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Feral Vampires

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"Though they once walked and talked as lords amongst the chattel, these curse-born Vampires have devolved into ravening predators desperate for the taste of blood. They prowl the battlefield in packs, ready to pounce upon the least sign of weakness and tear a hole in the enemy ranks with crimson claw and bloody fang."
Flavour Text for Vargheists, Warhammer Fantasy

We all know that Vampires Are Rich, strut around in evening dress, rule over Überwald from their Haunted Castles and are often kings or queens. This was the image of the vampire born of Gothic Horror and continued for decades.

Well, This Is Not That Trope.

This trope is about vampires who are wild in some sense, be they outlaws, rural, or simply savage. They live a feral lifestyle outside of human society (which you might realistically expect of animalistic human predators forced to live at the fringes of society and prey on other humans for sustenance) and are unlikely to be sympathetic, unless Cool People Rebel Against Authority or the Noble Savage are in play. In some cases, it's the result of a vampire being driven insane by their need for blood. A setting with a Vampire Variety Pack will likely have at least one species of vampire be feral by default.

This is a Cyclic Trope — before vampires were stereotyped as rich, suave and erotic, they were seen as bestial shambling corpses who could barely pass for human. Looks Like Orlok is also a throwback to this perception of vampires (though Orlok himself was still a count). With the popularity of films like Near Dark, 30 Days of Night and The Lost Boys and backlash against Friendly Neighbourhood Vegetarian Vampires, this trope is increasingly popular.

In many settings, it also makes more sense than the alternative: what peasant in their right mind would tolerate having a literal bloodsucking predator for a Lord or Lady?

Subtrope of Our Vampires Are Different and often of Hillbilly Horrors. See also Our Zombies Are Different, as the two are often similar, especially in the original folklore. Contrast Classical Movie Vampire and Vampires Are Sex Gods. In cases where the vampires are feral to the point of mindlessness and portrayed as evil, this trope overlaps with Feral Villain.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Season Nine" comics introduced "zompires", animalistic and unintelligent vampires who were sired during the period when the Earth had no Seed of Wonder.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The vampires in 30 Days of Night are animalistic in their mannerisms, being vicious and brutal in how they attack and feed on people. In fact, not including Barrow residents who have been recently turned, only their leader Marlow is ever shown speaking coherently (albeit in the vampires' Black Speech), the rest only snarling and howling.
  • After being turned into a vampire in Afflicted, Derek refuses to drink human blood. After he can't eat ordinary food or animal blood, and fails to steal blood from the hospital, the only option left is to kill a human, which Derek flatly refuses. After ten days, he degenerates into a mindless primitive vampire and attacks his best friend. After that, he gets his mental powers back. When he refuses human blood for another ten days, he degenerates again to the point of killing a police officer and drinking his blood. Audrey finally tells him that if he doesn't kill a human every four or five days and drink his blood, sooner or later he will permanently degenerate into a mindless beast. To avoid this fate, Derek then hunts down vicious humans.
  • Blade (1998): After being bitten by Quinn, Karen's ex-boyfriend Curtis Webb gets turned into a feral 'ghoul', a rare defective vampire who will attack and feed on anyone (including other vampires), though he is able to talk and remembers Karen and his relationship with her.
  • In Blood Red Sky, people who get turned into vampires lose all sense of humanity and go into a mindless bloodlust. Nadja was only able to stop it with medication, and when she loses access to that, she loses her mind as well.
  • The vampires in Boys From County Hell are effectively mindless, animalistic predators. Even the master vampire, Abharthach, displays an intelligence that could more be described as predatory cunning than any kind of charm or wisdom. He's not a man who is a monster, he's a monster that is more-or-less the same shape as a man. Ironically, the legend of Abharthach (both in-universe and in real life) is supposed to have been the inspiration for Dracula, one of the antitheses of this trope.
  • Daybreakers: Vampires have taken over the world, and have hunted down humans to the point that they're literally an endangered species. This is not a good thing for them, since blood-deprived vampires gradually mutate into mindless bat-monsters, and vampire blood only serves to hasten the change. The growing shortage of humans and human blood has consequently led to rising numbers of animalistic vampires.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn and its Direct to Video sequels are set at the Titty Twister, a remote trucker bar and strip club used as a front for a vampire clan.
  • I Am Legend: The Darkseekers are essentially this as well as Technically Living Zombies: they feed on meat (such as blood), and they're severely burned by UV rays such as those present in sunlight, which forces them to shelter in dark ruins throughout the day and only come out at night.
  • Innocent Blood: Turned vampires are more animalistic, with glowing eyes, and feed in a frenzy.
  • Near Dark is the modern Trope Maker, born of its director's attempts to create a Western in a market with no demand for one. The film concerns a family of filthy redneck vampires who live out in the Oklahoma backwoods and prey on travelers. Unlike most examples of this, the main vampirised character is sympathetic and grapples with his humanity and his hunger for blood.
  • The Night Flier: Dwight Renfield is an interesting example since he looks like a Classical Movie Vampire (at least initially) and you can carry on a conversation and reason with him. In truth he's much closer to a feral vampire than the traditional vampire nobleman from Gothic Horror. His Game Face is incredibly monstrous and inhuman and he descends into a ravenous beast whenever he's in feeding mode. He also lives the life of a destitute, lonely drifter, traveling from one airport to another in his dingy, maggot-infested plane. Not exactly a refined Count, eh?
  • The Lost Boys is as important as Near Dark to the reemergence of this trope. The vampires are portrayed as outlaw bikers (un)living on the margins of society. They transform the main character's brother, and it's up to him to stop them.
  • Stake Land depicts a world in which mindless vampires have overrun everything, creating a virtual Zombie Apocalypse.

