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Series / Van Helsing (2016)
aka: Van Helsing

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Van Helsing is an American-Canadian television series created by Neil LaBute and starring Kelly Overton. The show is inspired by the Zenescope Entertainment graphic novel series, Helsing, itself loosely based on the character of Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker's Dracula. It first premiered on September 23, 2016 and can be seen on Syfy in the U.S and Netflix in Canada and the United States.

In the wake of a catastrophic volcano eruption, most of the United States becomes blanketed in ash, blocking out the sun and allowing vampires to run free. However, the sudden resurrection of Vanessa Helsing, who has miraculous healing abilities and whose blood can reverse vampirism, offers a hope of resistance. Together with a group of survivors, she tries to make her way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland and find her missing daughter.


Bears no connection to the 2004 film of the same name.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital:
    • The first portion of the first season is set in the hospital Vanessa's comatose "dead" body was taken to just prior to the Rising, which Axel's squad fortified over the following months. The group is eventually forced to abandon it when Dimitri's Elite Mooks come for Vanessa and overrun the defenses and Axel blows it up to kill them all.
    • The episode "Super Unknown" features Renfield House, an abandoned mental hospital now being used as a vampire nest. The Season 3 finale reveals that it's built above the labyrinth where the Dark One was sealed away.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Susan's dad sexually molested her as a kid and then threw her out after she tried to tell her mother about it. She is actually overjoyed when he turns out to have been turned during her absence, as it allows her to kill him without any guilt.
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    • Sam's dad beat him with a cane and hit him on the sides of his head so hard that he went deaf in both ears.
  • Action Mom: Deconstructed with what we see of Vanessa in the second episode flashback. While she is a loving mother to Dylan, having "kick ass for great justice" be your first instinct is clearly not helping provide a stable environment for raising a child.
  • Adorkable: Julius gets a moment of this in Season 2 after becoming human again and getting a chance to eat all the snack foods that weren't available back when he was first turned. He spends several minutes going on about the joys of all the different flavors of potato chip.
  • Afraid of Needles: Julius had his fill of shots when he was young, since he was a sick child.
  • After the End: The series starts three years after Yellowstone erupted, blocking out the sun with ash and enabling "The Rising", vampires coming out of hiding and taking over the world.
  • Amazon Brigade: The vampire faction known as the Sisterhood.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • While staying at the farm, Vanessa and Susan share a bed and The Big Damn Kiss. However, the very next episode has Vanessa hooking up with a male character, and both Vanessa and Susan previously had relationships with men.
    • At the beginning of the second season, Doc has a flirting scene with another woman, Jolene. Unfortunately, she has to leave that community soon after. However, they're reunited at the end of the season, and by midway into Season 3 have a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the first season alone, most of the cast gets killed off.
    • Well, so it seems, anyway. Most of them actually show up again in season 2, though Axel and Sam are vampires now.
  • And Show It to You: Ivory and Scab do this when they kill Scarhead and his lieutenant.
  • Artistic License – Physics: There's just so much wrong with the episode about the irradiated bunker, it's hard to know where to even start.
  • Ax-Crazy: Sam is an insane Serial Killer who cuts off fingers as trophies when he kills his victims. He seems fixated on Mohamad, even confessing to being the murderer when Mohamed is accused.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Vanessa herself was technically dead for the three years between the Rising and the start of the series, being revived after being bitten. Happens to her again in the last scene of Season 2 (having been shot several episodes earlier) when she's revived by the First Elder's bite.
    • Flesh is blown up alongside Lucky in the penultimate episode of Season 2, only to be resurrected in the Season 3 premiere thanks to the Healing Factor gained from Scarhead's bite.
    • Lily Van Helsing, Vanessa's turn of the century ancestor, is revived in the Season 3 finale after some of Vanessa's blood is spilled on her corpse during Vanessa's fight with Sam.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: In "Help Out", Vanessa and Susan share a bed and a prolonged kiss... and then the next episode has Vanessa hooking up with a male character. And then the episode after that sees Susan getting killed off.
