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Vampires are often depicted as pale-skinned people with big fangs.

In folklore and fiction, a vampire is usually a type of monster that was originally human but has been transformed.[1] In many vampire stories, a vampire inhabits the body of a person who has died. For that reason, a vampire usually sleeps in a coffin. A vampire needs to feed on the blood of living humans to stay alive and obtains that blood by biting its victims. Provided that it continues to feed on the blood of the living, and escape the many ways to destroy a vampire, the monster can live for hundreds of years or potentially forever.

In much old folklore, vampires are often depicted as dark, ruddy colored and bloated. In more recent times, however, they are often depicted as pale and thin.

The most famous vampire is probably Count Dracula.

In many vampire stories the victim becomes a vampire after being bitten. The details of how this happens vary from story to story. In some stories the transformation happens instantly, in others the process of vampirization is long and slow, involving the vampire making repeated attacks on the same victim.

Some vampires in fiction are able to change into bats and fly. In the novel Dracula, Count Dracula is able to change into a bat, a wolf and a mist. Dracula is also able to partially hypnotize people.

The easiest way to tell if someone is a vampire, according to tradition, is to see if the person casts a reflection in a mirror, vampires do not.


Abraham Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) uses a crucifix to repel Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) in a colorized scene from the 1931 film Dracula.

According to folklore and fiction, there are a number of ways to avoid being attacked by a vampire and to defeat one. They include the following:

  • Wearing a crucifix will render a vampire unable to hypnotize you.[2]
  • Garlic can be used to ward a vampire off easily.
  • Vampires can be killed by splashing them with some holy water.
  • When being chased by a vampire, spill several grains of rice or seeds. The vampire will be compelled to count every one of them.
  • A vampire can be killed by a stake in the heart, or via decapitation.
  • Vampires are repulsed by silver.
  • Sunlight is often said to destroy vampires. For that reason, vampires are usually said to stay hidden in their tombs or other dark places during the day and only venture out at night. However, some versions of vampires are said to be unharmed by sunlight, and able to venture out during the day.
  • Vampires may only be able to adopt aliases that are anagrams of their real names. Thus in the 1872 novella Carmilla, Mircalla Karnstein calls herself Carmilla and Millarca and, in some media, Dracula reverses his name and calls himself Alucard.

Famous vampires

See also


  1. In some works of fantasy, vampires are a separate non-human, sometimes non-humanoid, race of creatures. An example of this is bat-like creatures featured in J.R.R. Tolkien's works. There are also works of fantasy that feature non-human, but humanoid, vampires. An example of this is the Elvish vampire Jander Sunstar.
  2. Symbols associated with religions other than Christianity may or may not have a similar effect. It depends on the story. In the 1974 British/Hong Kong movie Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires the Chinese vampires are repelled by cards with pictures of Buddha on them.

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