YMMV: Hannibal

The Series

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Dr. Chilton's desperation after being framed as the Ripper will get you sympathizing with him, however much of a jerk he was.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: It has been debated whether or not Hannibal genuinely cares about Will or, to a lesser extent, Abigail.
    • In Season 2, his therapist, Dr. du Maurier, tells Will Graham that she believes that Hannibal does care about him.
    • Is Hannibal playing the role of an unusually twisted Trickster Mentor, using Will's madness to bring Will to some kind of new self-awareness? Or is Hannibal a sadist who manipulates Will, lies to him about his encephalitis and perceptions, and plunges him into madness just for his amusement? Or both? Is there a plan at all, or does he simply go with whatever the situation offers him?
    • Another possibility is that Hannibal's initial intention was just to mess with Will's head, but found himself liking him along the way. ...Which did not stop him from continuing to mess with his head and insidiously turning on him when he deemed it necessary. Compartmentalization, you know.
    • Making practically any assertion about Dr. du Maurier is walking an uneasy line between Alternate Character Interpretation and Epileptic Trees. Does she really know what Hannibal is and what (who?) she was eating? Is she his partner? His captive? Then there's how interpreting Dr. du Maurier's character changes interpretations about Hannibal's: if she knows and he knows she knows, why bother with the 'person suit'? Furthermore, why weep for Abigail and why profess friendship for Will? Does the intimacy of their sessions mean his feelings towards Will and Abigail are genuine (though still filtered through his inability to feel genuine empathy) or is he employing her as a sounding board for nitpicking and refining his performance of humanity?
    • The question of the relationship between Hannibal and Dr. du Maurier is underlined in "Mizumono", when The Stinger shows the two of them boarding a plane (presumably to France) after Hannibal outwits and butchers the rest of the main cast.
    • Mads Mikkelsen has described his performance as Hannibal as though he were Satan on Earth rather than some psychopath. Not that we're likely to see someone come to arrest him and get incinerated with hellfire, but he plays Hannibal not as a disturbed human, but as an otherworldly, malevolent entity that simply dwells among humans.
    • Katherine the bee killer. Did she confess because she knew she was caught, or did she never consider what she did a secret, and simply hadn't mentioned it because no one had asked.
  • Anticlimax Boss: After two murders, the FBI visits Katherine the bee killer; she immediately realizes the jig is up, confesses to the killings, and is presumably arrested off-screen.
  • Ascended Meme: The official NBC Hannibal tumblr tagged a picture as "Hannigram," followed by, "What you didn't think we noticed your ships? You must be new."
  • Award Snub: A lot of people were expecting the show to earn its first Emmy nominations, particularly for Hugh Dancy's and Mads Mikkelsen's performance. Sadly, it did not. Maybe next year. Hopefully.
  • Base Breaker: Abigail Hobbs, Freddie Lounds and Jack Crawford have their share of fans and people who just can't stand them.
  • Broken Base:
    • The Will/Margot storyline has caused a complete uproar in the fandom, with the additional backlash of pretty much dividing the fandom into 'protect/hate' Bryan Fuller camps.
    • Many people will argue viciously whether or not Will Graham is canonically autistic.
  • Creepy Awesome: Hannibal Lecter. He's disturbingly calm, he murders people and eats them, and he's a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Critical Research Failure: In "Coquilles", Graham claims that angels having wings is a secular belief, and that angels in scripture don't have them... except there are at least two examples in the Bible of angels not only having wings but a record of their number; six. Admittedly those were seraphim, but they still count as angels.
    • He actually says that angels don't fly in scripture, and are always depicted as so in secular art.
    • NBC insists on calling the pulled episode/webseries originally titled "Œuf" (which means "egg"), "Ceuf" (which isn't a word in any language).
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Even though this was present for the Anthony Hopkins incarnation of the character, it has reached new heights with Mads Mikkelsen. Though, to the credit of most fans, the enjoyment of Hannibal's character is very soundly in the realm of "love to hate", especially by Season 2. Usually no effort is made to justify his actions or soften his cruelty; as several entries under Memetic Mutation indicate, most the the fun is in how terrible he is. Cannibal jokes abound.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Beverly Katz. Her plot relevance is only slightly greater than that of the other two investigators, but her kindly treatment of Will, fun dialogue, intelligence, and cool head in difficult situations endeared her to the fandom. Likely as a result, she's getting an expanded role in the second season's storyline. Her death at the end of "Takiawase" is all the more horrible for it.
