Vampire (also known as Van-Tal in the dimension Pylea) is a demon species which can only exist in the physical plane by possessing and animating a human corpse, making them hybrids. They are easily recognizable because they feed on the blood of mammals, specially humans.
- “[...] the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed -- infected -- by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another... and so they walk the earth, feeding. Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind.”
- ―Rupert Giles[src]
Illyria's testimony is more credible because her account is first hand, it is likely that as the time of the old ones was so long ago that Giles' source is probably overdramatised being that the method is correct but it was not the last demon to leave the dimension.
As Neanderthals are to human beings, the Turok-Han are to vampires. They're a primordial, ferociously powerful killing machine, as single-minded as animals. They are the vampires that vampires fear. An ancient and entirely different race, and until this morning, I thought they were a myth.
The Turok-Han share some traits with the common vampire: when killed by decapitation or the sun, they go to dust as common vampires do. However, their armored chest cavity is nearly impervious to stakes. Their blood is of a dark black colour rather than the vampire's distinctive red colour.
- “You listen to me! Jesse is dead! You have to remember that when you see him, you're not looking at your friend; you're looking at the thing that killed him.”
- ―Giles to Xander[src]
Unlike many other species of demon, the demon component of a vampire appears to have no more intelligence than that of solitary hunting animals such as tigers; whenever we see a "purer" vampire, it is incapable of language. Other than the Turok-Han the principal evidence on this question comes from Angel's visit to the demon world Pylea; when he took on "vampire face" (see below) in that world, he unexpectedly became a mindless demon.
For this reason, an ordinary vampire shares many qualities with its human predecessor, including his or her memories; though it lacks a human soul and thus a conscience. As Darla puts it ("The Prodigal"), "What we were informs what we become". A vampire's personality can be the corrupt, opposite version of its human predecessor, or an expression of the human's hidden potential, as well as his/her fantasies and desires, held unchecked by the human soul. According to Watcher Duncan Fillworthe, vampires are regret personified, "hunger for life that's been damned to never be satisfied".
Despite being soulless, vampires are capable of human emotions like love and affection, though in the case of vampires, their love and desire can lead to obssession, as was the case of Spike and James. However, in cases like Angelus' and Darla, their love was second to their own survival instinct.
- Jesse McNally was attracted to Cordelia Chase, who snubbed him for his awkwardness. As a vampire, Jesse approached Cordelia in a predatory manner, filled with confidence and charisma, and for once she consented to dance with him.
- Harmony Kendall was a vain, vapid, and snobbish member of the Cordettes before being sired. As a vampire, she was still vapid and snobbish, and remarked that it was harder for her to do the right thing without a soul, although she remained mostly unchanged.
- Drusilla was a pious and chaste Catholic girl, gifted/cursed with psychic abilities and disturbed because she did not know what was causing her visions. As a vampire, Drusilla is highly sexual and kinky, and revels in her psychic powers.
- Darla despised religion as a human and as a vampire. Angel mentions that Darla had a fascination with religious wars. Christian religion rejected Darla's lifestyle as a human, so it seems the vampire Darla enjoys religious war as an example of religion causing destruction and bloodshed instead of salvation.
- Angelus: Liam lived haunted by his father's disapproval and expectations that he would never be more than a lazy, womanizing drunk. As a vampire, Angelus is driven by the memory of his father's contempt to show that he can be something great: the most flamboyantly sadistic vampire ever recorded.
- 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 lashes out at society, rejecting bureaucracy, aristocracy and authority and finding pleasure in mayhem and chaos, while still remaining a romantic at heart. In addition, William was a shy 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. Both as a human and as a vampire, Spike demonstrates a potential for all-consuming, obsessive love, first for his mother, then for Drusilla, and finally for Buffy. He will often pursue his love object to the point of near-self destruction.
- Anne: 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 taunts William with the insinuation of Oedipal deviancy. ("Lies My Parents Told Me")
- Sam Lawson: Sam Lawson's need to serve a higher purpose, to be guided by a cause giving sense to his actions, haunted him into his unlife. He found himself completely incapable of obtaining pleasure from killing or torturing. While Lawson believes this was caused by being sired by a vampire with a soul, Angel believes Lawson merely lacked a mission, a cause to live for.
