NBC has decided to serve its last helping of "Hannibal."
The network said Monday that it will cancel the thriller about brilliant serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) after the conclusion of the third season this summer.
While never a ratings killer, "Hannibal" -- based on characters created by Thomas Harris, who wrote the novel that the Oscar-winning film "The Silence of the Lambs" was based on -- won acclaim from many critics, especially for the quality of its performances. But it also drew criticism for its unflinching depiction of violence and gore.
"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," producer Bryan Fuller wrote in a statement. (Standards & Practices is the network department that, among other things, censors episodes if they are deemed excessively violent.)
"Jen Salke and her team have been fantastic partners and creatively supportive beyond measure," Fuller continued, referring to NBC's entertainment president. " '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."
In its own statement, NBC added: "We have been tremendously proud of 'Hannibal' over its three seasons. Bryan and his team of writers and producers, as well as our incredible actors, have brought a visual palette of storytelling that has been second to none in all of television — broadcast or cable."
While "Hannibal" nurtured a small but hard-core fan base, ratings never ensured long-term survival. The Season 3 premiere of earlier this month drew just 2.6 million total viewers, a notable decline from the 4.4 million who turned up for the series premiere back in 2013.
NBC says the third season will continue running in its regular 10 p.m. Thursday slot this summer.
What do you think of "Hannibal"? Good decision or bad from NBC?