter is convincing Will to lie about Abigail's involvement in the murder of Nicholas Boyle and describes the two of them as "her fathers."
- In "Relevés", Will takes on the role of her father in his more sinister aspect.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The victims of the "Angel Maker" aren't as innocent as they appear to be. It turns out the couple are on a 'most wanted' list and are described thus: "he liked to rape and murder, she liked to watch," and the security guard was actually a convicted felon. It's left ambiguous as to how Budish knew about their crimes, or if he knew.
- Perverted Sniffing: Repeatedly shown in the promos when Lecter does this and Graham asks, "Did you just... smell me?" The scene in question is taken from "Coquilles".
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Having Lounds be a well-known blogger rather than a print tabloid reporter makes much more sense given the reality of the newspaper industry these days. It also means that her stories can have an immediate impact on the plot rather than having to wait for her to submit the story and for it to be published.
- Pragmatic Villain: In "Fromage", when a killer questions why Hannibal invited him to dinner:
- When Hannibal is killing intending to eat the victim, he minimizes their stress and suffering. He's not showing them kindness: a stressed animal releases hormones that cause the meat to taste off. When he's killing for other reasons (self-defense, to dispose of a threat, to frame someone, or to imitate another killer) he will readily be as brutal and violent as required.
- Psycho Strings: Used throughout the score, and they go into overdrive when we enter Will Graham's mind.
- Rain of Blood: In "Potage", the body of one of Abigail's friends is found this way, blood seeping through the floorboards above.
- Red Right Hand:
- Not really a flaw, but Hannibal parts his hair on the right instead of left. People tend to distrust men who do that subconsciously. Played with with Dr. Du Maurier, who parts her hair on the left instead of right (the effect is reversed for women), who points out to Hannibal that someone might notice his 'pattern' of picking potentially violent patients, implying she understands that he's trying to encourage serial killers, but disappears in a hurry when she realises he is in fact very dangerous. Alana Bloom parts her hair on the left, but is entirely heroic. Could be more of a psychiatrist thing, actually, indicating their conflicting views and the problematic issue of choosing whose side to take.
- Regularly Scheduled Evil: The Chesapeake Ripper kills three people around every two years. The audience, but not the FBI, later learns why: that's when Hannibal is hosting his dinner parties. Of course, he actually kills a lot more often than that; he just doesn't kill in that style.
- Religious Horror: Hannibal Lecter is portrayed as a satanic figure, deceiving, corrupting, and destroying those around him. To boot, Season 2 abounds with religious references. When Hannibal installs Grey in his own human "mural", it is intended to reflect the light of God from above. When Hannibal looks down on the mural from the opening of the grain silo, it's reminiscent of medieval art in which God looks down on Earth from above. Hannibal refers to Matthew 26:69-75 in "Hassun", telling Jack that he cannot deny Will a third time. Finally, in "Mukōzuke", Matthew Brown arranges Hannibal like Jesus on the cross and nearly hangs him for being a Judas.
- Mads Mikkelsen plays Hannibal Lecter as if he were Lucifer, so the whole series serves as this if one sees Hannibal as a literal Satanic figure.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The fandom really loves Will's dogs, especially Winston.
- Rule of Drama/Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Some of the logistical aspects of the murders strain credibility. Officially, Hannibal has secret steam tunnels under his house, but the other killers have no such benefits.
- Rule of Symbolism: There are a lot of visual metaphors on this show, sometimes shown through Will's hallucinations and thoughts, and other times shown through the Monster of the Week's crimes.
- Sacrificial Lion: Beverly Katz.
- Sarcastic Confession: Often paired with Dramatic Irony, what with Lecter being one of the most famous fictional cannibals/sociopaths. Also notably invoked in the Season 2 premiere:
Dr. Chilton: (Will Graham) tells everyone that you are a monster.
Dr. Lecter: (smiling) Well, in that case, you're dining with a psychopathic murderer, Frederick.
- Scare Chord:
- The highly unsettling opening title sequence. Watch here.
