Despite the fact that vampires have more or less fallen out of the zeitgeist since Rob Pattinson brushed the last speck of glitter from the high planes of his cheekbones nearly a decade ago, the the sheer volume of serialized vampire content available to anyone with access to even a single screen has, thanks to the rise of Peak TV, absolutely exploded.
On the one hand, it would be easy to look at this vampiric explosion and roll your eyes at the goofy excess of it all. Sure, thanks to Peak TV’s preference for the grim-dark and gory, little of the vampire content that’s made it to the small screen in the last couple of decades has included glitter—although the team behind Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale has a Brides of Dracula project in the works for ABC, so who knows what the next several months might bring—but at some point, there’s got to be a limit to how many interesting stories can be told about attractively brooding immortal twenty- or thirty-somethings, you know?
And yet, thanks to its ability to both refract the darkest existential anxieties facing humanity (See: Being Human) and make room for the kind of deeply specific, deeply idiosyncratic character work that thrives in a serialized format (See: The Originals), the vampire story hasn’t yet found that limit. If anything, the ever-deepening volume of vampiric content over the last decade might be the very thing that’s given the vampire story the chance to move away from the occasional cringe-y spike into the zeitgeist, and towards the kind of unflashy ubiquity that makes space for both novelty and variety. In the year of our fangèd lords 2020 alone we have had epic animated gore (Castlevania), a French allegory for undocumented immigration and ethnonationalism (Vampires), a CGI family musical (Vampirina) and whatever the hell it is those lovable Dracula-esque dummies on What We Do in the Shadows are doing. We mean, talk about range!
Ultimately—at least when it comes to television—the vampire story might be more like a cop or medical procedural than any other niche genre out there: oddly comforting in its bloody familiarity, eternally adaptable in that comfort, and better and more interesting for every big swing someone takes in adapting the mythology anew.
To that end, we’ve curated a list of the 20 best vampire shows, from many eras and across multiple genres, currently available (at least to American audiences) to stream. Aside from the obvious fact that even a list that runs 20 titles long is bound to exclude more than a few reader favorites*, our definition of best comes with a big caveat**: Taking vampire as our watchword, there are a number of more broadly monstrous series that, despite both having a strong vampiric presence and being ultra watchable, we nevertheless ended up leaving on the cutting room floor, including Supernatural, Legacies, Wynonna Earp, A Discovery of Witches, Hemlock Grove, The Munsters and even Super Monsters. (Sorry, littlest vampire fans.) Also missing from this list: Ian Somerhalder’s short-lived Netflix series, V Wars, not because it was canceled after tepid public reception in January (although it was), but because its entire premise—that the real threat on humanity’s horizon isn’t war or economic collapse, but rather a global pandemic borne of a novel virus the contemporary human population has neither the immunity nor the resources to confront—is, at the moment, a bit too existentially relevant for comfort. See also: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s 2015 FX series, The Strain. Sorry to those men, etc. etc., but no thank you!
All of that in mind, please enjoy this list of the best* vampire-centric** series on television.
Note: The better to serve your binge-watching needs, in addition to indicating which platforms each series was available to stream on as of publication, we have also included ratings for the overall tone of each series, drawing from the categories of Sexy, Gory, Campy, Angsty, Silly, Funny, Dramatic, Goth(ic), Religious, and Family Friendly. Watch wisely!