TV Vampire (s)Takedown

And the winner is... SPIKE!

William the Bloody (awful poet) takes the honors in our poll.  It seems audiences like a bad boy, particularly when he's a blond Adonis who gets all the best lines. Spike is a sublime fantasy boyfriend: funny, devoted, and capable of razing a house to the ground with the ferocity of his lovemaking, all the while harboring a nasty unpredictable streak that keeps things from getting boring.

Thanks to all who participated...and condolences to my beloved Count Floyd.

—Arthur Smith

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(1997 to 2004)
Angel and Spike: A sort of male vampiric Betty and Veronica: Buffy the Vampire Slayer's dark, brooding, sensitive Angel and blonde, wicked, bad boy Spike sent Buffy’s hormones racing and sparked endless fan debate over the which was the groovier ghoulie. Must a girl choose? Warning: Angel turns evil after sex, and Spike writes bad poetry. Pick your poison.



(1997 to 2004)

See Spike.



Eric Northman 
(2008 to present)
Bill Compton and Eric Northman: A sort of male vampiric Betty and Veronica: True Blood’s dark, brooding, sensitive Bill and blonde, wicked, bad boy Eric sent Sookie Stackhouse’s hormones racing and sparked endless fan debate over which was the groovier ghoulie. Must a girl choose? Warning: Bill has a terrifying singing voice, and Eric spends most of his time in a tacky bar glaring at people. Pick your poison.



Bill Compton 
(2008 to present)

See Eric Northman.



Mick St. John 
(2007 to 2008)
Moonlight’s eternal wanderer Mick St. John solved crimes and helped people with their personal problems in this demonic take on Highway to Heaven. Sadly, Moonlight’s ratings took a highway to a more southerly location.




Barnabas Collins 
(1966 to 1971)
Dark Shadows’ resident vamp was in the classic style, and actor Jonathan Frid’s lovelorn performance made the gothic soap a cultural phenomenon. Barnabas was simultaneously romantic and cruel, a potent combination that had female viewers swooning over their bon bons during his late sixties run.



Stefan Salvatore 
(2009 to present)
The Vampire Diaries brings us the garlic-abjuring brotherly duo of Stefan and Damon Salvatore, a couple of nice, clean-cut all American boys with creepy powers and cheekbones for miles. It’s nice to see Lost’s Boon back from the dead, though his attitude has taken a nasty turn.




Damon Salvatore 
(2009 to present)
See Stefan Salvatore.



The Count 
(1972 to present)
Why do they call him The Count? Because he loves to count! Sesame Street’s most elegant muppet, Count Von Count, substitutes bloodlust with a mania for tabulation—a bit perplexing, really, but he gets style points for the monocle and the best evil laugh ever. Ha ha ha ha ha! (After reports that his laugh, accompanied by crashing thunder, scared small children, Sesame Street has toned down the Count’s spookier attributes.)

(1998 to 2004)
The delightful distaff vamps of Buffy the Vampire Slayer also came in a blonde-n-brunette duo: Darla, a classic icy femme fatale, and Dru, crazier than an acre of snakes. Beautiful, perverse, funny, and dangerous, these cold-blooded hotties inspired many daydreams of the ultimate hickey.



(1998 to 2004)
See Darla.





Julian Luna 
Kindred: The Embraced was a short-lived series, but its premise—a series of highly variable vampire clans participate in an elaborate “Masquerade” to live among humans—was intriguing; it was sort of The West Wing of vampire shows, with Mark Frankel’s Prince Julian more of a harried bureaucrat than romantic monster. 



Kurt Barlow 
Stephen King’s 1970s miniseries Salem’s Lot deviated from the sexy/suave vampire model to horrifying effect. The vampire’s manservant, Straker, as played by iconic British actor James Mason, provided the continental charm and patrician bearing normally associated with the traditional children of the night; Barlow, the vampire proper, harked back to the rodent-like, repulsively terrifying Nosferatu of Murnau’s classic silent film. Barlow was an indelible image of horror, and occupied the heart of one of television’s most genuinely frightening vampire tales.


Nick Knight 
(1992 to 1996)
By popular demand.




Count Floyd 
(1976 to 1984)
Joe Flaherty’s SCTV newsman Floyd Robertson, the serious, competent foil to Eugene Levy’s hapless coanchor Earl Camembert, moonlighted as the vampire-themed host of the fictitious network’s cheesy late-night horror program "Monster Horror Chiller Theater." Floyd’s zany howls of terror, sweaty pleas for the kids to send in money for 3-D glasses, and desperate catchphrase “wasn’t that scary?” (the movies were inevitably, pathetically poor) all indicated Robertson’s well-documented drinking problem held sway in the wee hours of a long broadcasting day. Count Floyd wasn’t scary in a traditional sense, but his very existence—was Robertson forced to take this gig to pay for rehab and alimony?—was sad and disturbing. And hilarious.

