5 Ways Hannibal And Will Are Opposites (& 5 They’re The Same)

The relationship between the two main characters, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in Hannibal is a peculiar one. Their growing and complex relationship is what drives the show, besides the murder cases.

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Will Graham finds himself turning to Hannibal for support in unmasking the darkness inside his mind, at first unaware that Hannibal is more than a criminal psychiatrist and looks to Will for his own dubious gain. The show plays on the tug-of-war relationship between these two. Just as there are differences between the two, there are also perplexing similarities.

10 Same: Can Look Deeper Into The Mind Of A Killer

Amuse-Bouche episode in Hannibal


One of the main characteristics that sets Will apart from the rest of the characters is his unique ability for crime-solving. His ability often leads others to look at him differently. He’s able to recreate the murder in his mind detail by detail, and it leads him to deduce clues no one else can see.

Hannibal is of the same mindset for a different reason. Not only is he a psychologist and knows the inner workings of the mind, but he practices it. Just as Will is able to get inside the killer’s shoes, so can Hannibal, seeing as he is one of them.

9 Different: Will’s Psychological Spiral Vs. Hannibal’s Control

Hannibal and Will therapy session season 1

The way each character looks at death determines how they control it. From the beginning of the show, audiences see that Will doesn’t like to divulge in his ability. He’d rather teach than be in the field. As he starts to take part in cases, viewers see him spiral into uncontrollable darkness. It plays a huge role in how the rest of his interactions play out.

Unlike Will, Hannibal finds a sense of control in that darkness. Hence why Hannibal is able to manipulate and deceive Will without his knowledge. Hannibal has a better grasp on the mind and its workings than Will does.

8 Same: A Need To Protect Abigail

Abigail Hobbs season 1 of Hannibal show

There’s one character that Hannibal and Will share in common, Abigail. Both end up feeling a sense of parental responsibility for her after the tragic events with her father. They see her as needing someone to help make sense of what occurred and assure her that she’s “normal.” Hannibal even gives her an important life lesson about getting older.

Will tries to protect her from Freddie and the possible repercussions just existing in society as the daught of a killer might have on her. Abigail ends up having a closer bond to Hannibal, seeing as he knew her hidden secret. But Hannibal had more of a manipulative effect on Abigail, while Will had a moral one.

7 Different: Will’s Trauma

Dead Garret Jacob Hobbs in Hannibal show

A vast difference between Will and Hannibal is how they deal with death. It’s obvious that death is a comfort to Hannibal. Will is on the spectrum and has many demons, but they all surface uncontrollably when he kills Abigail’s father.

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The event traumatized Will to a point where he starts losing touch with reality. He starts to see the murders differently and starts to hallucinate. He becomes a victim of his own mind. This is from one justifiable death, while Hannibal has killed countless others and is unbothered.

6 Same: Their Inherent Need To be With Someone Who Understands Them

Su-zakana episode, season 2 of Hannibal show

For much of the beginning of the show, audiences see that Will doesn’t fit into the norm, not even around the forensics team. He finds camaraderie with Hannibal. Interesting enough, something they have in common is their desire to be with someone like themselves.

Will gravitates towards Hannibal because he’s been the only one who understands the way he is. He can see past the simple diagnosis and see the reality of Will’s condition. Their interactions are never strictly doctor and patient.  Hannibal also has a fascination and attachment to Will that he’s never truly experienced. Hence, why he wants Will around and to become like him. He sees Will as having a similar mind.

5 Different: Hannibal’s Views On Death

Hannibal in Buffet Froid episode of Hannibal show

For Hannibal, death is a comfort. He truly doesn’t see any wrong in what he does. His power and manipulation is so great that he once or twice persuaded his patients to kill to see what could happen.  Hannibal has no issue killing those he thinks are “rude” and refers to them as “pigs.”

His disregard for human life is only because he kills those who are inferior to him. He can’t eat someone who’s his equal. Part of the exuberance of the character is his appetite to eat human organs that he thinks are a delicacy. Hannibal says this about death, “Without death, we’d be at a loss. It’s the prospect of death that drives us to greatness.”

4 Same: Their Ability To Deceive

Will and Jack episode Ko No Mono in season 2 of Hannibal

While Hannibal is the first to be the deceiver when his character is introduced, Will learns to do the same. It becomes a trait that they share. Will first starts to lie and be deceitful over his growing psychological issues, as he doesn’t want anyone to know the truth. It later morphs into trying to get back into Hannibal’s good graces to try and uncover a way to catch him.

This is when Will pretends to become Hannibal’s equal. He reaches the same level of deceit and manipulation that Hannibal has displayed. But Hannibal always had the upper hand in pulling the strings.

3 Different: Will’s Need For Normalcy Vs. Hannibal’s

will and Molly season 3 of Hannibal show

At the beginning of the show, Will tries to live a life under the radar by teaching at the FBI. It was a way for him to still do what he’s good at without regressing into the darkness of his psyche. As the show went on, Will’s “normal” changed. It was full of hallucinations, death, and blood. By the third season, he has control over what haunted him.

RELATED: Hannibal: 10 Things That Might Happen If The NBC Series Is Revived

It explains Will’s desire to stay with his family and to feel normal in season three, while Hannibal’s “normal'” is death and cannibalism because he can control it. Hannibal’s “normal” is integrated into who he is and his lavish life. An expensive bottle of wine, some art and a roasted human leg.

2 Same: The Romantic Feelings?

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in Hannibal show

One of the many questions people were left with at the end of the third season was where Will and Hannibal left off, because as the show got more complex and more intriguing, something occurred.

At first, audiences believed that Hannibal started to see Will as much more than a friend. Many assumed Hannibal to be fascinated by and in love with Will. This emotional tug came to be something they shared. Both Will and Hannibal share a sexual or romantic feeling towards one another that’s not easily explained.

1 Different: Their Social Interactions

Hannibal hosting dinner and Will teaching in Hannibal show

A clear difference between Hannibal and Will is their social interactions. When audiences are first introduced to Will, they become aware that he’s on the spectrum. He also has a habit of not looking at people directly in the eyes. He thinks it’s too distracting. He’s also not the best with other people. It takes a while for the forensics team to warm up to him. He also tends to be a bit straightforward.

Hannibal, on the other hand, holds lavish dinner parties with many close acquaintances. Putting aside his serial killer ways, he charming, well educated and can command a room.

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Updated: November 12, 2020 — 3:00 am

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