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"Oh such grace, oh such beauty— so precious, suspicious, and charming, and vicious,
Oh darling, you're a million ways to be cruel."
A classic character type, the beauty who uses her feminine wiles to undermine a moral and upright man, for evil
purposes. She's evil and sexy
, a liar and a sneak, and uses the good guy's sympathy against him
, often with a sob story about her mother and some hospital bills or a Wounded Gazelle Gambit
Unlike the Femme Fatale
and the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter
, she is rotten to the core, and will never be swayed from the path of darkness by love. (In eras where Make Up Is Evil
applies, expect her to paint when no other woman does.)
The name comes from classic silent films, where this character is part of a standardized plot. A red-blooded American boy must choose between his familiar, cutesy-plain sweetheart and this seductress
This trope is Cyclic
. In certain eras, as with the "hat dichotomy" from westerns
, but more actual in fact, The Vamp is almost always black-haired, while the good girl is a blonde
. At other times, blondes are inherently more evil
. In the cold war era, the raven-haired temptress was a Soviet spy
, when not just a torturer like The Baroness
Is often the Lady in Red
or the Woman in Black
Although the name is derived from "vampire", this character is most commonly a normal human, but some supernatural entities are known to influence men in this way. Succubi
and Sirens are known to lure men in to be eaten or drained of Life Force
, for example.
Compare with the Femme Fatale
, the somewhat more sympathetic (and less sexual) version of this character(which may overlap with this trope if the character has ambiguous agenda.), and The Casanova
. Often overlaps with the Black Widow
, who is just a particularly successful Vamp. See also Villainesses Want Heroes
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Anime and Manga
- Mitsuko Souma in Battle Royale.
- Slan from Berserk.
- The female Apostle that Guts kills in the very beginning of the manga is another big example, using her beautiful, naked, female human form to lure men into her embrace before assuming her Apostle form and eating them alive, with her most notable kill being Corkus during the Eclipse.
- Parodied in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, where a woman tries to pull this to steal government secrets from a group of Otaku. Of course, they were specifically chosen to guard the secrets because their obsession with 2D girls would make them immune to The Vamp...
- Houshin Engi has Dakki.
- Light Yagami from Death Note is a rare male example.
- In Corsair, Canale is treated as a vamp by a lot of characters, almost all of whom are trying to defer their guilt to him because they refuse to accept that their desire for him is their fault.
- Mikaze from OccultAcademy.
- Underdog has the buxom tournament coordinator Noa Takayanagi, who uses her feminine wiles early in the series both to convince Naoto to participate in the tournament and to get him out of trouble with a couple of police officers on patrol, by distracting them with her cleavage.
- Windaria Selenia is ordered by the Big Bad to seduce and then kill Alan. He's so taken with 'every beautiful inch of her' that it almost works.
- Bloody Agatha from Claymore - she's one of the few Claymores who shows an interest in sex. Roxanne of Love and Hate could also count, depending on how you interpret her attitude towards her victims. Her modus operandi was to befriend another Claymore and copy her powers. That Claymore would later die in...mysterious circumstances. It also enabled her to leap up the ranks to Number 1.
- Kanoko's stepmother in Velvet Kiss is a chessmater who uses a combination of sex and blackmail to manipulate events, such as by having the wife of her lover killed due to neglectful hospital care, and then trying to do the same thing to the lover himself (now her husband). Deconstructed when all it takes is two people standing up to her and the entire plot crashes down around her.
- Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Yu-Gi-Oh! had a Sadist Teacher version named Ms. Chono from the first arc of the manga and the first anime series. She enforces arbitrary rules and enjoys expelling students, so much so that she regularly orders desk inspections to find out if any students are carrying contraband items. She also likes going on matchmaking dates just to crush men's hopes, and the one time a guy dumped her first she had a gigantic temper tantrum in the school bathroom. She gets her just desserts when Yami Yugi challenges her to a jigsaw puzzle game, where she cheats, and has her true ugliness exposed. Later on she's able to appear normal with enough make-up, but when she acts mean or cruel her face will suddenly crack.
