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For several decades the vast majority of vampire fiction, whether on page or stage or screen, showed the influence of Dracula. In the 20th century vampires began to turn from being depicted as predominantly animalistic creatures and instead displayed a broader range of human characteristics. The popular American television soap opera Dark Shadows —71 featured a lovelorn vampire, Barnabas Collins.

Vampire fiction entered a new era, however, with the sympathetic portrayal by Anne Rice in her novel Interview with the Vampire Interview with the Vampire was highly popular and sparked a revival of vampire fiction that lasted into the 21st century, and subsequent vampire stories continued to use characteristics established by Rice.

Rice herself wrote several more books in what subsequently became known as the Vampire Chronicles, some of which were later adapted for film. The vampire as a misunderstood romantic hero picked up steam in the later part of the 20th century, particularly in the United States. In Chelsea Quinn Yarbro began publishing her series of Count Saint-Germain books, the main character of which is a vampire of moral character whose bite is an erotic experience.

In many tales vampires are characterized as promiscuous, their appetite for human blood paralleling their sexual appetite. In Lori Herter published Obsession , one of the first vampire novels to be categorized as romance rather than science fiction , fantasy , or horror. Buffy the Vampire Slayer , a television show in which the title character has a star-crossed romance with a vampire, aired from to Vampire romance for teens gained popularity at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st, with books such as the Vampire Diaries series by L.

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Smith and the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight Saga, with its high-school romance and vampires that sparkle in the sun rather than bursting into flames, became a cultural sensation, ensuring a vampire trend for years to come. Vampires also enjoyed popularity as unlikely action heroes. Blade, a half-vampire superhero who first appeared in comic books, was the focus of three films , , Another popular film series, Underworld , , , , explored an ongoing war between vampires and werewolves.

Although vampires had by the 20th century largely become creatures of fantasy, urban myths about vampires continued to persist. As late as the early 20th century, some villages in Bulgaria still practiced corpse impaling. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval.

Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. Written By: Alison Eldridge. Characteristics Because there is a long history of walking corpses and bloodsucking ghouls in folklore, it is difficult to pin down a distinct set of characteristics consistently attributed only to vampires.

Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Dracula, Gothic novel by Bram Stoker, published in , that was the most popular literary work derived from vampire legends and became the basis for an entire genre of literature and film.

It was somehow thrilling to cross the line and love a vampire, or to be seduced by one. Hardly any of that is in the folklore, though.

Myths and scientific realities about vampires

MB: No. All the old reports about vampires talk about real events and real exhumation of bodies of suspected vampires. But they are misinterpretations of the transformative phenomena of corpses: Every exhumed vampire was actually a normal, decomposing body. MCJ: Fear of the dead. The same reason that people, deep down, are still afraid of ghosts. A vampire is a dead body brought back to life, so to speak, perhaps by the devil or an evil spirit.

MB: I think it's connected to two deep aspects of human thought: death and blood. Death is our inevitable destiny.

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Blood is our life fluid. The vampire connects these two aspects in a paradoxical way—it is a corpse who escapes death by drinking blood.

Read Caption. The Bloody Truth About Serbia's Vampire Following a recent scare, experts shed light on the enduring myth of the undead.

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Is it crazy that the town council issued a public health warning? Why did people begin believing in vampires? Why is garlic anathema to vampires? How do modern interpretations of vampires differ from older ones? Has there ever been any proof that a vampire existed? Why does this belief in vampires hang on? Continue Reading. This year-old skeleton from Sozopol, Bulgaria , was found with its teeth removed and stabbed through the chest with an iron rod. Scholars suspect that townspeople did this to ward off vampires—a very real fear in Europe for hundreds of years. The traits of modern-day vampires are pretty well established.

They can be warded off with garlic, or killed with a stake through the heart.


Some, like Dracula, are aristocrats who live in castles. Scholars suspect that the modern conception of these Halloween monsters evolved from various traditional beliefs that were held throughout Europe. These beliefs centered around the fear that the dead, once buried, could still harm the living. Often, these legends arose from a misunderstanding of how bodies decompose.

Heartthrob vampires are drawn from a rich history of myth and reality

People unfamiliar with this process would interpret this fluid to be blood and suspect that the corpse had been drinking it from the living. Before people understood how certain diseases spread, they sometimes imagined vampires were behind the unseen forces slowly ravaging their communities. Trying to kill vampires, or prevent them from feeding, was a way for people to feel as though they had some control over disease.


Because of this, vampire scares tended to coincide with outbreaks of the plague. In , archaeologists unearthed a 16th-century skull in Venice, Italy, that had been buried among plague victims with a brick in its mouth. The brick was likely a burial tactic to prevent strega —Italian vampires or witches—from leaving the grave to eat people. Not all vampires were thought to physically leave their grave.