Vampires are a major antagonistic species found in the "Buffyverse" - a word coined by fans to describe media relating to Buffy the Vampire Slayer or its spin-off series: when the show first aired vampires were considered universally evil but with the arrival of Angel things quickly changed and vampires become more and more morally complex, though most of them remained bloodthirsty monsters.
In the Buffyverse Vampires are not true undead as in folklore but are instead demons that inhabit the bodies of recently deceased - a person who is bitten by a vampire will not rise from the dead unless they willingly make a pact with a vampire (under normal circumstances).
Many vampires in the show are shown as extremely weak but they vary greatly in threat and power, the most powerful of all vampires was considered to be The Master - though Dracula has also become known as a powerful and unique vampire, as has Angelus and several other "Big Bads".
Due to the fact vampires tend to be weaker than "full-blooded" Buffyverse demons they tend to act as lesser antagonists or henchmen for more powerful beings - though there are many examples of vampires who excel at being recurring antagonists in the series (though some, like Spike, have since become reluctant "heroes").
Vampires are the result of the Old One known as Maloker.
Within Human Society
Throughout most of history, the majority of humans remained ignorant or in denial of the existence of vampires, which notable exceptions including the Watchers Council, Slayers, and certain vampire hunters like Daniel Holtz and Charles Gunn. Rupert Giles once explained that people have a tendency to "rationalize what they can and forget what they can't." Aimee Mann, a guest singer at The Bronze, once comically remarked that she hated playing in "vampire towns."
For a period of time in Sunnydale, California, there existed a group of vampire wannabes known as the Sunset Club. Though they were aware of the existence of vampires, they were oblivious to their true nature, and referred to them as the "Lonely Ones"; they believed them to be gentle and misunderstood. They ultimately did discover the brutal and violent truth when they were attacked and nearly annihilated by Spike and his followers; they were saved by the Slayer, Buffy Summers. When meeting Angel, the actress Rebecca Lowell had also a similar poetic point of view and became intrigued by the possibilities offered by Angel's immortality to resume her career. Initially, she thought that vampires had total control over their instincts. However, she was clearly terrified by Angelus's brutality as he talked about decapitating her and carrying her head on a pike to show off after killing someone famous for the first time. Additionally, there was a vampire brothel in Sunnydale where humans could pay vampires to feed on them to get a rush from blood loss. Riley Finn made regular visits there until it was burned down by Buffy Summers in retribution.
The Sunnydale High school board and the police department also appeared to be aware of the supernatural goings-on in Sunnydale, and often covered up vampire and demon attacks under order from the mayor, Richard Wilkins. When Spike and the members of the defunct Order of Aurelius attacked Sunnydale High to kill Buffy, Principal Snyder and the police chief wrote it off to the public as an attack by a gang on PCP; apparently, that excuse had been used before. The U.S. government was also aware of the existence of the supernatural to some extent, and even built special units specifically meant for hunting them.
Coming Out to Humanity
All the people present in Los Angeles became aware of vampires when the city was moved to a hell dimension by the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart in 2004.
In the early 21st century, the existence of vampires became public knowledge, causing them to become a subject of a fad that capitalized on the fact that many humans experienced a thrill when bitten by vampires. Harmony Kendall became the face of vampires to the media, and began starring in her own reality show called Harmony Bites. In response, two new vampire movements appeared: Reform Vampirism, in which vampires drank only from willing humans and never took enough blood to kill or sire, and Vampire Supremacism, in which vampires considered humans nothing but cattle and wished for things to return to the way they were before Harmony made them public. However, with increasing attacks by zompires, mindless vampires sired after the end of magic, public opinion of vampires began to shift, leading the San Francisco Police Department to create a supernatural task force.
In the future timeline of Melaka Fray, vampires were called "lurks" and remained public knowledge, but most humans were unaware that lurks were actually demons, and not simply a particularly vicious form of mutant.
Vampires largely prefer working and acting alone, though were sometimes found living in groups organized like packs or prides. These groups were commonly organized with the purpose of protection and feeding.
The leading vampire is known and addressed as "master", usually the sire of the group, the eldest one or the most powerful; in any event, the dominant vampire was the one capable of achieving the top position and enforce his/her authority through strength and violence. There were also some cases in which the leading position was occupied by a dominant couple, like Spike and Drusilla or James and Elisabeth.
The followers were commonly known as "minions" or "lackeys", though sometimes they could also be referred as "acolytes". These were commonly the progeny of the master vampire, or vampires that fell under the authority of the master due to their own weakness or youth. While minions were expected to follow the commands of their master and were punished when failing, there were examples of vampires rebelling against their masters, or even choosing to serve a new one.
In some vampire bloodlines, there was a tradition of choosing new names for themselves after being sired. The Master's bloodline was an example of this.
Notable Vampires (Buffyverse)
- Angelus / Angel
- The Master
- The Anointed One