    • Interest in Bedelia du Maurier shot up with her actions in the second episode of Season 2. Many are already hoping she returns. Which, as of "Tome-Wan", she does.
    • Matthew Brown. Despite being a sociopathic Stalker with a Crush, he's genuinely nice to Will, knows that he isn't a murderer and doesn't care, kills the bailiff to protect him, and then attempts to kill Hannibal at Will's request. Brown comes closer than anybody else, too. The fandom noticed all of this.
    • Honestly, anyone who's nice or protective of Will quickly becomes a fan favorite nowadays.
    • Special mention to Chilton, following the events of "Futamono", for the above reason.
    • Mason Verger has built up quite a following, despite only appearing in a couple of episodes so far. He steals just about every scene he's in, and Michael Pitt's performance has drawn a lot of comparisons to Heath Ledger as the Joker.
  • Epileptic Trees: Given that Bryan Fuller has stated all his shows share the same universe, a quite popular theory is that Alana is actually Jaye from Wonderfalls, who spent some time in an institution for her talking to inanimate objects, and changed her name to start over once she got out.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain:
    • Freddie Lounds' clothes almost always have some kind of garish pattern. This is probably intentional, in order to match with her character as a trashy tabloid blogger.
    • Hannibal himself. While his suits scream "bespoke and expensive", they're very flashy.
  • Foe Yay: Tobias and Hannibal's interactions looked like flirting, and that's without mentioning the meaning behind the piece playing at the background of their dinner, or Tobias' sexual orientation.
    • Season 2 plays up the Foe Yay between Hannibal and Will, showing both men to be obsessed with each other.
    • In "Mukōzuke", the scenes in which Matthew Brown torments a scantily-clad Hannibal have a very homoerotic vibe.
  • Genius Bonus/Shown Their Work:
    • A great many things about Lecter — from the architecture and color placement in his office to how he holds his fork — are indicative of his God Complex.
    • Due to MGM holding the rights to the character, Benjamin Raspail has been renamed Franklyn Froideveaux. His first name comes from Benjamin Franklin, his last name is a street in Paris that runs parallel to Boulevard Raspail.
    • Many of the ingredients in the food Hannibal serves to Will can have pronounced negative mental side effects that make sense when the fact that Hannibal is trying to make Will go insane is taken into account.
      • Aspen: Vague fears of unknown origin, apprehension.
      • Cherry Plum: Uncontrolled temper (Will's desperate fear of losing his mind).
      • Chestnut Bud: Slow to learn, repeats mistakes, lacks observation.
      • Clematis: Indifference, dreaminess, lack of interest in world around them.
      • Gentian: Negative attitudes, depression, self-doubt.
      • Gorse: Hopelessness, despair, depondency.
      • Mustard: Deep gloom or depression of unknown origin.
      • Rock Rose: Terror, panic, extreme fear.
    • In "Relevés", while Will is in the hospital, Hannibal brings him a Chinese medicinal soup containing ingredients such as ginseng and ginger, which stimulate the immune system. For someone with an autoimmune disease, this will actually make their condition worse.
    • This blog collects most of the background bonuses in the series.
    • In "Hassun", the music that plays as Will and Hannibal get ready for court is Mozart's "Dalla Sua Pace", from Don Giovanni, in a scene where Ottavio is wrongly led to believe that Giovanni is a murderer. The comparisons to Will's situation are obvious.
    • In Hannibal's office during Season 2 (particularly in "Su-zukana"), one can see that the Bonsai tree between the windows has grown exponentially since Season 1, even moreso than a Bonsai is typically seen. A certain Japanese folktale claims that a Bonsai will remain small if in an environment of love and care, but will grow strong in an environment of hate and suffering.
    • Hannibal's line about wealthy Italians preferring to "fall into the hands of the Sards" in "Tome-Wan" becomes rather sharp Black Comedy if you know that it's long been rumored that Sardinian criminals feed their victims to the pigs.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Not only is the show surprisingly popular in Korea, but if the official AXNnote  Youtube channel is anything to go by (MAJOR S2 SPOILERS), the gratuitous amounts of Ho Yay may play a part.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "Buffet Froid", Will asks Hannibal not to publish anything about his mental illness until after he dies. The episode aired shortly after the shocking revelation that Michael O'Hare, the original lead actor of Babylon 5, left the show because he was suffering from schizophrenia, and asked producer J. Michael Straczynski to reveal it only after his death.
    • An in-universe example during "Entrée", on our first visit to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane:
      Graham: I always feel a little nervous going into these places.
      Crawford: Why's that?