- Charles Gunn: In life Gunn was a vampire hunter with a particular hatred towards them, specially since they killed his sister. As a vampire, he's filled with self-hatred and blames Angel for his condition. Despite his new status, Gunn still clings to the idea that he's one of the good guys, even though he has no soul and feeds on humans.
The demon within
The demon that possesses and animates the vampire's body is not the main factor that outlines the vampire's personality. The demon, which Pyleans call "Van-Tal" (Drinker of Blood), is little more than a bestial, hematophagous creature that only adds the bloodlust and killer instinct to the vampire's personality.
The Van-Tal has green skin and rows of spines on its forehead and skin. It also has clawed hands and red eyes. It cannot speak nor walk erect.
Vampire reproduction: siring and rebirth
- “To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood and then you have to suck their blood. It’s a whole big sucking thing.”
- ―Buffy Summers[src]
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. If the vampire drains all of the victim's blood, the victim will simply die. Vampires obtain pleasure from the act of siring, and sometimes they might sire new vampires by instinct, which would explain why many new vampires are abandoned by their sires.
- “Welcome to my world.. It hurts, I know. But it won't for long. Birth is always painful.”
- ―Darla to the newly risen Liam[src]
Following the blood exchange, the victim dies of blood loss and, according to Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, will reawaken on the night after the siring, sometime between sunset and sunrise (Reunion). However certain other vampires have raised a few hours after the blood exchange. No special preparations, such as burial, are required for the vampire's rebirth. Vampires mostly rise from graves because they spent a time between death and rebirth as corpses and were 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. This clarity usually "kicks in" after the vampire rises from the grave or at least after the first feeding. In any event, when the vampire overcomes the confusion, they experience a sensation of clarity that is new and unique, and which they will express in different ways:
- Jesse: "I feel good, Xander! I feel strong! I'm connected, man, to everything! I can hear the worms in the earth!" (The Harvest)
- Andrew Borba: "He is risen in me! He fills my head with song! You're the chaff, unblessed. I'll suck the blood from your hearts, he says I may!" (Never Kill a Boy on the First Date) (Caveat: Vorba spoke much the same way when alive.)
- Alonna Gunn (to Charles Gunn): "Don't be sad. I'm not. On this side there is no guilt, no grief. I got the greatest guilt cure ever. I can free you!" (War Zone)
- Spike: "Becoming a vampire is a profound and powerful experience. I could feel this new strength coursing through me. Getting killed made me feel alive for the very first time. I was through living by society's rules. Decided to make a few of my own." (Fool for Love)
- Holden Webster: "No, it feels okay. Strong, and I feel like I'm connected to a powerful all-consuming evil that's gonna suck the world into fiery oblivion." (Conversations with Dead People)
- Anne: "It's as though I've been given new eyes. I see everything. Understand... Everything. (Lies My Parents Told Me)
All the examples show that the new vampire is commonly astonished by the new sensation of power and the connection to an "all-consuming evil".
The Sire's Psychic Link
In the Angel episode Somnambulist, Angel dreams of his progeny Penn's actions, later telling his friends, "I used to have a connection with those I sired. It just means he's close. That's all". Angel had already demonstrated this to track down Drusilla when she first appeared on Sunnydale.
Few vampires have been brought back to life. Spike is the only known successful vampire resurrection, brought back from the dead as a "ghost" and then re-corporealized as a vampire. After Spike died in the final battle in the Hellmouth, Wolfram and Hart's mystical Amulet would also ensure the survival of his spirit in Los Angeles, and his physical form was returned to him in a packaged spell by Lindsey McDonald, entailing a full resurrection.
After the Master's death, the Anointed One attempted to resurrect him using his skeletal remains but was unsuccessful. The spell required the usage of the blood of those who were with the Master upon his death, but Buffy, Xander, and Angel stopped the ritual and destroyed the Master's skeleton to ensure that it would never happen again.
Both Angel and Darla have been made human again. Angel was initially turned human by the blood of a Mohra Demon in a negated timeline. Darla was resurrected as a human by Vocah. Years later, the Senior Partners would later transform Angel into a human (c.f. After the Fall) to make him useless to the Powers That Be.
- “You will show proper respect.”
- ―The Master[src]
Like humans, vampires are social beings, often living in groups organized like packs or prides. These groups are commonly organized with the purpose of protection and feeding.
