Hannibal and Dexter: A retrospective look back at the villains


Brooke Palmer | NBC

Yasmeen Persaud

Usually my queues were filled with comedies and lighthearted classics such as Friends and That ‘70s Show, but that all changed after stumbling across the psychological thriller Dexter on Netflix. 

I wanted a change, and I welcomed it along with some tragedy and comedy. 

From there, the TV obsession with fictional mysteries and serial killers became an emotional and cathartic experience. 

Every time I watched Dexter, it felt like an ultimate sin to endure so much gore, but the show’s stern take on diving deep into the mind of a serial killer was enough to keep me hooked.

The theme of nature versus nurture became apparent in Dexter. Here, we have a serial killer Dexter Morgan who plays the twist on the classic Hannah Montana double life format — working for the police by day and hunting people to kill at night. 

His father adopted him after he witnessed the murder of his mother at three-years-old, which altered his genetic makeup to leave his psychotic tendencies in full effect. 

He only picks his victims based on a code which denotes who he is morally obligated to kill. 

His father was a cop and understood why Morgan thought the way he did, and as an advocate for righting the wrongs of the criminal justice system, Morgan’s father taught him the code. 

There is a right and wrong in Morgan’s mind and criminals — who are considered a waste to society —find themselves eliminated.

The show ended after a remarkable eight seasons. I was in awe at the choice to end the show on a cliffhanger — and a little frustrated — but the symbolic meaning behind Morgan’s upbringing was enough to leave me content with the ending.

Now, I find myself deep in a similar state of disbelief after watching Hannibal, which could be considered the sister show of Dexter

Psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter mirrors Morgan’s psychotic ways, but the show garners attention because of its dark, delicious and debatable twist — Lectar is a cannibalistic serial killer. 

After watching Dr. Lecter prepare his victims to the tune of opera music and serve them with fancy flatware, I considered deleting my Prime account. 

Up until, the appearance of Will Graham. 

Graham and Lecter’s relationship is the rich man’s Holmes and Watson, but in a much darker light. Their relationship molds the story’s development, making the show triumph Dexter.

It’s debatable to discuss the relationship between Morgan and other characters, and how it compares to Hannibal, but the brilliance, exceptional artistry and cinematography in Hannibal should be applauded. 

We can ask ourselves why such a taboo show could be applauded. 

Well, the creators of the show took a concept insanely disgusting and turned it into something surprisingly bearable and emotional. 

It was raw, something that can be hard to find in a world where TV shows are straightforward and comedic in its production. 

How weird is it to actually develop a sense of empathy for the villain of the show? 

The intellectual and beautiful dynamic between Graham and Lecter is a force to be reckoned with. 

Writer Bryan Fuller is known for his cliffhanger track record and left viewers upset with the ending of the show, but the connection between Graham and Lecter deserved the haunted ending the show succumbed to. 

If you head over to NBC’s Hannibal Instagram page, you’ll find fans commenting for a fourth season. That said, it’s been years since the show ended. 

The concept of nature versus nurture is more chaotic in Hannibal, when compared to Dexter.

 It’s revealed that Dr. Lecter is the way he is because he suffered a traumatic event as a child where his sister was murdered — then eaten. 

So yes, this show is insanely similar to Dexter, but we don’t need more seasons. 

Why damage the abstract and artistic impact that this show leaves on viewers with the continuation of Lecter and Graham’s story? 

Why leave room for mistakes and repetition to a broad storyline? 

The ending scene of Hannibal can be compared to the first drop felt on a rollercoaster. 

A feeling of panic, terror and surprise that catapults viewers into a different reality. 

It is safe to say that no show out there, even including Dexter, could ever compare to the design and story of this horrifically lovely masterpiece.