- This article is about the television series version of the character. You may be looking for the character from the novels and films.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the titular main antagonist of the NBC show Hannibal.
Hannibal is a psychiatrist who works with Special Agent Will Graham to track down serial killers. Unknown to his colleagues, Hannibal is a cannibalistic serial killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper, who works behind Graham's back to further his own crimes. However, he sometimes uses them for other purposes such as committing two murders as a 'copycat' of the crimes of Garret Jacob Hobbs to present Graham with a clearer picture of the true killer's motives.
Hannibal Lecter was born in Lithuania to Count Lecter, a Lithuanian aristocrat and Simonetta Sforza-Lecter, an Italian mother. Orphaned at a young age, Hannibal became something of a father figure to his younger sister Mischa, after their parents died. Mischa was one of the few people in his life that Hannibal would ever truly love, caring about her so much that he denied his early homicidal tendencies for her. Under unknown circumstances, Mischa was killed and Hannibal ate her remains as a way of forgiving her for making him deny his true self. At the age of 16, he was adopted by his uncle Robertus and his aunt, Lady Murasaki.
Hannibal became very close to Murasaki’s handmaiden Chiyoh and they began to think of each other as family. Hannibal eventually found the man that was believed to have killed Mischa and wanted to kill him, Chiyoh however, managed to dissuade Hannibal from doing this and so he decided to leave the man’s life in Chiyoh’s hands. Chiyoh decided to keep the man a prisoner under Castle Lecter as punishment.
Sometime after leaving Castle Lecter, Hannibal journeyed to (and lived within) Florence, which is where he first began his career as a serial killer. He crafted his victims into images that were described as “haunting”, Hannibal‘s work eventually caused him to be given the name “Il Mostro di Firenze" translated as “the Monster of Florence”. Hannibal was considered a suspect in the crime by inspector Rinaldo Pazzi but despite a search of his home, no evidence could be found that connected Hannibal to these crimes. Eventually, another man was convicted of being Ill Mostro, simply because of his character and Hannibal soon after left Florence.
Hannibal came to America after receiving an Internship at John’s Hopkins medical school because of his drawings. Hannibal studied to become an M.D but eventually chose to leave the field of medicine in favor of becoming a psychiatrist. Hannibal used his position of power to persuade some of his more susceptible patients into committing murders, mostly because he was curious to see what would happen. Hannibal also continued killing people, preferring to kill those he deemed as ”rude” because they were no better than “pigs” to him. Hannibal became known as the Chesapeake Ripper, a serial killer that would mutilate his victims while they were alive and surgically remove their organs so he could cook them, preferably when he was hosting a dinner party.
Hannibal took a keen interest in Graham, whom he sensed to be similar minded. Despite his homicidal nature, he appears to have a certain empathy for others on some occasions. During his first case with Graham, he assisted Graham in saving Abigail, Garret Jacob Hobbs' daughter.
He despises banality and has an acute love of fine arts, food, literature, and music. He is depicted as a man of taste and details, and a nearly-obsessive perfectionist. He takes an instant dislike to "rude" people, such as Fredricka Lounds. Hannibal is very particular about what he eats, most of his meals are self-prepared. He claimed once that he does not believe in cruelty to animals and only purchases meat from ethical butchers, although this may have just been an abstruse joke about his true appetite. While talking with Abel Gideon, Hannibal noted that he did not consider himself a 'cannibal' as that implied eating one's equals, reflecting his usual standards of only eating those he considers inferior in some regard while leaving those he respects relatively alone.
He has a very good sense of smell, evident in how he often identifies Will by his aftershave before he even enters the room. He claims that when he was younger, he was aware of his teacher's stomach cancer, even before he was.
Hannibal also frequently holds small and extravagant dinner parties for his colleagues and friends. His guests have included Will, Alana, Dr. Chilton, Jack Crawford, and Jack's wife, Bella. While they seem to enjoy the elegant meals, they are unknowingly consuming Dr. Lecter's victims. Will Graham and Dr. Chilton eventually figure this out, with great disturbance.
Lecter also has an unconventional psychiatrist, who happens to be his colleague, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier.