The leading vampire is known as "Master", usually the sire of the group, the eldest one or the most powerful; in any event, the dominant vampire was the one capable of achieving the top position and enforce his authority through strength and violence. There are also some cases in which the leading position is occupied by a dominant couple, like Spike and Drusilla or James and Elisabeth.
The followers are commonly known as "minions" or "lackeys", though sometimes they can also be referred as "acolytes". These are commonly the progeny of the master vampire, or vampires that fall under the authority of the master due to their own weakness or youth. While minions are expected to follow the commands of their master and are punished when failing, there are examples of vampires rebelling against their masters, or even choosing to serve a new one.
Vampire clans, packs and cults
- Order of Aurelius (Buffy Season 1 & first part of 2)
- Darla, Angelus, James and Elisabeth (Heartthrob)
- Darla and the Roman vampires who rescue Angelus from the Inquisitore (Offspring)
- The Whirlwind: Darla, Angelus, (as the dominant couple) Drusilla and Spike.
- Spike and Dru and their minions: Dalton, Julia, Lucius, etc. (BtVS Season 2).
- Angelus and his "boys" - and girls (like Theresa Klusmeyer) as well. (1998)
- Kakistos and the vampires that lived and died for him, including Mister Trick and a female vampire, though these two refused to die for him (Faith, Hope & Trick)
- Zachary Kralik and Blair ("Helpless")
- The Master and the Order of Aurelius, which included Vampire Willow and Vampire Xander, his most powerful acolytes (The Wish)
- Vampire Willow and Alphonse and the other ex-minions of Mayor Wilkins (Doppelgängland)
- Sunday and her lackeys in Psi-Theta frat house: Dav, Rookie, Tom, Jerry and Eddie (The Freshman)
- Spike and the Gem of Amarra diggers: Brian and other vampires.
- Russ and his Punk vampire pack (Bachelor Party)
- Knox the skinhead vampire and his pack, including Ty and Alonna Gunn (War Zone)
- Count Dracula and the Three Sisters
- Harmony and her gang: Brad Konig, Mort, Cyrus and Peaches, until they rebelled against her. (Real Me)
- Whip and the Vampire Bite Den. (Into the Woods)
- Doug Sanders and the vampire pyramid scheme (Disharmony)
- Carl and the rebel vampire posse: Justin, Zach, Christy, Marla, Glenn and other vamps. (All the Way)
- James and Elisabeth and their vampire pack (Heartthrob)
- The Vampire Cult of Ul'thar (Quickening, Dad)
- Angelus and his "fans": Karl, Paco and others.
- Charles Gunn and "Team Gunn": Tank, Vic, Rod, Truck, Dave, Todd, Pat, Derick
- Toru and the Tokyo vampires, including Raidon and Kumiko Ishihara (Wolves at the Gates).
- Judas Cradle and his vampire army (Living Doll)
Vampire minions of non-vampires
There are cases, though, in which vampires wind up in the service of non-vampires, such as very powerful sorcerers or demons, even though vampires are commonly rejected by other demons who regard them as the ultimate filth since they have human bodies.
- Mayor Wilkins and his lackeys: Mister Trick, Lenny, Alphonse and other ex-minions of Spike and Angelus
- Balthazar and El Eliminati (Bad Girls)
- The Scourge, an army of pure-bred demons obsessed with scouring the world of "impure" demons who had a part human ancestry, briefly counted Angel among their ranks under the pretense that he despised his own humanity (Hero). Due to the Scourge's view of impure demons, this can be seem as the exception rather than the rule.
- Adam and his vampire minions: Boone and his pack (Adam's "first"), Jape (Adam's right-hand henchvamp), Spike, and his many vampire followers.
- The drug lord demon and his henchvamps ("The Prodigal")
- Deevak and his vampire thugs (First Impressions)
- Teeth the loan shark and his vampire thugs (Tabula Rasa)
- Senator Helen Brucker and Ernesto and the rest of her "campaign staff".
- Wolfram & Hart employs vampires, including a vampire agent, Harmony, and Tamika.
Vampire master, non-vampire minions
There are some cases in which a powerful vampire requires the service of human minions and lackeys, and sometimes even demons:
- Russell Winters and his hired muscle, butlers, bodyguards, lawyers and executives. ("City of")
- Spike mentions that he once employed two Fyarl demons. While demons, both pure and half-breeds, often regard vampires as inferiors, Fyarls are usually too dim-witted to grasp the concept of racial discrimination. (A New Man)
- Dracula and his "manservants": Xander Harris, Butterfield (Buffy vs. Dracula)
- As Lord of Beverly Hills, Spike was served by a harem of both human and demon females, his Spikettes.
