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Characters / Hannibal Lecter Literature

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Characters from the film/book series by Thomas Harris focused on serial killer Hannibal Lecter. For the NBC TV Series, go to Hannibal

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    FBI Agents 

Will Graham:

  • Broken Ace: His work for the FBI caused him a great deal of physical and psychological trauma, and when we last hear of him he's been reduced to a disfigured drunk.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Despite his resentment for being constantly thrown up against the worst humanity has to offer and the toll it takes on his life, his need to save lives and do good pulls him back into detective work.
  • The Profiler: Famed in his department for being able to ascertain the psychological state of the criminal. Played a bit more realistically than some examples—his profiling isn't enough to catch Dolarhyde, and most of his successes on screen are more about luck or police work than his empathic talents.

Agent Clarice Starling

  • Action Girl: Goes up against dangerous killers.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Starling hunts Jame Gumb through his basement maze while waiting for backup that isn't coming.
  • Animal Motif: Lambs. Birds. Horses. (Hannibal also frequently compares her to a lioness.)
  • Consummate Liar: It's rarely dwelt upon, but in The Silence of the Lambs, she lies to Hannibal Lecter's face and gets away with it until Chilton exposes her lies to Dr. Lecter.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Will Graham was a veteran agent brought out of retirement with a personal history with Lecter. Clarice is a trainee on her first assignment. Whereas Lecter hates Will, he likes Clarice a lot.
  • Determinator: Played with; in the novels, Clarice comes from one of the historically poorest areas in the United States, loses her father, and is given up for adoption by her mother and later relatives. Despite this, Clarice becomes a college graduate and FBI agent. In Hannibal, she nearly gives up when her career began to spiral, until the letter from Hannibal Lecter renews her determination and re-opens the Lecter investigation. Her determination and stubbornness helps her retain her personality at the end of the novel.
  • Face–Heel Turn: She ends up becoming Lecter's lover by the end of the series, though only in the novels; in the film series, she stays a heroine throughout.
  • Failure Knight: With dead lambs forming the center of the story's central analogy.
  • Fair Cop: Whether played by Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore.
  • FBI Agent: Starling builds her identity around being an agent, and is devastated when the FBI turns on her.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Of a very peculiar type: other characters frequently comment on her attractiveness, yet the narrative itself never gives a physical description of what she might look like beyond the fact that she's in good physical condition. Even very basic details such as her eye and hair color are never mentioned (although there are a few hints that she's a ginger).
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Starts off as an idealistic young agent, but gradually grows disillusioned with the system and finally goes rogue when she's thrown under a bus after doing everything right.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Julianne Moore sometimes has Clarice's accent and sometimes does not. Justified since it was established in The Silence of the Lambs that was she was trying to lose her accent.
  • Pride: Her driving motivation.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Arguably happens when Clarice and Hannibal become lovers in Hannibal.
  • Worthy Opponent: Lecter considers her to be this.

Jack Crawford

  • The Atoner: Applies in the book version of Silence. Crawford remembers that putting Will Graham through a Mandatory Unretirement during the Tooth Fairy case ended up destroying the poor man's life. He does everything he can to help Clarice avoid a similar fate.
  • The Cassandra: Much of his warnings, especially for Clarice not to answer Hannibal's questions about her personal life, are ignored.
  • Happily Married: A significant part of Crawford's arc in the books has to do with his devotion towards his terminally ill wife Bella, who passes away in Silence. When Crawford has a fatal heart attack in Hannibal, he shifts his body to Bella's empty side of the bed as he dies.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Starling.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he and his men break into the wrong house, he is clearly shocked, but also mentions one name in sheer worry.
    Crawford: Clarice!!!