Count Chocula 
(1971 to present)
The most delicious of the monster cereals? Certainly more recherché than the sickly sweet Franken Berry, but our favorites are actually the piquant Boo Berry and the vanishingly rare Fruit Brute. Still, as far as vampire-themed cereal mascots go, Chocula is clearly the man to beat.


Janos Skorzeny 
Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a precursor to The X-Files (which was a precursor to Fringe, for our younger readers), a supernaturally themed thriller program whose eponymous investigative reporter covered the freaky beat. In the first Kolchak outing, our hero tracks Janos Skorzeny, a serial killer, who turns out to be a vampire. In one tense scene, Kolchak confronts Skorzeny in a hospital, where the vamp is stealing blood. Kolchak proved that vampires could be viable and scary in a completely contemporary, banal setting, a notion that has inspired many subsequent chroniclers of the undead.
  • well duh spike won. to all those people accusing spike fans of cheating or whaterer: just shut up already and stop being such sore losers. :P

    spikeluvr, March 31, 2010 at 2:27 pm

  • Spike won?  Seriously?? (HUH???? Ridiculous. Go figure).  Actually, that merely shows the ubiquity of the Buffyverse:  two Joss Whedon shows, Buffy and Angel, that ran one after another for eight years during week-night prime time on the WB, then seemingly forever in syndication without letup (still!) on TNT ... whereas most of the other vampire shows either ran/run when/where they necessarily had/have far fewer viewers than they might have during broadcast prime time (Forever Knight ran late at night on Saturdays, 11:30 pm or midnight, when I watched it in Chicago, whereas True Blood is available only on premium cable to HBO subscribers); had a very short run (Moonlight, Blood Ties, and Kindred: The Embraced); are too old to be remembered by most of the folks most likely to take this poll, i.e., younger than the current TV audience as a whole (Dark Shadows, Kolchak: The Night Stalker); or are too new to have enough fans yet (The Vampire Diaries).  Given how long the Whedon shows have been on air, one could have predicted that one of his characters would win without any regard whatsoever for the merits or demerits of those characters.  It's just the side effect of greatest public access and repetition breeding familiarity.

    All of which means: this poll ain't about which TV vampire was the best or most interesting, it's really about the one(s) who got the most airplay.  Period.

    Because if it ***had*** been about the most interesting and original take on a vampire, Nick Knight would be the winner.  The whole tortured-vampire-as-detective who tries to make amends for his formerly obnoxious undead life began with Forever Knight.  Even the Buffyverse copied from Nick Knight -- whether Joss Whedon ever admits that or not, it's bloody obvious.  So to speak [wink!].


    webdiva, January 30, 2010 at 4:49 am

  • I'm just bummed that vampires from all the recent series were listed to vote for - except Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties.

    Nothing new - fans of Henry Fitzroy are used to being ignored.

    Of course Blood Ties aired on ... ahem ... Lifetime which could explain a great deal ;-)

    As for sexy, he should definitely have been in the top 10.


    meretean, December 01, 2009 at 11:28 am


    littlebullet, November 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm

  • I assume you guys checked to make sure the poll was not manipulated in the last 24-36 hrs of the contest? Especially since Eric and Angel changed percentages so *rapidly*.

    Aurora, November 10, 2009 at 7:10 am

  • Thanks to all who voted and if you're in the New York area, please come to the live event on the 14th, where the debate will continue in person! We'll be discussing some of the great points that were brought up in this comment thread.  Bring your questions, comments and vampire trivia knowledge.  

    Kate, November 05, 2009 at 2:37 pm

  • Well, I see the best vamp won (again.) Spike usually does win in these polls, whether multiple voting is allowed or not. Big thanks to the Paley Center. It was fun!

    HappyMeal, November 02, 2009 at 10:17 pm

  • Dear Paley Center Folk -

    Hope you will produce a DVD of your "Dark Shadows at Twilight" event for all the fans that can't be there -

    nmcil, November 02, 2009 at 8:21 pm

  • Why can't we all just get along?  Thanks Joss for giving us Spike and Angel and Darla and Dru.  Thanks Paley for showing respect to the genre and the vamp-luv.  And thanks James Marsters for breathing such life (pun intended) into a throw-away character that he became the best-loved TV vampire across several decades.

    tucker, November 02, 2009 at 6:50 pm

  • you do realize MiuMiu that you are being just as subjective, opinionated, and disdainful of other people as you claim that the Spike supporters and fans have been.

    Kudos to you however on your comments regarding the splendid work that Joss Whedon has done creating not only Spike and Angel, but his entire Buffyverse and Angelverse.

    Dear Mr. Smith -

    Thanks for letting the fans have their chance to support the fav TV Vampire and help support genre programing. 

    nmcil, November 02, 2009 at 6:38 pm