Top 10 Vampires


Out of all of the classic monsters and creatures that go bump in the night, vampires may be my favorite. I love the mythology behind the characters, the blood sucking, the night stalking, and everything they can represent. With the release of the film adaptation of Rachel Mead’s Vampire Academy only a few days away, I thought it would be appropriate and fun to take a look at the vast assortment of vampires that have been portrayed over the years in film, television, and literature. Countless vampires have been created that represent a wide variety of types, from evil monsters to conflicted beings to genuinely “good” vampires, and the creatures have only seen their popularity rise over the past decade. With so many diverse choices it was ultimately difficult to pin down these 10, and I am sure that readers will have their own opinions as well. Chime in and share your own choices in the comments!

Honorable Mentions: Angel (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”); Blade (comics/films); Carlisle and Emmett Cullen (“The Twilight Saga”); Max Schreck (“Shadow of the Vampire”); Kurt Barlow (“Salem’s Lot”)

10. Adrian Ivashkov from The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

Although not introduced until the second novel, Frostbite, Adrian is a fan favorite… for good reason. Adrian is sweet, sexy, and a total rebel. He’s roguish and charming and puts on an alcohol infused facade that suggests that he doesn’t have a care in the world (his royal status and money helps), but he actually cares a great deal and that makes him a fun study in opposites. He’s certainly not the most evil, scary, or violent of vampires, but he definitely reads like a real vampire and not something too watered down.


9. Damon Salvatore as portrayed by Ian Somerhalder in The Vampire Diaries

On the page (The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith), Damon was an okay character. On the screen, Ian Somerhalder makes him come vividly to life, and he smolders. Damon is a ruthless killer, a blood fiend, and a genuinely scary vampire… at times. He’s also a concerned older brother and a long pining lover. Some of the nastiest and most gruesome tricks may come from Damon, and then thanks to Mr. Somerhalder’s terrific performance and some shrewd writing you end up loving him anyways. Awesome.


8. Eli as portrayed by Lina Leandersson in Let the Right One In

Tomas Alfredon’s Swedish-language adaptation of the novel Let the Right One In is one of the most haunting and beautiful vampire tales of modern times. Eli, the vampire at the center of the story, is a unique beast. With the appearance of a young girl and a sweet and vulnerable exterior, Eli becomes a loyal friend and protector. She’s also a horrifying and vicious vampire, and her  violent actions are morally complex. Special mention must also be payed to the American version of this film, which is the rare successful remake. In that film Chloe Moretz also does a fantastic job of bringing this uniquely compelling vampire creation to life.


7. Severen as portrayed by Bill Paxton in Near Dark

Kathryn Bigelow’s (Zero Dark Thirty) Near Dark is a forgotten vampire classic, and Bill Paxton’s Severen is a big reason why it is so excellent. This young actor creates a truly unhinged, sociopathic monster. Severen is gruesome, malicious, and gleefully mischievous. He relishes in the violence and in being a vampire, and Paxton sells each beat. You would not want to run into Severen in a dark alley, but on screen he’s so ferocious you can’t look away.

6. Eric Northman as portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård in True Blood 

Like Damon Salvatore before him, here is another hardcore vampire that worked fine on the page (Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novels) but smolders on the screen. The 6 foot 4 blonde imposing Viking vampire. The Sheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana. A vicious monster that rules with bloody fangs and no remorse. It is his relationships that define him and bring out the complexities in Eric Northman, and it is up to Mr. Skarsgård to make it work. Throughout 6 seasons of True Blood we have seen Eric engage in shocking acts of extreme violence, nudity, and experience a roller coaster of shifting emotions. Part of me thinks that he could destroy any other vampire on this list in a fight, and if that is the case I want a front row seat.

5. Count von Count from Sesame Street

Although Count is easily the least scary vampire on this list, he is also by far the most educational. Teaching children how to… wait for it… count since 1972, he is one of the best Sesame Street characters and perhaps the only vampire that I would consider cuddly (in the traditional sense). With a sharp sense of humor and a vampiric accent modeled after Bela Lugosi, you can’t help but loving this Count. Mwah ha ha.

4. Lestat de Lioncourt from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice 

Although I have great admiration for Tom Cruise’s surprisingly potent portrayal of this iconic vampire in the 1994 film adaptation (and with a silly shout out to the misguided Broadway musical adaptation), it is Lestat on the page as written by Anne Rice that is the true awesome creation. In various other novels in the Vampire Chronicles series (Queen of the Damned, The Vampire Lestat – both quite good), this character is written as something of a hero, but Interview (his first appearance) paints a far more complex and compelling picture and that is how I choose to remember him. Vain, ostentatious, and almost completely lacking in morals, Lestat is incredibly powerful and just a tad bit deranged. His bisexuality and accumulation of a vampire child speak to his overwhelming appetite for life, as does his love for music and parties. He is a perfect creation of gothic horror, and it is in the ways that he is unlike other vampires that make him so exciting and frightening.

3. Count Orlok as portrayed by Max Schreck in Nosferatu

Although clearly based on Dracula (the subject of a noted legal battle), Count Orlok has survived the test of time and stood out on his own thanks to the simple horrors of F.W. Murnau’s German expressionist film. Look at that image above. That is the stuff of nightmares. Nosferatu did not need blood or extreme violence to paint a portrait of a great vampire, but rather shadow and suspense. The strangely shaped head and ears, incredibly sharp teeth, and altered posture form together in Max Schreck’s brilliantly physical performance. He haunts, he stalks, and he pervades my nightmares. Terrifying! (A Note: as mentioned in my honorable mentions, the very clever film “Shadow of the Vampire” suggests that perhaps Max Schreck himself was a real vampire. It makes for a phenomenal double feature with this classic.)

2. Dracula, created by Bram Stoker in 1897

Although not the true original, vampires as we think of them today would not exist without Count Dracula. Loosely based on the tales of Vlad the Impaler, Count Dracula is a chilling figure and arguably one of the most famous literary creations of all time. He has been portrayed countless times in films, from the iconic Bela Lugosi in 1931’s phenomenal Universal horror film Dracula (pictured above) to the performances of Lon Chaney Jr., Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, Gary Oldman, and even (sigh) Adam Sandler. Dracula can currently be seen on the NBC TV series of the same name as portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Each actor brings their own stamp to the role, but it can all be traced back to Stoker’s original creation. The aristocratic malevolence, the dark Gothic castle, the superhuman strength, sharp teeth, ability to transform into a bat, powers of control and seduction, etc. are quintessential traits of the vampire that have been used and recreated time and time again. Dracula is the King of the Vampires, both in his stories and in his legacy.

1. Spike (aka William the Bloody) as portrayed by James Marsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

My love for vampires would not exist without Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and by extension Spike, my selection for top vampire. From his introduction in the Season 2 episode “School Hard” to the final episode of Angel, Spike defied all notions as to what a vampire character can be and at various times existed within all of the various archetypes. He begins as the viscous, violent, and evil monster that we immediately think of when the word vampire comes to mind and evolves into the wacky sidekick, the soulful lover, the morally ambiguous partner, and ultimately a hero… all while never getting rid of the monster within. James Marsters’ performance was incredibly sexy and charismatic, and he could play scary, poetic, and funny somehow all at the same time. He even proved to be a rock star in the musical episode “Once More With Feeling.” All of the best traits of the vampire are rolled into one package with Spike, and to my mind he is a character (and monster) for the ages.


Exit mobile version