  • Come Twilight: The cultured vampire (and series protagonist) Saint-Germain takes pity on a dying Csiminae, a village woman. The only way to save Csiminae is to convert her into a vampire, but to Saint-Germain's dismay, she becomes one of these, terrorizing locals and forming her own pack of feral vampires.
  • The Dresden Files: Red Court vampires will devolve into these (known as "blood slaves") when they can no longer control their hunger for blood. They also lose their ability to maintain a human disguise and are always in their monstrous true forms. They're seen as little more than animals and used as cannon fodder.
  • Dust Devils: Adam Price and his vampire gang are ravenous beasts who gleefully rip apart their victims and act like unhinged monsters.
  • I Am Legend: While not completely mindless, the vampires do seem to be quite a bit dumber than the typical depiction. They do show some signs of intelligence — they seem to retain the ability to speak, and female vampires will sometimes flash their breasts at Neville in an attempt to get him to leave his house. It's eventually revealed that the "feral" part is because the vampires were already dead when they were infected. Those were still alive when infected have managed to retain their sanity, and they see Neville as their equivalent of a vampire — a remorseless monster who kills dozens in their sleep.
  • Kate Daniels: Vampires are all mindless, their rationality inevitably worn away by their hunger, and lose any semblance of ego or personality. They can be controlled by necromancers, but left to their own devices they kill until there's nothing left to kill but themselves.
  • Pale: While no appearances have been made, vampires are likened to drug addicts. And given how The Masquerade works, there's no hope of improvement for their conditions unless they transform themselves into a different form of Other.
    • A vampire is eventually seen on-screen in passing - reliant upon the grace of the Sable Prince to manage her condition and sucking her own blood in a self-soothing manner likened to smoking.
  • Ringworld: Vampires are a species of hominid adapted for preying on other hominid species. Unlike all other Ringworld species, vampires are not sapient — they're simply cunning animals motivated by a desire for food and shelter. They're a bit of an ecological oddity, being animals adapted for hunting sapient beings, but their mind-clouding scent handily lets them neutralize their prey's primary advantage.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead: Some vampires choose the wild path. They completely abandon human civilization and live deep in forests. The people they hunt are travelers or the residents of remote villages. Some of them also avoid all human contact and hunt animals instead. But despite having a wild lifestyle, they don't seem to be losing their human intelligence.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?: Naturally occurring vampires are akin to supernatural rabid animals. They receive a significant boost to their strength and vitality, but in turn go insane. They hunt other animals constantly to feed, with a single bite being enough to transmit the infection. Regaining one's sanity after turning is extremely rare.
  • Story of My Life, the autobiography of Victorian writer Augustus Hare, has a sequence in which Hare recounts a vampire story told to him by a friend, a Cpt. Fisher. This story, "The Vampire of Croglin Grange" (or simply "The Croglin Vampire"), tells of a young female tenant of the captain's, who is repeatedly attacked in the night by a grotesque, mummy-like walking corpse. Eventually her brothers are able to track it to a local cemetery, where the townsfolk open a vault to find all the coffins but one have been gnawed to bones. In the remaining undisturbed coffin, they find the vampire, which they burn. There's nothing romantic about this vampire, which comes across as an utterly inhuman, predatory thing. The full story can be found here if you're curious. A retelling of this story appears as "The Window" in More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
  • The Strain: While some of the Strigoi are able to maintain human intelligence, the majority of them are portrayed as bestial predators.
  • They Thirst: It's revealed that the head vampire, Prince Vulkan, was originally turned hundreds of years ago by a barbaric, caveman-like band of vampires, and his ability to retain lucidity helped him organize and lift up vampires as a whole from being animalistic reanimated corpses into being the cunning, sophisticated monsters that he is the apotheosis of.
  • The Twilight Saga: In contrast to the more civilized main characters, a large portion of the vampires are nomads, feral savages with few concerns beyond themselves and their next meal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Turok-Han from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are an ancient and powerful breed of vampires which seem to have the intelligence and communication abilities of predatory animals. Modern vampires, by contrast, are demons in the bodies of dead humans, and retain the intelligence and memory of the deceased. Giles even says that the Turok-Han are "as single-minded as animals."
  • Dracula (2020): Most vampires are animalistic monsters that don't last long. Dracula is the main exception.
