In a shocking move from NBC, Hannibal won’t be returning for a fourth season as the network has officially cancelled the critically acclaimed series based on the characters created by Thomas Harris.

Producer and showrunner Bryan Fuller broke the news via a statement released on June 22.

“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. (Entertainment president) Jen Salke and her team have been fantastic partners and creatively supportive beyond measure. 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.”

Hannibal is the reimagined origins of the friendship between troubled FBI Agent will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Mixing a stunning visual style, towering performances and uncompromising nature, Hannibal was a rarity on network television. The tone and violence were more akin to what you’d find on FX, Showtime or HBO. As a result, the show struggled to find the broad audience NBC were expecting.

As I fan of the show, I hope you will indulge me with this minor rant. To cancel a series three episodes into a thirteen episode run is a deeply ill-advised decision from NBC. Sure the ratings for the launch of season three were soft, but Hannibal has never had mass appeal on the live watch and finds its audience through on-demand services.

The future of Hannibal on NBC first came into question when the network announced the third season was delayed until the summer. Bryan Fuller later explained this was due to too many corners being cut during production. A tight shooting schedule only allowed for eight days to film each episode, this proved to be an impossible task as Fuller requested the delay to give them more time to make it.

Back in May there were reports that Fuller and his team were anticipating a cancellation, as a fallback they started to have discussions with other networks and online outlets. In a weird way, Hannibal being cancelled by NBC could end up as a good thing for the show. Fellow cancelled NBC series Community thrived once freed from its NBC shackles with the Yahoo! revival. 

The rest of the third season will continue to air in the US on its usual Thursday slot, as there are still ten episodes remaining it gives Hannibal a fighting chance to find a new home.