A vampire hunter or vampire slayer is a character in folklore and fiction who specializes in finding and destroying vampires, and sometimes other supernatural creatures. A vampire hunter is usually described as having extensive knowledge of vampires and other monstrous creatures, including their powers and weaknesses, and uses this knowledge to effectively combat them. In many works, vampire hunters are simply humans with more than average knowledge about the occult, while in others they are themselves supernatural beings, having superhuman abilities. A well known and influential vampire hunter is Professor Abraham Van Helsing, a character in Bram Stoker's 1897 horror novel, Dracula.
Vampire hunters in folklore
"Professional" or semi-professional vampire hunters played some part in the vampire beliefs of the Balkans (especially in Bulgarian, Serbian, and Romani folk beliefs). In Bulgarian, the terms used to designate them included glog (lit. "hawthorn", the species of wood used for the stake), vampirdzhiya, vampirar, dzhadazhiya, svetocher.
They were usually either born on Saturday (then called Sabbatarians, Bulgarian sâbotnichav, Greek sabbatianoí) or the offspring of a vampire and a woman (typically his widow), called a dhampir in Romani or a vampirović in Serbian. It was also believed that someone born on a Saturday could see a vampire when it was otherwise invisible (and sometimes other supernatural entities as well); similarly for the dhampir. In the case of the Sabbatarians, it was believed in some places that they needed to be fed meat from a sheep killed by a wolf (Bulgarian vâlkoedene); this would enable them not to fear the things that only they were able to see. In Croatian and Slovenian legends, the villages had their own vampire hunters that were called kresniks, whose spirits were able to turn into animals at night to fight off the vampire or kudlak.
In some traditions, the killing of vampires was only performed by vampire hunters. Aside from the well-known manners of execution (staking the corpse, burning it, etc.) that were normally entrusted to them, the hunters were also capable of using other methods such as enticing the invisible creature with music and then shooting it, or throwing its hat or head-cloth into the water and telling it to go fetch it (which caused it to drown).
Vampire hunters in fiction
The vampire hunter has found new popularity in modern fiction and popular culture.
The most widely known example of a vampire hunter is Abraham Van Helsing of the novel Dracula and in other works of fiction adapting or modifying that work. Other more recent figures include Buffy "the Vampire Slayer" Summers from the television show and film of the same name. Buffy's spin-off series Angel is also focused on a vampire hunter, the titular star, Angel "the World's Champion," a vampire himself, is often portrayed battling vampires. Vampire hunters have also appeared in video games, such as BloodRayne.
As well as being knowledgeable about vampire lore, vampire hunters in fiction are often armed with an eclectic mix of items and weapons which are designed to take maximum advantage of the monster's traditional weaknesses. These have included firearms with silver ammunition, appropriate religious symbols, crossbows that fire all wood bolts and even waterguns filled with blessed holy water in the movies The Lost Boys and From Dusk Till Dawn.
The organizational strength of depicted vampire hunters can vary wildly. Most hunter characters are in small groups working alone and in secret. By contrast, the Hellsing Organization in the anime television series, Hellsing is a British government paramilitary strike force with access to troops, heavy combat vehicles and weapons and even allied vampires.
While predominantly depicted as human, examples of other types of vampire hunters also exist. Dhampiric figures, having a mix of human and vampire blood, are a popular form. Alucard from the Castlevania series, and the eponymous hero of the Blade series of comic books, movies, and television series, are both examples of dhampir vampire-hunters. Even rarer are vampire hunters that are vampires themselves. Two examples of this type can be found in Morbius from Ultimate Spider-Man, and Zero Kiryuu in the manga and anime series Vampire Knight.
The image of the vampire hunter is often a mysterious and dramatic avenging hero, an eccentric extremist, or sometimes a bit of both. A hunter may be a heroic figure, a villain, a lonesome avenger, or sometimes, although not usually, a bounty hunter-style character, hunting Vampires for profit. Vampire hunters have also popularly been depicted as hunting various creatures such as werewolves, demons, and other forms of undead as well. Others have been depicted as mages and cyborgs. Vampire hunting as a family tradition or birthright is a popular use of the archetype in fiction.
List of vampire hunters in fiction
- Abraham Lincoln from the novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith and the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
- Abraham Van Helsing, Quincey Morris, Jonathan Harker, Dr. John Seward, and Arthur Holmwood from the novel, Dracula, and some of its adaptations and spin-offs.
- Vampire Hunter D, a half human, half vampire, vampire hunter from the novels, manga and anime Vampire Hunter, Vampire Hunter D, Vampire Hunter D+, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. He is defined as a solo man who professionally hunts vampires during the year 12,090, a time in which all demonic and mythological terrors run rampant and control the wastelands.
- Alucard (Adrian Farenheits Tepesis) the son of Dracula, the antagonist of the Castlevania series. Due to his human mother, Lisa, Alucard is a dhampir, a half-human, half-vampire.
- The Belmont Clan and the Morris family from the Castlevania series of video games. Almost all the main characters of Castlevania could be called vampire hunters.
