Will Graham (character)
|Hannibal Lecter character|
William Petersen (Manhunter)|
Edward Norton (Red Dragon)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
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.
Graham is a 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 an eidetic memory rivaling Lecter's.
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 series creator Bryan Fuller has refuted the idea that he has Asperger syndrome, stating instead that he has "the opposite of" the disorder: Dancy himself supports Fuller's statement, saying that he believes Graham mimics the symptoms of the disorder as an excuse for his awkward, introverted demeanor. Dancy's Graham possesses "pure empathy" and an overactive imagination, allowing him to mentally recreate the murders he is investigating. 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.
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 (Anna Chlumsky) 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.
Graham kills Garrett Jacob Hobbs (Vladimir Cubrt) and saves his daughter Abigail (Kacey Rohl). Graham fears that he may have enjoyed killing Hobbs, and goes into therapy with Lecter to better understand his ability to empathize with psychopaths. He also develops paternal feelings for Abigail, who he later discovers acted as her father's accomplice and hid her crimes with Lecter's help. 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. He is institutionalized in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane under the care of Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza). Graham 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 (Jonathan Tucker) to make an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt on Lecter's life after Lecter kills Beverly Katz (Hetienne Park), a forensic scientist and Graham's friend, who had discovered Lecter's guilt. Lecter begins a sexual relationship with Alana, further straining their relationship. 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 asks to resume his therapy sessions, part of an elaborate attempt by Graham and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) 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.
In an attempt to push Graham into becoming a serial killer, Lecter sends Randall Tier (Mark O'Brien), a psychotic former patient, to kill Graham. However, Graham kills and mutilates Tier instead – just as Lecter had hoped he would. Later, Graham attacks tabloid reporter Fredricka "Freddie" Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), 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 - the human flesh they consumed belonged in fact to Randall Tier rather than Lounds. However, Graham finds himself drawn into his "alliance" act with Lecter and finds himself conflicted about his true allegiances.
Later, Graham is seduced into a sexual encounter with another of Lecter's patients, Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle), and gets her pregnant. When Lecter tells Margot's brother Mason (Michael Pitt) that she is attempting to conceive an heir to the Verger family fortune, Mason removes her womb. An enraged Graham confronts Mason and warns him that Lecter is manipulating both of them. He saves Lecter from being fed to Mason's prize pigs, and finds Lecter holding Mason captive in his house. He does nothing to stop Lecter from "encouraging" Mason - to whom he has given hallucinogenic drugs - to cut off pieces of his own face and feed them to Graham's dogs. With Graham's unspoken approval, Lecter breaks Mason's neck with intention of killing him, an act that only leaves Mason paralyzed. Crawford accuses Graham of letting Lecter get away with murders despite witnessing them occur and obtaining sufficient proof, but without evidence Crawford is unable to prove that Graham and Lecter were involved in Mason's mutilation.
In the second season finale, 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. 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 out of a window. Moments later, Lecter stabs Graham and slits Abigail's throat, before apparently leaving them both to die. However, it is revealed that he intentionally gave Graham a surgical cut - he intended for Graham to survive.
Graham recovers from his wounds and goes after Lecter, going first to Lecter's childhood home in Lithuania. There, he meets Lecter's family servant Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) and kills the man who had, decades earlier, murdered and cannibalized Lecter's sister Mischa. Graham proceeds to mutilate the body and turn it into a Lecter-esque work of art, transforming the corpse into the shape of a firefly and stringing it up in the cellar of the estate. Chiyoh asks why he is searching for him and Graham confesses that he has never known himself as well as he knows himself when with Lecter. Chiyoh then helps him find Lecter in Florence, Italy. During a heart-to-heart, Lecter tells Graham that if he saw him every day forever, he would remember this time. Graham tells Lecter he has forgiven him and wonders if either of them can survive separation from the other, but then draws a knife from his pocket as they exit the gallery, presumably planning to kill him. Chiyoh shoots and wounds him before he can kill the doctor, however. Lecter takes Graham back to his villa and tries to perform a craniotomy on him in front of Crawford, but he is interrupted by corrupt Italian detectives in Mason Verger's (Joe Anderson) pay, who apprehend them both and deliver them to the Verger estate in Maryland. Mason plans to torture Lecter with the help of his physician Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler) who will cut off Graham's face – without anesthesia – and graft it onto Mason's, though there is a brief disruption when Graham lashes out as Doemling leans close to him and bites out a chunk of Doemling's face. Before the face transplant can take place, Lecter kills Doemling, frees Graham, and helps Margot kill her brother. Lecter carries an unconscious Graham to safety and brings him back to his home. Graham refuses to have anything more to do with Lecter, and allows him to escape. Later that evening, however, Lecter voluntarily surrenders to Crawford to spite Graham, knowing that if Graham knows where he is, he will inevitably be tempted to visit him. This was later revealed to be Graham's plan all along - he tells Lecter that he would never have turned him in unless Graham appeared to be rejecting him and his offer to run away with him.