- Ava Lord from the Sin City story "A Dame to Kill For" was an evil (by her own admission) and greedy seductress who manipulated her old lover, Dwight McCarthy, through a Wounded Gazelle Gambit into murdering her husband so she could get her hands on all his money, and then tried to kill him once he had outlived his usefulness to her. As Manute, her Dragon (who would later show up in "The Big Fat Kill"), explains, Dwight is not the first man she has destroyed with her deadly wiles. Lampshaded-slash-deconstructed in her admission, as she points out that "evil ruthless seductress" is so cliche nobody believes she can be one...until it's too late.
- Poison Ivy, especially before she became an eco-terrorist.
- Nocturna is another seductress foe.
- Sandman Mystery Theatre had an arc titled The Vamp, featuring one of these. The title character became a bit more sympathetic when her Start of Darkness story was told.
- Mystique, long time foe of the X-Men, is the absolute embodiment of this trope.
- Selene, the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, also qualifies.
- Bridget Keating from Knights Of The Dinner Table, although Bridget is more selfish than evil.
- Lulu Romanov in Nikolai Dante
- Fiona Fox from Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. In addtion, Rouge can qualify in her darker interpertations. Also, Metamorphia from Sonic The Comic.
- The character of Irma Vep in the 1915 french silent film serial Les Vampires. Her name is an anagram of "Vampire".
- In Body Heat, Mary Ann Simpson is explicitly labeled "The Vamp" in her high school yearbook. She's Kathleen Turner's character, which we've been lead to believe is Matty Tyler Walker, and is playing Ned Racine, the real Matty Tyler, and her husband for all they are worth.
- Black Widow (1987), played by Theresa Russell, a serial killer of rich men she married, ostensibly for their money. Has strong bisexual theme as well.
- Pick a version of The Parent Trap. In this case, it takes the twin girls wreaking havoc on The Vamp to make Dad realize that he's about to marry a gold-digging bitch, which was completely obvious to everyone else from the moment the woman appeared on the screen. She'll likely overlap with the Rich Bitch in this case.
- Kris Bolin from The Temp
- The 1967 version of Bedazzled 1967 has Lust, played by Raquel Welch. The Devil herself (played by Elizabeth Hurley) is one in the 2000 version.
- Silent film actress Theda Bara in...pretty much anything, but especially 1915's A Fool There Was, where she's actually billed as "The Vampire". The film even quotes Rudyard Kipling's poem (see Literature below).
- Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough.
- The woman from the city in silent classic Sunrise.
- A whole series of Film Noir movies made in the 1940s and 50s: Phyllis in Double Indemnity, Kathie from Out of the Past. Even Marilyn Monroe's character in Niagara.
- A significant portion of Marlene Dietrich's career was built on such titles as Devil Is a Woman.
- Conchita in Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire. Hell, it took two actresses to carry all this vampishness.
- Kara is even referred to as such in the 2006 high school noir, Brick.
- Cthulhu (2007). Susan tries to seduce the protagonist, Russell Marsh, as part of the Cult of Dagon's plan to have him pass on his seed (creating a Hybrid Monster). As Russell is gay, her charms don't work on him, so she drugs and rapes him instead.
- In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, amazingly hot college girl Alice is intent upon getting with Sam for unclear reasons. She's a Decepticon spy named Pretender. Yes, they can turn into humans now.
- Bridget in The Last Seduction (1994).
- Suzanne Stone, the Villain Protagonist of To Die For (1995), is a partial parody of The Vamp - she's beautiful, utterly ruthless, manipulative...and dumb as a post.
- Lady Kaede in Akira Kurosawa's Ran starts out as a Lady Macbeth to her husband. After he's killed in battle, she becomes a Vamp to his brother, seducing and becoming a Lady Macbeth to him and making him order the death of his wife, Lady Sue.
