|Hannibal Tetralogy character|
|Created by||Thomas Harris|
|Portrayed by||William Petersen (Manhunter)
Edward Norton (Red Dragon)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Will Graham is a fictional character and the protagonist of Thomas Harris' 1981 novel Red Dragon. He is an FBI profiler responsible for the capture of serial killer Hannibal Lecter, and who is later assigned to capture serial killer Francis Dolarhyde. In both the text and film adaptations, Graham has the ability to empathize with psychopaths, an ability he finds extremely disturbing. He also has a photographic memory rivaling Lecter's.
Other than passing mentions in Harris' sequel The Silence of the Lambs, he does not appear in any other book of the Lecter series. In the film adaptations Manhunter and Red Dragon, he is portrayed by William Petersen and Edward Norton, respectively. In the television series Hannibal, he is portrayed by Hugh Dancy.
- This history is based on the novel by Thomas Harris, not any of the screenplays in which Will Graham appears:
Red Dragon establishes Graham's backstory. He grew up poor in Louisiana, eventually moving to New Orleans, where he became a homicide detective. He leaves New Orleans to attend graduate school in forensic science at George Washington University. After attaining his degree, Graham goes to work for the FBI's crime lab. Following exceptional work both in the crime lab and in the field, Graham is given a post as teacher at the FBI Academy. During his career in the FBI, Graham is given the title of 'Special Investigator' while he is in the field.
His first major case involves a serial killer called the Minnesota Shrike, who had been murdering college coeds for eight months. In the 1970s, he catches the killer, Garrett Jacob Hobbs, at the suspect's home, in the process of trying to murder his own family. Graham finds Hobbs' wife on the apartment landing, bleeding from multiple stab wounds, who clutches at Graham before dying. Graham breaks down the door and shoots Hobbs to death as Hobbs is repeatedly stabbing his own daughter in the neck. Hobbs' daughter survives and eventually goes on with her life following intensive psychotherapy. Graham is profoundly disturbed by the incident and is referred to the psychiatric ward of Bethesda Naval Hospital. After a month in the hospital, he returns to the FBI.
In 1975, he tracks down another serial killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper, who removes his victims' organs. He notices that a victim with multiple stab wounds has a healed stab wound; according to his medical records, the victim received the wound in a hunting accident five years previous. He tracks down the doctor who treated the victim in the emergency room, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, now a renowned psychiatrist, to see if he remembers any suspicious circumstances surrounding the patient. During their first meeting, Lecter claims not to remember very much. Graham returns to see Lecter in his office, and within minutes realizes that Lecter is the killer he seeks. Graham goes to Lecter's outer office and makes a phone call to the FBI's Baltimore Field Office. Lecter, who has removed his shoes, sneaks up on Graham and slashes his abdomen with a linoleum knife, nearly disemboweling him. FBI agents and Maryland State Troopers arrive and arrest Lecter, and Graham spends months recovering in a hospital. It was only after a while in the hospital that he realized what had tipped him off — the antique medical diagram Wound Man, whose wounds match exactly those of the Ripper's victim. Graham's capture of Lecter makes him a celebrity, and he is revered as a legend at the FBI. A tabloid reporter, Freddy Lounds, sneaks into the hospital where Graham is recuperating, photographs Graham's wounds, and humiliates him in the National Tattler. Graham retires after his recovery.
In 1978, Graham is living with his wife Molly, whom he met a year after the incident with Lecter, and her son Willy in Sugarloaf Key, Florida. His former boss, Jack Crawford, persuades him to come out of retirement and help the FBI catch a killer nicknamed the 'Tooth Fairy', who had killed two families on a lunar cycle, the first in Birmingham and the second in Atlanta. After studying the crime scenes, Graham consults Lecter, now institutionalized in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, on the case. Lecter only taunts him, however, and later sends Graham's address to the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, in code, threatening the safety of his wife and stepson. The family are moved first to a cottage owned by Crawford's brother, but Molly later decides to take Willy to stay with her late first husband's parents in Oregon. Graham resumes tracking Dolarhyde and uses Lounds in an attempt to break the coded communication between Lecter and Dolarhyde by giving Lounds false information, insinuating that Dolarhyde is an impotent homosexual. Enraged, Dolarhyde kidnaps and brutally murders Lounds. After linking him to a film developing company, Graham, Crawford, and FBI agents arrive at Dolarhyde's home to arrest him, only to find that the killer had set it on fire while his blind girlfriend, Reba McClane, was inside; he then apparently committed suicide. Graham rescues and consoles McClane, and returns home, believing Dolarhyde's reign of terror to be over.
