The 12 Best Vampire TV Shows, According To Ranker

From classics like “Dark Shadows” to current hits like “The Vampire Diaries,” this is a look at all the genre’s most popular undead shows. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the series finale of “The Vampire Diaries,” making it officially Vampire TV Day. However, they are not alone in their depiction of bloodsuckers (to use a derogatory term), and IndieWire has dug through the TV graveyard to discover a ranking of our best fangs.

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Yes, we know there’s a lot at stake here.

This list requires a vampire to be a regular character in at least one of the shows on it. No children’s programming (so no “My Babysitter’s a Vampire”), animation (so no “Count Duckula”), foreign language programming (so no “Vampire Hunters” from South Korea – wow, you guys adore vampires!), or miniseries/anthology programming (so no “American Horror Story: Hotel” or “Salem’s Lot”).

There were also shows that we hadn’t watched yet, such as “Let the Right One In” and “Castlevania,” that was left off the list. And it’s completely probable that a couple more entries were left out since evaluation of the most esoteric candidates was difficult. (The 1990–1991 season of “Dracula: The Series,” for example, is not the easiest to hunt down.)

The following are the standards by which we judge these programs: Overall competence and originality in its examination of vampires are praised. This does not require strict adherence to any canonical vampire mythology, but rather a creative twist on how the motifs of vampire fiction are used.

When you watch multiple vampire TV episodes at once, you begin to see the recurring motifs and plot devices that define the genre. Furthermore, it exemplifies the excellence of those shows that successfully address the issue. But many of them have difficulty.

12. “The Gates” (2010) 

This short-lived ABC drama centers on a mysterious gated enclave that is home to a wide variety of supernatural beings, vampires among them. However, it’s evident from the very first scene that they play a significant role in what happens, especially considering the show’s focus on the topic of vampires attempting to pass as humans. And Rhona Mitra’s performance as a woman divided between two worlds and two wants is fascinating. You may watch it on Hulu and Netflix.

11. “The Strain” (2014-2017) 

This tale of a vampire pandemic that brings New York City and eventually the entire globe to the verge of destruction reads more like a zombie narrative than a vampire one. The FX series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan is just as compelling as “The Walking Dead” when it concentrates on the fall of society and how it affects the main characters. It also has some horrifying vampires or vampire-like creatures. Hulu’s online streaming service is the place to watch it. 

11. “The Strain” (2014-2017)10. “Van Helsing” (2016)

The new Syfy thriller introduces novel elements to the vampire mythos, such as the possibility of a cure for the condition. However, what really sticks with the viewer is Neil LaBute’s concentration on the characters, which results in some surprisingly quiet narrative despite the typically boisterous nature of the genre. Check it out on Syfy’s website. 

Rukiya Bernard in “Van Helsing.”9. “The Originals” (2013-present) 

Do you prefer your vampire stories to have more mythology than a dimming star? If so, “The Originals” is right up your alley, since it plunges headfirst into a family drama steeped in the rich backstory of its characters right from the start. The program, which was spun off from “The Vampire Diaries” but managed to discover its own identity, is notable for the daring decision made to center on a cast of characters who, strictly speaking, are on the darker side the moral spectrum. Watch It: On Netflix Instant Play 

9. “The Originals” (2013-present)8. “Preacher” (2016-present) 

Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is both very charming and incredibly brutal, and this is largely down to the efforts of Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogan, and Sam Catlin, who gave the familiar vampire cliches a new twist. During his entrance, in which he slaughters an entire private plane full of religious fanatics, blood nearly flows out of the screen, and the show continued to exploit his supernatural nature in captivating and terrifying ways. To Be Seen At: iTunes and Amazon both sell it. 

8. “Preacher” (2016-present) 7. “Being Human” UK/US (2008-2013, 2011-2014)

Strange things happen when a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all move in together. Wild antics and a gripping story that plays up the blatantly humorous aspects of its premise while placing the emphasis on the characters rather than the plot are the keys to success here. I know there will be yelling since we decided to combine the two series, but there’s a legitimate rationale for doing so. The original UK production has a better ensemble at the beginning, but a weaker one at the conclusion of its run when it switched to a whole new cast of supernatural people.

