TV News

Hannibal: 3 Seasons & A Movie?

Spoilers for the Hannibal Season 3 finale below. Duh.

As Twitter put it, last night’s series finale of Hannibal was a drop the mic moment. The murder husbands, Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, finally consummated their three-season flirtation and tag-teamed to kill Francis Dolarhyde, Will delivering a kill shot to the body while Lecter used his teeth to tear a chunk out of Dolarhyde’s neck. As they embraced, both worse for the wear, Hannibal revealed this had always been his endgame, telling Will, “This is all I ever wanted for you.” Nodding in agreement, Will tightened his grip around Hannibal, and then pulled the pair over the edge of an eroding cliff, the show taking a very literal approach to the realization that Will had finally gone over the edge. As the camera elegantly swooped over to catch up with the pair and veered down into the watery abyss, we lost complete sight of them, unsure if they fell to an obvious death or if perhaps they were dangling to the side of the cliff just off camera. It turns out, Bryan Fuller’s big plan to end the show was to go out on in true Sherlock and Moriarty at Reichenbach falls fashion.

And that’s all she wrote, folks. Put a fork in Gillian Anderson’s severed leg being fed back to her, because Hannibal is over. Or is it? No, it probably is. Or is it?

In various interviews after Hannibal was officially canceled in late June, Bryan Fuller unexpectedly spoke up to defend NBC, his then soon-to-be former employer. From his point of view, even though NBC dropped the ax they were not the enemy because they stuck with the show longer than you could realistically expect a broadcast network to. They were supportive and turned a surprisingly big blind eye to the gory content, but the ratings were never there and the critical buzz never equated to any major awards nominations.

Shortly after Fuller said that, NBC ceased promoting the show and dumped it on Saturday nights because why bother anymore with a low-rated, already-canceled series.

Hannibal was the definition of a prestige show which brought NBC very little in the way of measurable prestige, and when they decided to move on it was Bryan Fuller, not NBC, who ultimately prevented a fourth season from happening somewhere else. Amazon was eager to save the Hannibal from the cancellation pile, but Fuller was already committed to serving as the co-creator and showrunner of Starz’ upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. As such, a fourth season of Hannibal was going to have wait a full year before Fuller could begin working on it. Not surprisingly, Amazon didn’t have that kind of patience, and the all actors were let out of their contracts, with Mads Mikkelsen already circling a big role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

Fuller isn’t ready to give up just yet. Talking to THR last night, he revealed he’s still working with his producer to explore every option, including a possible Hannibal movie.

 [Executive producer] Martha De Laurentiis is looking into financing for a film. I’m still hoping that we get to tell that story in some way. There is something in the novel Hannibal that has not been done in any of the adaptations and I would love to explore that with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. I’m hoping that someday, whether it’s a year from now… two years from now… that we will continue to get to tell that story. I feel like if Will Graham did survive that plunge, his most interesting chapter is yet to be told.

Plus, if they do manage to find a new home they might be able to work out a deal with MGM to be able to use the Silence of the Lambs story and characters, which was the one aspect of Hannibal canon off-limits to them at NBC.

The movie route is very appealing because we have movie actors. It would be great to see them on the big screen and we’ve always shot the show as though it were an independent movie with an independent film esthetic. Coming full circle in return to the big screen is very promising. But it would be interesting to discuss a miniseries or some sort of continuation of the story with another network once all the hubbub of this series has gone fallow. Who knows? Maybe there is an opportunity for us to address things with MGM and Clarice Starling now that the show has completed its run on NBC and there is an opportunity for a rebirth of sorts.

Who would he cast as Clarice?

There’s two ways. If you were to go that traditional route, Ellen Page would knock it out of the park. She’s a brilliant actress and has a lot of the qualities that we remember about Jodie Foster’s performance but yet unique in her skill set as an actress. That would be one way to go. But I do think it would be interesting to cast someone who is not white in that role and use race experientially as a defining attribute of the character.

That all sounds nice, but Fuller has yet to pull off any Pushing Daisies continuation he’s teased over the years. Realistically, as encouraging as it is to hear him actively pursuing a future for Hannibal there’s only so much he can actually accomplish.  No one’s under contract anymore, and he already lined up his next job, American Gods, before Hannibal had even been canceled because the writing was clearly on the wall at that point. If they can’t find the right money people or a new home then it’s not coming back, which would be a shame because Hannibal was always a cable show airing on a broadcast network.  Put into the right environment, it could thrive, even if it is rapidly running out of source material to adapt from the Thomas Harris novels.

