|“||Welcome to my world... It hurts, I know. But it won't for long. Birth is always painful.||”|
— Darla to the newly risen Liam
Vampires (also known as Vampyrs and as Van-Tal in the dimension Pylea) are a species of soulless, undead demons that manifest once their former human body dies, stripping them from all inhibitions and remorse. They are hybrids, and are thus despised by other, "purer" demon species. They are well-known for feeding on the blood of mammals, particularly humans.
The history of vampires has remained hazy. According to a legend told by the Watcher Rupert Giles, before departing Earth the last of the Old Ones mixed his blood with a human's, thus creating the first vampire. Maloker, the Old One responsible for siring the first vampire, was eventually sealed within the Deeper Well. A contemporary of Maloker, the Old One Illyria, stated that she had been familiar with vampires in her time, and that they already existed before the Old Ones were driven from Earth. She, like many full-demons, degradingly referred to vampires as half-breeds. Whether or not the vampires contemporary to or followed immediately after the Old Ones were the Turok-Hans, regular vampires, or both, was never clear.
To create a new vampire, blood exchange is needed. Victims of vampire attacks do not turn into new vampires unless they consume the sire's blood when near death after being fed on by said vampire (or any other). If the vampire drains all of the victim's blood, the victim simply dies. A human who imbibes vampire blood when not at the point of death will not change. Vampires experience sexual pleasure from the act of siring, comparable to orgasm, and sometimes they might sire new vampires by sexual instinct, which would explain why many new vampires were abandoned by their sires.
Following the blood exchange, the victim dies of blood loss and will reawaken on the night after the siring, sometime between sunset and sunrise. However certain other vampires rises a few hours after the blood exchange, sometimes taking up to forty-eight hours. No special preparations, such as burial, are required for the vampire's rebirth. Vampires mostly rise from graves because they spend a time between death and rebirth as corpses and are buried.
In any event, new vampires often awake with a sensation of disorientation, in which most vampires are highly violent and feral, before recovering and realizing their new status.
A vampire's demon core has no personality of its own. Ordinary vampires gain the qualities of the people they were in life, including memories, fears and desires. Mentally, the root of a vampire's evil nature is his or her lack of a human soul. They are unable to differentiate between right and wrong, and have little care to do so.
Most vampires revel in destruction and care only for themselves, but similar to how all human beings possess different qualities, vampires can be equally varied. While all are essentially corrupt, soulless versions of their prior selves, some become direct opposites of the people they were, while others represent an expression of the potential they had in life.
They typically lose their feelings for the people they knew upon siring. One remarkable exception was the case of William Pratt, who retained affection for his mother after his siring, and even turned her in order to free her from death by consumption. When she came back as a vampire and taunted him, he mercifully ended her life. Spike, despite lacking a human soul, showed impressive amounts of loyalty and love (two traits that he possessed in spades when he was alive).
Angelus: As a human, Liam lived haunted by his father's disapproval and expectations that he would never be more than a lazy, womanizing drunk. Upon being sired, Angelus was driven by the memory of his father's contempt to show that he could be something great, and became famous for his sadistic tendencies. He considered himself an "artist", and reveled in destroying people, especially women, mentally and physically, and considered Drusilla his greatest "masterpiece." He also apparently liked the ballet, and was able to enjoy it despite his lack of a soul, and later admitted to enjoying Spike's poetry.
Spike: William the Bloody was an outcast, rejected and ridiculed by his contemporaries whom he regarded as ignorant and insensitive despite their wealth. As a vampire, Spike lashed out at society, rejected bureaucracy, aristocracy and authority and found pleasure in mayhem and chaos, while still remaining a romantic at heart. In addition, William was a shy, lovelorn young man with a peaceful nature and a love for poetry; in contrast, he later was considered one of the most violent vampires to exist—partly as a result of Angelus' influence over him. Both as a human and as a vampire, Spike demonstrated a potential for all-consuming, obsessive love, first for his mother, then for Drusilla, and finally for Buffy. It is interesting to note that many of the sins Spike committed without a soul were done to retain Drusilla's attention and affection, and much of the good he later did can be attributed to his love for Buffy. He often pursued his object of desire to the point of self-destruction. Spike was also the only known vampire to gain a soul on his own. Angel had his forced on him, while Spike did not have this.
