The best vampire TV shows
- Henry Northmore
- 4 June 2014
As the final series of True Blood airs, we profile the best vampire TV series and where to watch them
Of all the classic monster legends, vampires have captured the pop culture’s imagination the most. From Bram Stoker's Dracula through Nosferatu, The Lost Boys and Twilight, much like the bloodsuckers themselves, the myths refuse to die, being reinterpreted and adapted by each new generation. Even TV schedules are bursting at the seams with undead entertainment of the fanged variety.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
In the show that brought vampires back to primetime, Buffy fights monsters, demons and evil while dishing out sassy quips and multiple beatdowns with equal vigour.
Talent: It’s where Buffy creator Joss Whedon made his name and was crowned a geek godhead. Sarah Michelle Geller was the breakout star as the eponymous kick-ass heroine.
Main vamp: Buffy's vampire love interest Angel (David Boreanaz) was so popular he got his own spin-off series.
Where to watch: Buffy wrapped after seven seasons in 2003 but you can watch all of these on Netflix, buy the complete box set or catch them on SyFy, while the story continues in a series of comics officially sanctioned by Whedon himself.
Being Human (2008)
A British take on a sitcom set-up of a vampire (Aidan Turner), werewolf (Russell Tovey) and ghost (Lenora Crichlow) sharing a house which went into some surprisingly deep and dark corners as the series progressed.
Talent: Created by Toby Whithouse.
Main vamp: Turner’s enigmatic Mitchell was replaced by Damien Molony’s Hal in Season 4.
Where to watch: The final fifth series screened on BBC3 in 2013 but it’s available as a 14-disc box set from 2entertain. Avoid the awful US remake.
True Blood (2008)
The release of a synthetic blood compound causes vampires to come out of hiding and try to integrate with society. An allegory of sexual and racial prejudice spiced up with plenty of action and ‘fang banging’, though many would agree True Blood jumped the shark with he introduction of fairies in Season 3.
Talent: Showrunner Allan Ball was the man who brought us funeral home drama Six Feet Under.
Main vamp: Take your pick from the brooding Bill (Stephen Moyer) or the sexy (and equally brooding) Erik (Alexander Skarsgård). Sookie (Anna Paquin) certainly can't make up her mind.
Where to watch: The seventh and final season starts on Fox on Mon, July 7. Buy the Seasons 1-5 boxset.
The Vampire Diaries (2009)
Continues Twilight’s theme of 100-year-old vampires falling in love with high school girls but with a bit more action and slightly more humour.
Talent: Kevin Williamson mixes elements of his two previous hits; the teen drama of Dawson's Creek and horror of the Scream movies.
Main vamp: The Salvatore brothers (nice-but-dull Paul Wesley and bad boy Ian Somerhalder) compete for insipid love interest Elena (Nina Dobrev).
Where to watch: Season five has just finished on ITV2; season six starts in October. Seasons 1-4 are on Netflix. You can buy the Season 1-3 boxset. Or you might fancy spin off The Originals back on SyFy this winter.
Penny Dreadful (2014)
Not just bloodsuckers but a cornucopia of Gothic monsters cribbed from literature, including Dorian Gray and Frankenstein. Dark and intelligent with a stand-out performance from Eva Green.
Talent: Created by Oscar-nominated writer John Logan with Sam Mendes in the executive producer chair. Take your pick from the impressive cast including Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, Rory Kinnear and Billie Piper.
Main vamp: The vampires are lurking in the background for now.
Where to watch: Currently screening on Sky Atlantic every Tuesday.
The Strain (2014)
Based on a trilogy of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain is a very modern take on the genre with vampirism being spread across New York like a parasitic virus.
Talent: Del Toro knows his way around horror, though sadly John Hurt only appeared in the pilot, with David Bradley taking over the role of Professor Abraham Setrakian for the series.
Main vamp: The Master.
Where to watch: Premiering on FX in the States on 13 July; Watch have picked it up for the UK with a 17 Sept premiere date.
The ultimate vampire, Dracula is given a brand new story that has nothing to do with Bram Stoker’s original novel but instead envisions Drac as an American industrialist who makes a splash on Victorian London’s social scene.
Talent: Daniel Knauf (Carnivàle) is the mind behind this re-imagining while Jonathan Rhys Meyers takes the title role.
Main vamp: The big man himself, Dracula.
Where to watch: Dracula was cancelled after just one season in May but it’s available on DVD (Universal Pictures UK).