The vampire genre is one that never gets old. Some of the most successful novels, films, and episodic TV shows through history have fallen in this category. While the genre has definitely evolved over time, certain elements still remain. Vampires are undead, sunlight is bad for them, they’re usually very strong, and often have some kind of supernatural, sexual allure that’s irresistible.
At the onset of the genre, the vampire story was definitely intended to be a horror story. As the genre has evolved over time, while there are still some examples that fall into the traditional horror category, the vampire story now typically needs something other than horror to be successful. Despite this, most successful vampire stories do try to pull in some aspect of the horror genre.
Some of the best episodic vampire TV shows out there aren’t technically categorized as horror but do try to pay homage to the genre from time to time. Here are our recommendations for the best vampire TV shows to binge right now!
This three part mini-series is based on the 1897 Bram Stoker novel of the same name. The series follows Dracula (Claes Bang) from where he originated in Eastern Europe through to his battles with Van Helsing’s relatives.
Despite being based on Bram Stoker’s original text, there are some differences in this screen adaptation. The vampire hunter from the novel, Van Helsing, is actually a nun named Agatha Van Helsing in this version. Some of the vampire mythology also deviates as well.
Although the show received mixed reviews, it is actually categorized as a horror show. Some critics dubbed it utterly binge-worthy, while others professed it had both high and low points. Watch it on Netflix and decide for yourself!
American Horror Story: Hotel (2015)
American Horror Story: Hotel is the fifth season and centers on Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles, California. The hotel is run by The Countess (Lady Gaga) and is the epicenter of many terrifying paranormal events. The Hotel Cortez in this show is somewhat based on the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, which over its lifetime also experiences an unprecedented number of deaths and unexplainable phenomena.
True to American Horror Story form, this season includes a multitude of characters likely to make you shake in your socks. Apart from The Countess herself, who is actually terrifying, this season includes a serial killer that selects his victims based on biblical teachings. The serial killer mastermind responsible for the hotel’s existence also resides there in ghost form.
True Blood (2008)
Maybe more suspenseful than terrifying, True Blood is still one of the best vampire TV shows in modern times. The HBO production is based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. The story follows Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who is a telepathic waitress in Louisiana as she forays into the world of the vampires.
As the show begins, the vampire community has just developed a synthetic blood product that would allow them to feed without hurting actual humans. Throughout the course of the show, the vampires struggle for equality in society. Their re-emergence into the world sees the inception of a number of anti-vamp organizations and conflict naturally ensues.
Funny at times, edgy, and definitely suspenseful, True Blood enjoyed seven highly acclaimed seasons that eventually won them a Golden Globe and an Emmy.
Penny Dreadful (2014)
While Penny Dreadful isn’t just a vampire show, it’s definitely worth a look in. A whole array of famous gothic characters from 19th century gothic fiction show up in Penny Dreadful including Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), Henry Jekyll (Shazad Latif), Van Helsing (David Warner), and of course, Dracula (Christian Carmargo).
Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney) also shows up as the love interest for the mysterious Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). However Vanessa is haunted by Lucifer (who never actually makes a full appearance in the show). Lucifer wants Vanessa for himself. A must watch for fans of 19th century gothic literature.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997)
Although certain elements of the show pay homage to the horror genre, Buffy The Vampire Slayer doesn’t really fall into the category of “scary”. The show follows sixteen-year-old Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) as she attempts to navigate high school in the fictitious town of Sunnydale, California.
Sunnydale, and subsequently the high school, are located on the mouth of hell. Naturally this attracts all kinds of demonic activity to the town. Buffy has supernatural powers that allow her to fight the demons that arrive, but like most teenagers, Buffy has many demons of her own.
Like all good teen dramas Buff has a whole lot of angst and a lot of forbidden romance too. The storyline between Buffy & Angel (David Boreanaz) wasn’t supposed to be a central part of the show, but fans responded so positively to their pairing that it eventually became just that.
When Angel (David Boreanaz) left Sunnydale at the end of the third season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, he wound up in Los Angeles with his own spin off! Fans of this vampire universe actually regard Angel as a more successful show than Buffy The Vampire Slayer as it deals with more mature themes and ideas.
When Angel leaves Buffy behind in Sunnydale, the vampire is lost without his love. In an effort to find meaning in his everlasting existence, he opens a private detective company that serves members of the greater Los Angeles community dealing with demonic and paranormal activity.
The show delves a lot more into Angel’s sordid past as both a young human and a vampire, while also closely examining this idea of a human soul. Also not especially scary, however Angel is dark and very introspective.