Twenty Hannibal Lecter Quotes that will keep you up at night


When Hollywood adapted Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter series, the movies became overnight successes, spawning a golden age of psychological thrillers. Hannibal Lecter’s quotes are both disturbing and mesmerizing. Whether he’s played by Brian Cox (Manhunter, 1986), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal TV series), or Anthony Hopkins, Hannibal Lecter remains the most quotable serial killer in the history of the silver screen.

20 Terrifying Hannibal Lecter Quotes

Hannibal Lecter TV artwork

Here are twenty Hannibal Lecter quotes that will keep you up at night.

  1. And if one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.  – Manhunter
  2. God’s terrific! He dropped a church roof on 34 of his worshippers in Texas last Wednesday night, just as they were groveling through a hymn to his majesty. Don’t you think that felt good? – Manhunter
  3. Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black. – Manhunter
  4. Save yourself, kill them all. – Manhunter
  5. A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. – The Silence of the Lambs
  6. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don’t you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don’t your eyes seek out the things you want? – The Silence of the Lambs
  7. Amputate a man’s leg and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you? – The Silence of the Lambs
  8. You know how quickly the boys found you… all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars… while you could only dream of getting out… getting anywhere… getting all the way to the FBI. – The Silence of the Lambs
  9. You still wake up sometimes, don’t you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs. – The Silence of the Lambs
  10. Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no? – The Silence of the Lambs
  11. All good things to those who wait. I’ve waited, but how long can you and Jackie-boy wait? Our little Billy must already be looking for that next special someone. – The Silence of the Lambs
  12. Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him? – Hannibal
  13. Bowels in or bowels out? – Hannibal
  14. But now, alas, you’re in bad odour with the FBI. Do you imagine your daddy being shamed by your disgrace? Do you see him in his plain pine box crushed by your failure; a sorry, petty end of a promising career? What is worst about this humiliation, Clarice? Is it how your failure will reflect on your mommy and daddy? – Hannibal
  15. On a related note I must confess to you, I’m giving very serious thought . . . to eating your wife. – Hannibal
  16. Do you know what a roller pigeon is, Barney? They climb high and fast, then roll over and fall just as fast toward the earth. There are shallow rollers and deep rollers. You can’t breed two deep rollers, or their young will roll all the way down, hit, and die. Officer Starling is a deep roller, Barney. We should hope one of her parents was not. – Hannibal
  17. Remarkable boy. I do admire your courage. I think I’ll eat your heart. – Red Dragon
  18. Shh. Don’t move. You’re in shock now. I don’t want you to feel any pain. In a moment, you’ll begin to feel light-headed, then drowsy. Don’t resist, it’s so gentle, like slipping into a warm bath. I regret it came to this, Will, but every game must have its ending. – Red Dragon
  19. A robin red-breast in a cage, puts all of Heaven in a rage. Think to yourself that every day is your last. The hour to which you do not look forward will come as a welcome surprise. As for me, when you want a good laugh, you will find me in fine state . . . fat and sleek, a true hog of Epicurus’s herd. – Red Dragon
  20. First he kills the pet, and then the family. Freddy was your pet, Will. – Red Dragon

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And that doesn’t even include quotes from the brilliant Hannibal TV series. I’ll include a list of those soon.

Hannibal Lecter: The Art of the Macabre through Quotations

Hannibal Lecter, the brilliant but sinister figure created by Thomas Harris, has become one of literature’s most intriguing and terrifying characters. His chilling demeanor, intellectual prowess, and unnerving calm have etched a permanent mark in the annals of iconic literary figures. However, what makes Hannibal truly memorable is not merely his actions, but the eloquence and depth of his speech. Through his quotes, we delve deeper into the psyche of a man who defies easy categorization.

1. Insight into His Intellect

“You will not persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.”

This quote encapsulates Hannibal’s self-awareness. He knows he’s smart, probably smarter than most of the people he interacts with. The depth of his intelligence is not just in his knowledge of the human anatomy or his culinary skills, but in his psychological understanding of those around him.

2. His Curious Sense of Morality

“Whenever feasible, one should always try to eat the rude.”

In a grotesque, darkly humorous way, this quote lays bare Hannibal’s unique sense of justice. In his mind, there’s a code, a certain set of manners one should adhere to. Rudeness, for him, isn’t just a minor offense; it’s punishable, hinting at his personal, albeit twisted, code of ethics.

3. A Glimpse into His Emotional Depth

“We live in a primitive time—don’t we, Will?—neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. Any rational society would either kill me or give me my books.”

Here, Lecter reveals his love for culture, art, and literature, demonstrating that despite his monstrous inclinations, there’s a cultured and deeply feeling man beneath.

4. His Relationship with Fear

“Fear is the price of imagination.”

For most, Hannibal Lecter is the embodiment of fear. Yet, in this quote, he philosophizes about the duality of fear and imagination. It gives readers insight into how he views his world, suggesting that his terrifying acts are a product of a hyperactive, unrestrained imagination.

Darkwater Cove crime thriller


A killer is watching . . .

She’s running from a psychopath. And he knows what frightens her.

After she’s stabbed in the line of duty, FBI Agent Darcy Gellar moves her family to a sleepy seaside community. Living beside the ocean, she finds tranquility…until the police discover the body of a murdered woman on the beach. The village blames her son, a misunderstood boy with anger issues.

Is a serial killer stalking Darkwater Cove?

Darcy knows the boy is innocent. But how does she convince an aggressive police detective? If she fails, her son will go to prison, and the murderer will strike again.

Can Darcy save her child from the police and a bloodthirsty killer?

5. His Perceptive Nature

“I’ve always found the idea of death comforting. The thought that my life could end at any moment frees me to fully appreciate the beauty and art and horror of everything this world has to offer.”

This quote underscores the paradox of Hannibal Lecter. While he is a man capable of unspeakable horrors, he is also deeply attuned to the beauty of life, in all its forms. He has an uncanny ability to see the world in a way others can’t, or perhaps, choose not to.

Through his chilling yet profound quotes, Hannibal Lecter emerges as more than just a cold-blooded killer. He is a philosopher, a gourmet, a lover of art, and above all, a deeply complex individual. Each quote peels back another layer, allowing readers to grapple with their own fears, curiosities, and perhaps, even their understanding of morality. In using language as a tool to build his character, Thomas Harris showcases the power of words to create a persona that remains both terrifying and endlessly fascinating.

In the meantime, the Hannibal novels are on hiatus, but there are a ton of heart-pounding serial killer thrillers burning up the book charts, including my bestselling Wolf Lake series. Check out my top-ranked Amazon Kindle Books for your next great read.

What are your favorite Hannibal Lecter quotes?

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