The list of real-life persons on whom the characters in Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal are based

Jeffrey Dahmer vs Francis Dolarhyde


Jack Crawford is based on famous investigators and profilers John Douglas and Robert K. Ressler. I have a feeling that they were also an inspiration for the character of Will Graham - especially Bob shares some similarities with Will. Both Bob and John wrote a number of books on their careers and on true crime, and I can recommend practically each one.

Francis Dolarhyde is based on a never-captured serial killer codenamed "Search and Destroyer" (hunted by John Douglas). "Search and Destroyer" was, however, more like the Zodiac killer in his activities, since he enjoyed taunting the police and the public, and playing games in the same way Zodiac did. And, like the Zodiac, he was never caught (Just a word regarding the Zodiac, if anyone's interested in my personal opinion on his subject: I personally believe that of all the "popular" suspects the only one who might be the real killer is definitely not Arthur Leigh Allen but Lawrence Kane).

Jame Gumb is an amalgam of Gary Heidnik (you may not know this one - this millionaire serial killer, rapist and abductor was also the base for Casanova from James Patterson's "Kiss the Girls"), Jeffrey Dahmer (everyone knows Jeff the founder of Cannibals Anonymous :), the "Flatlands Ghoul" Ed Gein (the most famous Leatherface and Norman Bates of real life), and, to some extent, on none other than Ted Bundy himself.

The character of Clarice Starling was inspired by an actual female FBI agent. I had her name but lost it. Maybe you know it?

Hannibal Lecter is to a certain extent based on Ed Gein, and, I feel, on the bloodthirsty German ripper Peter Kurten, as well as on Jeffrey Dahmer (Jeff seems to be a good role model ;). The new Lecter from "Hannibal" is based strongly on the Russian cannibal Andrei Chikatilo - and witnessing his sibling eaten in childhood is the most important link. He may also have been influenced by another crazed cannibal Ilshat Kusikov, again from Russia (who cooked his victims in accordance to latest cookery books and when imprisoned, he wrote "human recipes"; interviewed, he often mentioned whom he would like to eat, in what way, and with what vegetables he would use particular body parts.)

The whole Monster of Florence case is real, and the key suspect, Pietro Pacciani, was actually acquitted in the second trial. Pacciani was a farmer arrested after one of the investigators learned of a bizarre incident regarding Pacciani's girlfriend which took place in the farmer's youth, and whose details seemed strangely similar to a certain characteristic of the killer's MO. The only evidence against Pacciani was, however, a single shell found in the soil of his garden. He was found guilty, then acquitted after an appeal. He died soon after - some believe he was murdered by "the real killer" (I personally suppose that if he was indeed killed, it may have been done by a friend or relative of one of "il Mostro's" victims, convicted of Pacciani's guilt and enraged at his acquittal. This is only a speculation, of course).

Oh, by the way - two actors appear both in M and in SotL: Dan Butler and Frankie Faison (each time in different roles :).


Written by Jaromir Król - a.k.a. "Jerry King" | \//\SS/\GO


Lair of the Dragon