TV Is Too Obsessed With The Silence Of The Lambs

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It has been 30 years since The Silence of the Lambs premiered on the silver screen.

Since then, the film has been tremendously influential on pop culture -- especially TV. 

You may have never seen it, but chances are you know everything about The Silence of the Lambs just from watching your favorite TV shows.

Hannibal!Dwight - The Office

Clarice (a TV series about what happened to the protagonist of The Silence of the Lambs after the film's events) just premiered. 

Less than 10 years before Clarice began airing, Hannibal (a prequel series about the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter) ran for three seasons on NBC. 

Even when a TV series doesn't directly connect to The Silence of The Lamb, many have taken inspiration from it.

The Silence of the Lambs popularized the idea of consulting a convicted serial killer to catch another serial killer. Just about every investigative procedural has done that plot.

Transport Chair - The Rookie Season 2 Episode 10

The Rookie Season 2 Episode 11 and The Rookie Season 2 Episode 20 had Nolan and the others turn to serial killer Rosalind Dyer for help catching the serial killer who abducted Chen and then Armstong.

NCIS Season 3 Episode 3 had Gibbs working with a serial killer he previously collared to capture a copycat killer. 

Some shows go even further than just borrowing the film's general ideas. Betty Cooper's storyline has been one long remake of The Silence of the Lambs since Riverdale Season 2. Spoofing The Silence of the Lambs became a recurring theme during Angie Tribecca Season 3.

Don't think it's just procedurals or mystery shows referencing The Silence of the Lambs. 

Star Trek with the Lambs

On Star Trek: Deep Space Nice Season 3 Episode 25, the scene where Dax confronts Joran, a murderer, was shot much like Clarice's first encounter with Hannibal Lecter.

A later episode, Star Trek: Deep Space Season 7 Episode 13, had Dax consulting Joran to catch a murderer, making it an episode-long homage to The Silence of the Lambs.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine isn't the only science fiction TV show to reference The Silence of The Lambs.

Stargate SG-1 Season 4 Episode 15 took inspiration from it too. O'Neill had to seek help from the incarcerated ex-colonel Maybourne. Maybourne then escaped and called O'Neill from a tropical location, just like Hannibal Lecter.

Saturday morning cartoons have gotten in on the act. Fillmore Season 1 Episode 1 was a Silence of the Lambs spoof -- with vandalism substituting for murder and cannibalism.   


Many shows have recreated or spoofed key sequences or images from the film. 

Less than a year after The Silence of the Lambs came out in the theaters, Parker Lewis Can't Lose Season 2 Episode 4 parodied the of image Hannibal in a restraining wheeler.  

On Monk Season 3 Episode 3, Monk's climactic scene wearing night-vision goggles to track the villain of the week in his apartment was an homage to The Silence of the Lambs sequence where Jaime Gumb uses night-vision goggles to stalk Clarice in a dark basement.

The homage is even more notable because actor Ted Levine starred in both The Silence of the Lambs and Monk.


When Barney tries to avoid getting slapped on How I Met Your Mother Season 5 Episode 9, his speech to Robin spoofs Hannibal's speech to Clarice. 

When Dwight sliced off a dummy's face and put it on like a mask on The Office Season 5 Episode 13, he looked just like Hannibal. To complete the impression, he said, in a very Hannibal-like voice, "Clarice."  

Speaking of quoting from the movie, TV characters quote, paraphrase, or reference lines from it all the time. 

"Quid pro quo. I tell you things; you tell me things." Dean paraphrased the line on Supernatural Season 5 Episode 11.  

Dean Has a Beer - Supernatural Season 15 Episode 19

"I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti." Jake references the quote on Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 Episode 11

"It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again." This quote seems popular with TV doctors. Dr. George O'Malley mentioned it on Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Episode 10, and Dr. Perry Cox mentioned it on Scrubs Season 1 Episode 12.

The list above is only a fraction of The Silence of the Lambs' references to grace TV screens. It's not hard to see why TV is obsessed with it. 

It's a great movie (although not without controversy). Hannibal Lecter is one of the most terrifying and mesmerizing villains of all time. Plus, the images and dialogue are iconic.

Hannibal Lecter - Clarice

As revered as The Silence of the Lambs is, it might be time to let it go. So much of it has been repeatedly referenced or spoofed; it's hard to imagine any TV show (even great ones) coming up with a fresh take on the material.

There are so many other horror and thriller films for TV to riff from. Poor Clarice may never stop hearing the lambs' scream, but TV should move on from The Silence of the Lambs.  

Over to you, TV Fanatics! Is it time for TV to say good-bye to The Silence of the Lambs references?

Hit the comments below.

You can watch Clarice online at TV Fanatic.

Becca Newton wis a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in February of 2023

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Clarice Quotes

Therapist: You were a survivor.
Clarice: To be a survivor, you have to be a victim. I was just doing my job.

I thought it was done.