      Graham: I'm afraid they won't let me out.
      Crawford: Don't worry, I won't leave you here.
      Graham: Yeah, not today.
    • That odd, silly moment early in the series (and in the trailer) where Hannibal sniffs Will and Will notices? Totally doesn't have any relevance in the rest of the series. It's just funny moment. Totally. Just ignore the similar moment when Hannibal sniffs Bella Crawford and figures out she has cancer. It's coincidence. Totally.
    • In the pilot episode, Will and Jack talk about Will's problem with eye contact, with which Will concludes, "I try to avoid eyes whenever possible." That becomes a very ill-omened statement a few episodes later when Will imagines himself as a killer who performs a brutal killing via Eye Scream on a defenseless woman... with his thumbs. The effect of this trope was not lost on Will, whose own eyes became tear-filled afterward.
  • He's Just Hiding: The show runs on the principal that until you've seen the desiccated corpse, nobody is confirmed as dead (and even then, the corpse may actually be somebody else); as a result, many people react this way when it seems a character has been killed.
    • As of the Season 2 finale, Miriam Lass, Freddie Lounds, and Abigail Hobbs have all turned up alive after their supposed offscreen deaths. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on Frederick Chilton, whose shooting sparked all kinds of debate over his possible survival.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • Brian Reitzell, the composer, pretty much works entirely with dissonance in this series, and the show uses that to push buttons.
    • That horrific intense buzzing sound first heard in "Savoureux". The instrument used is called a bullroarer — a flat piece of wood, regular in shape, at the end of a long cord. Sound is produced by twisting the cord slightly, then whirling the wooden blade in a horizontal arc, creating a whirring noise that can carry for long distances. It's one of the oldest known instruments in the world, and infamous for its eeriness.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Hugh Dancy was one of many actors who screen tested for the role of Lecter in Hannibal Rising.
      • Even more ironic given the final shot of Hugh Dancy in the Season 1 finale.
    • Similarly, Gillian Anderson was the first choice to replace Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in the 2000 film Hannibal, but couldn't take the part because her contract for The X-Files forbade her from playing any other FBI agent.
  • HSQ: The final act of the season 2 finale. If you thought the flash-forward in "Kaiseki" was shocking, then you're definitely in for quite a ride.
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Chilton. Even if he's a slimy narcissist, it's difficult not to feel pity for him after all of his trials and tribulations. First, Gideon kidnaps and vivisects him. After he recovers, he's down one kidney and requires a cane to walk. Then, Jack refuses to take him seriously when he begs for FBI protection from Hannibal. Then, Hannibal frames him for three murders he didn't commit. Then, he's shot in the head by a traumatized Miriam, who mistook him for her captor.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The promotional poster for Season 2 pretty conclusively gives away that Will Graham is institutionalized.
  • Love It or Hate It: The show has gained this reputation after Season 2. You either love the twisted relationship between Hannibal and Will and deeply enjoy the horror and the writing, or you can't get past the very gruesome death scenes. Most people are happy that Fuller's curse appears to have been broken, however.
  • Magnificent Bastard: After the events of the first season, Dr. Hannibal Lecter would certainly seem to qualify. To date, he has successfully gotten away with murdering several people and eating them, and driving one of his patients almost insane. And what of the FBI special agent who discovered him? Incarcerated for Hannibal's crimes.
    • Will is showing signs of this in Season 2.
  • Memetic Molester: Hannibal, unsurprisingly. Mads Mikkelsen and Brian Fuller's comments don't help.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Somebody please help Will Graham."
    • "No not you Hannibal" often follows.
    • "THAT'S THE OPPOSITE OF HELPING WILL GRAHAM!"
    • "The [noun] is people. Everything is people."
    • Swiggety Swag the Nightmare Stag!
    • "This is my design" and puns based on it.
    • What if Hannibal told lame jokes instead of implying cannibalism?
    • The closed-caption "[loudly implied cannibalism]."
    • "It fucking rhymes" — usually captioned on a picture of Will in prison.
    • Will's fondness of dogs is often hilariously exaggerated into a full-blown obsession; shipping him with Beverly Katz thus got the Portmanteau Couple NameKatz and Dogs’.
  • Mind Game Ship:
    • It's very easy to see Lecter and Graham in this.
    • Lecter/Abigail is the het version, with a bonus mentor angle.
    • Hannibal and Bedelia Du Maurier as well.
    • It's safe to say that any ship involving Hannibal Lecter will involve this.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Despite the fact that Hannibal is an amoral serial killer and cannibal, many still found him entertaining and likeable to an extent. However, by end of the finale, when he murdered Abigail and framed Will for it, people were quite upset.
