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SYFY WIRE Features

From sparkles to sick abs: What are the best and weirdest vampire 'rules' in pop culture?

Before we sink our fangs into Reginald the Vampire, let's review some of the standard vampire "rules" and some of the weird ones, too. 

By James Grebey
Various Vampires

Vampires are perhaps the most iconic monsters lurking in the night. Luckily, with that level of fame, the average person has a pretty good idea of what to do if they ever find themselves facing off against a bloodsucker. A stake through the heart will kill them. Silver is bad, too. A crucifix is a good defense against a vampire except for when it isn’t. Sunlight will burn a vampire… unless it just makes them sparkle?

Wait a second…

Yes, it turns out that not all vampires in pop culture operate by the same rules. SYFY’s new series Reginald the Vampire, starring Spider-Man: Now Way Home’s Jacob Batalon, is the latest vampire title to grace the screen. Luckily, Reginald’s vampire rules are, for the most part, pretty standard. (Although Reginald’s vampires, except for the title character, are pretty snobby!)

There’s a baseline of “vampire rules” that we’ll call the Standard Vampire — or rather, standard pop-culture vampire, as common understanding of what a vampire is draws more from Dracula than the folkloric monster. Bram Stoker’s 1987 novel Dracula is the basis for the archetypal vampire, though the now-100-year-old silent film Nosferatu, an unauthorized adaptation of Stoker’s work, deserves some credit too. It’s because of Nosferatu that most pop-culture vampires have a deadly aversion to sunlight. In the original Dracula, the count merely avoided daylight and was, if anything, slightly weakened by it. This was the case in folklore, too. 

Other classic vampire rules can be seen in Dracula. Vampires drink blood. Vampires can turn other people into vampires. Vampires are immortal. Vampires sleep in coffins. Vampires can turn into bats. Vampires are hypnotic. Vampires don’t have reflections in mirrors. And, vampires, for all their supernatural abilities, have a number of weaknesses, too. 

In addition to sunlight, the average vampire can be killed (or at least thwarted) by a stake through the heart, decapitation, fire, silver, garlic, the sight of a crucifix, holy water, and running water. 

Those are the standard vampiric traits that you can assume most pop culture vampires will have. Maybe swap out a weakness or two — vampires in Blade don’t care about crucifixes, for example — but those are the general rules. However, there are some vampires that operate by totally different rules. Here are a few of the standouts. 


Vampires in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books and the film adaptations don’t have to worry about pretty much any of the classic vampire weaknesses. Crosses, garlic, and silver all don’t do anything to them, nor does sunlight. Rather than harm a Twilight vampire, sunlight just makes them sparkle, so they avoid the sun so that they’re less conspicuous rather than to avoid physical harm. Twilight vampires have some other unique attributes, too. They have 25 chromosomes compared to a normal human’s 23, and while they can subsist on animal blood, only human blood will prevent their eyes from changing from their normal color to a golden yellow hue.  

Adventure Time

Vampires in the land of Ooo can be quite varied in power and appearance (the Vampire King is a lion who became a vampire, for instance, and different vampire nobles have their own unique power), but Marceline the Vampire Queen exhibits some nifty traits. While she’s weak to sunlight and staking, it turns out that she doesn’t need to drink blood — she just eats the color red and can drain it from whatever she sinks her fangs into. She can also hover and transform into a gnarly bat-monster, though the latter ability might have something to do with the fact that she was already half demon before she became a vampire. 

The Strain

Guillermo del Toro’s horror series featured an especially gross and upsetting spin on vampires that emphasized the viral nature of the monster. While a Strain vampire has some traditional traits like sunlight aversion and a weakness to silver, in the series vampirism is spread by parasitic worms that transform their host, giving them a long, blood-sucking tongue appendage and causing their hair and, uh, genitals to fall off. 


Morbius, the Living Vampire is not like other vampires because Morbius is a living vampire. It’s right there in the name. As seen in the recent (critically panned) movie, Michael Morbius becomes a vampire not through supernatural means but through science when he experiments with vampire bat DNA. As a result, while he has an insatiable hunger for blood, he doesn’t have any other traditional vampire weaknesses. He also got improved health and some impressive abs out of the deal. Morbius was even weirder in his appearances in Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the ‘90s. The network’s censors wouldn’t allow for any neck-biting or even mention of the word “blood,” so instead Morbius sucked “plasma” from victims via some gross-looking suckers on his hands. 

John Carpenter’s Vampires

John Carpenter’s titular vampires are, more or less, your average vampire. Garlic, silver, sunlight — the usual — it’ll kill them. However, these vampires also have a hierarchy, something that’s not unheard of in vampire media. What’s cool is that Jan Valek, the original vampire, is immune to garlic and silver, and he can only be killed by the very cross that he was crucified on. (He’s still not a fan of sunlight, but if he’d succeeded in his plan to perform his own exorcism, that weakness would have gone away, too.)


Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

The vampire bunny from the delightful children’s book series isn’t evil, nor does he drink blood. Instead, the rabbit with some Dracula-like fur patterns sucks the vegetable juice out of his food with his cute little fangs. We love him. 

Sesame Street

If The Count has ever sucked somebody’s blood, Sesame Street hasn’t shown it. For understandable reasons, the beloved children’s show hasn’t devoted too much time to explaining how The Count feasts or what instruments a Muppet vampire-hunter would need to kill him, but he does, perhaps, exhibit one weakness that vampires have in certain folklore. According to some legends, vampires have an urge to count things, meaning that if you were being chased by one, you could spill a bag of rice, buying yourself time as the blood-sucker stopped to count every single last grain. That’s pretty much The Count’s whole deal. 

Discover how vampires work on Reginald the Vampire when the series premieres on Oct. 5 at 10 p.m. ET, right after the Season 2 premiere of SYFY and USA Network’s Chucky.