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Untold Stories tag header

Hannibal: Showrunner Bryan Fuller reveals the one murder they couldn't do

Not much was off-limits on the supergraphic NBC series (human cello, anyone?) — except for this

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Brooke Palmer/NBC via Getty Images

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Inventiveness was never a problem for Hannibal, Bryan Fuller’s nightmarish psychological thriller about cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Working in conjunction with Joanna Jamerson, NBC vice president of program standards, the writers always found new and increasingly macabre — but safe for TV — methods of murder, from constructing a totem pole out of people to transforming victims into winged angels. However, there was one time their imaginations strayed a hair too far for standards and practices.

In season 1’s “Rôti,” FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is tracking escaped murderer Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), who has started gifting his former psychiatrists with Colombian neckties, wherein he slits their throat and pulls their tongue through the gash. (Gross!) Somehow that was more acceptable to the network than what was initially proposed in the episode outline. Originally the plan was for Gideon to lure tabloid blogger Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) to a psychiatrist’s office, where she would flip a light switch, unwittingly activating a ceiling fan that was attached to an incision in the living doctor’s abdomen.

“[It] essentially disembowels him by spinning the fan, all in one fell swoop,” says Fuller, who suspects he was partially inspired by how a would-be assassin meets his maker, via a whip caught in a fan, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. “That was the only one where NBC was like, ‘I just don’t know how you’re going to do it,'” says Fuller. But they weren’t the only thing standing in the way of the seriously twisted scene. “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,” he adds.

Tim McDonagh for EW

There’s still hope that the elaborate setup will see the light of day. Says Fuller, who currently works on American Gods, “It’ll probably end up in something.” We can’t wait.