Vampire (Stephen King)

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Vampires appear throughout Stephen King's fictional multiverse. They appear in the novels 'Salem's Lot, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower; the short stories "One for the Road", "The Night Flier", "Popsy", and "The Little Sisters of Eluria"; and are mentioned in a number of other stories. Marvel Comics' The Dark Tower: End-World Almanac includes a detailed entry on their categorization.


The majority of vampires that exist in King's multiverse consist of a standard type. These standard vampires exist in at least three facets of King's multiverse: All-World; the fictional setting of 'Salem's Lot and works related to it; and the "real" world.

All three types of vampires drink blood to survive. While they are immune to blood-borne diseases, they can pass them on to their victims. Due to this, in King's multiverse vampires were instrumental in causing the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s.[1]

Most also seem to require being "invited" into a particular area or building by the proper "owner" of the territory. Once invited, they seem to be able to come and go as they please, even if their invitation is verbally revoked.

Type Ones[edit]

Type One vampires are "lesser demons", the last remnants of the Prim (magical beings who predated creation and dissolved when Gan made the multiverse). Although humanoid in shape, they are extremely deformed, with an emaciated appearance; enormous, inch-long teeth that force their mouths open; and large amounts of tumors, body hair, and other physical defects. Their bodies are adapted for the seeking and consuming of blood: their noses are attuned to smell even traces of blood from long distances, their teeth are built for piercing skin and draining blood, their stomachs can expand to hold as much as half their body weight in blood, and their tongue is long and prehensile, and can produce anticoagulants to apply to bites on victims.[2]

Type Ones have lifespans of thousands of years, and can hibernate for hundreds of years. They also are surrounded by blue or indigo auras. These represent their life energy, and when the aura goes out, Type Ones almost immediately putrefy into stinking yellow puddles. Type Ones are vulnerable to faith, and can be driven away or even killed by someone with sufficient belief wielding an object of faith such as a cross, which cause them to burst into flame.[2]

Type Ones are also known as "Grandfathers", and their presence is almost always signified by the presence of "Grandfather Fleas". Grandfather Fleas are large, vicious insects that not only drink blood but eat flesh and lay eggs in corpses. Grandfather Fleas usually begin to appear prior to the arrival of a Type One. Billy-bumblers (such as Oy), creatures native to All-World, are especially adept at killing Grandfather Fleas and are often trained to do so.[2]

Type Twos[edit]

Type Two vampires are former humans who have been bitten by a Type One vampire and the vampire uses his blood to mix with theirs to turn them. Type Two vampires have both limited intelligence and almost no free will, serving almost entirely as an extension of the Type One vampire that bit them. Type Twos have an "unquenchable thirst" for blood, yet are extremely allergic to ultraviolet light, resulting in them shunning daytime for night activities.[2]

It also known that Type One vampires can create thralls to serve as their slaves and executors. Presumably these are not Type Two vampires; Richard Throckett Straker, the thrall of the Type One vampire Kurt Barlow, showed considerable intelligence and independence, moved in sunlight, and showed no taste for blood.[3]

Type Threes[edit]

Type Three vampires are humans who have been bitten by a Type Two vampire. Type Threes can pass as normal humans, as they are able to move in sunlight, survive off of normal food instead of solely blood, and have a higher degree of intelligence and personality than Type Twos. In addition, their bites contain an enzyme that causes temporary memory loss and disorientation in their victims, allowing them more leeway in feeding. However, Type Threes cannot pass along vampirism to those they bite. Type Threes also generate a faint version of the Type One aura, along with a smell such as burnt onions or hot metal, which those with psychic powers can detect.[2] Type Threes can be killed with normal weapons, and when they die their bodies (with the exception of their teeth and hair) dissolve away.

Other types of vampires[edit]

In The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain mentions literal vampire bats whose bite turns victims into vampires.[4]

In The Dark Tower, the existence of "psychic vampires" is revealed, who feed on emotions as opposed to blood, can change shape, and can mask their surroundings via a glamour.[5]


Kurt Barlow[edit]

Kurt Barlow is a Type One vampire who terrorizes the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine, before being killed by Ben Mears and Mark Petrie.[3]

Sister Mary[edit]

Sister Mary, called the "Big Sister", is the leader of a group of vampiric nuns in the short story "The Little Sisters of Eluria". She and her coven are encountered by Roland Deschain after he is badly beaten by Slow Mutants. When trying to escape from the Little Sisters, Roland is temporarily stopped and almost killed by Mary, before being saved by a dog with a cross-like pattern on its coat. From her ability to control Grandfather fleas (or similar insects), immense strength, immunity to firearms, and control over other vampires, Mary is similar to a Type One vampire. However, there were certain differences; for example, none of the vampires under her command had the slightest aversion to sun. While they had "large incisors" when their true form was seen, they were not described to have the typical defects. Mary called herself "more shade than substance", and was almost fluid to the touch. The group couldn't separate for long, and one of them turned into the aforementioned insects within hours of leaving. The group of vampires had a single family line of women entitled to wear an artifact giving them increased control over the insects, but members of that lineage were not necessarily in charge of the group.


Dandelo is a psychic vampire who feeds on emotions. He makes an appearance in The Dark Tower. Using the name of "Joe Collins", he lures Roland Deschain, Oy and Susannah Dean into his cottage on Odd Lane (the street that crosses Tower Road in the White Lands of Empathica) and treats them to a feast. Afterwards, he tells them that before entering All-World, he was a stand-up comedian. Roland asks to hear some of his act, during which Dandelo comes close to making Roland laugh to death. Susannah avoids entrapment because she excuses herself to the bathroom in order to tend to a troublesome sore on her face. There she discovers a note apparently left by Stephen King himself (the note even acknowledges itself as a deus ex machina) that helps her puzzle out Joe's true identity. Susannah returns from the bathroom and shoots Dandelo dead before he can sap all of Roland's life force. She and Roland find a copy of the Robert Browning poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," with several stanzas marked that indicate King's use of the work as inspiration for the trap Dandelo had set.[5]

Roland and Susannah discover that Dandelo had kept Patrick Danville captive to drain of emotions for his own sustenance; at one point Dandelo ripped out Danville's tongue, preventing him from speaking.[5]

The Night Flier[edit]

The "Night Flier" appears in the anthology Prime Evil: New Stories by the Masters of Modern Horror, and then in King's own 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection. He is a vampire mass-murderer who pilots a Cessna Skymaster from small airport to small airport, killing and draining victims during his travels. Tabloid journalist Richard Dees nearly captured him, but was instead left framed for the murders by the Night Flier himself.[6] In the notes to Nightmares & Dreamscapes, King states that the Night Flier is possibly also the titular character of his story "Popsy", who rescues a possibly-vampiric child from an abductor.


  1. ^ Wolves of the Calla
  2. ^ a b c d e Flamini, Anthony (2008), The Dark Tower: End-World Almanac, New York City: Marvel Comics
  3. ^ a b 'Salem's Lot
  4. ^ The Gunslinger
  5. ^ a b c "The Dark Tower, Part Four, Chapters V and VI
  6. ^ "The Night Flier"