- The lingering, far-too-intimate shot of the opera singer's vocal cords in "Sorbet" is a literal one. Same goes for the MO of the murderer in the following episode "Fromage", who posed a victim like a cello and exposed his vocal cords to use as strings. Which Will, in his empath-trance, gets to play. Sleep well.
- Scenery Porn: If a scene isn't gruesome, it is frankly gorgeous to look at. Sometimes, even the most gruesome scenes are gorgeous in their arrangement, detail and color, like works of art exploring variations on red-brown.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Bedelia Du Maurier is savvy enough to get the heck out of dodge after she refuses to be Hannibal's psychiatrist anymore — which proves to be very wise, since he breaks into her house clearly dressed to kill her.
- Secret Keeper: Lecter and Abigail Hobbs become this to each other in Season 1. She knows he called her house, he knows she killed someone and helped hide the body.
- In "Trou Normand" Graham figures it out, but Lecter persuades him to stay silent, thus bringing him into the circle.
- Serial Killer: Obviously.
- Serial-Killer Killer: Hannibal murders Tobias and Georgia in Season 1, and the "muralist" killer in Season 2. However, he does these to protect/aggrandize himself rather than satisfy a desire for vigilante justice.
- Setting Update: Due to the story's contemporary nature, the show takes place in the 2010s instead of Red Dragon's 1980s.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: As Will Graham slowly descends into madness, the Black Comedy is gradually toned down. Naturally, this sets up the very bitter ending to the first season well.
- Inverted in season 2, which is arguably even darker than season 1 but considerably funnier than the first. It is worth noting, however, that as the season goes on the two 'comic relief' characters (relatively speaking) are killed or put out of action- Chilton is shot through the face, and bringer of Black Comedy Mason Verger is quite deservingly mutilated by Hannibal.
- The murder in the hotel from Episode 6 is another reference to ''The Shining''.
- The scene in the second episode where Graham kneels next to a semi-decomposed person right before they reveal themselves to be alive, with a gasp, is remarkably similar to a scene in the crime-thriller Se7en.
- "Entrée" is filled with references to The Silence of the Lambs. Eddie Izzard's portrayal of Dr. Abel Gideon is almost a complete recreation of Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal, while the character of Miriam Lass seems like a clear Expy of Clarice Starling. Many of Chilton's descriptions of Gideon in the show were originally his descriptions of Hannibal. When Lecter is serving Dr. Chilton and Dr. Bloom dinner, he claims the tongues came from a "chatty little lamb." (They didn't.) Furthermore, the scene in which Miriam makes the chance discovery that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper, only to be attacked by Hannibal when he realizes the jig is up, closely mirrors what happened to Will in the opening of Red Dragon.
- Speaking of Silence of the Lambs, Du Maurier has a very nice moment of mentioning person suits. She was being metaphorical.
- Another, smaller reference to The Silence of the Lambs appears in the opener of"'Buffet Froid", where it is established that our murder victim is a nice young woman with a thing for horses — not unlike Clarice Starling — and who is apparently interested in and/or studying the FBI, judging by the reading material on her bedside table.
- Yet again, Silence of the Lambs is referenced obliquely when an asylum orderly gives Freddie Lounds the do's and don'ts of meeting with Will Graham (the same rules are repeated, except for Clarice when she meets Hannibal).
- Hannibal's therapist's last name is Du Maurier.
- In "Savoureux", we see Graham wearing a dark blue/gray prison jumpsuit with a white shirt underneath — precisely what Lecter wears for the first half of Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal's entrance is a near shot-for-shot copy of Clarice's entrance to the cell block, and the last line of the season — Will's greeting — is "Hello, Doctor Lecter," Clarice's first words to Hannibal. Of course, this time, Hannibal is on the outside of the cell.
- Will even has the same prisoner ID number as Hannibal in Silence.
- In "Su-zakana," a starling flies out of a woman's corpse, which itself was inside of a dead horse. Clarice Starling from Silence used to have a horse.
- Also in "Su-zakana," Hannibal pets a sheep. Sheep are called lambs when they are young. As in The Silence of the Lambs.
- At one point, Lecter says 'the feast is life,' likely a reference to Dracula and 'the blood is the life.'