The Slayer and vampires
- “To most vampires, the Slayer was this object of cold sweat and frightened whispers. But I never hid. Hell, I sought her out. I mean, if you're looking for fun, there's death, there's glory, and sod all else, right?”
Within vampire society, the Slayer could be described as a source of great fear. Even vampires as powerful as Angelus and Darla preferred to avoid confronting Slayers, keeping a low profile to prevent attracting her attention.
The killing of a Slayer was considered a great feat in vampire society. For example:
- Following the death of the Master in 1997, the vampires of the Order of Aurelius claimed that whoever managed to kill Buffy Summers would be the Master's successor.
- Killing two Slayers in less than 200 years of existance made Spike an infamous figure among vampires and Watchers as well.
- The prospect of killing and draining Buffy gave Mr. Trick a sensation of euphoria that made him lower his guard, allowing Faith Lehane to kill him.
- “No more sickness. No more dying. You'll never age another day.”
Vampires are commonly described as "dead". Death can be defined as a status in which the body lacks living physiological functions, such as having a pulse or breathing. However, vampires are able to move, feed, talk and feel despite inhabiting dead bodies. The term "undead" seems much more fitting as the vampire, while not living, isn't dead either.
When a human is sired, a demon spirit 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 on the show. 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 have not been shown to feed off of other demons.
- Facial alterations (brow ridges, golden eyes, 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 (Conner asks Angel to show him his "second face" and Angel reluctantly obliges), when generally pissed off, when sexually aroused, when suddenly and/or unexpectedly injured.
- 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 in Becoming, Part Two) 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. However, humans seem rarely to perceive vampires' skin as cold (one who does is Billy Fordham on meeting Angel; "Lie to Me"). However, vampires are shown on a few occasions with visible breath when in the cold, such as in the scene where Liam (not yet called Angelus) first emerges from the grave and is talking with his sire, Darla, in "The Prodigal," which seems to indicate some sort of body heat, even immediately after reanimation.
- 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 in Fool for Love). A vampire can certainly breathe enough to speak and smoke, however, Angel says that he cannot give artificial respiration to a drowned human ("I have no breath"; Prophecy Girl).
- Vampires heal rapidly, albeit in a similar way to human bodies (Spike's broken back heals, but after months have passed). However, they can suffer from trauma which renders them unconscious.
- They do not generate life force, and their brains do not have the same mystical qualities of a human brain, which means Glory can't feed on vampire brains. Nor could the Root Monster of Couplet suck the life force from Angel--and defeated itself trying.
- Their bodies cast no reflection on mirrors or water. This also causes them to be immune to mind reading powers as shown in the episode Earshot. Angel realizes Buffy is trying to read his mind and says, "You can't get into my head." 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.
- A vampire's nerve endings and pain receptors seem to work just as well as a human's; in "Innocence", Angelus is incapacitated with pain after Buffy kicks him in the groin.
- Vampires seem to have fully functional tear ducts and be physically capable of crying; both Angel and Spike have shed tears on several occasions.
- Vampires are unable to regenerate lost limbs ("Teacher's Pet"), though they can be surgically reattached ("Damage").
- “You're strong. I'm stronger.”
Vampires possess superhuman strength. The exact limits of this strength are debatable and often vary from individual to individual. Some vampires have been shown capable of deforming metal with their hands (The Harvest), while others have been held back by wooden doors. Chains have had varying success at restraining vampires; Angel was able to break out of them after hours of trying, while others found them unbreakable. They have also been shown to throw human bodies anywhere from 5 to 25 ft away.
This strength appears to be largely metaphysical, as it does not appear to add to their body mass, as they do not immediately sink in water. Furthermore, waif-like vampires such as Drusilla, Darla and Gunn's sister have shown great feats of strength with no apparent added muscle mass.
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 ("Graduation Day, Part Two"). 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, although the strength may have only been primarily mystical rather than physical.
- 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.
- “-[...] The Master is centuries old. He has grown past the curse of human features.
-Am I gonna get a bat nose like that?
- Very few vampires are cunning enough to live as long as I.”
- ―Darla, Angelus and The Master[src]
Being "dead", vampires do not age as living humans do, but the passing of centuries does affect them.
