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Popular Vampire TV Series 1966 - 2014

You would think that with the popularity of almost anything “vampire” the television would have been able to produce more hit series than they have over the years.

There are three possible reasons:
  • Concepts of television shows are ahead of their time and the audience isn’t ready for new ideas
  • Concepts of television shows are way behind their time and the audience is bored with the ideas before they reach the air
  • Writers start out with solid concepts and after a couple of years down the line, they run out of fresh material that is still entertaining
Since time immemorial, the time it takes to sell an initial sketch and get it into distribution – for any television show – averages 4 – 6 years. The problem of developing an excellent vampire series that lasts more than 6 or 7 years is that it’s a combination of the last two.

That said, there have been a few series that have become popular and some are still in production or in reruns somewhere. There are two types of vampire TV series that seem to last longer than others: The original concepts designed more like a mystery than a horror and the teenage bibbity-boo type that is simply light-hearted and out to save the world.

Original Concepts of Vampire Series

Dark ShadowsDark Shadows was first aired as a television soap opera to compete with such iconic titles as Days of Our Livesin 1965. It took several episodes for the plot to get going and for the critics to start seeing its value, but eventually it did take off and was popular enough to make the network remake it and put the newer version back on the air in 1992.

The original version introduced true melodrama to daytime soaps – which in retrospect, seems to be the right place to add vampires since the “normal” soap operas had ventured into characters that were “thought to be dead” and “returned 6-months later alive and well”.

Unlike its competitors of the era, Dark Shadows added a sense of adventure and glamorous, authentic mansion sets for women who were very much interested in expensive furnishings and taking charge of their own lives – somehow.

The series lasted a combined 9.5 years – adding both productions together and generated a solid following of over 2 million viewers.

Forever KnightForever Knight arrived on the scene in 1992 as a Canadian production, using Canadian settings. The main character was a remorseful but not sappy, 800-year old vampire who decided that sucking blood and watching innocents die from his action was not the way to spend his life.

He becomes a homicide detective who works at night – of course – bringing human criminals to justice. Except for the medical examiner – great place to find blood – the rest of his coworkers are unaware of his vampire-ness.

All is going along pretty well until vampires that he has known in former eras – like during the age of the Roman Empire --show up here and there throughout the series and the detective finds out they are the criminals who actually help him solve a case here and there so they don’t get accused.

In the last of the series, it becomes evident that our brave hero-vampire only has a limited time in any era and he must either move into the next age or … He decides on the “or” and has one of his vampire buddies stab him with a stake in the heart in the final episode.

All-in-all, the series was interesting, fast-paced and involved the dynamics of murder-detective work to do good with the scary vampire ethics of the ages.

True BloodTrue Blood premiered on September 7, 2008 bringing an intriguing, modern scientific twist with it – synthetic blood made for vampires. This detail also generated the empathetic premise that vampires in Louisiana would be allowed out of their coffins because they didn’t have to suck blood from human victims any longer.

While this sounds like a plausible solution to allow vampires who by no fault of their own cannot die to live among humans, it raises questions of rights and citizenship dividing the vampires on issues of social interaction.

Perhaps part of the reason for the series success is that it does address current social issues in a non-threatening way—and, perhaps, also because other mythical beings such as fairies, shapeshifters and werewolves drop in and out of the story line.

True Blood will be starting its 7th and final season on June 22, 2014.

The one thing that each of these popular vampire TV series has in common is a fresh twist that allows the series to address popular culture of its time.

Teenage Fluffy Vampire Series

Buffy The Vampire SlayerBuffy the Vampire Slayer is a prime example of the teenage vampire out to save the world and make everything good while, at the same time, experiencing the angst that goes with being a “normal” teenager.

Vampire teenagers don’t come with parents. They come with “Watchers” who are sometimes much stricter and less understanding than parents. Since Buffy is trying to avoid her “slayer” duties once they have moved to Sunnydale where no one believes in vampires, her watcher has a major job at keeping her in line.

Her particular love interest is a vampire who has not lost its soul and appears as an Angel – ahhh. The majority of the series focuses on preventing the evil master from opening the demon port and infesting the world with evil ones.

Buffy lasted 5-seasons until 2003.

AngelBut, fear not – Angel was still on the air as a spin-off that became successful in 1999. The fact that any series about teenage vampires could support a spin-off of its own is exceptional.

Angel began airing in the fall of 1999. Angel had a major flaw for a vampire – he had a soul. This caused him many problems of conscience – something that no vampire wants. His soul was given back to him by a group of gypsies – but he cannot choose his own death - because they wanted to punish him.

Taking the path of our Canadian detective of Forever Knight that had gone off the air two years prior to Angel’s appearance, our remorseful, soul-driven vampire becomes a detective in Los Angeles as he attempts to right his wrongs.

Vampire DiariesLast but not least is The Vampire Diaries still on air. Imagine the trouble any high school girl can experience when she falls in love with two guys and they happen to be brothers. Now, imagine the brothers are vampires and she willingly goes from being the “good” girl to the girl involved with the supernatural in a town with a mysterious past.

Fans of this series will be thrilled to know that it is currently in production for its sixth season and will be airing new episodes in the fall of 2014.

With the success and awards given The Vampire Diaries, maybe a new crop of talented writers can develop even more successful vampire TV series.