- In the first episode, Will tells Lecter "Please don't psychoanalyze me. You won't like me when I'm psychoanalyzed."
- In "Sakizuki"', Hannibal looks down on the human "mural" and its creator from an opening at the top of a grain silo. When seen from below, it's reminiscent of how God is depicted looking down on humanity in medieval art. For examples, see Annunciazione by Pietro Perugino, Annunciation by Benvenuto di Giovanni.
- Katherine Pimms, from "Takiawase" is named after another beekeeper from a Bryan Fuller show. Kitty Pimms was the fake name Chuck first used in Pushing Daisies' second season opener, which also involved bee-related murder.
- Probably not used this way by Lecter, but during Will's trial Lecter remarks that "Will Graham is and will always be my friend."
- The conversation between Jack and Will at the start of "Futamono" bears a very strong resemblance to a famous conversation between Hannibal and Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. The one in the page quote, in fact.
- It's further emphasized by the way Hugh Dancy's acting in that scene brings to mind Hopkins' portrayal of Lecter.
- In "Kō No Mono" the opening scene is of a flaming body (stated to be Freddie Lounds) in a wheelchair rolling down the ramp of an underground parking garage. It's almost an exact re-creation of the scene in Manhunter with Freddy Lounds as a flaming corpse in an office chair.
- Also in "Kō No Mono" are Mason Verger's blood red surgical scrubs, a nod to the uniforms in Dead Ringers. This is actually a double shout-out, as Katharine Isabelle (who plays Margot Verger) played the titular role in American Mary, who in one scene also performed a rather unconventional surgery wearing the same red scrubs.
- Hannibal flips a coin to decide whether he should save Bella from her suicide attempt, filmed the same way as the iconic coin shot from Wonderfalls.
- Shown Their Work: In regards to the Food Porn/Gorn the show revels in, as well as many of the details regarding food itself. Hannibal's food preparation methods, ranging from how he uses his cutlery, the way he stirs food in a pan, his cooking methods, the presentation of the food, and even the apropos of what the dish is meant to represent, are so intentionally detailed that the blog of the show's food stylist is dedicated to not only how the food is made to resemble human flesh, but how to prepare it.
- Significant Sketchbook: In "Buffet Froid," Hannibal asks Will to draw a clock face in a sketchbook. When he draws it, he thinks he sees a perfectly normal clock face, but Hannibal sees the numbers and hands jumbled up. This is an actual test used by psychiatrists to detect cognitive dysfunction. In "Savoureux," Alana asks Will to repeat the test to prove that he is mentally ill and did not consciously commit the murders for which he is accused, but the evidence is negligible as they realise he could have faked the test. Hannibal produces a normal drawing of clock face which he shows to Alana, claiming it was drawn by Will, when in reality he drew it himself.
- Sleep Cute: A very, very strange one at the end of Episode 1. Made decidedly sinister at least for the audience, with Hannibal falling asleep by Abigail's sickbed, holding her hand. Less creepily, Will falls asleep in the same room, and at one point awakens to discover that Alana Bloom arrived, wrapped him in a blanket, and began to read aloud to the room's other occupant.
- Sleepwalking: By "Coquilles", Graham develops a bad case of this, waking up in the middle of nowhere and having to be picked up by a cop car. Later in the episode, the sound of his dogs barking wakes him up, to find he somehow managed to get out onto the roof.
- Spiritual Successor: To Millennium.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Beverly Katz is killed and put on gruesome display for the others to see. Bryan Fuller has actually stated that she was created specifically to be killed off and provide angst for Will. In fact, it was going to happen in Season 1, but then they decided to develop her more so her death would provide even more angst.
- However, Hetienne Park, who played Katz, went on record as saying that she didn't believe her character had been simply "fridged". Read her argument here.
- Survival Mantra: "It's [time], I'm in [location] and my name is Will Graham."
- In "Savoureux", "I know who I am."
- Theme Naming: Each episode is named after a dish, with Season 1 being French cuisine (e.g. "Potage" and "Coquilles"), Season 2 being Japanese cuisine (e.g. "Kaiseki" and "Sakizuki"), and Season 3 being Italian cuisine ("e.g. "Antipasto", etc.)