Aliases and Victims
The Chesapeake Ripper
As the Chesapeake Ripper, Lecter kills in sounders (referring to a small group of pigs) of three. That is how he sees his victims, not as people, not as prey, but as pigs. Though crime scene photos show that his exact method varies, his victims are killed and mutilated by cutting, sometimes dismembered, and what remains of them is left on display and posed in various theatrical ways; one of the most frequently mentioned ways was when the Ripper left a victim near a church pew and used his severed tongue as a page marker in a bible he was reading. He also removed and took with him certain organs from the victims, which he, unbeknownst to the FBI, consumed.
He killed his first victims in nine days: Minneapolis, Essex, and Baltimore. He didn't kill again for eighteen months, and there was another sounder of three, and, in as many days, all of them in Baltimore. Eleven months after the sixth victim, there was a seventh.
Two days later, the eighth, Jeremy Olmstead, was killed in his workshop. Every tool on a pegboard was used against him, and, as with previous murders, organs were removed. Removal of organs and abdominal mutilations means someone with anatomical or surgical skills.
F.B.I. trainee Miriam Lass was investigating private medical records of all the known victims when she disappeared. She was believed to be the Ripper's ninth victim.
No trace of her was found until two years later when her severed arm was discovered only because the Ripper had wanted it to be found. True to his established pattern, the Chesapeake Ripper has remained consistently theatrical.
The Ripper has also killed independent medical examiner Andrew Caldwell, a Customer Service representative with Stanwood Tailored Coats named Michelle Vocalson, Hidden Room Rare Books General Manager Darrell Ledgerwood, and an IT consultant named Christopher Word, all names chosen at random from his collection of business cards (which he previously collected from people whom he found rude). At the time the FBI was unsure which of the murders to attribute to the Ripper or the organ seller. After each killing, he uses the organs to create extravagant meals for his friends. In the episode, "Sorbet", he kills an additional five people.
The Copycat Killer
While Lecter primarily kills as the Chesapeake Ripper, he has frequently murdered as a copycat killer, using his behind-the-scenes knowledge to copy other murderers and sometimes frame others for the crimes.
- Murdered Cassie Boyle as a 'copycat' of the crimes of Garret Jacob Hobbs to present Graham with a clearer picture of the true killer's motives.
- Murdered Marissa Schurr as a 'copycat' of the crimes of Garret Jacob Hobbs, framing Nicholas Boyle to see how Abigail would react.
- Murdered Franklyn Froideveaux, framing Tobias Budge, who he then murdered after a lengthy struggle.
- Murdered his colleague and old friend, Donald Sutcliffe, although he made it look like it was Georgia Madchen who killed him, originally intending to frame Graham for the murder (which he still intended to do).
- Murdered Dr. Carson Nahn in a copycat murder of Abel Gideon's murder of Dr. Paul Carruthers and also cut off his arm to tell the FBI where to catch Gideon.
- Murdered Georgia Madchen, to cover up his murder of Dr. Sutcliffe, but also to continue the framing of Graham.
- Murdered James Gray in a copycat murder of his crimes.
- Murdered Judge Davies, framing Matthew Brown to induce a mistrial in Will's case.
- Murdered Abigail Hobbs in a copycat murder of Garret Jacob Hobbs's attempted murder of Abigail.
Hannibal eventually framed Will Graham for the murders of Cassie Boyle, Marissa Schurr, Donald Sutcliffe, Georgia Madchen, and Abigail Hobbs. He did this by breaking into Graham's house, dismantling some of his home-made fishing lures, then re-constructing them integrated with remains from the victims. He later takes credit for all the murders when he kills a guard to get Abel Gideon and uses fishing lures identical to the ones used to frame Will with DNA of previous and new victims confirming the Copycat Killer and Chesapeake Ripper are one and the same.
II Mostro di Firenze
Hannibal's activities in Europe are under the guise of "Il Mostro di Firenze", Italian for "The Monster of Florence".
Twenty years ago, Hannibal arranged a crime scene to look like a detail from Botticelli's Primavera. Chief Investigator Rinaldo Pazzi determined that Hannibal was the killer, but was unable to prove it. Instead, someone else was arrested for the crime, though there was no evidence except for his poor character.
Hannibal returned to Italy with Bedelia after his true nature was revealed in Baltimore. Since his return, he killed and assumed the identity of Dr. Roman Fell, and has resumed his activities as Il Mostro.
