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     The Book 
  • 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.
  • Author's Saving Throw: After the controversy over the depiction of trans people in the previous book, Margot Verger is heavily implied to be trans on some level, and is mostly sympathetic. Granted, it still runs into Trans Equals Gay territory and has its own Unfortunate Implications that Margot associates femininity with weakness due to her being molested by Mason as a child, but it's still Fair for Its Day considering it was 1999.
  • 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. There's also a large segment which despises the book and the movie for turning Hannibal into an Anti-Hero of sorts, how Clarice's character is handled (her romance with Hannibal in the novel, aspects of that remaining in the film, recasting Foster with Moore, etc.) and an overall sense of try-hard Narm that can be seen throughout it.
  • Complete Monster: Mason Verger is a warped pedophile that had the misfortune to conflict with Hannibal and ended up disfigured and crippled in a wheelchair for it. Seeking revenge, Verger kills 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 serious of violent rapes earlier in life.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The big problem of the book and the film. By promoting the serial killer Hannibal Lecter to the role of protagonist in history, Thomas Harris is forced to create even more monstrous and repulsive antagonists, to make the reader cheer for Hannibal. Meanwhile, Clarice Starling, the protagonist of the previous book, suffers severely from Out of Focus for much of the first half, even being absent for the entire hundred pages on which the book focuses on Detective Pazzi's investigation. Even when she returns to the main plot in the second half, she is manipulated by Hannibal and Verger for most of the book. And the Downer Ending only makes the situation worse.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When the Italian detective is scrolling through the FBI website, looking for information on Hannibal, one of the pictures he passes by is that of Osama bin Laden. The movie was released in February 2001, 7 months before the 9/11 attacks (bin Laden was originally put on the list for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa, amongst other terrorist attacks).
  • Narm: Some people found the scene in the movie where Hannibal cuts off the top of Krendler's skull, cooks part of his brain and feeds it to him while he's still alive to just be too silly to take seriously.
    • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Though in hindsight, comparing it to the insanely brutal and over-the-top "artistic" murders in the 2013 series, eating someone's brain might come across as rather quaint today. As if to drive this point home, the series replicates the scene with Will Graham in place of Krendler. Hannibal doesn't actually get to eat Will's brain as they are interrupted, but they nevertheless top it by showing us Hannibal drilling into Will's skull while Jack Crawford watches.
  • Nausea Fuel: Hannibal cutting open the sac containing Krendler's brain, cutting off a piece, cooking it and feeding it to Krendler is this In-Universe for Clarice Starling, even drugged up on morphine. She begs Hannibal for some wine while retching.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Hector Salamanca appears as the perfume expert who gives Clarice one of her next leads on Hannibal's trail.
  • 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.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Hannibal and Clarice. At no time in the preceding novel was there ever any indication of an attraction between them and even after being drugged and brainwashed, it seems highly unlikely that Clarice would seduce him and willingly abandon her life to go on the run with him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Many fans find the subplot of the cynical Anti-Hero Detective Pazzi investigating Hannibal the best thing in the book, and more interesting than anything involving Clarice. Some even argue that it is from the moment he is killed by Hannibal that the quality of the plot drops.
  • Vindicated by History: To a small extent, the novel and the film were savaged as time went on and fans have finally started to appreciate the story a lot more than when it initially came out. It helps that the Hannibal series did a spectacular job adapting the story thanks to Adaptation Expansion.
  • The Woobie:
    • Clarice a bit as well, in the first half of Hannibal, after the press has smeared her for 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.

  • Author's Saving Throw: The choice to have Hannibal Lecter let Clarice go to escape rather than corrupting her to become a cannibal herself.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Doubles as "Funny Aneurysm" Moment- the movie shows the actual FBI Most Wanted List of the time (albeit with the addition of Hannibal Lecter), including Osama bin Laden for his role in the bombings of American embassies and a naval ship. Since the film came out in early 2001, very few viewers at the time of release would have recognised him, unless they somehow kept up-to-date on international terrorism; after 9/11 though, everybody knew who bin Laden was.
    • Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger was also shown on the list, right next to bin Laden. Once again, few would have known who he was at the time, but he gained international notoriety years after the film came out, though in his case more because of other big movies like The Departed (whose Big Bad was partially modelled on Bulger) and Black Mass (a fictionalised biopic of the guy) that won several awards and made his story infamous.

     The Series 
  • Alternative 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, Bedelia du Maurier, tells Will 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 Bedelia is walking an uneasy line between Alternative 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 Bedelia'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 Bedelia 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. The Season 3 opening episode implies that even she isn't sure what's going on with her and Hannibal.
    • 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?
    • In Season 3, was Bella's death natural, or did Jack give her an assisted suicide?
