Wound Man is an illustration which first appeared in European surgical texts in the Middle Ages. It has appeared in both the Hannibal novels and TV series as a key piece of evidence connecting Hannibal Lecter with the Chesapeake Ripper.
The Wound Man laid out schematically various wounds a person might suffer in battle or in accidents, often with surrounding or accompanying text stating treatments for the various injuries. The Wound Man first appeared in print in Johannes de Ketham's Fasciculus Medicinae (Venice, 1491). Wound Man was used often in surgical texts to demonstrate the possible wounds that a physician would be called upon to treat throughout the sixteenth century and even into the seventeenth century.
The purpose of Wound Man was not to appear as a threatening figure or to make the viewer fearful of his injuries, but rather reveal potential cures and medical treatments available at the time.
In the books Edit
In the novel Red Dragon, the sixth victim of an at large serial killer is killed and displayed by being impaled with numerous different weapons and objects in a style similar to Wound Man. FBI Special Investigator Will Graham traces the medical records of the patient and discovers he was once treated for a hunting injury involving a crossbow arrow through the leg, by Dr Hannibal Lecter. Visiting Lecter's office to inquire about the history of the victim, Graham notices antique medical textbooks on the doctor's shelf and subconsciously connects them, and the victim's many injuries, with Wound Man. Sensing Lecter is the serial killer they've been hunting, Graham calls the bureau, but is stabbed in the abdomen and nearly killed by Lecter in the process. Lecter is arrested immediately thereafter and sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.
In the show Edit
In season 2 of NBC's Hannibal, flashbacks reveal that two years before the series began, Jack Crawford put a protegee of his named Miriam Lass - an FBI Agent-in-Training - on the Chesapeake Ripper case while the bureau remained stumped. Investigating the latest victim, a machine shop worker who was killed in a manner resembling Wound Man, Lass follows the same medical connection to Lecter as Graham in the novels and pays him a visit. Actually discovering fresh pencil sketches of Wound Man on Lecter's desk, she is attacked and captured by Lecter before she can reveal her discovery to anyone. Dr. Abel Gideon later murders a nurse attending to him at the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane and impales her with various objects in a manner resembling the drawing and previous Ripper victim, having been convinced by Dr. Chilton's experimental techniques that he himself was the Chesapeake Ripper. Antique textbooks containing the drawing are later found in Chilton's house when Lecter frames Chilton for the Ripper murders and abduction of Miriam Lass.
In the films Edit
Wound Man does not appear in the film series, though in Red Dragon, Lecter's exposure as the Chesapeake Ripper is still due to an antique textbook in Lecter's home office, in this case a copy of the cookbook Larousse Gastronomique. A bookmarked recipe page containing the term "sweetbreads" which leads Will Graham to the epiphany that his friend and colleague is the very serial killer they'd been trying to hunt down together.