- Those Two Guys: Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller.
- Threat Backfire: Will's threat to Freddie only gives her another quote to work with in writing him off as a lunatic.
- Three-Way Sex: A strange variation on this, as the people involved (Will, Hannibal, Alana, and Margot) aren't all having sex with each other, but through a kind of Imagine Spot, the audience sees it this way.
- Tonight Someone Kisses: The trailer for "Futamono" shows Alana in bed with Hannibal. A delightfully twisted version of this trope, or possibly done not as an enticement but a fair warning.
- Trailers Always Spoil:
- In "Sorbet", we are introduced to one of Hannibal's patients, Franklyn, and his "friend" Tobias. The promo for "Fromage" gave away that Tobias was a killer too, and he and Hannibal wound up attacking each other.
- The Season 2 trailer seems to give away that Jack Crawford and Alana Bloom will discover Hannibal's secret, and he will try to kill them, as well as the Wham Line by Bedelia where she tells Will she believes his claims about Hannibal.
- The trailer for Episode 5 of Season 2 reveals that Will's attendant in charge of transporting him to and from trial killed the bailiff and the judge.
- TV Genius: Lecter is a psychiatric genius, polymath, and ex-surgeon.
- Twisted Christmas: The Frist household in "Œuf".
- The Un-Smile: After Will suffers a seizure in "Rôti", Hannibal guides him through a simple series of tests for possible stroke victims (that are used in reality by non-cannibal medical professionals). The last test is getting the subject to smile to check their facial muscle control. Will's not really a smiley individual at the best of times, but the expression he makes in this instance (when he's swaying on his feet, soaked in sweat, pale as a corpse, and about as cheerful as a high-casualty train wreck), despite ticking all the boxes for "smile", is nightmarish. And what makes it even more chilling is the way Lecter smiles back in genuine pleasure.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: All right, not so much unwitting, but so far Freddie Lounds has unintentionally managed to sic two threats on Graham or someone close to him. Time will only tell if she keeps up this track record...
- Villain Episode: In Season 1, the two parter "Sorbet/Fromage" is this for Hannibal and "Rôti" is this for Dr. Abel Gideon.
- Villainous Cheekbones: The second clue that Hannibal is a bad guy. First is that his name rhymes with cannibal.
- Walking Spoiler: Bryan Fuller's twitter prematurely revealed the Season 2's villain is Mason Verger. Readers of the book know that, even with the unique canon of the series, things won't work out well when Hannibal gets his hands on them.
- Webisode: Episode 4, "Œuf" was cannibalized (their words) into one and put online for reasons already detailed above.
- Wham Episode:
- "Savoureux", the first season finale. Abigail is implied to have been killed by Hannibal. Dr. Du Maurier is revealed to know something about what Hannibal does. Hannibal frames Will for Abigail's murder, as well as the Copycat Killer murders. Jack is forced to shoot Will when Will threatens Hannibal with a gun. Will figures out what Hannibal really is, and is committed to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Alana is grief-stricken and guilt-ridden for Abigail's death and Will's apparent tumble over the edge, in spite of all her warnings and all her efforts to help him. Even Will's dogs are taken into custody. No-one comes out of this episode unscathed. Except for Hannibal.
- "Takiawase": Beverly Katz is killed after discovering Hannibal's secret.
- "Futamono": One of Hannibal's murders exonerates Will and Miriam Lass is discovered alive by Jack.
- "Yakimono": Frederick Chilton is framed by Hannibal for his crimes, and then shot by Miriam.
- "Tome-wan": Mason Verger gets his just (and extremely gruesome) desserts, and afterward, Hannibal declares that he will reveal his true self to Jack.
- "Mizumono": Hannibal leaves Jack, Will, Alana and Abigail to die in his house after psychologically and physically tormenting every one of them. Once again, Hannibal is unscathed, though he has fled the country.
- Wham Line:
- "Trou Normand"; "I helped him." Abigail admits to Lecter that she really did help her father kill the girls, because she sensed that it was her or them.
