Ranked: Vampire TV Shows

Only some of these shows suck

Image Sesame Street doesn't count

Is it possible that Sesame Street’s debonair Count von Count may have predisposed the current generation of TV watchers to regard most vampires as gorgeous rather than grotesque? Almost all of the television Undead are portrayed with some level of allure; for the hundreds of disposable vamps staked by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s always the dangerously attractive Angel, Drusilla, and Spike.

The classic vampiric traits of sensuality, immortality, violence, and angst can add appeal to almost any story. Even relatively obscure shows inspire devotion, with fans of Forever Knight’s vampire detective Nick Knight or Blood Ties’ Henry Fitzroy showing up to passionately plead their case in the comments of the omnipresent Internet polls asking readers if they prefer the Zeitgeist-dominating vamps of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, or True Blood.

Modern vampires quickly made the jump from literature to film, but their small-screen presence has increased sharply as of late. Dark Shadows began featuring a recurring romantic undead character in 1966, and vampires began to manifest in programs such as ’70s supernatural detective show Kolchack: The Night Stalker and Dr. Who.

Image Luke Wilson may or may not have big buck teeth

The Canadian show Forever Knight ran for four years in the ’90s, while south of the border vamps showed up in daytime soap Port Charles. Monster-of-the-week appearances continued as paranormal game-changer The X-Files provided the wretched “3” and the lighthearted “Bad Blood,” which featured a foxy exsanguinating Luke Wilson, and David Hasselhoff offered vampire stories in both Baywatch and Baywatch Nights. UK series The Hunger has recently been getting DVD play in the U.S., while 1998 BBC miniseries Ultraviolet features a young Stephen Moyer playing a less gentlemanly vampire than he does in his current gig on True Blood. Unsurprisingly, bloodsuckers also visited supernaturally themed shows like Charmed, Smallville, Supernatural, and The Wizards of Waverly Place.

On the current global airwaves, the BBC’s Being Human is beginning its third season, and the Israeli teen vampire drama Split appears to owe a lot to Buffy, including its trenchcoat-wearing bad boy vamp and the dorky friend crushing on the female protagonist. And with its international cast leading the way, HBO’s True Blood is a worldwide phenomenon. The third season premieres this Sunday at 9pm, bringing werewolves into the already heady supernatural mix.

Here’s a look at some past and current vampire-themed television shows:

