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Publicity still of Bela Lugosi & Helen Chandler Photo: Universal Pictures

The Best Vampires in Film and Television (Updated)

No matter how trendy vampires seem, the undead creatures have always had the power to mesmerize audiences within the seductive weaving of imaginative and sometimes frightening tales told by various tellers. I don’t think that will ever change except for how the stories will be told. A couple years ago, I posted an article about the Top 20 Vampire TV Shows (Read Here ) in which I go more into detail about the brief history of vampire folklore in storytelling from oral tales and ancient legends to filmmaking in the modern day. This week, I want to do something slightly different as I consider the best vampire characters in both television and film. Of course, the choices to choose from are much more extensive because there have been way more films made about vampires than I have been able to see (particularly about Dracula), including some of the gorier and also science fiction versions (very few vampires were chosen from films with extreme gore as I am not a huge fan).

Revisiting the beginnings of vampire cinema, the vampire goes as far back as 1913 with a short film called The Vampire. At first, the films (including this one) were more about femme fatale vampires, dangerous women that lead men astray with their powers of seduction. In 1915, a film( inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s poem) called A Fool There Was focuses on these foolish men. Now in the public domain, this film is free and available to watch by checking its IMDB listing Here.

Even before the infamous 1922 film Nosferatu that influenced vampire lore forevermore were other lesser-known foreign films from A Night of Horror in 1916 and the Hungarian movie, The Death of Dracula in 1921 (now lost) among several others. But it was Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in 1931 that captivated the world with his Hungarian accent and now conventional characteristics such as the sweeping of his cape. Since then, the character of Dracula has been revisited time and time again with fabulous performances by Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, and many more. But outside of Dracula, what other great characters influenced by vampire lore have hit the big and small screens?

In the spirit of Halloween, I give you my now updated list of the top 50 vampires in film and television (this used to be 35). Out of time, I only selected my personal favorite Dracula performances along with several of my other favorite vampires.

At the end of the article, be sure to first check out our polls (so you can vote for your own favorite vampire) and then check out our fan video to The Vampire Diaries and The Originals!

Top 50 Vampires in Film and Television

(With Some Great Vampire Quotes)

#50: Caroline Forbes from The Vampire Diaries

Vampires in Film and Television

Caroline and Tyler (I think I’m one of the few who would prefer these two get back together.)
Photo: CW

Caroline Forbes: So now I have magnified jealousy issues too?

#49: Eli from Let the Right One In

Vampires in Film and Television

Eli from Let the Right One In (an artistic take on vampires – though very dark.)
Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Eli: I’m twelve. But I’ve been twelve for a long time.

#48: Hayley Marshall from The Originals

Vampires in Film and Television

Elijah, Hayley, and baby Hope (I love seeing a mother vampire.)
Photo: CW.

Hayley: Well, every good story needs a wicked witch. It’ll be all the more satisfying when we melt her.

#47: Claire and Dylan Radcliff from The Gates

Vampires in Film and Television

Claire and Dylan from The Gates. (Too bad this show got canceled…)
Photo: ABC

Claire: Love is about compromise.

#46: David from The Lost Boys

Vampires in Film and Television

David from The Lost Boys (1987). This one really isn’t my thing, but I figured I should include it.
Photo: Warner Home Video

David: Now you know what we are, now you know what you are. You’ll never grow old, Michael, and you’ll never die.

#45: Alexandra Serris from Kindred The Embraced

Vampires in Film and Television

Alexandra – Kindred: The Embraced. Alexandra’s short story is just breathtaking.
Photo: Fox

Alexandra: I am not a beast. I was once a woman.

#44: Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries

Vampires in Film and Television

Elena and Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries. Love her or hate her, Elena knew how to get everyone talking!
Photo: CW

Elena: That’s what love should be. You should love the person that makes you glad to be alive.

#43: Darla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Vampires in Film and Television

Darla, the woman who turned Angel into a vampire. Darla was certainly a force to be reckoned with!
Photo: WB

Darla: Oh, I love children. I could just… eat ’em up.

