Frederick Chilton

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Frederick Chilton
Hannibal Tetralogy character
Created by Thomas Harris
Portrayed by Benjamin Hendrickson (Manhunter)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon)
Raúl Esparza (Hannibal)
Occupation Head of Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane
Nationality American

Dr. Frederick Chilton is a fictional character appearing in Thomas Harris' novels Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs.

In the novels[edit]

Red Dragon[edit]

Chilton is first introduced in Red Dragon as the pompous, incompetent director of a sanitarium near Baltimore, Maryland, acting as the jailer for the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter. When FBI profiler Will Graham goes to Lecter for advice on capturing another serial killer, Francis Dolarhyde, Chilton makes an unwelcome attempt to question Graham about Lecter's psyche. When Dolarhyde learns of Graham's visits with Lecter, the two killers attempt to correspond through the classifieds of a tabloid; a cleaning crew finds one of Dolarhyde's letters, hidden within Lecter's toilet paper spool. Chilton informs Graham and his partner, Jack Crawford, of the discovery. Lecter's reply is intercepted and revealed to contain Graham's home address, which Dolarhyde uses to track down Graham in the novel's climax.

The Silence of the Lambs[edit]

In The Silence of the Lambs, Chilton allows an FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, to interview Lecter about another serial killer, "Buffalo Bill". He makes a clumsy pass at Starling on their first meeting, and she quickly rejects him. Chilton gradually grows jealous of Starling's success, where he has failed, in moving Lecter to share information. He eventually uses a recording device to eavesdrop on their interviews, from which he learns of Crawford's offer to transfer Lecter to a better prison facility in exchange for Buffalo Bill's identity. Chilton learns that the offer is false but sets it up anyway, then quickly hogs the spotlight as the plan's architect. Lecter is transferred, but gives false information: he claims that the killer's name is "Billy Rubin", a pun on bilirubin, a compound that colors human bile and feces and a reference to Chilton's hair color. (In the film adaptation he gives the name "Louis Friend", an anagram for fool's gold, as a red herring). Lecter gives Starling the real information needed to track down Buffalo Bill. Afterwards, Lecter makes a bloody escape from custody after using an improvised handcuff key made from a pen tube and was able to use only when transferred to police custody. While still on the run, Lecter sends a letter to Starling, saying she is safe and he will not come after her, sending another letter to Chilton swearing gruesome vengeance: in the film adaptation, Lecter gives Starling a phone call to the same effect as his letter, saying he would love to stay and chat but he is "having an old friend for dinner", then hangs up and is shown following Chilton.


Chilton does not appear in Hannibal; the hospital has been shut down by the time the novel's events take place. Hannibal mentions that Chilton disappeared while on vacation in Jamaica seven years earlier. It is strongly suggested that he was killed by Lecter.

In other media[edit]

In Manhunter, the first film adaptation of Red Dragon, Chilton is played by Benjamin Hendrickson. In both The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, he is played by Anthony Heald.


In the television adaptation Hannibal, Chilton is portrayed by Raúl Esparza. In this continuity, Chilton was originally a "dangerously incompetent" surgeon who switched his specialty to psychiatry after accidentally killing a patient.[1]

Season 1[edit]

He first appears in the episode "Entrée", in which his patient Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) kills a nurse after Chilton influences him into believing that he is the serial killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper.[2] Gideon eventually learns the truth and suffers an identity crisis, and he escapes to seek revenge against all of his previous psychiatrists, including Chilton. Gideon kidnaps and tortures Chilton, intending to leave his organs as a "gift basket" for the real Ripper. Gideon is forced to flee from the police after having removed some of Chilton's less vital organs, leaving him alive but in critical condition.[3]

Season 2[edit]

Chilton reappears in the second season, minus one kidney, walking with a cane, and now unable to consume protein-rich food. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) – who has been falsely accused of the Ripper murders – is now a patient under Chilton's custody. He successfully appeals to Chilton's vanity and convinces him to help expose Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Through Chilton's resources, Graham is able to regain key memories, including the fact that Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper. He also discovers that Lecter was inducing his previous blackouts and seizures. Chilton confronts Lecter with this, but claims he will keep his secret, as he is also guilty of "making a patient kill".[4] Graham also discovers that Gideon is aware that Lecter is the Ripper, and armed with this knowledge, Graham points out to Chilton that both he and Gideon claim to know who the Ripper is, and he further tempts Chilton with the intriguing possibility that the two of them might independently name the same person. Lured by the prospect of being the one to discover the Ripper's identity, Chilton brings Gideon back into his custody, though Gideon does not cooperate and is eventually kidnapped by Lecter. However, Chilton begins to believe Graham's accusations against Lecter, but attempts to maintain the pretense of ignorance when socializing with Lecter.[5] Lecter frames Chilton for the Ripper murders, kills two FBI agents in Chilton's home, and leaves a dying, dismembered Gideon in his basement. Chilton plans to flee the country, and tries to seek refuge with Graham, who has been exonerated. However, with Chilton's bank accounts frozen and knowing Lecter will find him if he flees, Graham calls Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to arrest Chilton for his own safety. During Chilton's interrogation, a surviving Ripper victim, Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky), is observing behind a one-way mirror. Upon hearing Chilton's voice, Lass experiences a false memory implanted by Lecter during her imprisonment of Chilton tormenting her: in a moment of distress, Lass impulsively draws Crawford's gun and shoots Chilton in the face through the mirror.[6]

Season 3[edit]

The season 3 episode "Aperitivo" reveals that Chilton survived the gunshot wound, but was disfigured, losing an eye and his upper teeth on the left side of his face; he wears makeup and prosthetics to conceal his injuries. He approaches Lecter's other surviving victims – Graham, Jack Crawford, Alana Bloom and Mason Verger – and entreats them to pursue Lecter.[7] After Lecter surrenders to Crawford, he is found insane at trial and incarcerated at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, initially under Chilton's care; Alana Bloom eventually replaces Chilton as the administrator of the hospital. Chilton writes a best-selling true crime volume about Lecter that is filled with distortions and inaccuracies. He plans to write another one about The Tooth Fairy, a serial killer who murders entire families.[8]


  1. ^ "Kaiseki". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 1. February 28, 2014. NBC. 
  2. ^ "Entrée". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 6. May 6, 2013. NBC. 
  3. ^ "Rôti". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 11. June 6, 2013. NBC. 
  4. ^ "Takiawase". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 4. March 21, 2014. NBC. 
  5. ^ "Futamono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 6. April 4, 2014. NBC. 
  6. ^ "Yakimono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 7. April 11, 2014. NBC. 
  7. ^ "Aperitivo". Hannibal. Season 3. Episode 4. June 26, 2015. NBC. 
  8. ^ "The Great Red Dragon". Hannibal. Season 3. Episode 8. July 25, 2015. NBC.