- From "Sakizuki": Du Maurier whispering "I believe you" to Will.
- "Futamono": "Miriam."
- Wham Shot: In the Season 1 finale, when we last see Will, he's in Hannibal Lecter's cell.
- "Takiawase": When investigating Hannibal's basement, Beverly turns on a light switch and we see Dr. Lecter is standing behind her.
- In "Futamono", Jack peers down into a pit in one of Hannibal's abandoned lairs, and finds Miriam Lass alive and missing an arm.
- In "Yakimono", a literal wham shot occurs. Chilton's death is a major deviation from established canon in books and movies.
- The end of "Ko No Mono" reveals that Freddie Lounds is still alive. "How was my funeral?".
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- After Hannibal prevents Will from killing him, Clark Ingram is never seen or mentioned again.
- What exactly became of Miriam Lass and Frederick Chilton after "Yakimono" is never directly confirmed onscreen, at least not as of the end of season 2. Presumably Lass is under psychiatric care. Chilton's fate is even more ambiguous; he's shot in the face but later referred to in present tense by other characters, implying he survived, although in what condition is never stated.
- Will They or Won't They?: Two examples, one more conventional than the other, to wit:
- In Season 1, Alana Bloom shows romantic interest in both Will and Hannibal, but keeps her distance for various reasons. By the middle of Season 2, Alana and Hannibal are lovers.
- Less conventionally, Hannibal's ongoing efforts to corrupt Will and make him a killer like himself are played as an ambivalent seduction.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Concern for Will Graham's mental health as a profiler, if he happens to "get too close" when empathizing with killers, prompts Crawford to compel Graham into therapy with psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter.
- Wreathed in Flames: Elliot Budish, the "Angel Maker", sees each of his victims crowned in flame. While obviously a hallucination brought about by his brain tumor, it hints at the demon within.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Due to the fact that MGM owns the rights to Silence of the Lambs.
- Xanatos Gambit: In Season 1, Hannibal sends Gideon after Alana and then Will after Gideon. No matter the outcome, Hannibal would have come out ahead. Will seriously wounds Gideon, removing Hannibal's plagiarist but leaving Hannibal's hands clean, and making Will even more unstable; however, had Gideon killed Alana, Will would have been guilt-ridden and (again) less mentally stable, forcing Will back to Hannibal for help.
- Hannibal pulls another major instance in Season 2's "Futamono". Worried that Jack is on to him, Hannibal murders several people but holds an animal meat dinner party which, in the event Jack tests his food for human DNA (which happens), Jack would be thrown back off the trail. Then, in order to abduct Abel Gideon, Hannibal has sex with Alana Bloom, whom he apparently drugs unconscious in order to keep her asleep, while he kidnaps Abel; when Jack then tries to pin Gideon on Hannibal, he has Alana provide his alibi for the night, completely debunking the claims that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper.
- In "Shiizakana", Hannibal sets Randall Tier on Will. If Tier kills Will, Hannibal removes his greatest threat. If Will kills Tier, Hannibal has furthered his corruption because he knows that if Will gets a chance to kill, he'll start to enjoy it.
- Will pulls one of his own in "Ko No Mono" by refusing to kill Mason Verger and instead setting him against Hannibal; no matter who wins, Will gets some measure of revenge on an otherwise untouchable person he has good reason to loathe.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Season 2 begins to become one between Hannibal and Will. Hannibal seems to be attempting to strike a balance between continuing to manipulate Will, without pushing his insanity or manipulating the evidence to the point where he'll be found viable for the death penalty, while Will intentionally plays everyone's perceptions of his psychosis to manipulate them from behind bars in order to set Hannibal up for his inevitable fall.
- You Didn't Ask: Used cleverly in "Su-zakana". Will finds Peter sewing up a dead horse, and Peter confirms he placed Clark inside, so he could feel how his victims felt. It's several minutes until Peter clarifies he didn't kill Clark before putting him inside.
- You Just Told Me: In "Naka-Choko", this is how Freddie learns of Alana's relationship with Hannibal.