A Definitive Ranking of 'Hannibal''s Grisliest Murder Scenes

Remembering the show that took body horror art to the stratosphere--and your TV.


Remember Hannibal, Bryan Fuller’s decadent, mesmerizing, and gruesome television adaptation of everyone’s favorite pun-happy cannibal? If you watched it, there’s a good chance it often comes to mind likely in the dark of the night, as you’re trying to sleep.

Hannibal made waves with its graphic, creative, and abundant murder scenes. The show portrays a whole host of serial killers, and there was nary a boring slasher or sexual predator in the bunch. Yes, all of Hannibal’s serial killers had some twisted and artful endgame for their victim’s corpses. The murders were cinematically gorgeous; the scenes were shot with a slow, almost sensual camera, and the color palette and sheer detail challenged viewers to see the beauty in all the horror. The opening scene of the pilot alone is enough to make you think, “Wait, there’s no way I’m watching NBC right now.” But yes, this next-level shit actually aired on network TV. What a time to be alive.

Fortunate for the audience. Not so fortunate for these 15 people in Hannibal, who are very much not alive.

This is quite nice, comparatively. 

  1. Growing Pains

This guy whom Hannibal grafts onto a tree. Definitely one of the more creative presentations, not all that grisly.

Murder valentine. 

  1. Murder Valentine

In season 3, Hannibal escapes to Europe but can’t resist leaving a trail of murders to draw Will Graham back to him. At this point in the show, a heart made out of torsos is actually kinda sweet.

The Shrike's victim.

  1. The Minnesota Shrike

This is the first staged murder victim we see in episode 1. It’s pretty shocking, until you see the rest of the show, that is.

The mushroom did it.

  1. A trippy realization

The guy who used his victims to grow mushrooms doesn’t seem so bad until you recall that his victims were not dead when he buried them.

This was weird even by 'Hannibal' standards. 

  1. The random dragonfly guy

In one of the weirdest plot points of Season 3, Will travels to Hannibal’s childhood home, meets this girl, and she kills this guy she has imprisoned in the basement. Will concocts this elaborate design as a message for Hannibal. The sheer randomness makes it more gruesome than it looks.

Actually heartbreaking. 

  1. Heartbreaking

Abigail’s murder is a bit different since we see it happen on screen and there’s no elaborate staging of the body. But it is by far the most emotionally brutal death on the show.

He's not actually playing a dudes throat violin, that would be weird. 

  1. Sweet chin music

One season 1 killer turns this musician into an instrument. It’s pretty messed up, and Hannibal clearly digs it. Don’t worry, Will is just imagining that he’s playing this man-cello.

Beverly's death was controversial in the fandom.

  1. The murder of forensic scientist Beverly Katz

We've seen this one before.

Daily Motion
  1. An oldie but a goody

Inspector Pazzi’s murder was, dare I say, derivative. It’s a re-creation of the same death in Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal, and in turn, a recreation of a historical death of one of Pazzi’s ancestors. But it’s still very grisly.

"I need a new job". 

  1. Worse than the human centipede

The human totem pole was just a whole mess of dead bodies. Really.


  1. Jaw-dropping

Poor Dr. Sutcliffe falls victim to Hannibal committing one of his many copycat murders. Seriously, Hannibal copies just about every other killer out there. This one ranks highly because it is straightforward, and straight-up gruesome.


Paste Magazine
  1. Ripped again

Kind of literal, but ok.

  1. Capital punishment

In season 2, someone takes offense to Will Graham being put on trial and decides the judge needs a different kind of justice.

Guardian angels?

  1. Is this hell?

This Season 1 serial killer turned his victims into these freaky guardian angels because he feared death, then offed himself before Will could catch him.

Baby's first murder. 

  1. He’s history

Don’t worry, that guy jammed onto a prehistoric skeleton was a murderer himself, it’s fine. The messed up part is that this one was Will’s doing, right after he was acquitted of all those other murders. We were rooting for you, Will.

And that’s not even touching on all the grisly near murders. Seriously, pretty much every character almost dies at least once.