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Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character in a series of novels by author Thomas Harris. The character is introduced in the thriller novel Red Dragon (1981) as a psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. The novel and its sequel, The Silence of the Lambs (1988), feature Lecter as one of two primary antagonist. In the third novel, Hannibal (1999), Lecter becomes the main character. His role as protagonist and anti-hero occurs in the fourth novel, Hannibal Rising (2006), which explores his childhood and development into a serial killer. Lecter's character also appears in all five film adaptations.
The first film, Manhunter, based on Red Dragon, features Brian Cox as Lecter, spelled as "Lecktor". In 2002, a second adaptation of Red Dragon was made under the original title, featuring Anthony Hopkins, who had previously played Lecter in the motion pictures The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Hopkins won an Academy Award for his performance of the character in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. In 2003, Hannibal Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) was chosen by the American Film Institute as the #1 movie villain.
Hannibal Lecter is introduced in the 1981 novel Red Dragon as a brilliant psychiatrist incarcerated after having been revealed to be a cannibalistic serial killer. The novel depicts FBI Special Agent Will Graham, who originally captured Lecter, consulting him to catch serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, known only to law enforcement and media by the pseudonyms "The Tooth Fairy" and later, "The Red Dragon."
Lecter appears in the 1988 sequel The Silence of the Lambs and assists an FBI agent-in-training named Clarice Starling in catching a serial killer known only as "Buffalo Bill". Lecter and Starling form an unusual relationship in which he provides her with a profile of the killer and his modus operandi in exchange for details about her unhappy childhood. Lecter eventually stages a dramatic, bloody escape from captivity and disappears.
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