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"A [reformed] vampire ... mostly tries to make reparation for his previous evil by doing good deeds--most commonly, apparently, going into the crime solving business."
—Vivian Vande Velde
There are all kinds of job opportunities for sexy hemovores and solarphobes. Or so one would think, but noooo.
You want to make a TV series starring a good guy vampire, or other immortal being?
Well, after a few rounds of development, you're almost always going to have certain bullet points in your plot setup, just due to sheer parallel evolution and the fact that all pitches eventually morph into They Fight Crime:
- He (and it will be a he) will be a detective, either police or private.
- He will want To Become Human, or at least will be actively regretting his vampire activities in the past and be trying to act more human than before.
- Expect loads of drama related to his sire. (I Hate You, Vampire Dad, True Art Is Angsty)
- At least one unrequited love interest. (True Art Is Angsty, Who Wants to Live Forever?, Mayfly-December Romance)
- Expect a load of flashbacks about how this case ties into something in one of the main character's previous lives, either directly or through resonance with past memories.
- He rarely, if ever, feeds off innocent people.
This might be because vampires fit so easily into the Film Noir Private Detective with their tendency to be out at night, tendency to wear long coats, messy backstories, inevitable love difficulties, not-so-clean morality, and in some sense of the word, a drinking problem.
Anime and Manga
- The Nightwalker anime actually has the epithet "Vampire Detective," and is heavily influenced by both Forever Knight and Interview with the Vampire. It follows most of the criteria, with a few subversions: the lead is a male private detective, regrets the evil things he's done in the past, was forcefully transformed by an evil vampire who had a one-sided homosexual relationship with him, has a closer-than-business relationship with his secret agent partner and a sexual relationship with the assistant college girl he turned into a vampire, had flashbacks during the later half of the series that tied into current Demonic Possession cases, and only feeds on willing donors. It's also a rare example of a vampire detective series ending on a positive note.
- Blood+ (Japanese Anime), though subverted slightly with female vampires.
- The manga Blood Alone doesn't have the private investigator as a vampire; instead he adopted one. But still all the elements are there.
- A female variant in Hellsing comes in the form of Seras Victoria, a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire who is reluctant about feeding. She even gets some detective work in a few of the episodes of the first series.
- Non-TV example: Hannibal King from the The Tomb of Dracula comic. Also the Ur Example.
- The Confessor from Astro City fits a number of these conventions.
- Although Andrew Bennett from DC Comics' "I... Vampire" House of Mystery series never called himself a Vampire Detective, his quest to erradicate the Blood Red Moon cabal often required investigation and pitted him against human criminals. I Hate You, Vampire Dad is inverted, as he's a sire hunting down his evil offspring.
- Gerard Way's (Vampire) Detective Agency - An AU fanfic in which the members of My Chemical Romance and associated bands are supernatural creatures in a mystery story.  Subverted, in that the eponymous Mr Way is mortal but he solves crimes that involve vampires, and his butler, Frank, is a vampire.
- Highlander often fits this trope to a T, despite not involving vampires.
- Note that it misses points 1, but yeah, the rest of the items fit (particularly if you substitute "teacher" for "sire").
- The immortals' need to kill other immortals and take their Quickening essentially makes them vampires who only feed on each other.
- From the page quote: in an interview, Vivian Vande Velde cites this as one of her reasons not to write a sequel to her popular vampire novel, Companions of the Night.
The aforementioned quote begins with: "In a one-time book, an author can make the vampire deceitful and mysterious in an intriguing way. But if a vampire is a recurring character ... you dilute the vampire by presenting him as reformed."
- Henry Fitzroy of Tanya Huff's Blood series (adapted to television as Blood Ties) is not one of these, despite getting drawn in to dealing with Toronto's supernatural weirdnesses pretty frequently; he just wants to deal with the ghosts or the evil wizards or whatever and get back to his real job... which is writing romance novels.
- Of course eventually there is a vampire private detective in the series...But they were a PI before becoming a vampire.
- And the spinoff Smoke and Shadows series features Henry again, now as sidekick to a gay wizard who works in television - for a low-budget Vampire Detective Series!
- Of course eventually there is a vampire private detective in the series...But they were a PI before becoming a vampire.
- In The Hollows series of novels by Kim Harrison, witch-detective Rachel Morgan has a vampire partner, the incredibly sexy Ivy Tamwood.
- However, Ivy isn't very old, she's female, and her angst isn't so much with her parents as with the leader of the vampires, who's more like an uncle. But there sure is a lot of angst.
- Mario Acevedo's Felix Gomez series of novels are about a vampire who is a detective, but the drama comes mainly from the near constant danger his investigations put him in, rather than from angst. In fact, one of the plot points of the first book was Gomez recognizing that he needed to overcome the angst because it was impeding his survival.
- The real appeal of these books, though, is just how cheesy they are, and how they manage to be compelling and interesting despite that.
- The titular character from The Dresden Files replaces vampire with wizard and sire with teacher, but otherwise sticks to the classical trope, complete with angst over love interest and desire to act human. The emphasis is lampshaded. Thomas might be a case of a secondary character being the Vampire Detective, given Backup and White Knight, but he doesn't do the private eye stuff for cash. It's just a distraction from his real job, which he isn't really doing for money either.