Paul Krendler

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Compare Vawter in Silence to Liotta in Hannibal
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Implied; he accuses Hannibal and Starling of being gay based on little to no evidence, then has some bizarre and oddly specific nightmare in which he's about to have sex with Clarice, but he can't get an erection so she calls him a queer repeatedly.
  • Asshole Victim: Krendler goes out of his way to destroy Clarice, not just because of the Buffalo Bill case (which she solved without his help), but also over her rejecting his advances (twice). Then he colluded with Verger to use her to lure Lecter into the boar trap.
  • Autocannibalism: Hannibal feeds him his own brain.
  • Brain Food: Paul Krendler has his own fed to him by Hannibal.
  • Characterization Marches On: Evolves from a condescending, sexist Jerkass who at least shows some regard for Crawford's ability in Silence of the Lambs to Clarice's nemesis and eventual meal in Hannibal.
  • Only in It for the Money: In Hannibal, he proves willing to undermine the FBI's search for a dangerous cannibal psychopath, collude with another psychopath who he knows plans to commit murder, and put Starling's life in peril, all to secure campaign funds for a cushy political job.
  • Pet the Dog: His sole redeeming moment is remarking how Burke and Brigham were damn fine agents and their deaths are a great blow to the FBI.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Openly expresses his disdain toward gay people, people of color, and women—frequently in the most un-PC of terms.