  • The Strain (TV series): The Strigoi (apart from the intelligent ones like the Master, the Ancients, Quinlan and Eichhorst) are all predatory wild beasts without speech which only exist to drink blood, never having a purpose without the Master's guidance. They usually sleep communally in large piles during daylight hours like cats or dogs. The Feelers stand out the most, as they crawl on all fours like animals and communicate with clicking.
  • The vampires in Supernatural operate in packs and act bestial when they are overcome with bloodlust. Some vampires like Lenore and Benny try to avoid killing innocents by feeding on cattle or living on blood bags respectively. Most vampires though don't care enough to do this and will feed on any human they get their hands on. It gets even worse if they get deprived of blood, being reduced to savage monsters that Look Like Orlock.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Chinese Vampires are typically shown as being unthinking, animalistic brutes. Justified Trope as they were traditionally seen as the result of a corpse transportation spell gone wrong. note 
  • As mentioned above, in Medieval vampire lore, vampires were seen as mindless, animalistic Flesh Eating Zombies with little or no remainder of their human personality.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • When vampirized, Mind Flayers devolve into mindless monstrosities, roaming the Underdark for the blood and brains they crave.
    • While vampires in D&D are mostly intelligent and civilized, not everyone they turn becomes a true vampire. Some become vampire spawn, which are much less intelligent and cunning and far more feral (but completely under the control of the vampire who turned them).
    • Nosferatu are a kind of animalistic vampire completely consumed by their thirst for blood. They typically make their lairs in filthy or inaccessible places such as ruins, sewers, and caves, far beyond caring about the comfort of their lair. The only time that a Nosferatu is able to think beyond their next meal is immediately after feeding, when they temporarily regain some lucidity.
    • One Dragon article about variant vampires includes "savage vampires" who rely on brute force to subdue their victims, and mostly feed on animal blood since they lack the tactical thinking to deliberately target humanoids.
  • Magic: The Gathering: This trope has been fairly cyclical. Some sets and settings have made vampires as a whole more feral and less civilized, while others have played the "vampires are aristocrats" trope to the hilt instead. Innisrad, in particular, contains examples of both, with "traditional" vampires usually being associated with Black while the feral ones are more commonly Red. For example, the Skyshroud vampires are essentially gigantic, monstrous bats and little more than feral predators, sheltering within the thick Skyshroud Forest to avoid the light of the sun.
  • Rifts: Three types of vampires exist. Master Vampires and their Secondary spawn are sapient and largely civilized, but Wild Vampires, the result of a Secondary's failed attempt at turning a human, are savage and feral monsters that exist only to hunt and kill.
  • Unhallowed Metropolis: Feral vampires with mere animal cunning instead of reasoning intellect are the majority. Sapient vampires are a growing minority, however, as they're much more likely to deliberately create new vampires instead of just killing their victims.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade, as one would expect from a game that tries to encompass all vampire archetypes, has two takes on this, the Brujah and Gangrel clans — a clan of Bomb Throwing Anarchist Warrior Poets and wilderness-dwelling Voluntary Shapeshifters, respectively. Any clan's vampire, though, can completely lose humanity and succumb to the Beast irreversibly, becoming a wight governed only by instinct. Some still possess predatory animal cunning, but all are unable to care for The Masquerade and other human concerns.
  • Vampire: The Requiem also features the Gangrel (with the renamed Bruja as a bloodline thereof). In addition, the game provides the Oberlochs, a Gangrel bloodline, a clan of inbred mine-owning rural vampires who suffer from aging even as vampires. Expect to see reenactments of the "sucking on bloody fingers" scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
    • Like in Masquerade, a vampire who loses all Humanity will become a draugr, a predator ruled purely by instinct. Unfortunately, they also have some base cunning and a tendency to create...
    • Larvae, which is what happens when a vampire tries to Embrace someone but doesn't exert the full force of will necessary to make it stick. They're basically rage zombies ruled by hunger, but it is possible for one to gain sapience and full clarity... if they diablerize another vampire.
  • Warhammer:
    • The Strigoi are a vampiric bloodline who cross this over with Our Ghouls Are Creepier. They are feral monsters living in lightless caverns and crypts and ruling over the ghouls who share the crypts with them. Strigoi characters are, however, still lucid enough to command armies in-game.
    • Varghulfs and Vargheists are vampires of any bloodline who stop embracing the trappings of aristocracy (willingly in the former case, unwillingly in the latter) and end up devolving into feral, monstrous forms as a result. While still somewhat intelligent, they are too bestial and indulgent in their blood thirst to even function as army commanders and count as monsters in-game; Vargheists' desperate thirst for blood also gives them the "Frenzy" rule.

    Video Games 
  • Demitri Maximoff in Darkstalkers has all the traits of the Classical Movie Vampire: Handsome, powerful and arrogant, with a throng of beautiful Lady worshippers on every arm. Well in some of his moves, his real shape is shown: A monstrous bat/gargoyle thing with enormous teeth and big veiny wings who tears and gnaws at his opponents throat like he hasn't drunk blood in days.
  • In Dwarf Fortress vampires generally disguise themselves to live within the society. However, if discovered, they may flee to the wilderness, where they live in burrows and attack everyone on sight.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death: Vampires are Elite Mooks, but are still no more intelligent than the zombies.
  • The feral Vampyres in RuneScape. Creatures that can be found in the Haunted Woods of Morytania and in the God Wars Dungeon with the forces of Zamorak.
  • In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Kain has conquered the world of Nosgoth and created an unstoppable empire of vampires, but his neglect of the setting's Cosmic Keystone leaves Nosgoth unable to sustain natural life in the long term. By the time the game begins properly, centuries have passed and Nosgoth has deteriorated into a desolate wasteland. As a result of blood starvation, the remaining vampires have been reduced to animalistic scavengers haunting the ruins of their clan holdings.
  • Wargroove: Vampires are winged, bat-like beings who live on the fringes of society and hunt for blood in packs. They commonly nest in trees. The exceptions to this are the much rarer High Vampires (of which Hero Unit Sigrid is one) which resemble classical vampires instead.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has you face a Vampire named "Feral Vampire"; however, this vampire isn't wild, and is actively plotting to use the Volkihar castle hounds against themselves as an act of revenge for exiling him.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Lesser vampires are one of the first enemies fought in the game and they're barely more than lumbering, zombie-like creatures that pose little threat.

    Web Animation 
  • In the first episode of Hunter: The Parenting the dysfunctional family of hunters fights a group of Sabbat vampires, including a Gangrel with clawed gorilla-sized arms, a Brujah biker, a barely-human looking Nosferatu, and a crazy-haired Tremere. Sabbat members are usually squarely feral and this lot is no exception, though at least one of them is later confirmed to act like a complete maniac as a coping mechanism to deal with the awful side of being a vampire.

    Web Original 
  • Taerel Setting: Zigzazed: Some kin'toni clans are feral monsters that are savages or are mindless killers, but many clans avert this as they are sapient beings that can reason and act in a human-like manner. The Ja Anarath Kin'toni Clan are a savage clan that cut out their own tounges and the Loremdra Kin'toni Clan. The Roh Kin'toni Clan is anotehr savage feral clan.