- Bit of a stretch, but F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack is probably as close to fitting this trope as an ordinary human is likely to get. He's an investigator of sorts, in that he's hired to find out what's hassling his clients and stop it (1). He's been living under the radar of authorities for so long, re-establishing himself in a legal identity so that he can marry his girlfriend isn't an easy prospect (2 & 4). His relationship with his father stagnated for years, because he couldn't admit that he works as a hired vigilante, not an appliance repairman (3). And while he doesn't have centuries of memories to flash back to, his confrontations with the Otherness invariably contain Shout Outs to previous books' encounters (5). Oh, and he runs into weirder shit than anyone on this list except John Taylor and Harry Dresden.
- John Taylor of the Nightside series probably qualifies, if having Lilith for a Mom can substitute for having a vampiric sire. #2 and #5 are covered too, if flashforwards to a future where you've caused The End of the World as We Know It suffice as a guilt-generator. And whether or not he's immortal has yet to be determined: time will tell.
- Despite being a literal vampire detective, Jack Fleming from The Vampire Files is an aversion of this trope: he doesn't express any desire to become human, the only angst about his sire is that she was murdered, his love interest is requited with no major problems and he rarely discusses the past. He is a Vegetarian Vampire, however.
- One of the founding examples: BLOOD HUNT (1987) and BLOODLINKS (1988), by Lee Killough. The protagonist is a homicide cop who's turned into a vampire and, after adjusting to his condition, hunts down his maker to bring her to justice and uses his powers to fight crime.
- Heavily averted in the Discworld City Watch novels, which waited for seven books to add a vampire to the force at all, long after it had recruited dwarfs, trolls, gargoyles, werewolves, zombies, golems and gnomes. When Lance-Constable Sally von Humpeding finally does sign on, she subverts every aspect of this trope except being a Black Ribboner, and isn't even really there as a copper, but a spy for political authorities in Uberwald.
- On the other hand Angua fits the trope quite well, apart from being a female werewolf with a steady boyfriend instead of a male vampire in a tragic relationship.
- Although never actually seen directly, Fred Saberhagen's Dracula novels indicate that Sherlock Holmes has a vampiric twin brother. This individual isn't necessarily an example, as he may not have gone into the same line of work, but it's an intriguing possible usage.
- New Amsterdam, Elizabeth Bear's short story collection (no connection to the TV series of the same name, listed below). Unlike a lot of recurring themes in vampire stories, Don Sebastian a) does not want to become human again b) the drama relating to his sire is only his sadness that their love was not as eternal as they were (and the news that she has died by the time the stories start c) his love interests are requited, though he knows that time will separate them sooner or later, d) no flashbacks, only mentions to episodes in his past. He is a Consulting Detective, though, and quite a good one - we see him doing much more detecting than vamping.
Live Action TV
- Forever Knight, the first television series version.
- Angel, although the detective business eventually morphed into a specialized pest extermination outfit and the main unrequited love interest was offscreen, since Angel was a Spin-Off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- And though skilled in many areas, the fact that Angel isn't a particularly good detective does get lampshaded, to the point that he ends up having to hire a private detective in one episode, despite ostensibly being one himself.
- New Amsterdam definitely belongs here, even if the lead isn't a vampire but merely an immortal. Points 1, 2, 4 and 5 all bring it firmly under the Vampire Detective Series aegis.
- In Dexter, the titular character isn't technically a vampire, but he's obsessed with blood and kills only at night, so we'll take it. He fits all the requirements for the Vampire Detective Series but no. 4. (1) He is a cop (a blood analyst) (2) wants to be normal and (3) has a lot of daddy issues (his are 75% positive but it's a big deal). His daddy made him what he is, too. He (5) has lots of flashbacks about his earlier life, and he (6) only kills other killers.
- He now fits even no. 4, since the Lumen story arc.
- Franklin Mott in True Blood is both a vampire and a detective, but instead of the typical good guy, he's a psychopathic Yandere.
- There's a Korean drama titled Vampire Prosecutor which is about exactly what it sounds like and is about a Vegetarian Vampire with memory issues who solves crime, albeit as a prosecutor rather than the typical private investigator. He is assisted by a human detective though.
- GURPS Supers for 3rd Edition (Published in the late 1980s originally) Included a Broody, dark Vampire Detective who was part Batman and part Dracula.
- Solomon Stone is advertised as being "the World's Greatest Half-Vampire Skateboard Champion Private Detective".
- Freedom City Play By Post's Avenger, aka Jack Faretti is one of Dracula's many descendants, with the distinction that he uses his vampiric abilities like mind control and invisibility to pass for a non-powered costumed adventurer and fight crime. While many of his fellow superheroes are aware of his true nature, his deliberately cultivated 90s anti-hero persona makes him seem much less threatening than he really is.
- Mona the Vampire tries to be a vampire detective (with Charley/Zapman as a "superhero detective" and Lily/Princess Giant as a "princess detective"), but she just wears a vampire costume, plus all the strange happenings she investigates may or may not be all in her imagination...