Homo nus nocturnes
|Average height||Same as humans (usually)|
|Aggressivity||High to Extreme (exceptions exist)|
Bacchae (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Darkseeker (I Am Legend)
Haemavore (Doctor Who)
Methuselah (Trinity Blood)
|Behind the Scenes|
|“|| Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.||”|
— Count Dracula, Dracula
A Vampire is a typically undead monster who subsists by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of humans, or, sometimes, any living creatures. There are, however, exceptions for this definition.
The term "vampirism" refers to the condition of being a vampire. It is described by many as a disease, and a contagious one, as the victims of vampires will typically transform into vampires as well.
Alternatively, in some works of fiction, vampires may be portrayed as a naturally-occurring species rather than undeads, as a condition transmitted by infectious blood agents or microbes, or even by demonic possession.
Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures, and may go back to prehistoric times, the term "vampire" was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, although local variants were also known by different names, such as vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.
While even folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearance ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the interpretation of the vampire by the Christian Church and the success of vampire literature - namely John Polidori's 1819 novella The Vampyre - that established the archetype of a charismatic and sophisticated vampire. Polidori's tale was arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century, and went on to inspire such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula. The Vampyre was itself based on Lord Byron's unfinished story "Fragment of a Novel", also known as "The Burial: A Fragment", published in 1819.
However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. Dracula drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar legendary demons and "was to voice the anxieties of an age", and the "fears of late Victorian patriarchy". The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".
The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of the word "vampire" in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen, published in the Harleian Miscellany in 1745. Vampires had already been discussed in French and German literature. After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and "killing vampires". These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity.
The English term was derived (possibly via French vampyre) from the German Vampir, in turn derived in the early 18th century from the Serbian вампир/vampir, when Arnold Paole, a purported vampire in Serbia, was described during the time Serbia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire.
The Serbian form has parallels in virtually all Slavic languages: Bulgarian and Macedonian вампир (vampir), Croatian vampir, Czech and Slovak upír, Polish wąpierz, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upiór, Ukrainian упир (upyr), Russian упырь (upyr'), Belarusian упыр (upyr), from Old East Slavic упирь (upir'). (Note that many of these languages have also borrowed forms such as "vampir/wampir" subsequently from the West; these are distinct from the original local words for the creature.) The exact etymology is unclear. Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are *ǫpyrь and *ǫpirь. Another, less widespread theory, is that the Slavic languages have borrowed the word from a Turkic term for "witch" (e.g., Tatar ubyr).
Czech linguist Václav Machek proposes Slovak verb "vrepiť sa" (stick to, thrust into), or its hypothetical anagram "vperiť sa" (in Czech, archaic verb "vpeřit" means "to thrust violently") as an etymological background, and thus translates "upír" as "someone who thrusts, bites".
An early use of the Old Russian word is in the anti-pagan treatise "Word of Saint Grigoriy", dated variously to the 11th–13th centuries, where pagan worship of upyri is reported.
There are quite a few ways of turning ordinary humans into vampires, as shown in several legends and works of fiction.
The blood exchange refers to a mutual exchange of blood between the vampire and the human, creating a bond between the two. The human then turns into a vampire servant for his or her turner.
The vampire bite refers to the main way of feeding and turning for most vampires. When the vampire bites a human, the human is turned into a vampire servant of the turner, who is then known as a "vampire master". Depending on the work, the victim may be transformed immediately or only after death. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, the title character feeds on the blood of Lucy Westenra, causing her to transform after dying. Mina Harker, meanwhile, remained human, even though Count Dracula bit her, because the Count was destroyed while she was still alive. In Hellsing, when a vampire bites a virgin human of the opposite gender, they are turned into vampires, while "deflowered" humans (and those of the same gender as the vampire) are turned into mindless ghouls (although artificial vampires turn anyone they bite into ghouls). In Vampire Knight, "Level D" vampires can escape the fate of becoming "Level E"s by drinking their master's blood.
In Hellsing, "artificial vampires" can be created though an unknown surgical method (manga and OVA), as well as the usage of FREAK chips (anime only).
The image of the classical vampire is usually that of a nobleman or traveler, who wears old-fashioned clothes (showing how old they are) and tries to avoid human contact, although more contemporary depictions show them wearing normal clothes and trying to fit in the human society. Sleeping in coffins (sometimes for long periods of times) is also a common behavior among vampires, although some (like those of the Twilight series) do not sleep. The habit of sleeping in coffins derives not only from the undead nature of the creature, but also from the belief that vampires need to sleep on the soil of their home country. When he moved to England, Count Dracula brought several crates containing soil from his native Transylvania, and would sleep in them. When Van Helsing and his party destroyed said crates, they forced the Count to flee back to the continent.
Physically, elongated fangs and red or yellow iris (even if only at times) are among the most obvious indications of vampirism, as is the thirst for human blood (particularly virgins'). In some works, vampires will be able to sustain themselves on animal blood, but even then, they will typically crave for fresh human blood above all the other kinds.
Vampire dentition varies depending on where you get the information from. For example, the vampires from 30 Days of Night have mouths full of shark-like teeth while other sources show vampires with fangs growing either from the four upper incisors or the upper canines.
