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Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen & Hugh Dancy want more for Hannibal and Will - here's what we know about season 4

After the actors expressed their hope for a renewal at C2E2 2024, we're trying to forecast that comeback

Image credit: NBC

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This article contains spoilers for Hannibal (the show), Hannibal (the film), and Hannibal (the novel)

The Hannibal panel at this year's C2E2 was, forvige me, a mouth-watering event for fans. Attended by Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, TV's Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham respectively, the panel some included character insight (ever wonder how Hannibal feels about Chicago's food scene?) and, at one particularly exciting point, a discussion about the series's future.

That's been the prime topic of conversation in Fannibal circles ever since the show wrapped in 2015, so it's only natural that it would come up during an event that featured the two leads. But is season 4 a possibility, and if so, just what would the future hold for the wicked Dr. Lecter and much-maligned killer hunter Graham?

That's what we're here to find out.

What the actors have said about Hannibal Season 4

Image credit: NBC

Since it's comments from the actors that have me playing sleuth in the first place, I figured their opinions on this subject would be a good place to start digging. At the C2E2 panel (which Popverse liveblogged, if you're interested), it was Mikkelsen who first coyly brought up the future of the series, saying, "We know what happens, but we can’t tell you, because we’re still crossing our fingers a couple more years, right?"

Later, Dancy followed up by saying, "I have wondered about what it would be like to return to these characters after, like, 10 years. That is something that’s far from something I’ve ever done. [...] If that would happen at some point, great. But it might just be a different Will, you know?"

Despite the way the Chicago crowd responded to both of these answers, these comments were far from the first time either of the actors have touched on a return.

Speaking with Business Insider, Mikkelsen confirmed in February of 2024 that the character of Hannibal is "not over yet." Dancy, too, has made statements to that regard, telling Variety in 2015 that he knows of "a potential [fourth] season, which seems so interesting and so different and like a really interesting, long story to play out."

Outside the series leads, another cast member has gone on record to say that there's a future for the Hannibal crew. Caroline Dhavernas, who plays Dr. Alana Bloom, told ScreenRant, "there is still so much to tell."

Unfortunately, what nearly all of these comments lack are actual ideas of what the future will look like (save, perhaps, for Dancy's "different Will" thing). But what the actors have agreed upon, time and again, is that there is a place where the truth about Hannibal Season 4 resides.

That is, within the mind of series creator Bryan Fuller.

What Bryan Fuller has said about Hannibal Season 4

Image credit: AMC

Out of every member of the #HannibalFam that's spoken about a fourth season, none have had more to say than series creator Bryan Fuller. And even more exciting than the actors' confirmations that there's more story to tell, Fuller has gone ahead and given us hints at how the next season might go.

Speaking with Hannibal podcast The Dinner Party Show, Fuller teased the idea of continuing to dive into Hannibal's family life. "There was so much in Season 4 that was going to include Robertus [Hannibal's maybe cannibalistic uncle], and Lady Murasaki [Hannibal's maybe cannibalistic aunt]. Chiyoh [the Lecters' not-a-cannibal-but-kinda-cool-with-it aid] was going to return."

Then, in Variety, Fuller also mentioned that the future might explore Alana Bloom's relationship with Season 3's Margot Cerger, saying "They were going to dismantle all of the Verger slaughterhouses [more on this later] and turn them humane. [Margot] was going to completely undo the evils of her family with Alana" and eventually "realize that Hannibal might be coming back into their orbit."

But for everything that Fuller has teased, there's one Season 4 detail (or lack thereof) that has come up the most, something dealing with the Thomas Harris-written novels that inspired the show.

"There’s a portion of the novel Hannibal," Fuller told Grantland, "that has not been included in any of the adaptations of the story. That was the thrust of the potential Season 4 for us — taking this plot point from that book and reconceiving it for Will and Hannibal."

This mysterious "portion of the novel" has been mentioned in multiple interviews with the series creator - so just what is he talking about?

What the Thomas Harris books mean for Hannibal Season 4

Image credit: Delta

Alright readers, put your tinfoil hats on - it's time for me to speculate wildly. Each of the four Hannibal Lecter novels written by Thomas Harris have been adapted into film (check out our Hannibal Lecter watch order), and elements from all the books save Silence of the Lambs have been worked into the plot of Hannibal. So what's missing? What's in the novels that has never been adapted?

Here's one possibility.

At the end of Hannibal the novel, the truly despicable Mason Verger has been defeated and consumed (not by Hannibal, surprisingly). Fannibals remember this plot point from Season 3, though they might not know that, in the book, Hannibal's partner in taking him down was not Will Graham, but Silence of the Lamb protagonist Clarice Starling. The novel ends with Clarice not just letting Hannibal go, but fleeing with him, the pair building a romantic life together in Europe.

This choice by Harris was a controversial one, so much so that when it came time to adapt the work into a 2001 film, the ending was changed - swapped for an amicable break between Clarice and Hannibal. And though much of the Hannibal novel made it into the show's third season, this ending was nowhere to be seen, and not just because Clarice never appears. It's a piece of Hannibal lore that has never made it into an adaptation, leading me to wonder - is it what Fuller was talking about?

Remember how Fuller said that part of Season 4 would be "taking this plot point from that book and reconceiving it for Will and Hannibal" - is he talking about a partnership between Will and Hannibal similar to the one between Clarice and Hannibal in the book?

It's not as crazy an idea as it might sound (although if you've read any Hannibal fanfic, you probably don't think it's crazy at all). In an interview with Digital Spy, Fuller revealed that Season 4 would reinvent the dynamic between Will and Hannibal "in a huge way." Referencing this mysterious book element to The Hollywood Reporter, Fuller claimed that if Will survived the ending of season three, "his most interesting chapter is yet to be told."

Is that "most interesting chapter" about Will romantically engaged with Hannibal, accepting his murderous impulses instead of rejecting them? To take it a step further - would a romantic "happily ever after" for Will and Hannibal require the former to even indulge those killer instincts?

You've gotta give credit to Hugh Dancy's C2E2 comments - that would be a "different Will" indeed.

Re-live the majesty of C2E2 with our the C2E2 2024 Main Stage panel videos on-demand, all the major things Popverse found at the Chicago show, and C2E2 2024's best cosplay.

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