- Physical strength, agility, reflexes and stamina improve with age. The Master's advanced age made him able to kill his victims "before they could draw breath".
- The ability to take on human appearance is eventually lost. Russell Winters, while able to assume human visage, had a much more deformed vampire features, indicating an old age, though not one as advanced as that of the most ancient vampires seen: The Master, Kakistos, and The Prince of Lies. The three vampires did not resemble each other, yet they all have obtained more demonic features. Kakistos had cloven hooves instead of hands and feet, while the Prince of Lies had elongated talon-like fingers and pointed ears. It is unclear how long a vampire must live for their humanity to fade. Angel was over 200 and Darla over 400 and neither had yet lost any of their human visage.
- The Master's skeleton, uniquely, remained when his flesh turned to dust (Prophecy Girl). The Master also bears a slight resemblance to the Turok-Han.
Being primarily nocturnal, vampires have enhanced hearing, smell and night vision (though Angel is on one occasion seen wearing night vision goggles). They are especially sensitive to the scent of blood, and can distinguish individual humans and vampires by scent, as shown by the newly sired Gunn. Spike in particular has an acute sense of smell, one which, in the later seasons, he uses to help the Scoobies find enemy hideouts, demons, etc. On one occasion Angel tells by scent that Wesley had sex with a bleached blond the night before.
Several vampires (Dalton, Penn, Marcus) are seen wearing eyeglasses, however, William wore eyeglasses while Spike does not seem to need them (he shows no signs of either myopia or farsightedness; he can do things like read books and aim guns with no problem).
- “I don't breathe, you idiot!”
Vampires do not require oxygen to survive, allowing them to survive in poisonous atmospheres, underwater and resist strangling. Angel was unaffected by gas (Out of Mind, Out of Sight) and was even able to survive in the poisonous atmosphere of the home dimension of Jasmine's zealots (Sacrifice and Peace Out). He was also able to survive underwater for 3 months.
However, vampires do maintain some sort of breathing reflex, which allows them to smoke, and gag reflex, which can affect them when choked, though they can learn to ignore it, such as Darla when Angel strangled her (Offspring). While unable to perform CPR, vampires are capable of smoking and speaking.
Eating and drinking
- “Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps you going, makes you warm, makes you hard, makes you other than dead.”
A vampire's normal diet consists solely of blood, and Angel says other food has little flavor. However, Spike enjoys beer, whiskey, weetabix (which he mixes into blood for texture), ate a box of chocolates from a present meant for Buffy, Buffalo wings and onion blossoms; and Angel occasionally drinks coffee.
Vampires do not die of starvation like humans, yet they can suffer certain effects if they do not feed for prolonged periods:
- First, their strength dwindles considerably and they become paler and can experience cold (Spike in Pangs).
- Second, after months of not feeding, they suffer damage to higher brain functions, which can result in extremely vivid hallucinations (Deep Down). Blood from a healthy human is required for the vampire to recuperate.
- Third, they become "living skeletons", according to Spike (Pangs).
Drugs and poisons
Vampires can be affected by any kind of drugs and poisons just like humans, though lethal drugs and human poisons do not kill them:
- Spike smokes tobacco, but isn't affected by the smoke. He reports that at Woodstock he "fed off a flower person and spent the next six hours watching [his] hand move," presumably an effect of LSD. He also can drink himself to unconsciousness.
- Angelus tries to drink Gage Petronzi in Go Fish, but spits out his blood because either the steroids in it or the ongoing transformation into a fish creature give it a bad taste.
- Kralik (Helpless) is treated with and dependent on anti-psychotic pills.
- The Killer of the Dead is a mystical poison mentioned in Graduation Day, Part One. It causes a severe fever and kills the vampire in a matter of days. The blood of a Slayer is the only known cure.
- Angel is paralyzed by a neural paralytic drug that would kill a human being in I Fall to Pieces. He is also highly susceptible to the effects of caffeine.
- Vampires captured by The Initiative are fed drugged packets of blood to be incapacitated for vivisection.
- In the episode Eternity actress Rebecca Lowell slips Angel a "happy pill", which gives him a false sense of bliss and for a limited time causes him to revert into Angelus, making him an immediate threat to Wesley, Cordelia and Rebecca.