- John Constantine, a magician, con man, and occult detective who occasionally fights vampires in stories from the Hellblazer and I...Vampire.
- Alucard (Dracula backwards) is a vampire from the Hellsing Organization, who, along with his master Integra Hellsing; servant/daughter/offspring, Seras Victoria; (retired) old friend, Walter C. Dornez; and Wild Geese captain, Pip Bernadotte hunt other vampires.
- Alexander Anderson works for the Vatican's secret Iscariot Organization (Section XIII), who act like the Hellsing Organization, but are more fundamental, and serve to fight for Catholicism, as opposed to Hellsing protecting the prothestantism. Iscariot is more radical and fundamental exterminating any humans who ally themselves with the undead. Other members include their leader, Bishop (later Archbishop) Enrico Maxwell,his adviser Renaldo and other assassins, Heinkel Wolfe and Yumie Takagi.
- Django from the Boktai game series is a Vampire Hunter who seeks revenge over Count of Groundsoaking Blood (known as Count Hakushaku in Japan) for killing his father, Red Ringo. The sequel series of Boktai, Lunar Knights, known in Japan as Bokura no Taiyou DS: Django & Sabata (ボクらの太陽DS: Django & Sabata lit. "Our Sun DS: Django & Sabata"), also feature another vampire hunter named Lucian, known as Sabata in the Japanese release, who seeks revenge upon Duke Dumas for kidnapping and killing his beloved Ellen.
- Nick, Sean, and Megan from the film The Forsaken race against time to hunt down one of the first Vampires in existence.
- Dr. Hesselius, from J. Sheridan Le Fanu collection of supernatural tales In a Glass Darkly.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Marley Davidson from the comic book series Marley Davidson, an exorcist and monster hunter.
- Father Callahan from the Stephen King novels 'Salem's Lot and the Dark Tower series.
- Solomon Kane, a character appearing in many works by Robert E. Howard.
- Blade, a vampire hunter featured by Marvel Comics and a trilogy of films of the same name. In his original comic appearances, Blade is a highly skilled human with immunity to vampirism. In later appearances as well as in the films, he is a dhampir, a half-vampire.
- Abraham Whistler, Abigail Whistler and Hannibal King from the third film of the Blade series, Blade: Trinity. Hannibal takes the form of an ex-vampire who was subsequently cured of his affliction and took up hunting out of a desire for revenge.
- Karl Vincent. Karl Vincent is the chief protagonist from the novel Last Rites: The Return of Sebastian Vasilis and is featured in the comic book Karl Vincent: Vampire Hunter.
- The Sinclair Family from the anime version of Karin is sworn to hunt down the vampires of the Marker Clan.
- The Sarafan knights from the Legacy of Kain series of video games. Also, the non-Sarafan vampire slayers, from the first game in the series (Blood Omen 1).
- Donovan Baine, of the Darkstalkers series of video games and animated series, also a dhampir.
- Rayne from the video game series and movies BloodRayne is a vampire hunter and also a dhampir. Also, most of the Spookhouse members, from Nocturne (BloodRayne is a spin-off of Nocturne).
- Jack Crow, and his "Team Crow" from the book Vampire$ by John Steakly, later adapted by John Carpenter for his movie Vampires.
- Derek Bliss, from the movie Vampires: Los Muertos, also presented by John Carpenter as a pseudo sequel to the first movie.
- Anita Blake from Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels.
- Gabriel Van Helsing from the movie Van Helsing. Van Helsing is a member of a large organization called the Knights of the Holy Order who protect mankind from an evil they 'have no idea even exists'.
- Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, and Sam Emerson from The Lost Boys movie.
- Geralt from the Polish The Witcher series. He hunts vampires and all other kinds of supernatural creatures.
- Harry Keogh and others with E-Branch in Brian Lumley's Necroscope series.
- Victoria Gardella from the The Gardella Vampire Chronicles series of historical novels beginning with The Rest Falls Away.
- Steve "Leopard" Leonard, from the Cirque Du Freak books by Darren Shan.
- Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, from the 1974 film of the same name.
- Peter Vincent and Charley Brewster from the film Fright Night and its sequel Fright Night Part II.
- Hoss Delgado of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy is a spectral exterminator who claims to have confronted vampires, among other paranormal entities.
- Dr. Von Goosewing, an inept German goose that claims to be an expert, "greatest wampire hunter in ze vorld" in the Cosgrove Hall show Count Duckula.
- Carlisle Cullen, in the novel Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Carlisle hunted vampires with his father, a local priest, before becoming one himself.
- Rashel Jordan, from the book The Chosen in the Night World series by L.J. Smith. Rashel killed her first vampire when she was 9, some years after the same vampire killed her mother and aunt. She later falls in love with a vampire.
- Magiere and Leesil, the former a dhampir and the latter half-elven hunt vampires with fey-dog, Chap. From Dhampir by Barb and J.C. Hendee.
- Adrian Kane, a vampire hunter trying to find the vampire who has his brother's soul from Teresa Medeiros's After Midnight.
