Most of the Hannibal TV show’s principle players had already appeared in the Lecter movies, but there were a few who were new to the screen. While Thomas Harris is a popular author, he’s not in the league of someone ubiquitous like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Suffice to say, it seems likely that far more people are familiar with Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, Will Graham, Clarice Starling, and their surrounding cast from the various film adaptations of Harris’ work than the books themselves.
That said, there were plenty of memorable book characters that never got realized on the big screen, some of which the Hannibal TV show on NBC was more than happy to utilize for their purposes. That’s not all Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller did though, as the acclaimed series also introduces many interesting new characters that weren’t even a part of Harris’ existing Lecter mythology. These adds were exciting, as them having no built-in backstory made them wildcards, and potential surprise deaths.
With that factor in mind, presented below is a look at every major Hannibal TV show character that didn’t take part in any of the Hannibal Lecter movies, which for the record are Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising. Some of these selections never made it out of the books prior to the TV show, while others were invented specifically for the new venue.
Dr. Alana Bloom, played by frequent Bryan Fuller collaborator Caroline Dhavernas, is technically a gender-swapped version of a character from Red Dragon named Alan Bloom, but she’s basically a completely different entity on the show. For example, Alan had no relationship with Hannibal, while Alana is quite close to Hannibal. Alan didn’t have any relationship with Will Graham beyond work either.
Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, played by X-Files star Gillian Anderson, is an entirely original creation by Fuller and Hannibal‘s writing staff. Serving as Hannibal’s own psychiatrist, Bedelia finds herself in a very odd spot, but when Hannibal escapes capture and flees to Italy in season 3, she seems to willingly accompany him. It’s also heavily implied that they have a sexual relationship, although Bedelia’s motives are always mysterious.
While Garret Jacob Hobbs’ daughter is briefly a part of the Red Dragon book, she didn’t get named and become a full-fledged character until the Hannibal TV show. In an interesting twist, it’s revealed that Abigail helped her father lure in victims, seemingly to avoid becoming one herself. Her relationships with Will and Hannibal after her dad’s death illustrated just how manipulative she could be though, albeit not half as manipulative as Dr. Lecter.
Like Alana Bloom, Freddie Lounds is technically a gender-swapped version of the Freddy Lounds character found in the Red Dragon book and its two movie adaptations. Again though, much more than just the gender has changed, as this Freddie, while still opportunistic, is significantly more likable and even sometimes ethical than the original. Perhaps as a consequence, she also doesn’t suffer the same awful fate.
Eddie Izzard is primarily known for comedy, and while surgeon serial killer Abel Gideon is sometimes funny, for the most part he’s a deadly serious threat. Another character invented specifically for the show, he’s sort of an unlikely rival to Hannibal, after Dr. Chilton convinces him he’s the Chesapeake Ripper. He ends up outclassed by Dr. Lecter though, and is horrifically forced to eat himself.
At the time she played Phyllis “Bella” Crawford on Hannibal, Gina Torres was actually married to Laurence Fishburne, portrayer of Jack Crawford. They’ve since divorced, although that’s at least better than their onscreen parting, with Jack helping a terminally ill Bella die. Bella played a similar role in The Silence of the Lambs book, although she didn’t make it into the movie.
The case of serial killer Garret Jacob Hobbs, aka the Minnesota Shrike, plays out in Hannibal‘s premiere episode, and bizarrely served as the first bonding catalyst between Will and Hannibal. Once caught, Hobbs murders his wife and attempts to murder daughter Abigail, but Will stops him via lethal means. That was mostly orchestrated by Hannibal, because of course it was. Hobbs was in the Red Dragon book, but only briefly.
A young FBI agent working for Jack Crawford, Miriam Lass – played by Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky – was the first to discover Hannibal’s secret life as the Chesapeake Ripper. For that, she got tortured, mutilated, and brainwashed by Dr. Lecter, ultimately believing Dr. Chilton to be the killer. Lass was loosely inspired by the character of Clarice Starling, who legal issues prevented from being used on the show.
The abused, emotionally damaged sister of the psychopath known as Mason Verger, Margot was in the Hannibal book, but not part of the movie, making her first appearance on TV. While Ginger Snaps star Katharine Isabelle did very well in the role, it’s worth noting that Margot was quite different in the book, having become a muscled-up female bodybuilder. Her relationship with her brother is even more harrowing there as well.
An obstructive government bureaucrat, Kade Prurnell (Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon) may be on the right side of the law in targeting Jack and Will over their handling of Hannibal Lecter, but that doesn’t mean she’s morally right. Kade is, by design, a very unlikable character, although she was actually intended to be a female version of book and movie character Paul Krendler. Like Clarice, legal issues kept that from happening.
A friend of Hannibal’s since childhood, Chiyoh plays a pretty minor role in the Hannibal Rising book that explores Lecter’s origins, including his years living with his Japanese “aunt” Lady Murasaki. Chiyoh’s role is expanded for the Hannibal TV show, still watching over Hannibal as an adult, and holding captive the man who killed Hannibal’s sister Mischa.