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?
Despite 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.
The 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.
Desperation 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?
They 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?
These 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?
The 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.
The 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.
It 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?
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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