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Series / Dracula (2020)

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Dracula is a 2020 BBC miniseries, consisting of three episodes of 90 minutes each, developed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Based on the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker, though the story takes a lot of liberties with the source material.

This series follows Dracula (Claes Bang) from his origins in Eastern Europe to his battles with Van Helsing's descendants and beyond. Netflix's description reads: "The Count Dracula legend transforms with new tales that flesh out the vampire's gory crimes—and bring his vulnerability into the light."

It was broadcast on the BBC on three consecutive nights from 1—3 January 2020 was released on Netflix the day after the final episode aired.

Tropes found in Dracula (2020):

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     A to G 
  • Adaptational Badass: Agatha Van Helsing is much more assertive and in control of the situation due to her knowledge of vampires. Her descendant, Zoe Van Helsing, has had more than enough time to prepare for Dracula's arrival and prepared the Jonathan Harker Institute to house Dracula when he wakes up from his coma.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Mina, unlike her literary counterpart. Quincey also got shades of it, since in the novel he was one of few characters who had previous experience with vampires, while in the show he is simply stereotypical beefcake rich boy.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Lucy is much nastier and more narcissistic than her literary counterpart.
    • Quincey is made into a jerk who doesn't love Lucy and doesn't care for her fate, unlike his literary counterpart, who deeply cared for Lucy even after she chose another, and was one of the characters who killed Dracula, dying heroically in the process.
  • Adaptational Job Change:
    • Van Helsing changes from an academic to a nun for the first two episodes thanks to being a Composite Character with Sister Agatha. Averted in Episode 3 where her descendant Zoe is again a scientist.
    • Renfield is a lawyer in this incarnation.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Sister Agatha becomes Agatha Van Helsing.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In this version of the story, Mina and Lucy lived centuries apart and were never friends.
    • In this version of the story, Lucy only cares about Quincey's money, Quincey cares only about Lucy's looks.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Dracula. He lost his ability to transform into bats or mist, which he had in the novel. While in the novel he could easily shapeshift into wolves, he only can take the shape of a wolf (or anything their size or larger) in the series by literally skinning them and wearing the corpses. (He also only uses this ability in the first episode, and it's abandoned after that.) Since Van Helsing is much more aware of his existence and was able to use the enviroment against him, his whole journey to England gets screwed up. In the book, Dracula is able to kill everyone on The Demeter and reach Whitby without much trouble, but in the series, half of the crew escapes from the ship, then several sailors remain alive and help Agatha Van Helsing before the boat is destroyed by her, which forces Dracula to hibernate so he can recover. As a result, he only makes it to England by the 21st century, where he is not much of a threat. Agatha's descendant, Zoe Van Helsing, was able to use the Jonathan Harker Institute to keep Dracula trapped in one place and project sunlight into the prison to keep him at bay during their talks. In summary: Dracula got a lot less imposing or threatening by losing a chunk of his powers and when people are actually prepared to handle him and when he's out of his element (i.e. in the modern day and not the Victorian era).
    • It's played even more straight in the ending: In this version, all it takes to defeat Dracula is to point out his psychological issues, after hearing about them, Dracula proceeds to commit suicide without putting up a fight.
    • Arguably Harker. Though his bravery and willingness to stand up to Dracula are (mostly) maintained, he ends up as an Undead vampire so desperate for death he lets Dracula into the nunnery. In the novel he survives his time in Castle Dracula, snaps out of his fog of denial once he realises the Count is real and in England, and spends the last third of the book as a rock-hard angel of vengeance who relentlessly hunts Dracula down and is always the first to go for the kill whenever he gets anywhere near his nemesis.
  • Adapted Out: Arthur Holmwood is the only major character from the novel to not make an appearance in any form. Other than when Mina teasingly refers to the attractiveness of a ‘Doctor Holmwood’ in the letter Harker reads on his way to Castle Dracula, apparently merging the Holmwood and Seward characters before another version of Seward appears in the modern day.
  • Always Save the Girl: During the search for the killer loose aboard the Demeter, Dracula manages to frame Agatha Van Helsing for the murders, but she turns the tables on him by revealing his true nature to the crew. He immediately instigates a situation where the crew is forced to focus on saving her life, allowing him to escape.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Mina lists a number of people she might seek out for physical entertainment while her fiancé is away on business, one of which is the local barmaid. Dracula refers to the people he turns into vampires as his "brides", male or female. Sister Agatha casually implies that she has Erotic Dreams about Sister Rosa. Dracula and Agatha themselves have Unresolved Sexual Tension, with a lovingly lit Erotic Dream sequence even thrown in there. (But the showrunners have received ire for claiming that Dracula is "bi-homicidal," not bisexual.)
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Discussed. Lucy introduces Quincey to her friends as a cowboy, which is a claim he downplays.
  • Amoral Attorney: This version of The Renfield, Frank Renfield, is an attorney who starts grovelling at Dracula's feet even before they meet in person and willingly does everything in his power to further the Count's plan for attaining, as Renfield puts it, world domination.
  • And I Must Scream: The Count's victims who don't manage to die, and are instead locked in boxes, conscious but rotting. The same happens to those unfortunate enough to become undead, but not vampires.