    Serial Killers 

Dr. Hannibal Lecter

  • Affably Evil: Usually unfailingly polite... providing the company is polite in return.
  • A God Am I: Indirectly. He believes that God has never done anything worse than he's done, and therefore anyone who acts with God's random ruthlessness might as well be considered God in their own right.
    • During his conversation with Will Graham in Red Dragon, he reveals this to be the root of his pathology.
    • In Hannibal (film version), there is a recurring theme of comparing Hannibal to Jesus, complete with a Crucified Hero Shot and Pietà Plagiarism. The comparison, however, is not favorable: Hannibal compares Commandatore Pazzi to Judas for betraying him for avarice, and, by extension, himself to Jesus, forgetting that Judas decided to betray Jesus only after he said in Gethsemane (a soup kitchen, no less), ‘There will always be poor people, but only one of me,’ and that he himself, well, eats people.
  • Anti-Villain: Type I - Although this depends largely on personal interpretation. His targets are usually people who are impolite, or those he feels in some way that their death would be a service to the population at large. But he is not above killing those who would try to capture him, prevent him from escaping capture, and, when trying to secure a job in Florence, killing the man whose job he intends to take. His murders are exceptionally vicious, especially his "wound man" killing. That said, he is not without sympathetic qualities, and is a gracious, courteous host, unless you get on his bad side.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Was retconned into being Lithuanian aristocracy.
  • Ax-Crazy: A particularly civilized example.
  • Bait-and-Switch Amputation: At the end of Hannibal (film), Hannibal is forced to cut off either his own hand or Clarice’s with a kitchen knife to escape. He is shown bringing down the knife, followed by Clarice’s painful expression; the next scene shows she still has both hands, and the final scene shows Hannibal struggling to eat with one hand.
  • Belated Backstory: First appeared in 1981, but his backstory wasn't given until 2006, 25 years later.
  • Berserk Button: Just try to insult or harm Clarice Starling (or children), and see how long you last. Remember what happened to Miggs, Chilton, and Krendler? Yeah, that's right. In his own words: "Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me." Being an asshole is a good way to get you in Lecter's bad book. In Red Dragon he feels that Will Graham has insulted him in their meeting, so he unleashes Dolarhyde on his family.
  • Big Bad Friend: Acts like this in the opening for the Red Dragon movie, where he seems legitimately sad about attacking Graham, whom he honestly seemed to like. Apparently, he's a really sore loser, because when he and Graham meet again, it's pretty clear that he now hates the guy.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Lecter's personal ethics are bizarre. Murder, torture, cannibalism and mutilation are fine, but sexual assault and rudeness are punishable by death. What Lecter considers to be rude behavior is unclear as he himself insults, ignores and talks down to people. And murder could be seen as being pretty rude as well. Furthermore, his definition of evil is to defy the rules of society and he made the deliberate choice to be evil by rejecting societal norms.
  • Boxed Crook: Subverted: the authorities handling the Martin kidnapping believe he's this, and attempt to use it to manipulate him into helping them. Instead, he manipulates them into helping him escape.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is incarcerated, but still writes highly respected articles for psychiatric journals.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Much more so in the book than the movie. Dr. Lecter does not live in an obvious delusional fantasy (as Jame Gumb and Francis Dolarhyde do) and he rejects his Freudian Excuse (the death and consumption of his young sister). He derides psychology and behavioural sciences. He corrects Starling when she labels him as "destructive," telling her that he is most definitely evil.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Red Dragon, he was described as having tortured animals as a child, behavior that seems out of place for Hannibal afterward; in fact, in Hannibal Rising, this behavior is absent.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He bites a guard on the face, then pepper sprays him, and then bludgeons the guard's partner to death with a truncheon — said partner is unarmed and has his hands handcuffed to the cage bars.
  • Commonality Connection: Although he and Lady Murasaki are strangers when they first meet, they gradually bond over their mutual loss of family due to war, as they are now the only two surviving members. This is lampshaded by Inspector Popil.
  • Cultured Badass: He's a man of wealth and taste and a nigh-unstoppable serial killer.
  • Creepy Child: Even as a small child, the servants were creeped out by this unsettlingly smart and observant little boy and purposefully avoided him.
  • Creepy Monotone: As played by Anthony Hopkins, but often startlingly subverted in the novels.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: By Hannibal they've gone away.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: It's revealed that Hannibal's Start of Darkness happened when deserting Nazi soldiers captured him and his sister Mischa and killed her for food and then forced Hannibal to eat her.
  • Dissonant Serenity