- In Dracula's Daughter, the actual vampire Countess Marya Zaleska tries to play this role with Dr. Geoffrey Garth. This is lampshaded when the Head of Scotland Yard tells his man-servant that he is going hunting "vampires", to which the latter replies: "But I always understood you went after them with chequebooks, sir."
- Nazi Vamps like Ilsa Haupstein (from Hellboy) and Dr Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Unrepentant and black-hearted bitches. Also examples of The Vamp, Blondes are Evil, and Evil Is Sexy.
- Myrna Loy was stuck playing this type of role for years in early Hollywood, often with an additional "ethnic" flavor, finally escaping to better parts with the success of The Thin Man.
- Lady Marsh in The Lair of the White Worm seduces both men and women to their doom.
- Mini from Mini's First Time has elements of Femme and Fille Fatale, but her utter soullessness qualifies her for this trope.
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there's a whole castle of vamps.
- Ariel in Alien Intruder.
- Kathryn in Cruel Intentions.
- Debbie in Devil In The Flesh.
- The leading role of the theater troupe's play in the silent comedy Exit Smiling is a vamp, and is the role that the heroine is constantly trying to score.
- Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem called "The Vampire". Trope Namer?
- Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers.
- Played for laughs in The Science of Discworld II: The Globe; the queen of The Fair Folk tries to seduce Rincewind, but all he desires is potatoes.
- Berelain in the Wheel of Time started out as one, who seduced people for political advantage and spent multiple books chasing after Perrin to the detriment of Perrin's marriage, but is starting to look a bit more sympathetic. Her current infatuation with Galad, putting an end to the horrific Poor Communication Kills arc of the last five books, certainly helps.
- The title character of "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.
- The White Witch of CS Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, even more so in the films. In the film adaption of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund even imagines her promising to make him "a king...and more", making it obvious that this was a large factor in his decision to become her mole. But even in The Magician's Nephew, she strikes Diggory as stunning (while Polly doesn't see the attraction), and Uncle Andrew loses his head over her, even imagining she might find him attractive. And, of course, the Lady of the Green Kirtle from The Silver Chair seduces and enslaves the prince. Jill does see the attraction.
- Zenia in Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, Bequa Kenska. When her attempt to seduce Ostian Delafour fails, she is enraged both to lose the chance to corrupt his youth and innocence and because she had never failed before.
- The title character in Andrew Vachss' Strega (the second Burke novel) is explicitly The Vamp to the extent that she even Lampshades the fact that she can bend men to her will. The protagonist, Burke, does succumb to her sexual wiles, but subverts the trope in that he's perfectly aware of what she represents, and manages pulls away once her goals are no longer parallel with his. The girlfriend in Vachss' The Getaway Man plays the trope straight, however.
- Lara Raith of The Dresden Files. She's also a psychic vampire who feeds on people's souls during sex.
- Mab, the Unseelie Queen of Air and Darkness, has elements of this archetype. While it normally doesn't come up (since she's more powerful than most gods), she has proven capable of using seduction when the situation calls for it. Harry also describes her as "too terrifying to be beautiful."
Mab: Are you frightened of me, Harry?
Harry: I'm sane.
- Maeve, the Unseelie Lady and Mab's daughter, uses this trick quite a bit more than her mother, and is far more blunt about it. She's about as subtle as a prostitute sticking her hand down the front of your pants. A very, very, very beautiful prostitute, with friends, but still.
- Nefer of The Egyptian, although she is considerate enough to actually warn him first. Doesn't help, though.
- Cavilo (who had already thus secured control of a mercenary warfleet) attempts this with Emperor Gregor Vorbarra in the The Vor Game. As you might guess from the "attempts", it doesn't work out the way she planned.
- This trope is so old that even parodying it is Older Than Steam. At the end of the King Arthur story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain claims he has learned never to trust women, that they only lead you to sin, etc., etc. The Green Knight tells him this is ridiculous and that he has to take responsibility for his own failure.
