TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Hannibal TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Graphic Hannibal Lecter retread is compelling and dark.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 46 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

There is a dark, tense atmosphere throughout, with the sense that the world is a dangerous place full of creepy, evil people. But the main thrust of the show is fighting crime, even while one of the main characters commits crimes himself. The camera tends to linger on graphic and gory images, particularly when nubile young women are in danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the main characters are on the side of law and order, and the team of investigators spotlighted on the show boasts some ethnic diversity. Violent, murderous Dr. Lecter is glamorized a bit, but the show's main characters, Will Graham and Jack Crawford, are upright and law-abiding.


Very graphic, disturbing images. A body is dissected on a table, we hear that the lungs were removed, then cut to Dr. Lecter slicing a spongy set of lungs on his counter. We see people, particularly young women, shot, stabbed, strangled, impaled; there are many shots of dead people in pools of blood.


Naked bodies are visible, bloody and impaled; there is discussion of body fluids as they relate to crimes.


Not much cursing but there is graphic language about violence and injuries. There is also some potentially offensive classist language used. Victims are referred to as being very "Mall of America."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dr. Lecter frequently drinks what looks to be wine or alcohol with his meals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hannibal is an intense hour-long crime drama that focuses on a serial killer and the FBI agents attempting to capture him. Viewers see many, many disturbing images, including dead bodies, women and men being shot, stabbed, strangled, and impaled, pools of blood, victims being impaled by deer antlers, and so on. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson) is a killer and a cannibal, we see presumably human body parts being cut up and cooked, then eaten and enjoyed. Viewers may also see naked bodies, characters being stalked, and many murders through the eyes of killers. There is a dark, tense atmosphere throughout, and many graphic discussions of violence and murders. This intense show is not intended for children; parents should think carefully before letting even mature teens watch.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+-year-old Written byTsion December 27, 2013

Deep, Dark, and Disgusting

Hannibal is one of the classiest, most artistic TV shows I've ever seen. In addition to building the Hannibal Lecter legend from the ground-up in an impre... Continue reading
Adult Written byA. Wing August 20, 2016

Gripping psychological thriller (not for the faint of heart!)

Hannibal is a very violent show (even though much of the violence is implied), and for every person I've personally recommended this show to, they always h... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byRussianSn1per June 1, 2013

A Masterpiece!

Hannibal is one of the best shows on television. The cast is amazing and every scene is beautifully shot and a work of art. This show is an incredible new take... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byNyxxie September 18, 2015

Best Show on TV. RIP Hannibal.

This was one of the few shows that managed to portray violence/severe mental illness realistically. People often pass it off immediately, saying that the extrem... Continue reading

What's the story?

In NBC's hour-long drama HANNIBAL, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is a professor and FBI criminal profiler who is drawn into a professional association with a man who is secretly a monster: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a forensic psychologist who kills people and eats their body parts when he's on his own time. Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), head of behavioral sciences at the FBI, recruited both Graham and Lecter to work with him on his nastiest cases. He knew Graham, who skews both Aspergers-y and anti-social, was a rather strange guy. But what Crawford didn't know about Lecter could put them all in mortal danger.

Is it any good?

By now, the details of Hannibal Lecter's story are familiar to most people, so Hannibal doesn't have freshness on its side. But showrunners did change one crucial detail, turning Graham from just another hardworking cop into an oddball with what Lecter diagnoses as "true empathy" thanks to his autistic tendencies. He understands the crimes he investigates because he can see things from the killers' point of view. And so does the audience, riding along with Graham as he "becomes" the killer and envisions how murders happened.

Dancy is terrific as the shifty-eyed Graham, Fishburne has his customary gravitas in what's most definitely a third banana part, and wonder of wonders, creepy Mads Mikkelsen, best known stateside as a Bond villain, is so good as Lecter he may make you forget Anthony Hopkins' indelible cinematic Dr. Lecter long enough to enjoy Hannibal-the-show. This is strong stuff, not for kids, but very mature teens and adults may enjoy the gore, darkness, tension, and mystery.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the source material for this show. Have you seen other movies involving the same set of characters, such as The Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal (the movie)? How is this show alike or different? Does the fact that it's on television change what's said or shown?

  • How are the viewers supposed to feel about Dr. Lecter? Listen to see what musical cues are used when he is shown onscreen, notice what camera angles are used. Did your answer change?

  • Why do so many shows on television focus on crime and murder? What does that say about what people want to watch? Why do they want to watch stories in which people are harmed?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mystery

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