Anne Pratt: William's devoted mother feared he was too attached to her but could not bring herself to the cruelty of saying so. As a vampire she has no such compunctions, and taunted William with the insinuation of Oedipal deviancy.
Vampires are commonly described as "dead". Death can be defined as a status in which the body lacks physiological functions, such as having a heartbeat or breathing. However, vampires are able to move, feed, talk and feel. The term "undead" seems much more fitting because vampires, while not alive, aren't dead either.
When a human is sired, their human soul leaves their body and a demon soul takes possession of the corpse, reanimating it and altering its physiology. The demon within the vampire causes these alterations:
- Requires mammalian blood to maintain strength. Usually, this is human blood, but rats, pigs and otters have been consumed as well, though they don't give vampires as much nutrition or satisfaction as human blood. The blood of supernatural, human-appearing mammalian beings, such as the Children of the Senior Partners feeds a vampire as well and often has added benefits (see below). Vampires do not feed on the blood of other demons, and Trask, a member of the Scourge specifically states so.
- Vocalizations such as hissing and roaring reminiscent of lions, tigers, and other big cats whenever they are angered or trying to intimidate and/or frighten their opponents.
- Facial alterations (pronounced brow ridges, golden/yellow eyes, disappearance of eyebrows, elongated upper canines, and pointed upper incisors) when feeding or under stressful situations such as fighting, in which a vampire might assume its real face in preparation for feeding or to intimidate the opponent. In addition to this, a vampire may show their "vampire face" at will , when generally angered, sexually aroused, or suddenly and/or unexpectedly injured. This is the vampire's true face, and their ability to disguise themselves with the face of their human predecessor is one of the vampire's most useful powers.
- While their hearts don't beat, vampires have some kind of blood flow which allows the blood in their bodies to be transported. This also means that vampires can be rendered unconscious if blood flow to the brain is interrupted (Spike did this to Drusilla) and that vampires can become intoxicated (Spike becomes drunk multiple times). Male vampires are capable of having sex, so they do have some blood flow enabling an erection.
- They generate no body heat while at rest, though muscle action produces transient heat. Humans only rarely perceived vampires' skin as cold.
- Their bodies perform motor functions like human bodies, often better than humans.
- Their lungs do not absorb oxygen or any other gases; vampires thus cannot be drowned or asphyxiated, although their bodies may retain the breathing reflex (Angelus choke-holding Spike. A vampire is capable of speaking and smoking, however, Angel says that he cannot give artificial respiration to a drowned human.
- Vampires heal rapidly, albeit in a similar way to human bodies (Spike's broken back heals, but after months have passed). Angelus, for example, was beaten several times with a crowbar, recovered in little over a minute and was able to engage in a full-blown sword fight with Buffy without any physical handicap. However, they can suffer trauma (such as being put into a coma) that renders them unconscious. They can also have unhealable scars under certain conditions. Xin Rong used an enchanted sword to give Spike the scar on his eyebrow.
- Immunity to Diseases - Darla and Spike's mother Anne are both cured when turned into vampires.
- Their bodies cast no reflection on reflective substances such as mirrors or water. This also causes them to be immune to mind reading powers. Angel realizes Buffy is trying to read his mind and says, "You can't get into my mind." Buffy, taken aback by his realization asks, "How did you ... why not?" Angel responds with, "It's like the mirror. The thoughts are there, but they create no reflection within you." However, they can still be photographed or video taped, as these systems function in the same way as human eyes.
- Even though their bodies are clinically dead, a vampire's hair is apparently still able to grow. For example, Angelus had long hair until the 20th century. By the 1920's he had short hair, but by the 1970's he was long-haired again. Spike's hair also grows during his time in the Sunnydale High School basement.
- Vampires also seem to be able to walk or run without making noises, as a feline, allowing them to attack their victims by surprise.
