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The favorite (and generally speaking, only) weapon of the vampire slayer. Because weirdly enough, only wood can kill a vampire, whereas sword impalement short of beheading cannot. This may be because the wooden stake was a once living plant, much like the vampire was a once living human, unlike the sword which was never alive. Yes, this frequently means that someone can be killed via pencil to the heart.
In early vampire fiction, stakes were simply used to pin a "vampire" into its coffin while it slept, keeping it from waking back up and causing trouble. When it became a bizarre all-purpose vampire-killing weapon is unclear.