  • Animal Motifs: The Count is heavily associated with blowflies, occasionally with wolves, and of course with bats.
  • Anti-Climax: the final of the show is this, with Dracula and Zoe Van Helsing talking, Zoe Van Helsing calling him out for being a coward and having a death wish, and Dracula immediately deciding to off himself via drinking Zoe's cancerous blood. It all happens in the span of the last 5 minutes or so.
  • Artistic Licence – Linguistics: Dracula claims to have killed one of the sailors in Episode 2 for his "charming Bavarian accent". While he does learn to speak flawless German from draining the poor sod, it's actually Standard German without the slightest hint of anything resembling Bavarian, and the sailor himself never sounded Bavarian in the first place. The German dub rectifies this by having both characters speak in a (bad) Bavarian dialect.
  • Bat Deduction: Harker learns that the wife of the castle's architect was the "light of his life," and from there he deduces that he hid the plans in her portrait.
  • Batman Gambit: In Episode 2, Agatha's final gambit depends on the other passengers being too scared of her to try and hang her, and on Dracula stepping up to finish her off, getting close enough that she can expose his vampiric nature by bleeding on his shoes and then spitting blood in his face. It works.
  • Beauty Is Bad: When he needs to replenish, Dracula is a hideous old man. The healthier Dracula appears younger, as well as Tall, Dark, and Handsome; he's also, you know, a vampire who literally saps the life out of his poor, hapless victims to recover his good looks and vitality.
  • The Beastmaster: Dracula can command wolves, and uses this to attack the convent when the nuns hold him at a distance with crosses and stakes. He also likes using a swarm of bats as his go-to distraction technique.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Yamini chooses to drink poison rather than let Dracula feed on them.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Lucy is a little on the larger side but her beauty, which is undeniable, is constantly referenced.
  • Black Comedy: While the show doesn't shy away from some intense Gorn and horror, it's also frequently hilarious in a pretty dark way.
  • Brainy Brunette: Agatha is a brown-haired woman whose sharp wit is immediately established.
  • Body Horror:
    • Undead Jonathan is pretty hard to look at, to the point that he resembles a living skeleton.
    • A completely burnt body is a horrific sight to behold; even more so when it's your own body. Lucy Westenra unsurprisingly goes into a screaming fit when she sees it.
  • Book Ends: "Blood Vessel" ends with Dracula distracting Agatha with a conversation so she doesn't suspect she's his scapegoat. And it all ends when, at the climax, Agatha distracts Dracula with conversation so he doesn't suspect the Captain setting off the gunpowder.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Jonathan goes through a horrendous ordeal over the course of episode one. He is imprisoned in a vast, labyrinthine castle, all while Dracula is feeding on his life force to revitalize himself. He is attacked by the undead, forced to watch his own body decay, and is ultimately murdered by Dracula, in contrast with his book counterpart. Then, as an undead creature, his need for blood forces him to attack his own fiancée, and his attempt at suicide does not work, as a stake through the heart cannot be self-administered. Finally, in his attempt to end his own misery, he allows Dracula to enter the convent, wherein he slaughters the nuns inside and wears Jonathan's skin to trick and torment Mina.
  • Break Them by Talking: Dracula is a very persuasive person even when the ones he's talking to are already out for his blood. Having lived for centuries probably gives him the experience to know exactly what buttons to push to get others to do what he wants.
  • Buried Alive: How most people cursed with Undeath end up.
  • Camp Gay: One of Lucy's friends is, but he still has some depth beyond the stereotype in his unrequited attraction to Jack.
  • Cassandra Truth: One of the older crew members of the Demeter keeps rambling superstitious warnings about curses and bad omens before the ship even sets sail. Naturally, nobody takes him seriously until it's far too late.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Dracula revels in the death and misery he causes and never even attempts to hide or sugarcoat that he's a monster.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Dracula uses a Dracula emoji in a text he sends to Lucy.
    • Not to mention that in the last episode, vampire movies are mentioned alongside a few stereotypical vampiric weaknesses. This implies that in the reality of the show, vampire movies seem to exist in a similar way as they do in our real world, which are mostly based on the original Dracula book and its famous movie adaptions. But at the same time, Dracula and most main characters from the book really exist, some of them living in the 21th century, over one hundred years after the book would have been published.
  • Charm Person: The Count is frighteningly good at charming his way into mortals' good graces (or pants) when it suits him.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Dracula occasionally dresses like one, but he also frequently goes without the trademark cape.
  • Colour Wash: The colour palette of Episode 3 is extremely gaudy and garish, apparently being used to symbolise the excesses of the modern world compared to the past.
  • Composite Character:
    • This version of Jonathan Harker blends both his original character from the novel and Renfield. Curiously, there is a Renfield in the story, but he only serves his traditional role as Dracula's lackey in Broad Strokes, where Harker is the one who becomes something like a Familiar and dies trying to atone for what he's done.
    • Agatha van Helsing combines the minor character of Sister Agatha who to wrote Mina about Jonathan with Abraham van Helsing.
  • Convenient Terminal Illness: Zoe van Helsing is able to poison Dracula with her own tainted blood as she is dying of cancer.
