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The premiere of SYFY's new series Reginald the Vampire has us thinking about how kind-hearted Reg (Jacob Batalon) got sired into the vampire world and now he's stuck trying to find his place amongst the vapidest and shallow creatures one could imagine. Being the one vampire who doesn't want to feed on humans or hurt anyone is the definition of an undead nightmare. But, television has shown us that while Reginald might be the vamp rarity, he's not entirely alone in the genre as a bloodsucker with a retained moral compass.
There have been decades of Vampire television shows that are riddled with alternate versions of the demon that aren't really down with wiping out humans for fun. In fact, their arcs are some of the most memorable in the genre because the medium allows for richer context, deeper history, and the slow-burning pressure of vampire temptation versus abstinence. Here are some of our favorite "not so bad" vampires who strive to best their cursed unquenchable thirst.
Mick St. James, Moonlight
While Moonlight (2007) only lasted one season, the vampire character of Mick St.James (Alex O'Laughlin) captured the hearts and minds of many viewers. Mick is a private investigator in contemporary Los Angeles who has existed for 85 years without killing to eat. He haunts blood banks or takes sips from criminals to stay alive. In 1952, Mick was turned by the woman he married and they co-existed in a not-that-healthy relationship where she fed without guilt and he maintained his self-imposed rules. He eventually had to kill her for kidnapping a child, which only reinforced that his moral compass remained present in his vampiric self. A little old-fashioned, romantic, and with a do-gooders soul, Mick St. James gave Moonlight a unique protagonist within the vampire genre.
Simon Lewis, Shadowhunters
The best friend of Shadowhunters series protagonist Clary Fairchild-Fray, Simon Lewis is her loyal childhood BFF who is ride and then dies, all the way. Sweet, nerdy, and ready to do anything if Clary asks, he starts out as a normal human but is then turned into a vampire. Initially, he wakes despondent about being turned into a monster but he comes to see the potential of his new self. Through the course of the series, he evolves as a vampire who can be in the sun and often avoids the ruthlessness that is inherent in his kind. He loves and protects those close to him and remains a sympathetic figure who suffers when he thinks he may have done wrong by anyone.
Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
First introduced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997), Angel is (at that time) an entirely unique vampire cursed with his soul. After he was first turned, he spent almost 200 years as the evil vampire Angelus. Cutting a swath of death and destruction across Europe, a gypsy ultimately cursed him to get revenge for a family member he felled. He's since roamed the Earth trying to make amends for all the terrible things he did without his soul. Of course, he dipped back to his terrible ways when he achieved a moment of "perfect happiness" sleeping with Buffy Summers and runs amuk for a bit until she reinstalls the curse. But within the narrative of Buffy and then in his own series, Angel (1999), he really became the poster child example of a vampire who accepts a new purpose to overcome his hideous nature and do good in the world. Plus, he brooded a lot which was kind of hilarious.
Aidan Waite, Being Human
In the SYFY remake of the BBC series Being Human, Aidan Waite (Sam Witwer) is a 260-year-old vampire who lives among humans in contemporary Boston. A nurse by profession, he literally makes it his job to keep humans alive. Uninterested in abiding by the mandates of his vampire culture, Aidan is portrayed as a demon in a constant war with himself to be more human. Even as he tries to retreat from the hierarchy of his kind, he keeps getting pulled back in and tempted by the desires that separate him from being who he wants to be. A healer by nature, Aidan holds onto that purpose and over and over again actively tries to save humans and vampires from death in its many forms. He's rather noble, even with his falls from grace, and makes a strong case for the power of someone's soul.
Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows
TV's first vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows (1966) revolved around the Gothic vamp existence of Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). To start, post-turned Barnabas was pretty terrible and embraced doing all of the badness. But he was so appalled by his own behavior, he asked his father to just stake him and be done with it. Instead, he was imprisoned inside a coffin in the family mausoleum until he was freed 175 years later. He woke up and did some very vampire-y things, but ultimately his love for Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) is what ignited his redemption arc. He came to care for her deeply, and he actively sought to protect her and his family. Straddling the line of demon and romantic hero, Barnabas stoked the conversation of whether a monster was redeemable.
The Count, Sesame Street
Who didn't learn their numbers and basic math from The Count von Count on Sesame Street? The purple vampire is responsible for generations of kids eventually being able to balance their checkbooks, and for all of us adding an accomplished "Ah, Ah, Ah!" to the end of any successful numerical computation. First introduced in 1972, The Count has never been responsible for any bloodletting on Sesame Street and we continue to thank him for his stellar self-control.
Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
The other Alpha vampire introduced on Buffy the Vampire, Spike (James Marsters) begins his vampire existence as part of Angelus' European terrorizing pack. Then, he gets the taste for Slayers and makes a point of hunting them down through time. When he tracks down Buffy Summers, their traditional cat and mouse dynamic is adversarial. But, when the government puts a chip in his head which makes it impossible to feed (or hurt) humans, Spike ends up begrudgingly helping Buffy and then falling in love with her. They embark on a toxic relationship and knowing he's still a monster, he leaves to embark on a series of trials that allow him to regain his soul to finally be worthy of her. Not exactly vampiric behavior, but it is the kind of sweeping, romantic gesture that his human self was prone to make. A hero by choice in the end, Spike is the rare example of a vampire in the genre who embraces the chaos of his inner demon but is firmly ruled by the whims of his unbeating heart.
Grandpa Munster, The Munsters
The king of the son-in-law burn, Count Sam Dracula (Al Lewis) was really only interested in being the bane of Herman Munster's existence during the two seasons of the sitcom, The Munsters (1964). At 378 years old, he's long past his virile vampire prime so the series presents him as essentially a retiree. He makes things in his lab, complains a lot and we never see him feed. In truth, Grandpa Munster might be the most benign example of a vampire in any TV series.
Elijah Mikaelson, The Originals
The Originals series was all about the vampire lineage of the Mikaelson family, who are the first vampires to exist. Elijah (Daniel Gillies) is one of three siblings and actually has the nickname of the "Noble Brother." The most tempered of the family, Elijah operates in the world with control and purpose, and harbors a romantic sensibility. The peacekeeper of the family, he's often stuck mediating the demonic impulses of the rest of his family. But he's also not an angel or as honorable about his nature as some of the other sympathetic vampires on this list. However, in the series finale, he makes a huge sacrifice so that he can stay with his brother Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and once again proves how rare of a vampire he is amongst his own.
Catch the series premiere of Reginald the Vampire when the horror-comedy series makes its SYFY debut at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 5.