    "His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue."
  • Due to the Dead: He buries Mischa's bones in her copper bathtub, and he leaves behind one of his mother's brooches as an offering.
  • Dumbstruck: The young boy becomes mute after losing Mischa. He is so traumatized by the event that he only starts speaking again after he meets his aunt 8 years later.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Hannibal's time imprisoned in the basement has left him with a paper-white complexion that contrasts harshly with his dark hair, maroon eyes, and red lips.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Does this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Is genuinely disgusted with Mason, Chilton and Krendler. This is a major part of his character. He may be a murderer, a sadist and bit of an asshole, but he can't stand exceptional rudeness or discourtesy.
  • Evil Chef: Lecter applies his excellent knowledge of cuisine by turning his victims into gourmet meals and eating them. He's not a chef by profession, though.
  • Evil Cripple: At the end of Hannibal (film version), he severs his own hand to escape arrest, sparing Clarice the same fate. Although by this point he may or may not have gone through a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Evil Tastes Good: Besides the obvious, in the novel he hurts Senator Martin with a line ("Toughened your nipples, didn't it?" in the movie), "takes a sip" of her pain and thinks it is delicious.
  • Evil Is Petty: The whole dinner and a show he had Graham arrange in exchange for his help was done all to piss Dr. Chilton off. Even Barney and another orderly laugh at it.
  • Failure Knight: He is haunted by his inability to protect Mischa.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lecter. He gets away with being both this and Affably Evil; Faux Affably Evil is for the people he's messing with. Or plans to eat, or serve. Or is eating or serving. Played straight when he is genuinely pissed off at a person.
  • First Love: Lady Murasaki is the first woman he falls in love with.
  • Freudian Excuse: Initially this notion was defied by Lecter himself, saying that nothing happened to him but instead he happened. Thanks to retconning, we learn his sister was eaten by Nazi Cannibals when he was a child. As executed, it made everything else about Lecter mention by others (like Doemling) mesh better (and completed the Failure Knight analogy hinted at since the previous book), but the extension of it into a full story makes Lecter’s initial characterization as pure evil somewhat more ambiguous, as a few passages in Hannibal imply he resented his sister and was actually inspired by her murder, feeling awe at the extent that evil can reach.
  • Genius Bruiser: Often uses his knowledge of anatomy to devastating effect. Hannibal rarely just kills anyone, but makes sure that they are artfully mutilated and arranged in interesting tableaux—either pre- or post-mortem.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Trope Namer.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Hannibal Rising depicts him as one, saying during a funeral service for his sister that he's glad that (he believes) there is no God or afterlife because he thinks Cessation of Existence is a better fate than being "made to kiss God's ass forever".
  • Hooks and Crooks: His favorite knife is a Harpy, a knife shaped like a talon.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of his nicknames is "Hannibal the Cannibal" for a reason.
  • Insufferable Genius: As Jack Crawford puts it to Starling, "He's very likely right, and he could have told you why, but he wanted to tease you with it. It's the only weakness I ever saw in him — he has to look smart, smarter than everybody. He's been doing it for years."
  • Karma Houdini: In spades, though Thomas Harris admitted he had grown to like his character so much this trope became inevitable. At the end of the Hannibal novel Lecter even finally settles down with Starling following the events of the novel.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: More often than not, his victims do have it coming.
  • Knife Nut: Hardly ever kills people without a knife around.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: "'M' FOR MISCHA! 'M' FOR MISCHA! 'M' FOR MISCHA!"
  • Kubrick Stare: This is his default expression when revving up the creepy.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: At the end of Hannibal (film), after Hannibal locks her to the fridge, Clarice handcuffs him to herself as the police is on its way. He grabs a kitchen knife and threatens her with it, but ultimately cuts off his own hand to escape.
  • Love Confession: He reveals to Lady Murasaki that he loves her, but she rejects him.
    Hannibal: I love you.
    Lady Murasaki: What is left in you to love?
  • Narcissist: Is convinced of his superiority to everyone around him and doesn't mind telling them.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Requests an hour in private with the Tooth Fairy case file, which includes gruesome crime scene photos. Will knows that most of the time was spent with the pictures. Is also morbidly fascinated with church collapses, medieval torture instruments and cannibalism. Hannibal explicitly describes the pleasure he feels when he sees Starling consume the brain of Paul Krendler.
  • Noble Demon: Grutas and his gang are so awful that they make Hannibal seem heroic in comparison.
  • Nominal Hero: All of his victims in Hannibal Rising are war criminals, but Hannibal wants them to die for hurting his family.
