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Vampire Procreation Limit

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Vampires are produced in a way that precludes them outnumbering their prey

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
zarpaulus on Oct 6th 2018 at 5:51:20 PM
Last Edited By:
zarpaulus on Oct 18th 2018 at 5:10:48 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Vampire-bite victims becoming vampires themselves is a staple of vampire fiction. However, if every bite victim turned, this combined feeding-and-procreation method would logically lead to vampires rapidly outnumbering their human victims. While many works leave vampire population logistics unexplained, others choose to address the population implications head-on, either by incorporating a Vampire Procreation Limit that prevents a vampire population explosion or using it as a variant on a Zombie Apocalypse plot.

A particularly common method, popularized by Anne Rice, is to require the new vampire to receive a transfusion of blood from an existing vampire in addition to being drained. But there are other possibilities such as requiring the potential vampire to have a specific gene or even making vampires a separate species that reproduce sexually.

A subtrope of Our Vampires Are Different. Compare Immortal Procreation Clause

Examples

Anime and Manga

  • In Blood+ Chevaliers are produced by feeding a Chiropteran Queen's blood to a human dying of blood loss. The common, "feral" Chiropterans are artificial, produced via a drug isolated from Queen's blood. The Queens themselves though, reproduce sexually, they are born in pairs and eventually one Queen's Chevalier mates with her sister.
  • In Hellsing victims of vampiric feeding do rise as the undead, but only virgins become vampires, everyone else becomes a flesh-eating ghoul. Which is why the vampire priest in the first chapter attempts to rape Seras Victoria before eating her, and Alucard asks if she's a virgin before shooting through her.
  • Vampires in Karin reproduce sexually, but a good majority of them are infertile and have trouble conceiving. There are certain vampires known as "psyches" who are capable of bestowing fertility by sharing their own blood. Karin just happens to be one herself. Her family never really catches on that this "un-vampire" who is capable of living out in sunlight, eat normal foods, and creates blood instead of consumes is actually The Chosen One who can restore fertility among vampires by sharing her own blood.
  • In Trinity Blood only people carrying a certain gene are susceptible to the Martian bacterium that turns humans into vampires (or Methuselahs as they prefer to be called). Most Methuselahs are born to vampire parents. And only Artificial Humans like the Nightroads can survive the Crusnik Nano Machines.

Comic Books

  • It isn't explicitly stated, but the circumstances of Cassidy's vampirisation combined with the events of the Blood and Roses miniseries suggest that you become a vampire in Preacher by being bitten by a vampire and surviving, in a disease model. Vampires are rare because they generally go into a feeding frenzy when they bite people, and only fail to drain them to death if something interrupts them.

Literature

  • The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice popularized this version. In Interview With the Vampire the process is described as the human and vampire sucking each other's blood.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula is ambiguous as to whether it works this way. The Count forces Mina to drink his blood, forming a mental link between them, but he's not shown doing this to any of the other women he turned. On the other hand none of the ship's crew he ate rose as vampires.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan a vampire cuts the tips of his fingers and his new "assistant's" fingers and presses their cuts together so that their blood mingles. Notably the process has to be done at least twice, the first time only converts them into a Dhampyr.
  • In The Sanguine Chronicles vampirism and lycanthropy are caused by two strains of a virus that most people are immune to. If you're not immune and are attacked by a vampire or werewolf you tend to get infected. Marko is the result of his mother getting caught in the middle of a Fur Against Fang fight while pregnant with him.
  • In the Night Watch series, vampires are Dark Others whose creation is regulated by the Treaty. As such, each vampire must receive explicit permission from the Night Watch to turn a human, otherwise the Night Watch has a free reign under the Treaty to hunt down and to destroy both the progenitor and the progeny.
  • In Morganville Vampires, during the early years of vampires, vampire numbers almost overwhelmed the human population due to their ability to transform humans into vampires rapidly as well as the human population being smaller than it was today. In order to prevent the humans running out and hence endangering the vampire's food supply, it was agreed by the higher vampires of the time to remove the knowledge of how to create more vampires, simply by refusing to teach it. Over time, this knowledge became lost even to the elder vampires resulting in it only being available from two sources, these being the world's oldest vampire, Amelie as well as an ancient spell book where it was written down.
  • In Team Human the vampire population is kept down by three factors: The vampire has to completely drain a human to make a new vampire. It is against both human and vampire law for a vampire to turn a human into a vampire without that human's permission (and most vampires are law-abiding). Sometimes the attempt to turn a human fails, and a mindless zombie is produced instead.
  • In Evernight, only people who have been bitten multiple times before by a vampire can themselves become vampires, and even then this is only true if the last bite is fatal.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer establishes this in the first episode when Buffy explains to Giles why the first victim we see won't return as a vampire.
    ''To make you a vampire, they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole, big, sucking thing. Mostly, they're just gonna kill you.'
    • In addition, vampires are normally possessed by demons upon siring. After Buffy destroys the Seed of Wonder that allowed demons to enter the world attempts to sire vampires produce mindless "zompires".
  • In Preacher (2016), vampires are able to turn normal humans into vampires easily enough, but the vampire population is limited because the race has a terrible epidemic of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder that drives them to attack and kill each other.
  • My Babysitter's a Vampire: Humans bitten by vampires will typically become vampires themselves, however there are two ways of getting around this; a fledgling vampire that does not drink blood will die in 28 days if they can't find a blood substitute to sustain them, while also not having all their abilities. A human who has the vemon drained from their blood before transformation will be spared from transforming at all.

