Also “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “What We Do in the Shadows,” “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and more in this comprehensive look at the blood-sucking subgenre.
If horror’s limitless capacity for remakes, re-imaginings, and spinoffs teaches us anything, it’s that our nightmares never really change. Since before “Nosferatu” darkened the silent film scene in 1922 — heck, even before Bram Stoker terrified readers with “Dracula” in 1897 — vampires have transfixed audiences with their chilling blend of romance and menace. Movies like “Twilight” and “Interview with the Vampire” are memorable for weaving epic undead dramas for the big screen, but vampire sagas have arguably seen more creative permutations on TV, with whole casts of blood-sucking stars appearing in shows like “True Blood” and “Castlevania.”
The best vampire TV shows examine the archetypal underpinnings of the gothic-infused subgenre by referencing them in unexpected ways. Classic situational comedies like “Dark Shadows” make entertaining light of garlic, coffins, and the (pun intended) stakes of it all. Meanwhile, dark dramas like “Van Helsing” and “NOS4A2” focus on delivering scares from terrifying new angles, honing in on vampires’ seductive edge to create cutting betrayal and heartbreak between them and their victims. Plus, there’s a slew of vampire-centric crime procedurals (“Forever Knight,” “Vampire Prosecutor”) and goofy-sexy YA series (“First Kill,” “The Vampire Diaries”) to indulge in.
When judging these series, general quality of execution, as well as innovation as it comes to exploring the nature of vampirism, has been considered. This doesn’t specifically mean adherence to any particular pre-established or traditional mythology, but instead originality in terms of using vampire tropes to service the storytelling. Watching a lot of shows about vampires at once highlights the tropes that haunt the genre — the way these stories are rich with themes of ostracism, romance, and death. It also highlights how the shows which are very good at tackling the subject matter are great, but a lot of them struggle.
Light your torches and sharpen your pitchforks. In honor of the premiere of “Interview with the Vampire,” here are the 31 best vampire TV shows — including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Ultraviolet,” “The Strain,” “Being Human,” “American Horror Story,” and more — ranked.
Liz Shannon Miller contributed to this story.
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