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Posted by | May 30, 2009, 16:07 (MST) | 115 Comments
Category: Books, The Vampire Diaries TV

With people hearing about the Vampire Diaries for the first time, one of the things that they’re curious about is what the vampires in the series are like. For those interested, we’re going to list the main characteristics and traits of the vampires in the world of L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries book series. Quite how many of these things will make it into the TV series and how many of them will be changed we have no clue, but we know a few already have.

If you want to find out all about the vampires in the TV series, head on over to Vampire Lore 101: The TV series edition.


So, what do these vampires look like? Do they have fangs?

Fangs from the Vampire Diaries TV seriesDespite some differences from humans, these vampires blend in and pass as humans without any problems. Like in most vampire stories, they’re paler than humans, with a cooler body temperature. While they do have heartbeats, they are much slower than a normal human heartbeat.

These vampires also have fangs. They’re on the canine/eye teeth (which we can see from the trailers is something that has carried over into the TV series), and they lengthen and sharpen with the need to feed and the scent of blood. They appear to be quite sensitive and can be stimulated with a bit of tongue action.

Stefan's EyesThe books don’t detail specific physical changes in Stefan and Damon beyond taking on feral facial expressions. While this works well for the page, it’d get a little boring on the screen, and so the TV series has some rather spiffing eye effects – making the flesh around them appear more bruised, the eyes themselves becoming darker (perhaps with blood?), and tiny veins in the skin becoming more obvious. Click on the image to the left for a better look.

How about feeding?

Vampires must drink blood to survive. They can get by on animal blood, but it is human blood that is the most potent, and what helps them develop their powers.

Drinking blood in the books has been described as both messy and clean in different situations. It depends on how hungry a vampire is, how much they care about the victim, and whether they care if that victim lives or dies.

Fang wounds in Vicki's neckDesperation to feed will lead to less care being taken and trauma to flesh being greater, even if the vampire is usually compassionate and cares about humans. If a vampire wants to be vicious and inflict pain while feeding, then it can be a messy and painful affair (especially if the victim in question is also a vampire). Conversely, if a vampire takes care while feeding, and cares about the victim, then it can be a very clean affair, leaving behind only small puncture wounds.

From a human perspective, if the victim struggles or is too tense, then the experience can be agonisingly painful and traumatic. If the donor is willing and relaxes, the experience can be extremely pleasurable for both the vampire and the human.

Vampires can eat human food without any problems, but it has no nutritional value for them.

Can these vampires go out in sunlight?

Stefan's lapis lazuli ringThey can walk in sunlight unharmed if they wear the semi-precious gemstone lapis lazuli on their person. Lapis is known as the ‘night stone’ (due to it being dark blue with gold, star-like flecks), and is a protective talisman for vampires. The most common way to wear it is in the form of a ring. Katherine also wears it in pendant form around her neck.

The lapis lazuli ring has made it into the TV series (as you can see from the picture above of Stefan’s ring), and from a reference to the fact that Stefan must wear his ring to go out in sunlight unharmed we assume that the lapis performs the same function as it does in the books. There is also a shot of Damon fiddling with what looks to be a large chunk of lapis in unrefined form.

What about strength, speed, agility and other senses?

Stefan jumping from a buildingThese vampires have great strength and speed, able to move faster than the human – and, in some cases, vampire – eye can track. They’re able to jump and fall from high places, landing with cat-like grace, even if they’re rescuing a falling human in the process, and they’re pretty handy at scaling up the sides of buildings with ease. They certainly have no problems snapping logs bare-handed and uprooting innocent trees, and heavy objects are no obstacle. The more human blood a vampire drinks, the stronger and faster they become.

Vampires also have very enhanced senses, with sharper vision, the ability to see in the dark (though they do rely on some source of light to be able to see, so are as blind as humans in pitch dark environments), outstanding hearing, and a far superior sense of smell.

Do they have any mental powers?

Even the weaker vampires have the ability to influence humans and bend them to their will, from making them do things, to seeing things that aren’t there, and even forgetting about events entirely. Stronger vampires are also able to do these things to weaker vampires. If the vampire is powerful enough, then they can maintain a connection with their victim over a distance, essentially turning them into a puppet for their own whims.

Another mental power is the ability to communicate with each other telepathically. They are also able to ‘speak’ with humans in this way, though it’s something that happens far less frequently than vampire to vampire telepathic communication.

