In Hannibal (2001), we get some back story on Mason Verger and Hannibal Lecter. During this back story, Mason is a young and fit individual, but as we see, a little too eager to party. Hannibal has Mason cut his own face off. What we don't see is anything else happen to Mason.

So, what happened to Mason that caused him to become what appears like a quadriplegic? Did Lecter do that to him or did something else happen?

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    Apologies if this remark breaks the norms for the site (drawn by SE cross-advertising, I haven't read them), but this is covered in more detail in the novel. Not that the movies adhere entirely to the novels ofc. Mar 25, 2014 at 20:27
  • @SteveJessop If the novel can explain it when the movie doesn't then it's welcome. Mar 25, 2014 at 20:29
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    It's roughly the same story as described in the answers below, I don't remember the film that well and don't have it on hand to compare exactly. Verger meets Starling from an iron lung rather than just a wheelchair, and says, "I showed him my noose setup ... So I pulled down the noose in front of my big mirror ... [masturbation] [drugs] [shard of glass] ... He let the dogs out. I fed them my face. It took a long time to get it all off, they say. I don't remember. Dr. Lecter broke my neck with the noose". That is, it's Verger's own equipment in his own home but Lecter's action to paralyse him. Mar 25, 2014 at 20:39
  • I'll re-watch the scene when he meets Starling, but I recall him mentioning that he showed Lecter his equipment but don't recall any resulting action. Mar 25, 2014 at 21:25
  • Hannibal season 2 TV show confirms what happened ;) Even though it's set in the future :/ Pisses me off when they do that
    – Den
    Mar 31, 2017 at 20:02

5 Answers 5


Dr Lecter gave him some "poppers" which were a mix of hallucinogenic drugs and persuaded him to cut his face off and feed the flesh to his dogs.

Then, appealing to Mason's auto erotic asphyxiaton tendencies, he put him in a hangman's noose which broke his neck, paralysing him.

  • Aaahhh, I recall Mason hanging on some erotic equipment, but not the noose. Can you provide a screen shot or a scene where it's discussed? Mar 25, 2014 at 16:26
  • there is a blurry flashback scene in the film hannibal , describing the scene described , not many pics on the net of it though. very much looking forward to his appearence in the hannibal tv show in the next few weeks
    – howler
    Mar 26, 2014 at 8:12

Actually, Mason Verger did it to himself in a drug induced state (I believe) ... which Lector helped him with. Revenge for this was Mason's whole purpose for the elaborate plan to get Lector in the "pig pen" in the first place. He wanted Lector to suffer at the tusks of the pigs.

Here is an excerpt from IMDB:

As a result of the publicity surrounding the drug raid, Starling and her past connection to escaped serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) come to the attention of one of Lecter's victims, Mason Verger whom is also a wealthy, sadistic pedophile. Verger, who was left horrifically disfigured and paralyzed by a past encounter with Lecter himself, still seeks revenge for what occurred. He uses his political influence to have Starling assigned to the Lecter case once again in the hope that this will draw Lecter out of hiding.

  • Right, he has an encounter with Lecter under the guise of a date, but Lecter is there for malicious reasons. But, what happens to Mason that leaves him paralyzed? I don't recall seeing anything other than the disfigurement. Mar 25, 2014 at 16:24

In the TV series after Hannibal broke his neck he reset it. So basically he broke it enough to leave him paralyzed neck down but not enough to kill him entirely. Watch the scene where Masons feeding his face to the dogs and you'll notice Hannibal doing some odd extra movement with his neck.

You can also notice he didn't hold his head in the usual way one would to snap a neck. He intended Mason to survive all along though he probably knew Mason would come back for revenge probably didn't see him hunting him down.


Lecter was Verger's court appointed psychiatrist, that's how they met. Verger invited Lecter over to his house. Enter calamity.

There is no scene that shows how the paralysis/broken neck occurs IIRC; here are a couple of screenshots from Verger's deposition (or what have you) with Starling.

ghostly character next to a window

character, orange tones

Julianne Moore is unsurprisingly still awful as Starling.

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    Hello and welcome to the Stack Exchange. Quick note: this doesn't actually answer the question. Might I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions here? We're not a typical discussion forum. Don't be discouraged, we were all new here at some point. Mar 25, 2014 at 20:55

Mason Verger is paralyzed because Hannibal broke his neck to kill him but he survived.

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    Can you provide any sources for this? Feb 6, 2015 at 5:29

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