Vampires have been a part of storytelling and legends for over a thousand years going back to Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, and even ancient Babylonia but then they weren’t known as vampires, rather blood-sucking demons or also what was called “revenants” in the 12th century (revenants were animated corpses that returned from the dead to exact revenge on the living). What we now know as the vampire didn’t really come into being until the 18th century when mass hysteria took over Europe due to several vampire sightings claimed by the population (particularly in Transylvania). They would exhume the bodies of suspected vampires; decomposing bodies (or ones that were delayed by perhaps freezing temperatures) only furthered the belief in the undead.
So it came as no surprise vampires would eventually evolve from the oral folklore, mass hysteria, to the written word, the term itself coming into being around the same time printed novels began to increase as a new form of storytelling thanks to the greater production of paper. People could now read stories privately in their home and writers could tell their versions of a story for more than just the few. The literary vampire began with poetry like “The Vampire” by Heinrich August Ossenfelder in 1748:
And as softly thou art sleeping / To thee shall I come creeping / And thy life’s blood drain away. / And so shalt thou be trembling / For thus shall I be kissing/ And death’s threshold thou’ it be crossing / With fear, in my cold arms.
Even then the representation of the vampire is erotic and charismatic…
Even then the representation of the vampire is erotic and charismatic, but it wasn’t until John Polidori’s novel The Vampyre was published in 1819 (Polidori basing the magnetic vampire on Lord Byron), the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire in 1847, and then Dracula by Bram Stoker in 1897 that the legend in modern stories took off and created the version of the vampire we are most familiar with. And just as ways of telling stories changed over time (from oral to the novel for instance) because of emerging technology, the same can be said today because of the invention of moving pictures. Vampires appeared in film as early as 1913 but it was Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula that created the most popular characteristics of the character. With over 170 versions of Stoker’s Dracula in film, it comes as no surprise that the legendary character finally turned to another medium of storytelling: television.
Premiering October 25th (just a couple of weeks away now), Dracula will appear once again on our television screens every Friday night in a huge production from the producers of Downton Abbey. It will certainly be fascinating to see how the character will be interpreted (though from previews, it seems the character is strongly influenced from Coppola’s film adaptation) in a serialized version of the story.
To further celebrate two new vampire shows this fall season (The Originals already premiered), for this week’s top list I decided to select the best vampire shows of all time or shows that at least strongly feature vampires. I am sure most you have heard of, but I’ve also thrown in some lesser known gems that are definitely worth checking out. Without further ado, I give you the greatest top 20 vampire shows on television (shows with less of a vampire focus will be lower on the list, and of course this is my personal biased selection):
TOP 20 Vampire TV Shows
#20: The Dresden Files
#19: Lost Girl
Bo (I consider her a psychic vampire even if she is a Succubus): “You know, I think you’re the first person I’m going to enjoy killing.”
Vex: “Well that’s awfully judgmental, you barely know me!”
Dean Winchester: “Hey, you think this Dracula can turn into a bat? That’d be cool.”
#17: The X-Files (Bad Blood)
Mulder: “I think you were right about this being a guy who’s watched too many Dracula movies. It’s just that he happens to be a real vampire.”
#16: Blade The Series
Shen: “I told you, I put the word out. What do you want me to do? Tack up flyers around the neighborhood. Lost vampire. Last seen ashing her mother. May be suicidal, homicidal. Both. Needs her meds.”
#15: The Gates
Nick: (referring to vampires) “She’s right. They’re not all monsters.”
Mike: “So why hasn’t anyone tried taking one of them alive? (Vaughan gives him a look) All right. Dead, then. Undead. Whatever you call it.”
Nikola Tesla: “I’m a vampire. Some people are threatened by that.”
#12: Dark Shadows (1966)
Victoria Winters (about Barnabas): “He really does come from another time. He’ll never find it. Because it’s gone forever.”
#11: Being Human (US)
Aidan: “I am a killer. At my core, that’s what I am, and I have to fight against that every day.”
#10: Forever Knight
Janette: “Poor Nicholas… tortured by a soul he hasn’t got.”
#9: Kindred The Embraced
Julian: “I am the prince of this city. You have violated my laws.”
#8: The Vampire Diaries
Stefan: “For over a century, I`ve lived in secret. Hiding in the shadows, alone in the world. Until now. I`m a vampire and this is my story.”
#7: The Originals
Klaus: “If we turned every man you dropped your knickers for, then human beings would cease to exist and we’d have no bloody food.”
#6: True Blood (Seasons 1-4)
Eric Northman: “TruBlood, it keeps you alive, but it will bore you to death.”
#5: Blood Ties
Vicki Nelson: “I’m busting your chops for talking about demons and I was out hunting a vampire.”
Angel: “Why would a woman I’ve never met even talk to me?”
Doyle: “Have you looked in the mirror lately? No, I guess you really haven’t, no.”
