After three sumptuous and sinister seasons, NBC has officially canceled its Silence of the Lambs prequel series Hannibal.
The Bryan Fuller-created drama enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and a devoted cult following of ‘Fannibals,’ but it was never a ratings hit for NBC. Still, during its run, it was one of the network’s highest-quality shows, a fact that no doubt kept it alive through its three seasons.
It drew particular attention for its acting, by leads Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, and its nightmarish aesthetic, thought to be one of television’s most compelling.
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In addition to low ratings, there may have been a rights issue at the center of the cancelation. Fuller had planned to introduce Silence of the Lambs character Clarice Starling in the fourth season, but the rights to the character were said to be unavailable.
“We have been tremendously proud of Hannibal over its three seasons. Bryan and his team of writers and producers, as well as our incredible actors, have brought a visual palette of storytelling that has been second to none in all of television — broadcast or cable. We thank [producers] Gaumont and everyone involved in the show for their tireless efforts that have made Hannibal an incredible experience for audiences around the world.”
Fuller released an official statement thanking NBC for its commitment:
“NBC has allowed us to craft a television series that no other broadcast network would have dared, and kept us on the air for three seasons despite Cancelation Bear Chow ratings and images that would have shredded the eyeballs of lesser Standards & Practices enforcers.[NBC Entertainment exec] Jen Salke and her team have been fantastic partners and creatively supportive beyond measure. Hannibal is finishing his last course at NBC’s table this summer, but a hungry cannibal can always dine again. And personally, I look forward to my next meal with NBC.”
The 13-episode third season will play out on NBC this summer, concluding on August 27.
This is far from the end of the road of Hannibal. Fans are already launching a huge social media campaign and petition to drum up support for the series, in hopes of another network (broadcast, cable or online) picking it up. Producers Gaumont International Television and the De Laurentiis Company’s Martha De Laurentiis are planning to shop Hannibal around to new buyers and Fuller confirmed in a series of tweets that “we are investigating our options” while championing the Fannibals and stating that the series will still appear at this year’s Comic-Con to honor the fans.
The good news for Hannibal is that, with its devoted cult following, wealth of storytelling material and top-tier creator, it has a strikingly good chance of earning a pickup somewhere. Hulu or Netflix seem like solid contenders, but Showtime also has yet to find a sturdy horror companion for Penny Dreadful, so that’s another possible option.