  • The Baroness: Rebecca, Dmitri's second in command.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The Marquis de Sade was either a vampire himself, or at least served them.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • Nicole decides to eat a bullet when she becomes trapped in a room with one of Dmitri's vampire assassins.
    • After being bit, Lucky blows herself up with a grenade rather than be turned or finished off.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: For the first two seasons, Dmitri is the primary antagonist, but even there's still the matter of Rebecca and Julius plotting against him. There's also the matter of the Serial Killer (Sam) running around, who becomes even more dangerous after becoming a vampire. Season 2 adds in Doctor Harrison, the head of the Government Conspiracy to experiment on and weaponize the vampires.
    • Season 3 changes things up, since by that point Dmitri, Rebecca, and Harrison are dead and Julius is rendered human. Dmitri's former lieutenants Scab and Ivory emerge as a new major threat, especially after they take over the Daywalker horde. Meanwhile, while Sam is still running around, he soon becomes a pawn of the Seer, who is manipulating him and Vanessa in order to bring about the creation of a new Elder.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Mohamad is looking for his sister Sheema. He's even willing to sell out to the vampires for her sake.
  • Big "NO!": Vanessa lets one out after finding Susan's body.
    • She lets another one while cradling her daughter's burnt and rapidly disintegrating body, though it soon turns into an unintelligible scream.
  • Boxed Crook: In season 3, Doc is blackmailed into working for the government of Denver under threat of Jolene being killed.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: In "Wakey, Wakey", a teenage Scarlett pulled a knife on a boy who wouldn't keep his hands to himself, causing him to wet himself.
  • Bury Your Gays: Poor Susan gets killed off by Sam in "Last Time".
  • Cliffhanger: Every season ends on one:
    • Season 1: In the middle of the resistance's attack on Dmitri's citadel, Vanessa discovers her daughter has become a vampire.
    • Season 2: The Elder bites a seemingly-dead Vanessa, reviving her with red eyes.
    • Season 3: While the human forces in Denver face off with the Daywalkers, Vanessa and a resurrected Lily Van Helsing have a showdown with the newly-made Elder Sam.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Part of Mohamad's role in the group is interpreting for Sam.
  • Companion Cube: While stuck alone on an island for most of a month, Scarlet carves a face into a stump and dresses it up to look like a person, just so she has someone to talk to. For bonus points, she calls it "Wilson".
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Axel has rigged up numerous defenses for the hospital. The final one is a corridor filled with UV lamps, something no vampire can pass. A human, specifically a former vampire turned human by Vanessa, however can easily walk down the hall and smash the lights, allowing the vampires to safely advance behind him.
  • Cruel Mercy: Instead of killing Sam, Vanessa and Mohamed choose to cripple him and leave to die in the wilderness. Backfires BIG TIME, when he comes back as a vampire which also cures his deafness.
  • Les Collaborateurs: In exchange for being left alone, Micah and his followers at Eden signed a treaty with Magdalene promising her a regular supply of blood. Unbeknownst to the others, Magdalene was Micah's wife, and he was also slipping her the occasional newborn, who she gave to Julius as a delicacy.
    • Numerous humans also serve the vampires in return for being left alive. They can generally be identified by red bands around their arms. Dr. Sholomenko is one prominent example, working with the vampires to find a way for them to procreate.
  • Daywalking Vampire:
    • Dylan, thanks to Dr. Shlomenko's experiments. Which inversely makes her a sunlight-vulnerable human upon being turned back.
    • Near the end of season 2, one of Harrison's experimented on vampires (nicknamed Scarhead) is revealed to have been rendered this as well. And he spreads it to anyone else he turns ultimately including Ivory and Scab.