#3: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Giles: “In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”
#2: Being Human (UK)
Nina: “It’s a lot to take in. I mean werewolves, ghosts, vampires. I didn’t even believe in homeopathy before this.”
Josef Konstantin: “You seriously drink this stuff? What is it, like, non-fat, soy, vegan blood?”
What are your favorite vampire shows? Sound off below…
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17 thoughts on “Top 20 Vampire TV Shows to Sink Your Teeth Into”
You included so many of my favorites and so many that got staked (pun intended) too soon. Especially Blade, Blood Ties and Moonlight. And I think I read somewhere that Kindred would have gotten a second season except for the tragedy with Mark Frankel. And, of course, Dark Shadows is a true classic.
I also loved the Gates, Forever Knight, etc. etc. etc. I could go on all night. And Buffy was must see TV for me.
I’m really hoping NBC’s new series, Dracula, is good and gets good ratings. It’s looks like it will be entertaining.
I love vampire shows, books, movies…. yeah I’m pretty much a vampire fan.
Loved this article in case you couldn’t tell! LOL
I can tell that you have fabulous taste in shows! I’m a huge vampire fan as well and will definitely continue to do more. And I hope Dracula does well too. It does look like it has good production value at least.
My Top 10:
1. Buffy – The vampire Slayer
2. Being Human BBC
3. The little Vampire (loved it as a child)
5. Vampire Diaries / The Originals /True Blood
7. Kindered the Embraced
8. BeCOMING Human
10 The little Vampire – New adventures
12 Blood Ties
13 Being Human USA
14 Vampire High
I have also seen Dracula 2013, but after 2 Episodes I can not say much yet. I still have to see the rest exspecially Dark Shadows, The Dresden Files and Forever Knight! Vampire Prosecutor sounds also interesting and has good critics.
I have to admit that I have never heard of Vampire Prosecutor. I will have to look that up. Also, I have yet to see “Vampire High.” I will hopefully get to it eventually. Thanks for sharing. And FYI: “The Dresden Files” is a really entertaining show but mostly about a wizard detective. A female vampire comes into the show and it is a lot of fun.
I’m glad moonlight is number one it is one of the best vampire shows, it is actually about vampires and humans and a bunch of other supernatural trash. and its not like that gay true blood show either which is the lamest vampire show I have ever seen, no vampire would care that much about that main girl character 1st: she’s ugly 2ed: she has the IQ of a monkey.
TRUE BLOOD #1
Twilight all seasons as well #1 or #2
nothing is even close:(
I respectfully disagree about True Blood. Perhaps in the first two or even three seasons one could make an argument for it, but after that the show went downhill. It’s barely watchable now. As for your second statement, I can’t understand what you’re saying. Are you saying that Twilight should be number one or 2? Because if so, the Twilight series are movies and not TV Shows and therefore wouldn’t be included on this list. That all said, of course lists are always subjective. 🙂
Well I disagree with you. I like true blood. Its true the first 3 seasons was its best but its still better than a lot on this list. Hollywood doesn’t know how to make a great vampire series and keep it great. They always make them to unbelievable, or to girly. Vampires are suppose to be scary, I haven’t seen one that scares me ever on tv.
Everyone has different tastes. I thought I was being lenient when I put True Blood at number seven because I despise the later seasons. I think vampires can be both seductive and scary. That’s what makes them so interesting.
Twilight are movies and they sucked. Way to girly. Trueblood is a great show. One of my favorites of all time.
I agree, twilight sucked. Trueblood is really a good tv series, but my favorite on the list even though not a true vampire series is supernatural after 9 seasons Im still a fan.
Most of the shows are old as hell, still some worth watching.
Haha. Besides Dark Shadows, I don’t think any of these shows are “that” old. Not that age matters anyway. If it’s good it’s good, doesn’t matter when it came out.
You’re not to bright. Most of these shows are not even aired anymore. OLD!! Besides all the older shows have shitty special effects. They need strong story lines just to survive, cause it looks like someone made them in their basement.
Someone’s not “to” bright because they like something “old?” Um, okay. Exactly what shows are you referring to? Buffy? Angel? Moonlight? I would say all of these shows have strong enough stories to hold their own…
Top 32 from best to worst
3. Being Human UK
4. True Blood / The Originals
5. Penny Dreadful
6. The Vampire Diaries
7. Hemlock Grove
8. Becoming Human
9 The little Vampire
11. Vampire Prosecutor
12. Split (also known as: Hatsuya)
13. Kindred the Embraced
14. Forever Knight
16. The Munsters
17. Blade the series
20. Death Valley
22. Blood Ties
24. Young Dracula
25. Dracula the series
26. Dark Shadows 1991
27. I heart Vampires
28. My Babysitter is a vampire
29. Being Human US
30. The Gates
31. Vampire High
32. The Lair
Want to see: Carmilla (web series, praised by critics), The Strain, From Dusk till Dawn, Salem’s Lot
I know I’m quite late but there’s a show called orange marmalade which is also quite good, it’s a romantic sappy story.