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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: the death of Freddy Lounds.
  • Complete Monster: Surprisingly averted in a number of cases. One of the greatest achievements of the series is the great pains Harris takes to humanize his killers, who would almost certainly be complete monsters in any other series, and delve into the psychological factors that torture them and drive them.... well, crazy.
    • Hannibal was originally supposed to be a Complete Monster, and this was indeed how he was first described by Will Graham in Red Dragon for want of a "proper" diagnosis. He gets heaps more development in the next two books, which reveal him to be both eviler and better than most people would imagine. Still manages to avoid Villain Decay until the prequel Hannibal Rising, which is one of the problems people have with it.
      • Played very straight with Mason Verger, one of the most horrifying examples of all time. A child-molesting sadist who brutally raped his own sister. Once karma catches up with him in the form of Hannibal Lecter, the crippled Verger resorts to verbally and emotionally abusing children since he can no longer do it physically. Then he drinks martinis made from their tears. Really.
      • Uh, Grutas anyone? He makes Hannibal look downright heroic by comparison. It says a lot about a person when the first thing he does is eat the protagonists baby sister and only gets worse.
      • Even Buffalo Bill, who is a strict Complete Monster, has some humanity: he adored his mother, he adores his pet poodle, he's a skilled tailor and he seems to envy women rather than outright hating them, which has led to his rampage and misguided attempt to become one.
  • Crazy Awesome: Not all the time, but Lecter's escape in Silence of the Lambs runs on this. Disposing of the guards as mentioned above, then getting their backup to carry him out of the prison themselves by wearing his victim's clothes and mutilated face over his own.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: in the book (only) of Silence.

  Dr. Lecter: * showing Starling a letter* "This is about my crucifixion watch. They won't give me a patent, but they advise me to copyright the face. ... You may have noticed that in most crucifixions the hands point to, say, a quarter to three, or ten till two at the earliest, while the feet are at six. On this watch face, Jesus is on the cross, as you see there, and the arms revolve to indicate the time, just like the arms on the popular Disney watches. the feet remain at six and at the top a small second hand revolves in the halo. What do you think?"

    • In a bizarrely creepy way, some of Lecter's killing's. In particular, the way he strings up the disemboweled guard to look like an angel during his escape in the movie. Another one is his "bloody angel" killing from Hannibal. He splits the victim's ribs near the spine and pulls the lungs out the back, and flattens them, making them look like wings. Both are, in a very disturbing and macabre way, almost artistic.
      • The books hint that part of the reason Lecter does this is to distract and shock investigators, tripping them up on the horrific details and giving him more time to cover his tracks or otherwise get clear.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Hey, a refined, intelligent, older man? Oooh yeah. What of the Cannibalism?
  • First Installment Wins: If you ignore Manhunter, of course.
  • Flanderization: Over the course of the four books, Lecter basically devolved into a caracature of himself. In Red Dragon he was originally just a very intelligent and cultured man, whose expertise in his chosen field of psychiatry made him a particularly dangerous (and somewhat ironic) insane killer. By the (book) sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, he is quite clearly one of the greatest if not the greatest psychiatrist in the world, and by the threequel Hannibal, he's revealed to be a world-class genius in pretty much any field he sets his mind to, from Renaissance art to particle physics.
  • Genius Bonus: Hannibal famously said of one victim that he "ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." Liver, fava beans, and wine all contain a substance called tyramine, which can cause a severe reaction in any person taking an MAO inhibitor drug. MAO inhibitors, in turn, are one of the first antidepressants and were a regular part of the drug regimen given to people in insane asylums before safer antidepressants became available. Thus, anyone committed to an insane asylum -- such as Hannibal Lecter himself -- would have been forbidden from consuming liver, fava beans, or Chianti.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Clarice thinks that Hannibal's crimes are due to some sort of Freudian Excuse and Hannibal tells her that its foolish thinking and that shes abandoning the concepts of good and evil for behaviouralism. Twenty years later, Hannibal Rising, a book detailing Hannibal's origins and motivations, was released.

