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The Renfield

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"T-thank you, Master!"

"Historically, he... Dracula has found some way of exerting his will more strongly over one human for a period of time... We first became aware of the one he controlled through the rural rumor. He'd take a single human to taunt the townsfolk, scare them. They had a word for him, it was Anglo-Saxon in origin, 'the one who lives at the edge of the field.'"

Vampires are usually bad for human health, especially the evil ones. But that doesn't stop certain people from going into a vampire's servitude. Part of the reason is, when you can't go out in sunlight, there's a lot of things you can't do for yourself. Part of the reason is that sometimes you just need minions.

Enter The Renfield. Reasons for this can vary; either the slave has willfully gone into servitude, the would-be slave got addicted to the vampire's blood, the vampire used some sort of mind-control power, occasionally they'll just be hired, and/or the vampire simply tempted the would-be servant with the possibility of becoming a vampire as well.

This trope is usually associated with Pragmatic Villainy (for vampires, at least) for a few reasons, one of them being that having a servant/ally who doesn't have the same weaknesses as you can be pretty useful at times... if you can resist the urge to suck him dry of his blood, that is. For example, said servant can guard and protect your coffin/tomb/resting place during the day to make sure that no vampire hunters come along to stake you, pour holy water all over your body or cut your head off while you sleep. A vampire may also simply need a relatively unassuming human agent who can walk around in civilized places in broad daylight and get important things done; good luck getting a raised zombie or skeleton to do that. And finally, there's always the necessity for emergency rations. The Renfield as a faithful servant can often overlap with The Igor.

Subtrope to Muggle in Mage Custody, when an ordinary person is a slave of a mage or a supernatural being. The more compassionate and honest version is someone Supporting the Monster Loved One.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Chevaliers in Blood+, particularly those belonging to Diva, are unique subversions of this trope. The transformation into a chevalier inspires genuine devotion for the Chevalier's parent chiropteran, but Chevaliers have free will enough to both go against a Chiropteran's commands and/or manipulate a Chiropteran for the Chevalier's own ends. The exceptions to this rule are implied to be insane.
  • In Part 3 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio employs several human Stand users in order to defeat the Joestars. While some have been mind-controlled, almost everyone else serves him willingly with near-fanatical devotion. To be fair though, most of them serve Dio only out of promises of great wealth/the threat of being killed by him. The ones in the Cairo Mansion are extremely loyal out of respect, particularly Vanilla Ice who kills himself because Dio mentioned he needed to feed soon. For his devotion Vanilla Ice is turned into a vampire which leads to his downfall.
    • in Part 1, he has several zombie minions that he uses to capture the townsfolk that live in the shadow of his castle. Most of them look human on the outside, save for Page, Jones, Plant and Bornnam, but have freakish powers and abilities to make them stronger. Jack the Ripper becomes one of Dio's minions in order to get with that power.
  • Seishirou Kirishiki from Shiki is anything but a servant, but in fact he is the only ally of the vampires who is a pure human.
    • Seishin begins to have this relationship with Sunako, but becomes a jinrou at the end of the anime.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman Vampire trilogy, the second volume, Bloodstorm, sees this trope be neatly inverted when The Joker has the vampires working for him without turning the Clown Prince of Crime into one of them.
    • Could arguably apply to Alfred in Bloodstorm in particular, but he serves Batman through loyalty to the man Batman was rather than any desire to become a vampire like his master.
  • In the comic book adaptation of The Extinction Parade, the vampires use human servants to manage and put a living human face on their finances, as well as to cover up their misdeeds. Most of them are recruited through promises of wealth or eternal life, or through simple intimidation. The narrator and her partner Laila have one that they call Willem (real name Mohammed Ishak), whose family has served them in this capacity for several generations. While they do live comfortably, they often resent the behind-the-back insults and dismissive attitudes of their vampire masters, as shown when Willem snaps, tells the vampires that they're screwed because they never learned to care for themselves, and throws himself to the zombies.
  • Fiends of the Eastern Front: Corporal Cringu is the human servant of the Rumanian vampires, responsible for driving a truck full of coffins near the frontlines and protecting them during daylight.
  • The "Lord of Nightmares" story arc of American Vampire describes Renfield as a result of Dracula taking over the mind of someone to do his bidding and act as his agent and in a Mouth of Sauron capacity. There have been several over the centuries. The Renfield of this story arc, an American named Tommy Glass, works with the Soviets to successfully free Dracula from his prison in the Tower Bridge.