Tabletop Games

  • Both Vampire: The Masquerade and its successor Vampire: The Requiem employ this model of vampire conversion. A human is brought to the brink of death by exsanguination and then fed a few drops of Vitae. Giving Vitae to a healthy human produces a ghoul
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition a humanoid with four or fewer character levels doesn't become a vampire if drained of blood by one, they rise as a less-powerful "Vampire Spawn" that can't turn people.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls series treats vampires as being Deceased and Diseased, but being attacked by a vampire does not guarantee being infected, and the disease takes about three days to completely transform the infected into a vampire, giving those who don't want to transform a reasonable amount of time to seek a cure.

Visual Novels

  • In Tsukihime, vampires who suck a human's blood can then inject them with some of their own blood to turn them into the Dead (a zombie, for all intents and purposes). In some cases, however, exceptional victims don't die completely, but instead turn into beastly ghouls. By consuming human flesh for many years, ghouls can eventually regain their human intelligence, completing their transformation into a vampire, — but only a few actually manage to survive that long, putting an additional limit on new vampire population.

Western Animation

  • School For Vampires: Vampires in this series mostly produce sexually, so like humans they are born as babies and grow up from there. It is possible for vampires to turn humans into vampires, but only if they bite them during a full moon. And the process can be reversed by giving the victim a blood transfusion.

Feedback: 44 replies

Oct 6th 2018 at 11:00:28 PM

  • Vampires in Karin reproduce sexually, but a good majority of them are infertile and have trouble conceiving. There are certain vampires known as "psyches" who are capable of bestowing fertility by sharing their own blood. Karin just happens to be one herself. Her family never really catches on that this "un-vampire" who is capable of living out in sunlight, eat normal foods, and creates blood instead of consumes is actually The Chosen One who can restore fertility among vampires by sharing her own blood.

Oct 6th 2018 at 11:40:35 PM

  • In Tsukihime, vampires who suck a human's blood can then inject them with some of their own blood to turn them into the Dead (a zombie, for all intents and purposes). In some cases, however, exceptional victims don't die completely, but instead turn into beastly ghouls. By consuming human flesh for many years, ghouls can eventually regain their human intelligence, completing their transformation into a vampire, — but only a few actually manage to survive that long, putting an additional limit on new vampire population.
  • In the Night Watch series, vampires are Dark Others whose creation is regulated by the Treaty. As such, each vampire must receive explicit permission from the Night Watch to turn a human, otherwise the Night Watch has a free reign under the Treaty to hunt down and to destroy both the progenitor and the progeny.

Oct 6th 2018 at 11:52:41 PM

Regarding the Vampire The Requiem example, it might also be worth noting that creating a vampire takes a huge effort of will, which in game terms permanently burns a dot of Willpower that requires Experience Points to replace.

Oct 7th 2018 at 1:51:50 AM

"becomes another vampire" part can be potholed to The Virus.