  • Not So Stoic: After Miggs throws his semen at Clarice, Lecter bellows down the hall at her. In the novel, Clarice comments on how rare it is to see him agitated. (It later turns out that he's so offended by Miggs' "rudeness" that Lecter convinces the man to kill himself. That night. From two cells away.)
  • Pet the Dog: For Clarice, but he is also genuinely fond of Barney and Sammie. Was also Knight Templar Big Brother to Mischa.
  • Pretty Boy: When played by Gaspard Ulliel in Hannibal Rising.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Is a brilliant psychologist who uses his insight into the human mind to achieve his own ends. If a patient is rude, boring, or shows no hope of ever improving, Lecter has no qualms about either killing them or convincing them to kill themselves. He advises young Margot Verger that it would be therapeutically healing to murder her abusive brother as soon as she's old enough to get away with it, and he uses a combination of drugs, hypnosis, and psychoanalysis to eradicate Starling's entire personality so that he can reprogram her as his dead baby sister (though Starling ultimately resists and instead becomes his cannibal bride).
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the books, he is described as having maroon (brownish-red) eyes. He appears with bright red eyes in some posters for Hannibal and Hannibal Rising.
  • Red Right Hand: Lecter has a sixth finger on his right hand, as well as maroon eyes that appear red in bright light.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He goes on one in Hannibal Rising against all of the men who had killed his beloved baby sister.
  • Sadist: It is strongly implied that most of his victims were tortured to death in various elaborate and particularly gruesome fashions; beyond that, he is a Manipulative Bastard par excellence who messes with peoples heads and gives them cutting Hannibal Lectures For the Evulz.
  • Serial Killer: Killed nine people in his initial rampage and critically wounded two others (one survivor was Mason Verger, the other is in a mental institution).
  • Serial-Killer Killer: At different points in the books and adaptations he's up against other killers.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Lecter, with his iconic mask, is the Trope Codifier. Many franchises have imitated the image as shorthand to indicate Lecter-inspired characters.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Was a minor character in the book and has limited screen time in the movie, but he is a major force in moving the story forward.
  • The Sociopath: Subverted as Lecter is capable of empathy.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Definitely counts in relation to Starling.
  • The Stoic: Taken to extremes during his rare acts of violence. When he brutally attacked a nurse, which involved breaking her jaw to get to her tongue, his pulse never got above 85 bpm. Even during his escape he mostly looks bored (save for one brief second where he wears a terrifying Slasher Smile).
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Hannibal Lecter, M.D. and don't you forget it. Did you know Dr. Chilton has no medical degree?
  • Timeshifted Actor: The younger version of the character is played by Gaspard Ulliel and Aaran Thomas in Hannibal Rising.
  • Tragic Keepsake: In Hannibal Rising, he has photographs of his family, Mischa's teddy bear, his mother's letters and pearl necklaces.
  • Troll: The Dinner and A Show scene in Red Dragon was all just to tick off Dr. Chilton for removing his books and toilet seat. This antic caused the normally stoic Barney and a fellow orderly to laugh. Also, there's this scene from The Silence of the Lambs (book only):
    [Lecter] had refused to speak, but responded by folding for them an origami chicken that pecked when the tail was manipulated up and down. The senior officer, furious, had crushed the chicken in the lobby ashtray as he gestured for Starling to go in.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Mischa. He had made a promise to his sister's memory that he would avenge her death, and absolutely nothing, not even his aunt (who he does love), can dissuade him from carrying out his goal.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Lady Murasaki.
  • Villain Protagonist: In Hannibal and Hannibal Rising (although in the latter he's more of a Noble Demon and Nominal Hero).
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Lecter speaks with a weird blend of American and European accents that is very difficult to place.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: His idyllic life was shattered when his parents were murdered and he and his little sister were abducted by German deserters who ate his sister and fed him some of her in a broth. No wonder he's Ax-Crazy.
  • Wicked Cultured: His pathology is centered around this trope, as he eats (and serves) his victims as exquisite meals, apparently to prove how much better he is than them; or, in Starling's words, "show his disdain for those who exacerbate him" (or, sometimes, to perform a "public service"). Apart from this, and a more general love of fine dining and drink, he enjoys classical music, is a highly talented artist, and has sufficient knowledge of Dante, the Renaissance and Renaissance literature to get a temp job as a library curator at a Florentine museum, and impress the board enough to nearly make it permanent.
  • Worthy Opponent: He considers Will Graham to be this, even after his incarceration.

