"...and I've laid eyes on at least three of the major Canadian syndicated vampire detective shows."
"A [reformed] vampire ... mostly tries to make reparation for his previous evil by doing good deeds—most commonly, apparently, going into the crime solving business."
— Vivian Vande Velde
There are all kinds of job opportunities for sexy hemovores and solarphobes. Or so one would think, but noooo.
You want to make a TV series starring a good guy vampire, or other immortal being?
Well, after a few rounds of development, you're almost always going to have certain bullet points in your plot setup, just due to sheer parallel evolution and the fact that all pitches eventually morph into They Fight Crime
- He (and it will be a he) will be a detective, either police or private.
- He will want To Become Human, or at least will be actively regretting his vampire activities in the past and be trying to act more human than before.
- Expect loads of drama related to his sire. (I Hate You, Vampire Dad, True Art Is Angsty)
- At least one unrequited love interest. (True Art Is Angsty, Who Wants to Live Forever?, Mayfly-December Romance)
- Expect a load of flashbacks about how this case ties into something in one of the main character's previous lives, either directly or through resonance with past memories.
- He rarely, if ever, feeds off innocent people.
This might be because vampires fit so easily into the Film Noir Private Detective
with their tendency to be out at night, tendency to wear long coats
, messy backstories
, inevitable love difficulties
, not-so-clean morality
, and in some sense of the word, a drinking
Note that being a vampire is not an absolute requirement to qualify for this trope; hitting enough of the above list (preferably at least five of them, although an otherwise immortal character can skip out on any two of points 2, 3 and 6) usually qualifies the series as falling under this banner.
A subtrope of Friendly Neighborhood Vampires
. Needless to say, when vampiric, falls firmly under Our Vampires Are Different
. A specific type of Defective Detective
. Usually overlaps with Occult Detective
, but doesn't sufficiently often that it makes the numbered list above.
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Anime and Manga
- Gerard Way's (Vampire) Detective Agency - An AU fanfic in which the members of My Chemical Romance and associated bands are supernatural creatures in a mystery story.  Subverted, in that the eponymous Mr Way is mortal but he solves crimes that involve vampires, and his butler, Frank, is a vampire.
- Forever Knight, the first television series version.
- Angel, although the detective business eventually morphed into a specialized pest extermination outfit and the main unrequited love interest was offscreen, since Angel was a Spin-Off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Spike: “You're "Angel: Vamp Detective" now? What’s next? Vampire cowboy? Vampire fireman? Oh, vampire ballerina.”
Angel: “I do like to work with my legs.” [kicks Spike in the face]
- And though skilled in many areas, the fact that Angel isn't a particularly good detective does get lampshaded, to the point that he ends up having to hire a private detective in one episode, despite ostensibly being one himself.
- Franklin Mott in True Blood is both a vampire and a detective, but instead of the typical good guy, he's a psychopathic yandere.
- There's a Korean drama titled Vampire Prosecutor which is about exactly what it sounds like. It's about a Vegetarian Vampire with memory issues who solves crime, albeit as a prosecutor rather than the typical private investigator. He is assisted by a human detective, though.
- GURPS Supers for 3rd Edition (Published in the late 1980s originally) Included a Broody, dark Vampire Detective who was part Batman and part Dracula.
- Mona the Vampire tries to be a vampire detective (with Charley/Zapman as a "superhero detective" and Lily/Princess Giant as a "princess detective"), but she just wears a vampire costume, plus all the strange happenings she investigates may or may not be all in her imagination...
Non-vampire examples that hit most of the numbered list in the description
- Highlander often fits this trope to a T, despite not involving vampires. (In particular, the TV series fits into the genre.)
- Note that it misses point 1, but yeah, the rest of the items fit (particularly if you substitute "teacher" for "sire").
- The immortals' need to kill other immortals and take their Quickening essentially makes them vampires who only feed on each other.
