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Series / What We Do in the Shadows

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What We Do in the Shadows is a Spin-Off Black Comedy Sitcom of the film of the same name, created by Jemaine Clement for FX. The first season aired in 2019, and FX has already confirmed that the show has also been picked up for a second season, set to air in 2020.

Like the film, the show is a Mockumentary which follows the lives of a group of vampires living together and their antics as they struggle to understand and adapt to the modern mortal world. Instead of taking place in New Zealand, though, the show jumps to the neighborhood of Staten Island, New York. There the four vampires, Nandor (Kayvan Novak), a former soldier of the Ottoman Empire, Laszlo (Matt Berry), an English nobleman, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), a former European peasant girl and Laszlo's sire, and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), a day-walking "energy vampire", are living together in a commune. Assisting them is Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), Nandor's familiar whom Nandor has promised to turn into a vampire someday.


In the first episode their lives on Staten Island are disrupted by the sudden arrival of the Baron (Doug Jones). The Baron believes vampires should rule the Earth and is upset to learn the household has not conquered Staten Island, much less the entire New World, and threatens to kill them if they do not do so.

What We Do in the Shadows the show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion:
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  • Affably Evil: The vampires are murderous, bloodsucking monsters, but that doesn't stop them from being lovable goofballs.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The vampires live in Staten Island. Thanks to being intensely out of touch with the world, the Baron thinks they need to conquer the island to take over the United States.
  • All There in the Script: If Arjan's name is mentioned in his debut episode, it's a blink-and-you'll-miss it thing. However, the iTunes subtitles consistently refer to him by name. Inverted with Chad, who is named in the episode but is credited (and, thus, likely appeared in the script) as "Preppy Werewolf".
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Baron lost his genitals somewhere along the way. Nadja claims that he's always been like that, which is what made him such an ideal lover.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Apparently, a number of well-known Hollywood actors who had previously portrayed vampires (Including Tilda Swinton, Danny Trejo, and Wesley Snipes, just to name a few) are all themselves actual vampires.
    • Laszlo himself was Jack the Ripper.
  • Bi the Way:
    • Executive producer Paul Simms has confirmed that Nadja and Laszlo are both pansexual.
      • Turns out the Baron has had "intense love affairs" with both Nadja and Laszlo. Hilariously, both of the latter two seem to think they're the only ones he's slept with.
      • Nadja offers to teach Jenna how to seduce "men... and women," and winks happily into the camera upon learning Jenna's a virgin. In the following episode, Nadja implies she's had sex with Laszlo's sister.
    • Jenna is ecstatic when she thinks Nadja is trying to seduce her, to the point of touching Nadja's inner thigh.
    • Colin Robinson has seen Laszlo's pornos and agrees that they are "sexy and a turn-on".
    • Jeremy, Guillermo's human friend, expresses an interest in women when he is first introduced, then later loses his virginity to the presumably male Constantin at the orgy.
  • Bigger Bad: Episode 6 implies that the Baron's familiar is this.
  • Black Comedy: Oh goodness yes. Special mention goes to Nadja and Laszlo killing a guy mid-air and inadvertently drenching his girlfriend below in almost a gallon of blood.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Like in the original film, things like bestiality, violence, and necrophilia are not inherently seen as wrong or right by the vampires.
  • The Bore: Colin invokes this, as he sustains himself on human boredom, and specializes in telling long, rambling, and ultimately pointless stories about either himself or very esoteric topics to his victims.
  • Brick Joke: Throughout the pilot episode, the vampires scold Guillermo to make absolutely certain that all the windows are securely boarded over before the Baron arrives to minimize the risk of sunlight getting in. Guillermo insists they’re all fine. The very last scene of the episode is one of the boards Guillermo put up falling down and letting in a beam of sunshine right on the Baron's coffin.
  • Butt-Monkey: Guillermo.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Laszlo inevitably yells out "Bat!" just before transforming.
  • Canada, Eh?: Marcus the werewolf is proudly Caribbean-Canadian–specifically, he's from "Saskatoon, MOTHERFUCKER!" He later reassures Toby that they'll go on their dream trip to the city someday.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Laszlo's hat.