Francis Dolarhyde

  • Anti-Villain: While his crimes are unforgivable, he's severely affected by mental health problems and even makes a genuine attempt to stop killing and overcome the Red Dragon personality.
  • A God Am I: Demands awe from his victims, although the novel (very briefly) makes explicit that he sees himself as the dragon of Revelation.
  • Antagonist Title: An indirect example. "Red Dragon" is actually a shorthand for the painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In Sun" that figures into the plot. Francis Dolarhyde, the villain, believes himself to be representative of it, and develops a murderous split personality that identifies itself as the Dragon.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: For all his crimes, you can't deny "Dolarhyde" is a pretty awesome sounding surname.
  • Blind and the Beast: Falls in love with Reba McClane partly because she's blind and can't see his harelip, although it's strongly implied that most women he knew were attracted to him already. He just thinks of his harelip as being a much greater problem then it actually is.
  • Big Bad: Of Red Dragon and its adaptations, as he is the one Will Graham is trying to catch.
  • Break the Cutie: Francis Dolarhyde's whole childhood seems to revolve around this.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: As a child, when it was perfectly normal. His grandmother viewed it differently, threatening to castrate him. It becomes something of a Berserk Button for him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Is a great admirer of Dr. Lecter but is disappointed by Lecter's response to his note. He feels that by giving him Graham's home address, Lecter is implying that it is possible for him to be harmed by Graham, and Dolarhyde thus determines that Lecter understands him little more than the rest of society.
  • Control Freak: He has this reputation at work and it is mentioned a few times that he raises Hell at the lab when technicians make minor mistakes. It's possible that this is done out of mere professionalism but odds are it has to do with him choosing his victims through their film footage and requiring them to appear at their best.
  • Freudian Excuse: Subject to severe abuses as a child from his grandmother. Graham even notes that he feels sorry for the boy Francis used to be when reading his journal. Deconstructed by Graham late in the film.
  • Genius Bruiser: Apart being cunning enough to momentarily get away with committing serial murder, when he gets a captive audience to himself, he lets fly with a storm of scholarship and speechifying he otherwise carries around in his head. All this, and he's built like a 42-year-old Bronco linebacker.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: He attempts to placate the Red Dragon aspect of his personality by eating the William Blake drawing. Unfortunately it's not enough, and the Dragon comes back with a vengeance.
  • Heroic Suicide: He briefly considers hanging himself to stop the Red Dragon hurting Reba, but ultimately decides to eat William Blake's painting instead.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: His murder of Freddy Lounds.
  • Kill It with Fire: How he kills Lounds.
  • Pet the Dog: As noted by Crawford and Graham, he only knocks out Paula Harper, despite it being far easier for him to just bump her off.
  • Red Right Hand: Francis Dolarhyde's harelip, which played a major role in his descent into madness due to his being cruelly mocked and shunned. Dolarhyde's yellow eyes may also count. As an impressive piece of detail, it is briefly noted that his mother also had them.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Francis Dolarhyde has his huge scrapbook of crazy going back to childhood, with photographs and journal entries. It also features clippings from the time of Lecter's arrest and trial.
  • Serial Killer: Wipes out entire families.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In the novel, the voice of the Dragon in his head talks down at him in an "elevated", formal (and loud) way, interspersed with admonitions about "your little buddy," Reba, and his childhood nickname of "cuntface".
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Defied in-universe by Graham. He acknowledges that Dolarhyde was abused and that the child he used to be deserves pity for having had to endure it, but he also states that Dolarhyde, as an adult, deserves no sympathy whatsoever and is a selfish, disgusting excuse for a human being.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Received the choice when he was 17 after "entering the window of a woman's house for a purpose never established".
  • Tragic Monster: A victim of abuse and bullying as a child. Throughout the book, and in particular during his relationship with Reba, there are brief moments where we see the kind of man he might have been...until the Dragon takes over.
  • Verbal Tic: Dollarhyde avoids words with "S" sounds, as his cleft palate makes them difficult to pronounce. He always says "Um hmmm" instead of "yes." Graham picks this tic up halfway through the novel.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dolarhyde is pretty feeling good about his Becoming until he meets Reba and realizes it's possible for people to like him as a man without the whole "Red Dragon" thing. This causes his mind to split in two and he becomes even more unstable. Instead of being the identity he is becoming The Dragon is now a spiritual being who can move freely through space and physically harm people. He starts yelling to himself uncontrollably and having emotional outbursts. In the end The Dragon wins and kills the Dolarhyde identity.

