Vampire stories seem to have existed in one form or another nearly as long as stories have existed at all. It’s an absolute classic piece of supernatural lore whose popularity has waxed and waned over the years, however, it’s a genre of storytelling that has never and likely will never disappear from the world completely. Of course, that genre has changed and adapted with the times, going from classic legends to books, films, and television.
There has been an almost incalculable number of iterations of vampire stories in film and television, or at least films and TV shows that incorporate vampire lore in some way. More importantly, clearly some vampire stories are better than others. Sometimes they’re classic or modern, sometimes they’re fluffy and light or completely horrifying, and sometimes they portray vampires as feral animals or as almost people. Here are all of the most well-known versions of vampires in films and TV, ranked.
To be honest, Twilight is the vampire saga for people who hate everything about vampires. The vampires that populate this story are only vampires in name, and the only thing they seem to share in common with any traditional bloodsucker is just that, the fact that they happen to drink blood.
Twilight deserves to be acknowledged for introducing vampire lore to a new generation, but it’s hard to say whether it deserves to be lauded or shamed for that fact, given it offers a rather underwhelming representation of vampires.
The Vampire Diaries
Oh, The Vampire Diaries. If The Vampire Diaries had ended sooner, then it would probably earn a spot much higher on this list, but sadly this show is one that presented itself as the anti-Twilight only to transform into Twilight as the years went on (with vampire babies and all).
Scream writer Kevin Williamson did a great job of balancing the romance and horror elements during the show’s early years, but eventually, the horror elements all but disappeared. If the vampire version of 90210 sounds appealing, then TVD is probably for you. If you’re a vampire fan, then it is probably best to skip The Vampire Diaries.
For a few years, vampires were a pretty big trend, so it’s no surprise that Netflix decided to jump on that bandwagon. Although it only lasted three seasons, their absolutely bananas original series Hemlock Grove was a fun and exciting supernatural show that tackled vampire lore from an unusual angle.
Their version of vampires drew from the Eastern European legend of the Upir; Olivia and Roman, the show’s main Upir mother and son, seemed to be in competition to determine who is crazier and more deranged. The special effects were cheesy, but the show and its vamps were undeniably entertaining.
Twilight is probably the biggest vampire story juggernaut in recent history, but HBO’s adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ True Blood series took that trend and gave it some much-needed darkness and prestige. True Blood really leaned into the campy and fun aspects of vampire horror, and they certainly made it sexier and geared towards a more adult audience.
True Blood takes a lot of its mythology from classic vampire lore, but the show also adds a bit of fluff to make it more appealing to a modern audience. What the show really excelled at was not taking itself too seriously, which is tragically uncommon in a lot of vampire stories.
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the original Being Human or the US adaptation of the hit UK series, the vampires in Being Human are actually some of the most fun and interesting characters in mainstream media of the last few years.
This pair of shows kind of flew under the radar, but they developed their own cult following, and with good reason. The story revolves around a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who are all roommates, and clearly their attempts at “being human” don’t always go as planned. It should go without saying, but Mitchell and Aidan will win over any vampire fan.
Interview With A Vampire
Anne Rice is kind of the Bram Stoker of the late 20th century. When it comes to writing her vampires, Rice goes for the absolute classics but she’s also not afraid to make vampires as weird and creepy as they truly can be.
Many of Rice’s big-screen adaptations have sadly fallen short of the source material, but Interview With A Vampire is an exception. It’s hard to screw up when you have Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as your leads, but this decades-spanning story of Louis and Lestat is everything that any vampire fan can hope for.
The Lost Boys
If anyone is ever looking for a vampire flick that is spunky, fun, and oh so delightfully ’80s, then The Lost Boys will undoubtedly tickle your fancy. If Kiefer Sutherland with a mullet isn’t enough to catch your attention, then the story of this squad of teen vampires running rampant in a coastal California town while being hunted by some even younger comic book fans certainly should be an attention grabber.
The Lost Boys miraculously manages to feel completely dated as well as totally timeless, and it’s a must-see entry into the edgy teen vampire subgenre of vampire TV and movies.
It’s both a blessed miracle that the Marvel Cinematic Universe decided to resurrect and reboot Blade and a near Greek tragedy that it took them this long to do it. Yes, Black Panther was epic, but let’s not forget that Marvel already had an epic black superhero with some smashing box office success thanks to the original Blade.
The tale of this half-vampire vampire hunter is a fantastic comic book adaptation as well as a fantastic movie. It certainly fusses around with traditional vampire lore, but the way in which its vampires adapt to modern life still feels creative, edgy, and relevant today.
Let The Right One In
As if children aren’t terrifying enough on their own, why not make them into savage blood-sucking animals that are legitimate wolves in sheep’s clothing? The Swedish film Let The Right One In understandably won worldwide accolades for its incredibly unique vampire story.
It’s a surprisingly soulful tale, with the friendship between child vampire Eli and human child Oskar taking center stage, but that kind of classic childhood story is turned on its head due to Eli’s terrifying violence and unsettling way of navigating through the world. And for any vampire fans who were bullied as a child, Let The Right One In is absolutely essential viewing.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
It seems a little ironic that the best vampire adaptation in television or film is mainly focused on a girl whose mystical destiny is to kill vampires, but that is undoubtedly how Joss Whedon and the rest of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer squad wanted it.
Buffy and its spinoff Angel were masterful about both embracing the conventions of vampire horror as well as completely flipping those conventions upside down to keep the audience surprised and impressed. However, what makes Buffy‘s vampires so exceptional is that they were truly exceptional and unique characters in their own right.