- Vampires are unable to procreate in the human manner, although Angel and Darla managed to conceive Connor seemingly because of Jasmine's manipulations.
- Vampires can survive the extremely high pressures of the deep ocean. Angel was able to sink to a submarine with only weights attached to his legs and no protective suit.
- Vampires are not impervious to magic.
- They are immune to the bites of the werewolves and certain demons.
Powers and Abilities
Vampires possess superhuman physical strength, though the exact extent and limits of this strength are debatable and often varies from individual to individual in the same way that it does in humans; either because of their age, what supernatural blood they had consumed, or simply personality and experience. Some vampires have been shown capable of deforming metal with their hands, while others have been held back by wooden doors. Chains have had varying degrees of success and failure at restraining vampires; Angel was able to break out of them after hours of trying, while others found them unbreakable. It has been shown that vampires can easily press both their own weight and the weight of an average adult human, as they have been shown to throw human bodies anywhere from 5 to 25 ft away. Though their strength increases with age, even newly-risen vampires have displayed incredible strength.
The blood of enhanced human and human-like beings augments their strength to a great degree. Vampires also derive pleasure from the act of feeding off such humans. Examples of vampires feeding on superhumans and gaining a charge include:
- The Slayer's blood is the only cure for a poison called the Killer of the Dead. Feeding off Slayers has been shown to provide a temporary "high" as well; Spike likened it to an aphrodisiac on his first taste. Slayer (Buffy's) blood also provided enough temporary strength to enable the Master to escape his mystical prison.
- For his initiation in the Circle of the Black Thorn, Angel is given "supercharged warrior juice": Drogyn's blood
- Angel's strength is greatly augmented after drinking from Marcus Hamilton, a supernatural humanoid being infused with the power of the Senior Partners and dramatically stronger than Angel.
Vampires are able to move faster and react more quickly than humans; for example, Angel once spun around and caught a crossbow bolt fired at his back from point-blank range and could run at such speeds that he appeared to teleport several meters where someone would see him at one direction and he would then immediately appear right in front of them as they looked or headed the other way.
Resilience and Healing
Being undead, vampires can endure and survive near-limitless amounts of bodily damage so long as they are not decapitated or staked through the heart. Their bodies appear more durable than humans and on par to Slayers. However, a certain degree of damage could cause visible or debilitating effects.
Vampires can also heal more quickly than most humans, though the process can vary depending on the severity of the injury, and some vampires could receive permanent scars. Their healing abilities actually seem to be somewhat superior to those of a Slayer.
Being primarily nocturnal, vampires had enhanced hearing, smell and night vision. They were especially sensitive to the scent of blood, and could distinguish individual humans and vampires by scent.
Their powers of perception are so great that, if concentrating enough, they are capable perceiving certain minuscule details that most beings would easily overlook.
Upon being sired, nearly all vampires possess extraordinary combat skills, able to fight with great skill and shoot with great accuracy even if he or she had never possessed such skills as a human.
- Drusilla's psychic powers (precognition, empathy, hypnosis) came to her as a human, and she retains them as a vampire.
- Angel's psychic link to his progeny allows him to perceive their actions through dreams and track them down as well, though he can only do it consciously. He is incapable of sensing their presence by intuition. Angel tracked Drusilla shortly after he was aware of her arrival in Sunnydale and Penn after he confirmed his presence in Los Angeles. However, Angel did not similarly perceive Sam Lawson's presence in Los Angeles.
- There are several instances where vampires' fingernails are shown to be sharper than humans. Vampires as powerful as the Master was capable of wounding skin with a strike of his sharpened nails and Drusilla was also able to slit a Slayer's throat with but one slash of a single nail.
If the heart of the vampire is pierced with a wooden object, the vampire will immediately die. Instances have included stakes, arrows, a tree branch, a pencil, bamboo and a chopstick. A wooden stake in an area other than the heart will not work, nor will puncture of the heart by other materials such as metal, plastic wood grain, or synthetic wood. Bullets and blades can cause great pain, but will not kill the vampire, unless of course they result in decapitation.
