How Hannibal Became A Love Story Between Lecter & Will

Showrunner Bryan Fuller reveals how Hannibal evolved into a love story between its main characters. The psychological horror series acted as a prequel to the acclaimed book series by Thomas Harris, focusing on the relationship between murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and FBI agent Will Graham. Though the show received widespread praise from fans and critics alike, it was ultimately canceled by NBC after 3 seasons due to poor ratings.

A driving force behind the series and its popularity, the relationship between Will and Hannibal continues to be celebrated by fans and critics alike both for the on-screen chemistry of Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen as well as the complex dynamic between the characters, which burgeoned on romance. The show also focused on how the pair’s relationships with other characters affected their own, in particular Will’s loyalty to FBI head Jack Crawford, played by Laurence Fishburne. Additional castmates included Caroline Dhavernas as Alana Bloom, Gillian Anderson as Bedelia Du Maurier, and Raul Esparza as Fredrick Chilton.

Related: The Original Concept For NBC's Hannibal Featured Clarice Instead Of Will

Now, in an interview with EW, Fuller has revealed how Hannibal blossomed into a love story. Stating that he originally wanted to explore romantic interactions between two straight characters, Fuller admitted that the “gay agenda” between Will and Hannibal was a result of the on-screen chemistry between Mikkelsen and Dancy. He went on to reveal that James Cameron’s Avatar served as an unusual source of inspiration, utilising the iconic “I see you” line from the film to express the characters complete understanding and acceptance of each other. In particular, Fuller said that Hannibal’s use of the words in the season 2 finale were the “greatest declaration of love” that he could make. Check out his full comments below:

“It started out as kind of a fascination with how straight guys interact with each other in a romantic way that is not sexual. Initially, I didn’t want to misrepresent Thomas Harris’ characters because they clearly have heterosexual leanings in the source material, but as with the kids these days, that sexuality became more fluid over the course of the series.”

“They [Mikkelsen and Dancy] really helped kind of leach that romance out of the page into something that was actionable that became writing dialogue that was, ‘Is Hannibal in love with me?’ and ‘do you ache for him?’. I was just following the lead of the actors, as opposed to having a gay agenda. The gay agenda came later.”

“One of the things that I think was the key in terms of turning it into a romance was this idea of Will and Hannibal being the only person in each other’s life that truly understood them and could truly see who they are and accept them on those terms.”

“I actually thought about Avatar quite a bit when Hannibal and Will would say to each other that they see each other and they have shown each other things about themselves that no one else can see.”

Though the series certainly deviated from its source material in a major way, the love depicted between Will and Hannibal, whether romantic or platonic, ultimately led to the show’s success. While the characters never shared a physical demonstration of their feelings, with Fuller also expressing regret over this fact, the show seems to have seamlessly convinced its audience of their relationship in words and bloodthirsty gestures alone. Backed by Mikkelsen and Dancy as well as Fuller, it's likely that the show would have continued a natural evolution into a romantic relationship if it had received a fourth season.

Despite its cancellation almost seven years ago, rumors and speculation over a possible another season continue to circulate. With Fuller and much of the original cast showing a very open interest in returning to the story, it would seem that securing the confidence of a studio is the only major roadblock preventing season 4. After the limited revival of the crime series Dexter years after its cancellation, fans can perhaps hold out hope that a continuation of the show remains on the cards. Though it may be unlikely, Hannibal certainly feels as if it has more to say and fans appear eager to listen.

More: Every Way Will Has Fantasized About Killing Hannibal On The Show

Source: EW

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