While the North American remake’s story arc grew in unexpected ways due to increased episode count, the show’s high quality remained largely unchanged across all four seasons. There are fans of both films (albeit the one you saw initially is probably your favorite). But in any case, it’s a new take on the supernatural genre (especially in relation to the other episodes on our list) and an intense exploration of what it means to be a vampire. Viewing Options: Netflix and Hulu’s Streaming Services

6. “Forever Knight” (1992-1996)

The fact that the show’s protagonist is named Nick Knight has drawn criticism. There is little doubt, however, that this is the progenitor of all “vampire solves crime” procedurals, if not the benchmark. Spoilers abound online, so even though you can’t watch the entire series right now, you can find out that there were some amazing turns.

The show’s stars, Geraint Wyn Davies and Catherine Disher had instantaneous chemistry that made for sharp energy and terrific banter, as evidenced by illegal bootlegs available on YouTube. In addition, let’s be honest: that opening credits sequence is seriously badass. The selection of fonts is excellent. To Be Seen At Purchasable from the iTunes and Amazon stores. 

5. “True Blood” (2008-2014) 

When we witnessed a vampire get killed off in the pilot episode of “True Blood,” we knew we were watching something ridiculous. That entire opening sequence is still brilliant. (You can see it here.) Even though the program’s later seasons faltered badly—especially after Alan Ball left the cast—it remains the only show on this list to deal with the topic of how the vampire cliché is tied to human sexuality in such an open and clear manner. At its most out-there, “True Blood” was a delight to watch. Access is via the HBO streaming services, HBO GO and HBO NOW.

5. “True Blood” (2008-2014)4. “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017) 

What could be considered the successor to “Buffy” received a lot of wit and intrigue from showrunners Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec. Let us, however, use this time to applaud the show’s excellent ensemble, and single out Nina Dobrev for special recognition, as she was asked to play a number of different roles and more than held her own. While the show’s influence diminished with Nina Dobrev’s departure at the end of Season 6, it nonetheless leaves behind an impressive legacy of eight seasons of television and a still-running spin-off. A few great places to catch it online are The CW’s website and Netflix. 

4. “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017)3. “Angel” (1999-2004) 

There were many possible directions that the five-season series “Angel” could have gone in, but at its heart, it was a detective drama that happened to star a vampire (or two). Despite heated disagreements over which season of the “Buffy” spin-off is superior, there is no denying that it included at least a dozen episodes that were among the best television of their time. The genre was profoundly influenced by its mix of darkness, silliness, complexity, and compelling news. Where to Find It: On Netflix and Hulu.

3. “Angel” (1999-2004)2. “Dark Shadows” (1966-1971) 

This 51-year-old gothic soap opera cannot be evaluated using today’s criteria, as it was created at a different age and followed a different production process (1,225 half-hour episodes were made over the course of five years). However, the series is a landmark, thanks to Jonathan Frid’s riveting performance as Barnabas Collins; many have attempted and failed to recreate the show’s success. In this context, the gloomy, lovestruck romantic hero/vampire in a movie was conceived, and this deserves credit. Watch It: On Hulu’s Streaming Service 

2. “Dark Shadows” (1966-1971) 1. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) 

The groundbreaking series created by Joss Whedon has been airing for 20 years and has had an impact on viewers that are still being felt today. Critics and viewers alike have expressed their appreciation for “Buffy,” which has been called “one of television’s most wildly imaginative dramas” (with a wicked sense of humor).

1. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Uneven seasons, odd plot twists, and an episode in which an old woman’s penis grew out of her skull weren’t the only problems. But yeah, it was bold in its storytelling, and more significantly, it set the bar for how a supernatural show can resonate so powerfully with the human condition. There are many beloved characters and stunning moments that we will never forget from this show. It hasn’t aired in a long time. However, “Buffy” continues to dominate the competition. Where to Find It: On Netflix and Hulu.