Vampires have become a cultural mainstay. While the frenzy around them from a few years ago has largely calmed down, vampires are still a constant presence in pop culture. Although zombies, witches, and other supernatural creatures often share the spotlight with them nowadays, vampires just won’t perish. They’re always lurking in the shadows, ready for their next close-up — and it’s clear why. Vampires are endlessly flexible creatures that enable people to metaphorically examine all sorts of scenarios. They can embody everything from death and destruction to a tortured desire for intimacy and redemption. They can be figures of horror, romantic outsiders, or even a comedic presence, depending on their perspective on life and the way they believe they fit into a world overrun by humanity.
One thing all vampires have in common is a set of supernatural powers and abilities that set them apart and make them exceptional. These can include the power of mind control, ever-lasting life, and, of course, super-strength. Yet, strength can come in many forms. Sometimes a vampire’s strength lies purely in their ability to fight and overcome any vampire hunter that comes along. Sometimes their strength comes from their mental fortitude, which enables them to accept their lot in life or seek a better way forward. However they choose to exercise it, the vampires on this list all show strength in their own ways. These are the 20 strongest vampires in pop culture, officially ranked.
20 DAVID (THE LOST BOYS)
In The Lost Boys, the beach town of Santa Carla, California is crawling with vampires, and for most of the movie Kiefer Sutherland’s David appears to be their leader. It turns out the real head vampire has remained hidden until absolutely necessary, but in the meantime, David has done all his dirty work. And he’s done it in the most sadistic, manipulative way possible.
He uses every tool at his disposal to get what he wants, including peer pressure (undead teenagers). He also initiates a brutal feeding frenzy with his pack of feral vampires. He fights viciously, and while in the end he loses, until then he’s the model of the remorseless vampire at the top of the food chain.
19 DAMON SALVATORE (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES)
It’s almost impossible to talk about Damon Salvatore without bringing up his younger brother, Stefan. They both became vampires at the same time but have evolved into very different members of the undead. While snarky, charismatic Damon drinks human blood, Stefan sticks with animal blood. In the lore of The Vampire Diaries, this means Damon is naturally stronger than Stefan.
The reason behind their different culinary choices also speaks to a difference in strength. When Stefan drinks human blood he spirals out of control, killing anything in his path. Damon doesn’t have this affliction, enabling him to control his bloodlust when he wants and take advantage of his ability to kill when he needs.
18 JESSE (NEAR DARK)
In the cult horror western Near Dark, Lance Hendriksen’s Jesse is the leader of a group of menacing vampires who revel in the power they have over humans. While it’s Bill Paxton’s showboating Severen that draws most of the attention, Jesse makes an impression by hanging back.
Around since the Civil War, where he fought for the South, Jesse is confident and casual even when he’s killing people. He’s the leader for a reason — he doesn’t have to show off for people to cower from him. Although when he wants to make a point about how powerful he is, he can. For example, he regurgitates a bullet after being shot, just to demonstrate his invincibility.
17 BILL COMPTON (TRUE BLOOD)
When the TV series True Blood begins, Stephen Moyer’s Bill Compton has decided to go mainstream by drinking a blood substitute instead of human blood, believing that should allow him to peacefully exist alongside humans. Yet, while Bill presents himself as moral and upstanding, he retains a suite of vampire abilities that give him power over the people he wishes to set at ease.
Bill believes he’s protecting the people he cares about but his powers let him control them in ways they often aren’t aware of. Bill’s intentions are good, but he rarely completely owns what he is, which can result in disaster and tragedy.
16 RAYNE (BLOODRAYNE)
Rayne from the BloodRayne video games is actually a half-human, half-vampire dhampir. This means she has certain advantages that vampires don’t. These include a lack of vulnerability to holy symbols like crosses and some ability to move around in daylight. Rayne also maintains the strength and healing that make many vampires so dangerous.
But Rayne hates vampires, and her goal in life is to murder her vampire father. As she works towards that objective, she dispatches pretty much every vampire or other supernatural creature she encounters as an agent for the Brimstone Society. Trained as an assassin, Rayne is a merciless killing machine.
15 ELI (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN)
The Swedish film, Let the Right One In, and its American adaptation, Let Me In, centers around the budding friendship between a bullied human boy and a vampire. While the vampire Eli looks like a child, she’s anything but. Her youthful looks put her at a disadvantage, so she travels with an older man who is completely devoted to her. He secures housing and kills and drains victims’ blood for her.
