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Series / Ultraviolet (1998)
aka: Ultraviolet

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British six-part series released in 1998 about vampires in modern London, and a squad which hunts them. Played extremely straight: the vampires don't go around picking fights with people they know can kill them.

The good guys have weapons such as garlic gas grenades, carbon bullets and knives, and guns with video cameras on the side. UV vampires don't register on cameras, video or audio equipment, in addition to not having reflections. However, alarms do go off when they push past an Underground ticket barrier, and they can use keyboards.

The protagonist/point of view character is DS Mike Colefield (Jack Davenport), who learns of the existence of vampires in the first episode and is recruited by the vampire hunters for his investigative experience. He spends the series dealing with his doubts about the team's extreme methods and struggling with the personal fallout of his unexpected new life. Other key members of the team include Pearse Harman (Philip Quast), the team's leader; Vaughan Rice (Idris Elba), a former soldier who joined the cause after his squad was wiped out by vampires; and Dr Angela March (Susannah Harker), whose husband was killed by a vampire and who now studies them in search of better ways to fight them.


Not to be confused with the Milla Jovovich Film Ultraviolet (2006) from 2006, which features vampire-like mutants.

Character Sheet under construction.

  1. "Habeas Corpus" = "You Shall Have The Body": Michael investigates his friend's disappearance, and learns about the existence of vampires and the people who hunt them.
  2. "In Nomine Patris" = "In the Name Of The Father": The team investigates the vampires' finances — a banker is helping them because her ancestor is offering immortality.
  3. "Sub Judice" = "Under Judgment": The team investigates a woman rescued from muggers by vampires — specifically a woman pregnant with a test-tube baby sired by her now-vampire husband.
  4. "Mea Culpa" = "It Was My Fault": The team investigates a choirboy's attack on a priest — due to being infected with vampiric meningitis.
  5. "Terra Incognita" = "Unknown Land": The team investigates a man suffering the side effects of a sickle-cell anemia treatment — artificial blood created by vampires as an alternative for feeding — and discovers the vampires have created a system of time-locked caskets for transcontinental travel.
  6. "Persona Non Grata" = "An Unacceptable Person": The team investigates a captured vampire.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: In "Terra Incognita", one of the things Vaughan does when he's facing death is phone Angie, whom he's carrying a torch for. When she answers the phone, he decides not to say anything.
  • Actually Not a Vampire: In "Mea Culpa", Michael shoots a suspect who's been avoiding the sun because he doesn't appear on a television taping a particular room — turns out the guy was a criminal with the light-sensitive condition "xeroderma pigmentosum" and Vaughan was watching one of the tapes on that television.
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  • The Ageless: Vampires never age past the age when they were turned. Most vampires we see were turned relatively recently, because their interactions with the mortals they've left behind are a major source of the show's drama, but there are a few striking examples including a vampire who appears to be in his 30s but is actually nearly a century old, and another who is an adult with the appearance of a child.
  • Anchored Ship: There is a definite attraction between soldier Vaughan Rice and scientist Angie March but aside from a tender but hasty top-of-the-head kiss in a late episode nothing comes of it.
  • Anti-Hero: All of the "good" guys frequently use ethically questionable methods to achieve a result. Given the stakes and who they're up against, it's rather justified.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy/Government Conspiracy: The protagonists are working for it. Just because it's benevolent doesn't mean that it's not occasionally extremely creepy.
  • Berserk Button: Mike intentionally tries to push Vaughan's in the first episode when he mocks him about the death of his squad in the Gulf war. Vaughan can be seen nervously checking the room for CCTV cameras until he's interrupted by Angie.
    Michael: What have you got to lose? I don't think they do court martials in this place.
  • British Brevity: In Britain, where six-episode seasons are common, it's not considered a miniseries.
  • Casting Gag:
    • The elder vampire in the final episode is played by Corin Redgrave, who was Jonathan Harker in ITV's 1968 production of Dracula.
    • Susannah Harker is a descendent of Joseph Harker, a real-life friend of Bram Stoker whom the character of Jonathan was named after.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The first episode introduces the idea of vampires' ability to regenerate after being staked, and it's referenced throughout the series with the vault, but it's not actually seen until the season finale.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Averted and played straight — other Christian denominations (e.g. CoE) exist, but the only one ever shown in any depth is Roman Catholicism.
  • Church Militant: Subverted. The Code Vs claim that the squad is funded by the Vatican (Jack specifically states that they are the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith AKA the Inquisition) but Pearse states that the British government considers the vampire threat to be an issue of public health and defense, granting it funding and support from both the Army and the British Centre for Disease Control. Pearse is a militant Catholic priest, but disdainfully remarks that "the Church doesn't like to talk about evil these days", implying that he's lost his standing because of his views.
