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Actually Not a Vampire
What type of character does one or more of the following:
  1. Avoids sunlight
  2. Has Super Strength
  3. Has people begin disappearing when he arrives
  4. Seems to have a thing for avoiding garlic

If you said vampires you'd be right, but except for this trope.

This trope is for any instance where a character is set up as a vampire, and is then revealed not to be. It can lead to a massive awkward moment for the character that suspects as much, or it may just serve to deepen the mystery if there is a real vampire on the loose. In the latter case, the suspect may be a Vampire Vannabe who is in league with the real thing because they really want to be one, or they might be something even more sinister..

Can also be Played for Laughs if a character accuses someone of being a vampire when it's quite clear to the audience that they aren't.

Compare/contrast Totally Not a Werewolf, in which the suspect is always a supernatural creature, just not the one they were thought to be. See also: Not Using the Z Word

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Arystar Krory in D.Gray-Man. Because he'd attack the townspeople at night and drain them of their blood, everyone (including Krory himself) thought him to be a vampire. He turns out to be a human with Innocence, and he was instinctively attacking Akuma.
  • It is easy to assume that Seishirou Kirishiki in Shiki is a vampire but it is not so. Instead, he is The Team Normal among the vampires.

    Comics 
  • In an old EC Comics story, the premise of a game show is to guess the job of a special guest. The contestants get steadily more panicky and more creative as they discover that their guest 'works with a red liquid' and it's not soap, or ink, or anything other than what they're thinking about... he's actually a phlebotomist (someone who draws blood). The contestants are the vampires- the gameshow is for supernatural creatures, and the contestants typically feast on the guest at the end of the show.
    • This trope was also the twist in the EC story "Sweetie-Pie", where bodies of people last seen in cars that were wrecked turn up drained of blood with twin puncture marks in the throat. Turns out that it's the work of a ghoul.
    • Also the twist in another story about a graveyard-shift cab driver who reads in the papers that another murder has been committed; the victim bears the familiar neck-marks and drained blood. A doctor quoted and pictured in the article states the murders must be the work of a vampire, and he (the doctor) intends to hunt the bloodsucker down. When a sinister-looking passenger gets into his cab, the driver recognizes the man as the doctor he saw in the paper. After he drops the doctor off, the cabbie gets out and follows him on foot — only to be ambushed by the doctor, who reveals himself to be the vampire... and the cab driver wakes up. It had all been a dream the cabbie had while drifting off. But the same man the cabbie saw in the dream gets into his cab, and asks to be taken to the same destination. Instead the cabbie drives into an alley, where — you guessed it — the cabbie is revealed to be the real vampire, and he dispatches the good doctor. The final line of the story, spoken as the driver is getting into the trunk of his cab filled with graveyard earth: "Imagine! A vampire falling asleep at night — and dreaming! Ridiculous!"
  • Justice League, during their "International" period (also known as the Bwa-ha-ha era), ran an arc in which a region of Europe was overrun by "vampires". It's revealed that a mad-scientist had infected innocent people with an artificially mutated mind-controlling strain of porphyria, a blood disease that was once hypothesized to have been the origin of the vampire myths.
  • One of the stranger storylines in Ruse involves an Uberwald-esque town seemingly empty by day but lively by night, and a nearby Gypsy caravan whose women are being kidnapped (and, eventually, Emma). Generations of inbreeding have induced a mutation causing the townspeople to be invisible in sunlight and extremely photophobic; they're kidnapping girls for outside blood to counter the mutation.
  • A subversion of sorts occurs in one Mickey Mouse story. Goofy befriends a man who has just moved into an old house in town, and who actually dresses much like the stereotypical Bela Lugosi sort of vampire. The man even admits himself that it is the look he is going for, and that everything else he does, from sleeping in a wooden box to keeping the curtains shut, is just a healthy way of life. Goofy believes it, and wants to try. Mickey is not so gullible, and repeatedly tries to prove his claim by throwing about typical anti-vampire stuff such as garlic and running water. In the end, however, all attempts fail, and Goofy becomes increasingly angry with Mickey for messing around. Cue Mickey convincing him to find the man where he sleeps at day and pulling the curtains. Sunlight shines on him... and nothing happens. Mickey admits defeat, and they both leave. As soon as they have, however, the man pulls away the fake window he had on his wall, with just a normal lamp behind it. He laughs at them in the final frame, and will presumably go on to act like the vampire he is now that the "hunters" are gone.
  • One Archie Comics issue had Archie terrified that the woman who moved in next door was a vampire as she looked and acted like one, and even moved in with a suspiciously coffin-sized wooden crate. It turns out to be fully justified on Archie's case: The woman was a Method Actor who played a vampire on Television, and she ultimately pranks him by "turning" Chuck.
  • Inverted in one of the Ninja Scroll comics. Once Jubei encounters a strange female monster, who wants to drink his blood and can turn into a bat or a wolf. It's obvious for the reader that she's a Western-style vampire, but Jubei doesn't know that and has to learn her weaknesses the hard way (with a little help from people of the village the vampire was preying on).

