The stories of Dr. Hannibal Lecter have spanned decades of different viewership bases, each building on the legend of the serial killer’s staggering exploits. While most audiences were introduced to him in Thesilenceofthelambs, his character has made appearances in a variety of media sources since then, and even before that fateful movie. Known as “Hannibal the Cannibal,” Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Lecter was ranked No. 1 on the American Film Institute’s 2003 list of the world’s top movie villains. Known for his insatiable thirst for ill-mannered individuals and his cryptic omniscience, this character’s far-reaching impact has undoubtedly taken a bite out of the thriller, mystery, and horror genres.
The backstory of this fictional murderer has a basis in reality – Alfredo Ballí Treviño, also known as “Dr. Salazar” and “Werewolf of Nuevo León”, a real-life killer who cut up his boyfriend. Originally appearing in the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter’s characterization was absolutely inspired by true events. Based on this, a series of films and television programs have focused on this crucial antagonist over the years. Let’s count every movie and show in the Hannibal Lecter franchise, ranked.
seven Clear (2021)
Bringing the story of Hannibal’s crash into a new decade, Clear is a never-before-seen exploration of the protagonist we know Thesilenceofthelambs. After the events of that story, this series picks up the pieces, painting a portrait of a young woman who crumbles as her psyche bears the brunt of her encounters with Lecter. The obligatory therapy sessions drag up the past and the continued chaos complicates its future, with the show expanding on the crime horror of the original movies. Due to relocation issues, the show is not expected to resume in a second season.
6 Red Dragon (2002)
Red Dragon is a second attempt to adapt the Thomas Harris novel that started it all, years after man hunterthe first movie of the Hannibal Lecter franchise that originally told the story on the big screen. Naturally, it reintroduces audiences to the creepy killer, played by a seasoned Anthony Hopkins. Red Dragon follows FBI agent Will Graham, played by Edward Norton, as he consults Lecter for advice on a cannibal’s case. Trying to track down Tooth Fairy’s killer takes the two deeper into dangerous territory as Graham grapples with the need for Lecter’s expertise.
5 Manhunter (1986)
As the first entry in the Hannibal film and TV series, man hunter is the original film adaptation of the book by Thomas Harris Red Dragon. Spelled differently here as Hannibal Lecktor, the iconic serial killer reunites with Will Graham after his attempt to kill him, which left Graham mentally fragile. The story follows the winding trail that leads to the Tooth Fairy killer, as Graham and Lecktor cross paths again to close the case. As a first introduction to this cannibalistic character, this movie feels more like a retrospective cult classic these days than when it originally opened in theaters.
4 Hannibal Rising (2007)
Throwing him back to the legendary, secret past that turned Lecter into the cannibal viewers recognize today, Hannibal rising explores the life of young Hannibal in his native Lithuania. Against the backdrop of World War II, the film functions as a prelude to the events of previously released films. Viewers watch his tragic backstory unfold as we witness his first murder and his journey into the medical field. A hugely chilling performance from Gaspard Ulliel as young Hannibal, complete with the character’s knowing smile, helps bring this story to life.
3 Hannibal (2001)
Not to be confused with the highly successful 2010s series, Hannibal the film is a continuation of the thrilling events of Thesilenceofthelambs. Clarice Starling continues to hunt down the elusive killer after her daring escape at the end of the previous film. This entry in the Hannibal series definitely capitalizes on the creep factor and body horror of those films more than an expected air of mystery. Who could forget the horrifying sequence where Hannibal operates on a fully awake Paul Krendler and serves him part of his own brain?
2 Hannibal (2013-2015)
Hannibal, the series, adds a personal touch to the intense relationship between Lecter and Will Graham. The on-screen chemistry of Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy adds new depth to the story, which expands on the dark secrets held by the excellent psychiatrist-turned-cold killer. As the two team up to unravel and investigate the murders, the exploits of the Chesapeake Ripper turn out to be closer to home than Will thinks. The show has since been considered a cult classic with legions of fans. Brian Fuller, its creator, said he wanted the story to delve into the romantic territory between the two.
1 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
As the most successful film centered on Lecter, Thesilenceofthelambs broke barriers in the movie world upon its release and continues to be a cult classic. With a young Jodie Foster playing an outwardly modest but truly tenacious Clarice Starling, the film begins with a game of cat and mouse between her and Lecter. As she tries to solve Buffalo Bill’s case, he reveals secrets to her and leaves her and the FBI guessing as the truth unfolds. Winner of five Oscars, the film captures arguably the best performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.