  • Coconut Superpowers: Used extremely well. The primary vampire traits — not reflecting in mirrors and superhuman strength — are shown by simply using voiceovers in mirrors and the vampire hunters being utterly terrified of getting within arm's reach of one.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Here, vampires don't just harmlessly crumble into dust when they're "neutralized"; they explode with the force of a hand grenade. Luckily for the hunters, vampires also make a noise very much like bacon frying when they reach the point of no return, giving one about three seconds to find cover.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The vampire hunters use graphite bullets and shrapnel grenades (based on the active ingredient of wooden stakes), plus gas grenades using the active ingredient of garlic.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In the second episode, the girl with the broken back who is turned happens to look a lot like Jack's fiancée, with whom Michael has some romantic tension. The "leeches" may have done this deliberately.
    • In the fourth episode, the kid who attacks the priest has difficulty washing blood off his little hands.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Vaughan's reaction in the fourth episode when Mike shoots a guy he incorrectly believes to be a vampire. Vaughan accepts that it was an honest mistake; what really angers him is that he missed the guy's heart — if you're going to shoot at something that can twist your head off like a toothpaste cap, you want to make damn sure you kill it first try.
  • Economy Cast: The anti-vampire force consists of only four people with speaking parts: the leader, the scientist/doctor, the soldier, and the detective. They have a small team of soldiers. Handwaved as the idea that they can only recruit people who have received the Call to Adventure, summarised by Pearse:
    We can't make you believe - only they can do that.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: In the final episode, the vampires use Kirsty in a Hostage for MacGuffin swap to get Mike to bring them the dust of one of their leaders out of the team's vault. Mike brings them a canister from the vault, but when it's revived it's Kirsty's fiancé Jack instead of the vampire they needed.
  • Fighting in the Playground: The first episode's action-packed climax took place at night in an empty playground.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Vaughan and (especially) Mike take an almost instant dislike to one another; by the end of the series they've developed a grudging respect for one another.
  • Fish out of Water: Everyone besides Mike has been fighting the vampires for years and they have the scars and PTSD to prove it. Mike's a little out of his depth compared to his (un)death squad teammates.
  • Freakier Than Fiction: Exploding vampires are capable of blowing holes in steel walls — about as much force as a hand grenade. However, one pound of human flesh has roughly two megajoules of chemical energy locked up in it, so if the average human body spontaneously exploded it would be equivalent to sixty pounds of dynamite.
  • Game Face: Vampires are usually visually indistinguishable from humans, but grow fangs when they're feeding.
  • Hannibal Lecture: In almost every episode, delivered either by vampires or their human sympathizers. It’s fairly explicit that, although vampires don’t have actual mind control abilities, they are scarily good at messing with people’s heads by talking to them.
  • Healing Factor: Vampires can heal from nearly anything; the exception is that if a vampire encounters one of the few things that can kill them and is not killed outright, the resulting injury becomes a Wound That Will Not Heal.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mike gets one when he shoots a light-sensitive pedophile he thought was a vampire. It renders him unable to shoot the actual vampire — who appears to be a ten-year old boy.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Discussed; Angie explains to Mike that vampires do display an aversion to religious symbols, but the process is frustratingly resistant to analysis. She explicitly compares it to homeopathy and the placebo effect; they've observed it in action, but it's not at all consistent and they have no idea why it works, let alone how to use it effectively. Her frustration is shown on-screen in "Mea Culpa"; one of the signs that the choirboys have been infected with vampire-hybridized meningitis is that she observes one showing a phobic reaction to a prayer book, even though none of them know vampires exist, let alone that they've been infected with vampire traits.
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: This time is said to be a primary recruiting age for Vampire Vannabes.
    Harman: It's when you start realising that one day it's all going to end. No matter how many times you go to the gym.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode name is a common Latin phrase with some relevance to the plot; for instance, "In Nomine Patris" ("In the Name of the Father") revolves around a father-son relationship.
  • Immune to Bullets: Vampires, and how. Even the graphite bullets the hunters use can't slow vampires down unless they hit the heart.
