Why canceled fan-favourite 'Hannibal' can't be revived on Netflix, but still might get a fourth season somewhere else

NBC’s “Hannibal” has always been a poster child for the critically adored but little-watched television series.

The average person is far more likely to read about “Hannibal” than they are to actually see it, as it has inspired countless essays about why you should drop everything and watch it now, or how its current, third season is one of the best things on television right now. The show, however, was fortunate enough to inspire a passionate fanbase — who have dubbed themselves “Fannibals” — that, in response to the show’s cancellation, mounted a feverish effort to save the series.

The good news is they’re on to something. This is, after all, the age of TV miracles, where shows are saved from the brink of cancellation (“Community”), are brought back after being gone too soon (“Arrested Development”), or are straight-up resurrected whether people remember them fondly (“The X-Files”) or not (“Heroes”).

“Hannibal,” however, has a better chance than most.

Immediately following news of the show’s cancellation, creator Bryan Fuller was featured in a flurry of interviews that seem fairly bullish on the show’s future — and cleared up why petitioning Netflix to keep the show alive is a futile effort.

“There’s certain avenues that I know we wouldn’t be able to do, for instance Netflix because our deal with Amazon precludes a Netflix component,” Fuller told The Hollywood Reporter. “The contract limits what they could do with it.”

Bryan FullerFrederick M. Brown/Getty Images‘Hannibal’ showrunner Bryan Fuller

Amazon, then, quickly becomes the front-runner for Hannibal’s new home, because it’s already the series’ digital home — the company has exclusive streaming rights to the first two seasons in the US. It’s also not the only game in town. “We’re at a dance and we want to be asked out on the floor,” Fuller told THR. “All suitors are welcome.”

If “Hannibal” does see a fourth season, there could be a longer than normal wait for it — Fuller is currently committed to running the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” with creative partner Michael Green, and he’d have to find a way to fit both into his schedule. That said, teaming up with a digital partner could have benefits, allowing Fuller and co. to be as experimental with the delivery of the show as they are with the presentation.

“I do think that there is great benefit for ‘Hannibal’ to be on a streaming service in terms of the enthusiasm of the fanbase and the accessibility that streaming services offer,” Fuller said in an interview with Deadline. “I love the idea of serving out to an audience course by course. So even if it ends up on a streaming service it might be interesting to break it down in a way that redefines streaming services … like courses. So you get one or two episodes and then a break. Then two or three more episodes and a break and then another two or three more episodes and another break.”

Hannibal and BedeliaNBC‘Hannibal’ season 3 is currently set in Italy, but will end with events from the novel ‘Red Dragon’

Such a strategy would certainly fall within the “Hannibal” team’s penchant for completely reinventing the show every year. What’s more, Fuller already has tantalising ideas for a possible fourth season.

“Season four would be a reexamination and reinterpretation of the Will Graham — Hannibal Lecter relationship in a fashion that is unlike anything else we’ve done in the show,” Fuller told Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz. “The idea that I have for season four is so terrifying creatively, and also inspiring … to do something that is once again completely different from what we’ve done in the previous three seasons.”

Fuller won’t say anymore than that — there still are ten whole episodes of season three yet to air, and saying anything about a fourth season would ruin what he promises would be a satisfying conclusion to the current season. Given how much of a mic drop the first two finales were, odds are the “Hannibal” team will deliver.

If only they could find the home for a fourth.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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