Many moons ago (okay, it was back in May, but it seems like such a long time ago) we posted an article – Vampire Lore 101 – all about the traits and characteristics of the vampires in L.J. Smith’s book version of the Vampire Diaries. Now that we’re getting into the swing of the TV series with four episodes already aired, we thought it was about time to write an article about what we know (so far) about the vampires in the TV universe. This is all based on what we’ve seen while watching the episodes, so we may have missed some details and some information may be a little vague until episodes down the line can elaborate more. But there’s a surprising amount of information gleaned from what we’ve seen so far. Be warned, there will be spoilers for the first four episodes.
What are the physical characteristics of these vampires?
Most of the time these vampires seem to look like regular human beings. They don’t seem to be any paler, no one has commented on them being colder, and they can pass as humans very easily. However, that all changes when they need to feed, are overpowered by the scent of blood, or experience particularly strong emotions, such as passion or anger. Vampires undergo a facial transformation that includes their complexion becoming paler, blood rushing to their eyes with small veins protruding around the area, and fangs appearing on their canine teeth. It certainly makes them look vicious and scary.
And they drink blood?
They do indeed. Both animal and human blood seems to sustain them, though Damon’s disdain for animal suggests human is a lot more palatable, and he’s made several pointed comments to Stefan informing him he’d be far more powerful if he gave in and drank human blood. So, animal blood sustains them, while human blood also gives them power. Stefan seems to be responsible for a decline in the animal population around Mystic Falls, while Damon seems determined to munch his way through the human population in the town.
While Stefan is seen to have dinner at Elena’s house and Damon provides dessert, we have yet to see either of them eat solid human food on screen. We do know that they can drink liquids with no ill-effect, as we see them drinking for pleasure on a couple of occasions.
What’s the deal with going out in sunlight?
These vampires can only go out in sunlight if they’re wearing a special ring that protects them from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Stefan and Damon’s rings are identical, with only the initial of their first names on their rings to tell them a part. If they’re exposed to the sun without their rings… well, we don’t imagine it will be at all pretty.
What kind of powers do they have?
All kinds, though Damon is more powerful than Stefan because he drinks human blood. This particular brand of vampires have superhuman strength (Damon is able to fling Stefan into a building with great force in the pilot, while Stefan knocks the wind out of Tyler with a football in “Friday Night Bites”), are much faster at moving than humans (Stefan is zipping around at great speed in the hospital in “Night of the Comet”, and is across the room in a blink of an eye to scoop up a paper knife in “Family Ties”), and have the ability to jump off of tall buildings and land even more gracefully than a cat (Stefan displays this ability at the beginning of the pilot). They have very fast reflexes, too – during “Friday Night Bites” Stefan is able to catch a football aimed at the back of his head, while Damon makes a show of catching a glass that is fumbled when passed to Elena. They have extremely sensitive hearing, too. Stefan eavesdrops on a few conversations that no normal human would be able to hear.
Stefan displays a high tolerance for pain on several occasions. He’s able to brush off flying out of a window and landing face-first on the ground, as well as recovering quickly enough from being throw into a building by Damon in the pilot. In “Friday Night Bites” he resets his broken finger with barely a wince, shows no reaction to a solid punch to the gut from Tyler, and doesn’t seem to react much to having his hand sliced open. Damon manages to be even more hardcore that Stefan in “Family Ties” when the paper knife Stefan throws at him embeds itself in his chest causing him to react only with an expression of irritation. However, there does seem to be an element of being aware of an impending injury and bracing for it in order to not be affected by it. Damon was clearly unprepared for Elena’s impressive slap in “Friday Night Bites”, and while he doesn’t seem particularly hurt by it, he certainly wasn’t prepared for it and reacted just as a human might do in the same situation.
The sliced hand accident shows off another nifty power, too, in the form of accelerated healing. The nasty looking gash on Stefan’s hand is healed after only a matter of seconds, as is a wound he sustains when Damon stabs him in “Family Ties”. We do have a slight inconsistency here, though. When Stefan’s hand has healed, it looks like the blood has been reabsorbed, and there’s no evidence that he’s wiped it off (there are no smear marks from wiping, and the only way to get rid of all the blood that was spilled quickly would be to wash it off). Yet there is a visible trail of blood lingering from the stab wound that Damon inflicts. Maybe we’ll find out what really happens at some point in the future.