Yet, Eli still craves companionship and understanding, and she becomes increasingly involved with the boy. She believes they're two of a kind, as he wants to kill his bullies just as much as she wants to kill to feed. Eventually, in a burst of violence, Eli murders and dismembers the bullies, showing she's capable of overwhelming brutality and tenderness in equal measures.
14 ANGEL (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER)
Angel from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and later his own titular spin-off series, is a tortured being. Cursed with a soul after decades of killing indiscriminately after becoming a soul-free vampire, Angel’s remorse seems to know no bounds. His desire for redemption has led him to become a warrior against evil, and he’s taken on everything from other vampires to malevolent lawyers.
Angel’s willing to fight for what he thinks is right no matter what the odds are against him. Given his vampire-powered fighting skills, he wins more than loses while keeping his well-honed moral compass intact.
13 BARNABAS COLLINS (DARK SHADOWS)
Barnabas Collins quickly became a fan favorite when he debuted on the daytime soap opera Dark Shadows in the mid-1960s. Barnabas could be dangerous and cruel, always searching for sustenance from the unsuspecting locals. Yet, he was also capable of heroic acts, often saving his descendants, the Collins family, from disaster.
Given the program he appeared on was a soap opera, his desire for a vampire bride was a big focus of his story line. He could be merciless in pursuit of that goal, using magical abilities to get what he wanted. Those magical abilities were one thing that differentiated him from many other vampires. While he had all the traditional vampire skills as well, the magic he wielded made him even more powerful.
12 ERIC NORTHAM (TRUE BLOOD)
True Blood’s Eric Northam, played by Alexander Skarsgård, is a powerful centuries-old vampire who not only serves as a vampire sheriff but is also an entrepreneur who runs a bar called Fangtasia. Eric’s years of life have made him resourceful and calculating as well as clever and manipulative.
He is capable of incredible brutality and great violence, making him a terrifying foe. Yet, he’s also remarkably loyal to and forgiving of the people he’s chosen to love. Uninterested in only killing for food and sport, Eric patiently plots and schemes, using his skills when necessary to shape events to his advantage.
Vampirella made her comic book debut in 1969. While her origin story has been revised several times, in her first incarnation, she was a vampire from a planet of vampires who makes her way to Earth after discovering that humans carry her food source in their veins. Vampirella's mission on Earth involves killing evil vampires.
Besides her amazing power of not wearing very much, she also has all the typical vampire powers, including strength and speed. What makes her such an excellent candidate to take on other vampires, though, is her lack of typical vampire weaknesses, including vulnerability to either daylight or garlic.
10 MIRIAM BLAYLOCK (THE HUNGER)
The ancient vampire Miriam Blaylock is brought to life by Catherine Deneuve in the movie The Hunger. Miriam is refined, elegant, and often ruthless. She fits in perfectly in 1980s New York where no one suspects her vampiric nature, enabling her to easily find victims to feed on. Yet, she doesn’t just hunger for blood, she hungers for companionship and intimacy, even as she fears what will happen if she is discovered.
She travels with a companion of her choosing, but they always age and become decrepit and immobile while she lives on, staying forever young and powerful. This makes her seductive but ultimately deadly, even to those she loves the most.
9 VAMPIRE HUNTER D
The vampire hunter referred to only as D originated in novels but has also appeared in anime, comic books, and other media. D is a dhampir — half-human, half-vampire — and a superior fighter. He roams a desolate future-Earth hunting and protecting others from vampires.
He’s the best at what he does and this makes him an aloof, solitary figure who focuses on his mission over relationships or connections with others. It’s hinted that something happened in his past to make him pursue vampires so single-mindedly. But he doesn’t share the tragedy he suffered with the people he helps, instead he lets his often-violent actions speak louder than his words.
8 SPIKE (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Spike can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to. As a soulless vampire, he was responsible for the deaths of not one but two vampire slayers. Then, when he fell in love with a slayer, he found a way to win his soul back in order to be worthy of her. Yet, whether souled or soulless, Spike is pretty much the same character.