Vampires are also able to pick up on human thoughts and emotions. There seems to be an element of the human broadcasting their thoughts rather than the vampire actively digging around in people’s heads, though it’s not made clear if the more powerful vampires are able to do just that. Stefan certainly can’t, and even Damon doesn’t seem to have the power to do that.

Any other interesting powers?

CrowThe first one that springs to mind is the ability to shift into animal form. They’re limited to only a few such forms, and it’s an ability that depends on how strong a vampire’s powers are, and how much human blood they’ve been drinking. Stefan can manage only one form, while Damon – who is far stronger than his brother – has two. Bird forms (Damon’s crow form is a well-known and loved symbol within the fandom) seem to be a standard first choice, given it provides an excellent form of travel and is relatively inconspicuous, allowing them to go unnoticed while spying on humans from trees and such.

Not only can they assume animal form, they also have the ability to control animals, turning otherwise peaceful creatures into mindless, dangerous beasts who will turn on their human owners and attack with the intent to kill.

Stronger vampires also have the ability to control the weather, from whipping up wind to making it snow, to even manipulating lightning.

Do they have any weaknesses?

Without lapis lazuli, sunlight is lethal to them. Even a few seconds in sunlight can cause exposed flesh to burn and blister.

In order to enter a house a vampire has to be invited in. It doesn’t have to be by the owner of the house, but it does have to be an invitation from a living human.

A mostly ineffective vampire hunting kitThe more powerful a vampire is, the more they’re restricted by certain limitations. One of these is the ability to cross running water. Younger and weaker vampires have no problems crossing water, whereas more powerful vampires are bound by darkness and physically incapable of it.

There are a few weakness, however, that are pure myth. These vampires do have reflections in mirrored surfaces, aren’t affected by the sign of the cross (though having true faith can help protect you from mental attacks), and have no problems with holy water or garlic.

Can they be killed?

Yes. Sunlight, obviously. A stake through the heart or cutting off the head will also do it, though a very old vampire can survive a stake through the heart with no ill-effects. You’d also have to be able to get close enough to the vampire to overpower them enough to do kill them with these methods.

SunlightIt also appears that vampires can actually die from extreme trauma and blood loss. There are a few instances where this is suggested in the books, and we can conclude that if a vampire is able to drink blood after severe damage is inflicted, then they will heal and regain their strength. However, if the trauma is great enough and they are unable to get any blood, then they’ll die. This kind of damage is only likely to be sustained in a fight with one of their own kind.

How do humans become vampires?

A human has to drink a certain amount of vampire blood in order to become one. There is an implication in the books that a human has to die with enough vampire blood in them to cause the change and bring them back as vampires. It is suggested that the changes vampire blood brings on in humans while they’re still alive (which include increased strength and speed, enhanced senses, and a desire to feed on human blood) will eventually wear off as the vampire blood flushes out of their system.

Do vampires sleep? Do they need sleep?

Vampires in this world certainly can sleep. Aside from time spent by vampire characters knocked out and unconscious, there are several instances of them needing sleep, and Stefan has even experienced bad dreams while doing so. L.J. Smith never makes it clear how much sleep these vampires may need, but it’s clearly a lot less than what a normal human needs.

Do they sparkle?

Body GlitterNo.

Not as a species, anyway. What these vampires choose to get up to in their own time with a tube of body glitter is their own private business.

So, there you have it, the basic facts of the vampires in L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries. If we haven’t covered something you’re dying to know, then please feel free to ask in the comments and we’ll answer your questions there.

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  • Maddie

    Sorry but you forgot vervain in the “Do they have any weaknesses?” .vervain is a herb that is poisionist to vampires

  • TVDLUV<3

    I love TVD, the books are amazing, better than the show I think…I cant wait till Midnight comes out!! I heard L.J. Smith was making more books after Midnight..I cant wait for those, too

    Btw, TVD will beat twilight anyday;)
    Stefan and Damon are waaaaay better than that sparkly guy Edward :D haha

  • Amalie

    i like the ruels for a vampire it helps me with my Danish task.
    and i love the show. <3 <3

  • Guest_02

    Can vampires from these series have sex?

  • Maelah

    — I watch TVD when they new
    and re-run, I haven’t read the books yet. I have read Twilight series and seen the
    first two movies. Reading thru all the posts, I came to the conclusion (my
    opinion only). With some people crying plagiarism, it seems the only vampire images
    that everyone wants to compare is in these two book series, but……..