- Male example: Spyros Stavaronas, the attractive young shrimp fisherman in Alexandra by Scott O'Dell. At first, he uses his charms to distract Alexandra so his henchmen can smuggle cocaine on her boat. When Alexandra finds out, he further tries to charm her into keeping his secret and not turning them in to the cops.
- Mr. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice is another male example. Unlike the passive if Hedonistic Casanova Willoughby of Sense And Sensibility, who doesn't care if he breaks hearts, Wickham actively tries to win the heroine over and turn her against Mr. Darcy via Malicious Slander. This is years after he tried to get revenge on Mr. Darcy by seducing his sister. Elizabeth later feels terrible over how easily she believed his lies.
- The woman in Robert E Howard's "The Gods of the North", who lures Conan the Barbarian to her brothers to be killed. When this does not work, things get rather uglier for her.
- Thalis tries this in "The Slithering Shadows". Conan is embarrased because Natala, his slave girl, is watching.
- Parodied with Muriel Kane in The Beautiful And Damned. She wants to be seen as a vamp (and happens to look like Theda Bara, mentioned above), but tries far too hard.
- Roberta "Bobbie" Wickham from the Jeeves and Wooster series is a light comedic variant. A troublemaker with Evil Redhead tendencies, she makes a habit of luring Bertie into trouble and then working against him to benefit herself. Of course, Bertie is an Extreme Doormat who can get talked into anything, but in Bobbie's case, the fact that she's gorgeous and flirtatious doesn't hurt her cause.
Bobbie Wickham ... went about the place letting the pure in heart in for the sort of thing I was doing now.
- Matilda fills this role in The Monk, particularly if you read her character as deliberately leading Ambrosio astray rather than merely being tempting.
- Extremely common in The Sword Of Truth, especially among the Sisters of the Dark. Nicci is perhaps the best example prior to her High Heel Face Turn, and has a long history of using her beauty and sex to get what she wants. The generally antagonistic (though not evil) and neutral at best witch woman Shota tends to play this at times as well. Calling her default wardrobe "revealing" doesn't even cover it.
- Lilith Eve Mabus in Steve Alten's Resurrection is an extreme example of the trope.
Mythology and Religion
- The classic Vamp, of course, is Delilah, from the biblical story of Samson. The Biblical story clearly treats her as a villainess who tempts Samson away from his godly ways, and thus brings about his downfall, emasculation, and captivity. She betrayed him very effectively, although her life was threatened. People weak in faith turning their backs on their powerful protector when threatened by the vast but easily avoidable powers of the wicked is a bit of a theme in the Bible, yes.
- There are a few mythological creatures who act like this.
- The Succubus, a demon which disguises itself as a beautiful woman to cause trouble (what kind of trouble tends to vary).
- The Sirens from Greek mythology. Bird-women who lured sailers to their death with their singing.
- Older Than Dirt: Mesopotamian Mythology has the goddess Ishtar/Innana, who tends to cause her lovers' deaths, and the seductive Child Eater Lilitu.
- Lucy The Slut in Avenue Q. The extent of her character is, well, Self Explanatory.
- Lola from Damn Yankees is a subversion. She presents herself in her establishing song "A Little Brains, A Little Talent" to be The Vamp to end all Vamps, but her seduction of Joe is unsuccessful, in part because she fails to be evil enough.
- Mallory in the musical City of Angels. She's redeemed by (in-story) Executive Meddling.
- Not so much evil as irresponsible and immature, Mayzie La Bird is a kid-friendly version in Seussical.
- The two female protagonists, Roxie and Velma, from Chicago are using their vamp skills to literally get away with murder.
- Generally, whoever sings 'Turn Back, O Man' in Godspell tends to be a bit of a parody of this.
- Sally Bowles from Cabaret is another more irresponsible and immature than evil version.
