The biggest news surrounding Hannibal recently has been not about the elaborate, artistic violence in the plot, but the show itself: that NBC cancelled it partway through its third season, and Amazon Prime and Netflix both subsequently passed on picking it up.
Comic-Con attendees at the Hannibal panel were hoping for major news: An announcement that it was getting a fourth season somewhere (hey, we still haven’t heard from Hulu Plus — oh wait, the call it just regular Hulu now — right?).
Sadly, no deal like that is official — yet. The panel, made up of executive producers Bryan Fuller and Martha De Laurentiis (who wore a flower crown, the symbol of the show’s fans) and cast members Hugh Dancy and Richard Armitage spoke about the show, their hopes for its future, and what they’ll miss the most if this season does turn out to be its last. (We refuse to believe it.)
Fuller explained Netflix had to pass because of the deal already in place with Amazon Prime to stream Seasons 1 and 2. Amazon Prime was interested in taking it over for a fourth season, but with caveats.
“Amazon would like to have done it, but they wanted to do it very quickly, and I wanted to be able to get all the scripts in advance before a fourth season,” Fuller said. “Their desire to put it on immediately, it was just impossible to do for us.”
He said right now they are still looking for a home for future episodes, or some other way of bringing the characters back: “We’re looking at the possibility of a feature,” Fuller said. “We have Hugh and Mads who are very committed to the show, and would love to continue with the show, so, the way this season ends, there may be an opportunity for a little break, and then we may find a way to bring Mads and Hugh back to you.”
Dancy agreed that he and Mikkelsen would love to find a way to come back for another helping of Hannibal: “We were fully committed and living this thing for several years, and that’s still true in this moment,” he said.
In Season 3 so far, we’ve watched Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) take his place in Florentine society under a stolen identity, with his former psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) by his side as his supposed wife. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) lost his wife to cancer, then traveled to Italy to kick Hannibal’s ass. Will Graham (Dancy) has also made his way there, via Dr. Lecter’s Lithuanian childhood stomping grounds, where he meets Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto). Back in Baltimore, a post-coma Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) is teaming up with one of Hannibal’s victims to try and track him down.
At the beginning of the panel, fans were treated to a highlight reel for the second half of Season 3. The biggest plot point coming up is the introduction of Armitage’s character, Francis Dolarhyde AKA the Red Dragon.
“Will Graham is looking at Francis Dolarhyde as a version of Hannibal he might be able to save, and Hannibal is looking at him as a version of Will he may be able to corrupt,” Fuller said.
In Thomas Harris’ original novel, Dolarhyde is a serial killer who murders families and rapes the mothers. The latter half of that is being left out of the show; a conscientious decision on the producers’ part.
“I wanted to keep the promise that we were not going to be telling rape stories,” Fuller explained. Dolarhyde will still be murdering families — this is still Hannibal, after all — but it will be “more about the assault on the family unit instead of just on one woman in the family.”
The producers and cast also briefly spoke about the fandom, or the Fannibals, as they’re called. The 4,200-seat ballroom at the convention center was full of them: The audience was a sea of people wearing flower crowns and holding signs that read “FANNIBALS FOREVER.”
“It’s particularly inspiring and beautiful, really, to have a low-rated show where you’re like, well, the ratings weren’t great, and then you look at the response of the Fannibals, and it’s the best hug you could imagine,” Fuller said.
“You’re our core audience, and that we appreciate,” De Laurentiis elaborated.
Fans brought up flowers crowns for the cast to wear, and one girl gave Fuller a scarf she’d knitted based on his favorite suit that Dr. Lecter wears on the show.
“I feel like we’re all going to take the Fannibals with us wherever we go,” Fuller told the crowd.
Amid the din of cheers, Dancy leaned into his microphone and said, “Literally.”
Hannibal airs Thursdays on NBC at 10/9c.
WATCH: Bryan Fuller shows off Season 3’s most elaborate set!