  • Cool Shades: Dracula wears some kickass shades with four blue-tinted glasses while taking a stroll aboard the fog-shrouded Demeter during the day.
  • Corrupt Church: Discussed by Dracula in episode 2, who reminds Agatha that for centuries the cross has been used by the church to scare peasants into obedience. He blames his own fear of the cross on the fact that, when drinking the blood of these peasants, he also absorbed their fear for the cross, and thus he can't wait to feed on some atheists. This is a lie, however.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Not the entire plot, but at least a lot of the events in episode 3 could have been avoided had the Harker Foundation been a bit more careful (see Idiot Ball below).
  • Dead All Along: Late in Part 1, it is revealed Jonathan Harker did not survive his stay in Castle Dracula, and is now undead himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Dracula and Agatha Van Helsing have a very dry wit that provides most of the show's Black Comedy.
    Mother Superior: Why would the forces of darkness attack a convent?.
    Agatha Van Helsing : Perhaps they are sensitive to criticism.
  • Death by Adaptation: Quite many.
    • Jonathan Harker survives the events of the book and is one of the characters who kills Dracula, but is not so lucky in the show. In the show he is killed by Dracula and turned into undead, then he is finally killed by Dracula and Dracula wears his skin to go and kill more people.
    • Abraham Van Helsing survives the events of the book, but in the show the Van Helsing character dies twice. Agatha Van Helsing dies in 1897 along with the destruction of the Demeter. Then Dr. Zoe Van Helsing dies in 21st century, because Dracula commits suicide by drinking her blood. Plus, she is also dying from cancer.
    • Mina Murray survives the events of the book, but since in the show they split the story between two time periods and the 3rd episode happens in 21st century, by that time Mina is already dead.
  • Decomposite Character: Abraham Van Helsing is split into two different characters, Agatha and Zoe.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Episode 1 focuses on Jonathan’s time with the Count and many scenes are lifted verbatim from the novel. It appears he will be our hero as always. And then the Count snaps his neck and it is confirmed he has been Dead All Along. By the end of the episode he has made a full exit from the narrative and we are firmly focused on our real protagonist, Van Helsing.
  • Defiant to the End: Up until his last moments, Jonathan is insistent that he will do everything he can to stop Dracula. That doesn't end up happening, but it's the thought that counts.
  • Delusions of Beauty: Lucy is a beautiful woman who became a vampire to retain her good looks forever. When she does transforms, she is convinced that she has achieved her goals, unaware that to everyone else she looks like a corpse covered in third and fourth-degree burns (as her family arranged for a cremation upon her supposed death). Her delusions are shown when looks at her reflection and sees herself as she was when she was human. She only realizes the truth when she sees a photo of herself. She immediately has a Freak Out that she'll be stuck as an ugly and deformed monster for eternity, and pleads with Seward to kill her.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mina only appears in episode 1, is never bitten by Dracula, and doesn't plays the vital role in Dracula's downfall that she had in the book. Though it does seem she's the one responsible for setting up the Jonathan Harker Foundation, this happens off-screen during the time skip, and occurs after her final appearance.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Every episode introduces a bunch of new characters. Most end up dead. In fact, the Count and Agatha Van Helsing are the only recurring characters between the episodes, and even the latter dies at the end of Episode 2 and only comes back via somehow possessing her descendant. Dracula lampshades it early in Episode 2, which is narrated by him, by telling his audience to not get too attached to any of the characters.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In order to teach himself restraint, Dracula decided to travel as a passenger on the Demeter and interact with the other travellers and the crew even as he picks them off, reasoning that he can manage with a skeleton crew to make the final journey into England. However, so many potential meals lead him to overindulge and rouse suspicions, which in turn leads to him trying to pin the blame on Agatha, who quickly musters everyone on board against him...
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jack genuinely loved Lucy but never had the courage to admit his feelings for her before she was engaged to Quincey Morris. It's only when she returns from the dead as a vampire with horrific burns that Jack finally manages to kiss her and admit his feelings for her before killing her. However, she can't live as a vampire, especially one with a disfigured body and asks Jack to kill her anyway.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: This depiction of Dracula is akin to a careless pick-up artist with an STD. The sexual themes convert the drinking of blood into rape-like scenarios, which spread contagion. Especially since the victims see Dracula as someone else, as if he's using date rape drugs or methods. After spending time at Dracula's castle, Jonathan Harker's undead form starts to resemble an AIDS/HIV patient. The very first scene even ends with Agatha asking if Jonathan had sexual relations with Dracula.
  • Double Entendre: Right after Dracula rips his way out of the wolf he possessed to ambush the convent in Episode 1, he strokes the dead beast's body and quips to the nuns "Don't know about you, ladies, but I love a bit of fur". Keep in mind that he's 1) completely naked and 2) displaying a glorious (though blood-soaked) Carpet of Virility when he says that.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dracula, of all characters.
    • Jonathan Harker, after he realized he was undead and endangered other people around him.
    • Yamini. Lord Ruthven betrays Dr. Sharma and Yamini in order to side with Dracula, and gives them an ultimatum: either Dr. Sharma drops the cross and surrenders to let Dracula drink their blood or Ruthven shoots Yamini. Backed against the wall, Yamini takes a third, tragic option and drinks poison.