#42: Marcel Gerard from The Originals

Vampires in Film and Television

Marcel from The Originals. I’m loving his new story in season 3 as it intertwines with some of the most interesting, ancient vampires I’ve seen in a while (such as Aya and Tristan). 
Photo: CW

Marcel: I know I make this look easy, but I still have an empire to run.

#41: Alice and Jasper from the Twilight Film Series

Vampires in Film and Television

Alice and Jasper (I confess to thinking these two are totally adorable).
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Alice: I’ve decided to throw a party.

Jasper: After all, how many times are we going to graduate high school?

#40: Godric from True Blood

Vampires in Film and Television

Godric from True Blood. The clips from his death were the main reason I gave this rather explicit show a chance (not really my thing). If only more of True Blood was like the depth I saw in Godric’s characterization…
Photo: HBO

Godric: A human with me at the end and human tears. Two-thousand years… and I can still be surprised. In this, I see God.

#39: Lissa from Vampire Academy

Vampires in Film and Television

Lissa and Christian from Vampire Academy. While not as good as the books, I loved Lissa in this underrated, campy film.
Photo: Weinstein Company

Lissa Dragomir: Blood is family. Blood is pain. And blood is death.

#38: Katherine Pierce from The Vampire Diaries

Vampires in Film and Television

Katherine and Stefan from The Vampire Diaries. Katherine really knew how to shake things up on the show. I still miss her.
Photo: CW

Katherine: The three of us together, just like old times. The brother who loved me too much and the one that didn’t love me enough.

#37: Hal Yorke from Being Human UK

Vampires in Film and Television

Hal from Being Human (UK). Hal often gets overlooked because he took  over Aidan Turner’s spot on the show, but he’s still a rather dynamic character all on his own.
Photo: BBC

Hal: I’m a vampire, he’s a werewolf. Any questions?

#36: Bill Compton from True Blood

Vampires in Film and Television

Bill Compton. While his character went off the rails in later seasons, I chose Bill because he makes such a great Byronic Hero.
Photo: HBO

Bill: She will never be yours and there’s nothing you can do. In this, you are powerless. Accept it.

#35: Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

Vampires in Film and Television

Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I kind of miss the good, old days with Stefan. Back when he was just falling in love with Elena…
Photo: CW

Stefan: Yes, being a 150-year-old teenager has been the height of my happiness.

#34: Herrick from Being Human UK

Vampires in Film and Television

Herrick from Being Human. He doesn’t look it, but Herrick is one of the most terrifying vampires I have ever seen. The actor’s performance is also insane!
Photo: BBC

Herrick: A vampire is the only truly free man. All his darkness, all his excesses, they can run amok.

#33: Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy

Vampires in Film and Television

Dimitri and Rose. I just wish there was a second film so we could get more of these two.
Photo: Weinstein Company

Rose Hathaway: My seventeen-year-old foolishness, that was the past.

Dimitri Belikov: It was an hour ago.

#32: Dracula played by Frank Langella in Dracula (1979)

Vampires in Film and Television

Frank Langella’s Dracula. He knows how to be both menacing and seductive…
Photo: Universal Pictures

Count Dracula: You fools! Do you think with your crosses and your wafers you can destroy me? Me! You do not know how many men have come against me. I am the *king* of my kind! You have accomplished nothing, Van Helsing. Time is on my side. In a century, when you are dust, I shall wake and call Lucy, my queen, from her grave. I have in my time had many brides, Mr. Harker. But I shall set Lucy above them all.

#31: Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows

Barnabas from Dark Shadows Photo: ABC

Barnabas from Dark Shadows
Photo: ABC

Barnabas: If the imminent doctor has done anything to impair my relations with Vicki, she has just signed her own death certificate.

#30: Aidan Waite from Being Human US

Vampires in Film and Television

Aidan from Being Human (US)
Photo: SyFy

Aidan: We’re all hiding something, aren’t we? From the moment we wake, look in that mirror, all we do is spin our little lies.

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