  • Death Seeker: Flesh becomes this in Season 3 after Lucky's death, but is hindered by the fact that by this point he's gained a Healing Factor of his own and can't die.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Dylan.
  • Dirty Coward: Doc, though to her credit she's at least ashamed by it.
  • The Dragon: Dimitri has his sister Anastasia, while Julius has his minion Scab. After Anastasia's death and Julius being turned human, Dimitri recruits his forces, with Scab now reporting to him.
  • Dwindling Party: Oh boy, is it ever.
    • However, an unlikely-seeming number of those 'dead' and missing turn out to have survived into season 2 after all. But the party remains shattered and scattered into the four winds.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • The Reapers, Dimitri's cadre of assassins.
    • In Season 2, he gets even more elite minions when he allies with the vampire warriors known as the Sisterhood.
    • Season 3 has the ninja vampires who serve the B'ah. They actually give Vanessa and Scarlet a run for their money.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Julius' mother is the only person he cares about.
    • Dimitri and his sister Anastasia are... very close.
    • The First Elder refers to Dimitri as his favorite servant and is clearly upset when Scarlett makes him kill him.
    • Sam loves Mohammed, in his own twisted way. Which is why he's required to kill him in order to extinguish the light in him and become an Elder.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Sisterhood has enough respect for the dead to not fight in a cemetery.
    • When he was still human, Dimitri loved BDSM, but wouldn't involve his sister, due to her being too young.
  • Evil All Along: Sam is revealed to be the Serial Killer.
  • Evil Cripple: Sam, a deaf person, is revealed to be the Serial Killer.
  • Evil Uncle: The Third Elder turns out to be a distant, indirect Van Helsing ancestor.
  • Failure Knight: Axel protects Vanessa for three years and resists the urge to kill when he becomes a vampire because he has an exceptionally strong sense of duty. This is because when he was 13 years old, he was responsible for his sister because of his implied dysfunctional family. He lost her at the park and she was never seen or heard from again. He is determined not to fail Vanessa like he feels he failed his sister.
  • Fingore: Sam cuts off one finger from each of his victims as a memento.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: During her Mental Time Travel trip to turn of the century China, Vanessa consistently fails to blend in.
  • For Science!: When asked why would create a breed of Daywalking Vampire, Harrison says it was because he could.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The First Elder shapeshifts into Susan so that Vanessa is more comfortable talking to him.
  • Freudian Excuse: Axel's protective nature comes from his younger sister going missing under his watch when they were children.
  • Gentle Giant: Sam seems like a harmless old goof. He's actually a serial killer.
  • Government Conspiracy: It's implied that the government knew about the vampires prior to the Rising, due to how rapidly Axel's squad was sent to retrieve Vanessa. This is confirmed in Season 2, as it's revealed that Vanessa's mother was involved with a secret project to study and experiment on vampires, which is still ongoing even though the government is now gone. Season 3 reveals that this group is also running the Denver safe zone.
  • Groin Attack: The Sisterhood does let male vampires join, but only if they allow themselves to be castrated.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Julius becomes a remarkably loyal and kind follower once Vanessa bites him in the second season.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sam is deaf, but manages to outlive most of the group... because he's been secretly killing off the "weaker" members.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Vanessa has a Wolverine-like ability to heal any wounds rapidly.
    • The vampires can recover quickly from all but the most fatal wounds. The ones experimented on by Harrison can regenerate even from those.
    • Flesh and Julius gain similar healing abilities after being bitten by Scarhead.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The more time goes by, the more Vanessa starts acting more like a vampire herself, especially by Season 3 due to the First Elder reviving her with a bite.
  • Horned Humanoid: Sam, after becoming the Fourth Elder.
  • I Am Spartacus: When Brendan's group is holding everyone else hostage he demands to know who the serial killer is. Mohamed says he is. Seconds later, Sam insists he is. Brendan sees through it and ignores him. Turns out to be an Ignored Confession.
