File:S203 Spike.jpg

The character Spike, displaying his vampiric features.

In the fictional world of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, a vampire is a demon of a species which inhabits and animates a human corpse. In Fray, vampires are also called lurks.


The vampires in the canonical Buffyverse differ greatly from the ones which appear in the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, which are able to fly, look pale but relatively human, and do not crumble to dust when killed. Introduced in the first episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, the canonical vampires are explained as being demons inhabiting a human corpse[1]; when the ancient demons known as the Old Ones were banished from Earth, the last one fed on a human and mixed their blood, creating the first vampire.[2] Their main vulnerabilites include a wooden stake through the heart, direct sunlight, fire, and beheading, but they can also be repelled or weakened by crosses and holy water. They cannot enter a human residence without invitation and do not cast reflections, although they can be photographed and filmed. In the Buffy season three episode "Earshot", it is revealed that their inability to cast reflections also extends to their minds; when Buffy is temporarily endowed with telepathic abilities she cannot read Angel's thoughts. A vampire explodes in a cloud of dust when killed; the act of slaying a vampire is often referred to as "dusting" on the show. Despite these weaknesses, vampires possess supernatural physical abilities such as enhanced strength, agility, hearing, smell, and healing. They do not require oxygen, food, or water, but live on a diet of blood; prolonged periods of time without consuming blood can have an adverse affect on a vampire's higher brain functions and they alledgedly become "living skeletons".[3] Vampires have the ability to morph into a demonic visage with a bumpy forehead, yellow eyes, and sharp teeth.

In order to reproduce, a vampire must drain a human being of much of their blood, before forcing them to drink some of the vampire's blood. .[4] This process is known as "siring", and the vampire which does so is referred to as the newborn vampire's "sire". It is regularly established on the show that vampires do not have souls and therefore lack a conscience. Angel and Spike, vampires who have their souls returned to them, are shown to feel remorse for their previous actions.

Variations of vampires are seen on both Buffy and Angel. In the Angel season two episode "Through the Looking Glass", Angel and his friends travel to a demon dimension known as Pylea where vampires are known as "Van-Tals". When Angel attempts to "vamp out", he transforms into a green-skinned, spiny demon and displays animalistic behaviour. In Buffy's seventh and final television season, Buffy encounters the Turok-Han - an ancient species of vampire analagous to Neanderthal man[5]. These Turok-Han, colloquially referred to as "uber vamps" by the characters, are stronger and harder to kill than regular vampires, able to withstand a stake to the chest without dusting. In the comic book Fray, set in the 23rd century, vampires are referred to as "lurks" and are believed to be mutant junkies by the citizens of a dystopian New York City.


File:Vamp Dusted.JPG

A vampire "dusting". The writers felt that having vampires disintegrate after death would be convenient for the story.

The idea of the "vamp faces" — to have vampires' human features distort to become more demonic — was implimented for a number of reasons. Firstly, Whedon wanted normal high school students that the other characters could interact with normally, only to have them turn out be vampires, therefore creating a sense of paranoia. Secondly, he was conscious to make the vampires look physically demonic, claiming, "I didn't think I really wanted to put a show on the air about a high school girl who was stabbing normal-looking people in the heart. I thought somehow that might send the wrong message, but when they are clearly monsters, it takes it to a level of fantasy that is safer. In early episodes, the vampires appeared "very white-faced, very creepy, very ghoulish". This was changed in later seasons to make the vampires look more human, partially because of the sympathetic vampire character Angel, and partially because such elaborate make-up was too time-consuming. Whedon claims that people thought the white faces to be "funny looking" but personally found it creepier, comparing it to the monsters in zombie movies such as Day of the Dead and The Evil Dead.[6] The character of the Master was designed to be in vamp face permanently to highlight his age and make him appear more animalistic; make-up artist John Vulich based the Master's appearance on a bat, reasoning that the character has devolved to a more primal, demonic state over the years.[7]

It was decided that vampires and their clothes would turn to dust after they died because it was more convenient storywise; Whedon wished that the supernatural elements of the show to remain somewhat hidden from the normal world, but didn't want to devote fifteen minutes of each episodes to "let's clean up the bodies" after Buffy slays a vampire. The first episode toyed with the idea that vampires' clothes would resemble the era in which they died, with Buffy identifying one purely due to his dated outfit. Joss Whedon felt this concept was a "charming notion" but ultimately rejected it for the most part because he believed that if every vampire in the show was dressed in old-fashioned clothes, they would cease to be scary.[6]

When creating the vampire "rules" that they would use in the show, the writers chose bits and pieces from various existing vampire lore. They decided not to have the vampires fly as in the Buffy movie because it was impossible to make flying vampires look convincing on a television budget. Some of established rules, such as a vampire's inabililty to enter a home uninvited, both helped and hindered the storytelling. Joss Whedon says that, whereas shows such as The X-Files spend more time explaining the science behind the supernatural and making it as real as possible, Buffy and Angel are more concerned with the emotion resulting from these creatures and events than justifying how they could concievably exist. As such, the shows tends to gloss over the details of vampire and demon lore, simply using the Hellmouth as a plot device to explain unexplainable things.[7]

See also[]

  • Vampire fiction


  1. "Lie to Me", Season 2 episode 7
  2. "Welcome to the Hellmouth", pilot episode
  3. "Pangs", Season 4, episode 8
  4. "Welcome to the Hellmouth", pilot episode
  5. "Never Leave Me" Season 7 episode 9
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joss Whedon.. Commentary for Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth". [DVD (Region 2)]. United States: 20th Century Fox. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Joss Whedon.. Commentary for Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Harvest". [DVD (Region 2)]. United States: 20th Century Fox. 

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