  • Dwindling Party: Only two (living) characters make it off the Demeter at the end of Episode 2.
  • Dying as Yourself: Harker desperately wants to, after his full transformation into a bloodthirsty vampire. He actually manages to kill himself with this trope in effect until Dracula drops the bomb on him: Vampires can't commit suicide, so Harker should invite ol' Drac inside if he wishes to die. And then Dracula just uses him as his minion again. And then it turns out that's a trick. He's just using Harker's skin, but at the very, very least, Harker did get to die as himself.
  • Enfant Terrible:
    • We briefly get to see an undead baby in Dracula's castle in Episode 1. Even Dracula is surprised, considering he had never seen a baby turning into a vampire before.
    • Episode 3 features a creepy kid zombie. Lucy Westenra is oddly charmed when she sees it in a graveyard, but is rightly horrified when it follows her home and sneaks into her bedroom.
  • Exact Words: Count Dracula give his word. There is no one living in the castle.
  • Eye Scream: Episode 1 has a lovely close-up of a blowfly landing on Harker's unblinking eye, crawling under the eyelid and behind the eye while the two nuns interviewing him watch in horrified disgust. It foreshadows the — frankly unnecessary, given his ghoulish appearance — Reveal that Harker is no longer a living human.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Curse of Undeath. An affliction in which the victim's consciousness remains trapped within their body after death, forcing them to endure eternity in a slowly rotting corpse. The victim is also incapable of movement for an undetermined amount of time following death, meaning many of them are buried 'alive' before their family or friends can figure out anything is wrong. This curse can even spread like a disease - as vampires are themselves undead, many of their victims become cursed (whether or not the curse can occur spontaneously, without prior contact with an undead creature, is left ambiguous).
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dracula can appear calm and well-mannered, but the slightest drop of blood causes his true, animalistic self to emerge.
  • Final Girl: Subverted. While in the novel main female character (Mina Harker) was one of the first proto-embodiments of this trope in horror genre, in the show main female character Agatha/Zoe Van Helsing dies (twice).
  • Fingore:
    • In both episodes 1 and 2, the first signs to Jonathan and Agatha that Dracula is causing their bodies to decay is the fact that their fingernails fall off.
    • In Episode 3, A scientist at the Harker foundation sticks her finger in Dracula's mouth when she unearths his casket on the ocean floor, believing him to be dead. Unsurprisingly, he bites her finger off, and this is what revives him from his century long coma.
    • In the same episode, Dracula does his usual "dispose of undead victim in a box" trick. When the poor slob manages to stick a few fingers out, Dracula cuts them off (off screen) to slam the lid shut again.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The Count goes through a very mild adjustment period following his awakening in 21st century England, with his "worst" misconception being that he mistakes a dirty lower-class hovel for the home of a person richer than any king, queen or emperor he's ever met. Might also count as a subtle Take That! to the audience to remind them of the luxuries they take for granted every day.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In the very shot when Mother Superior starts to pray, her head is cut out of the frame. Not ten seconds later, her head is cut out period.
  • Fog of Doom: Dracula summons a thick, sunlight-blocking fog that keeps following the Demeter during Episode 2, much to the crew's alarm.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Dracula is disappointed that he never got to taste Dr. Sharma's blood, since he believes science is the future. By the end of the episode, he gets far more future then he ever dreamed.
    • Quincey wonders if Lucy would like him despite that he's not rich, then muses how he only likes her for her beauty. This gives a hint that she will lose her beauty once she's cremated as a vampire.
  • Fountain of Youth: Drinking blood keeps Dracula young. When we first see him, he appears sickly and old, but he quickly becomes a young man again due to Jonathan.
  • Framing Device:
    • Episode 1 switches back and forth between Jonathan Harker recounting his time with Dracula to two nuns in a convent.
    • Episode 2 has the Count and Van Helsing playing a game of chess while Dracula tells the tale of his journey to England aboard the Demeter.
  • Gender Flip: In the book and most adaptations, Van Helsing is a man. Here, there are two Van Helsings, both are female.
  • Genetic Memory: By drinking Dracula's blood, Zoe is able to meet the remnant of Agatha who lives on inside him after he drank her blood. Agatha reckons it only worked because they share a certain amount of DNA.
  • Gentle Giant: The Demeter's cook is a hulking bearded brute of a man with a heavy metal spike in place of his left hand, but underneath his intimidating appearance and anti-Romanian racism he's actually a pretty swell guy.
  • Genuine Human Hide: In the climax of Part 1, Dracula disguises himself as Jonathan by literally wearing the latter's skin like a suit.
  • Gold Digger: Lucy is implied to be this. Quincey theorizes to Jack that Lucy is only interested in him because he is rich, just like how he is only interested in her because she is beautiful.
  • Going Down with the Ship: After the Demeter is evacuated to save as many people from Dracula as possible, Van Helsing thinks she's alone with Dracula, only for the ship's captain to show up in her support explicitly for this reason.