    Fan Works 
  • The Seinfeld fanfic "The Vampire Boyfriend" has Kramer and Newman suspect this about Elaine's new boyfriend due to his not answering the door in the daytime and receiving boxes of soil from Europe. It turns out he's at work during the daytime and the soil is used for growing orchids. At the end of the story, this trope is then applied to Elaine herself.

    Film 
  • Vampire's Kiss is about a man who thinks he's turning into a vampire, but he's actually losing his mind.
  • The early George Romero film Martin follows the activity of a young man who is convinced he is a vampire. It's left ambiguous as to whether or not he really is a vampire, but only Martin and his uncle both believe in his vampirism, and there aren't any specific signs of his being supernatural that are explicitly shown.
  • Isle Of The Dead was producer Val Lewton's contribution to the vampire genre. It features a group of expatriates quarantined on an island during the 1910s Balkan Wars. One of the locals starts spreading rumors about how a vrovrolakas (the film's version of vrykolakas, the Greek term for vampire) is responsible for The Plague. Paranoia sets in.
  • In The Lost Boys, Sam and the Frog brothers try some vampire-detecting methods on Max when he comes over for supper, and are humiliated when all the tests fail. Subverted when it turns out Max is the leader of the vampires; the tests had merely been rendered ineffectual because he'd been invited into the house by Michael.
  • In Transylvania 6-5000, it turns out that a young lady named Odette was only acting like a vampire (dressing up in a black leotard and a vampire cape) to get attention, because she'd been unattractive prior to her recent nose-job.
  • The main character in My Best Friend is a Vampire actually is a vampire, however, throughout the movie vampire hunters believe it's actually his best friend, Ralph, who is the vampire.

