Hannibal Lecter is one of the creepiest and most enduring evil characters out there. Having been in many films and series, it can be hard to know what order to watch them in, and whether all of them are worth it.
Let’s look at a watch order for the Hannibal Lecter movies so that you can get the most out of them, and also a basic synopsis of all the films.
How Many Hannibal Lecter Movies Are There?
The character Hannibal Lecter has appeared in five films, although one is a remake of Manhunter, called Red Dragon, and based on the novel The Red Dragon.
Hannibal Lecter Movies in Order (at a Glance)
In terms of storyline, the movies haven’t been released in the same order that they follow in terms of their own internal universe.
- Hannibal Rising (2007)
- Manhunter (1986)
- Red Dragon (2002)
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Hannibal (2001)
The most famous out of these is The Silence of the Lambs, but Red Dragon is also a very solid film. Manhunter can be skipped, and both Hannibal Rising and Hannibal are generally thought to be the weaker films.
What Is the Best Way To Watch Hannibal Lecter Movies?
The best order to watch the films is chronologically, not by release date, and you should probably skip Manhunter as Red Dragon is a much better entry.
Hannibal Lecter Movies in Order (Chronologically)
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Set during World War II, this film shows Hannibal Lecter’s upbringing and how he got shaped into the psychopath cannibal.
He starts his pattern of killing people who insult his family, and after self-injecting some memory chemicals, remembers the soldiers who killed his sister, going back to Lithuania to get revenge.
After taking down the soldiers who cannibalized his sister, the police inspector becomes suspicious but realizing that he is going after war criminals, he lets Lecter off with a warning. Lecter eventually finishes off the rest of the soldiers.
After capturing Dr Hannibal Lecktor (the spelling of the name is one of the many changes), former FBI criminal profiler Will Graham has retired following the incident after the arrest of Lecktor involved a vicious attack by the cannibalistic serial killer.
Graham is however approached by the FBI to help with a new serial killer case.
After finding some vital evidence but then hitting a dead end, Graham is convinced to meet again with Lektor to get his insight on the case. Lecktor is helpful, although keen on getting revenge on Graham for arresting him.
After a tabloid journalist gets involved in the case, who also took photos of Graham when he was in hospital recovering from his horrific injuries, Graham sets up a trap to catch the new serial killer called the Tooth Fairy.
After the Tooth Fairy kills a coworker after getting jealous that he is going to take his love interest Reba, Graham also has a massive break in the case when he realizes the connection between all the dead families.
Graham and the police descend on the house where the Tooth Fairy is as he is about to kill Reba.
Red Dragon (2002)
FBI agent Will Graham visits forensic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter to get help with a case, but stumbles upon evidence that Lecter is killing and eating people, only for Lecter to also realize that Graham is on his trail and brutally stabs him from behind.
Lecter ends up imprisoned as one of the criminally insane, although acts docile and placid in order to get access to human flesh. After his meal, however, he is put in isolation under strict security to stop him cannibalizing anymore.
The serial killer named the Tooth Fairy is introduced as the main target of the FBI, and he is shown to be the product of abuse by his grandmother, and is influenced by a painting by William Blake to kill.
After a note is found in Lecter’s cell from the Tooth Fairy, Graham’s family is moved but a plan by the FBI to bring Tooth Fairy out of hiding merely results in the torture and death of Freddy Lounds, a tabloid journalist.
The Tooth Fairy’s struggle with his demons sees him try to prevent the killer inside, but he fails and kills a coworker and kidnaps his blind coworker who he has fallen for. After the Tooth Fairy’s suicide and arson of his house, all is thought to be over.
However, the Tooth Fairy later comes back to kill Graham and his family, only to be stopped when Graham pretends to perpetuate similar abuse that plagued the Tooth Fairy and causes him to attack Graham.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Focusing instead on a young FBI trainee Clarice Starling rather than Graham, Starling is tasked with using questionnaires on Lecter to better psychologically profile serial killers.
However, it turns out that much like Red Dragon, the FBI is keen to get Lecter’s help to catch a new serial killer named Buffalo Bill, who is killing many fat women and skinning them.
Lecter does seem to have information on Buffalo Bill due to his penetrating insight, but won’t tell unless Starling tells him about her own childhood. However, when Lecter’s predictions start becoming increasingly accurate, it seems that Lecter actually knows the killer.
After securing a deal to be transferred to less oppressive conditions, Lecter reveals that he believes the killer is one Jame Gumb, a lover of an ex-patient who Lector had murdered. Overpowering the guards during the transfer, Lecter escapes custody.
Starling does her own detective work and tracks down Gumb and rescues his latest victim.
After Lecter mutilated Mason Verger, a rich child molester, during a therapy session when he realized Verger’s proclivities, Verger has made it his life mission to capture Lecter so as to torture him like Lecter did to Verger.
Lecter has escaped to Italy where he is living as a museum creator, and Verger gets the tipoff from some unfortunate to be victims of Lecter, leading to his eventual capture by Verger.
After Verger’s plan to feed him to boars fails and Starling is on the estate as she suspects Verger has Lecter, an ensuing firefight results in Verger being fed to the boars.
Starling is rescued by Lecter, as he has come to realize that she is the only one capable of capturing him as she knows how he thinks. After taking her to a secluded location where he attempts to hypnotize her, the FBI approaches and Lecter escapes.
Where To Watch Hannibal Lecter Movies?
Manhunter can be seen on Amazon Prime. The Silence of the Lambs can be watched on Hulu. Red Dragon is available on Amazon Prime, HBO, and Hulu. Hannibal Rising can be viewed on Amazon Prime. Hannibal is available on Netflix.
Do You Need To Watch Hannibal Lecter Movies in Order?
It is recommended to watch the movies in the chronological order according to how the story unfolds, as certain characters are killed and events build on each other.
Are Hannibal Lecter Movies Connected?
The movies are written to follow the events of the books, which do follow a timeline that chronicles Lecter’s growth over the years. While certain FBI agents take precedence in certain titles, the thread of Lector is very prominent throughout.
Will There Be More Hannibal Lecter Movies?
There may be more Hannibal films but the fact that the movies cover most of the major events and certainly all of the original events as espoused by the author Thomas Harris, any future movies are going to be original works rather than based on the books.
This has already been seen such as the series called Clarice from 2021 and the 2013 series Hannibal.
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