- Robert Neville in Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, kills vampires while they sleep during the day.
- Gregory Salazar in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, a play by Charles Busch. Salazar disguises himself in drag as a gossip columnist to get close to the two titular vampires who are 1930s movie stars.
- Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson, a character created by Patricia Briggs, a Native American coyote shape-shifter who can see ghosts and is a Volkswagen mechanic of Tri-cities, WA. Slew two vampires in the book, Blood Bound the second book of the Mercy Thompson novels. Additionally she killed two rogue werewolves in the first book in the series Moon Called, a human rapist in Iron Kissed (third in the series), and another vampire in the fourth book Bone Crossed.
- Kuroe Kurose from the manga Blood Alone. He is immune to vampire's hypnosis.
- Michael Colefield and the covert paramilitary forces of Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith from the 1998 British television serial Ultraviolet.
- Jesus Christ, as depicted in the Canadian cult film Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.
- Touga Yagari and Zero Kiryu from the manga and anime Vampire Knight.
- Damali Richards and The Guardians Team from the Leslie Esdaile Banks books The Vampire Huntress Legend Series.
- Christiano Pena from the Brazilian soap-opera Os Mutantes - Caminhos do Coração. He is a mutant with vast psychokinetic abilities such telekinesis, pyrokinesis, hydrokinesis and atmokinesis, and he is fanatical vampire slayer. He desires to destroy the series' one protagonist, the benevelont female vampire Natália.
- Saya, a dhampir from the Blood: The Last Vampire films.
- Special Deputy Jameson Arkeley, A Special Deputy U.S. Marshal tasked with hunting down the last remaining vampires in David Wellington's Thirteen Bullets.
- In Tsukihime, Arcueid is a True Ancestor, a variation of a vampire, tasked with eliminating Dead Apostles, another variation of vampires. Ciel is a member of the Burial Agency, an organization within the Vatican, that specializes in hunting vampires and other supernatural beings.
- Joss Mcmillian, became a vampire slayer after his sister was killed by one. From the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer.
- The Soldiers of the Sun, a militia run by the Fellowship of the Sun, a Christian anti-vampire group from the television series True Blood. Members include Jason Stackhouse and Luke McDonald.
- Sam and Dean Winchester, from the US drama and horror television series Supernatural. The two brothers were trained by their father to be destroyers of malicious supernatural creatures, some of which happen to be vampires. Episodes containing vampire and/or vampire-like creatures include Bloody Mary, Scarecrow, Dead Man's Blood, Blood Lust, Fresh Blood, A Very Supernatural Christmas, Monster Movie, and When the Levee Breaks.
- Sonja Blue from Nancy A. Collins's novel Sunglasses After Dark and its sequels is an almost-vampire who hunts other vampires, along with other supernatural monsters.
- "Mister" from the film Stake Land.
- Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, has on several occasions encountered and killed Vampires.
- Skyrim- In the video game Skyrim DLC The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard the player is introduced to a group of vampire hunters called the Dawngaurd.
- The Vampire Diaries- Jeremy Gilbert comes from a line of Vampire Hunters and takes up his birthright after becoming a member of The Five, an elite group of Vampire Hunters. He stakes the original vampire, Kol, in an attempt to discover the cure for vampirism (revealed on his Hunter Mark after killing vampires.) Alaric Saltzman is another prominent vampire hunter who is eventually killed after becoming an Original himself. There are many more, these two being the main hunter characters.
Vampire Hunters in the News
In March 2007, self-proclaimed vampire hunters vandalized the grave of former Serbian president Slobodan Milošević and staked his body into the ground by driving a stake into the grave. Although the group involved claimed this act was to prevent Milošević from returning as a vampire, it is not known whether those involved actually believed this could happen or if the crime was simply politically motivated.
Vampire Hunters in Games
- Abbott, George F. 1903. Macedonian Folklore. Pp.221-222. Cited in Summers, Montague. 1929. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. Republished 2008 by Forgotten Books. P.36
- Димитрова, Иваничка. 1983. Българска народна митология. Online article (Bulgarian)
- McClelland, Bruce A. (2006). Slayers and Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. University of Michigan. pp. 62–79. ISBN 978-0-472-06923-1.
- Маринов, Димитър. 1994 (first edition 1914) Народна вяра и религиозни обичаи. Online excerpt (Bulgarian)
- Петровић, Сретен. 2000. Основи демонологије. In: Систем српске митологије. Просвета, Ниш 2000. Online (Serbian)
- Gee, James Paul (2007). "Pleasure, learning, video games, and life: The projective stance". A new literacies sampler (CiteSeer) 29. ISSN 1523-9543.
- Time Magazine
- The New York Times
- Serbian vampire hunters prevent Milosevic come-back, The Register, retrieved 29 June 2012
- Vampire slayer impales Milosevic to stop return by Gabriel Ronay, Sunday-Herald.com, retrieved 9 November 2007
- McClelland, Bruce (2006). Slayers and their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472069233.
- Perkowski, Jan (2006). Vampire Lore. Slavica.