We pick our favorite bloodsuckers from television’s past and present!
If there’s one true thing about vampires, it’s the fact that they aren’t going away anytime soon. Even if you dislike the Twilight films, you have to admit that the children of the night have a certain allure about them. Vampires are very human monsters and sometimes they can even be romantic figures.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula deserves a lot of credit for the enduring popularity of the vampire legend, but several memorable vampires have also been brought to life on television since the early days of the medium. Since Halloween is just around the corner, we’ve assembled a list of ten of our favorite TV vampires.
This is by it’s very nature a list of subjective opinions, so feel free to disagree and let us know who we left out in the comment section below. The majority of our picks were based in part by the longevity of the characters and their enduring impact. So, sorry Mick St. John and Krista Starr fans, you’ll just have to settle for Hawaii Five-0 and Wipeout.
The Vampire Diaries is just starting its fourth season on The CW. And if it keeps going another couple of years, you may find a few additional characters from that show popping up on this list. Ian Somerhalder has certainly made the most of his post Lost career by stepping into the role of the sometimes antihero vampire, Damon Salvatore.
For this list, Damon narrowly edged his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and their mutual crush, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev).
Darla is one of the very few supporting characters on this list… but then there are very few vampires like Darla. Actress Julie Benz appeared in the role all the way back in the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before she was killed off in the seventh episode.
By then, Buffy creator Joss Whedon must have fallen in love with Benz’s performance, as Darla kept reappeared in flashback sequences before finally coming back to life as an adversary on Angel. Darla could be wickedly cruel and unexpectedly funny. But most of all, she was just entertaining.
Long before vampires became mainstream enough to support TV shows on multiple networks, Forever Knight found a way to blend vampires and cops together. Geraint Wyn Davies starred as Nick Knight, an 800 year old vampire attempting to redeem himself for his sins by working as a homicide detective in Toronto while trying to find a cure for his blood addiction.
Like many vampires, Nick did have a romantic attachment to a human. In this case, it was a medical examiner named Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher). Their relationship was a slow burn… and a stark reminder that loving a vampire can go very, very wrong.
Personally, I thought that Nick’s nemesis and mentor Lucien LaCroix (Nigel Bennett) was a more dynamic character. But I’ve never forgotten the tragic end of Nick and Natalie’s story.
Our second (but not last) entree from the Joss Whedon-verse is Drusilla, the only female villain from Buffy and Angel more memorable than Darla herself.
Juliet Landau originated the role of Drusilla all the way back in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; where she was introduced as the lover of James Marsters’ Spike. Drusilla had a sense of madness about her that was both endearing and frightening. Her non sequiturs were frequently hilarious, but Drusilla had the heart of a monster.
Drusilla was unredeemable in almost every way… and that’s why we love her.
If everything you know about Barnabas Collins comes from Johnny Depp’s performance in the Dark Shadows movie earlier this year… then take a moment to clear your head of those thoughts.
The original Barnabas Collins was portrayed by Jonathan Frid on the daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows. Barnabas was originally meant as a temporary character, but his popularity helped keep Dark Shadows alive and he became the defacto star of the show.
In many ways, Barnabas was a forerunner of the modern vampire protagonist. Barnabas could be selfless and even heroic at times. But he was still a monster and he did a lot of terrible things along the way.
Stephen Moyer’s Bill Compton was the original male lead of HBO’s True Blood; which is based upon Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. Bill definitely struck a chord with audiences thanks to his romance with Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse.
However, Bill’s character has gotten progressively darker in subsequent seasons. And Bill’s transformation in the fifth season of True Blood may indicate a more villainous persona to come.
Regardless, Bill still has a sizable fan base that wants to see him and Sookie get back together.
As his portrayer, James Marsters once put it, “Spike was supposed to be dirty and evil, punk rock, and then dead.” But ever since his debut in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, viewers just couldn’t get enough of Spike and he kept coming back until joining the cast full time.
Joss Whedon has called Spike one of his most fully developed characters due to his slow transformation from an adversarial figure into someone who came to love and care for Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) even before he reclaimed his soul. Spike never had his own TV series like some other famous TV vampire created by Whedon, but he holds a large place in the hearts of fandom.
Also hailing from True Blood, Alexander Skarsgård’s Eric Northman is more like Spike than Bill Compton. Never an outright villain, Eric has transitioned from being a selfish vampire to someone who truly loves Sookie Stackhouse.
Except just when you think that Eric has gone soft, he’ll do something like “glamouring” Sookie’s current love interest just to kill their potential romance before it starts. Frequently hilarious and unexpectedly heroic, Eric has come so far as a character that he’s even trying to save Bill from himself. This has made Eric the defacto male lead of True Blood.
Yes, there are four vampires created by Joss Whedon on this list. Deal with it.
David Boreanaz was cast as the vampire with a soul known as Angel during the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Angel’s love affair with Buffy went from being a charming romance into decidedly darker territory when Angel reverted to his “Angelus” persona and began hunting and even killing people close to Buffy and her friends.
After a trip to Hell and a long road to redemption, Angel eventually landed his own TV series that cemented his status as one of the top TV vampires of all time. As a hero, Angel didn’t always win and he couldn’t save everyone. But Angel was constantly compelling, especially at the end of the series when he threw himself into a hopeless battle with the forces of darkness.
There are younger and sexier vampires on TV. But nobody comes close to the longevity enjoyed by Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis) in The Munsters. As depicted in the original ‘60s era sitcom, Grandpa was actually a comedic incarnation of Dracula himself and he was just a fun character to watch.
Thanks to syndication, The Munsters never really went away and Grandpa’s popularity endured. Rather than fight being typecast for life, Lewis embraced the Grandpa persona and essentially kept using it up until his death in 2006.
Other actors have subsequently stepped in to fill the role, but we’ll always remember Grandpa Al Lewis.