These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Mason Verger. He's an incestual pedophile bisexual rapist obsessed with watching the title character being eaten alive by wild boars. Many of his previous evil deeds - such as the adolescent rape/abuse of his lesbian sister - are only hinted at. An evil deed that is explicitly mentioned? He emotionally tortures orphans until they cry, at which point he drinks their tears in martinis. In a series based around vicious serial killers (of which many are in a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds territory), Verger is a twisted and depraved man with no redeeming features who manages to stand out.
Grutas from Hannibal Rising. He makes Hannibal look downright heroic by comparison. It says a lot about a person when the first thing he does is eat the protagonists baby sister and only gets worse.
Crazy Awesome: Not all the time, but Lecter's escape in Silence of the Lambs runs on this. Disposing of the guards as mentioned above, then getting their backup to carry him out of the prison themselves by wearing his victim's clothes and mutilated face over his own.
Dr. Lecter: * showing Starling a letter* "This is about my crucifixion watch. They won't give me a patent, but they advise me to copyright the face. ... You may have noticed that in most crucifixions the hands point to, say, a quarter to three, or ten till two at the earliest, while the feet are at six. On this watch face, Jesus is on the cross, as you see there, and the arms revolve to indicate the time, just like the arms on the popular Disney watches. the feet remain at six and at the top a small second hand revolves in the halo. What do you think?"
In a bizarrely creepy way, some of Lecter's killing's. In particular, the way he strings up the disemboweled guard to look like an angel during his escape in the movie. Another one is his "bloody angel" killing from Hannibal. He splits the victim's ribs near the spine and pulls the lungs out the back, and flattens them, making them look like wings. Both are, in a very disturbing and macabre way, almost artistic.
The books hint that part of the reason Lecter does this is to distract and shock investigators, tripping them up on the horrific details and giving him more time to cover his tracks or otherwise get clear.
Foe Yay: Hannibal and Clarice. Who could have guessed?
Genius Bonus: Hannibal famously said of one victim that he "ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." Liver, fava beans, and wine all contain a substance called tyramine, which can cause a severe reaction in any person taking an MAO inhibitor drug. MAO inhibitors, in turn, are one of the first antidepressants and were a regular part of the drug regimen given to people in insane asylums before safer antidepressants became available. Thus, anyone committed to an insane asylum — such as Hannibal Lecter himself — would have been forbidden from consuming liver, fava beans, or Chianti.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Clarice thinks that Hannibal's crimes are due to some sort of Freudian Excuse and Hannibal tells her that its foolish thinking and that shes abandoning the concepts of good and evil for behaviouralism. Twenty years later, Hannibal Rising, a book detailing Hannibal's origins and motivations, was released.
Dr. Lecter:Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can't reduce me to a set of influences.
Jerkass Woobie: All of the serial killers, including Lecter himself. Dolarhyde was horrifically abused as a child, and Gumb has his own issues and problems.
Les Yay: In a discussion of motivation, Hannibal tells Starling "we start by coveting the things we see every day." Starling repeats this observation to her FBI room-mate Ardelia, and they smile at each other.
Catherine's captivity by Buffalo Bill. Made all the worse by the fact that the movie takes great pains to make her a sympathetic character who the audience desperately wants to see saved. The worst scene is probably her desperately sobbing and begging Gumb to let her go, saying that she wants to go home and see her mother again.
Everything related to Bell is a tearjerker in The Silence of the Lambs but especially her death. After Bella dies, Crawford simply holds her for a while then dresses Bella in her favorite bed gown. And then:
Crawford tried going into the next room - he still could turn when he wanted to and see her through the open door, composed in the warm light of the bedside lamp. He was waiting for her body to become a ceremonial object apart from him, separate from the person he had held upon the bed and separate from the life's companion he had held now in his mind. So he could call them to come for her.
His empty hands hanging palms forward at his sides, he stood at the window looking to the empty east. He did not look for dawn; east was only the way the window faced.
His last words to her also count. Bella wakes up one last time and Crawford stays by her side even though she might not even be aware of him or be able to hear him. Crawford makes sure to let her know how much she is loved and that he is there for her till the end.
Crawford: Bella, I love you, kid.
The sad fate of Hannibal's family. Especially Mischa. Poor Mischa.
After Clarice's first meeting with Lecter in Silence where she has been mentally picked apart by Lecter and sexually assaulted by Miggs. At first Clarice stoically walks out of the building to her car. As she does, she has a flashback to a happier time in her childhood of her father coming home from work. When the flashback ends, the scene cuts back to Clarice in the present standing next to her car and sobbing. Made even sadder by the fact that crying in the privacy of a car is apparently something common among real life FBI agents as a way to cope with the stress of their jobs, as Jodie Foster learned while researching her role.
There are several implications in the movie that Gumb was the victim of a Critical Psycho Analysis Failure. He was misdiagnosed as a trans prerson and wound up genuinely believing it. His psychological profile was all wrong for a sex change, which was why he was rejected...and ironically, why he started killing.
Amusingly, the book went out of its way to avoid these implications in a phone conversation between Crawford and the head of a gender-reassignment surgery. The doctor objects to the labelling of a killer as a transsexual for this very reason, and Crawford has to go to great pains to assure him they'll make the distinction. This scene didn't make the movie, and so the doctor's arguments were echoed by critics.
Villain Sue: Lecter devolves into this completely throughout the course of the third book, Hannibal. Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs made a credibly realistic character of him; he was highly intelligent but by no means infallible, charismatic but still a very unsettling individual and good at taking advantage of a situation and improvising plans. By Hannibal he's a prodigy of everything, no longer reacts to pain, plans things out months in advance, and commits impossibly over-the-top murders. While Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs demonstrate that for all of his cunning and charming behavior, he is still a sociopathic murderer, Hannibal introduced a Freudian Excuse that really came across as a kind of Draco in Leather Pants justification for the character. The two examples that send this over the edge are his romantic conquest of Clarice Starling at the end and the time when the cannibal pigs respect him too much to attack him.
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.
Averted by Catherine, who defies Gumb at every opportunity, and is depicted less as helpless than simply overpowered. She's almost an Action Girl, and despite using Gumb's beloved poodle as a hostage against him, she quietly whispers to the dog that she'd never hurt it. She even keeps the dog in the end of the movie taking it with her into the ambulance. (How much of an aversion this is can be contested, though, as she's pretty clearly traumatized for life after all of this.)