 Dr. Lecter: Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can't reduce me to a set of influences.

  • Les Yay: In a discussion of motivation, Hannibal tells Starling "we start by coveting the things we see every day." Starling repeats this observation to her FBI room-mate Ardelia, and they smile at each other.
  • Magnificent Bastard: If anyone can be considered one, it's Lecter.
  • Memetic Mutation: Ask anyone to name the most famous line from Silence and you'll most likely get "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again" as an answer.
    • Well, thanks to Lecter we know what to serve when we eat a Census taker's liver: "some fava beans and a nice chianti".
    • "Hello, Clarice."
  • Mind Game Ship
  • Nausea Fuel: Plenty. Buffalo Bill's bathtub is a good example.
    • The rotting corpse in the funeral home
    • Buffalo Bill's woman suit, seen briefly in one shot.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Plenty. Especially the scene with Catherine in the pit where she sees the broken fingernail.
  • Sequelitis
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In the original book of Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter is a One-Scene Wonder who appears for about seven pages. Good pages, but still. The poster for the (second) film is mostly a giant picture of his head.
    • His role is expanded enough in the Red Dragon film to justify it.
  • Squick: Oh, lots.
  • The Woobie: Reba McClane, particularly as played by Emily Watson.
    • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Francis Dolarhyde.
    • Crawford as well, in the novel of Silence.
    • Margot has some woobie-ish tendencies as well.
    • Clarice a bit as well, in the first half of Hannibal, after the press has smeared her for the way the way the DC drug bust went, even though she and John were the only people actually doing their job right.
      • Averted by Catherine, who defies Gumb at every opportunity, and is depicted less as helpless than simply overpowered. She's almost an Action Girl, and despite using Gumb's beloved poodle as a hostage against him, she quietly whispers to the dog that she'd never hurt it.
        • Heck she even keeps the dog in the end of the movie taking it with her into the ambulance.
        • Your Mileage May Vary on the aversion, since she's pretty clearly traumatized for life after all of this.
  • Villain Sue: Lecter devolves into this completely throughout the course of the third book, Hannibal. Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs made a credibly realistic character of him; he was highly intelligent but by no means infallible, charismatic but still a very unsettling individual and good at taking advantage of a situation and coming improvising plans. By Hannibal he's basically a prodigy of everything, no longer reacts to pain, plans things out months in advance, and commits impossibly over-the-top murders. While Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs demonstrate that for all of his cunning and charming behavior, he is still a sociopathic murderer, Hannibal introduced a Freudian Excuse that really came across as a kind of Draco in Leather Pants justification for the character. The two examples that send this over the edge are his romantic conquest of Clarice Starling at the end and the time when the cannibal pigs respect him too much to attack him.
    • To be fair, most of the above is quite true, but with some Willing Suspension of Disbelief, it's probable. The not reacting to pain part is briefly explored in The Silence of the Lambs, but insofar as he is capable of remaining completely calm during acts of violence, and it is not unknown for people of Lecter's ilk to derive so much pleasure or desensitization to pain they become immune to it, or it is a best a minor irritant. As for being a prodigy, he IS VERY intelligent, has a photographic memory, and LOTS of spare time, so his being The Chessmaster is explainable by virtue of him really being that meticulous in his planning, and his training and expertise as a psychiatrist would give him a marked edge in modifying his plans based on human elements in said plans. As for the over the top murders, he's noted to be a fan boy of such things, and none of them are physically impossible (especially the one in the Palazzo Capponi, where he obviously had pre planned how he would be murdering Pazzi). The pigs not attacking requires a LOT of belief stretching, but it is a known fact that animals smell fear and some do not attack what does not fear them. However, the Villain Sue argument still holds weight when one takes into account he couldn't have possibly pulled off his escape from Verger without a lot of luck and other factors falling into place, and at least half of which he would have not been able to pre-plan for.
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