  • Gratuitous German: Two of the people aboard the Demeter in Episode 2 are of German descent (the helmsman and an elderly Grand Duchess, both allegedly from Bavaria). Dracula feeds on the former to have a brief but inconsequential conversation in perfect German with the latter.
     H to Z 
  • Highly Visible Password: The one facility in all of England designed to take down the Count...uses his name as their password.
  • Hired Guns: The Harker Foundation relies on mercenaries for their on-site security and wetwork tasks. This is what tips Dracula off that Zoe's interests in him are not purely scientific.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Zigzagged; Dracula fears the cross, but not because of its association with Christianity. Finding out the real reason he fears it is a recurring theme throughout the series. Other vampires, like the female vampire in Dracula's castle, are unaffected by it.
  • Horror Hunger: Of course.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Even more so than in other contemporary versions. The rejuvenated Dracula is nude for an entire scene in the first episode.
  • How We Got Here: Episode 1 is framed as Jonathan Harker retelling his encounter with Dracula to two nuns, who are actually Agatha Van Helsing and his fiancée Mina.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: A vampire can't commit suicide even if the method they choose would normally be lethal, like a stake through the heart for instance. The death blow must be administered by someone else to be effective.
  • Identical Grandson: Dolly Wells portrays both Agatha Van Helsing and her descendant Zoe.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Even though she just heard all the nuns getting slaughtered and saw Jonathan's suicide, when Harker's shambling remains reappear asking to be let into their circle of protection, Mina immediately does so.
    • Adisa is admittedly not thinking too rationally after the death of his lover Ruthven but he's still manipulated by Dracula into stepping beyond the protective circle that the heroes made on the deck of the Demeter, in order to shoot him. Agatha even points out in exasperation that he can just as easily attempt to shoot Dracula inside the circle. And this is after he sees Dracula appear out of thin air and nearly kill poor Piotr.
    • The Harker Foundation. Despite apparently being competent enough to get rich and powerful in the 100 years after their founding, they make several slip-ups when it comes to Dracula:
      • The first thing someone does when finding Dracula on the ocean floor is stick her fingers in his mouth to check for his fangs. She doesn't get the thumb back, and this ends up waking up Dracula from his coma.
      • Next they let him wake up and come ashore under his own power, which enables him to use his powers (like siccing a large group of bats on the mercenaries) to escape.
      • Then, once they finally capture him, they give him a tablet for entertainment, but one that has wi-fi. And their wi-fi password is 'Dracula', so Dracula can easily get online and contact a lawyer.
      • Finally, they just let the lawyer walk right into their base, see Dracula for himself, and take Dracula out, instead of denying him access or trying to deny they have a vampire in their custody.
    • Dracula spent centuries sincerely thinking that he feared the cross, couldn't enter anywhere without invitation and that sun would kill him. But it turns out that he merely convinced himself that he feared all those things. When he finally understands that those fears are entirely self-imposed and are not really restricting him, his first action is to kill himself, instead of taking advantage of this discovery.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: As could be expected, a Shout-Out to Bela Lugosi's classic line is included. In fact, a reference to Dracula not drinking comes up Once an Episode.
  • Irony: Adisa thinks that by disobeying his allies' commands that he stays in the circle for his own safety, he's being his own master for once. But given he's being goaded by Dracula to defy their instructions, he's basically listening to a different 'master'.
    • Once Dracula gets captured by the Johnathan Harker Foundation, they end up taking some of his blood. Dracula sarcastically notes it's a first for him.
  • I Should Have Done This Years Ago: Calling Dracula a coward was all the motivation that he needed to kill himself, which makes the entire trip to England pointless since Sister Agatha was calling him that in Episode 1.
  • Immune to Bullets: Dracula isn't affected by being shot multiple times in the chest, other than being mildly shaken by the momentum as each bullet hits him. His deadpan "Ow." is just icing.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: The colour of the sweet, kind-hearted Jonathan's eyes is frequently emphasized, especially by Mina. The fact that his eyes are no longer blue is a sign that Dracula has possessed him.
  • Instant Expert: Even though Dracula missed out on all of the 20th century and its technological advancements, he can identify and use a modern camcorder and pistol after walking out of the ocean. Possibly justified by Dracula gaining the required knowledge through the blood of the present-day scientist who accidentally awoke him when she stuck her finger in his mouth and he bit it off.
  • Jerkass: Quincey Morris, Lucy's American boyfriend/fiance, has exactly two scenes. The first is mostly about him revealing that he's only into Lucy because she's pretty, the second consists of him impatiently waiting for her funeral to end so he can fly home, with his packed bag at the ready right outside his pew.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lucy's "everybody's out for something" mindset may not apply to everyone, but it certainly has Quincey pegged, given he only likes her for her looks.
  • Kick the Dog: Dracula practically revels in doing this at least once a day. Some of his lowlights include, but are not limited to, slaughtering an entire convent of helpless nuns For the Evulz, approaching Mina in the skin of her fiancé before tearing it off right in front of her, and casually stomping on Lucy's ashes while the man who ended her suffering out of love for her watches in horror.
  • Kill It with Fire: Seems to be one way of dealing serious damage to Dracula. He still survives being set alight aboard the Demeter, albeit barely. It is the reason Dracula warns Lucy about the dangers of getting cremated between dying and becoming an undead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Two notable ones in "Blood Vessel".