In Paul Féval's La Vampire, the titular character, Countess Addhema, is a centuries-old vampire who kills and tears off the scalps of young women, and wears their hair on her own head in order to retain her youth.
When vampires die, they usually turn to ashes, wither away instantly or decompose slower than humans. In Daybreakers, vampires explode upon death.
In modern fiction, it's extremely common to portray vampires and lycanthropes as being natural enemies, or at least having some sort of rivalry.
Powers and Abilities
The powers of vampires generally include immortality, high regeneration and healing factor, resistance to pain, superhuman senses, superhuman speed, superhuman strength, charming hypnosis, mind and memory manipulation and others. In many works, vampires are capable of shapeshifting, which may manifest by altering their appearance to appear younger, by turning into animals (bats, dogs, wolfs or cats are all iconic) or into mist. They may also be capable of crawling into walls or even ceilings. Some may even have the power to manipulate the weather. In the Twilight series, "newborn vampires" (a term for vampires that have been transformed for less than one year) are several times stronger and thirstier than older ones. Elsewhere in fiction, the reverse is also common: the older the vampire is, the stronger he or she becomes.
While lacking the higher-level powers of the "master", turned vampires still possess superhuman strength and a psychic connection with their master. Upon the full consumption of a human's blood, the restrictions imposed upon the fledgling vanish and stronger abilities are unlocked, completing the transition to "true undead" status.
In Dracula, vampire expert Abraham Van Helsing describes vampires as being stronger than 20 men, and as capable of controlling the weather, giving commands to all sorts of animals, changing sizes and even disappearing occasionally. Besides not being reflected on mirrors, vampires in Stoker's novel seem to interact (or rather not interact) with light in strange ways, as they cast no shadow, and flames can be visible through their bodies. They're also capable of establishing psychic links with people whose blood they have fed upon, although said links can be used against them. Namely, Dracula's connection with Mina allowed Van Helsing and company to track him down.
In Hellsing, vampires can absorb the memories and abilities of their victims by completely drinking their blood. This process turns the victim into a familiar, that may speak directly to its master's mind and even be summoned to fight by their side. Alucard for example, possesses countless familiars. The number of familiars also seems to have a role on "how" immortal a vampire can be.
Still in Hellsing, "A-Class" vampires can transform their bodies at will and even dissolve into bats for locomotion.
Some vampires (such as Alucard from Hellsing) are intangible, being able to pass through walls and other objects. According to some sources (mainly Interview With the Vampire) vampires can also fly.
Many vampires possess unique abilities, such as foresight, telepathy, telekinesis, elemental manipulation, illusion generation and others.
In the 19th century satirical novel La Ville Vampire, by Paul Féval, a person bitten by a vampire becomes its "double", allowing vampires to manifest themselves through their victims, not only controlling them, but causing the victims to assume the vampire progenitor's appearance at some points. Since the "doubles" themselves become vampires and may themselves create "doubles", the long term results of this process can be extremely complex. In the novel, a female vampire, Polly Bird is the "double" of a male vampire called Goetzi, who is later revealed as the "double" of another female vampire.
Impaling the heart is a well-known way of killing most vampires. In most traditions, a wooden stake is used for this, but sometimes a hot-red iron may be used instead. Other methods include decapitation and fire. Holy symbols, materials and relics are often treated as highly dangerous. Silver, particularly, is lethal to most of them. Blessed silver is even worse and may inflict extensive damage depending upon the blessings of the material. Stabbing the heart is one known way of killing vampires. Garlic is generally able to repel vampires, as is holy water. Vampires also have an inability to cross large bodies of water without means of external locomotion. In The Vampire Diaries, wood (whether in form of a bullet or a stake) can paralyze a vampire. Drowning is also a classical, yet rare way to kill vampires.
In some works, even if a vampire is killed by a wooden stake to the heart, they may be revived again once the stake is removed. Decapitating the vampire upon death is an effective way to prevent this.
Exposure to sunlight can generally either kill vampires (by turning them to ashes) or harm them (by burning them). Some sources say that the older the vampire, more resistant to sunlight it will be, while others say the exact opposite, that the older they get, the easier it is for them to die upon seeing the sun. In some works, vampires are either not affected by sunlight or simply have their abilities limited (for instance, Dracula was not able to shapeshift during the day). In the Twilight series, vampires simply shine when exposed to the sun, and in The Vampire Diaries, there are witchcraft-imbued items that can protect vampires from the sun. In Blade, the dhampir Eric Brooks uses strong lights to mimic the sun and destroy vampires.
Classically, vampires may only drink the blood of the living, and if they drink that of a dead human, it will act as a dangerous poison. This concept, however, has been dropped on most of the recent vampire works, with the remarkable exception of Interview With the Vampire and a few others. In the movie Daybreakers, vampires are poisoned if they drink their own blood, but have no problem consuming that of dead people, as long as it's well conserved. According to some sources, such as Twilight, vampires can survive on non-human blood, but may have their abilities limited. In Interview With the Vampire, Lestat de Lioncourt's appearance is heavily changed when he starts drinking the blood of reptiles.