Related to Immortal Proceation Clause.

Oct 7th 2018 at 3:54:13 AM

It isn't explicitly stated, but the circumstances of Cassidy's vampirisation combined with the events of the Blood and Roses miniseries suggest that you become a vampire in Preacher by being bitten by a vampire and surviving, in a disease model. Vampires are rare because they generally go into a feeding frenzy when they bite people, and only fail to drain them to death if something interrupts them.

Oct 7th 2018 at 5:32:35 AM

How about including an example section where 'vampires limiting their numbers' is discussed, or is that getting too broad? The plot of Daybreakers is that vampires failed to control their numbers so now a large proportion of the vampire population is starving to death because there's not enough food.

Oct 7th 2018 at 10:05:00 AM

Should this trope apply only to vampires? I don't recall anything similar to this on the site and you could probably find examples for other types of creatures, such as werewolves.

Oct 7th 2018 at 10:16:57 AM

^ Werewolves are usually excused by their habit of killing most people they bite, if they are contagious in the first place. While contagious zombies usually only appear in Zombie Apocalypse fiction.

Oct 7th 2018 at 12:07:23 PM

  • In Team Human, the vampire population is kept down by three related factors:
a) The vampire has to completely drain a human to make a new vampire. b) It is against both human and vampire law for a vampire to turn a human into a vampire without that human's permission (and most vampires are law-abiding). c) Sometimes the attempt to turn a human fails, and a mindless zombie is produced instead.

Oct 7th 2018 at 2:28:26 PM

"In most horror movies featuring vampires anyone killed (or even just fed upon) by a vampire becomes another vampire."

Is it really "most"? I'm not a connoisseur of vampire fiction, but that seems like an awfully bold claim that would be hard to confirm. Do that many works actually show that every vampire victim turns (while ignoring the relatively obvious population implications) or do they simply show that vampires are (somehow) created through vampire bites without explicitly showing a population-limiting mechanism? The latter seems like it could easily be either Law Of Conservation Of Detail and/or providing the audience with only the limited information available to human/potential-victim protagonists. (I wouldn't be surprised if this is partly a distinction that arises between straight horror works, where the point is to be scary and too much explanation is detrimental, and more speculative-fiction leaning works where exploring how the vampire-containing world functions is part of the point.)

Also, using this as the introductory sentence seems to essentially define this trope as the aversion of an (alleged) Omnipresent Trope. I think it would be better off being defined independently and standing on its own merits instead.

I would suggest something more like: "Vampire-bite victims becoming vampires themselves is a staple of vampire fiction. However, if every bite victim turned, this combined feeding-and-procreation method would logically lead to vampires rapidly outnumbering their human victims. While many works leave vampire population logistics unexplained, others choose to address the population implications head-on, either by incorporating a Vampire Procreation Limit that prevents a vampire population explosion or using it as a variant on a Zombie Apocalypse plot."

This is a subtrope of Our Vampires Are Different.

I think it may make sense for the trope to encompass all ways works explicitly acknowledge and/or address the vampire population implications of the turning method, including:

  • Avoiding excessive vampire creation in the first place, e.g., establishing that the vampire creation process requires more than a bite or showing that only some victims are "susceptible."
  • Showing that every bite and/or kill does turn the victim, but that other population limitations exist. E.g., most "baby" vampires may be too weak to dig themselves out of the grave or there may be an active population of Slayers or self-culling by older vampires that eliminates most "baby" vampires before they can feed. (Or perhaps humans of the setting have gotten smart and made cremation the standard for any potential bite victims!)
  • Explicitly including the population explosion and its consequences, e.g., the pseudo-Zombie Apocalypse plot.
  • Discussing/lampshading the issue, even if neither the characters or the audience ever figure out what the actual limiting factor in the setting is.

Re: werewolves — I think the major distinction here is that vampires (and zombies) bite people as food, implying that each individual vampire/zombie must bite people regularly, potentially leading to many new vampires/zombies created by each individual. Werewolves can create new werewolves by biting, but they are not typically portrayed as needing to bite people on a regular basis, so any individual werewolf could very plausibly live his/her entire life without creating a new one even if every bite creates a new werewolf.

