There was yet another discussion about the appearance of Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy’s names in the Hannibal opening titles which inspired me to do some digging.
Martha de Laurentiis has confirmed that the fact the names switch is contractual. My eye is always drawn to the name on the upper right, for whatever reason, so that’s why I used that as a point of reference.
I imagine the layout is meant to both convey equal billing for the actors and the sense of the power struggle going on in the show, although I tend to agree there’s no alignment between how the names appear on the titles and who is “in control” in the episode.
Over the 39 episodes made for the three NBC seasons, Mads’ name appears above and to the right 20 times - 7 times each in S1 and S2, and Hugh’s 19 times. Season one is the only time there’s not a pure switch back and forth - Hugh’s stays above and to the right for 104 and 105, Mads’ then is on the top right for 106 and 107.
Mads is on the top right for the season premiere and finale for S1 and S2, Hugh is for S3.
There are only four variations - all 19 times that Hugh’s on the top right, both names appear laid out the same.
There’s three variations on when Mads’ is in the top right. The unique Apéritif version, the season one version (used 6 times), and the season 2-3 version, used 13 times, where his name is still above Hugh’s, but by a smaller margin.
Here’s a chart with the breakdown.