A new chapter in The Silence of the Lambs saga is coming to CBS. In January 2020 the network closed deals on a new pilot called Clarice that is set to continue the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling after the events of the original Oscar-winning psychological horror movie.

There’s supposedly a lot of excitement at CBS about Clarice, which executives hope will be a breakout hit. But in spite of all this enthusiasm and excitement, very little is known about the show — the pilot hasn’t been widely distributed, the network has yet to place a series order, and no casting decisions have been announced.


That means we’ll likely have to wait until pilot season to learn most of the nitty-gritty details of this highly anticipated procedural, but it can’t stop us from guessing! We can put our huge trove of fan data to good use and take a guess at what the show will be like, based on what we already know about fans of The Silence of the Lambs films, as well as the NBC procedural Hannibal. We can even suggest an ideal actor to play what’s sure to be one of the most coveted roles in TV this year, a 26-year-old Agent Starling.

What Silence Fans Love

Fans of the original The Silence of the Lambs film have a taste for the cerebral in television — smart TV shows that still have plenty of heart. Lambs fanatics are 5X more likely to also enjoy Breaking Bad and 4X more likely to love the serial killer procedural Dexter, the animated comedy Rick and Morty, and the medical drama House. All these shows feature a genius protagonist who must decide whether to use their skills for the common good or for personal gain. Since executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet have stated that they hope the show will “give voice to one of America’s most enduring heroes” and shine a light on her otherwise murky past, we might expect to see this “tortured genius” archetype replicated in their telling of Starling’s origin story.

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Where Hannibal Fans Stand

When NBC released its Silence of the Lambs prequel series Hannibal, which focused on the story of eponymous cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter, a similar level of buzz surrounded its premiere in 2013. But even though this show is based on the same Thomas Harris novel as The Silence of the Lambs, the tastes of its fans seem to diverge from those of Lambs fanatics.

People who love Hannibal are drawn to similar police procedurals or dramas about brutal murders and serial killers: they’re 7X more likely to also enjoy Mindhunter and Sherlock, and 5X more likely to love True Detective and Fargo. The other thing that seems to separate these fan bases is Hannibal devotees tend to like dark shows with a kind of gothic sensibility, such as Bates Motel and American Horror Story, which the NBC show has but the original film lacks. Because CBS will likely want to distinguish its take on the story from the approach of a rival network, and producers have signaled that Clarice will tell a very personal story about Agent Starling’s struggle against adversity, we can guess Clarice will be far less dark and cynical in tone than Hannibal.

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Who Will Play Clarice?

Again, this will be a tremendous, breakout role for whomever manages to secure it, and it’s just as likely that Clarice’s showrunners will want to cast a new talent rather than an established actor to play the young FBI agent. But if we were to speculate based on the actors that fans of the characters are most likely to enjoy watching, we do have a few ideas about who the actor might be. Call it an educated guess, or, if you’re working on the show, a friendly suggestion based on the tastes of your intended audience.

Ranker Insights data can tell us how people who vote up the character of Clarice Starling on such lists as The Greatest Female Characters in Film History (where she sits all the way up at #11) vote on other Ranker lists, giving us a look into their tastes in TV, film, and pop culture. For example, fans of Agent Starling are 5X more likely to like Michelle Williams, Amy Adams, and Jessica Chastain. Since Clarice is canonically a redhead, Adams and Chastain would probably be the more likely picks for this role — and given Chastain’s career-making role as a government agent in Zero Dark Thirty, we’d say she would make the most sense in the titular role.

While there’s no telling whether our data will be reflected in the decisions that Kurtzman and Lumet ultimately make in writing and producing the show, we feel confident our version would be a tremendous hit with people who are already fans of this story. We’ll be watching closely to see how excited pop culture fans are for what’s sure to be one of the most anticipated new dramas of 2020.