Oct 7th 2018 at 3:40:38 PM

  • Van Helsing has vampires that can reproduce sexually and in large numbers, but their offspring are stillborn and need to be stimulated into "life". Dracula's goal is to use the research of Victor Frankenstein to create a machine that can raise all the stillborn children he's sired since becoming a vampire.

  • The Elder Scrolls series treats vampires as being Deceased And Diseased, but being attacked by a vampire does not guarantee being infected, and the disease takes about three days to completely transform the infected into a vampire, giving those who don't want to transform a reasonable amount of time to seek a cure.

Oct 7th 2018 at 4:32:33 PM

Live Action TV

  • In Preacher 2016, vampires are able to turn normal humans into vampires easily enough, but the vampire population is limited because the race has a terrible epidemic of Chronic Backstabber Syndrome that drives them to attack and kill each other.

Oct 8th 2018 at 5:01:17 AM

  • In Morganville Vampires, during the early years of vampires, vampire numbers almost overwhelmed the human population due to their ability to transform humans into vampires rapidly as well as the human population being smaller than it was today. In order to prevent the humans running out and hence endangering the vampire's food supply, it was agreed by the higher vampires of the time to remove the knowledge of how to create more vampires, simply by refusing to teach it. Over time, this knowledge became lost even to the elder vampires resulting in it only being available from two sources, these being the world's oldest vampire, Amelie as well as an ancient spell book where it was written down.

Oct 9th 2018 at 8:37:40 AM

^^^^ I agree with everything Not On Any Flatbread said. I also questioned the idea that 'most' vampire media has every victim of a vampire return as one, but I didn't mention it. In most of the vampire media I'm familiar with, turning usually requires some kind of ritual to accompany the killing (eg. victim must be a virgin (Hellsing), victim needs to drink the vampire's blood too (Interview with a Vampire), victim needs to be completely drained of blood (Team Human), victim needs to not be completely drained of blood (Twilight), etc).

Oct 8th 2018 at 8:23:56 AM

Transfusion Live Action Television

  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer establishes this in the first episode when Buffy explains to Giles why the first victim we see won't return as a vampire.
    To make you a vampire, they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole, big, sucking thing. Mostly, they're just gonna kill you.

Aversion Film

  • Daybreakers has absolutely nothing like this and we see what would happen because of that. By the time the movie takes place, most of the world's population is a vampire and the blood supply is running low.

Oct 8th 2018 at 9:46:17 AM

@Astaroth: Concerning Van Helsing, I seem to recall that Dracula had also turned enough humans into vampires to fill a mansion. It didn't explain how he did that or if all his victims turned.

Oct 9th 2018 at 2:17:11 AM

^^^ Most modern vampire literature includes a limitation like this, but original vampire folklore (and Dracula, which codified the modern vampire story) often does assume that anybody killed by a vampire becomes a vampire unless their body is treated in some special precautionary way after death.

Oct 9th 2018 at 6:56:36 AM

Please mention Immortal Procreation Clause.

Another way of limiting vampire procreation is to change how they feed: by eating blood packs instead of biting people directly. (Saw this at least once, but forgot where)

Oct 12th 2018 at 9:20:23 AM

^^ Should we also include an 'Aversions' section for media where there is no procreation limit then? There we could mention that Vampire folklore did have everyone come back as one, and the Daybreakers example could be added.

edit: There's an image I've found of a screenshot from Sims 4 that might make a good page image but I don't know how to get around the hotlinking.

Oct 9th 2018 at 8:09:11 PM

The Daybreakers example simply needs to mention that the reason WHY everyone on earth transformed into a vampire was because sustaining on blood and avoiding sunlight were only minor drawbacks to the immortality it gives.

Oct 10th 2018 at 3:57:14 PM

^^Unless there is a well-researched source to cite, saying that "vampire folklore" has every victim become a vampire is as problematic as saying that about "most horror movies." Folklore rarely forms a monolithic canon—myths and legends tend to have tons of different variations.

Also, that statement would directly contradicts the current description in Our Vampires Are Different. Under "The baseline rules for vampires are," that page states (emphasis added):

That doesn't cite any sources, either, making it difficult to verify, but handily illustrating the problem with unsourced claims about folklore.

