YMMV / Red Dragon

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Freddy Lounds is a (intentionally) completely unlikable character, but he certainly didn't deserve to be set on fire by Dolarhyde, especially since it was revenge for writing lies that GRAHAM told him.
    • The recording of Lounds forced to deliver Dollarhyde's message is the point where the investigators realize that they've been underestimating their unsub. Tooth Fairy? Who's that?
      Lounds: I have had a great privilege. I have seen with... wonder and awe the strength of the Great Red Dragon. He has helped me to understand his splendor... and now I want to serve him. He knows you made me lie, Will Graham. Because I was forced to lie... he will be more merciful to me than to you.
    • Ralph Mandy, too. He was annoying for pestering Reba, but his end was horrible.
  • Broken Base: Manhunter (1986) vs Red Dragon (2002); which is better?
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the book, Graham says that Lecter: "... had the first and worst sign [of sociopathy] - sadism to animals as a child." This runs contrary to his Wicked Cultured and Affably Evil characterization in the subsequent books, and feels rather beneath the Hannibal Lecter we eventually get to know. When Hannibal Rising was released and allowed readers to witness Hannibal's childhood and Start of Darkness, such uncouth behavior was noticeably absent.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Hannibal Lecter. He's so popular that the Red Dragon film widely expanded his role.
  • Magnificent Bastard: If anyone can be considered one, it's Lecter. He only appears in one chapter as well but his presence is felt throughout the entire book as he still manages to fuck with Will's and Crawford's minds.
    • The film version actually has him dial out of his cell using a very odd trick in order to put a hit on Graham's family. While it doesn't work, it's very effective as Paranoia Fuel.
  • Mind Game Ship
  • Narm: Lounds' murder is incredibly over the top to the point where it's equal parts terrifying, disgusting, and hilarious, particularly when Dolarhyde bites out Lounds' tongue with an action that, if not for the screaming, would look like a deep kiss.
  • Narm Charm: "Ride with me. For my pleasure." Helped by Ralph Fiennes' accent. Strays into Fridge Brilliance, as the line is deliberately clumsy to illustrate just how socially crippled Dolarhyde is.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Was there really any doubt? The descriptions of how Dolarhyde entered his victims' houses and killed them one by one is chilling.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Some modern readers have decried Dolarhyde, a vicious psychopath who does the most horrible things possible to the most undeserving people possible but has a traumatic childhood that makes him sympathetic, as a cliche. Clearly they're unaware of how groundbreaking this was at the time.
  • Squick: What Dolarhyde does with his victims.
    • And later on when Reba has sex with him and fellates him. One must hope he is a thorough washer after he "changes" people, for Reba's sake.
    • In the book there's Dolarhyde's introduction in which he enjoys a home movie of one of his killings just a little too much.
    • Related to the two above posts, Dolarhyde is watching a video of the next family he intends to murder. Reba sidles up to him and is quite pleased to find that he has an erection. Is it from her ministrations—or the thought of killing these people?!
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: This faired better with critics and audiences than Hannibal.
  • Tear Jerker: There are quite a few though this is unsurprising for a book dedicating a lot of pages to talking about the victims of horrible deaths and contemplating over their lives.
    • Though Freddy Lounds was a major jerkass his death still tugs at the heartstrings. His lover, Wendy stays with him until he dies and tries to comfort him the best she can.
      Wendy of Wendy City held Lounds's blackened claw and looked straight at him. He stirred once, a little before noon.
      "It's gonna be just fine, Roscoe," she said. "We'll have us some high old times."
      Lounds stirred again and died.
    • Dolarhyde's backstory and mental illness. Born disfigured, horribly abused as a child and now suffering from major delusions of being possessed by some otherwordly monster. His interactions from Reba show that were it not for his mental illness he could have been a normal, kind and loving man.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The plot hinges on Dolarhyde's employment at a film processing facility. He discovers his victims via the home movies they send in for processing and uses the home movies to learn the layouts of the home and any obstacles in his way. Nowadays his job is obsolete. The movie Red Dragon pushed him slightly ahead of his literary counterpart. In the book he processes film for use in projectors, in the movie he processes film into videotapes.
  • The Woobie: Reba McClane, particularly as played by Emily Watson.
    • Also Francis as a little boy.