Every episode of Hannibal felt like a miracle. It’s not just the fact that the series brought something new to a character so inextricably tied to Anthony Hopkins (no disrespect to Brian Cox’s petulant Hannibal Lecter from Manhunter). Nor is it the fact that the show managed to evolve from a weekly crime procedural to a psychedelic thriller/romance/comedy. It’s also the fact that somehow, some of the gnarliest imagery ended up on network television.
With all that in mind, it doesn’t seem quite so outlandish that Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy could reprise their roles as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham for a fourth season. Even though the season three finale that aired in August 2015 seemed to end on a fairly definitive note, with Hannibal and Will plummeting to their death in a bloody embrace, fans and cast members hoped that the show could come back.
At least, that’s what series creator Bryan Fuller hopes. When a fan petition created by twitter user @trendinghannibal came to Fuller’s attention, he wasted no time retweeting it with the headline “Sign the petition” (accompanied by a decidedly non-Hannibal gif). The change.org petition argues that the time is right for the show to return, especially in light of the Dexter revival series. “Now, with more streaming services and openly LGBTQ+ media being produced,” the Trending Hannibal petition contends, “finding the right home for Hannibal‘s continuation is right around the corner.” As of this writing, 13,936 people have added their names to the petition.
To be sure, the petition makes a compelling argument. Revival series may have a mixed record, but they continue to do good numbers as viewers flock to properties with name recognition. And while The Silence of the Lambs spin-off series Clarice may have failed to gain much attention, Hannibal Lecter remains one of pop culture’s most recognizable monsters. It’s safe to assume that studio executives are considering several projects to bring the cannibal back into the limelight.
But while the lead character remains alive in the public consciousness, streaming services may be reluctant to pick up Hannibal, for various reasons. Perhaps the biggest may be that the show never drew a very large audience, especially by the time it hit its third season. Furthermore, the adaptation rights for Thomas Harris’s novels are notoriously tricky, and Fuller never had legal permission to adapt the character’s most famous story, The Silence of the Lambs. Although Fuller and his collaborators worked in references to the Jonathan Demme film, most obviously in the form of young FBI agent Miriam Lass, Clarice Starling could not appear in any form.
Still, despite these hurdles, the cast and creators have remained hopeful for a revival. Both Mikkelsen and Dancy have stated their willingness to reprise their roles, with the former speculating that Fuller was working to secure rights to The Silence of the Lambs. And as the petition demonstrates, Hannibal still has an audience that most new shows would covet. It seems like it would take a miracle to get Hannibal on the air, but Hannibal has always been a miracle – a disgusting, bizarre, and wonderful miracle.