- Calynthia powder seemingly augments Angel's synapses enough keep him in unrestful sleep, plagued by dreams, and renders him more suggestible. (Untouched)
- Vampires get high from feeding off junkies using intravenous drugs, such as Orpheus, a mystical drug. (Orpheus)
Vampires can suffer severe injuries and require a long time to recuperate.
- Drusilla, almost killed by an angry mob in Prague, was left extremely weak for months, until she was cured by a special ceremony requiring the blood of her sire (Angel). Angel in turn requires time to recuperate from the ordeal. (What's My Line, Part Two)
- It has been mentioned that Angel has well above average healing (In the Dark). This has been demonstrated by his recovery from being run through by a wooden beam in (Somnambulist)
- Spike is forced into a wheelchair when an entire church organ collapses on him, but months later he's back to his feet. (What's My Line, Part Two; I Only Have Eyes for You)
- Wishverse Angel had gruesome burning scars from Willow's torture. (The Wish)
- Vampires can lose appendages, and cannot regrow them. (Teacher's Pet) However, they can be surgically reattached. (Damage)
- After being brutally tortured by Glory, Spike is left with numerous cuts, bruises, and a swollen black eye (Intervention). He is shown, sometime later, to have a heavily bruised face and a noticeable limp (Tough Love), but is then shown the next day to be completely healed (Spiral).
Humans suffering from some sort of mental illness will keep it as vampires. This illness will also be central for the formation of the vampire's persona:
- Drusilla's visions and her subsequent ordeal at Angelus' hands traumatized her into some sort of schizophrenia. As a vampire, Dru remains schizophrenic, yet she's not paranoid or depressive like her human predecessor. Combined with her psychic powers, Drusilla's madness gives her a unique perspective in which she revels.
- Andrew Vorba (Never Kill a Boy on the First Date)
- Zachary Kralik (Helpless)
- “You fear the cross. The sun. Fire. [...] I believe decapitation is a problem as well. You fear death. Being immortal, you fear it more than those to whom it comes naturally.”
Vampires die when impaled in the heart with a wooden object, beheaded, exposed to direct sunlight or consumed by fire.
When vampires die, their bodies and clothing turn to dust in a matter of seconds.
If the heart of the vampire is pierced with a wooden object, the vampire will immediately die. Instances have included a stake, an arrow, a tree branch (When She Was Bad) and a pencil (Choices; All the Way).
Materials such as metal, plastic wood grain or synthetic wood do not work. Bullets and blades can cause great pain, but will not kill the vampire, unless, of course, they result in decapitation (see below).
The vampire's flesh seems to be especially vulnerable to wood, which would explain why it was relatively easy for Cordelia, who has no fighting training or enhanced strength, to stake a vampire minion during the Graduation Battle, how Candy Gorch gets dusted by a spatula (Homecoming), or why Jesse is accidentally dusted when pushed against the stake Xander was holding (The Harvest).
The amount of wood also seems to be another factor to consider when analyzing vampires' weaknesses. A vampire as ancient as Kakistos barely even feels pain when stabbed with a common stake, but dies when impaled with a large beam of wood (Faith, Hope & Trick). The Master , was also impaled in Prophecy Girl after being thrown from the roof by Buffy, no previous staking attempt had been done to The Master, but it is presumable that he is also invulnerable to common stakes. Common vampires, however, can be staked with a wooden pencil.
Fire and sunlight
When set on fire, the body of the vampire will be consumed in a relatively short time. The more powerful the vampire is, the longer it will take for their bodies to be properly destroyed, which explains why Darla and Drusilla are able to survive being set on fire (Redefinition) while an anonymous vampire is quickly consumed when Spike lights him with his Zippo lighter (Bargaining, Part One).
Should a vampire survive the fire, the healing process will regenerate the charred flesh, skin and hair. The time required also depends on the age of the vampire: Following their immolation at Angel's hands, Drusilla healed faster than Darla because she was now the older vampire.
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 like Boone's buddies (Who Are You), who are consumed almost instantly.
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. 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.
It is also possible to kill a vampire through decapitation. This can be done with use of any tool such as swords, knives, scythes, an accurately thrown cymbal, an accurately aimed shotgun (which would decapitate or entirely destroy the head) or even a car door. A strong enough demon can also tear the vampire's head off bare handed, as demonstrated in Bargaining Part 1.
- “This symbol - these two planks of wood - it confounds me. Suffuses me with mortal dread.”