Three years later, Graham has retired from the FBI and settled down with his wife, Molly (Nina Arianda), and her son, Walter. Crawford asks him to profile a serial killer dubbed "The Tooth Fairy", who kills entire families. After some initial reluctance, Graham agrees to help and decides to consult Lecter about the murders, though Crawford has lost trust in Graham after Graham confesses that he warned Lecter the FBI were coming for him because he wanted to run away with him. With Lecter's help, he recovers his gift for empathizing with psychopaths – at the cost of having nightmares in which he, as the killer, murders his family. Lecter says that the killer feels a connection with the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and suggests that Graham see the painting to better understand the man he is chasing. Graham goes to the Brooklyn Museum to see the painting, and encounters the killer, Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), who attacks him. Lecter gives Dolarhyde Graham's address, and Dolarhyde attacks Graham's family, shooting and wounding Molly as she and Walter escape.
To steer Dolarhyde away from his family, Graham decides to enrage him by giving an interview to Lounds in which he says "The Tooth Fairy" is ugly, impotent and the product of incest. He uses Chilton as an authoritative source for his profile; Dolarhyde then kidnaps, mutilates and burns Chilton. During a therapy session, Bedelia confronts Will and accuses him of setting this into motion deliberately, and he confesses that he knew it may happen and that he feels no guilt over his hand in Chilton's fate. Will is then forced to confront the fact that Hannibal is in love with him and Bedelia leaves him with the armor-piercing question - does he return his feelings?
In the series finale, "The Wrath of the Lamb", Dolarhyde apparently commits suicide, and Graham comforts the killer's girlfriend, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley), in a scene described by Fuller as 'a quiet moment between the two people who are in love with serial killers'. It turns out that Dolarhyde faked his death, however, and attacks Graham in his hotel room. With the help of Bloom and Crawford, Graham secures a deal to set a trap for Dolarhyde using Lecter as bait. Graham seems to arrange for Lecter to be transferred to another facility to draw Dolarhyde out; however, in a move that Fuller describes as intentionally ambiguous and designed to 'make you think twice on a rewatch', it is left for the viewer to decide whether or not he thinks his haphazard plan will work or if he is, in fact, plotting to break out Lecter following his therapy session with Bedelia in the last episode, as suggested by his prompting the plan and Hannibal agreeing to this after hearing it was Will's idea - and Will's conveniently off-screen conversation with Dolarhyde about how to arrange a meeting with Lecter, followed by Dolarhyde breaking Lecter and Graham out of an FBI van and leaving them alive afterwards. Dolarhyde attacks and kills Lecter's guard detail and allows Lecter and Graham to escape, after which point Lecter takes Graham to a cliffside cottage where he had kept Abigail Hobbs and Miriam Lass. Dolarhyde, who had followed them to the cottage, shoots Lecter in the back after Lecter steps before a window to shield Graham from the attack and Dolarhyde then stabs Graham in the face. Graham and Lecter get the upper hand and brutally kill Dolarhyde together, with Lecter tearing out his throat with his teeth and Graham gutting him with a knife after hacking at his legs. They embrace and Hannibal confesses that this is all he has ever wanted for the both of them, with Will at last agreeing that killing with Hannibal is "beautiful". Will then pulls them both over the bluff, which Fuller describes as a last-ditch attempt to stop the danger of the two of them and to leave their end "up to fate". A post-credits scene shows Lecter's former psychiatrist and accomplice Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) dining on her own leg at a table set for three, which Fuller has said is meant to suggest that Graham has joined Lecter and the pair have survived and are together and on the run. This interpretation was later confirmed and Fuller has stated that Season 4 would have covered the pair on the run from the FBI in Argentina, mirroring Hannibal and Clarice's storyline from the novels.
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