  • Improvised Weapon: In "Terra Incognita", Vaughan uses a vampire as an explosive to escape a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. Yes, that's right, he weaponized his enemy.
  • Instant People: Just Add Water!: The dust from each staked vampire has to be locked away, because it's theoretically Instant Vampire Just Add Water — except, of course, that you do not add... water.
  • Knight Templar: Certainly Pearse Harman (who is actually a priest) and Vaughan Rice, and arguably Angie March too. Michael Colefield, the new member, is the only one who seems to have any doubts about the team's mission or methods.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The events of "Mea Culpa" occur solely because the vampires' guinea pig broke quarantine, infecting a choirboy with a strain of mutated meningitis and leading the team right to him; though he had been bribed with a willing "boy" to abuse as he saw fit, the vampires failed to realize pedophiles get off on abusing the weak and unwilling — even though the "boy" looked like jailbait, he was actually a fully adult vampire and the bastard quickly became tired of a willing partner strong enough to kill him at any time. This gets him shot — twice — and captured, exposing the experiment.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: When Vaughan is captured by human collaborators and trapped in a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere with four vampires in time-locked coffins, they don't take his sidearm specifically so he can choose to commit suicide with it.
  • Left Hanging: The series left nothing but loose ends;
    • Pearce spins an elaborate conspiracy theory on the vampires' actions over the series: the vampire test-tube babies are meant to replace humans as a source of new vampires, the vampire meningitis is a mind control weapon, and the artificial blood is not an alternative but a substitute for human blood — because the vampires are planning to cause a nuclear winter and kill off humanity during the months of darkness. However, he's rebuffed and the viewer never finds out if it's true.
    • Michael is left having endangered his relationship with his fellow vampire hunters, rejected by his love interest, and teased by his friend who became a vampire. The final shot of the series is him alone under a bridge wondering So What Do We Do Now?
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind: Michael rushes out to meet his Unrequited Love Interest, taking his Phlebotinum pistol but forgetting the video camera attachment used to identify vampires. This causes problems when he starts suspecting she's a vampire, but has no means of verifying it.
  • Missing Reflection: "Code 5s" do not reflect in mirrors. Taken further, in that they do not register on any artificial recording medium: they're invisible to cameras, inaudible to telephones and recording devices, and can't even be fingerprinted. The team uses video camera gunsights to identify vampires, and when they capture one, they have to use a police sketch artist in order to have something to run through facial recognition.
  • My Beloved Smother: Angie March's remaining living daughter rankles at her mother's helicopter parenting and refusal to let her join the school basketball team as that would mean being out of doors after dark. If she knew what really happened to her father and sister she mightn't have so much of a problem with it.
  • My Grandson, Myself: In "In Nomine Patris", the vampire going by the name of Lester Hammond is actually Lester's grandfather, who took over Lester's identity after he died of a drug overdose.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Michael Colefield, who enters the Masquerade in the first episode after discovering that his colleague and friend Jack has become a vampire.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Vaughan is captured in "Terra Incognita", vampire collaborators leave him in a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere with four vampires in time-locked coffins and his sidearm so he can commit suicide. Vaughan gets a "Eureka!" Moment when he sticks it under his jaw — Vampire heart + graphite bullet = huge explosion more than capable of blowing open the door.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: One of the most breathtaking scary scenes in the series is Vaughan trapped in a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere — along with four time-locked coffins which will open at sunset. No special effects, just timers counting down and a stone-cold hardass freaking out, making increasingly desperate attempts first to escape, then coming within moments of eating a bullet from the sidearm the vampires' minions left behind for that purpose.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The vampires are only ever referred to as "Code 5". Think Roman numerals and you'll get it. Vaughan prefers to call them "leeches".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In more ways than can be concisely listed.
  • Pedophile Priest: In "Mea Culpa" a 12-year old boy kills a priest and the team is sent to investigate if the killing is vampire-related. The priest in charge of the team gets annoyed when Michael thinks it's child abuse-related, lampshading the pedophile Catholic priest cliché. Subverted at the end when it turns out the priest was innocent and vampires were involved, yet Harman cynically allows the public to believe the priest was a pedophile to maintain the Masquerade, and coincidentally keep the boy out of Juvie.
  • People Farms: Mentioned as a possibility that the vampires are looking into.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Science is the primary weapon of both the team and the vampires.
