If your favorite restaurant were run like Hollywood, your dining experiences would go like this: One night, you would have a meal where everything worked: Crisp salad, well-made main course, excellent side dishes, ace dessert, the perfect wine. Heck, you even though the parsley sprig was a jaunty touch. You'd be saying this as you left, and the maitre'd would hear you and write a note down. The next time you go there, you're offered ... a huge plate with two pounds of parsley on it. This is what's happened with the character of Hannibal Lecter. Lecter was a minor character in Thomas Harris's 1981 book Red Dragon; he re-appeared in 1988's The Silence of the Lambs with an expanded role, but was still one character among many.
Silence of the Lambs got made into a 1991 movie -- a disposable January thriller release most notable for Anthony Hopkins's homicidal hissy-fit turn as Lecter -- that went on to win five separate Oscars. Interestingly, super-producer Dino De Laurentiis -- who had made Red Dragon into Michael Mann's Manhunter-- had the right of first refusal to any subsequent on-screen use of the characters, and passed on Silence of the Lambs. (Manhunter was a flop; it's also, unequivocally, the best mystery of the lot, and it holds up far, far better than every Harris adaptation -- even Silence of the Lambs.)