  • Realm of the Damned: Tenebris Deos is kicked off when a wannabe doomsday cultist resurrects the most fiendish vampire of all time in the hopes that he will be rewarded with undeath for his service. The vampire in question, Balaur Petrova, immediately murders all but one of the cultists and only tolerates the last one because he still has some use for him. Naturally, Balaur forgets about him as soon as ultimate power is within his grasp, so the little prick gets Buried Alive by the vampire killer who was hunting down Balaur.

    Fan Fiction 
  • According to Gilderoy Lockhart in If Wishes Were Ponies, the term "Renfield" was appropriated by the Ministry of Magic when referring to individuals underneath the influence of Vampires due to it being popularized by Bram Stoker; who was an Irish Half-Blood Wizard that wrote the books.
  • In TorontoBatFan's Let Me In series, Abby discusses her past human guardians with Owen, but makes it clear that Owen is the only one she has actually loved, with one guardian being a convicted criminal that she admits was a bad choice and another man seeing Abby as a substitute for his own lost daughter.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Batman vs. Dracula has the actual Dracula hypnotize The Penguin into being his human slave. As as side note, Vampire Joker takes Renfield's weird habits, like eating bugs.
  • In Dear Dracula, Dracula has a Renfield named Myro.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 30 Days of Night a detestable character takes care of a few chores in the opening that pave the way for a group of vampires later, believing that they'll make him a vampire in exchange. Naturally, they kill him when they meet up with him later. This isn't the case in the graphic novel as the guy was seemingly in the process of becoming a vampire, and gets killed before the other vampires show up.
    • In the sequel film Dark Days, a corrupt FBI agent works for Lilith, who is the leader of the vampires. He is seriously ill and hopes to survive through vampirism. In fact, he is rewarded for his services by Lilith and turned into a vampire. At the end of the film, however, he is killed anyway.
  • Bit: One of the hunters is secretly working for Vlad, who promised to make him a vampire decades ago. Duke implies that "Familiars" are a regular thing among certain types of vampire.
  • In the Blade Trilogy, these guys are called familiars, who help the vampires with their day-to-day running of the hidden world. Blade hates these guys about as much as he hates vampires, since they're essentially selling out their own species. It also really depends on the vampire as to the familiar's survival rate: Deacon Frost is fond of feeding on them if they do something to piss him off, while Lord Damaskinos actually has a pretty good understanding with his human lawyer.
  • Similar to the Dracula's Daughter film mentioned below, Blood for Dracula has a Renfield who is mostly in control. Dracula is sick and dying, so Renfield is the one who comes up with the plan to go to Italy and seduce wealthy young women. He even bosses Dracula around in one scene since the count is no longer in any shape to retaliate.
  • BloodRayne: Powerful vampires here like Kagan have many human "thralls" in their service. They can do things a vampire can't, like moving in the daylight and crossing water, serving in return for being promised eternal life as vampires themselves for good service.
  • Tom Waits as Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula is a fairly book-accurate depiction of his book counterpart, an older man who spends his entire time in Dr. Seward's asylum. he has a Heel–Face Turn and warns Mina to get out, resulting in Dracula killing him off for his uselessness.
  • Cry of the Werewolf has the rare example of a Werewolf having a Renfield (as opposed to the usual Vampire), with the Werewolf Celeste having museum janitor Jan Spavero as one of her minions. When he gets his fingerprints on a crime scene where she had murdered a museum curator, giving the police a lead that would incriminate her, she has him terminated with extreme prejudice, running him down before mauling him to death offscreen. It's notably the only killing in the entire film that the otherwise remorseless Celeste feels bad about carrying out.
  • Probably the most famous portrayal of the character is Dwight Frye in Dracula (1931). Indeed, Frye's Renfield is more in keeping with the trope than the character's depiction in the original novel.
  • In Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Renfield himself is a major character, and he's a spoof of his novel self, like everyone else in the film. He even saves the day unintentionally by opening a window on Dracula's bat-form... in daytime.
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness has not one but two Renfields: a servant named Klove who lures a pair of unsuspecting couples to Castle Dracula and then resurrects the Count, and a man named Ludwig who's a patient at the abbey run by the Vampire Hunter priest and assists Dracula in getting in to kidnap one of the survivors from the initial attack.
  • Dracula's Daughter had Sandor as Renfield to the eponymous daughter. It's also a bit of a Subverted Trope, however, in that he manipulates her into continuing to be evil and drinking blood in the hopes that she'll eventually make him into a vampire too. When she finally rejects him once and for all in favor of a handsome young doctor, the furious Sandor kills her.
  • An interesting twist on the trope in Dracula Untold, in that Dracula hates the behavior. The gypsy Shkelgim recognises Vlad as a vampire partway through the film, and makes an offer to serve him, offering some of his own blood for Vlad to drink. Vlad, in the midst of resisting his bloodlust, angrily refuses him. At the end of the film, Shkelgim shows up again, drags Dracula's body into a tent, and uses his blood to revive him.