    • Now that the nature of Neal Frank's death is revealed, did Bedelia intend to kill him anyway after he called her and Hannibal out on their treatments on him, or was it a Mercy Kill because she couldn't think of any other way to act and save him during his seizure?
    • In the series finale, when Will hatches a plan to fake Hannibal's escape so he can have both Hannibal and Dolarhyde killed. Was he secretly intending to kill Dolarhyde and have Hannibal escape for real, with him joining the latter? Or did he really plan to have both of them dead, only changing his mind about killing Hannibal in the last second?
    • Bedelia's final scene (and the final shot of the series) lends itself to two interpretations, which have been hotly debated among the fandom: either she's preparing her body to be eaten because she doesn't know Will and Hannibal are dead and won't be coming for her, or Will and Hannibal are alive and have returned to eat her.
      • Word of God has stated that it was meant to imply the latter, but he nonetheless enjoys the former interpretation.
  • 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.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After Season 2 attracted a ton of controversy for killing off one of the few major Asian characters on American television, Season 3 introduces a new one who also becomes a partner to Will.
    • Season 3 also addressed the other major criticism from the previous season, NBC's almost comical skittishness regarding Margot Verger's homosexuality, by portraying her in a realistically physically affectionate relationship with another woman, including a sex scene.
  • Award Snub: A lot of people were expecting the show to earn Emmy nominations, particularly for Hugh Dancy's and Mads Mikkelsen's performances. Sadly, the show went largely ignored through its three seasons.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Siouxsie Sioux's & Brian Reitzell's hauntingly beautiful song "Love Crime", which plays over the final scene and end credits of "The Wrath of the Lamb."
    • "Bloodfest", the instrumental piece that plays during the final ten minutes of "Mizumono".
    • Most of the soundtrack counts, especially if you're a fan of early Pink Floyd.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Freddie Lounds and Jack Crawford have their share of fans and people who just can't stand them.
  • Broken Base:
    • Many people will argue viciously whether or not Will is canonically autistic.
    • While the viewers enjoyed the dynamics between Hannibal and Will in the first two seasons, Season 3 divided the base when it's confirmed that Hannibal and Will are in love with each other. Some people are cool with it since it mirrors Hannibal and Clarice Starling's relationship. Others find it as pandering to slash shippers (or they just don't like icky gay stuff in their cool murder shows) and some of them prefer the Hannibal/Clarice ship from the movies instead. As expected, it leads to Ship-to-Ship Combat.
    • Bryan Fuller described the first half of Season 3 as "a pretentious art film from the 80s". Not all fans were on board, particularly because of the slower pace compared to the first two seasons.
  • Catharsis Factor: Whether you like Hannibal or hate him, it's hard to not cheer Jack on when he gives Hannibal the beating of his life in "Contorno", especially after all that he had done to almost everyone else in the cast.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • In "Coquilles", Will 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).
    • Every tidbit of Gratuitous Japanese is somehow wrong. Old Tropers in particular would cringe at the word nakama, which was (mistakenly) used to mean ‘True Companions’ (as this trope’s page explains), used with a straight face by a Japanese person.
    • In "The Great Red Dragon", Zeller holds up a plaster reconstruction of the mouth that left a bite mark on a victim and points out its "pegged lateral incisors". There are three problems with this: one, the term is peg lateral, as in peg-shaped; two, he's pointing at the wrong jaw (peg laterals only occur in the upper jaw, and he points at the mandible); and three, the plaster model doesn't have peg laterals. Meanwhile, no attention is paid to the fact that the model is missing all of its molars, which in real life would be a much more significant identifying characteristic than the small incisor defects discussed in the episode.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: With almost all characters eventually becoming corrupted by Hannibal's influence, it may be hard for anyone outside the show's loyal fanbase to find someone worth rooting for; almost every character eventually gives up any kind of ethics, and the fans cheering when anyone sinks into depravity actually makes it worse.
  • 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 of the fun is in how terrible he is. Cannibal jokes abound.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • 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 story line. 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.
    • Chilton's popularity exploded in Season 2, as he became more sympathetic but importantly more comedic, commenting on the bizarreness of Hannibal Lecter in an almost meta fashion.
    • Mason Verger has built up quite a following, and has drawn a lot of comparisons to Heath Ledger as the Joker. For such a monstrous human being, he is so much fun to watch. While everyone else is contemplating existence, he's rolling around making blowjob jokes.
    • Margot Verger, partly due to her status as The Woobie and partly due to her wonderful dedication to being The Snark Knight.
    • Bella Crawford and Molly Graham have both gained a great deal of love from fans, despite relatively brief and straightforward story arcs.
