It's been more than two years since the Hannibal Season 3 finale and the show's subsequent cancellation, but it's now looking increasingly likely that everyone's favorite cannibal will return for a fourth season.
Now that the rights to Hannibal have reverted back to producer Martha De Laurentiis, serious talks can begin regarding the future of the series. But what would a Hannibal revival actually look like?
Where Would It Air?
Let's start with the obvious. Hannibal no longer has a home on NBC, so where would it go? It's unlikely Hannibal would go to another channel on network television (it's frankly a miracle a show as bloody and horrifying as Hannibal was ever allowed on network television in the first place). A cable channel like FX or Showtime would probably make a far better fit. Should the show end up on cable, it's also likely that Bryan Fuller, the show's creator, could get away with even more violence, blood and horror due to no longer being restricted by NBC's strict content rules. Just look at American Gods (another of Fuller's creations) if you want an example of just how graphic and explicit Hannibal could become.
It's also a possibility that Hannibal could end up on an online streaming service such as Hulu, Yahoo or Amazon. While several of these prominent streaming services declined to pick up Hannibal immediately after its cancellation, it's entirely possible that since the rights to the Silence of the Lambs story and characters have reverted back to Martha De Laurentiis, they could rethink their previous decision.
What Form Would It Take?
While Seasons 1 to 3 of Hannibal had 13 episodes each, Fuller envisions a slightly different format should the show return, stating:
“I hope we get to tell the story, I think, ideally for the cast, it would be as a mini-series, here and there. Let’s do 6 to 8 episodes of that, and 6 to 8 episodes over here. And do it as an irregular thing.”
A miniseries might actually be perfect for Hannibal. We've seen with the most recent season of Game of Thrones that cutting down the number of episodes per season can make for a much more exciting viewing experience. Each episode propels the plot forward much more forcefully and there's no room for non-essential storylines and characters. It would be interesting to see Hannibal play out in a similar fashion where events unfold more quickly.
How Would The Story Be Continued?
Season 3 ends with Will embracing Hannibal and toppling them both off the edge of a cliff after they murder Francis Dolarhyde. It's hard to imagine Will and Hannibal emerging from this completely unscathed, meaning that a fourth season may involve some more unique methods of storytelling. It has long been known that Season 4 of the show would tackle The Silence of the Lambs, but judging from how the source material has been adapted thus far (Season 3 was partly an adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon, the first book in the Silence of the Lambs series), there's plenty of room to play around with the narrative structure.
Speaking to how a fourth season would look, Fuller said in an interview recently that it would be like "Inception meets Angel Heart." This may sound a little strange at first, but, for a show like Hannibal, it could make for some interesting viewing. Perhaps the whole season would take place in some sort of shared-consciousness between Hannibal and Will as they fall from the cliff. The supernatural mystery of Angel Heart in combination with the mind-bending thriller that is Inception would give Bryan Fuller plenty of areas to explore in the relationship between Will and Hannibal, also likely giving us many more of the stunning visual sequences that the show has become known for.
When Will It Return?
If showrunners are just now going into talks about a return for the series, its likely we still have a while to wait before Hannibal graces our screens once again. If the show can find a new home either on an online streaming service or cable television relatively soon, then we could see more Hannibal as early as the end of 2018. It's more likely, however, now that Fuller has become occupied with his new series American Gods and both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen have become in-demand talent, that a new season of Hannibal may not come out until 2019 or even 2020.
While it's looking increasingly likely Hannibal will return in some form or another for a fourth season, there's still no guarantee that it will. Bryan Fuller and the show's stars have all expressed interest in returning to the series, which is promising news, but until Hannibal is actually picked up by a new network, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.