  • Janosz from Ghostbusters II becomes this to the ghost of Vigo the Carpathian, this in exchange to have Dana for himself.
  • Fright Night (1985): Billy Cole from seems like a more competent version of this trope, at least until he gets back up after being shot in the head, revealing he's as inhuman as his boss.
  • In Fright Night Part 2 it is Bocworth who is Regina Dandridge's bug-eating bodyguard.
  • The Invitation (2022): Deville has many servants, including lesser vampire families who handle his affairs. Mr. Field, Mrs. Swift and the Harkers have also been with him for at least a century too (they may or may not be vampires as well).
  • Kiss of the Damned: Irene, a human woman, serves the Connecticut vampire community. A blood disorder makes her unappealing, and her own mother had the same condition, serving them earlier.
  • Let the Right One In:
    • Eli's "guardian" seems to love her, despite her usually treating him callously. Depending on your interpretation, young Oskar may have taken over his role by the end of the movie.
    • In Let Me In, Abby's "guardian" is implied to be a boy that fell in love with Abby when he was a young boy and has taken care of her ever since. Owen seems to have taken over this role with Abby by the end of the film.
      • It depends on the interpretation. There is also a lot of foreshadowing throughout the film that it could be Owen's fate to be turned into a vampire by Abby. In fact, Owen is upset and angry when he sees a photo of Abby's previous caretaker showing them both as children, believing he should be Thomas's replacement goldfish.
  • Lifeforce (1985): Colonel Tom Carlsen is revealed to be the Renfield to the Space Girl's Dracula. Carlsen admits being compelled by the female vampire to open her container and allowed her to drain the lifeforce and kill the rest of the crew aboard the space shuttle Churchill, while he escaped to Earth via emergency pod.
  • Another parody-Renfield is played by Arte Johnson in Love at First Bite.
  • Knock in Nosferatu is a Captain Ersatz of Renfield because they couldn't get the rights. Unlike the original, though, he's in league with the vampire from the beginning.
  • Ian from Only Lovers Left Alive is an interesting case. He's by no means Adam's slave- in fact, he seems to be the closest thing Adam has to a friend, though Adam simply uses him as a means to obtain things he can't or won't get himself. (He does pay Ian handsomely, though.) Ian is also perfectly unaware of what his boss is.
  • Finally, the Trope Namer is the lead character in Renfield (2023) — the twist is that Renfield has been trying to break their bond for a long time, but Dracula isn't having it.
  • Eric the Hunchback serves as Renfield for Dracula in Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el Hombre Lobo. Though he plays the usual role of a loyal servant who can move around and do things that a vampire can't, there's an interesting twist to this: It turns out that, even though Eric is mortal, he has become so evil that he is not immune to the film's Achilles' Heel for vampires, the Dagger of Boidros: it can destroy him as well.
  • Hugo the roadie from Suck helps Jen (and then, the rest of the band) get rid of the bodies, but keeps whining about getting no respect and doesn't seem to be too bright.
  • The Battle Butler Igor in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. He serves the former and it's also revealed that he was Monamis's previous lover.
  • Vamps: Goody and Stacy use an accountant who's actually named Renfield to help keep them hidden from the government financially.
  • The town doctor in Vampyr is effectively a Renfield to Marguerite Chopin, though he is more aggressive than most examples.
  • What We Do in the Shadows has three "familiars" that function in this role for their vampire masters:
    • Deacon has Jackie, who does all of his mundane household chores in the hopes that she will be made a vampire as well, a deal that Deacon clearly has no intention of holding up and is upset when Nick turns her anyway.
    • Phillip was this for Viago, until the latter moved to New Zealand in a failed attempt to find his girlfriend. In a disastrous Skype call many years later, it's shown that Phillip has been waiting all this time for Viago to return and make him immortal too.
    • Jackie's husband is this for her at the end of the film, in a rather extreme example of the Henpecked Husband trope.
  • Although Miller Hendrik is not a vampire tour guide Abe serves this role for him The Windmill Massacre. Because the Miller can only punish those who deserve to go to Hell, he cannot harm the innocent or those who genuinely repent of their actions. Being a human, Abe is under no such restrictions, and disposes of these inconveniences for his master.
  • With a Kiss I Die:
    • Amaltheo has lived with Juliet for over 30 years, allowing her to feed on his blood without turning him. When she falls for Farryn, he becomes disillusioned and betrays her to Father.
    • Father keeps a young human woman in his lair, who tends bar and serves drinks made from her own blood. She has a faint smile on her face on all times, but it's not clear whether she's there voluntarily or is somehow being controlled (e.g. brainwashed).
  • Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Dracula turns the innkeeper Veidt Smith into a "fractional lamia: an undead creature that is only part vampire, able to function in the daytime and having no need to drink blood and a slave of the Draculas.

  • In Charlie Huston's Already Dead and its sequels, the vampires of New York classify humans who know about them based on characters from Stoker's novel. Renfields are willing servants, Van Helsings are enemies, Lucys are wannabees and Minas refrain from judging vampires solely by their nature.
  • Vampires in the Anita Blake series call the humans who serve them, those who have been bitten a few times and are thus somewhat in thrall to the vampire, Renfields. When asked "What did you call them before Stoker's book came out?", the answer was simply "slaves".
  • Certain Dark Things: "Renfield" is a modern nickname for humans who serve as trusted agents and emissaries of a vampire. They're appointed through an exchange of blood with the vampire, which forms a weak Psychic Link between them.
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint Germain Series has Roger as his undying servant for most of the books. In Blood Games, we learn that Roger is a ghoul, revived shortly after his human death by Saint-Germain and bound to his service (and that Saint-Germain had another servant before Roger). Roger never seems to resent his position, though how much of his loyalty is due to the binding and how much to gratitude is never clear. Saint-Germain later created another ghoul servant and transferred his service somehow to Olivia.
  • While the Igor clan in Discworld are obviously based on The Igor, in the Monster Mash of Überwald they're as likely to be working for vampires as mad scientists. The first Igor introduced to the series is working for the Magpyrs in Carpe Jugulum, although it's something of an antagonistic relationship, since he cares more about the traditions of vampirism than they do.
  • Dora Wilk Series has "renfelds", human servants of vampires who must obey every wish of their master and act as a snack from time to time, but are awarded with extremely prolonged lives and possibility of becoming vampire in the future.
  • The Trope Namer is R. M. Renfield in Dracula. While he certainly seems willing to become Dracula's slave, being locked in at Dr. Seward's sanatorium rather limits his options and the Count seems to more or less ignore him throughout. Until he realizes that he can get around the Must Be Invited rule of vampirism by telling Renfield to do the inviting. Despite being the original, archetypal Renfield, he immediately realizes that serving the Count was an enormous mistake, and at one point demands that he be moved so that Dracula will not compel him to let him into the house to attack Mina. When this fails, the second time Dracula enters, he grabs Dracula and tries to kill him with his bare hands, while the Count is in mist form. And he would have succeeded, too, if Dracula hadn't used his Hypnotic Eyes.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Black Court vampires can exert mental domination on humans to create permanent mindslaves. They are actually referred to as "Renfields" because Bram Stoker "wrote the book" on slaying Black Court vampires. These Renfields are more competent than most examples of the trope, and more tragic. Or at least, they are competent within narrow fields: they make great cannon-fodder Mooks, and they might be useful for similarly mindless tasks, but they aren't so good at complex thought, given that their minds have been forcibly ripped away and replaced by unthinking obedience. So utterly destroyed are their human selves that killing Renfields is not even considered murder by the White Council of wizards. (Ordinary law enforcement, unfortunately, has a hard time telling the difference.)
    • The White Court's thralls (emotionally drained human husks) might also count as this. Red Court vampires can do something similar because their saliva is an addictive narcotic. Alternately, the Reds and Whites just hire them for their muscle.
  • Empire of the Vampire: Thralls are mortals sworn to the service of vampiric masters, seduced through a combination of vampiric domination, blood addiction and plain old human greed. Drinking a vampire's blood on three separate nights is enough to become permanently enthralled, which is part of the reason why palebloods smoke vampire blood rather than drinking it. Thralls gain a measure of additional strength, speed and fortitude, though not much, and their natural lifespan is slightly extended (albeit few survive long enough to enjoy it).
  • Sour Billy Tipton in Fevre Dream serves as a competent version to Damon Julian. He's been told that he'll be transformed into a vampire one day, which is impossible.
  • Voldemort from the Harry Potter books is a lich and not a vampire, but during his stint as The Disembodied, he has several slavishly devoted followers who work to restore his physical form. In book one, his first such follower is the Willing Channeler Quirinus Quirrell, whom he manipulates by playing on his desire to impress people. In book two, Ginny Weasley fills this role after becoming possessed by one of Voldemort's Soul Fragments. Finally, in book four, Wormtail and Barty Crouch, Jr. work in tandem to create a new body for their master.
  • The Last American Vampire has human Secret-Keeper personal assistants to vampires, called Renfields, to help their employers cope with the time and place they're in and take care of those pesky daytime errands. One example was Bram Stoker.
