Meet The "Hannibal" Fannibals, TV’s Newest And Most Intense Fandom

The critically acclaimed, low-rated Hannibal has rapidly developed a large, enthusiastic fan base with an ever-growing online presence.

On Thursday night, NBC made the eleventh-hour decision to renew the serial-killer drama Hannibal, a critically acclaimed but low-rated thriller based on the characters from the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. The show, created by Bryan Fuller, stars Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who kills and eats his victims, and Hugh Dancy as a criminal profiler Will Graham.

NBC’s indecision about whether or not to pick up Hannibal for a second season was likely due to the show’s subject matter and gore, which push the boundaries of network television with every episode. Its decision to renew the show may be attributable, in part, to the rapidly growing, rabid fan base that has embraced the show and spread its popularity across the internet. The meteoric rise of the Hannibal fandom in the two months since the drama first aired is unprecedented — the last show that inspired such a large, organized, and enthusiastic fandom to emerge immediately after its start was BBC’s Sherlock in 2010.

Although Hannibal’s only been on the air for two months, the show’s popularity on the site is reaching a level of enthusiasm usually reserved for the “Big Three” internet fandoms.

After Hannibal’s first episode aired on April 4, new fans of the show quickly took to social media sites, particularly Tumblr, en masse, in a way that is rarely seen in fan bases of new shows.

Although overlap between fandoms on social media sites is quite common, many Hannibal fans appear to be new to online fan communities.

Soon, gorgeous fan art began appearing on Tumblr and DeviantArt.

And hilariously strange videos.

Soon, other online fandoms began to take notice of the growing group of Fannibals.

NBCHannibal’s rapport with the show’s fandom mitigated the online backlash when the network postponed making a renewal decision on Hannibal. Fans quickly began to worry about the show’s possible impending cancellation…

Making only slightly veiled threats about eating NBC executives.

When NBC delayed making a decision about the show’s fate, Fannibals organized a campaign to save it, sending letters and business cards to NBC and urging people across social media networks to watch.

Fortunately for the Fannibals, NBC made the decision to renew Hannibal on May 30, surprising many media critics. Entertainment Weekly reported that it was the “lowest-rated drama to get renewed among the major broadcast networks this season.”

Showrunner Bryan Fuller made a point of thanking the show’s fans when the news was announced.

As did the masterminds behind the Hannibal Tumblr…

And the Fannibals rejoiced.

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