Best friends gotta hug…from the season 2 finale

PlaceMadeforAbigailIn the end, much like fellow former NBC series Community, Hannibal is officially dead until the day comes that it isn’t.  No one is obligated to it anymore, but by going out the way it did maybe they piqued the interest of the right people who can actually help us find out what happens next.  Should that day never come, we’ll be left to decide for ourselves what to make of that ending, with Fuller’s parting shot being:

I don’t think you can assume anything [whether Will and Hannibal died or not]. It’s very intentionally left obscure but hopefully somewhat satisfying for the audience. If there is a continuation of this story with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in those roles then of course they survived. And if not then it’s a big fat question mark.

What did you think of Hannibal‘s series finale?  And do you think that it should probably stop now and never come back?  Or would you love to see a Hannibal film?

Source: THR


  1. I want to see Hannibal come back on television rather the film. I want Fuller to be able to flesh everything and everyone out as he has done rather than be forced to cram it into a 2.5-3 hour feature.

    If they made a film, would people call it a Silence of the Lambs remake?

    Wouldn’t it be strange and probably awful if MGM decided to make their own show/movie using the Starling character after doing NOTHING with the licence for years?

  2. I had a big whinge when Hannibal was cancelled, but the series finale was so good and satisfying that I’m okay that it’s not returning. It’s the perfect ending. And it’s clear from his comments that if we ever do see Hannibal again, it won’t be for another few years, and I’m thinking by then Mads Mikkelsen will be a pretty busy guy

    1. I’m with you in that I’m okay with this being the end of Hannibal. The series finale managed to make it feel like this was always where the show was destined to end up. I’m okay with stopping here and having to decide for myself if Will and/or Hannibal survived. Plus, while it’s cool that they might be allowed to adapt Silence of the Lambs in a hypothetical fourth season it’s not as cool as some people might assume. The Will Graham of the books and the Manhunter/Red Dragon movies is not really the Will Graham of the TV show. This whole entire homoerotic, “murder husband” seduction Hannibal and Will have played out on the show has really just been Bryan Fuller’s version of the traditional Will Graham story merged with Clarice’s story from Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Speaking of which, large sections of the Hannibal novel/film have already made it into the TV series. So, really, there isn’t a whole lot of new material for them to adapt at this point.

      That being said, I could see this turning into a Sherlock situation where they take a couple of years, and then come back from an ultra-short season or maybe a passion project indie movie. If that happens, I’ll watch it, but I’m cool with this being the end for now.

      1. Yeah exactly like had they done SOTL Clarice’s role (if they got the rights) wouldn’t have had as much impact because of the nature of Will and Hannibal’s relationship. Besides what would Will be doing during this story arc, can’t imagine the show without his character. But yeah hopefully we get a situation like that and in a few years we get to see what Bryan Fuller had planned for future seasons

      2. Agreed. For some reason, the way that the show merged some of the Clarice character into its version of Will Graham isn’t getting as much press as the “Wow, Bryan Fuller has cool plans for a version of Silence of the Lambs!” headlines. I also agree that I can’t imagine a future of Hannibal without Will Graham, but I don’t particularly want to see Will and Hannibal being murder husbands together which sort of seems like the next logical step as they’ve already done three seasons of Will fighting off the seduction. I want Will still fighting going over that line and maintaining some of his humanity. So, if any future of the show would be about both Will and Hannibal being criminals it’s not something which completely interests me.

        But if it ever comes back more power to Bryan Fuller to do whatever he wants with it. He’s earned that trust. I could be way off base with where I imagine it going next.

      3. Yeah agreed, I want to see a Will Graham who isn’t completely good, but isn’t completely bad either. Like the point of the finale was that he accepted that he had these dark desires but didn’t want to live with it, so he took himself out and the monster with him because of who he is. So when Bryan Fuller was talking about his season 4 plans with Graham and Lecter being murder husbands together, I wasn’t too sure about it. But yeah Fuller has more than earned the trust to progress these characters the way he envisions so

      4. Are you people, nuts? 😀 (it can be hard to express emotions in plain text but that comment is not meant to be malicious)

        I don’t even know if it can be called a cliffhanger when the protagonist and antagonist of a series goes OVER a cliff. I want to know how they get out of this situation!

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