    Literature 
  • The Morris Gleitzman short story "Dracila" is about a ten year old attempting to convince his kid brother that their sister's new boyfriend is not a vampire; despite a surprising amount of evidence cropping up to indicate that he is.
  • Sherlock Holmes - "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire".
  • In The Legacy of Lehr by Katherine Kurtz, there's a killer on the loose who appears to have all the indicators of being a vampire, but it turns out he isn't and it's just a series of coincidences. (That doesn't mean he isn't a dangerous killer, though.).
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, some speculate that the eponymous Count is a vampire, on account of his jail-gained pallor.
  • Edwart in Nightlight, a parody of Twilight.
  • Played straight and subverted in the original novella I Am Legend. While the infected people technically could be considered vampires, Neville realises at the end that the reason the reason most of them display the traditional weaknesses is actually psychological. As the virus spread the word "Vampire" started to be thrown around and the trauma of dying and then reviving drove most of those afflicted insane. He then understands why he once observed one Vampire climbing a telegraph pole only to leap to his death... he thought he would turn into a bat.
  • In Lensey Namioka's Village of the Vampire Cat, two ronin try to solve a mystery regarding the Japanese-style vampire. Apparently it's sneaking into girls' rooms at night, killing them with its claws, and also causing fainting spells. And there's a strange mewling sound that crops up now and again, and sometimes people get attacked by invisible claws while in the forest. Turns out it's a man thought dead, who was killing the beautiful women who robbed his grave... using a hook on a long cord as a weapon. And his mewling voice came from his mutilated throat.
  • In the first Kate Daniels book, a guy she meets and dates briefly is set up to be the Monster of the Week. He isn't. It's really, really awkward.
  • The mysterious Mr A.R. Claud in Dracula, Go Home by Kin Platt. Of course, if he was seeking to avoid attention, he could have a chosen different alias.
  • In Making Money Mister Bent is suspected of being a vampire due to his dark clothing, mysterious past, obsessive counting, staying at Mrs. Cake's boarding house, where supernatural creatures often reside, and always showing up at the bank before light and leaving after dark. It turns out he was born a clown. He's just very dedicated to his job.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this in a tie-in novel; the creature was actually a demon masquerading as a vampire and known as the Daywalker.
  • In the novel Twelve, one of the Vampire Vannabe s isn't a vampire. This is a major surprise to the reader, the main character, and in the sequel, even to other vampires. Being able to pretend to be a blood-sucking torture-loving inhuman monster is not played for laughs.
  • In the A-to-Z Mysteries book The Vampire Vacation, the three main kids begin to suspect that a man named "Dr. A. Cula" is, in fact, a vampire. Turns out he's just an actor dressed as a vampire, preparing for his next role.
  • Teuta in the novel The Lady of the Shroud, by none other than Bram Stoker himself.
  • In F. Paul Wilson's "The Keep" the main antagonist is an atlantean sorcerer/antichrist, but he pretends to be a Wallachian nationalist vampire in order to persuade an old professor to help him, and to pretend a set of weaknesses different from his real ones.
  • Early in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, five-year-old twins Rob and Will see someone standing in the woods near their riding school who looks like a vampire they saw in a classmate's vampire comic book. Lori checks out their story, convinced they saw someone, and finds footprints and a scrap of red silk the riding instructor missed. It turns out to be Charlotte DuCaral, a neighbour who wears the cloak, along with zinc oxide sun block and red lipstick, who was in the woods brooding over her lost love, who had promised to elope with her years before but didn't arrive.
  • When they first meet, Abraham Lincoln and Edgar Allan Poe both mistake the other for being a vampire in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
  • Used two ways in Tanya Huff's Blood Price, neither remotely funny:
    • Toronto is hit with a series of murders in which all the blood is drained from the victims. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people think it's a vampire (including an actual vampire, for a while), but it's actually a demon. Not much of an improvement.
    • A night nurse is accosted by her drunken neighbors, who have gotten caught up in the vampire frenzy and decide that a woman they never see by day must be a vampire. They impale the poor woman with a sharpened hockey stick...and are horrified when the body doesn't turn to dust at dawn.
  • In the short story My Bloody French Exchange by Anthony Horowitz, a young boy on a foreign exchange with a French family comes to believe their elderly uncle is a vampire. He isn't ... unfortunately, the boy only finds out after he's killed the poor old man with a wooden stake, and gets sent to a psychiatric institution.
  • The Goosebumps series had a short story where kids suspect their new classmate (who is very pale, Eastern European, and dresses all in black) is a vampire. She's not - they are vampires, and rapidly turn her into one.