    • The roses.
    • The stress toy.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Nandor began applying for U.S. citizenship in 1992 because of the national Olympic basketball team... then failed to finish the process once the Macarena became popular. (He was too busy doing the dance to do anything else.) He thinks piñata husbandry is a thing—and a respectable profession, at that.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Guillermo drops one in Episode 8.
  • Day Walker: Colin, being an "energy vampire", rather than a "real" vampire, is able to go out during the daytime.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Lazlo, Nadja, and possibly Nandor too, though he's a more ambiguous example.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Guillermo tries to claim he isn't a murderer, he just finds people who are easy to kill and lures them into a situation where they'll be murdered. It's totally different.
  • Emotion Eater: Rather than feeding on blood, Colin feeds on the negative emotional energies humans emit when they are bored or angry, and has therefore specialized in being both as insufferably boring and extremely annoying to his victims as possible. He is apparently also capable of feeding on the negative energies of vampires.
    • Evie from Episode 3 is one of these, moreso than Colin. The difference is that she feeds on attention and sympathy.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A core theme of the show.
    • Laszlo and Nadja love each other immensely. Nadja will forsake everything to rescue Laszlo, and Laszlo will kill you in (almost) all of your reincarnations if you make Nadja sad.
    • Nandor can be a huge Jerkass to Guillermo, but he does love him in his own vampiric way. It's to the point where Nandor will turn himself and his nightwalker roommates over to death to save Guillermo.
      • Laszlo and Nadja care about Guillermo, too, even if, like Nandor, they "have a funny way of showing it". They treat Guillermo like their own familiar (something Guillermo lampshades in one episode), and Nadja has shown some genuine respect for the human. Laszlo goes so far as to finally be rid of his hat when he sees it's making Guillermo flatline in Episode 4.
    • Nadja cares about Jenna's wellbeing a lot, and she is exceptionally proud when Jenna discovers her secret power.
    • Nandor is thrilled to learn he has a living descendant in Staten Island—he even buys her a teddy bear! Similarly, he is devastated when he kills Madeline by accident.
    • The fact that Nadja and (with extreme reluctance, admittedly) Laszlo attend Madeline's funeral, which is held in a church, shows they care about Nandor. The latter's confession in Episode 7 shows that the feeling is mutual.
    • Colin Robinson. Hoo boy, Colin Robinson. Despite being The Friend Nobody Likes, he gets a lot of love.
      • He hooks up with another psychic vampire in Episode 3—mostly to hunt, but there are feelings between them all the same.
      • In Episode 7, he saves the nightwalkers when they've been condemned to death. If Nadja's inebriated comment in the previous episode is anything to go by, they love Colin, too. That or the 'E's these days actually have MDMA in them.
      • In Episode 10, Colin tries to provide emotional support to Nandor as he visits Madeline for the first time, even though he equates it to self-cannibalism. The fact that he showed up at all shows he has some care for Nandor.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The vampires win the fight in Episode Three, but Nadja and Laszlo are dismayed over how they won it—and Nandor, who won the fight for them, isn't exactly proud of himself, either. They respect the werewolves' wishes for space afterward and are quick to leave the scene.
    • Nadja is opposed to flying away from the fight on the basis that Guillermo—or, as she called him, Gizmo—would be left alone with the werewolves.
  • Exact Words: Done in an especially lazy and hackneyed manner by Nandor; to weasel out of making Guillermo a vampire as promised, he paints a portrait in which Guillermo is portrayed as a vampire and treats that as if it's the promised reward.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • At the start of episode one, Nandor tries to dramatically rise from his coffin, only for the latch to get stuck, forcing him and Guillermo to jostle the coffin around a bunch to get it open.
    • The Baron's dramatic speech about taking over America gets awkwardly interrupted when he notices the documentary crew and has to have their presence explained to him.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Parodied when Laszlo and Nadja say they left Europe because of prejudice against vampires. Mortals didn't like the color of their skin, or the fact they killed and ate people. Probably more the latter, as Laszlo concedes.