The light emitted by the Earth's sun (Sol) is extremely hazardous to vampires, should they be exposed directly to it. When exposed to direct natural sunlight, the body of the vampire combusts and will quickly be consumed by the resulting flames. However, older and more powerful vampires like Spike or Angel can resist sunlight better than younger, weaker vampires who are consumed almost instantly. In fact, when Spike was first sired, he and Angelus bonded by deliberately exposing themselves to the sun.
Filtered and/or indirect sunlight may not cause any kind of injury to vampires. If protected from direct exposure to sunlight, vampires can be active in the middle of the day: Angel frequently used sewer tunnels under the Hyperion Hotel, while Spike was often seen traveling under a heavy blanket or in cars with blacked out windows. To protect its vampire employees, the Los Angeles offices of Wolfram & Hart employ "necro-tempered" tinted glass to filter the components of light that are dangerous to vampires, while leaving brightness intact.
Exposure to artificial sunlight such as tanning lamps do not harm vampires either. Also, the light of suns in other dimensions has been shown to not injure vampires in any way. The twin suns in Pylea and the sun in Wolfram & Hart's Holding Dimension are safe for vampires. This also applies to all alternate dimensions.
It is also possible to kill a vampire through decapitation. Like in the case of staking, the vampire will turn to ashes. Decapitation can be achieved through blows with sharp objects such as metal axes and swords, by ripping off the vampire's head. Shotgun blasts and even car doors are effective.
Christianity-based holy items such as Crosses, bibles and Holy Water (water blessed by a priest) burn vampires on contact, producing smoke but not flames. Thus, they are employed to ward off vampires with moderate success. The mere sight of a cross can cause a vampire to recoil in fear. Vampires can enter consecrated buildings such as churches, but doing so appears to produce feelings of unease. Chanting prayers in the presence of a vampire did nothing.
Holy water in particular can be lethal if ingested by a vampire. As vampires grow older and more powerful, they become capable of better resisting the pain caused by crosses through force of will. The effectiveness of the cross largely seems to be due to the vampires' fear of it rather than the power of the object itself. The substance of the cross is irrelevant: wood and metal crosses have the same effect. However, two rods temporarily held in the shape of a cross are insufficient.
Vampires, as well as the clothes they currently wore, can't be seen on reflective surfaces like mirrors, glass or water. The cause of this is unknown; even though tradition states it was due to a vampire's lack of a human soul (as mirrors were believed to reflect a person's soul), Angel and Spike don't cast reflections either. However, vampires can be seen in photographs, daguerreotypes and video tapes, as these systems function in ways similar to human eyes. A vampire's clothing also has no reflection. Vampires do have reflections in certain dimensions, such as Pylea, as its physics differ to those of our reality. The lack of reflection also works on telepathy: a vampire's thoughts and memories can't be read, except in the case of extremely powerful telepaths like Splenden Beasts. However, vampires can receive projected thoughts, as Willow successfully telepathically communicates with Spike.
However, a vampire's mind is still susceptible to other sorts of mystical links, which allowed Buffy to be put into Angel's dreams and Darla to experience the Three Trials through Angel's eyes. However, empaths are capable of reading vampires, as their powers are not telepathic in nature.
Related or sub-species
The Turok-Han shared some traits with common vampires (such as the need to drink blood), but their armored chest cavities were nearly impervious to stakes. Killing a Turok-Han with a stake to the heart was possible, but required tremendous effort to penetrate their thick sternums. On top of that, the Turok-Han were completely immune to crosses, and were only slightly affected by holy water. Their blood was also of a darker coloration, and they were unable to assume a human visage like modern members of their species. They also didn't require an invitation to enter a person's home. Although they were physically much stronger than their counterparts, they seemed to lack independence and intelligence.
Slayers are capable of being turned into vampires just as ordinary humans are, such is the case of Scarlett Scott-Thomas. The resulting "Slaypire" will have the combined strengths of both vampires and Slayers, but retain vampiric weaknesses.