  • The Immune:
    • Vanessa is not only immune to vampire bites, but her blood can actually turn them back human. Scarlett later turns out to be the same.
    • Anyone who Vanessa or Scarlett cures also becomes immune from ever being turned back. The exception to this is the Elders, who aren't affected.
  • Implacable Man: Sam when he becomes a Vampire.
  • Improvised Armour: In "Wakey, Wakey", after initially dismissing a lot of money he finds as useless, Axel uses duct tape to cover his arms and vitals with the wads of cash. It works well enough to stop knives.
  • Joker Immunity: Sam simply will not die, surviving things that it's stated even a vampire shouldn't be able to. Possibly justified by The Reveal in the Season 3 finale that he's a potential Elder.
  • Klingon Promotion: Ivory takes over the Daywalker horde by killing Scarhead.
  • Lobotomy: In "Big Mama", a group of redneck survivors have resorted to catching and eating vampires. They take a chained up vampire and use a power drill on her head until she stops screaming and thrashing. Then they throw her into a oven and she starts screaming and thrashing again, until a horrified Julius gives her a Mercy Kill.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The First Elder, and some of the more feral vampires.
  • Love Is a Weakness: After falling under the Seer's sway in Season 3, Sam starts expressing this belief, seeing love as merely something that causes pain and holds people back.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Well, not "men" per se, but the Sisterhood all wear creepy skull face masks.
  • Mama Bear: Vanessa is driven by her desire to find her missing daughter Dylan.
  • Man Bites Man: Vanessa adopts this tactic against vampires, as her transformation ability works when she's bitten or when she bites them. It can either turn them human or kill them, but either way they're out of the fight. Also, feeding on human blood gives her an energy boost.
  • Mega-Corp: Blak-Tech, the company behind Harrison's experiments and the Denver safe zone.
  • Mental Time Travel: In "I Awake", the First Elder sends Vanessa's mind back to relive some memories of her ancestor Lily. Though it's unclear if it's illusion of if she's actually been sent back in time.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Mohamed smothers Sheema after she's crushed by debris.
    • In "Big Mama", Axel, Scarlet, Doc, and Julius become guests of a group of survivors and find out they are catching and eating vampires. The survivors take a tied up vampire and give her a Lobotomy with a power drill and then throw her in an oven while still alive. Julius is so horrified that he opens the oven and slits the vampire's throat.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Julius blames Dimitri for his mother's murder, when the actual culprit was Sam.
  • The Mole: Mohamed has been working for the vampires all along in exchange for his sister's safety. He seems to regret it, but she is actively helping them.
  • Monster Lord: The Ancients, like Dimitri, are leaders among the vampires. Beyond even them are the Elders, who are the actual rulers of the vampire race.
  • Monster Progenitor: The Dark One/First One, the original vampire.
  • My Beloved Smother: Julius has this relationship with an older vampire woman who appears to be his actual mother before she's killed by Sam.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After getting turned, Flesh murdered his whole family. When he becomes human again, he is filled with remorse over what he's done.
    • Doc also screams in tortured anguish due to a combination of telling Magdalena that people were coming to kill her, before discovering the pile of bones from all the babies that had been given as sacrifices to the vampire. Though perhaps this is because she's also learned Vanessa curing her means she can't become a vampire again.
  • Mysterious Watcher: Season 3 reveals that a mysterious woman in a black shroud has been viewing Vanessa and Sam from a distance for their whole lives. She turns out to the vampiric Seer, who states that she's keeping an eye on people with "potential", meaning those who are capable of becoming the Fourth Elder.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Vanessa has a minor one when Axel walks on her showering. He tells her not to worry since he's seen everything she's got over the years and joins her in the shower in order to save water. The uncomfortable Vanessa then quickly exits the showers covering herself.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Vanessa and Mohamad deciding to leave Sam alive instead of just killing him outright leads to him being turned into a vampire and curing his deafness, making him far stronger than he was before, definitely counts as this.