Jame Gumb AKA Buffalo Bill

  • The Collector of the Strange: Skins of his victims.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Even when he's not dressing up in human skin, there's something a about his interpretation of femininity. His wardrobe and cosmetics are described as a mish-mash of 1950s glamour.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: To become a woman, he's willing to torture and kill a lot of innocent women, whom he refers to as "things."
  • Freudian Excuse: Alluded to.
  • Genuine Human Hide: His ultimate goal is to make a woman suit out of real women.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Genuinely loves his dog to the point where he all but has a breakdown when Catherine holds her prisoner and his willing to sacrifice the skin and hair he covets so much to ensure her safety.
  • Serial Killer: Kidnaps women and skins them.
  • Sissy Villain: He acts effeminate and has had some minor work done to make him look more like a woman. The book notes that rather than looking like a woman he just looks like a man inclined to fight with his nails.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Implied to be one. Hannibal himself states "Buffalo Bill wasn't born a criminal; he was made one by years of systematic abuse."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Bill collects his victims by wearing a fake arm cast and attempting to move furniture. When the victim approaches to give him a hand, he beats them unconscious with the cast.


Dr. Frederick Chilton

  • Arch-Enemy: Subverted. Chilton smugly tells Clarice that Lecter considers him one. The truth is Lecter regards Chilton as little more than a nuisance.
  • Asshole Victim: Considering that his behavior not only obstructed the Buffalo Bill investigation but put Clarice and Catherine in danger, the idea of Lecter exacting vengeance upon Chilton is both scary and gratifying.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Towards a Serial Killer, no less. He's smart enough to put Lecter in restraints first, but it's still monumentally dumb considering how much of an Evil Genius he knows Lecter is.
  • Brainy Brunette: Subverted. While he loves to put on a show of this, his fumbling incompetence is dangerous. Lecter makes a Sophisticated as Hell joke about his hair color and intelligence, obliquely calling him a shithead.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hannibal reveals he had a fiancee who desperately misses him.
  • Failed a Spot Check: As Clarice's Threshold Guardian, Chilton goes through all of the hospital's security measures concerning Lecter, specifically banning pencils and pens from Lecter's cell. The reason Lecter escapes is because Chilton has left his own pen in the cell.
  • Jerkass: Makes a sleazy pass at Clarice? Check. Frequently taunts the Evil Genius? Check. Illicitly records Clarice's conversations with Lecter, leaks the FBI's deal with Lecter, then hogs the spotlight as the plan's brainchild? Check. Puts both Clarice and Catherine Martin at the mercy of Buffalo Bill in the process? Check. Becomes the only character in the story that we want Hannibal to kill horribly? Checkola.
  • Lack of Empathy: Perfectly willing to risk lives if it makes him feel important.
  • MD Envy: Not actually a doctor.
  • Never My Fault: Is Hannibal's escape his fault for moving him to a less secure facility solely to steal the credit for stopping Buffalo Bill? No, he somehow blames Clarice for it.
  • Slimeball: Basks in the notoriety that being Hannibal's "keeper" gets him, using it to try to impress Starling and others.
  • Threshold Guardian: For Clarice. His smug attitude and come-ons are mixed with genuine warnings about Lecter's true nature, foreshadowing how Clarice has to deal with politics, misogyny, and disturbing violence in her chosen career.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Constantly bullying and taunting Lecter. Sure, he was locked up, but did Chilton really believe he wouldn't seize his first opportunity?

Barney Matthews

  • Almighty Janitor: Barney is a self-educated LPN with a checkered criminal record who worked a series of lowly manual-labor jobs before becoming an orderly at the mental hospital. He is also the only staff member at the hospital who truly understands how to deal with Lecter. Lecter recognizes this, and the two have a mutually respectful relationship.
  • Karma Houdini: Margot Verger and he are minor examples, with Margot getting away with killing her brother Mason in the book and Barney knowing about it and gets away with helping bury that knowledge, though since Mason Verger is an Asshole Victim par excellence, it's hard to hate them for this.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Has feelings towards Margot that he tries to act upon in Hannibal, but he accepts it when she rejects him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The final scene of the book version of Hannibal sees Barney visiting Buenos Aires and seeing Hannibal and Clarice at the opera. He immediately fears for his life and flees.

Margot Verger:

  • Adapted Out: Was entirely omitted from the movie. As such the manner of Mason's death is entirely different.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Vergers. Mason's a sadistic pedophile and murderer, and it's heavily hinted that his father and grandfather were sociopaths. Margot seems to be the most sympathetic one, whose issues are mostly excused by the fact that she's using them to protect herself from the crazy...but she's still a cold-blooded person who covers up for — and goes along with — her brother's deeds. Added to this, the entire family seems to think they can buy their way out of trouble, and for the most part, they're correct.
  • Brawn Hilda: Her use of steroids earlier in life left her infertile, which is why she needs her brother's sperm to impregnate her girlfriend with an heir to the family fortune.
  • Butch Lesbian: A tall and extremely muscular woman who keeps her hair in a short blond crew cut and who is occasionally mistaken for a man. She's been accused of "wanting to do everything the guys do" and boasts that she can pee standing up.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Margot Verger takes very messy revenge on her brother Mason, who had sexually abused her when she was younger, and manages to make sure that her family will have access to the family's fortune by getting his sperm so she can impregnate her girlfriend with a blood-related heir.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied that Margot works so hard to become strong and physically powerful to compensate for her helplessness when she was abused as a child. (In a less-sympathetic example, the book also hints that she became a lesbian after being raped by Mason and now Does Not Like Men for the same reason.)
  • Karma Houdini: She and Barney are minor examples, with Margot getting away with killing her brother Mason in the book and Barney knowing about it and gets away with helping bury that knowledge, though since Mason Verger is an Asshole Victim par excellence, it's hard to hate them for this.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Most men in the book hold her in disgust for her appearance. Subverted by Barney, who finds her very attractive. She doesn't take his interest well, although later the two make up and agree to be friends.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Margot keeps her hackles up against Mason and his cronies, and can be as tough and violent as they are. When she's away from them, she can be surprisingly vulnerable and earnest.
  • Tomboy And Girly Girl: Margot is the large, athletic, short-haired, angry tomboy to her partner Judy's cheery, feminine, domestic-minded Girlie Girl.


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