- Fastrada, Pippin's Stepmother from Pippin, is this to a V. She manipulates both Charles and Pippin to make sure her 'darling' son Lewis is next in line to the throne. Of course, she's manipulating Pippin for other reasons..."Sometimes I wonder if the fornicating I'm getting is worth the fornicating I'm getting."-Charles
- Adelheid von Walldorf in Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe's Goetz Von Berlichingen. She uses her beauty to enamour and manipulate the Knight Adelbert von Weislingen; then, when he has outlived his usefulness, has him murdered.
- Cirque Du Soleil examples:
- The Black Widow in Mystere tries to corrupt the Archangel who performs the aerial cube act.
- Two of the Mutants in Zarkana, Kundalini and Tarantula, aim to lure the hero away from his quest to reunite with his sweetheart. They are both Mix-and-Match Critters — one a snake(s) woman, another a spider woman.
- The pole dancer who performs to "Dangerous" (see Music above) in Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour.
- In Survival of the Fittest, several female players, such as Katherine Marks, Clemence, and Chi Masumi, have used their looks to try to seduce male opponents and catch them off guard or get protection/help from them. Usually, they try to kill the male once they're vulnerable. This has just about never worked, James Coombs, Naoji Hideyoshi, and Aaron Redfield being the only actual victims of this tactic so far. Non-player females sometimes try to do something similar to charm males into helping them, but this has become rare by v3.
- Vamp's MO. May or may not continue now that she's going to Whateley.
- The Spoony Experiment recently did a Counter Monkey episode on how frequently this trope is employed in tabletop roleplaying games. As mentioned above, Dungeons & Dragons has a character class for it and more than one monster is built on this concept, most commonly the succubus.
- The Martian Queen from Duck Dodgers tries. The hero's too stupid to fall for it. (In some episodes, she's a Defrosting Ice Queen who's genuinely in love with Dodgers, but he's still too stupid to notice.)
- Subverted in one of Saturday Night Live's "Ambiguously Gay Duo" cartoon shorts. An alien queen plans to use her feminine wiles to distract Ace and Gary, but Dr. Bighead replies, "I, uh, don't think that'll work on those two." Which it didn't. They have very strong moral constitutions, obviously.
- It doesn't seem to be intentional with Azula in Avatar The Last Airbender. She sounds like that talking to...well, everyone, including her own brother... but when she actually tried to seduce someone, it fails dismally.
- Karai from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012.
- Venus in The Tick is a G-rated example, played for comedy. She can channel her "feminine wiles" into a form of actual mind control.
- Blackarachnia of Transformers Animated wavered between this and Femme Fatale. Even if she was redeemed, it would be very hard for anyone (besides Optimus, the sap) to trust her. Which is odd, because while she's fairly sexy by human body shape standards, she's also techno-organic—and most Transformers are repulsed by anything organic. However, many of the Autobots find her very attractive and only Blitzwing and Sentinel Prime react with anything approaching disgust. The latter even tries to kill her, despite the fact that she was once his best friend.
- Hollie Would from Cool World. Kind of like the evil blonde version of Jessica Rabbit.
- Sedusa of the Powerpuff Girls
- Darla Dimple from Cats Dont Dance, despite being just a child.
- Lolita and Tanqueray from Beavis And Butthead
- Hatta Mari from Plane Daffy.
- Queen Chrysalis in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic plays this trope quite well.
- Considering she's essentially a G-Rated Succubus, it's not too surprising.
- In the American Darkstalkers cartoon, Morrigan fits the bill. She only seuces men and fellow monsters) to gobble them up, and works with Pyron.
- In Samurai Jack, there was Josephine Clench (also a Dark Action Girl) who once formed half of an Outlaw Couple with her husband Zeke; she was so rotten that Zeke divorced her and got a restraining order against her. They called a truce to collect the bounty on Jack (at which point her skills at seduction worked very well on the Samurai) but Josephine double-crossed Zeke in the end (which leads you to believe that may have caused the divorce in the first place). Ironically, this is what helped Jack defeat her as well.
- Roodaka from BIONICLE is a quintessential example.
- Love and/or refugee camp Internet scams are often using this kind of character.