Hannibal Was Cancelled In 2015, But Netflix Has Given Fans New Hope

Photo: Brooke Palmer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images.
NBC cancelled Hannibal in 2015 after three critically acclaimed seasons. Nearly five years later, that decision still leaves a bad taste in the mouth of fans who want to bring it back. Not even a nice Chianti could help wash their palettes clean. And now that it's on Netflix, expect to hear even more from you Fannibal friends.
Before Hannibal Lecter was forming an unlikely bond with Clarice Starling in The Silence Of The Lambs, he was living rent-free in FBI special investigator Will Graham's head. The deliciously perverse Hannibal looks at the cat-and-mouse tale of Will (Hugh Dancy) and forensic psychiatrist soon to be cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). The homoerotic bond between these best frenemies is one fans still can't quit.
With the boundary-pushing horror-thriller now on Netflix as of June 6, it's likely new Fannibals will join the ranks of the Hannigrams who are still hoping for a season 4. After all, Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller has talked about reviving the show — perhaps, even with a little help from Netflix.
But whether or not it ever returns, Hannibal's fans are the ones that have been fighting to keep the memory of this gone-way-too-soon show based on Thomas Harris' novels alive. And they've been doing it ever since its cancelation.
No matter how many critics raved about how its "powerful visuals" made it one of the best shows of 2013 or it being a "macabre masterpiece," Hannibal was always on the brink of cancellation. It suffered from low ratings over the course of its entire run. It didn't help that the show swapped days throughout its short life, initially airing on Thursdays before switching to Saturdays in its final season; a kiss of death for any show.
However, Fuller never blamed the show's cancellation on NBC. Instead, in his statement confirming Hannibal's final run, Fuller praised NBC for allowing him "to craft a television series that no other broadcast network would have dared, and kept us on the air for three seasons despite Cancellation Bear Chow ratings and images that would have shredded the eyeballs of lesser Standards & Practices enforcers."
Executive producer Martha De Laurentiis went as far as to blame pirates for the show's early demise. Hannibal was reportedly the fifth most illegally downloaded show of 2013, which meant millions of viewers weren't being counted towards the show's ratings. Still, those passionate fans who may or may not have been watching it legally worked to keep it on the air.
Shortly after it was announced that Hannibal wasn't coming back, fans started petitions urging NBC execs to change their minds. (One of the now closed petitions to revive the series got 12,260 supporters.) Producers galvanized fans by tweeting the hashtag #SaveHannibal as they shopped the show to other networks. Hannibal didn't get picked up for season 4, but fans sent out 140,841 Hannibal tweets in the hours after the news broke of its cancellation, according to Business Insider. #SaveHannibal was reportedly used in 89,487 of those messages of support.
One fan even tweeted that they, along with other fans, were bombarding Netflix's phone lines, asking them to revive the show for another season.
That fan dedication might be why Fuller hasn't given up on the show. He has talked about turning it into a movie. He has shared his ideas for a season 4 that would bring Will and Hannibal even closer. He also said season 4 would "reinvent" the show, something Dancy echoed in 2016 when he confirmed he'd like to return to the series. "The version of the season [Fuller] described to me," which Dancy told Collider would "reset" the entire series, which had ended the year before. "I just know I’d like for it to happen."
Mikkelsen has also expressed interest in returning to the show if it should get picked up for season 4. Last month, after it was announced that all three seasons of Hannibal would be coming to Netflix, Mikkelsen even got his Instagram followers riled up with a loaded question: "Hannibal hits Netflix in June: Is Hannibal season 4 on the way?"
Fans wondered if Mikkelsen's Instagram was a precursor to an official announcement that Hannibal would finally get a second chance. After all, Netflix has saved cancelled broadcast shows in the past like Lucifer and Designated Survivor and revived fan favorites like Arrested Development. Alas, nothing has been announced as of yet. But maybe Netflix is waiting to see if the show ends up in its top 10 most watched? Just another reason for Hannibal fans to plan another rewatch — as if they needed one.
It's not the first time Mikkelsen has fueled rumors that Hannibal would come back. Last year, when talking to Bloody Disgusting, Mikkelsen said that Fuller was "working to get the rights to Silence of the Lambs so he could get in there and use some of those characters for his own universe. I have a hunch that might be where we’re going.”
However, after it was announced that CBS was working on its own Clarice spinoff, which would have no connection to Hannibal, fans started once again tweeting #SaveHannibal. Fuller offered some hope to those fearing all was lost. "Don’t think this impacts a potential #HANNIBAL S4 as we never had Clarice rights," he tweeted.
Sorry, Clarice, but Fuller appears to have other plans for the show which ended rather ambiguously. (No spoilers here.) So fans should keep calm and carry on tweeting #SaveHannibal. It might just be what Netflix (or another network) needs to help turn this long-awaited dream into reality.

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