  • The Laundry Files (by Charles Stross): In The Rhesus Chart, an ancient vampire points out that such people are necessary for him to function in the modern world, given that even the English language has changed over the past century, let alone fashion or technology. Besides which vampires by nature and necessity have to be secretive and isolated from society, so the vampire gets round this by training a mind-controlled surrogate from every generation to act in his stead.
  • There are a few cases of this in the Laura Caxton series, ranging from people who have been manipulated into feeling 'sorry' for Justinia's withered condition to people serving her because they're dying of an illness already and prefer the extra life they'll have as a vampire over the natural death awaiting them if they do nothing.
  • In the original book version of Let the Right One In of which the films above are based we have a different take of a Renfield's motivation. Hakan here is an outed pedophile who Eli convinced to become his/her Renfield. Hakan is of course delighted at the body of an unchanging child. But this feeling is far from mutual as while internally Hakan regards Eli as his "beloved", Eli's discussions with him are much less emotional and by contrast are far less involved than the conversations she/he has with Oskar who she/he regards as an actual love interest. This entire aspect is one that in the course of writing the screenplay was dropped this sub-plot as being one too many and far too squicky.
  • The vampires in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson novels have "sheep" — people who are kept on hand as walking meals — whose Sycophantic Servant-ness varies depending on how the vampire treats them. They all become increasingly subservient to and dependent on the vampire after repeated feedings. If there are enough sheep to keep the feedings infrequent, then the people can stay healthy indefinitely, and there are some benefits (such as cancers being kept in remission), which logically explains why some of them are quite happy with their lot. Stefan, the most sympathetic vampire, does this on purpose, seeking out potential sheep who need a safe haven or medical help. Eventually, the vampire may decide to "turn" a sheep, but this isn't always possible.
  • Boris Dragonsani played this role for Tibor Ferency during the first book of Necroscope. However, he hates him, and just wants his knowledge and power. In fact, he even kills Tibor shortly after he turned him into a vampire against his will.
    • Later books show that it is not all that unusual for vampires in Starside to keep humans as servants because they can also act during the day.
  • Charles Talent Manx in NOS4A2 has vampiric traits regardless of what you call him. His Renfields believe that he and they are rescuing children rather than abducting and exploiting them. His latest is the severely damaged laborer Bing Partridge.
  • Paradise Rot: Kampo may have been one once, but now he's simply Jackson's zombie manservant.
  • In The Parasol Protectorate, vampires are widely accepted in London society and offer a chance at immortality to anyone with excess soul. Those tempted may choose to serve the local hive as a drone, and eventually petition for the bite. The werewolf equivalents are called clavigers.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren becomes a half-vampire in order to save his friend, forcing him into this role.
  • In Stephen King's vampire novel 'Salem's Lot, Mr. Straker serves in this role, but subverts it in that he is quite capable as the vampire's daytime operative.
  • In The Shadowhunter Chronicles such people are referred to as subjugates or darklings. They arise when a vampire gives a human their blood to drink. These subjugates are almost slavishly submissive to the vampire who created them. If a darkling is killed who has belonged to a vampire for a very long time, he also turns into a vampire. From a certain point in time, the creation of subjugates was banned by the shadowhunters, but the existing ones could be kept. Because of this, many vampires circumvent the law by claiming they created their darklings before the deal.
  • Krishna of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is referred to as a Renfield in-story. Unusually for this trope, he begins with self-righteous intentions as a wannabe monster-hunter, but both his sadism and his toadyism are readily apparent early on, and he readily sides with an undead fiend who's blatantly the most evil character in the book.
  • This is a semi-official rank in vampire society in Nancy A. Collins's Sonja Blue series. Humans with some telepathic ability and a psychological disposition to submission are often enslaved by master vampires (via Mind Rape, which an ideal candidate for the job will actually enjoy) and used as personal assistants. The position is referred to as "renfield" (in lower case), but the master of such a servant dehumanizes him/her by addressing him/her only as "Renfield" (upper case).
  • In The Strain, wealthy businessman Eldritch Palmer helps the Master, one of the original vampires, sneak into the United States and uses his influence to keep news of the resulting vampire plague out of the media. He does this of his own free will, as he hopes the Master will show him the secret to immortality.
  • The Supernaturals Series: In book 2 (A Nice Quiet Town), it's revealed that Larry the night clerk of the hotel — besides being a complete creep — is also the human servant of the vampires that feed on the townspeople. He acts as their spy during the daytime and is not averse to doing the vampire's dirty work. It does not end well for Larry when Daniel (a werewolf) finds out what he has been doing.
  • People who work for Volturi in the Twilight saga, such as their receptionist Gianna, hope that they will be transformed into vampires, but may be also killed.
