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)

  • Lisa  

    Buffy is the best ever with True Blood coming in second. I loved the first 2 Blade movies but the series was not that great. I would put Kindred above Blade and Moonlight. I don't consider day walking vampires to be real vampires. If you don't burn up in the sunlight then I don't think there is much risk. You are just a boyfriend with some problems then not really dangerous and scary. The True Blood vampies are scary and have real problems with daytime so it makes their relationships with humans more challenging which is 10 times better than Twilight will ever be.

  • Aimee  

    Angel should be at #2. Being Human and True Blood are enjoyable, but Angel far outranks them IMO.

  • Chuck Buried  

    As sick as I am of vampire fiction, it's nice to see Buffy (still) getting the respect it deserves. Although Buffy being ranked with these other shows is a lot like a pro boxer being ranked with the high school boxing club. If anything, Buffy should be being ranked with the true art of this medium (The Wire, Six Feet Under), not this dreck.

  • Steve-O  

    I support this post. Buffy/Angel definitely were the best. Never heard of Being Human...will try to look for it on Canadian TV. But overall I'm tired of the whole vampire renaissance and haven't bothered with any of the new shows.

  • Elina  

    in my idea vampire diaries is a really good movie i mean it has a kind of not new subject! but its not that bad i like angel too but buffy is horribleand i dont like it at all.

  • Nandu  

    I absolutely agree with maggiemay - Blood Ties is my fav, too! I also love Buffy and Angel, but forget about the rest. And hey, Blood Ties deserves to be listed! ;-)

  • ShadowLFC  

    I agree that Angel perhaps should be number two, but Being Human is a great show. I'm surprised at the lack of mention of the short lived Blood Ties. Ok it was very budget, but enjoyable

  • Wil  

    Buffy deserves #1, I haven't ever seen True Blood, but I saw The Vampire Diaries. It started out SO bad...like you could tell the first 3-4 episodes were absolutely horrible--almost as bad as Twilight, and then something happened after those episodes...things went in a new direction and the show ended up being one of the best new shows I've seen this past year. They got the characters out of cliche's, and they fleshed them out, and the acting wasn't so horrible either. The best part though was the story: it's rooted in a city with heavy mythos, it's full of cool characters, and the gore...I swear they took a page from "Supernatural" for the gore, and the twists ended up being very well done, and I'll probably be around this show until it falls off the good-quality wagon lol

  • rehabber  

    Don't care for True Blood at all, to much porn for me and the vampires are not even good looking. Vampire Diaries is so much better than the list shows and what other finale gives 7 cliff hangers. SPOILERS:::: Is John really dead, is Jenna dead, does someone get to Jer in time, what is Tyler, did Damon know who he was kissing, does Caroline live, what is Katherine up to? This series just gets better and the writers are excellent. I do agree with Buffy being at the top of the list. Great Grand Ma here so not a teen.

  • Nels  

    The first four ones are actually part of the greatest shows of all time! And Buffy, no question, is an fantastic explosion of complete awesomeness.

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