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This is my design.
~ Will while analyzing a crime scene.
If you can't beat god, become him?
~ Will Graham to Hannibal Lecter.
Everyone has thought about killing someone, one way or another.
~ Will Graham.

Will Graham is the main protagonist of NBC television series Hannibal. He is a former FBI special investigator and criminal profiler, as well as Hannibal Lecter's nemesis.

He was played by Hugh Dancy, who also played Marshal Mallow in Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.


Season 1

In the first episode, Will shoots and kills serial killer Garrett Jacob Hobbs, aka the "Minnesota Shrike". Hobbs had his daughter Abigail in his arms and started to slit her throat when Will shot him. Abigail fell to the floor, blood rushing from her neck. Will did his best to apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. This was after Hobbs had already killed his own wife, discarding her body on the front porch. After a period of time the EMTs arrived and Abigail received the medical attention she required. She survived the ordeal, witnessing Will kill her father. Hobbs' death still haunts Will in his hallucinations and dreams.

Will never knew his mother and his father worked on shipyards (possibly fixing boat motors, as Will has been seen doing this too. However, it could have been working on diesel engines. Will made the comment to Crawford that's what he would go do if he were to quit.)

He moved around a lot during his childhood and was "always the stranger" at his new schools. His family was poor.

Will has a love interest, Alana Bloom. However, Alana told him they could not be together because he was too unstable despite having feelings for him. Will confirmed her suspicions after telling her he felt unstable. This happened the day following the day the two kissed in Will's home.

He begins teaching at the FBI Academy (Quantico, Virginia) due to the fact that he doesn't like to socialize with other people. He says that when he's teaching, he's "talking at them", not necessarily "socializing" with them. After he shot Hobbs, he walked into class to a standing ovation. He told everyone to sit down that their applause was misguided. This is the attitude of Will when it comes to people. He wants no special attention and just wants to be left alone. When speaking to people, he avoids eye contact.

He has the ability to be able to empathize with psychopaths and other people of the sort. He sees crime scenes and plays them out in his mind with vividly gruesome detail. Will closes his eyes and a pendulum of light flashes in front of him, sending him into the mind of the killer. When he opens his eyes, he is alone at the scene of the crime. The scene literally changes retracting back to before the killing happened. Will then assumes the role of the killer. He moves to the victim and carries out the crime just as the killer would have. He can see the killer's "design" just as the killer designed it.

This allows him to know every detail about the crime and access information that would have otherwise not been known. He has admitted to Crawford that it was becoming harder and harder for him to look. The crimes were getting into his head and leaving him confused and disorientated. During one such experience, he lost track of what was going on and thought he was actually murdering a victim. He threw the door open, drenched in terror, only to see the BAU team standing outside the door. They all looked as confused as Will when they saw the terror on his face. Will was relieved to know he was working but worried his ability was starting to take its toll on him.

Will had advanced encephalitis, which is why he often suffered from hallucinations, the loss of time, and disorientation. He has since received treatment of an antibiotic and viral medication therapy to reduce the swelling on his brain. Dr. Lecter had previously diagnosed the condition, but kept the information from Will. He allowed Will to believe his hallucinations and breakdowns were due to a mental condition and not from an illness. He did this to observe Will and see how he would handle the stress of these symptoms. You could also say he allowed the illness to progress so that it would make framing Will easier.

Will is charged with the murders Lecter committed. After previously escaping custody by dislocating his finger and sliding the cuffs off his wrists, he attacked his guards and managed to escape. He made his way to Lecter's office where he asked him to take him to the Hobbs' residence in Minnesota. Once they made their way there, theories started to form in Will's head after an intense conversation with Dr. Lecter, Will told him, "The scales have fallen away from my eyes. I can see you now."

Will had been seeing him for some time for psychiatric care, only to realize Lecter was manipulating him, using him as study material. While at the Hobbs' residence, he explained this to Lecter, comparing it to a wind-up toy while holding a gun on Lecter at the time.

He was all set to shoot Lecter in the head before Crawford intervened, shooting Will in the arm and knocking him backwards. While Will was against the counter, where he landed, he saw Lecter clearly for the person he was, sealing the idea that he set Will up for the crimes he himself had committed. While Will has not yet shared this information with anyone else, he remains vigilant that Lecter is in fact the killer. The evidence against Will is damning, giving the length of detail Lecter had to go through to frame him, including somehow feeding Will Abigail's ear.

Season 2

After failing to shoot Lecter, Will is sent to Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for serial murder. After several corpses are found in a dam, Beverly Katz finds Will and let him profiling the images of several missing persons. Will attempts to find his lost memories and warn Lecter that there will be "a reckoning:.

While committed to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally insane, Will befriends orderly Matthew Brown, a psychopath who happens to be an admirer of his. Will asks Brown to kill Lecter for him, so Brown follows Lecter to an indoor swimming pool, subdues him, and attempts to hang him. Moments later, however, Crawford tracks Lecter down, shoots Brown dead, and saves Lecter's life.

During Will's trial, Lecter decides to exonerate him by planting evidence on their mutual nemesis, Dr. Frederick Chilton. Once Will is released, he resumes therapy with Lecter, who by now has entered a relationship with Alana, which Will reluctantly accepts. Will is secretly conspiring with Crawford to entrap Lecter, who is aware of his duplicity but allows it because he finds the situation fascinating. When Will kills Lecter's psychotic patient Randall Tier in self-defense, Lecter helps him stage the crime scene to look like another killer's work. Will also apparently kills reporter Freddy Lounds and consumes her flesh with Lecter - although it is later revealed that Lounds faked her death as part of Will and Crawford's plan to capture Lecter.