  • The vampires of Seleme Manor in Unique have several live in servants. All of them serve willingly and regularly exert themselves to curry favor with their immortal employers. This probably has at least something to do with Aelfric's insistence on treating humans as people and not simply food; even Ophelia treats the servants like well trained and pampered pets.
  • In the United States Of Monsters series by C.T. Phipps, particularly Straight Outta Fangton, these are called Bloodsworn (polite) or Bloodslaves (rude). They are humans given vampire blood and who gain a portion of vampiric powers. They are able to be mentally dominated by their masters, have their minds read, and are still vulnerable to being killed by normal means. They can live potentially forever, though.
  • In Whitley Strieber's Wolfen, the non-magical (but highly intelligent) werewolves persuade outcasts from human society to lure other humans into reach. This in exchange for a share of the kill. These cannibalistic familiars, came to be known through legends as vampires. This is a pet theory of one of the main characters and an author he reads, whether this is to be taken reliable in-universe is up for debate. When this character approaches the Wolfen, he's just straight up killed.
  • In Christopher Buehlman's The Suicide Motor Club, the necrophiliac Woodrow Fulk is the only living member of that vampire gang. He helps his colleagues get to shelter safely in the morning and breaks into people's homes to invite them in. When a team of the Bereaved went to kill the Suicide Motor Club in the morning, they didn't know Woodrow was standing guard with an M1 Garand. Later in the novel, Fulk is mortally wounded and he hoped the gang would turn him. Instead they vote and his reward was becoming dinner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Sent up in fifth-season episode, "Buffy vs. Dracula", in which Xander becomes Dracula's bug-eating Butt-Monkey. It took some brainwashing, though. In a bit of a reversal, Dracula in the comics has become obsessed with Xander, to the point where he feels dead without him.
    • In fact, in Buffyverse it is very unusual for vampires to keep human servants. Vampires either kill or transform humans when they see them. But Russell Winters was a very wealthy businessman who had hired several humans as servants and guards. It's also pretty clearly implied that these people knew their boss was a vampire.
  • True to the original, the Sycophantic Servant in Dark Shadows — Willie Loomis — was also an unwilling servant who couldn't quite overcome his master's unnatural charisma.
  • Dracula (2013) actually averts this with Renfield. While still fitting the bill of a human loyal to his vampire superior, he's a Hypercompetent Sidekick who can hold up spectacularly even under pressure and is a Genius Bruiser who manages much of Dracula's business affairs both during daylight hours and at night. His relationship to Dracula is less of a direct servant and master dichotomy, and more of Dracula being a Benevolent Boss who genuinely sees Renfield as a friend and Renfield is similarly loyal as The Dragon or The Lancer to Dracula.
  • Maria Walters, a Satanist who desires to be integrated with a demon in The Exorcist. Her wealth and connections are instrumental in the plans of her possessed comrades, but she is denied what she wants because "the ox pulls the cart, it doesn't sit at the farmer's table." She is even compared to the Trope Namer at one point.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • Let the Right One In:
    • Mark, vampire Eleanor's dad, provides for her by letting her feed on his blood, plus other people's whom he's killed. He moves them around repeatedly seeking other vampires hoping to find a cure too, and for her safety so they aren't discovered.
    • Claire and her henchman Matthew also serve as this for her brother Peter, who has become a vampire, providing him with blood but also killing people who are or could be threats.
  • What We Do in the Shadows (2019) (like the movie it's spun off from) has "familiars", who essentially function as this to vampires. Nandor's familiar Guillermo wants to be a vampire and has been promised that he'll be made one such in exchange for his service, even though Nandor has kept putting off his promise for ten years. This seems to be the case with other vampires' familiars as well; in "The Trial" Guillermo gets to meet a room filled with at least five other familiars, including one who's at least 70 years old, all of whom insist that they'll be rewarded any day now.
  • The Sycophantic Servant in Young Dracula is actually named Renfield. His grandfather is brought back from the dead in one episode, very angry about not being transformed into a vampire as was promised, meaning that the Draculas have managed to keep multiple generations serving them with this promise they have no intention of fulfilling.

  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: As vampires exist in the "Beyond Belief" universe, so do Renfields (all played by Craig Cackowski in full "Sniveling Minion" mode). But they're more of a status symbol than a necessity, and owning one is considered to be a bit tacky and gauche. And apparently the insurance rates are ridiculously high.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Blood Bowl, the Vampire team are composed of Vampires and their human Thralls. Vampires would be very powerful in this game, except they suffer from Blood Lust and if they are hit with this, they need to run over and drink from their rather willing Thrall or a spectator (the opposing team is just a tad too violent and tough to easily snack on).