  • 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.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With The Following, due to the fact that both started airing around the same time and featured very similar themes. The rivalry came about because both series were courting the same niche demographic and thought the other was stealing viewers, with fans and critics frequently coming to blows because The Following fans thought Hannibal was too pretentious while Hannibal fans thought The Following's premise was dumb and relied too heavily on lazy writing. Many fans failed to notice that the general public lost interest in The Following as time went on and Hannibal was largely ignored by the general public from the start.
  • 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 also very flashy. Subverted by the third season when he tones down his fashion to blend in more.
  • 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.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
  • Genius Bonus:
    • A great many things about Hannibal — 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, despondency.
      • 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 more so 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.
    • The heart-shaped murder tableau Hannibal turns Antony Dimmond into is propped up by three swords. This makes the tableau visually inspired by the Three of Swords in the Rider Waite Tarot deck. The Three of Swords stands for heartbreak, sorrow, betrayal, and the inability to move on. This describes both Hannibal and Will in Season 3 perfectly.
    • In "Primavera", Will hallucinates Hannibal's heart-shaped murder tableau transforming into the Stag. An alternative word for stag is "Hart."
  • 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:
      Will: I always feel a little nervous going into these places.
      Jack: Why's that?
      Will: I'm afraid they won't let me out.
      Jack: Don't worry, I won't leave you here.
      Will: 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 a 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.
    • In "Œuf", Hannibal gives Abigail Hobbs a mild psychotropic as part of her therapy, and the first thing she does is drop a teacup, which shatters on the ground. A season later, we learn that the image of a shattered teacup is very central to Hannibal Lecter's pathology and that it relates to the death of his sister Mischa, whom he sees Abigail is a surrogate of.
  • He's Just Hiding!: The show runs on the principle 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 episode "Aperitivo", Miriam Lass, Freddie Lounds, Abigail Hobbs, and Frederick Chilton have all turned up alive after their supposed deaths.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Mads Mikkelsen played a butcher who sells human meat in the Danish Black Comedy film The Green Butchers in 2003.
    • Hugh Dancy was one of many actors who screen tested for the role of Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising. This is 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 (and in fact Agent Scully herself was originally heavily inspired by Starling).
    • Years before the show premiered, Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen both starred in King Arthur as Galahad and Tristan, respectively. Early in the film, they exchange these lines.
      Galahad: I don't kill for pleasure.
      Tristan: You should try it some day. You might get a taste for it.
    • Apparently Richard Armitage enjoyed playing a deranged but sympathetic character obsessed with a monstrous red dragon so much in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug that he wanted to play another, even crazier version of that character. So now he's Francis Dolarhyde, the villain of Red Dragon.
    • The X-Men: First Class/X-Men: Days of Future Past fandom has coined the term "Mutant husbands" to describe Charles Xavier's and Erik Lehnsherr's homoerotic friendship, and considering that Will is very similar to Charles (you can read a more detailed comparison in the Shout-Out section of the main page, but for the sake of this entry, it's enough to know that Xavier is a mind-reader who is physically and emotionally scarred by his abusive love-hate relationship with the murderous Erik—heck, James McAvoy and Hugh Dancy even look somewhat alike), all Cherik shippers burst out laughing hearing Freddie Lounds call Will and Hannibal "Murder husbands."
    • This review of Red Dragon from Ebert and Roeper, where they suggest a screenplay about a pre-Hannibal. Someone owes someone some royalties!
    • Hannibal Lecter helped build the Death Star.
    • When Mikkelson was cast to The Other Darrin the role of Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series starting with the third film, parts of this show became funny in hindsight. In general, there's the homoerotic villain deal. More specifically, Dan Fogler (who plays Jacob in said series) has a bit part in season 1 as Franklin whom Hannibal kills.
  • I Am Not Shazam: People who hadn't seen the first season could be forgiven for thinking that Hugh Dancy was playing Hannibal Lecter as promotional posters for the second season depicted Will Graham in a padded cell looking sinister and wearing the iconic Hannibal Lecter mouth guard.
  • Idiot Plot: Quite a bit of the first season and much of the second depends on nobody on the show even suspecting for a second that Hannibal might be guilty of anything despite an abundance of circumstantial evidence, to the point that at Will's trial in season 2, the prosecutor is essentially arguing that Graham committed a slew of perfectly executed and highly elaborate artistic murders while suffering from an advanced brain disease. For example, the forensics team blame Will for killing Beverly but conveniently forget that the very last thing she asked them about was whether or not Hannibal was at his home making him an obvious suspect in her murder; the Feds also recognize that some of the murders occurred after Will was brought in on the Minnesota Shrike case but fail to remember that it was also after Hannibal was brought in as well. Word of God being that Hannibal was just seen as a harmless eccentric by much of the cast doesn't help much either, nor that in the source novel Will Graham figured out Hannibal was the killer within five minutes of meeting him.