- ―The Master[src]
Holy water in particular can be lelthal if ingested by a vampire, as exemplified by Zachary Kralik, who swallowed holy water was burned to death from within (Helpless).
As vampires grow older and more powerful, they become capable of better resisting the pain caused by crosses through force of will. For instance, the Master had become capable of touching crosses, and, despite they burned his hand, withstanding the pain. Likewise, Angel was capable of walking over crosses during the Trials, while Spike used a cross to fight Angel in Destiny despite getting his hands charred.
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.
Turok-Han vampires are unaffected by crosses, though holy water does burn them like acid.
Vampires can achieve invulnerability to all their weaknesses mentioned above in at least two ways:
- wearing the Gem of Amarra (The Harsh Light of Day; In the Dark), which was destroyed by Angel.
- having a procedure that removed the vampire's heart and infused his/her body with mystical potions (Heartthrob). While having the same effects as the Gem of Amarra, its effects only last for six hours. After these have passed, the vampire instantly dusts.
In either case, the vampire is immune to the effects of sunlight and instantly regenerates wounds, such as those caused by staking.
- “I invite you in.”
- ―Wesley Wyndam-Pryce[src]
Vampires can enter a private residence, including houses and apartments, only if invited; otherwise they will hit an invisible barrier. Vampires can enter all other buildings as normal.
- The inviter need not be aware that the invitee is a vampire:
- The invitation can be coerced through telepathic means:
- Joyce invited Dracula while under his thrall (Buffy vs. Dracula).
- The invitation need not be immediate or specific:
- Cordelia invites Angel to her apartment before she has found one. Angel effortlessly enters the one she buys. (Rm w/a Vu).
- Rebecca Lowell invites Angel to watch a movie at her house without specifying a time (Eternity).
- Wesley posing as Angel is invited by Benny into Magnus Bryce's residence; that invitation allows Angel himself to enter. (Guise Will Be Guise).
- The invitation can be written instead of spoken:
- The inviter must be a resident, but not necessarily the owner:
- Squatters and guests can also gain invitation rights:
- The mystical barrier fades if all residents die. Angel enters the residences of Lester Worth (Graduation Day, Part One), Tina (City of), Trevor Lockley (The Prodigal), the Hired Rapist (Untouched), and the Kramer Family (Dead End). Likewise, Darla enters Liam's former house after he murders his family.
- No invitation is required for temporary accommodations such as motel rooms (Faith, Hope & Trick, Consequences), hotel rooms (Are You Now or Have You Ever Been) and frat houses (Reptile Boy) or if the vampire is the legal owner of the building (Russell Winters in City of).
- Invitation has been shown to be necessary for dorm rooms: When Spike knocks on Willow's dorm room door (The Initiative), she shouts back, "Come in!" which grants him entrance.
- Once invited, the vampire is always free to enter, unless the invitation is ritually revoked. This is performed by Willow and/or Tara with respect to Angel (Passion), Dracula (Buffy vs. Dracula), Harmony (Real Me) and Spike (Crush). In the case of Angel and Spike, they were eventually re-invited.
- The residences of vampires (who can also be counted as being dead) and other demons are not protected:
- Darla enters Angel's apartment (Angel)
- Angel breaks into Russell Winters' mansion (City of).
- Angel doesn't require Wesley's invitation to Penn's lair (Somnambulist). Even if he did, Wesley's invitation wouldn't work as he's not the resident or the legal owner.
- Spike enters Doc's place at his leisure (Forever and The Weight of the World).
- Angel, likewise, enters Merl's lair whenever he desires.
- Angel enters Billy Blim's mansion (Billy).
- Angel also enters Connor's place uninvited (Slouching Towards Bethlehem); Connor is confirmed as human-demon hybrid, like Billy, in Release, as he's knocked by the anti-demon violence force field in Hyperion Hotel.
- Troublesome cases:
- The hand of one of The Three passes the jamb of Buffy's door ("Angel").
- A pseudo-vampire (a human wearing a cursed vampire costume) enters Buffy's kitchen uninvited (Halloween); however, it should be noted that this was not an actual vampire, so the invitation rule may not have applied as the pseudo-vampire was not bound by the regular vampire rules.
- Angel asks Buffy if he can come into her dorm room, to which she replies, "I guess". He then states that he needs a more definite invite (The Yoko Factor). A similar situation occurred in "Lie to Me", where Angel was unable to enter Willow's bedroom until she specifically said, "I invite you to come in."