    • Lord Ruthven only married Dorabella for her money and lead her on to believe he loved her with all his heart, promising her a future with a loving family. Without trying, Dracula leads on Ruthven to believe he wants him as a "partner", only to so cruelly reveal that he only wanted Ruthven for his wife's money.
    • Dracula conversed about his journey on the Demeter in order to distract Sister Agatha from the fact she is on the voyage, as a scapegoat. Towards the end, she converses with Dracula to distract him from the Captain's attempt to blow up the ship, according to her plan.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • If Dracula isn't invited into a building, he can't attack the inhabitants directly, but the rule doesn't prevent him from letting a pack of mind-controlled wolves rip everyone inside to shreds, or command one of his undead pawns to let him in.
    • In episode 3, Renfield uses the law to get Dracula released from the Harker Foundation, stating all Dracula's paperwork is in order due to him making the proper arrangements back in 1897. And while he admits that he is unnerved by the fact that Dracula is still alive and young after 123 years, he points out there is no law that forbids anyone from living that long.
  • Loser Protagonist: Dracula. He has grandiose plans against Victorian London in the 19th century, yet he gets stuck in his coffin on the sea floor and never even makes it to Victorian England. He manages to reach England in the 21st century, where he eats people for a couple of months before killing himself as soon as Dr. Zoe Van Helsing calls him out for being a coward and revealing to all that Dracula had a death wish and subconsciously always wanted to die.
  • Madness Mantra: Jonathan thinks that he wrote a detailed report about his time at Dracula's castle while in the convent, but when Sister Agatha gives him back his notes, he discovers to his horror the pages are filled with ramblings praising Dracula.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Being a wealthy aristocrat with refined tastes, Dracula certainly comes across as one, when he's not being a Complete Monster.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Or more precisely, maybe magic, maybe sci-fi. It's unclear at the end if Dracula is actually cursed by God, or if he isn't some kind of mutation obeying religious weaknesses for purely psychological reasons. At the same time some of the stuff he does, like controlling animals, travelling in a wolf's skin and literally breathing out a fog to hide the Demeter from the sun, can't really be explained by any form of science.
  • The Maze: Dracula's castle in Wallachia is explicitly described as a labyrinthine construct so good at trapping people forever that the Count calls it "a prison without locks".
  • Mercy Kill: Jack stakes Lucy when she begs him to, after she finds out that she's facing eternity in a horrifically burnt body.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Even when he restores his appearance of youth by feeding on people, Dracula (at least to his own eyes) always appears as a withered old man in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Inverted with Lucy; while her reflection has her appear to be just as stunningly beautiful as she was in life, in the flesh she's... pretty much what you'd expect her to look like after being cremated.
  • Must Be Invited: Dracula is subject to this rule, but he's also really good at finding ways around it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jack Seward and Zoe Van Helsing are justifiably smug when they tell Dracula that Lucy won't be rising as a vampire, because she was cremated...only for him to retort that she would have been conscious the whole time as every particle of her was incinerated. And then the door buzzer goes off, because it turns out even that didn't kill her, and they're horrified by what comes through the door...
  • No Body Left Behind: When Lucy dies for good, only a small mound of ashes remains.
  • Nun Too Holy: Harker notes that Agatha doesn't act like how you'd expect a nun would act. She's razor-tongued (though not unkind) and frank about her lack of faith in God. (Although, ironically, she later says that Harker's horrifying accounts of Count Dracula have restored her faith. Her personality remains the same, however.)
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Dracula uses it several times.
  • Off with His Head!: Dracula beheads the Mother Superior during his invasion of the convent.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Most vampires are animalistic, decaying undead that don't last long. Dracula is the main exception, having survived for 400 years and able to keep a human appearance. It mostly boils down to him carefully selecting his victims and feeding on not just their blood, but also their knowledge. As he says, "You are what you eat", implying Dracula's I'm a Humanitarian nature is actually what saved him from that fate, where those who fight against their nature suffer physically and those who tried to become Vegetarian Vampires picked up animalistic characteristics and became monsters anyway. Dracula has some of the classic weaknesses, like being weakened by sunlight, repelled by holy objects or being unable to enter a house without an invitation, but nobody knows exactly why these things work, and it is frequently lampshaded that it makes no sense. Eventually, Zoe Van Helsing figures out that these weaknesses all relate to Dracula's fear of death, and they work because he himself so firmly believes it works.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Undead that are not (yet) vampires are effectively zombies; rotting corpses, fully conscious of their decay but unable to die.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Van Helsing is dismayed to learn that Dracula gained internet access on the tablet computer he was given while in captivity. How did this happen? Because the wifi password is "Dracula". The Harker Foundation really needs to hire some better IT personnel.
  • Placebo Effect: Sunlight and crossed only have any effect on Dracula because he believes that they do.
  • Post-Modern Magik: After hundreds of years, Dracula is finally able to watch the sun set by watching a nature documentary.
  • The Queen's Latin: A justified example. Though Dracula hails from Transylvania, he speaks with a British accent for the majority of the series, having absorbed the ability to do so from Jonathan.