- Captain Jack Harkness, of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, fits this to a T. He's an immortal, ancient man from the future, who has been with us in real time since the eighteen hundreds. He wants to be normal and to die, he's had numerous tragic romances, numerous failed romances, and the agency he leads, Torchwood-3, is basically the Angel example above, but with no detective side and with aliens instead of demons, complete with their vampire-equivalent, Weevels (not due to any vampyness, but due to being common enemies with large fangs and a thing for humans, and being such a common pest in Cardiff that you wonder how there's a Masquerade there— before remembering there apparently isn't, outside of some story-needed idiots, seeing as grannies know who Torchwood are). Entire episodes, season endings, and even seasons, are all tied around his past, and there's plenty of angst regarding the source of his immortality.
- New Amsterdam definitely belongs here, even if the lead isn't a vampire but merely an immortal. Points 1, 2, 4 and 5 all bring it firmly under the Vampire Detective Series aegis.
- In Dexter, Dexter isn't technically a vampire, but he's obsessed with blood and kills only at night, so we'll take it. He fits all the requirements for the Vampire Detective Series but no. 4. (1) He is a cop (a blood analyst) (2) wants to be normal and (3) has a lot of daddy issues (his are 75% positive but it's a big deal). His daddy made him what he is, too. He (5) has lots of flashbacks about his earlier life, and he (6) only kills other killers. He fits even no. 4, since the Lumen story arc.
- Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files replaces vampire with wizard and sire with teacher, but otherwise sticks to the classical trope, complete with angst over love interest and desire to act human. The emphasis is lampshaded. Thomas might be a case of a secondary character being the Vampire Detective, given Backup and White Knight, but he doesn't do the private eye stuff for cash. It's just a distraction from his real job, which he isn't really doing for money either.
- Given that the skill-set for "reporter" is pretty close to that for "detective", Susan Rodriguez could rate as an example once she's infected as a half-Red, although her role in the Fellowship's crusade against the Red Court mostly takes place off-screen. Also, as Harry took out Bianca within hours of Susan's getting infected, #3 is inverted: it's her daughter that Susan worries about.
- Bit of a stretch, but F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack is probably as close to fitting this trope as an ordinary human is likely to get. He's an investigator of sorts, in that he's hired to find out what's hassling his clients and stop it (1). He's been living under the radar of authorities for so long, re-establishing himself in a legal identity so that he can marry his girlfriend isn't an easy prospect (2 & 4). His relationship with his father stagnated for years, because he couldn't admit that he works as a hired vigilante, not an appliance repairman (3). And while he doesn't have centuries of memories to flash back to, his confrontations with the Otherness invariably contain Shout Outs to previous books' encounters (5). He has strong ethics about only undertaking "fixes" that punish people who really have it coming (6), keeping innocent bystanders safely out of the crossfire. Oh, and he runs into weirder shit than anyone on this list except John Taylor and Harry Dresden.
- John Taylor of the Nightside series probably qualifies, if having Lilith for a Mom can substitute for having a vampiric sire. #2 and #5 are covered too, if flashforwards to a future where you've caused The End of the World as We Know It suffice as a guilt-generator. And whether or not he's immortal has yet to be determined: time will tell.
- Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble is a zombie detective, who was able to openly resume his profession after his death because it's The Unmasqued World. He doesn't have a sire (although tracking down his murderer was a major plot of the first book), and he's never succumbed to the addict's craving to eat anyone's brains, but he does struggle to maintain his body's integrity, for fear of decomposing into a half-skeletal horror. Oh, and his girlfriend's a ghost, so the angst of being unable to touch her is played completely straight. No flashbacks, but excusable given that he's only been undead for a few months.
- Lost Girl: Though not a true vampire but a succubus, Bo is close enough. She did not know she was different until she accidentally killed her boyfriend at age 17, causing her to run away from home. Ten years later, she still does not know what she is (she just thinks she is some sort of freak), until she is found by the Fae authorities. Rather than choose between joining the light Fae or dark Fae, she decides to remain neutral and becomes a supernatural private detective for the Fae or humans. Her 'Sire' issues mostly relate to why she was abandoned as a baby (being raised without any warning of what she was). Though not said specifically, Bo is trying to atone for her years of feeding and running, made possible because her Fae lovers can be fed on more safely until she learns how to feed off human lovers without killing them.