Hannibal finishing his last course

Mads Mikkelsen
Mads MikkelsenPHOTO: AXN

Los Angeles - NBC is killing off Hannibal after three seasons of the critically acclaimed drama.

The network said in a statement that they were "tremendously proud" of the show, and that show creator Bryan Fuller and his team of writers, producers and actors, "have brought a visual palette of storytelling that has been second to none in all of television - broadcast or cable".

NBC will finish airing the current third season of the Silence Of The Lambs prequel in the United States.

The drama, which stars Mads Mikkelsen as cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, reeled in 1.66 million viewers for its June 11 episode.

That was an all-time low for the series despite Fuller drawing praise for pushing the boundaries of broadcast TV with the show's graphic and visually creative deaths, said The Hollywood Reporter.

In a statement Fuller said NBC "has allowed us to craft a television series that no other broadcast network would have dared, and kept us on the air for three seasons despite Cancellation Bear Chow ratings and images that would have shredded the eyeballs of lesser Standards & Practices enforcers".

He added: "Hannibal is finishing his last course at NBC's table this summer, but a hungry cannibal can always dine again. And personally, I look forward to my next meal with NBC."

But Hannibal may not quite be dead. Following his statement, Fuller, who is working on a much-anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods for Starz, told fans on Twitter that he is investigating options with the show's studio Gaumont International Television.

Industry observers speculate that the company is "shopping" Hannibal to other networks or streaming companies in the hopes of continuing the series.

Known for its lavish production values, sources say that the first year of the show cost NBC a licence fee to Gaumont of only US$750,000 (S$990,000) a show, lower than most network dramas and that it later fell to US$185,000 an episode for the current third season.

Emily Nussbaum, TV critic for The New Yorker, took to Twitter to express her unhappiness over the show's cancellation: "Hannibal cancelled?? The day I finally reviewed it? There are not enough emoticons to contain my rage."

She wrote in her review of the show that it was a "macabre masterpiece, pure pleasure and audacity. With hints of David Cronenberg and Michael Mann, David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick, it has a formal ambition that is rare for television. It reflexively turns the ordinary into the alien and vice versa".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2015, with the headline 'Hannibal finishing his last course'. Subscribe