  • Race Lift: This version of Lucy is portrayed by Lydia West, who is half-black.
  • Real Is Brown: Episodes 1 and 2 mostly play this straight, being set in a traditional Gothic horror time period and setting. Episode 3 thoroughly averts this when we skip to the 21st century. Garish neon pinks, purples, reds and yellows are everywhere, even in scenes that would logically have natural light. On top of providing a striking visual contrast against the duller tones of the 19th century, this only makes the modern world appear more alien, paranoiac and terrifying in its own way.
  • Reduced to Dust: Lucy upon being staked. Justified since she was already severely burned due to being cremated, her undeadness being the only thing that kept her from fully falling apart.
  • Regret Eating Me: Zoe van Helsing's cancerous blood is deadly to vampires.
  • The Renfield: As usual, Dracula has no problems recruiting more or less willing human servants to do his bidding, but he has to wait until the 21st century to meet the Trope Namer himself.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After Ruthven sides with Dracula, essentially causes the death of Yamini and shoots Dr. Sharma dead, he expects to be praised by the vampire. Dracula, who's annoyed at losing the chance to gain Sharma's knowledge, instead turns on Ruthven.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Dorabella believes Dracula to be joking about being a vampire until it is too late.
  • Savage Wolves: The wolves Dracula sics onto the nuns in the convent. Justified, since Dracula's power over them makes them savage.
  • Scenery Censor: When Dracula prances around naked before an entire convent of nuns, clever lighting is used to hide his naughty bits in shadow.
  • Seen It All: Dracula ridicules Jonathan Harker for being horrified by the sight of death, blithely mentioning that such lengthy lifespans tend to desensitize immortals to it.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: A male example; Dracula during his first confrontation with the nuns. He is naked for the entire scene and not the least bit ashamed.
  • Shooting Superman: Regular firearms wound Dracula but barely make him flinch, and the wounds themselves are inconsequential to him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Episode 2, there is a mysterious passenger inside cabin no. 9.
    • Also from Episode 2, Lord Ruthven's name is taken from the main antagonist of The Vampyre, another piece of classical literature concerning an attractive and manipulative vampire. It serves as subtle foreshadowing to Ruthven allying with Dracula to gain vampiric powers.
    • In Episode 1, Agatha mentions having "a detective acquaintance in London", who helped her track Mina down.
    • Another nod to Moffat's work: Mina also mentions the cute lady barmaid at the Rose and Crown pub, whose name is presumably Clara Oswald.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Underneath her party-girl exterior, Lucy Westenra is deeply depressed and unhappy because she feels immense pressure to be attractive and visible on social media. When Dracula feeds on her, she asks him to put her 'where no one can see me, where I don't have to smile'.
  • Sole Survivor: Agatha and Mina are the sole survivors of the convent invasion.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Lucy is cremated/burned alive, while shrieking in terror and agony, to the sound of Robbie Williams' "Angels" which is playing at her funeral service.
  • Spiked Blood: Unintentional on her part, but Zoe's cancer causes her blood to be poisonous to Dracula.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Jekyll. Another contemporary Hotter and Sexier sequel/deconstruction of a Victorian Horror character by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, with an organization, named after a character in the original novel, that is dedicated to capturing the Monster.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Agatha and her reincarnation Zoe have been accused of this by some fans, given how their characteristics and plot importance directly correlate with characteristics and plot importance stripped from the novel's original cast. It doesn't help that, despite a whole episode of focus, Jonathan's character seems to have ultimately been used mostly to introduce Dracula to the audience and Agatha to Dracula, afterwhich he and Mina, the novel's original protagonists, were quickly discarded from the narrative as seemingly no longer important. While some viewers didn't mind the change and were able to appreciate the adaptation and its characters on their stand-alone merits, others were disappointed by yet another adaptation that doesn't adapt the book cast faithfully and/or considers the show actively replacing their original importance with one singular character to be salt on the wound.
  • Staking the Loved One: Mina tries to do this to Jonathan, but can't bring herself to kill the man she loves, leading him to drive the stake into his own heart — which does NOT do the trick. 123 years later, Jack does succeed in putting Lucy out of her misery.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: When Dracula is on the run in 21st-century Whitby, he breaks a shop window and steals a set of clothes from a mannequin.
  • Stupid Evil: Dracula. In this version, his own actions and behaviour on the Demeter sabotage his entire journey to Victorian England, making several people on the ship team up against him and successfully get rid of all of his boxes with soil, forcing him into his single remaining box and getting stuck on the sea floor for 123 years. When he finally makes it to the English shore, it's the wrong century. Lord Ruthven also qualifies, since he decides he can easily become Dracula's business partner after he personally witnesses how Dracula operates and what he does.
    • However, Dracula's self-aware enough to recognise this habit and work to overcome it. The trip on the Demeter was organised by Dracula to teach himself restraint, and how to not kill those important to his plans just because they taste nice, complete with a scapegoat to take the blame just in case he failed. And then Agatha shows up.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: As Renfield so points out, Dracula may be a vampire, but he still has rights. And there's technically nothing illegal about him being over a hundred years old. Besides, they can't prove he's done anything illegal without exposing themselves as well.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Lucy has no qualms about organizing a late night meeting with Dracula despite it being the eve of her wedding and she even jokes about it openly with her friends. However, the facts that her fiance is a self-obsessed jerk and constant social pressure has given her depression means she is depicted slightly more sympathetically than most cheaters.