  • Oh, Crap!: Vanessa and Mohamad's reaction when Sam turns up alive and shouts "I CAN HEAR YOU!" after they previously left him for dead is very much this trope.
  • The Oner: In the Season 3 premiere, during the fight with Harrison and his goons.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: A single bite can turn a regular human into a vampire within seconds. There are roughly two main types: ferals, which are more like zombies than vampires; and feeders, which are more intelligent. It's implied that a vampire might become feral if it isn't able to feed soon enough. They do have a Healing Factor but can be killed by conventional weapons. Vanessa also encounters a more bestial vampire in the sewers that apparently feeds on its own kin as well as humans, though it's not clear if this is an actual sub-type.
    • "Super Unknown" introduces a type of vampire with psychic abilities, which feeds on life force instead of blood.
    • "I Alive" presents vampires called "shadow walkers", which can move faster than the human eye can follow and can blend into shadows.
  • The Paralyzer: The Seer is capable of telekinetically freezing people in place.
  • Police State: The Denver safe zone is run like this in order to support the fragile safety of the area.
  • Precision F-Strike: From the season 2 premiere:
    Mohamed: You don't know the kind of shit that happens here after dark.
    Vanessa: Fuck the dark!
  • Psychological Torment Zone: A non-paranormal example (probably) in "Outside World". Vanessa, stuck impaled on a hook and chain, spends the whole episode being visited by visions of loved ones and enemies playing Good Angel, Bad Angel, either reminding her of the good she's done, or mocking her that the horrible things she's also done have left her no better than the vampires.
  • Relocating the Explosion: In "Veritas Vinci" Doc steps on a booby trap that pulls the pins out of a bundle of grenades. Julius throws them away in time but the shrapnel still catches his leg.
  • The Remnant: Portions of the US government and society still exist in safe zones at high enough altitudes to be above the sun-blocking ash clouds. Denver is the most prominently mentioned, finally showing up in Season 3.
  • La Résistance: There's a network of rebels fighting to overthrow the vampires' rule.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Vanessa goes on a week-long one of these (mostly off-screen) after her daughter, once turned back "human", burns to death in the first rays of the sun that break through the clouds.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Denver is long spoken of as being a safe place free of the vampires. But it's unprepared for Daywalkers, who march right in and start slaughtering everyone.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: In this case, no sense of the scale of agriculture it actually takes to feed peoplenote , even if we ignore that plants wouldn't grow well under a constantly overcast sky anyway. This leads to nonsense like a community of a dozen supposedly self-sufficient survivors apparently just having one jury-rigged greenhouse for food - in the middle of a pine forest, no less, meaning crappy acidic soil, too much shade, and not even the possibility of grain fields nearby.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Long ago, the Van Helsings locked the First Elder away in a crypt hidden within a mountain.
    • The Dark One, the original vampire, is apparently sealed in a coffin that only all the Elders together can unlock.
    • The Third Elder, Jacob Van Helsing, was locked inside a cage in a sealed building hidden on a remote island.
  • Secret Legacy: Dimitri reveals to Vanessa in the Season 1 finale that she comes from a lineage of vampire hunters that he's encountered before. This is expanded on as the series progresses.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In the season 3, finale, Scarlett gives her life to try and fuel Vanessa's light so that she can become the Fourth Elder and thus prevent Sam from taking the role. It doesn't work; the Seer tells Vanessa that she already gave up any hope of becoming the light when she killed Dylan, and thus Sam becomes the Fourth Elder anyway.
  • Shower Scene: In "Help Me", Vanessa takes a shower to wash off the blood. It turns into a Shower of Awkward when Axel joins her, saying they have to take double showers to conserve water.
    • In "Big Mama", Axel and Scarlet get one after the local redneck survivors take the group in.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: After Mohamad embarks on an ill-advised attempt to find his sister, and comes back alive, Sam treats him to a platonic version of this trope, angrily shaking him before embracing him in relief.
