Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-8-2018

Document Type



Nevole, Lori. "Blood Ties: Hannibal and the Heteronormative Family." University of Nebraska-Lincoln Digital Commons, 2018.


Copyright Lori Nevole 2018


My thesis explores how the television show Hannibal portrays queer familial relationships in the horror genre, and what those relationships say about queer assimilation in the twenty-first century. I examine the nature of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham’s nonsexual but queer relationship, and their connections to Abigail Hobbs. I compare this “family” to the show’s explicit homosexual family unit: Alana and Margot. To connect the show to previous queer media, I researched what has been said about queer horror/queer villains in twentieth century film, Kosofsky Sedgwick’s influential homosocial triangle, and current conversation around contemporary queer horror and the homosocial, heterosexual genre of early 2000s bromance movies.

I found that Hannibal contains many of the queer tropes of twentieth century horror, but tweaks them by refusing to devalue women/femininity as a shortcut for coding (male, homosexual) queerness. It does the same with its “bromantic” elements. The show goes as far as to uphold Alana and Margot as the ideal queer family, letting femininity and queer sexuality survive comfortably side by side past the end credits. Alana and Margot come to symbolize properly assimilated, heteronormative, twenty-first century queers, whereas Will and Hannibal represent the destructive, deviant queers of twentieth century media.

Though it is great to see horror where two queer women create a family and survive the various killers of the show, the plot reveals some contemporary anxieties over what is lost and gained from the queer community’s cultural assimilation.