  • Take Over the World: In Episode 3, Dracula and Renfield start up a plot to allow Dracula to assimilate hand-picked victims, letting him gain the skills and memories needed to take over. The latter even refers to their ultimate aim as "world domination".
  • Taking You with Me: The Demeter's mortally wounded captain claws his way into the ship's hold to set off a jury-rigged bomb that sinks the ship before Dracula reaches England. Meanwhile, Agatha Van Helsing keeps the Count distracted long enough for the captain to do his part, dying with a smile on her lips in the ship's destruction.
  • Television Serial: The series aired in this format, with all three of its episodes airing within consecutive days of one another.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Dracula insists on calling Harker "Johnny", a nickname only his lover Mina uses, despite his protests.
  • Time Skip: At the end of Part 2, Dracula finally arrives in England, only to find out he spent 123 years on the sea floor.
  • Together in Death: Dracula commits suicide by drinking the cancerous blood of Zoe Van Helsing. Despite being timeless enemies, they embrace like lovers while dying.
  • Tragic Villain: The woman who left "HELP US" messages for Harker. Has she been warped irredeemably into an evil being? Yes. Harker is appropriately shocked and appalled when he realises that the baby Dracula brought into the castle was for her to eat. But at the end of the day, she is a victim of Dracula's, and he is the Big Bad. Despite everything, Harker mournfully asks Dracula why he killed the woman. Even more true after the "you are what you eat" reveal. She's been fed nothing but babies, probably as an experiment, and has become quite childlike.
  • True Companions: In the extremely brief time they know each other, Agatha, Sokolov, Olgaren and Piotr become a close-knit team, working together to fight Dracula and prevent him getting to England. The latter two leave the ship only reluctantly when it needs to be destroyed, and Sokolov stays as much to give Agatha emotional support as the whole 'going down with the ship' deal.
  • Uncertain Doom: Episode 3 ends with Dracula deliberately drinking Zoe Van Helsing's cancerous blood to die alongside her. However, he himself stated in Episode 1 that vampires can't kill themselves, and since the camera pulls away during the episode's final moments, his ultimate fate remains ambiguous.
  • Undead Child: Lucy and Dracula encounter one in the graveyard during their date. Dracula points out how children are usually the only undead that can get out of their coffins. The child later shows up in Lucy's bedroom, but Dracula kills it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In Episode 1, Dracula gives one of his "brides" a human infant to feed on. Naturally, this horrifies Jonathan Harker. In Episode 3, he kills the undead child he and Lucy saw in the graveyard earlier, though in this case one could see it as a Mercy Kill.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Since Lucy was cremated while in the process of reviving as a vampire, she's horrifically burned. When she realises what's happened to her and desperately asks Dracula if she'll be like this forever, he bluntly confirms it, so it seems that — unlike her sire — no amount of feeding will restore her appearance.
  • Vampire Variety Pack: Vampirism manifests itself with varying success, with the results ranging from feral zombie-like decayed vampires to Dracula, who is unusual in that he can fully pass as human. It's implied that a mixture of personality, bloodlines and willpower separate the failed vampires from Dracula's more successful "brides", like Jonathan and Lucy. Most vampires also take hours to turn, while Dracula is himself astounded that Jonathan turned instantly.
    • Dracula is also the only vampire shown to use his traditional unusual abilities: control of animals, shapeshifting, weather control etc.
  • Vampire Vords: Dracula initially speaks like this when we first see him, but due to feeding on Jonathan he quickly learns proper English.
  • Wham Line: "I've tasted this bitter bouquet before. I believe they call it "cancer" now."
  • Wham Shot: Dracula seemingly exits his coffin at the bottom of the sea in what appears to be little time since the explosion. In the moonlight, he victoriously straggles to the shore of England. ...But out of nowhere, a helicopter spotlight blinds him, complete with a SWAT team, revealing that Dracula's stay at the bottom of the ocean was much longer than either he or the audience anticipated.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Despite his stay in Dracula's castle slowly and agonisingly reducing him to a walking corpse, Jonathan is adamant to help Dracula's bride, simply because she asked. When Van Helsing questions why, he declares that ignoring a plea for help would be "unacceptable".
    • When rallying the nuns to fight Dracula off, Agatha invokes this trope, saying that God is the voice that tells you to do good things without any reward or anyone else there.
  • Women Are Wiser: Van Helsing and her descendant, Zoe, are much more confrontational and devoted to killing Dracula as they both recognise him as a threat.
  • Worthy Opponent: Van Helsing and her descendant/reincarnation to Dracula.
  • You Are Who You Eat: Dracula absorbs the knowledge and at least parts of the personality and behaviour of the last person he fed on. At one point he almost name-drops the trope (going with the more traditional "you are what you eat") to describe this ability.


Video Example(s):


Dracula (2020) Lucy's undeath

For Dracula's victims, becoming undead but not a vampire can be particularly gruesome.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

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