    • Mason Verger spends pretty much the entirety of "Ko No Mon" doing cartwheels up to the horizon, until finally forcing a hysterectomy on his sister simply so she can never have an heir who might take the family fortune.
  • Narm:
    • Crawford bellowing "USE THE LADIES' ROOM!" to the random FBI agent who unwittingly enters the bathroom while he's having a private conversation with Graham. It's so loud and jarring that you can hardly help but laugh.
    • In the episode "Sorbet", Will misses an appointment with Hannibal. While the entire episode had been to focus on Hannibal's lack of friends and the inherent loneliness of being someone like him, seeing him sit at his desk, double-check his appointment book, and just sit there looking sad and disappointed to Mozart's Requiem has made many a viewer laugh hysterically.
    • Most of the navel contemplation in the series is well written. But the scene where Hannibal and Chilton make a philosophical observation about grapes of all things may have been over the line.
    • In "Hassun", during the shot of Hannibal taking the stand at Will's first trial, his face is replaced by the head of the Wendigo... in a suit. Also doubles as Special Effects Failure, considering the rendition of the Wendigo head looks a bit off.
    • The Verger storyline faced some interference from NBC execs who were skittish about portraying homosexuality. So we get some quite amusingly oblique "wink, nudge" references to it, the highlight being Mason's line about "button stitching."
    • Mason hallucinating Hannibal with a boar head. It's not helped by his gleeful cries of "Here, piggy piggy!" Really, the entire drugged-up-Mason sequence is hilarious in an incredibly dark way.
    "I am enchanted and... terrified."
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: In Season 2, Will's attendant is played by recognizable TV actor Jonathan Tucker, despite being completely Out of Focus. He's eventually revealed to be the one who murdered the bailiff during the trial.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Doctors/psychologists as unremittingly evil as Hannibal Lecter are few and tend to get sued for malpractice. But abusers who use the techniques he does undermining Will's stability are all too common — and because of the nature of those techniques, the victim may not realise that anything is wrong, or might even believe that whatever is wrong is their fault.
    • It's implied that Hannibal was plotting the Frame-Up of Frederick Chilton for two years, during which time Chilton carried on completely unsuspecting.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
    • Hannigram.
    • Also, ChillyWilly for Chilton and Will.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Not quite completely rescued, but Freddie Lounds received a lot of appreciation from fans after in "Rôti" she's tricked into getting kidnapped by a serial killer and forced to watch him perform a vivisection on a man while he's still conscious and despite naturally being horrified and disturbed manages to remain calm and hold herself together instead of doing anything stupid in a difficult and terrifying situation.
    • Inverted with Hannibal. People liked him very much early on, but as his actions started to really hurt Will and Abigail, the fandom felt he was going too far. By the season finale, when he killed Abigail and framed Will after nearly driving the latter to insanity, people outright hated him. Says a lot about the skilled writing and nuanced performances of the series that it took a whole season for some people to start rooting against Hannibal.
    • Frederick Chilton, after beginning to show some Hidden Depths and being a walking Crowning Moment of Funny during "Futamono", may have officially rescued himself with three little words: "Hannibal the Cannibal." By the time of his apparent death, fans were screaming in protest, compared to the collective shoulder-shrug when he was disemboweled in the first season.
    • After traveling with the Jerkass Ball and Idiot Ball for the middle portion of Season 2, Alana's tough, competent self comes roaring back in "Ko No Mono". By "Mizumono", she's willing to shoot Hannibal in cold blood!
  • The Scrappy: Parts of the fanbase have soured on Alana due to her point-blank refusal to entertain the idea that Hannibal isn't on the level, even as Jack finally begins to catch on. Thankfully, she's put most of the pieces together by the end of Season 2 and admits that she's paranoid of everybody now.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The source books popularized a great deal of serial killer tropes, and originated some of them. Some viewers have complained about the focus on yet another tortured profiler... when really, Will Graham was the basis for a great many tortured profiler characters.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • Graham/Lecter versus Hannibal/Clarice.
    • A much milder example is Will/Alana versus Will/Beverly.
    • Ship Sinking: Played with. In "Futamono", Hannibal and Alana spend the night together. However, Hannibal was just using Alana as an alibi so he could extract Abel Gideon from the hospital without suspicion. Alana, on the other hand, is well and truly emotionally invested, believing they have found common ground between their desire to distance Will from their lives.
