TV & Movies

Hannibal Lecter Won't Be In Clarice, But Fans May Catch Some References

The CBS show can't even mention his name.

Clarice Starling in Clarice via the CBS press site
Brooke Palmer/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

The new CBS show Clarice takes place a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs movie. But this time, Clarice Starling will be carrying the plot on her own, without any terrifying commentary from Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In fact, according to The Wrap, the show can't even mention Hannibal's name, much less cast his character. That's because while CBS has the rights to the characters from Thomas Harris' novel The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter first appeared in Harris' Red Dragon novel, and CBS doesn't own those rights.

It's the inverse of what happened to NBC for Hannibal, where the series had the rights to the Hannibal Lecter character but not to Clarice Starling. According to Entertainment Weekly, the CBS show also has the rights to characters like serial killer Buffalo Bill and Clarice's co-worker Ardelia Mapp that NBC didn't have. So CBS will be able to tell very different stories than Hannibal did.

Despite not being able to say his name out loud, the doctor's presence will still be felt in Clarice. Rebecca Breeds, who plays the titular character, told The Wrap, "He's a part of her story, he's a part of her history, absolutely. We don't deny that and we don't shy away from it." She continued, "I think they're really smart in how we acknowledge him and acknowledge his part in her story. But he is not the center of this story. He is not the center of her world." After all, the show is named Clarice, not Hannibal. As showrunner Elizabeth Klaviter added, "Now it's time for Clarice to step into the spotlight and tell the story of the hero of Silence of the Lambs."

Brooke Palmer/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

The Wrap noted that there will be references to Hannibal Lecter, just very vague ones that only big fans will likely be able to catch. Plus, executive producer Alex Kurtzman told Entertainment Weekly that the show benefits from being able to explore Clarice's story without Hannibal's shadow looming over it. "It's been quite liberating, because we have no interest in writing about Hannibal," Kurtzman said. "Not because we didn't love the films and the show, but because it was done so well by so many people that it didn't feel fresh for us."

In contrast, Clarice's story hasn't been told in decades, and CBS is ready to dive into her next chapter.