  • The Dracula Dossier uses the term "Renfield" to indicate a human granted limited vampiric powers by Dracula or another vampire. Humans who use Seward Serum to gain similar abilities are known as "Jacks" (after Dr. John "Jack" Seward, from the original novel). But since the Seward Serum is ultimately derived from Dracula's blood, users are vulnerable to his control despite what their bosses told them. "Jacking up" before going after Dracula can and probably will backfire.
  • Hunter: The Reckoning shares a universe with Masquerade, and thus features ghouls as possible antagonists. For bonus points, the online mailing-list Hunter-Net uses alternate words to describe different supernaturals, and the one they picked for ghouls was Renfields.
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf:
    • The Minion is on the werewolf team, but is not a werewolf. He wins alongside them if they all survive even if he himself is killed.
    • One Night Ultimate Vampire has a counterpart to the Minion on the vampire team who's not a vampire, but wins under the same circumstances. Appropriately, he's called Renfield.
  • Shadowrun's Sail Away, Sweet Sister "enhanced fiction" supplement details the existence of a Fantastic Drug which has the common street name of "Renfield", made using the blood of a vampire; those who are subjected to it (willingly or otherwise) experience an immediate surge of euphoria, along with some modest stat boosts that last for around a week, a small bump in Essence, and immunity to aging. The catch? It's extremely physically and psychologically addictive. Those who take it will gradually lose Essence much like a vampire, meaning they need a regular supply of Renfield in order to stay alive since they can't drain it for themselves. The description also suggests that anyone who takes it is (gently) brainwashed into serving the vampire as well, though this isn't mechanically enforced, and the story itself shows a vampire 'gifting' a dose of it to one of his subordinates.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade:
    • Ghouls, mortals who have been given the gift of vampire blood while they are still alive, which bestows upon them a weakened version of the vampire's curse, extending their lifespans and allowing them to use weakened versions of Disciplines, as well as forging a supernatural emotional bond with the vampire. If the ghoul feeds from the same vampire three times, they become Blood Bound, making them supernaturally-enforced sycophants to their vampiric regent. Most of them are willing, but some are not (and these kinds tend to be really heartbreaking). A Ghoul's "Renfieldness" varies considerably; a good Ghoul can be a Hyper-Competent Sidekick, a Battle Butler, or another invaluable aid. Ghouls need not be human, either: animals are just as eligible.
    • There's also Blood Dolls, mortals who have been fed from a couple of times and are psychologically addicted to the Kiss of the Vampire, though some tend to confuse them with ghouls.
    • Vampire: The Requiem mixes things up by introducing the thrall, a human who drinks the same vampire's blood three times, thus enslaving them, but who has not been granted any of the supernatural powers of a ghoul (becoming a ghoul requires the donating vampire, or regnant, to forcefully will the transformation). Vampire blood, or vitae in vampire parlance, possesses addictive qualities which become stronger the more often it is consumed, so some thralls may continue to sample their regnant's blood even if they receive no supernatural benefit for doing so. The benefit of using thralls over ghouls is that they are less psychically taxing to maintain and aren't noticed as anything other than human by supernatural means of surveillance; by default, younger vampires who don't know how to create proper ghouls end up creating thralls instead. The term "thrall" can also be applied to animals and other vampires if they are subject to a blood bond, or vinculum in vampire parlance.

    Video Games 
  • The cyber-punk gothic adventure game BloodNet features a character named Renfield who can join protagonist Ransom Stark's party. This Renfield is exceptionally misguided, as he worships vampires yet Ransom's quest is to cure his vampirism.
  • Shaft to Dracula in the Castlevania series. Although he's The Dragon, one might consider Death to be this also. There's also the Librarian who seems unable (or unwilling) to go against Dracula's will directly, but will happily help Alucard after being told he won't go unrewarded.
  • Cute Bite: Saule, the butler, who runs the estate and carries out any tasks that need to be done during daylight hours, such as shopping for furniture.
  • Downplayed in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. The Tal-Vashoth merchant Armaas was captured by the (now intelligent) darkspawn led by the Architect, but they freed him in exchange for him agreeing to supply them. However, as he is no longer a prisoner, the player may convince him to bring his operation to their base instead.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series and in background lore, vampires often possess powerful Charm-like spells with which they can enthrall mortals into their service. Other mortals willingly serve Vampires, typically hoping to become vampires themselves.
    • In Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, the Volkihar vampire clan employs a human gatekeeper who appears to be one of these. Rargal Thrallmaster is a member of the clan and is tasked with overseeing their thralls and feeding cattle.
