“Hannibal” was beloved by fans for pushing the boundaries of broadcast television during its three season run on NBC. The show contained so much graphic violence and gore that at times the series felt way more brutal than anything on “Game of Thrones” or premium cable. Murder victims would have their skin sliced off; a totem poll would be erected out of dismembered body parts; necks and faces would be sliced open and stomachs would be stabbed. “Hannibal” is probably the most graphic show to ever air on broadcast TV, which makes it a bit of a shock to hear there was actually one gruesome death showrunner Bryan Fuller was not allowed to do.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fuller revealed a Season 1 murder so bloody and disgusting that NBC’s vice president of program standards Joanna Jamerson couldn’t sign off on it. The scene involved Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), who was being tracked by Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham. Gideon was famous for executing the “Colombian necktie,” in which he slits his victims throats and pulls their tongue through their neck gash. Apparently the “Colombian necktie” was ok by NBC’s standards, but Gideon’s death as envisioned by Fuller was not.
The murder would feature a light switch being turned on and activating a ceiling fan attached to an incision in Gideon’s abdomen. The fan would rip out the doctor’s intestines and leave them flying around the room. “[It] essentially disembowels him by spinning the fan, all in one fell swoop,” Fuller said. The showrunner was inspired to write the death scene by a moment in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” where a whip gets caught in a fan.
“That was the only one where NBC was like, ‘I just don’t know how you’re going to do it,'” Fuller continued. “We would have pushed back if we also hadn’t been told that financially we didn’t know how we could afford to produce such a gag, because you have intestines swinging around a ceiling fan.”
Fortunately, Fuller had more than enough twisted ideas that made it to air. He even thinks he’ll be able to depict the scene one day now that he’s moved to premium cable with Starz’s “American Gods.”