  • The Starscream: Julius and Rebecca are both plotting to supplant Dimitri.
  • Storming the Castle: In the first season finale, the Resistance assaults the factory that serves as Dimitri's fortress.
  • Super Window Jump: In "Save Yourself", Sam throws himself out a window to escape when he realizes he's losing his fight with Vanessa.
  • Take That!: Old vampire movies. Mohamad called garlic and crosses "Hollywood bullshit".
  • Throwing the Fight: As shown in his Start of Darkness flashback, Julius was a boxer who reluctantly took a dive for some gangsters who bet on his opponent, all to raise money for his ailing mother. Unfortunately, when he demanded his payment, the gangsters stabbed him in the stomach and left him to die instead. The vampire Dimitri, who found the endurance he displayed in the match impressive, then showed up and saved him by turning him into a vampire.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Vanessa and Scarlet Harker break into a laboratory and discover they were both apparently created there, and they are sisters. Scarlet has a freak out because she remembers having a normal childhood, but then memories of growing up in the lab with Vanessa start overwriting them.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Vanessa during her Shower Scene in "Help Me."
  • Trash the Set: Dimitri's citadel is partially demolished by the Resistance's attack on it.
  • Undead Child: Dylan is a vampire by the time Vanessa finds her.
  • Vampire Monarch: Dimitri is the chief vampire in Seattle, and possibly over a larger region.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Axel blames Vanessa for Scarlet's death in the Season 3 finale, and swears to kill her if they meet again.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Last Time": Sam murders Susan, and is revealed to be the one who killed the other dead teammates. Vanessa and Mohamad leave him to die, but he gets bitten by a feral instead, and ends up with vampiric powers and the ability to hear again.
    • "Love Bites": Despite being warned that her daughter Dylan cannot be made human again, Vanessa tries it anyway and apparently succeeds. The next day, despite being physically human, Dylan burns to ashes when the sunlight falls on her. In anguish, Vanessa screams, and everyone she had ever turned human again, no matter where they are in the world, suddenly doubles over clutching their hearts in pain. Then an ancient and decrepit vampire awakens from slumber.
    • "Veritas Vincit": Vanessa runs into Scarlett and they discover they're sisters who were "grown" in a lab.
  • Wham Shot: In the first season finale, when Vanessa sees her daughter as a vampire.
  • Why Won't You Die?: This exchange from "Save Yourself", after Vanessa gets a Heroic Second Wind:
    Sam: (annoyed) Why can't you just die?
    Vanessa: I was just thinking the same about you.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: In the first episode, Vanessa violently assaults Susan's abusive boyfriend. Somewhat unusually, this isn't portrayed as a particularly good thing, as it shows her violent side and anger issues. She even later admits it was more about hurting him than helping her.
  • Worst Aid: in typical Hollywood childbirth style. When the young woman in Eden gives birth, Sarah cuts the cord immediately. Cutting the cord before it stops pulsing (i.e. the blood flow has stopped) can deprive the baby of up to a third of its full blood capacity, making them more vulnerable to anaemia and other nastiness. This is possibly justified in-universe by either Sarah not being educated on Best Practice, the threat of infection to the mother (she did deliver in a greenhouse, after all), or simply the fact that there are nefarious plans for Eden infants.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "Wakey, Wakey", Axel and Scarlett come across a bank's armored car full of money. Axel comments, "Remember when this shit used to mean something?" He later uses duct tape to turn the money into makeshift armor, as the wads of cash prove thick enough to block blades.
  • Would Hurt a Child: As you might expect, the vampires have zero compunctions about killing children as well as adults.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: A particularly brutal one in "Love Bites". Just when it seems that Vanessa's daughter Dylan has been successfully turned back to normal, she burns to death in the sun.

Alternative Title(s): Van Helsing


Example of: