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This town is full of cornpone country pussy.
~ Paul Krendler leering at Clarice Starling
Paul Krendler is the secondary antagonist of Thomas Harris' novel Hannibal and one of the two secondary antagonists (alongside Cordell Doemling) in its film adaptation. He is also a minor character in Thomas Harris' previous novel, The Silence of the Lambs and its film adaptation.
He is introduced in The Silence of the Lambs as a powerful bureaucrat in the U.S. Justice Department charged with transporting Hannibal Lecter to a prison facility. In Hannibal, he is the immediate superior and nemesis of protagonist Clarice Starling. He conspires with Mason Verger to discredit Starling and kidnap Lecter, as part of Verger's plan to get revenge against the latter.
Krendler is introduced as a high-ranking bureaucrat in the U.S. Justice Department who briefly takes custody of Hannibal Lecter as the serial killer is being transferred to a maximum security prison. When Lecter escapes, Krendler shifts the blame onto the FBI — particularly Agent-In-Training Clarice Starling and Agent-in-Charge Jack Crawford.
Ten years after Lecter’s escape, Krendler has risen up the ranks in the Justice Department. He is also the immediate superior of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, whom he resents because she “told him to go home to his wife” when he made a pass at her.
When Starling’s reputation is tarnished following a botched drug raid, Krendler pretends to help her by putting her in charge of tracking down Lecter, who has recently resurfaced by writing her a letter.
Unbeknownst to Starling, Krendler is working for Lecter’s surviving victim Mason Verger, who is paying him to discredit Starling in order to lure Lecter back to the United States, as part of Verger's larger plan to torture and kill him. On Verger’s orders, Krendler accuses Starling of withholding evidence, jeopardizing her career and provoking her into pursuing Lecter alone, which allows Verger’s men to kidnap them both.
Later on, after Verger has been killed and Lecter has escaped with Starling, he appears at Krendler’s vacation house and takes him hostage. He lobotomizes Krendler and prepares a gourmet meal out of his hostage’s prefontal cortex, which a dazed Krendler eats, calling it “delicious”. Lecter then kills him by shooting him with a crossbow.
In the CBS series Clarice, Krendler is the immediate superior of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, one year after she rescued Catherine Martin. He envies Starling's celebrity, believing that she "got lucky" in finding Buffalo Bill, and resents her presence in his task force, ordered by Senator Ruth Martin, Catherine's mother.