  • In Mordheim: City of the Damned, one of the Undead Hero Units is the Dreg, a misshapen wretch of a man said to live in isolation on the fringes of civilization, recruited by vampires to guard their coffins or venture into towns and villages during the day. His bow lets him provide needed ranged support while standing near the Vampire he serves, where he can use his "Humble Servant" special ability to sacrifice some of his HP to replenish the Vampire's.
  • One of the greatest mysteries of Touhou Project, both in and out of universe, is the head maid of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Sakuya Izayoi. While the mansion counts many mystical creatures among its residents aside from its vampiric mistress and her sister, including magician youkai, a vague youkai that may or may not be a Chinese dragon, and countless fairies, none of them seem to be closer to Remilia Scarlet herself than the human Sakuya, who serves the vampire girl so faithfully she has been nicknamed the "Dog of the Devil". Not only does Sakuya effectively run the entire mansion, but it's also implied that she occasionally makes food out of humans for Remilia and her sister Flandre. Unusually for a Renfield, Sakuya is not a disposable minion but a trusted right hand, and whenever Remilia deems it necessary to venture outside, she will rarely do so without bidding her maid to accompany her. No one knows how Sakuya came to serve Remilia or why she does it so faithfully, as Remilia does not pay her and Sakuya does not seem to harbor any Vampire Vannabe delusions, and yet she is implied to have been serving for multiple lifetimes thanks to her time-bending powers. Curiously, her weapons are silver knives that seem like they would be tailor-made for killing vampires, giving rise to the in-universe theory by Hieda no Akyuu that she may have started as a Vampire Hunter until Remilia defeated her and altered her fate to turn her into the maid she is now. Or maybe they're just to keep the notoriously unstable Flandre in check.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines:
    • The game features several, in the form of the ghouls. Knox Harrington (a reference to Knock of Nosferatu), a hyperactive fanboy was recruited by the Nosferatu agent Betram Tung, mainly because he was able to divert attention away from Betram's less palatable schemes. Vandal Cleaver is Therese Voerman's ghoul and works the desk at the local blood bank, selling to vampires; unusually for a Sycophantic Servant, Vandal is sarcastic, bitter (referring to his master as "the Queen Bitch,") and actually quite dangerous to humans, though he's too cowardly to attack a vampire and can easily be intimidated by the PC. Romero, Isaac's ghoul, lives in a cemetery in Hollywood and isn't even allowed to take a break for five minutes to seek out human contact, but is completely content so long as he gets to shoot zombies. Then there's Mercurio, who is totally dedicated to LaCroix, but is very much aware that this is because of the ghouling process, and accepts the situation because there are no better options.
      Mercurio: Just so you understand, my loyalties are all but written in blood, so my opinion of the guy is moot."
    • The player character can get a Sycophantic Servant of their own, if they feel so inclined (and choose the right dialogue options early on); if you learn about ghouling from Mercurio or Knox, you can use your blood to save and enslave Heather, the woman in the hospital who was hit by a car. No matter how badly you treat her, she stays devoted to you, bringing you fresh prey, a useful item, and even trying to give you her college fund. If you don't get rid of her, she'll get killed by your enemies. Only Heather is a good example of this trope. The rest are actually modest examples of this trope at best and better fit other side-kick roles; they are generally quite competent in their tasks, provided one doesn't ask too much from them. Heather, on the other hand, isn't that useful, though she adds some Fanservice and fetish material to a game already swimming in those tropes.

  • Dracula Everlasting: Karl Renfield is the direct descendent of the original, along with his sons. Compared to the older three boys, Karl is almost normal looking. His youngest son, though, is a handsome young man, for which he gets harassed for by his brothers.
  • The Night Belongs to Us: Lendfire (whose name even is a Significant Anagram of Renfield!) is this to the vampire Gustav von Heiden, catering to his every whim in hopes of getting bitten and turned on day.

    Western Animation 
  • The eponymous Count Duckula has two loyal servants, Igor and Nanny, who have served his family for generations. Notably, Igor is much more enthusiastic about vampirism than Duckula himself.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "I'm Gonna Get You, Fat Sucka", Dodgers himself takes this role once hypnotized by Count Muerte — complete with eating bugs.
  • Uncle becomes this in an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures when his chi is stolen by a jiangshi.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Slappy Laszlo is very much a broad parody of the original Renfield by way of Peter Lorre in the episode "Squidferatu/Slappy Daze". In the two segments, Slappy is shown to be a slavish servant to Nosferatu with a penchant for kissing his master's hand and even going so far as to have an appetite for bugs.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Renfield



Penguin accidentally releases Dracula onto Gotham City and as such becomes hypnotized into being Dracula's human guard.

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