Oct 10th 2018 at 5:52:14 PM

Seeing how many vampires are viral without notable restriction I don't think we should list aversions.

Maybe Daybreakers could count as a lampshading or subversion.

Oct 12th 2018 at 12:15:21 AM

  • In Evernight, only people who have been bitten multiple times before by a vampire can themselves become vampires, and even then this is only true if the last bite is fatal.

Oct 12th 2018 at 9:32:32 AM

Maybe limit the aversions/subversions to those that explore a Vampire Apocalypse plot as mentioned in the trope description?

Oct 12th 2018 at 9:59:37 AM

No mentioning aversions guys, those are only to be mentioned when a trope is universal, which this isn't. Talking about the subversions are okay, though, or if it's a discussed trope despite not happening in universe, but we can't just list examples where the trope doesn't apply at all.

  • My Babysitters A Vampire: Humans bitten by vampires will typically become vampires themselves, however there are two ways of getting around this; a fledgling vampire that does not drink blood will die in 28 days if they can't find a blood substitute to sustain them, while also not having all their abilities. A human who has the vemon drained from their blood before transformation will be spared from transforming at all.

Oct 13th 2018 at 10:12:41 AM

  • School For Vampires: Vampires in this series mostly produce sexually, so like humans they are born as babies and grow up from there. It is possible for vampires to turn humans into vampires, but only if they bite them during a full moon. And the process can be reversed by giving the victim a blood transfusion.

Oct 13th 2018 at 4:25:13 PM

  • In Hellsing, it's stated that not every vampire bite results in the creation of a vampire, with the vast majority of victims becoming mindless ghouls who have no will of their own. While the exact conditions to becoming a vampire seems to vary between adaptations, it's strongly suggested that a vampire biting a virgin will convert them to a true vampire. Though it also seems to depend on the will of the vampire on whether or not they become a vampire or a ghoul.

Oct 13th 2018 at 7:02:26 PM

Oh okay, didn't see that example hiding under the drop down

Oct 13th 2018 at 7:10:02 PM

  • In Dragon Fable, it's explained that a single vampire bite is not enough to turn a human into a vampire. In order for them to turn, a vampire must drain a victim to the brink of death, but also must take care not to drain them entirely as the victim will die. This is in stark contrast to werewolves which only require one bite to infect.

Oct 14th 2018 at 4:32:23 AM

@zarpaulus: I think you forgot to add my example from evernight to the list.

Oct 14th 2018 at 6:28:06 AM

Wait, why the need to distinguish the different methods? The majority of the examples fall under "other examples", making your desired trope of blood transfusion the minority. You might as well lump them all together and be done with it.

Oct 14th 2018 at 7:13:19 AM

^ Transfusions make up a third of the examples, that's a pretty substantial minority.

Oct 14th 2018 at 9:13:01 AM

But it's still a minority that proves most of the examples are not what you were hoping from this trope

Oct 14th 2018 at 4:43:32 PM

^^ "Desired" trope? "Hoping from"? You're reading way too much into the fact that most examples I personally knew of involved transfusions.

Oct 14th 2018 at 7:56:32 PM

Perhaps, but that doesn't change the fact that the majority of the examples are labeled under "other". You have two categories, transfusion and miscellaneous, and the later is the bigger category.

Oct 14th 2018 at 8:59:45 PM

Addendum to Daybreakers aversion:

  • Abstaining from drinking blood is not an option because doing so will eventually result in the vampire turning feral and having to be killed, but drinking blood directly from a human will result in that human turning.

Oct 14th 2018 at 9:25:35 PM

I agree, there's really no reason to keep the example divide at this point. The note in the description should be sufficient.

Oct 18th 2018 at 9:37:39 AM

Still don't see a reason to include "Daybreakers".

Oct 18th 2018 at 4:43:13 PM

^^ Someone else will eventually add the Daybreakers example after the trope launches whether you like it or not. You can't police it (seriously, you cannot claim ownership of a trope, especially once it has launched), and the mods will step in if you initiate an edit war.

Oct 18th 2018 at 5:11:40 PM

^... If they do add it, it needs to be deleted. That's not policing- Aversions do NOT go on pages unless the trope is universal. This is not. Zarpaulus shouldn't add it now "just because someone else will".

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