- Angel breaks into Allen Lloyd's shrine. It is never revealed whether the shrine was at Lloyd's residence or at some public place, like Lloyd's offices. (Sense & Sensitivity)
- Spike enters the house of a person who fled Sunnydale in pursuit of Buffy following her expulsion from the Scooby Gang. Spike mentions that the power of the Hellmouth has grown so great, he no longer actually needs an invitation to enter a house in Sunnydale.
- Angel rushed into Kate Lockley's apartment to save her from a drug overdose. This unique case is actually mentioned in the episode; Kate said, "I think maybe we're not alone in this [...] I never invited you in" indicating that there may have been intervention from The Powers That Be. (Epiphany)
- Un-inviting a vampire:
- After Angel lost his soul, Buffy and Willow performed a ritual to keep him out of her home (Passion). This involved some ritual chanting and the hanging of crosses.
- The same ritual was used to uninvite Dracula, who had been invited by an enthralled Joyce ("Buffy vs. Dracula"), as well as Harmony, unwittingly invited by Dawn ("Real Me").
- Buffy is also able to un-invite Spike from her home and he was not able to enter until she re-invited him in The Gift.
- “Looking in the mirror every day and seeing nothing there... an overrated pleasure”
Vampires can't be seen on reflective surfaces like mirrors, glass or water. The source for the lack of reflection is unknown; even though tradition states it was due to a vampire's lack of a soul (as mirrors were believed to reflect a person's soul), Angel doesn't cast a reflection either. However, vampires can be seen in photographs, daguerreotypes and video tapes. Vampires also 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, 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.
Some vampires have been displayed possessing certain psychic abilities:
- The Master can perform hypnosis, which he channels by merely waving his hand. He was also capable of sensing sources of mystical power and projecting his thoughts to plague dreams.
- Drusilla's psychic powers (clairvoyance, hypnosis, mind reading, aura reading) came to her as a human, and she retains them as a vampire.
- Marcus the vampire torturer senses Angel's soul and that he has known love (In the Dark). As a vampire is immune to mind-reading, it indicates that he's an empath.
- Darla, like Marcus, sensed Angelus's soul when he was first cursed. Wesley confirms some vampires are capable of sensing Angel's soul (Disharmony).
- 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 (Lie to Me) and Penn after he confirmed his presence in Los Angeles. However, Angel did not similarly perceive Sam Lawson's presence in Los Angeles.
- Dracula is able to hypnotize humans, placing them under his "thrall." Spike, however, dismisses Dracula's special abilities as "showy Gypsy stuff," rather than natural abilities. (Buffy vs. Dracula)
- Dracula is able to take the form of a wolf, a bat and a green mist. He is able to reassemble himself after being staked and turned to dust. Spike claims these powers stem from gypsy magic. ("Buffy vs. Dracula"). Spike vs. Dracula reveals Dracula was the benefactor of the Kalderash tribe that cursed Angelus.
- In the episode Deep Down, the vampire Marissa, whom Connor chases, is seen scaling up the side of a building like a spider, moving very quickly once she makes contact with the building.
- Penn, the vampire that Angel sired when he was still Angelus, is shown to possess supernatural speed - he is seen taking out a room of armed police officers, moving more quickly than what has been seen with most vampires in both Angel and Buffy ("Somnambulist").. It should be noted that in "Blood Money", "Reprise", "Release", and "That Vision Thing" Angel demonstrates similar enhanced speed.
- Angel/Angelus (probably along with all vampires) possesses the ability to jump 10+ feet in the air (There is however an episode where Angel jumps almost 100 feet in the air [30 meters]).
Whedon's vampires owe more to the cosmos of H. P. Lovecraft than they do to the European and Christian traditions that inform most such creatures, being remnants of an ancient race of demons, or semi-demons, that ruled the Earth before the advent of humans; were displaced by humans; and are now seeking to wrest the world away from humans. The shows' writers added their own ideas, often based on popular culture, to the vampire myths that they, with Whedon, collectively developed throughout the duration of the series. These popular culture sources included a few of the traditional myths; comic book villains; The Exorcist; and makeup artists' ideas of how to depict demons, some of which ideas were inspired by reptiles (specifically, alligators) (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Monster Book).
- Vampires section at "All Things Philosophical on BtVS and AtS" 
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