Hannibal season 3 returns this evening and with it the reveal of several characters’ fates left unknown after season 2’s brutal and shocking finale. But while season 3 is only getting started, creator Bryan Fuller has already mapped out where his version of Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter goes next – and just who he might meet.

Hannibal is based on the novels by Thomas Harris – the same that were adapted into 1991’s Silence of the Lambs and its related films – but Fuller has taken huge liberties with his adaptation, often changing when certain events happen, which characters are involved, or how they are resolved as compared to in the novels.

This has been most apparent leading in to season 3, which is expected to finally reach the events of Thomas Harris’ first Hannibal novel, Red Dragon. After Red Dragon comes Silence of the Lambs, which introduces FBI agent Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster in the 1991 film ), but Fuller has been unable to secure the rights to that particular book and therefore the Clarice character. And as of this writing, Clarice and other characters and elements from Silence of the Lambs cannot be used on Hannibal.

Hannibal sniffs Will Hannibal: Bryan Fuller Talks Clarice Starling & Season 4

But Fuller isn’t especially worried about that just yet. Screen Rant‘s own Merrill Barr spoke with Fuller at a screening of tonight’s premiere and he revealed there’s a plan already in motion for season 4:

Obviously, Clarice is a character many would consider vital to Hannibal’s story, and Fuller hasn’t given up on her just yet. But it’s good to see Fuller hasn’t let a rights battle deter him from continuing with his take on the character.

And for those worried that if Clarice were to join Hannibal, it’d mean Will would have been replaced – as happens in the novels – Fuller is adamant that that would not be the case:

Hannibal is very much Fuller’s spin on the Hannibal Lecter story, and while surely there will be some who’ll balk at such a drastic change, there’s no denying that having two people whom Hannibal affected so deeply interact is intriguing. Will Graham and Clarice Starling? They’ll definitely have a thing or two to talk about before all is said and done.

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs Hannibal: Bryan Fuller Talks Clarice Starling & Season 4

Lastly, Fuller is also considering that his initial plan of seven seasons may be more than he actually needs for the story he wants to tell:

Suggesting that the books may get condensed seems to imply that not every moment from Red Dragon, Hannibal, or Hannibal Rising (which are the novels Fuller does have the rights to) will make their way into his Hannibal. But again, given how Hannibal has already deviated greatly from its source material, it isn’t really that great of a concern.

What do you think of Hannibal continuing without ever introducing Clarice Starling? And if she does eventually appear, what do you think of her an Will Graham working together? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Hannibal airs Thursdays @10pm on NBC.

Source: Merrill Barr

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