If a vampire fails to drink blood, their body will weaken until they either start an hibernation (until they drink again) or (in some sources, such as Interview With the Vampire) die of starvation. In Vampire Knight, there are food pills that eliminate the need of blood on the diet of vampires, although some "Level D"s are allergic to them. In Hellsing, vampires that don't drink blood need to sleep on a coffin containing their homeland's soil.
In the Twilight series, there are few ways of killing vampires, but they will die if dismembered and have their remains burned before they can reconstruct themselves.
Classically, vampires cannot enter a house or location without a formal invitation.
In The Vampire Diaries, vampires that are bitten by werewolves die of infection, as there's no known cure for their poison. In the same series, vervain is a powerful protective charm against vampire hypnosis, and its ingestion may knock the undeads unconscious for extended periods. Yet in the same series, the "original vampires" can only be killed by using a stake of a certain "white oak tree", that was used in the spell that rendered them immortal. They could also be bound using special daggers made by witches with the ashes of said tree. In addition, any vampire descendants an original may have will slowly perish.
Sometimes, destroying a vampire progenitor will cause all of his or her vampire progeny to revert to their original human forms (if they're already centuries old by this point, they may therefore crumble to dust instead).
Works Featuring Vampires
- Die Braut von Korinth, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1797)
- The Vampyre, by John William Polidori (1816)
- Lord Ruthwen, ou Les Vampires, by Cyprien Bérard (1820)
- Le Vampire, by Charles Nodier (1820)
- Smarra, ou les Démons de la Nuit, by Charles Nodier (1821)
- La Vampire ou la Vierge de Hongrie, by Etienne-Léon de Lamothe-Langon (1825)
- Varney the Vampire, by Thomas Peckett Prest and James Malcolm Rymer (1845-47)
- The Pale Lady, by Alexandre Dumas (1849)
- La Baronne trépassée, by Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail (1852)
- Le Vampire, by Angelo de Sorr (1852)
- The Vampire, by Dion Boucicault (1852)
- Le Chevalier Ténèbre, by Paul Féval, père (1860)
- Le Vampire du Val-de-Grâce, by Léon Gozlan (1862)
- La Vampire, by Paul Féval, père (1865)
- La Femme Immortelle, by Pierre Alexis Ponson du Terrail (1869)
- Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu (1871-72)
- La Ville Vampire, by Paul Féval, père (1874)
- Le Capitaine Vampire, by Marie Nizet (1879)
- After Ninety Years, by Milovan Glišić (1880)
- Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897)
- Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories, by Bram Stoker (1914)
- The Shunned House, by H. P. Lovecraft (1937)
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H. P. Lovecraft (1941)
- I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (1954)
- 'Salem's Lot, by Stephen King (1975)
- The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien (1977)
- The Vampire Tapestry, by Suzy McKee Charnas (1980)
- They Thirst, by Robert R. McCammon (1981)
- The Hunger, by Whitley Strieber (1981)
- Fevre Dream, by George R. R. Martin (1982)
- The Soft Whisper of the Dead, by Charles L. Grant (1982)
- The Night Flier, by Stephen King (1988)
- Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman (1992)
- The Bloody Red Baron, by Kim Newman (1995)
- Peking Man, by Robert J. Sawyear (1996)
- Dracula Cha Cha Cha, by Kim Newman (1998)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling (2005)
- The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2009)
- The Fall, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2010)
- The Night Eternal, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (2011)
- 30 Days of Night
- Blade: The Vampire Hunter
- Blood + Water
- Dragon Ball
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
- Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer
- Rosario + Vampire
- Vampire Knight
- Nosferatu (1922)
- Vampyr (1932)
- Dracula's Daughter (1936)
- The Return of the Vampire (1943)
- El Vampiro (1957)
- Curse of the Undead (1959)
- Black Sunday (1960)
- The Brides of Dracula (1960)
- The Kiss of the Vampire (1963)
- Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)
- Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
- The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
- Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
- Scars of Dracula (1970)
- Daughters of Darkness (1971)
- Blacula (1972)
- The Night Stalker (1972)
- Vampire Circus (1972)
- Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1975)
- The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979)
- Fright Night (1985)
- Near Dark (1987)
- Beverly Hills Vamp (1988)
- Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)
- Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988)
- Adventure Time
- Being Human
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Challenge of the Super Friends
- Dark Shadows
- Face Off
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Johnny Bravo
- Lost Tapes
- The Lost World
- Monsters and Mysteries in America
- The New Scooby and Scrappy Doo Show
- The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
- The Real Ghostbusters
- Rick and Morty
- The Scooby & Scrappy Doo Puppy Hour
- The Simpsons
- The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
- The Twilight Zone
- The X-Files
- InFamous series
- Legacy of Kain
- Might and Magic series
- Some works of fiction may also portray vampires or vampire-like entities as aliens, said works being, naturally, out of the scope of this wiki. These notably include: the Vampirella comics, the Martian Erloors of Gustave Le Rouge, the alien vampires from Doctor Who, the otherworldly vampires from Brian Lumley's Necroscope, the Energy Vampires from Lifeforce and others. For more information see Alien Species Wiki's page on vampires.