However, Dolarhyde's apparent suicide is revealed to have been a ruse; he had shot a previous victim, fooling McClane into thinking he was dead. Dolarhyde attacks Graham and his family at their Florida home, stabbing Graham in the face before being killed by Graham's wife. Graham and his family survive, but he is left disfigured. Soon afterward, he receives a note from Lecter wishing him good luck on his recovery and hoping Graham isn't "too ugly".
Will Graham is briefly referred to in The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel to Red Dragon, when Clarice Starling notes that "Will Graham, the keenest hound ever to run in Crawford's pack, was a legend at the (FBI) Academy; he was also a drunk in Florida now with a face that's hard to look at..." Crawford tells her that "[Graham's] face looks like damned Picasso drew it." When Starling first meets Lecter, he asks her how Graham's face looks. Before Lecter's escape, Dr. Frederick Chilton tells him that Crawford is not happy that Lecter "cut up his protege", referencing Graham.
The 2002 film version of Red Dragon changes the nature of his connection to Lecter. While in the novel he meets Lecter for the first time while questioning him about the death of a patient, in the film he and Lecter have apparently known each other for some time, with Graham often consulting Lecter on several of his cases until intuiting that Lecter is the killer he has been trying to catch. The film also omits Graham's facial disfigurement, the final scene depicting him as being unscarred and relatively healthy.
Dancy's version of Graham is implied to be on the autism spectrum, but showrunner Bryan Fuller has refuted the idea that he has Asperger syndrome, stating instead that he has "the opposite of" the disorder. He possesses "pure empathy" and an overactive imagination, allowing him to mentally recreate the murders he is investigating. Dancy has also said that, in his opinion, the character doesn't have Aspergers, but mimics the symptoms of the disorder as an excuse for his awkward, introverted demeanor. He also unknowingly suffers from advanced encephalitis, often making it difficult for him to cope with his mental recreations. Lecter is fascinated by Graham's ability to think like the serial killers he investigates, and he spends much of the series trying to manipulate him into becoming a killer himself. In this continuity, Graham has a love interest in Dr. Alana Bloom, a forensic psychiatrist who is a former student of Lecter's and eventually his mistress.
The TV series amends continuity so that Graham first works with Lecter during the hunt for Garrett Jacob Hobbs, the Minnesota Shrike. The method with which Graham discerns Lecter's identity as the Chesapeake Ripper in the novels' universe (i.e. talking to Lecter regarding a murder victim's injuries and discovering the Wound Man picture) is instead attributed to an FBI trainee named Miriam Lass who went missing during an earlier investigation: Lecter had attacked her before she could tell anyone, and it is revealed in season 2 that he has been holding her hostage and brainwashing her since then in order to redirect Graham's investigation away from him.
As in Red Dragon, Graham kills Garrett Jacob Hobbs and saves his daughter Abigail. Graham discusses his fear that he may have enjoyed it with Lecter, whom Alana Bloom has recommended to Crawford as Graham's attorney. They also express a mutual feeling of disgust at the suggestion that Abigail might have helped her father with the murders. He also develops paternal feelings for Abigail Hobbs, whom he later discovers killed Nick Boyle and then received help from Lecter to cover the crime. He struggles with these revelations but covers for both of them. Graham is devastated when Abigail is herself apparently murdered.
Throughout the season, Graham's sanity deteriorates under Lecter's manipulation until he begins to wonder if he committed murder in a state of psychosis. At the end of the first season, Graham is arrested for several murders that Lecter committed — but not before realizing that Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper, the very serial killer he has been trying to catch.
The second season focuses on Graham's attempts to capture Lecter. While institutionalized in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, he insists to his skeptical former colleagues that Lecter is the real killer and pulls strings from the confines of his cell to expose him. Eventually he persuades a deranged hospital orderly to make an (unsuccessful) attempt on Lecter's life after Lecter kills Graham's friend, a forensic specialist named Beverly Katz, who had discovered Lecter's guilt. Lecter begins a romantic relationship with Alana Bloom, whom Will had romantic feelings for, as punishment for Will sending Katz after him and to further alienate the two. Soon after, Lecter exonerates Graham by purposely leaving forensic evidence from Graham's alleged victims at the scene of one of his own murders, leading to Graham's release. Graham tells Frederick Chilton that Lecter has freed him because he wants to be his friend, and warns Chilton that if he does not come clean to Crawford that Lecter will kill him. He then visits Lecter's home and threatens him at gunpoint, but is stopped when Lecter says that if Graham kills him now, he will never fully understand him. Graham asks to resume his therapy sessions: this is actually an elaborate attempt by Graham and Crawford to entrap Lecter. Lecter is aware of the ruse, but is fascinated by the experience and allows it to continue in order to explore the connection he feels with Graham, who as a result of his empathy disorder, general curiosity and brainwashing that occurred (unseen until season 2) during their therapy, is slowly pulled more into Lecter's way of thinking.
