NBC’s Hannibal, a new take on author Thomas Harris’ four-book novel series about the brilliant and twisted cannibalistic killer named Hannibal Lecter, debuted in 2013 to thunderous fanfare that quickly materialized into a die-hard fandom. Gory, dark, disturbing, and ever-envelope-pushing, Hannibal starred Mads Mikkelsen (you probably know him now as one of the many actors in Hideo Kojima’s video game Death Stranding) as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a highly intelligent forensic psychiatrist with a taste for unique things in life like gourmet cooking and also human flesh, and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a brilliant criminal profiler and serial-killer-hunter working for the Behavioral Sciences Unit at the FBI. Their lives cross paths when Will’s superior, Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), insists that Dr. Lecter monitor Will during his investigation of a serial killer devastating Minnesota. (Little does anyone know at first that Hannibal Lecter is that serial killer.)
What follows after their initial encounter is a push-and-pull, cat-mouse game between Will, who grows increasingly suspicious and distrusting of the man meant to help him cope with his gift of empathy (particularly with psychopathic murderers), and Hannibal, whose dramatic flair and need for control manifests itself in more killings, elaborate dinners where the meat courses may or may not be clay-baked human, and a plan to push Will to the brink and make a murderer of him. Things only grew more intense as the seasons went on — with the action even moving to Italy for season 3 — but much to the dismay of fans, NBC chose not to renew Hannibal for season 4.
That was in June 2015, and yet a huge question still remains: Will Hannibal ever get a fourth season? Let’s discuss.
In the immediate aftermath of Hannibal’s cancellation, show creator Bryan Fuller revealed in an interview with Variety that there had “been discussions of a couple of fronts with Netflix and Amazon” to give the series a new home. He noted at the time that it would be more likely that Hannibal would live on for a fourth (and fifth and sixth and so on) season on Amazon rather than Netflix, as the show’s “deal with Amazon precludes a Netflix component.” Getting candid, Fuller admitted that without the backing of a major network like NBC, the situation was “a little complicated” and that some international partners would turn down a fourth season of Hannibal because NBC was no longer involved. (Sadly, the talks with Amazon dissolved in early July 2015 due to deadlines that Fuller felt he couldn’t meet without sacrificing quality.)
A little over a week after NBC axed Hannibal, the show freed its actors — which also include Caroline Dhavernas as FBI consultant and psychology professor Alana Bloom and Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s psychotherapist who has a very unique connection to the killer — from their contracts. At the time, both Dancy and Mikkelsen reportedly still felt strongly about their characters and had every desire to rejoin the Hannibal universe for a fourth season if that were to come to fruition. According to Deadline, the two leads “love the show and have indicated that they would like to reprise their roles as Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.”
What helped push the “could Hannibal get a revival?” conversation even further (and has kept it going to this very day) was the #SaveHannibal campaign fans started on social media. This sparked continued discussions, with Mikkelsen stepping forward in May 2016 to state that if Fuller was “up for” a fourth season of Hannibal, the cast would certainly return. The actor even shared an idea as to how the show could remerge after years off air: “It all depends on Bryan. He is the key, the base, the heart. We will wait and see what happens next in his career. But we all know that we can easily pick this up in two or three years, there are breaks in the stories. We could pick it up, say, four years later. If Bryan is up for it, we will all go for it” (via Screen Rant).
A month later, Fuller revealed that he and the cast were “game” to make Hannibal season 4, but turning that into a reality was “just a matter of finding the right time where everybody’s schedules sync up.” According to Dancy, Fuller’s vision for a possible fourth season of Hannibal, which the showrunner pitched to the actor, was “really fantastic” and “a complete restart.”
That pitch session may have been the seed that grew into formal talks of a fourth season of Hannibal, which began in August 2017. Fuller dropped that juicy tidbit on Twitter — sharing that “conversations couldn’t start until 2 years after the final airing of season 3,” and that Martha De Laurentiis, one of the executive producers of Hannibal, had indeed started those talks.
Things went quiet for a while after that, but in late May 2019, Fuller again took to Twitter to give an update on the status of a potential Hannibal season 4. In response to a fan asking if there was “any news on Hannibal season 4,” Fuller responded, “No one has given up! I’ve made it clear I want to do it, the cast wants to do it and Martha wants to do it. We just need a network or a streaming service that wants to do it, too. I don’t feel there’s a clock on it or an expiration date for the idea. We just need someone to bite.”
With any luck, a network or a streamer will bite sooner rather than later — Dr. Lecter’s dinner’s going cold.