Jack Crawford asks Will Graham to consult on the case of the Minnesota Shrike, a cannibalistic serial killer who has already kidnapped and murdered eight girls. As a precaution and safeguard for Will's seemingly fragile state of mind, he asks renown psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter to keep an eye on him.
- The episode's title, Apéritif, refers to an alcoholic drink that is normally served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
- The red bathroom Will Graham and Jack Crawford have their conversation in is probably meant as a hommage to the bathroom scene in The Shining between Jack Torrance and Delbert Grady
- The titular character Hannibal Lecter doesn't appear in the pilot episode until 22 minutes in.
- When Hannibal Lecter is first introduced, he is listening to Bach's Goldberg Variations, the same piece of music that is playing in Silence of the Lambs when Lecter murders the two officers in his cell.
- Fuller included an off-screen cameo of Dolarhyde in the opening scene of the first episode, "Apéritif", when Graham is reconstructing the crime scene in a house. Graham concludes that the killer intentionally shot his victims through the throat in such a way that they would die slowly, so they could see what he was doing. Fuller confirmed in interviews that this is an early kill of Dolarhyde's, before he perfected his full pattern of home invasion and decorating corpses with pieces of mirrors.
- "Can I borrow your imagination?" (Jack Crawford to Will Graham)
- "Most psychology departments are filled with personality deficients. Dr. Bloom would be the exception."(Hannibal Lecter)
- "You won't like me when I'm psychoanalyzed." (Will Graham)
- "My thoughts are often not tasty." (Will Graham)
- "No forts in the bone arena of your skull." (Hannibal Lecter)
- "I imagine what you see and learn touches everything else in your mind. Your values and decency are present, yet shocked at your associations, appalled at your dreams." (Hannibal Lecter to Will Graham)
- "Perception is a tool that's pointed on both ends." (Hannibal Lecter)
- "The mathematics of human behavior...All those ugly variables." (Hannibal Lecter)
- "Uncle Jack sees you as a fragile little teacup. How do you see me? The mongoose I want under the house when the snakes slither by." (Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham)
Lung, Episode 1: According to Andres, the entire human body is consumable, and it's no coincidence the lungs are the first piece of offal we see Hannibal cook. They would be Andres' first choice to prepare from a human, as well. Specifically, the lungs of a smoker. "We're looking at a human being as a bioorganic crock pot that is smoking itself for our dining pleasure," explained Fuller. "It felt like it checked off all the boxes of Hannibal Lecter: [Smoking is] a rude habit and there's also an added benefit of that rude habit providing a unique smokey flavor for the tissue."
But as appetizing and beautifully prepared as the lungs were, Fuller notes the ghoulish quality to watching Hannibal squeeze the air out during his prep. "We all sort of feel in horror movies and in these horror situations that tightness in your chest and that [feeling] like, 'Oh my gosh. That's so startling, I can't breathe.' Then we take that concept... and put in on the kitchen counter," Fuller said. "There's something about those things that go into adrenal overdrive when our life is threatened and then we see that they're just another beautifully prepared dish on Hannibal's table."