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.

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Comments (115)

  • pati  

    THE VAMPIRE DIARIES BEST SHOW EVER!! I LOVE DAMON SALVATORE.

  • keith  

    Well, it's about half right. Forever Knight and Blood Ties, while not spectacular are easily better than half the list. While I'm actually a fan of Vampire: The Masquerade as a game, that show was abysmal. Blade and Dark Shadows were nearly as abysmal. I'll grant you the first four, give or take some positioning. I didn't see a qualifier excluding anime, so there's also Hellsing, which could easily slide into position 5. I think the reason these lists are so inaccurate is because so many titles are missing from the metacritic database completely.

  • luigi  

    true blood is an excuse for ... softporn

  • Anya  

    These are TV vampire shows, not movies. Count Duckula WAS the best.

  • Ingi  

    One thing you have to consider is when the shows are made, Buffy started in 1997 a lot has changed since then.
    why do vampires always have to bee so brooding though, I realy liked Spyke from buffy becous he (almoast) allways lost but did not sulking in a corner in every episode.
    But I think it’s probably the most fun for those of us who grew up watching the shows.

    and just want to point at a movies some might enjoy if they missed it LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, a little bit different.

  • white  

    From best to not-so-best :
    1.Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    2.The Vampire Diaries
    3.Angel
    4.Moonlight
    5.True Blood
    6.Being Human

    I love all 6 of them (well, the last 2 I don't love, maybe just like).
    I don't know the others.

  • blueroses  

    "The short lived 1990 Dark Shadows was also disappointing."

    Actually, the 1991 series was excellent in some respects where I think the original series failed. I'm also surprised Forever Knight didn't make the list but they've got Angel and Moonlight up there, clearly inspired from it.

  • My name  

    1.Buffy
    2.Angel
    3. True Blood

    The rests sucks.

  • steve  

    Best and worst vampire tv-shows. I bet a best & worst Incontinency Special is on the way, too.

  • maz  

    Have to say I am no teen but loved Buffy and Angel to bits - the storylines wenty much deeper than some people seem to realise. The writing and acting were excellent and many still miss the production values from these shows. I like The Vampire Diaries, Being Human and Moonlight - new vamps to add to my lust list, but Spike remains the top man at all times!

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