It was seemingly inevitable that NBC would cancel the ratings-challenged murder drama Hannibal at some point, but it still hit the show’s devout fanbase hard when it was announced earlier this week that NBC would not be renewing the show for a fourth season. The loss of Hannibal is a blow to intelligent, risky dramatic television as a whole, but fans of Bryan Fuller’s gruesome masterpiece shouldn’t despair quite yet. Major networks like NBC are but one of many avenues available today for broadcasting television and the past few years have seen many programs saved by streaming networks like Netflix and Yahoo Screen. Bryan Fuller has even admitted that there has been interest from several online streaming companies in picking up the show, so there is still a very good chance that we haven’t seen the last of Hannibal. Still, fan support is crucial in helping keep Hannibal alive, meaning we have to give good reasons for why the show should be saved. Fortunately, there are a lot of them.
9. It Still Has A Lot Of Story To Tell
Showrunner Bryan Fuller has made it clear that he envisioned Hannibal as a seven season story, with later seasons tackling some of the plots from the films. Currently, Hannibal is only in its third season, which means there is still a lot of story left to cover. It would be an utter shame to not see how the show tackles the Clarice Starling/Hannibal Lecter relationship made famous in The Silence of the Lambs, especially when it’s incorporated into the show’s much more psychologically-dense universe.
8. Mads Mikkelsen Is The Best Hannibal Lecter
Anthony Hopikins may have won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the infamous cannibal, but Mads Mikkelsen has arguably become the definitive interpretation of the character. Mikkelsen’s icy, subdued performance isn’t as showy as Hopkins’s, but he brings a heightened sense of menace to the role that enables him to steal every scene he’s in. Mikkelsen’ s unique physiology and Danish accent help make his Hannibal an otherworldly figure, which ties into the show’s interpretation of the character as a figurative demon among men. Mikkelsen is delivering Emmy-worthy work and it’s hard to imagine anyone will be capable of topping his portrayal in the future.
7. It’s Gorgeous
No other show looks like Hannibal. The lush visual tapestry that the show’s cinematography, production design, and art direction teams have created is simply stunning from episode to episode, turning even the most disturbing scenes into works of art. Everything from the way blood is photographed to the way Hannibal’s immaculate suits pop on the screen is a calculated action by the show’s creative department to ensure that Hannibal stands out from the abundance of other crime dramas on the air.
6. It’s Challenging
Hannibal is easily one of the most thematically-complex television series in production, requiring ample attention on the viewer’s part to suss out what’s going on in a given scene. Unlike most other shows of its ilk, Hannibal doesn’t rely as much on action to get its point across (although the season 2 finale was one of the most thrilling episodes of television ever). Instead, most of the show’s forward momentum is conveyed through dialogue and the psychological undertones that are informing each of the characters at any present time. It’s a challenging way to frame a TV series, but Hannibal deserves credit for never dumbing itself down to appeal to the masses.
5. The Food
Even the Food Network doesn’t make the art of cooking look this compelling. As a character, Hannibal Lecter is well-known for being a cannibal who eats his victims and the show clearly enjoys conveying this in the most uncomfortably sumptuous ways possible. The frequent scenes of Hannibal preparing his meals (a.k.a, his victims) and hosting decadent dinner parties are simultaneously sickening and appetizing. We’re not condoning cannibalism by any means, but if Hannibal put some of those dishes in front of us, it would be difficult to resist.
4. The Conversations
While Hannibal gets a lot of attention for its visual aesthetics (and rightfully so), it’s also pound-for-pound one of the best written TV shows in recent memory. Many of the show’s best scenes are the dread-inducing conversations between Hannibal and other characters that are framed as mind game battles. Hannibal is physically dangerous, but the show suggests that his true terror comes from his psychological manipulations, as he constantly worms his way into peoples’ heads. Not enough shows focus on the intellectual threat that their villains represent and the loss of Hannibal would be a blow to lovers of well-written dialogue everywhere.
3. No Compromises
One of the great things about Hannibal is that it’s somehow the most disturbing show on television and yet, it airs in prime time on a major network. Therefore, if the show is picked up by another platform, it’s likely to only get better as streaming networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime aren’t subject to the same kinds of content restrictions as major networks. Bryan Fuller has even pointed to this benefit in a recent interview, claiming that he already didn’t need to compromise on much with NBC, so Hannibal would likely be the same (if not better) on another service. It’s refreshing seeing a show have as much creative freedom as Hannibal (and NBC deserves a lot of credit for being so hands-off with it for three seasons) and losing a show so committed to its original vision would be a detriment to creative, writer-driven content in general.
2. The Cast Is Top-Notch
Mads Mikkelsen receives most of the praise for his career-defining work as the title character, but the rest of the Hannibal cast is absolutely stellar. In particular, Hugh Dancy deserves recognition for his work as Hannibal’s adversary Will Graham. Dancy’s portrayal of the neurotic, broken Graham makes his character just as fascinating as Hannibal and their cat and mouse dynamic is the central component that ties the whole show together. In addition, Laurence Fishburne brings a sense of gravitas to his role as FBI Special Agent Jack Crawford, while Gillian Anderson is sensational as Hannibal’s psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Breaking up a cast this good would be the real crime.
1. There’s No Other Show Like It
The number one reason why Hannibal deserves to be saved from the television graveyard is that it’s simply a one-of-a-kind experience. As mentioned already, crime dramas revolving around serial killers and the law enforcement teams that hunt them are a dime a dozen, yet Hannibal has found numerous ways to elevate itself above all its contenders. Simply put, Hannibal is one of the best shows of at least the last decade and to pull the plug so early in its run would be an enormous mistake. If it truly is the end for Hannibal, then at least it will endure as one of television’s greatest artistic achievements.