Vampires also have some cool mental powers. Both Stefan and Damon are able to manipulate people with their minds; Stefan convinces the school secretary to overlook his incomplete records, while Damon has Caroline in his thrall on several occasions. Both of them have influenced Vicki to forget what really happened when she was attacked in the woods. It seems that using this power causes a vampire’s pupils to contract quite dramatically, and we can see this happening when Damon influences Caroline to take him to the Founders’ party in “Family Ties”. Damon can also manipulate dreams. He outright admits that he was in Stefan’s head giving him bad dreams in “Family Ties”, and the fact that he knew that Elena had been dreaming about him (along with the crow lurking on the window ledge) in “Friday Night Bites” suggests that he’s the one responsible for that, too.
Damon has a couple of other powers that Stefan doesn’t seem to possess. One of those is the ability to control fog, which he uses to creepy effect a few times, usually before someone is about to have something nasty happen to them. Damon has displayed the ability to control the mind of a crow a few times in the series so far, suggesting the ability to control the minds of animals as well as humans. We’re also led to believe that he is the one responsible for killing the unfortunate Brooke and Darren at the beginning of the pilot, where the ability to fly is displayed as poor Brooke is plucked up into the air to her doom. We haven’t seen Damon clearly display this ability at any other point in the series yet, so we’ll have to wait and see where that goes.
How about weaknesses?
Aside from the obvious sunlight, we know of two weaknesses so far. The first – and it’s kind of a big one – is that a vampire can’t enter someone’s house without being invited. It has to be an explicit invitation (Stefan could only enter when Elena specifically asked him in to her house at the end of the pilot) and it has to be an invite from someone who lives in the house – Caroline’s invitation for Damon to come in to Elena’s house during “Friday Night Bites” has no effect, and he wasn’t able to enter until Elena gave him permission. As far as we can tell from Damon’s taunting of Stefan, the invitation cannot be rescinded once it has been given.
The other weakness is Vervain, a plant that has mystical properties that will help protect humans from being manipulated mentally by vampires. Stefan gives Elena a necklace that has been covered in it during “Friday Night Bites”, which Damon is none-to-pleased about. It is also dangerous to vampires if they ingest it. Stefan manages to poison Damon with it in “Family Ties” by spiking Caroline’s champagne. It is transferred to Damon when he drinks her blood, incapacitating him and enabling Stefan to lock him away. Interestingly, Vervain doesn’t grow naturally in Mystic Falls anymore, after Damon destroyed all traces of it back in 1865. The Salvatores have been growing a small crop of it in secret through the generations. Who can blame them, given they’re related to Damon?
Caroline and Vicki have both been bitten. Will they become vampires now?
No. It was revealed in “Family Ties” that it takes more than simply being bitten to become a vampire. A human has to feed on the blood of a vampire, die, and then feed on the blood of a human. As Damon says, “It’s a whole ordeal.”
Do vampires sleep?
They certainly seem to. We see Stefan waking up in the morning at the beginning of “Night of the Comet” (looking far too perky for a regular human, much less a card-carrying creature of the night, might we add), while Damon appears to be dozing at the start of “Friday Night Bites”. We also know they dream as “Family Ties” opens with Stefan having a nightmare. How much sleep they actually need remains to be seen.
Any traditional weaknesses proven to be myths in this TV series?
Thanks to Roman for reminding us about this one. Unlike many traditional Hollywood vampires, these guys do have reflections. Damon’s reflection can be seen in the bathroom mirror when he attacks Vicki in the Mystic Grill during “Night of the Comet”, Stefan sees his own reflection while making out with Elena in “Family Ties”, and later on in the same episode we see Damon admiring himself in front of a mirror as he readies himself for the party.
We learn in A Darker Truth that crucifixes, garlic and holy water have no effect on this species of vampire.
Well, for one, they definitely don’t sparkle. Otherwise, there’s plenty more to learn about these vampires. How are they killed? What happens to their bodies when they die? Are there more powers and weaknesses we have yet to see? Hopefully it won’t be too long before we find out the answers to these questions, and more. When we do find out more information we’ll be updating the wiki entry about vampires from the TV series, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
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