    — The “vampire” entity has been
    recorded in many cultures and may go back to prehistoric times. The poem, The Vampire by
    Heinrich Ossenfelder, was published in 1748. Then, John Polidori’s 1819 novella
    (a short story) The Vampyre.  In 1872 (yes 1872), Sheridan Le Fanu wrote, Camilla,
    about a lesbian vampire. In 1897, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
    — The first movie was in German, 1922’s Nosfertau:
    Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A symphony of horrors). Hamilton
    Deane wrote the 1924 stage play, Dracula,
    that had been adapted from Bram Stoker’s book, it was revised by John
    L. Balderston in 1927. The writer for 1931’s movie, Dracula, had based it on both Bram Stoker’s book and the stage plays.

    — One of the first
    “scientific” vampire novels was Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend. Dan Ross, a popular Gothic
    fiction writer, under the pen name Marilyn
    Ross, from 1966 – 1972 wrote 33 novels about the vampire Barnabas
    Collins, based on the TV series Dark Shadows. Anne Rice’s highly popular and influential Vampire Chronicles were from 1976 – 2003. There
    are 854 known authors that write about vampires and other supernatural figures.
    — I can guaranty
    that they all have the same plot line. Vampire bites human, either they die or
    become a vampire. The can be in the sun or self-combust. They have a reflection
    or not. But the one thing everyone agrees on is that for them to stay dead,
    they have to be staked and/or have their head or heart removed.
    — So
    when sniveling about who wrote what and who copied who. Which author do suggest
    should sue for infringement and exactly who should they sue?

  • abbyM

    your jokin right? its like in every episode.

  • sb1885

    One question, is it possible for humans and vampires to be in a ” romantic” relationship? or is i impossible because of their ” diet?”

  • Sarah kesler

    Like :)

  • Bat

    In the novels: Is the werewolf bite lethal to the vampires?

  • RealNZGurl

    I’ve been a fan of the TV show TVD, but after reading the books recently (which I don’t normally do – either one or the other as always am disappointed), the usual thing happened.  I got very, very disappointed in the TV Show. So bad, I might have slapped one of the writers if they were in arm reach, lol.  Seriously, how can they ruin such good books by changing so much for a TV?  The books would have played out so perfectly.  Heck they don’t even have the same main characters.  Meredith, the vampire hunter who is the best friend instead of Bonnie???  Bonnie being WHITE, Eleana being BLONDE. OK, I’ll stop there, because the list is too big to write out of all the changes.  NO JEREMY (no brother at all, but a little sister??? WTF guys).  Grrrr at you all.  Shame on you for being such spineless gits to  try to be so damn commercial thinking that’s what the viewers want – if they’d read the books first, or even at all, I bet they’d want what’s in the books – still has the tight 3-way love interest of the main brothers and Eleana. Does anyone know if they use contacts for Damon as his eyes has got to be the most sparkly, beautiful eyes I’ve seen on a guy.  Lucky Eleana having the guy in RL as he’s hot – no other word for it I’m afraid.

  • RealNZGurl

     Ah, but not in the books.  They do not have sex in any of the books.  Exchanging blood is more the thing they get into with the books.  Hope that didn’t spoil anything.  How could they pass the books off as children’s books for awards like Twilight, if they start having sex??? Same with most vampire series of books (Anita Blake – Vampire Hunter series – won so many childrens book awards as she kept sex out of it until her star turned into a nympho, though I hope they pulled them off the kids shelves when that happened…So I guess it’s the thing to have PG books so you can collect kiddie awards, and big people awards for authors writing these types of series (which I might add I love, though would love the poor sexually frustrated starts to ‘get some’ ;)

  • aki

    That is the best vampire information I,ve ever read. Do you know a site where I can make my own website? And can vampires have more powers, like dust?

  • Amber Lloyd

    “The Vampyre: A Tale” started vampires, and Dracula was written before this wherein almost everything in VD lines up with Dracula lore. If you’re going by content, every vampire story after those two would be stolen. As it is, circumstances, characters, plot, and EVERYTHING ELSE makes up the book, not the background or lore it’s based on. So calm down and play nice, children.

  • kikik

    they can see themselves in the mirror!!! HOW? Caroline did..

  • Church Lady

    Since crosses are OK with these vamps, has anyone on the show ever worn a cross?

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