Morally flexible, sarcastic, and even funny, he wears his vampirism as a badge of honor rather than something to be ashamed of or broody about. In addition to physical strength, his strength of character, periodic bursts of wisdom, and acceptance of the grey areas in life make him a unique individual.
Blade was embodied by Wesley Snipes in a trilogy of films but the character first appeared in comics in the 1970s. In the comics, Blade starts out as a man who’s simply immune to being turned into a vampire. He hones his fighting skills in order to take on vampires, despite his lack of supernatural abilities.
But he is eventually turned into a dhampir, a vampire-human hybrid, giving him all the strengths of a vampire, but few of their weaknesses. In the movies he starts out as a dhampir, a “daywalker.” Either way, the character is cocky, brave, and fanatical in his desire to rid the world of vampires.
6 SELENE (UNDERWORLD)
Kate Beckinsale has portrayed vampire “Death Dealer” Selene throughout the Underworld series of movies, and she makes being a vampire look effortlessly cool. Despite being involved in battle after battle, Selene just keeps coming back. From the first film, Selene is shown to be a lethal weapon, killing any werewolf she finds in an ancient war between the two species.
Yet, when she falls in love with a werewolf, and learns new information about the vampire who sired her, Selene’s perspective begins to change. Her open-mindedness changes her destiny, and her amazing fighting ability enables her to live through that change.
5 ALPHA VAMPIRE (SUPERNATURAL)
Throughout the TV series Supernatural, monster hunters Sam and Dean Winchester defeat evil being after evil being. Yet, the Alpha Vampire, the very first vampire whose lineage goes all the way back to the dawn of humanity, isn’t so easy to kill. In addition to the powers possessed by a typical vampire, the Alpha Vampire has abilities that are specific to him, including telepathic communication with other vampires and an extremely high pain threshold.
Unlike many vampires, the Alpha Vampire has a genteel, cultured presence. Armed with millennia of experience, he mostly stays out of the affairs of humans and other beings but is a formidable fighter when he needs to be. It takes years, but Sam eventually brings him down.
4 THE MASTER (THE STRAIN)
Unlike pretty much every other vampire on this list, The Master from The Strain is a singularly ugly fellow. He lacks a nose and hair, and attacks not with his teeth but with a retractable tube that enables him to make more vampires and gross-out his victims at the same time.
The Master is difficult to track down, at least somewhat resistant to the sun, and has a great deal of control over other vampires, enabling him to stay in the shadows while others carry out his bidding. Moreover, when he decides to subjugate humanity and take over the world, he comes up with a pretty solid plan, demonstrating that he’s not all brawn, he’s got brains too.
3 KLAUS MIKAELSON (THE ORIGINALS)
The Originals’ Klaus Mikaelson was the black sheep of his family even before his mother, a powerful witch, turned him and his siblings into the first vampires. Through thousands of years of life, he still hasn’t let go of his resentment for how he was treated as a child, which sometimes leads him to express his anger in violently creative ways.
This is all the more problematic because Klaus is about the strongest creature around. Unlike his siblings, he’s not just a vampire, he’s a vampire-werewolf hybrid. As a result, he can take on whole packs of normal vampires or werewolves with terrifying ease, while normal people barely register as more than food to him.
2 LESTAT DE LIONCOURT (THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES)
Lestat de Lioncourt has appeared in numerous books in Anne Rice’s series The Vampire Chronicles. He's also been depicted in two different movies, most famously by Tom Cruise in 1994’s Interview with the Vampire. Although he can be vain and obnoxious, he’s also seductive and philosophical and even selflessly helpful when he wants to be.
Beyond super-strength and speed, Lestat also possesses the ability to read minds. As he grows older and is exposed to the blood of several ancient vampires, his abilities grow. He becomes stronger, invulnerable to sunlight, and gains the power of flight, eventually becoming so powerful, it seems he’s unable to die.
Could any other vampire top this list? Since Bram Stoker published the novel Dracula in 1897, the character has taken on a mythic stature. For his enduring cultural legacy alone he would qualify as the strongest vampire. However, he also possesses a slew of supernatural powers.
Although they tend to vary from story to story, he tends to possess super-strength, super-speed, the ability to shape-shift, and the ability to seduce pretty much anyone. While he typically is defeated by the end of each movie in which he’s appears, the question of whether he’s really gone lingers. Given our unending fascination with him, Dracula always returns sooner or later.