    Live Action TV 
  • Parodied on How I Met Your Mother when Marshall believes that the bartender at MacLaren's is a vampire, based on his black clothing and tendency to come out at night.
    Robin: Hey! That does describe a vampire! Or, you know, a bartender.
  • The Doctor Who episode "Vampires of Venice". The "vampires" are actually alien Fish People who happen to exhibit a number of vampire-like traits.
    The Doctor: "No, they're not vampires. They're fish from space."
    • His delivery of the "fish from space" line makes it funny to boot. A later episode has him refer to them as "sexy fish vampires".
  • In an episode of the short-lived horror anthology Darkroom, a young Helen Hunt believed her big sister's boyfriend was a vampire. He wasn't. He was actually a werewolf.
  • In the Get Smart episode "Weekend Vampire" the eponymous vampire isn't a vampire, he uses a musical blowgun to fire two small Poison Darts that he aims at his victim's neck. He also has a creepy castle and uses a coffin as a bed secret stairway to his underground lair, but these are just to scare off the curious.
  • In Highlander: The Series, one episode features what appears to be a string of vampire attacks in Paris during the Renaisance. The victims in Paris all have missing blood and piercing wounds on their neck. There's even a Van Helsing type character hunting the vampire. He catches him too, only to be shocked when the vampire gets up from being staked. Turns out the vampire was an immortal faking vampire attacks so that he could kill his young bride and inherit her money.
  • In an episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Frank Lemmer is shown avoiding sunlight and other things, prompting Shelly to think he's a vampire. This culminate with her splashing him with a bucket full of holy water.
  • The Psych episode "This Episode Sucks" has a black-cloaked killer draining people's' blood, and Shawn and Gus think it's a vampire. It's actually a man with a rare disease who is stealing blood for transfusions since he lost his insurance and has a rare blood type.
  • St. Elsewhere did an episode in which a young man thought he was a vampire. His creepy behavior makes some of the hospital staff wonder about this, but he's eventually diagnosed with porphyria.
  • The Vampire Diaries used a series of Red Herrings to trick more observant audience members into thinking that the new history teacher Alaric Saltzman was a vampire - he wore a conspicuous ring, like the sunlight protection rings other vampires wore, and didn't step inside the Gilbert's house. He was actually a vampire hunter, and didn't step inside because he was being polite... while the ring was an entirely different kind of magical artifact.
  • On an episode of F Troop, Vincent Price makes an appearance as a spooky immigrant. They think he's a vampire, except of course Captain Parmenter. His reason? "They're not mentioned in the army manual." Of course, he's not a vampire.
  • In an episode of Gilligan's Island, Gilligan get bitten by a bat and has a dream that he is a vampire, Ginger (natch) is his vampire wife, Mary-Ann is the "ugly old lady" maid, the Professor and Skipper are Inspectory Watney and assistant, and the Howells are his type of people (Type A and Type O). Turns out, it was a fruit bat.
  • In season 1, episode 4, of The IT Crowd, Jen opens the red door in the basement and finds a rather strange character, who she assumes at first to be a vampire. It turns out he's (probably) just an unlucky goth, however.
  • Ultraviolet. Michael shoots a suspect who's been avoiding the sun — turns out he's a human with a skin condition that means he can't go out in sunlight.
  • In the Crossing Jordan episode "Revealed", Nigel suspects Alistair Dark aka Frank Jones of being a vampire and murdering a writer who was investigating him. Dr. Macy proves that Mr. Dark is just a particularly dedicated Vampire Vannabe and that the writer accidentally killed himself staging a vampire attack as a publicity stunt.
  • An episode of Supernatural features a Shapeshifter who impersonates a Classical Movie Vampire, a Werewolf, and a Mummy because he's a big fan of old horror movies.

    Radio 
  • An episode of Hamish And Dougal suggested that either the Laird was a vampire, or he was in the thrall of his ancestor Count Cardula, who was a vampire. It turned out there were plausible explanations for everything. We even heard some of them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Vampire: The Requiem actually has a whole book dedicated to this — Night Horrors: The Wicked Dead, which outlines the various creatures of the night that have vampiric traits but aren't necessarily on the same tier as the Kindred that are the central focus of the line. Such things include ghuls, jiang shi, penanggalan, a parasite that requires blood and eventually overtakes its host (replacing their tongue in the process), and a machine that rejuvenates humans but gives them a thirst for blood.
  • 1st Edition AD&D had a whole set of monsters called "pseudo-undead", which had the physical appearance, hit dice and attacks of undead, but were living creatures with none of their special abilities. Pseudo-vampires were among the examples of this creature-type, all varieties of which existed mostly to be used by DMs as "ringers" for the real thing.
    • A long-ago Dragon Magazine article about how to keep Genre Savvy players guessing suggested that monsters in a D&D game might spread misinformation about themselves. One example it gave was a pit fiend going by the title of "Vampire Lord", so would-be heroes would load themselves down with useless garlic and stakes.
    • One of the villains of the Eberron adventure Shadows of the Last War is a changeling who pretends to be a vampire. It's a 2nd-level adventure, and vampires are traditionally powerful creatures, so the PCs will likely panic.
  • One of the werebeasts from a Children of the Night supplement for Ravenloft is a werebat who pretends to be a vampire to mislead monster-slayers about his weaknesses.
  • The Fighting Fantasy Gamebook Vault of the Vampire sets up this situation with the final battle against Katarina Heydrich. The player will have just dispatched Katarina's brother Reiner - the actual vampire count of the title - probably by using collected stakes, garlic, mirrors and the like, and is offered the option to tackle Katarina in the same way. There are very subtle hints as to the truth of the matter if the player meets Katarina earlier on in the adventure, such as her drinking normal wine, but the confusion is sown deliberately.