10 Vampire TV Shows Ranked from Best to Worst
Show Network and Year(s) Netflix Metascore Users
1 Buffy the Vampire Slayer UPN/WB, 1997-2003 n/a n/a
Over seven seasons, Sarah Michelle Gellar's iconic Slayer and her quippy sidekicks traversed the treacherous grounds of demon-filled Hellmouths, high school betrayals, black magic, and first loves with increasing subtlety, reaping acclaim for episodes like the tragic “The Body” or the exhilarating musical “Once More, with Feeling.” The Chosen One was recently voted #3 in an EW list of top 100 TV characters. Not surprising, considering she saved the world. A lot.
2 Being Human BBC, 2008-present 79 8.4
This witty dramedy follows the travails of three twentysomething Bristol roommates -- who happen to be a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf, respectively -- as the reluctant supernaturals try to fit into both the real and paranormal worlds. The second season premieres on BBC America on July 24, while Syfy is currently developing an American version. Boo.
3 True Blood HBO, 2008-present 74 8.5
Alan Ball’s insanely enjoyable escapist drama takes as its starting point Charlaine Harris' popular Southern Vampire Mysteries and expands their first-person narrative into a metaphorically rich melange of sexuality, sin, and the South. Out-of-the coffin vampires, telepaths, shapeshifters, small-town bigots, politicians, drug dealers, and other creatures revolve around one another in a pleasurably dense narrative that navigates camp, mystery, romance, humor, horror, violence, and heartbreak with sultry finesse.
4 Angel WB, 1999-2004 n/a n/a
Buffy's vampire beau Angel (David Boreanaz) left one Hellmouth for another in this spinoff, heading to L.A. to combat the demonic corporate law firm Wolfram & Hart. Metaphors abounded as the firm was sustained by human evil while interdimensional demons (“Senior Partners”) manipulated the strings. Angel was canceled despite its popularity, and the fantastically dark last season ended with an apocalyptic showdown that continued in the comic book Buffyverse.
5 Dracula: The Series Syndicated, 1990 n/a n/a
This tongue-in-cheek half-hour Saturday morning serial follows two young Van Helsing descendents, their uncle Gustav, and their friend Sophie as they try to foil smooth-talking international corporate bloodsucker Alexander Lucard (hint: spell “A. Lucard” backwards).  Geraint Wyn Davies, who appeared occasionally as a Dracula protégé (Draculackey?), would later star in another Canadian vampire series, Forever Knight. Wall Street 2, eat your heart out. Literally.
6 Dark Shadows ABC, 1966-71; NBC, 1991 n/a n/a
What started out as a gothic soap turned increasingly supernatural after ghosts appeared in its sixth episode, followed by other paranormal beasties such as the romantic yet creepy vampire Barnabas Collins. One in four households watched the premiere of the 1991 revival, but preemptions from the real-life horror of the Gulf War led to cancellation. Über-fan Johnny Depp will take on the Collins role in director Tim Burton’s 2011 movie version.
7 The Vampire Diaries CW, 2009-present 50 6.0
Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) flaunt sharp teeth and sharper cheekbones as the respectively good and evil vampire brothers battling for the attentions of damaged yet feisty high schooler Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev). Based on the popular book series by L.J. Smith, this paranormal small-town show was created by Scream/Dawson's Creek alumnus Kevin Williamson. Team Pacey!
8 Blade: The Series Spike, 2006 49 7.5
This action drama, based on the comic book character and film series, starred rapper/actor Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones as the half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter and Jill Wagner as Krista Starr, his reluctant human partner with her own agenda. Blade was the first scripted show for the young male-oriented Spike network; show creator David S. Goyer wrote all three Blade films and also co-wrote The Dark Knight.
9 Moonlight CBS, 2007-08 38 9.3
Like Angel before him, hunky private investigator and vampire Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) attempts to exorcise his personal demons by helping others in this well-liked though mostly critically unacclaimed paranormal romance. Luckily, St. John can go out during the day. Veronica Mars' Jason Dohring shines as St. John’s undead friend Josef and Dr. Who's Sophia Myles tries her best American accent as a reporter/love interest Beth Turner.
10 Kindred: The Embraced Fox, 1996 n/a n/a
Loosely based on the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, this San Francisco-based show follows the organized crime-like machinations between five groups of vampires known as The Kindred, who are discovered by police detective Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell) and of course an intrepid blonde reporter played by Gossip Girl mom Lily van der Woodsen (Kelly Rutherford). The show was canceled after only eight episodes.

What do you think?

What is your favorite vampire show? Are you a fan of True Blood? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (115)

  • Cousin Errol  

    Kindred: The Embraced (Vampire The Masquerade) managed to render both genres (vampires and mafia) completely and utterly dull. You should have a list of the ten best and another of the ten worst. Forever Knight would be second only to Buffy just because of the suck (pun intended) ending on the BEST list while Kindred would top the WORST list because it was just so friggin' dull. Seriously, seriously bad was Kindred.

  • mickvamprock  

    Moonlight in my oppinion was the best show i had ever watched. would have been great if they had continued it. unfortunetely i didn't discover it until this recent week, but i've seen every ep and they were all fantastic. Best vamp show ever!!!!

  • Jorgeuhs  

    The best vampire series is hellsing....

  • moreno  

    1. TRUE BLOOD
    2. TRUE BLOOD
    3. TRUE BLOOD
    ...

  • Vamplover  

    Not sure how someone could say "Vampire diaries is teen soap" and then say Buff and Angel are good and above it. In fact although I think the acting was horrid all three of those shows, their all the same genre of Fluffy teen soap. The only thing I would give Diaries over Angel and Buff, is a better storyline, or atleast a present story line. Buff and Angel were the type of series that you could miss an entire season and not be lost when you came back, cause it was the same boring drama.

