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"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." ― Lecter's most famous line

Hannibal Lecter is the antagonist of the novels Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising, as well as its film adaptations. He is a brilliant, cannibalistic serial killer who helps two FBI agents track down other serial killers before escaping from custody. Later novels portray his life as a fugitive, as well as his childhood and development into a serial killer.

In the film Manhunter (a loose adaptation of Red Dragon) he is portrayed by Brian Cox. In the film adaptations of Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon, he is portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, who won an Academy Award for his performance. In Hannibal Rising, he is portrayed by Gaspard Ulliel. In the TV series Hannibal, he is portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen.

Why He Rocks

  • He is a criminal mastermind, always several steps ahead of everyone else
  • He is sophisticated and refined
  • He has a sinister charm
  • He only kills "rude" people
  • He helps Will Graham and Clarice Starling capture other serial killers
  • He unintentionally saves lives
  • While his origin story and pathology are explored somewhat in the novels Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, he remains intriguingly mysterious
  • Anthony Hopkins' iconic performance
  • He plays elaborate mind games, toying with people like a cat playing with a wounded mouse
  • He defies psychological categorization; in Red Dragon, Will Graham says that psychiatric professionals describe Lecter as a sociopath because "they don't know what else to call him", while Clarice Starling says of Lecter, "There's no word for what he is."


  • Harris based Lecter on Alfred Balli Trevino, a convicted murderer and suspected serial killer whom he met in his days as a crime reporter.