    • It may still be a mystery why vampires don't appear in mirrors, are burned by sunlight, and are susceptible to garlic and stakes, but the team knows exactly which kinds of mirror (and what other devices) they don't appear in, which wavelengths of sunlight vampires need to hide from and which chemicals are responsible for their garlic aversion and the effectiveness of pointy wooden weapons. They've even attempted to do the same with religious symbols and artifacts before dubbing it the equivalent of homeopathy; it has an indisputable effect (in one case, children infected with a strain of meningitis crossed with vampire genetic material develop an aversion to priests and prayerbooks) but it's frustratingly hard to isolate and codify in a similar manner.
    • The vampires return the favor, using modern technology to organize their efforts, avoid sunlight, and travel long distances. They have also become skilled genetic engineers; developing ways to spread vampirism without having to risk themselves by getting up close and bitey, creating vampire test-tube babies, and even synthetic blood.
  • Properly Paranoid: Vampires who are killed have their remains gathered up and sealed away just in case the vampires have a means of resurrecting them. In the final episode it's shown they do, in fact, have a means of doing so.
  • Really 700 Years Old: In "Mea Culpa", the Code 5s ensnared a pedophile with a rare genetic disorder for use in their experiments by promising him a boy... who's really a fully fledged, and fully adult, vampire.
  • Redemption Quest: Vaughan is the only survivor of a military unit attacked by vampires, and carries a lot of guilt about having escaped by running away after realising they were Immune to Bullets.
  • Refusal of the Call: Mike, in the first episode.
  • Scary Black Man: Vaughan is very scary, and a badass; he's an ex-soldier and the only remaining member of his squad from the Gulf War.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Vaughan, in "Terra Incognita". With four vampires in time-locked coffins.
  • Secret-Keeper: Mike's friend Frances, who helps his investigation in the first episode and serves as a sounding board later, is the only person outside the team who has any idea what his life has become. He doesn't go all the way to telling her that it involves vampires, though, because he knows she's too sensible to believe it.
  • Staking the Loved One: Michael is faced with the prospect of having to do this to Kirsty with Jack, who was his close friend.
  • The Stoic: Vaughan.
  • Super Window Jump: Mike performs one in the first episode to escape the "death squad".
  • That Poor Car: When a vampire explodes near the end of "In Nomine Patris", it sets off a nearby car alarm.
  • Time Bomb: The set piece of a late episode is a character trapped in a warehouse surrounded by coffins containing Code 5s, each with an LED counter ticking down to sunset.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: It's explained that allicin, an anti-microbial agent found in garlic, is harmful to vampires, and the team uses gas grenades incorporating allicin as one of their weapons.
  • The Virus: What vampiric infection is treated as.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When a vampire throws up a meal eaten to maintain the Masquerade, being now unable to digest anything except blood.
  • Weakened by the Light: Vampires burn rapidly in direct sunlight, and even if the vampire is able to get out of the light quickly enough to survive, the burns will not heal. The team has discovered that the effect is connected to a particular group of wavelengths in the ultraviolet band (hence the show's title), and use ultraviolet light as part of their security measures.
  • Welcome Episode: "Habeas Corpus"
  • Wooden Stake: Vampires are particularly susceptible to wounds inflicted with pointy bits of wood, which messes with their healing factor somehow. The team has moved on from stakes, however, and use guns loaded with carbon-compound "dum-dum" bullets - though one still needs to aim for the heart. Vaughan also has, as his personal signature weapon, a device like a spring-loaded ice-pick with a spike made from the same compound.
  • The World Is Not Ready: The vampire hunters keep their mouths shut so The Fundamentalists don't get involved.
    Mike: Why all the secrecy? Why not just go public, let people protect themselves?
    Vaughan: Listen. Every week there's a panic about some puny little bug. Now how do you think it would be if this got out? Hm? You'll have paranoia, you'll have vigilantes, you'll have people running back to religion in droves. The next thing you know, you'll have the Archbishop up for Prime Minister. I don't fancy living in Iran, do you?
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: If a vampire encounters one of the few things that can kill them and is not killed outright, the resulting injury does not heal. For instance, "In Nomine Patris" features a vampire who gets burned from a brief exposure to direct sunlight, and the burns don't get any better. Vaughan smugly notes that painkillers have no effect on vampires, so he's in constant agony.

...and notably avoids:

  • Immune to Bullets: The team uses a variety of high-tech weapons specifically designed to kill "leeches".
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: The possibility is played with, but in the end the consensus appears to be that there is no such thing.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: The vampires are careful to avoid creating these. They never transform someone against their will, and in fact spend decades vetting potential "recruits".

Alternative Title(s): Ultraviolet