NBC's Hannibal was one of those shows that you had to keep reminding yourself was actually a network show, and not a product of a premium cable channel (HBO, Showtime) or streaming service (Netflix, Amazon). Originally running from 2013-2015, Bryan Fuller's take on FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) from author Thomas Harris' Red Dragon and Hannibal novels achieved both critical praise and a cult following for its unique visual style; quality of performances; and bold, refreshing take on characters already established in pop culture lure.
Did I also mention the murder and crime scenes? Because when we discuss the unique visual style of the show, we'd be remiss to not specifically mention the inventiveness behind the madness…the beauty behind the horror. Whether we're talking "flesh totems," victims turned into "flesh angels" or seven course meals with a different person served-up for every course, Fuller and the creative team behind Hannibal worked closely with NBC's Vice President of Program Standards Joanna Jamerson to find new and increasingly gruesome (yet FCC standards-compliant) ways to visualize the madness.
Except that one time…
The Episode: Hannibal S01E11: 'Rôti' (June 6, 2013)
The Synopsis: When Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) escapes from police custody, he seeks revenge against the psychiatrists who profiled him. Graham and the BAU team try to track him down by following Freddie Lounds' (Lara Jean Chorostecki) blog before Gideon can make his way to Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas). Lecter misleads the BAU team in order to put Graham in the same room as Gideon, and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) questions Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) regarding Gideon's escape.
What Aired: Gideon disposes of his former psychiatrists with Colombian neckties (victim has their throat slit and their tongue pulled through the wound)
What Was Planned: Gideon was going to lure tabloid blogger Lounds to a psychiatrist's office, where she would flip on a light switch and start a process that can best be described as, "Braveheart by way of ceiling fan." Here's something to help with your mental image:
For NBC, it was a bridge too far both from a standards and financial perspective; and a fight that Fuller told Entertainment Weekly he was okay with conceding:
"[It] essentially disembowels him by spinning the fan, all in one fell swoop. That was the only one where NBC was like, 'I just don't know how you're going to do it,'. We would have pushed back if we also hadn't been told that financially we didn't know how we could afford to produce such a gag, because you have intestines swinging around a ceiling fan."