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Mads Mikkelsen Gives Hannibal Fans A Bit Of Hope About Season 4

After six long years, fans may finally see Bryan Fuller cook up the long-awaited season 4 of his fan-favorite horror-thriller Hannibal.  

If one can remember all the way back to the final episode of season 3 — and for now, the series, they might remember how it all concluded on a rather shocking (and somewhat literal) cliffhanger. In the last scenes of the episode, Will (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) embrace each other as they fall off a cliff following their murder of antagonist Francis Dolarhyde. It's not wild to assume that things didn't turn out well for either of them, but in Fuller's cerebral drama, survival for at least one, if not both, isn't entirely impossible either. 

With the show leaving things so up in the air, it's equally frustrating and energizing for fans who were desperate for a potential fourth season. While fan campaigns and Fuller's own efforts weren't able to find the series a new home right after NBC canceled it in 2015, that hope has been kept alive, and now it might be paying off. Like many shows that have been saved or revived thanks to an entirely new (and just as passionate) audience finding the series on streaming, the show's run on Netflix has helped make it more popular than ever. 

Speaking to the potential of a fourth season on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the Hannibal star said that because the show "has found a new home on Netflix... the talks have been revitalized" around another order of episodes (via The Playlist). Even better, it sounds like the original ensemble is still on board. "I don't think you'd find a member of the cast that is still alive that would say, "No, thanks," Mikkelsen said. "We all enjoyed it tremendously."

The comments follow a surprise cast reunion and a less promising statement from Fuller in 2020, indicating little interest from streamers or networks in reviving the show. 

Bryan Fuller once concidered incorporating Silence of the Lambs into Hannibal season 4

Despite keeping pretty busy since Hannibal ended, the Fantastic Beasts actor is clearly still up for returning — despite feeling the show had a solid ending. Still, the events of that open-ending would certainly complicate plans for a fourth season, right? Not according to the Hannibal showrunner. 

In June 2016, Fuller teased where he wanted a new season to go, indicating that both Dancy and Mikkelsen were up for it, and that time was actually on his side to make it happen. "August 2017 is when we can actually start talking about it," Fuller told Collider. "That's when we would have to see what the rights are for the character and for the story and see who's interested and how we get it done." 

As fans later found out, the waiting game was because Fuller wanted to incorporate Clarice Starling and plot points from The Silence of the Lambs into his fourth season arc, which he said on the Shock Waves podcast would likely look like a mini-series of around six to eight episodes. But to do that, he'd have to secure the rights to Thomas Harris' novel after they reverted from the film's producers, Orion Pictures. Unfortunately, following the news that CBS was producing its own Clarice-focused spin-off, Fuller confirmed on Twitter that he could not secure the rights from the MGM-owned studio. That means the Clarice storyline isn't happening. 

But that doesn't mean Hannibal season 4 isn't happening. "Martha [and] I tried many times to work with MGM to include Clarice into our Hannibal story. They ultimately told us they had their own plans for Clarice, and they didn't need Hannibal to tell her story," Fuller tweeted. "Don't think this impacts a potential #HANNIBAL [season 4] as we never had Clarice rights." 

Hannibal season 4 might look like a mix of Inception and Angel Heart according to Bryan Fuller

Now that Silence of the Lambs is off the table, what could a Hannibal season 4 look like? In a 2015 interview with Vulture, Fuller pitched fans on going to a place the famed cinematic serial killer had never been before. The Hannibal showrunner called his vision for Will and Hannibal's next chapter "terrifying creatively" but also "inspiring."

"Season four would be a reexamination and reinterpretation of the Will Graham–Hannibal Lecter relationship in a fashion that is unlike anything else we've done in the show," he told the outlet. "So it is, in many ways, a whole reinvention of the show, in an exciting way."

Fuller went on to tease something even more interesting at the 2017 Split Screens Festival, according to IndieWire. In his attempt to paint a picture of where the show would go narratively, he called it "Inception meets Angel Heart." Obviously, Inception points to a mind and reality-bending universe. As for Angel Heart, the 1987 Robert De Niro neo-noir horror film follows a detective who arrives in New Orleans to catch a killer. The twist is that the cop and the killer are the same, meaning season 4 of Hannibal would likely look to explore Will as the "intelligent psychopath" he was once described as in the series. 

"It would mean taking what happened in one of the books, and turning it on its ear... as opposed to shoving it down Will's throat and having him... throw it up?" Fuller told Vulture

Getting a storyline and cast together is half the battle, and Hannibal has both. So what can fans do to help convince Netflix to get on board? According to Fuller, keep up the calls for more. "JUST KEEP RINGING THE DINNER BELL!" the Hannibal series creator urged fans on Twitter