  • 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. Then in Season 3 it's revealed he survived the shot to the head but now he needs to wear a series of prosthetics to retain his face's normal structure. Later, he tries to help Will catch Dolarhyde by having him go after Will, only for Dolarhyde to go after Chilton instead. After Chilton is kidnapped by Dolarhyde and glued to a wheelchair, Reba Mcclane shows up to try to talk to Dolarhyde, but Chilton remains silent rather than crying out for help because Dolarhyde threatened to kill her if he did. Once she leaves, Dolarhyde proceeds to break Chilton down mentally, and just when Chilton thinks he's about to be let go, Dolarhyde bites his lips and then sets him on fire, leaving him alive but left burnt horribly from head to toe.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hannibal Lecter himself maintains a sense of charm and genteelness that is unmatched in other portrayals, despite being a cannibalistic Serial Killer. Hannibal delights in nothing more than 'winding others up to watch them go' and manipulates events, gaslighting people and driving them to insanity or horrible deeds simply to watch what will unfold. Manipulating the FBI perfectly, especially Will Graham who Hannibal fixates on, he manages to elude suspicion for a frighteningly long time, even triggering one captured FBI agent with a trigger to shoot Dr. Chilton, whom he has a special contempt for. Hannibal also manipulates the dysfunctional Verger siblings until their relationship is at a bloody head before he mutilates and paralyzes the sadistic Mason Verger solely due to dislike of him. Hannibal does rouse himself to save the life of Will from a vengeful Mason later, and in the series finale proves his care for Will and desire for them to become a murderous couple when he rescues Will from the Red Dragon serial killer. A killer with a god complex and Satanic Archetype who views the world as full of food or toys for him, Hannibal repeatedly demonstrates his joy in manipulating others.
  • 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.
    • "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 Hannibal and Will as this.
    • Hannibal/Abigail is the hetero 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 likable to an extent. However, by end of the finale, when he murdered Abigail and framed Will for it, people were quite upset. And that was just the beginning.
    • Mason Verger spends pretty much the entirety of "Ko No Mono" 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:
    • Jack bellowing "USE THE LADIES' ROOM!" to the random FBI agent who unwittingly enters the bathroom while he's having a private conversation with Will. 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.
    • When Jack & Alana discover Hannibal being held hostage by Matthew Brown, The disturbing imagery is undercut by Mads Mikkelsen's squawked delivery of "He's got a gun! Jack!".
    • The Verger story line 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."
    • Hannibal's Luxury Prison Suite after he's finally caught, especially since not one person sees fit to comment on it, or how much it contrasts to the tiny cage Will was put in.
    • Francis Dolarhyde's insistence that he is The Great Red Dragon might remind one of the infamous Fuck you! I'm a dragon! meme.
  • 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.
  • Older Than They Think: 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.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Will's lawyer in season two. Upon opening an envelope containing a severed ear,
  • 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 realize 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.
    • Abigram/Abigill for Will and Abigail Hobbs.
    • Hannibloom for Hannibal and Alana.
    • Hannidelia for Hannibal and Bedelia.
    • ChillyWilly for Chilton and Will.
    • Margolana/Marlana started showing up immediately after Margot Verger and Alana Bloom's first scene together.
    • Brownham for Will and Matthew Brown.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Not quite completely rescued, but Freddie Lounds received a lot of appreciation from fans in "Rôti". In the episode, 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, she 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 Funny Moment 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! This continues in Season 3, as she becomes something of The Stoic and joins up with Margot for an elaborate scheme to bring down Mason Verger and Hannibal Lecter.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Dan Fowler played Franklyn Froidevaux (one of Hannibal’s patients) in the first season a few years before he was cast as Jacob Kowalski in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In a funny coincidence, Mikkelsen was eventually cast to take to over the Big Bad role of Gellert Grindelwald in the same franchise for the third film.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • Hannibal/Will 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.
  • Spoiled by the Format: A weird one caused by another show, as Laurence Fishburne was cast on Blackish after Season 2, which involved a well-publicized explanation of how he would split his time between the two shows. Naturally, this gave away that Jack would survive his injuries from the cliffhanger.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: In the Season 2 finale, Abigail Hobbs is revealed to still be alive... and then Hannibal slits her throat just minutes later. Season 3 then teases us with her survival, only to reveal she did die and her appearances in the second episode were just Will's imagination. Basically, for all the impact she had on the plot after the reveal that Hannibal had kept her alive and captive for months, she might as well have just been actually killed the first time.
  • Uncanny Valley: Richard Armitage is unnervingly good at the sinuous, inhuman movements Dolarhyde uses when "possessed" by the Red Dragon. Made worse by his not wearing much, so we can see every muscle.
  • 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.
    • None of the evidence Beverly finds is admissible, there is no search warrant. She goes into the basement to satisfy her curiosity, which is when curiosity killed the Katz.
    • 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.
    • Abigail, 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. 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.


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