  • Squick:
    • The cannibalism scenes, especially when Hannibal is still preparing the chosen organs. The shot of the inside of the opera singer's throat in Episode 7 is pretty gross as well. Yet another example is Will vomiting up a human ear in "Savoureux".
    • In the second season premiere, we get a nice, extended cut of Hannibal forcing the ear down Will's throat with a tube while the latter is more or less unconscious. The background noise was pretty nauseating, to say the least.
    • Taken to new levels with "Sakizuki", with the first couple of minutes showing us every excruciating detail of Roland Umber ripping himself out of the killer's mural. Seriously, the shots of all that flesh and skin being torn free... *shudders*
    • And topped yet again in "Tome-wan" when we get to see quite a bit of Mason Verger mutilating and even eating his own face, something even the R-rated film series showed much less directly. In this instance, the Squick borders on outright Nausea Fuel.
  • Too Soon: Why the planned fourth episode, "Œuf", was pulled from the schedule on NBC. Bryan Fuller himself insisted on it largely because of the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting (which occurred after the episode was filmed). Although Fuller has since decided that the episode could have aired just fine; the shooting was fresh in everybody's minds during the show's filming, but not on the episode's air-date.
  • Unfortunate Implications: This review gives a nicely thorough explanation of why people got so upset about Beverly Katz being killed off.
  • What an Idiot: Beverly has Hannibal dead to rights with the evidence in his fridge, so why go down to his basement? And without calling for backup first? Though it does say something that the only way they could think to kill her off was to pass her the Idiot Ball.
    • Alana doesn't think to check if Hannibal removed the clip from her gun during one of their nights together, after suspecting him for at least a week before she tries to shoot him.
  • The Woobie:
    • Will. When he relived the murder of the night nurse in Episode 6, he has tears in his eyes. Watching Will being deceived, driven to madness, and framed for murder by a man he trusted was devastating. Also, Abigail Hobbs, who was forced to cooperate with her father's crimes, then manipulated and murdered by Hannibal.
    • Peter Bernadone. Poor Peter Bernadone.
    • Alana, who was manipulated, seduced, and then (indirectly) thrown out of a window by the man she thought was her mentor.
    • Margot Verger. Her parents disowned her for being a lesbian and her brother is a Psychopathic Manchild with a thing for flesh-eating pigs. It gets even worse after Mason forcibly removes her uterus to prevent her from having a male child and thus being free of him.

The Book

  • Adaptation Distillation: A bit of an odd one, as Ridley Scott's Hannibal film is largely considered mediocre and forgettable, but some fans argue even that is quite an accomplishment considering how terrible the book is. That said there are some people who like the book better
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Hannibal's motivation and state of mind, especially in the films. While he denies having a Freudian Excuse and claims he ‘happened’, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising explain that he did experience the horrible trauma of his sister being murdered and eaten, but passages in Hannibal and the twist in Hannibal Rising imply that he was to an undetermined degree resentful towards her, and the act he witnessed actually inspired him by showing him how deep evil can get. He has a somewhat strange relationship with these understandings, alternating between accepting and rejecting either or both, calmly denying that he resented his sister when Clarice asks him about it near the end of Hannibal and breaks into a huge cry of despair when he is reminded that he ate his sister too in Rising.
  • Broken Base: One half of the fans argue that the movie is a large improvement of the book, but the other half likes the book but loathes the movie.
  • Complete Monster: Mason Verger is a warped pedophile who had the misfortune to run afoul of Hannibal and ended up disfigured and crippled in a wheelchair for it. Seeking revenge, Verger murders and schemes so he can capture Hannibal and feed him to specially trained wild pigs. Now impotent, Verger obtains satisfaction by torturing and abusing children and drinks martinis made from their tears. Verger also uses his own sister as a servant, having kept her in line with a series of violent rapes earlier in life. Fortunately, the film only implies he was a pædophile, like his father, with any other gruesome details pertaining solely to his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: His "bloody angel" killing when he splits the victim's ribs near the spine and pulls the lungs out the back, and flattens them, making them look like wings. In a very disturbing and macabre way, almost artistic.
  • Sequelitis: On both the page and the screen, it is commonly felt to be severely flawed. Not really surprising when you consider that Harris didn't want to write it, and only did it to prevent someone else coming along and potentially doing an even worse job.
  • The Woobie:
    • Clarice a bit as well, in the first half of Hannibal, after the press has smeared her for the way the way the DC drug bust went, even though she and John were the only people actually doing their job right.
    • Margot has some woobie-ish tendencies as well, with the way her brother Mason abuses her.