Frederick Chilton is a character in Hannibal. He is the general administrator for Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and a "collector of psychopaths". His hospital originally housed Abel Gideon who had been locked away for two years following the murder of his wife and her family. Chilton was convinced that Abel was also the Chesapeake Ripper and this resulted in actually convincing Gideon he was the Ripper through psychotherapy. Will Graham was also under Chilton's 'care' after being arrested under the suspicions of murder and was kept at Baltimore State Hospital till acquitted. He has survived three attempts on his life.
In episode Entrée, it is mentioned that Chilton consulted on the Chesapeake Ripper case when the FBI failed to catch the killer two years previous to the beginning of season 1. He convinced one of his patients, Dr Abel Gideon that he was the Ripper. One day, Gideon brutally kills a nurse in the style of the Ripper. When Gideon escapes, killing three officers, he intends to exact revenge on every psychiatrist who ever treated him. He performed a "surgery" on Frederick, removing some of his less vital organs while he was on a local anaesthesia. He would survive this incident and resume his position as general administrator of his hospital. After his ordeal, he could only consume low protein meals.
Following the arrest of Will Graham and his incarceration at Chilton's hospital, he began taking an extreme interest in Will. He's open to "aiding" Will in his therapy, at Will's permission, pursuing drug therapy and even "group therapy" when Dr. Gideon is returned to his hospital. While he has his suspicions of Hannibal Lecter (through his own experience and conversations with Will), he cannot pursue them any further due to his own transgressions in the past that could be exposed and to protect their mutual interest, he keeps at arm's length to this situation. His cockiness about Will taking him on as his sole psychiatrist and Chilton's suggestion to Hannibal's unorthodox treatment to Will cause Hannibal Lecter to frame Chilton as the Chesapeake Ripper in Yakimono by murdering and mutilating three men on Chilton's property and leaving Abel Gideon's corpse in his basement. Chilton is ultimately shot by the sole survivor of the Chesapeake Ripper, Miriam Lass due to her confusing Chilton as the Ripper. The way that this is done suggests that Hannibal coerced Miriam into believing that Frederick was the Ripper through light manipulation which also implies that Chilton has always been Lecter's fall back man.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller confirmed that Chilton survived this injury and that he would reappear in the third season
Despite the devastating nature of his injury, Chilton survived, the bullet passing just below his brain, but the resulting injuries leave him blind in his left eye and shatter his upper jaw and cheekbone, requiring him to wear makeup and a prosthesis. He encourages Lecter's other surviving victims to continue their pursuit of Hannibal, eventually becoming the administrator of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where Lecter is eventually incarcerated. Chilton writes a true crime novel about Lecter deliberately filled with inaccuracies, in order to spare Lecter's life. Lecter maliciously tries to end Chilton's career by refuting the book. Chilton plans to write one on new killer 'the Tooth Fairy'". Chilton is called in by Alana Bloom and Will Graham to help lure the Tooth Fairy by giving an insulting profile about the killer. Dolarhyde reads the article and in revenge, captures Chilton. While at Dolarhyde's, Chilton is forced to recant his lies on camera. Dolarhyde then bites his lips off and sets him on fire. Dolarhyde sends the lips to Lecter, who eats one. Chilton remarkably survives the ordeal but is left horrifically burnt and is barely able to speak. When Graham and then Bloom visit him, he angrily accuses them of setting him up.
Chilton is a very proud and arrogant man, seeking fame in higher psychiatric circles by housing various dangerous psychopaths then attempting to rehabilitate them. He held claim that he even had the Chesapeake Ripper in his hospital, convinced that it was Abel Gideon and incidentally created a persona in his mind of the Ripper. Due to this, an innocent woman was murdered in his hospital and later several other psychiatrists met their end after Gideon's escape, including Chilton himself being kidnapped and severely mutilated by Abel.
The experience did not change his desires though it made him more cautious. It is likely he decided against pursuing more unorthodox means to achieve his goals, especially making sure to avoid a repeat of Gideon's case. He's willing to cooperate with patients, as seen on several occasions with Will and even lends an ear to his suspicions about Hannibal Lecter and any manipulation that may have been done to Will prior to his arrest. Unfortunately, Chilton's own indiscretions are known to Lecter and the two have a mutual agreement to not reveal each other's "unorthodox methods".
- "A unique cocktail of personality disorder and neurosis that makes you a highly skilled profiler."(to Will)
- "Sometimes I feel like a secretary, rather than his keeper."(about Gideon)
- "Feels like a last supper."(to Lecter)
- "How did you sleep when Gideon killed your nurse?"(Alana)
- "One can grow to love beets."(to Lecter)
- "You cannot see it, and you will not see it until it is too late. Don't say I did not warn you, Dr. Bloom."(to Alana)
- "Of course it would be me! Hannibal was never going to kill me. I'm his patsy."(to Will)
- "May I use your shower, please?"(to Will)
- "The optimist believes we live in the best possible worlds, the pessimist fears this is true."(to Will)
- Dr. Frederick Chilton is based off on the same-named character from Thomas Harris' novels and same-titled movies Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs (both take place after the series), the director of the sanitarium Lecter is kept in after he got captured by the police.
- According to Bryan Fuller, Frederick would have gone back to running the hospital in the fourth season of Hannibal.
- Chilton's kidnap and burning in the wheelchair by Dolarhyde is a fate originally resigned to Freddy Lounds in the original novel Red Dragon and its two film adaptations. However unlike Lounds he ends up surviving the incident and begins receiving skin grafts.
- Chilton's near death experiences in each season is somewhat a very dark recurring gag in the show. Fuller stated that if the show continued Chilton would have continued to meet an unpleasant fate in each season.