    True blood however, is not for the teen, that is for sure. I'm not too thrilled with the Bill character, but Eric Northman is a great vampire/actor, as is Anna Paq, and the rest of the crew. For a lack of a storyline, that couldn't be far from true, the storyline is strong, and if you miss an episode you will be entirely lost. Yes there is some "soft core porn to it" but a vampire movie/show without the presence of sex or erotica, is a waste of time to watch, vampires are suppose to be very sexual creatures, and true blood fits that bill, as well as the ruthlessness, and so on. In truth the vampires in True blood are truely how a vamp fan would depict a vampire. The vamps of angel and buffy are little **** especialy if some teeny bopper dike could kill them so easily.

    The True Blood book series is obviously better than the TV series, HBO did do it's own little make over so that it worked for them, and favoring characters that seemed to get good ratings.. Such as.. Lafatte(sp) dies pretty early on, first book in fact. It was actually suppose to be him who died behind mar's, not the black lady from the woods. But he is a favored character so he's survived all 3 series so far, (well i've still got 2 more on season 3 to finish). Yes as with all series there are a few weak episodes with True Blood, or events that the show could have done without, (obviously HBO's changes from the book), but not as bad as Buffy and Angel. My opinion sticks that if you want a good vampire series check out True Blood, avoid the teeny bopper fluff, unless of course you are a teen, then True Blood maybe a bit much for you.

  • PK28  

    BEING HUMAN <3 <3 <3 <3

  • Rells53  

    MOONLIGHT was the best vampire show EVER!!!!!!

  • KAYLERRR  

    1.TRUEBLOOD
    2. VAMPIRE DIARIES THE REST SUCKKKK

  • kayla  

    i LOVE TRUE BLOOD AND THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

  • Kay  

    I am fascinated by your mention of the Israeli series Split! I've never heard of it and can't find any English references. Does that mean it is not yet available in English???????????? I agree with your top 3: Buffy, True Blood, and Being Human. Not sure what order I'd put them in though.

New in Metacritic Features

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/fall-tv-2015-preview-returning-shows Image
    Fall TV Preview: Details on This Season's Top Returning Shows
    September 2, 2015 - 1 comment
    1. RenanAAlmeida : I follow these shows: Gotham, Empire, The Last Man on Earth, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow (last... Read »
  2. /feature/best-tv-shows-of-the-2014-2015-season Image
    Best TV Shows of the 2014-15 Season
    August 12, 2015 - 6 comments
    1. jeffreyglenn : Was great, but not the last season Read »
    2. dunker : I agree with Marc. Sons of Anarchy was a great show! Read »
    3. Unbelievable21 : If I recall correctly, season 2 of Hannibal ended before, and season 3 began after, the window of opportunity to be... Read »
    4. KaizerAlex : I said it before and I'll say it again: Hannibal crushes all of these shows. Read »
  3. /feature/tv-renewal-scorecard-2015-2016-season Image
    2015-16 TV Season Scorecard
    July 8, 2015 - 4 comments
    1. chrismovieguy : nbc made a huge mistake i hate that after one season the extremly charming and funny marry me is being axed while... Read »
    2. dspiro21 : I noticed that Major Crimes and Proof (TNT) are not on the list as well. Read »
  4. /feature/best-new-tv-shows-of-2014 Image
    The Best (and Worst) New TV Shows of 2014
    December 23, 2014 - 15 comments
    1. B3rz3rk : 2014 Top 10 TV Series Fargo True Detective The Fall The Affair Penny Dreadful The Walking Dead American Horror... Read »
  5. /feature/best-new-streaming-movies-and-tv-september-2014 Image
    What to Watch Now: Best New Streaming Movies & TV at Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu
    September 18, 2014 - 4 comments
    1. alvanorichie : Chef is a movie that hardly was shown in the theaters, This has a top notch cast and a fun script. It is very well... Read »
  6. /feature/book-review-11-22-63-by-stephen-king Image
    Book Review: 11/22/63 by Stephen King
    November 3, 2011 - 6 comments
    1. MelancholicAlc : The GIGANTIC PLOTHOLE IN 22-11-63 by KIng: SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER... Read »