    Video Games 
  • In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Anton is believed to be a vampire by everybody in town- including Anton himself. However, he is actually an old man and everyone is high on illusion fumes.
  • Played for Drama in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion where three dead beggars with neck wounds on their throats are found. A vampire hunter comes to town and kills a suspected vampire (he acts like one). It turns out to be all a lie. The two guys as well as a third man in a different town were partners in treasure hunting. They all had a key to a chest full of treasure (you need all three to open it) that was their retirement fund. One of them decided accusing the other two of vampirism and killing them would be a good idea. If you don't catch up to him when he flees town in a game day, then he escapes, thus failing the mission.
    • There's also the Order of Virtuous Blood quest, where a real vampire, posing as a vampire hunter, frames an innocent poor sap and manipulates you to kill him.
  • Scythe in Wild ARMs 4 likes to drink blood, and has power over space like other Crimson Nobles in that universe, though no aversion to sunlight. It turns out he simply enjoys drinking blood. The reason why he has powers over space is because his girlfriend Belial, whom he frequently drinks from, is a REAL Crimson Noble, whose powers far surpass Scythe's.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tsukihime, being essentially a vampire novel, plays this straight: after encountering a bunch of actual, honest-to-gods vampires, Shiki begins suspecting that his own little sister Akiha is one, too, especially after witnessing her feeding on Kohaku's blood. It turns out that Akiha is not a vampire but a demon hybrid who must consume "bodily fluids" (including blood) of a very specific person (Kohaku or her twin Hisui) in order to maintain her sanity.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Só Levando: Had a story arc where cats started disappearing. Because it started happening after a man named Eduardo arrived in town, a fan of the Twilight series assumed Eduardo to be a vampire who sucked blood out of the cats to avoid sucking it from humans. It was then revealed the cats were killed by a shopkeeper who tried to frame a competitor.
  • The Whateley Universe has a character named Vamp, who is pale as an albino and sensitive to sunlight, with super-strength and the ability to draw some sort of energy from people, especially from Energizers. Vamp also has a lust aura she can throw at people, and she can cast a cloud of darkness about herself. She used to be in the monster-themed supervillain team The Children of the Night. In "Ayla and the Mad Scientist" Phase has to explain about vampires in order to keep THE CRIMSON COMET!!! from trying to stake her.
  • Parodied in this College Humor video. The "vampire" is a metaphor for the Handsome Lech who stays out all night partying and picking up young women (which is why he doesn't like sunlight). It doesn't help that this particular individual is a broody Goth type who doesn't like to eat garlic knots.

    Western Animation 
  • Dr. Orpheus on The Venture Bros. is easily mistaken for "a dracula."
    • The vampire girls in the "The Silent Partners" episode turn out to be prostitutes to indulge Billy's fantasy from the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • Played Straight then subverted on Hey Arnold!, in the episode "Sid The Vampire Slayer". Sid spends the whole episode believing Stinky is a vampire and tries to get proof. When he confronts Stinky, he has a perfectly logical explanation for everything and Sid leaves feeling stupid. Cut to later that night, where we see Stinky, talking to a bat and looking suspiciously like a vampire!
  • Stoked!: "Grommy the Vampire Slayer" is all about this as Reef becomes convinced that three VIP Eastern European guests are vampires.
  • In one episode of The Magic Schoolbus, the kids suspect Miss Frizzle is a vampire, although of course she's not.
  • Doug has an episode where several people at school start to believe Skeeter is a vampire.
  • Phineas and Ferb has an episode where Candace believes she's a vampire after she's bitten by a bat, including suddenly being able to levitate, possessing super strength, and not showing up in a mirror. Turns out all of her abilities were just the result of her brothers' various inventions that day. Subverted at the end when Phineas exposes her to the sun.. and she evaporates into a pile of dust.


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