In an attempt to push Graham into becoming a serial killer, Lecter sends Randall Tier, a psychotic former patient of his, to kill Graham, but Graham kills and mutilates Tier instead – just as Lecter had hoped he would. He expresses pride with Graham, who declares they are even as they have now both sent an admirer to kill the other.Their friendship continues through several murder investigations that bring them closer, and the two discuss Graham's fantasies of murdering Lecter openly in therapy. Later, Graham attacks tabloid reporter Fredricka "Freddie" Lounds, and he and Lecter share a meal of what appears to be her flesh: however, it is subsequently revealed that Lounds is alive and that she is working with Graham and Crawford to draw Lecter out and capture him. He also engages in a sexual relationship with another of Lecter's patients, Margot Verger, and gets her pregnant. During a discussion about paternal feelings in therapy Graham accuses Lecter of killing Abigail unnecessarily, to which Lecter expresses regret and compares Abigail to his younger sister, who had died when he was young but whom he had been a father to. When Lecter warns Margot's brother Mason that she is attempting to conceive and heir, Mason removes her womb, to prevent Graham from being distracted by a child other than Abigail. An enraged Graham confronts Mason and warns him that Lecter is manipulating both of them. He later saves Lecter from being fed to Mason's pigs and after being knocked out in the subsequent scuffle, he finds Lecter holding Mason captive in his house under the influence of psychedelic drugs, and does nothing to stop Lecter from encouraging Mason to mutilate his face and feed pieces of it to Graham's dogs, reacting with distaste that encourages Lecter to break Mason's neck. These events form an odd bond between Graham and Lecter. In the second season finale, Lecter discovers Graham has lied about killing Louds and realizes he has been betrayed, but offers several opportunities for Graham to confess the truth so that they might run away together rather than confront law enforcement, but Graham says that Crawford deserves to see the truth. Later, Graham learns that he is about to be arrested for helping Crawford entrap Lecter, as well as for Tier's murder. He calls Lecter and informs him that "they know", hoping Lecter will flee, either to prevent Jack's death or Hannibal's arrest and so that he might run away with Lecter. He goes to Lecter's house to find that Lecter has severely wounded Crawford; he is also stunned to discover that Abigail is alive and has thrown Alana Bloom out of a window. Moments later, Lecter stabs Graham, saying that he had kept Abigail alive as a surprise for Will, but slits her throat as punishment for Will's betrayal before leaving them both to die.
- Harris, Thomas (February 15, 1991). The Silence of the Lambs (novel). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-92458-5.
- Gould, J.J. "Who Is Will Graham?" The Atlantic. April 3, 2013.
- Turek, Ryan. "Bloodcast Ep 33: Hannibal Showrunner Bryan Fuller" Bloodcast. April 17, 2013.
- Faye, Denis. "It's a Matter of Taste" Writers Guide of America, West. May 10, 2013.
- "Entrée". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 6. May 2, 2013. NBC.
- "Yakimono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 7. April 11, 2014. NBC.
- "Apéritif". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 1. April 2, 2013. NBC.
- "Amuse-Bouche". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 2. April 9, 2013. NBC.
- "Trou Normand". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 9. May 23, 2013. NBC.
- "Savoreaux". Hannibal. Season 1. Episode 12. June 20, 2013. NBC.
- "Mukozuke". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 5. March 28, 2014. NBC.
- "Futamono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 6. May 4, 2014. NBC.
- "Su-zakana". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 8. April 18, 2014. NBC.
- "Shiizakana". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 9. April 25, 2014. NBC.
- "Ko No Mono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 11. May 9, 2014. NBC.
- "Tome-Wan". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 12. May 16, 2014. NBC.
- "Mizumono". Hannibal. Season 2. Episode 13. May 23, 2014. NBC.