Don’t Worry, Hannibal Is Destined To Be Un-Cancelled

By  · Published on June 23rd, 2015

NBC Television

Sad news: Hannibal has been cancelled.

Happy news: probably not for very long.

Don’t weep for that stone-eyed Lithuanian man-eater just yet (don’t weep for him at all- it’s not like has has emotions, remember). NBC may have scrubbed Hannibal from its future schedules, but it’s been one day and already you can spot glimmers of renewal on the horizon. It’s easily the most drama-free TV cancellation I’ve ever seen.

Let’s count the reasons why.

1. Hannibal Is Already “Exploring Other Options”

Within hours of Hannibal’s cancellation, the mood was already shifting from “NBC, how could you?” to “sit tight and wait for a new network.” A few relevant snippets from Hannibal’s production company, The DeLaurentiis Company:

“#Hannibal was always in danger of cancellation due to subject matter, and others have expressed interest in partnering with us.”

“We are exploring options with potential partners.”

Showrunner Bryan Fuller stated (well, shouted) the same thing:



Hell, Fuller hinted as much in the official statement he gave when the news first broke. “Hannibal is finishing his last course at NBC’s table this summer, but a hungry cannibal can always dine again,” written with extreme amounts of wink and nod (even if most showrunners might say the same just out of wishful thinking).

2. Hannibal’s Already Has Relationships With Those “Other Options”

Hannibal’s consistently abysmal ratings ended up being a godsend. The show’s teetered on the brink of cancellation after every season, meaning that Fuller & co have already made multiple pre-emptive trips down “Who Wants To Buy Hannibal?” lane. In dealing with those “other options,” it sounds like Fuller’s just going to be making a few calls from the ol’ rolodex.

After the first season, Hannibal’s ratings had already slumped and NBC was wavering on a second year. Early buzz from Deadline? That “at least one cable network,” plus Amazon’s still-in-its-infancy TV department were both interested in snatching up the show. Same deal after season two: Fuller, Gaumont and the rest were making inroads with other outlets in advance, just in case Hannibal was axed. Here’s Fuller (via Digital Spy):

“The confidence hasn’t stopped us from seeking out backup plans that would get us a third season one way or another. There are many more options than there have been in the past. So I feel very confident about a season three.”

And as of yesterday, Deadline has already heard rumblings of “significant interest” in a Hannibal pickup from all the regular players. Probably Amazon, considering they’ve got dibs already- the exclusive rights to Hannibal’s first three seasons, in part of on ongoing deal with NBCUniversal.

3. Hannibal Is Dirt Cheap

NBC was getting Hannibal at a sweetheart deal to begin with. It’s not even their show, really. Hannibal is produced by the TV wing of French studio Gaumont (fun fact: also the world’s oldest film production company). NBC just pays a license fee to air each episode, paying $750,000 a pop for the first season and a cut-rate $185,000 for this summer’s batch. Whereas network TV shows go for about $3M an episode, on average- $2M on cable, and closer to $4M on Netflix (while most licensing fees hit somewhere around the million dollar range).

So Hannibal’s potential savior wouldn’t need particularly deep pockets (even with reports that Gaumont tightened up the budgetary reins this season). Besides, being produced by a French third party probably eases the transition to a new network anyway.

4. Interest in Hannibal Is Still Riding High

The warmest parting gift NBC could have given Hannibal was canceling it right now and not at the end of the season. We’ve still got ten Hannibals left to air on NBC- so as Fuller and Gaumont campaign for a new home, they’ll have ten more weeks of Hannibal recaps in the press and Hannibal trending on Twitter and Hannibal looking like a very relevant, savvy buy. Big plus: Fuller’s already confirmed that the show will still have a panel at Comic-Con next month.

Then you’ve got the hordes of Hannibal fans assembling online. The show was trending worldwide after the cancellation news broke, and Fuller and The DeLaurentiis Company launched a #SaveHannibal hashtag soon after. Not sure how much of a difference that really makes (the existence of gay Will/Hannibal shippers already proved that Hannibal has a small but eerily devoted following), but it couldn’t hurt. Ditto for the Save Hannibal petition on– probably useless in a negotiation, but a nice metric to prove Hannibal’s got 30,000+ fans devoted enough to pledge their zip codes and email addresses in support.

5. We Live In An Age of TV Renewals

15 years ago, Hannibal’s revival would have been rare to unheard of. Conveniently, in the past 15 years there’s been more than a few precedents set in cases of TV un-cancellation. The Mindy Project, Community, Longmire, Arrested Development– as online platforms muscle their way into the TV world, the easiest way is to snap up TV’s juiciest unwanted scraps. Especially if those scraps have a devoted cult following, which is the case for every un-cancelled show listed in the previous sentence. That loyal army of “Fannibals” might be a blessing in disguise.

There’s even an official wikiHow for becoming a Fannibal- although you’ll need a TV, a box of tissues and “A love for Will Graham or Hannibal Lecter (you can love both).”

6. Isn’t Hannibal Better Suited for Cable Anyway?

This is less about hard evidence than personal opinion, but whatever- it always kind of baffled me how Hannibal aired on NBC of all places. This is the network that relies on old-fashioned staples like Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. and Law & Order: SVU (but also The Blacklist, which occasionally leans towards the grotesque). Nestled among them is an art house nightmarescape where corpses are re-purposed into fine art. Doesn’t it make more sense on cable to begin with?

Yes, Hannibal’s produced at Gaumont, not NBC, but maybe a more cable-ish distributor in the US could push the show into darker, bolder, bloodier territory. At the very least, there might be more nudity.

Keep in mind, it only took The Mindy Project nine days to rise from the cancellation grave (although Longmire took months, and Arrested Development years). Care to guess when we’ll hear the good news?