Meanwhile, Will and Lecter acquire a common enemy in Mason Verger, a wealthy sadist who is physically and sexually abusing his sister Margot. She enters therapy with Lecter and sleeps with Will in an attempt to get pregnant; when Mason forcibly removes Margot's womb, both Will and Lecter are outraged, and begin plotting revenge. Mason kidnaps them both and prepares to feed them to his prize pigs, but Lecter manages to free himself and Will, and they escape. Will comes home to find that Lecter has "influenced" a drugged-up Mason to peel off his own face and feed it to Will's dogs. Will gives Lecter permission to kill Mason, but Lecter decides to break Mason's neck in a way that leaves him paralyzed, but alive.

When Crawford decides to arrest Lecter, Will calls Lecter and warns him. He goes to Lecter's house to find that Lecter has severely injured Jack, and that a very much alive Abigail - whom Lecter has been holding captive - has pushed Alana out the window. After Lecter kills Abigail, he stabs Will in the gut and leaves him to die while he escapes.

Season 3

Graham survives and recovers from his wounds after several months. Upon recuperating, Graham goes after Lecter, going first to his childhood home in Lithuania. There, he meets Lecter's family servant Chiyoh and kills the man who had, decades earlier, murdered and cannibalized Lecter's sister Mischa. Graham proceeds to mutilate the body and turn it into a Lecter-esque work of art.

Chiyoh then helps him find Lecter in Florence, Italy. Graham meets with Lecter and tries to kill him, but Chiyoh shoots and wounds him before he can kill the doctor. Lecter takes Graham back to his villa and tries to perform a craniotomy on him in front of Crawford, but he is interrupted by corrupt Italian detectives on Mason Verger's payroll, who apprehend them both and deliver them to the Verger estate in Maryland. Mason plans to torture Lecter to death with the help of his physician Cordell Doemling. Meanwhile, Mason orders Doemling to surgically remove Graham's face – without anesthesia – and graft it onto his. Before the face transplant can take place, however, Lecter kills Doemling, frees Graham, and helps Margot kill her brother. Lecter carries an unconscious Graham to safety and brings him back to his home. Graham refuses to have anything more to do with Lecter, but allows him to escape. Later that evening, however, Lecter surrenders to Crawford to spite Graham, knowing that if Graham knows where he is, he will inevitably be tempted to visit him.

Three years later, Graham has retired from the FBI and settled down with his wife, Molly, and her son, Walter. Crawford asks him to profile a serial killer dubbed "The Tooth Fairy", who kills entire families. After some initial reluctance, Graham agrees to help and decides to consult Lecter about the murders. With Lecter's help, he recovers his gift for empathizing with psychopaths – at the cost of having nightmares in which he, as the killer, murders his family. Lecter says that the killer feels a connection with the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and suggests that Graham see the painting to better understand the man he is chasing. Graham goes to the Brooklyn Museum to see the painting, and encounters the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, who attacks him. Lecter gives Dolarhyde Graham's address, and Dolarhyde attacks Graham's family, shooting and wounding Molly as she and Walter escape.

To steer Dolarhyde away from his family, Graham decides to enrage him by giving an interview to Lounds in which he says "The Tooth Fairy" is ugly, impotent and the product of incest. He uses Chilton as an authoritative source for his profile; Dolarhyde then kidnaps, mutilates and burns Chilton.

In the series finale, "The Wrath of the Lamb", Dolarhyde apparently commits suicide, and Graham comforts the killer's girlfriend, Reba McClane. It turns out that Dolarhyde faked his death, however, and attacks Graham in his hotel room. With the help of Bloom and Crawford, Graham secures a deal to set a trap for Dolarhyde using Lecter as bait. Graham seems to arrange for Lecter to be transferred to another facility to draw Dolarhyde out; however, Dolarhyde attacks and kills Lecter's guard detail and allows Lecter and Graham to escape. Lecter takes Graham to a cliffside cottage where he had kept Abigail Hobbs and Miriam Lass. Dolarhyde, who had followed them to the cottage, shoots Lecter in the back and stabs Graham in the face. Graham and Lecter get the upper hand and kill Dolarhyde together, with Lecter tearing out his throat with his teeth and Graham gutting him with a knife. They embrace, and Graham pulls them both over the cliff. A post-credits scene shows Lecter's former psychiatrist and accomplice Bedelia Du Maurier dining on her own leg at a table set for three; Fuller has said this is meant to suggest that Graham and Lecter have survived. (''Hannibal'' showrunner Bryan Fuller has stated that, should the series be renewed for another season, Lecter and Graham would be on the run from the FBI together in Argentina.)


The series portrays Will as having an eidetic memory and an overactive imagination, which allows him to vividly reconstruct crime scenes in his mind. He also possesses the ability to empathize with psychopaths and see their crimes from their perspective; he is deeply troubled by this ability, and fears that he can empathize with psychopaths because he is one himself.

It is suggested throughout the series that Will is on the autism spectrum. Will says that his "horse is hitched to a post that is closer to Asperger's [Syndrome] and autistics" than to psychopaths.



Fantasy Kills

Though he visualizes himself as the killer in several scenarios, to emulate the killer's methods and find clues on several cases, the following are the only victims he has fantasized killing all by himself.

Alleged victims

  • During the time period in which Will was prosecuted and treated as the Copycat Killer, he was accused of all the murders attributed to the copycat (in fact - Hannibal Lecter).
  • Freddie Lounds
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