- Murdered 2 unnamed victims 20 years ago, recreating a detail from Botticelli's Primavera.
- Murdered the unnamed curator to create a job vacancy.
- Murdered Dr. Roman Fell to assume his identity.
- Murdered Lydia Fell when she came home to discover Hannibal eating him.
- Murdered Antony Dimmond, after allowing him to vouch for his identity. He then mutilated the body, breaking and twisting it into a torso-sized heart to display in the Norman Chapel.
- Drove an ice pick through Professor Sogliato's skull. "Technically" murdered by Bedelia when she removed the ice pick.
- Murdered Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi, slicing his abdomen and then hanging him outside his office balcony at the Palazzo, allowing his guts to spill onto the plaza. This recreated a scene from an heirloom depicting Francesco Pazzi's hanging from the Palazzo, bowels out after he was led astray for 30 pieces of silver.
- Three former patients (not attributed to the Ripper murders, nor including Franklyn or Randall Tier).
- Tobias Budge
- Doctor Carson
- Doctor Donald Sutcliffe
- Carlos, Verger's henchman
- Mateo, Verger's henchman
- Abel Gideon
- A guard on duty when Abel was abducted
- Two FBI agents while framing Dr. Chilton.
- Beverly Katz.
- Sheldon Isley
- Two unnamed victims in Florence while recreating a detail from Botticelli's Primavera.
- Unnamed curator
- Dr. Roman Fell
- Lydia Fell (presumed)
- Antony Dimmond
- Professor Sogliato
- Rinaldo Pazzi
- Francis Dolarhyde
- Three unnamed patients (died under his care).
- Two unnamed patients (died after treatment).
- Neal Frank (killed by Bedelia after treatment).
- Franklyn Froideveaux (killed by Hannibal while under his care).
- Will Graham
- Bella Crawford (died of stage 4 lung cancer and overdose of pain medication administered by Jack after treatment).
- Margot Verger
- Randall Tier (killed by Will after treatment).
- Mason Verger (killed by Margot and Alana after treatment).
- "Look. If this is the Ripper, there'll be at least two more bodies and then nothing, for months, maybe a year. I'll have a window of opportunities to catch him and that window will close. Last time that window closed, I lost The Ripper and I lost Miriam Lass. I don't intend to do that again."(Jack to WiIl)
- "The Chesapeake Ripper wants to perform. Every brutal choice has elegance, grace. His mutilations hide the true nature of his crimes."(WiIl to Jack)
- "The Chesapeake Ripper would not have left the organs behind him."(Will)
- "Chesapeake Ripper will kill him. He took credit for his work, the Ripper would consider that rude."(Will)
- "And flashed out he was. He waved Jack Crawford's dead trainee's arm around his head right here like a flag in this very room."(Gideon to Freddie)
- Abigail: "How many people have you killed?"
Lecter: "Many more than your father."
- Caroline Dhavernas spoke on her vision of Lecter saying, "He's not your typical psycho. He's a dandy. He likes refined language, art, dressing beautifully. So, he's a bit of a narcissist too. But, the problem is, narcissistic people usually have very little psychological awareness. And, he's a therapist. And, a very good one too. So, I think that makes him very fascinating and hard to grasp and understand, which is a great thing because you always wanna know more about him."(Caroline Dhavernas)
- Patti Podesta, the production designer of Hanniball spoke about Lecter's world saying, "Hannibal Lecter’s world: He is a sadist, albeit an incredibly elegant one with a highly refined aesthetic. He creates for himself in an interior limbo, a “re-naturalized nature."
- Dr. Lecter's office is located at 687 Bayshore Avenue - Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, 21161. His office phone number is 443-555-0159.
- Hannibal has shown to be a skilled and brutal fighter, as he was able to take down Tobias Budge with only some difficulty, and he was shown to be able to defeat Jack, although his victory was an exceedingly close call.
- In addition to his skills as a fighter, Hannibal has also shown that he has a high tolerance for pain, as most of the time that he has been injured, he has shown very little reaction to the pain.
- Hannibal has a current body count of at least 45: Off-screen as Il Mostro, he would have at least 61 victims in total, since the real killer murdered 16 people.
- Hannibal's suits are made by Garrison Bespoke.