    • Played straight with the rivalry between the vampires and the werewolves. It does take a turn toward real racism when Nadja asks if "all [the] werewolves are Indians" (i.e., Native Americans), à la Twilight. She is quickly corrected, though, and it's not an issue again.) In the end, though, Nadja and Ange come to something of a grudging, tense understanding, and Laszlo and Nadja aren't impressed with Nandor choosing the squeaky toy to defeat Toby.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: All of the vampires, but especially the Baron, who doesn't seem to grasp how large America is or why it would be so difficult for the vampires to take it over.
  • Five-Token Band: The werewolves are this—except for Chad the Caucasian.
  • Freudian Slip: Nadja claims early on that her former human lover Gregor was killed in battle with enemy soldiers. Later, when talking to the man she believes is Gregor reincarnated, she gets so excited that she lets slip that what really happened was that she went crazy while having sex with him and cut his head off.
  • Freudian Trio: Among the vampires, Laszlo is the id, Nandor is the ego, and Colin is the superego. Nadja slips between being the ego (more chaotic but also more moral and kind) and the superego (being genuinely kind and supportive of others).
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Subverted; the vampires are friendly, lovable doofuses most of the time, but they still kill and eat people for food without any particular care for the morals of it.
  • Foreshadowing: The Stinger in Episode 1.
  • Hand Wave: In-Universe: Jenna questions what happens to vampires' clothes when they transform into bats. Laszlo says it's best "not to get bogged down in the details".
  • Healing Factor: The vampires have one, one werewolves claim to as well, though if theirs exists at all it's much less effective.
  • Holy Burns Evil:
    • Play straight with vampires and Christian imagery at least, to the point that when Nandor tried to say God his mouth caught on fire.
    • Then, in Episode 10, the vampires catch on fire during Madeline's funeral.
  • Homage: Guillermo, the rotund and bespectacled Mexican, is an obvious reference to Guillermo del Toro, the rotund and bespectacled Mexican horror film director who has made two vampire movies so far (Cronos and Blade II).
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Vampires cannot eat human food and projectile vomit when they try. This happens to Nadja when fed a piece of popcorn.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Jenna says that she has a boyfriend, but doesn't seem to mind the prospect of being seduced by Nadja.
  • I Love the Dead: Nadja admits to Jeff that she accidentally killed his past incarnation, Gregor, mid-coitus and continued banging the corpse. He still offers to give her his number and meet her again.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Played with: while Nadja has no love lost for the werewolves, her "Indians" comment does seem to come from a place of genuine curiosity. When she is called out for it, she quietly accepts the corrections.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Nadja starts a secret relationship with Jeff Suckler, a mortal man, because she believes that he might be the reincarnation of her dead lover Gregor. She's right, and she has had many relationships with Gregor's various reincarnations—including once as a horse.
    • A horse once "started making love" to Laszlo. He does not consider that a bad thing.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Most, if not all, of the vampires:
    • Colin may be a Troll who feeds on people (including vampires) when they're at their lowest, but he will also deceive the Vampiric Council in order to save the nightwalkers from execution.
    • Nandor can be a real jerk toward Guillermo, but he will defy the Vampiric Council and turn himself in (along with Nadja and Laszlo) for killing the Baron (something they didn't even do) so that Guillermo won't get killed.
    • Nadja gets into a fair amount of fights (both verbal and physical) with Laszlo, but if he needs her, she'll be there—even if it means forsaking passionate sex with the newly-awakened Gregor-Jeff.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Just as Petyr in the film, the Baron has this appearance too, in stark contrast to the other vampires. Also like with Petyr, it is implied to be a result of his advanced age.
  • Loophole Abuse: Vampires need to be invited into places before they can enter. However, Nadja is capable of hypnotizing people into granting her (and whomever she wishes) entrance.
  • Magical Queer: Guillermo is the Only Sane Man of the main crew, and he is, by actor Harvey Guillén's words, somewhat attracted to his master Nandor. Ironically, he's the only Muggle of the main cast.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Laszlo caused the Irish Potato Famine because of his hat.
    • Guillermo killed the Baron while getting roses at Nandor's request.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The Baron is under the deeply mistaken impression that Staten Island is a major political center for America and that by taking it over, the vampires can take over all of America. The others are too polite/scared of him to correct him.
    • Colin uses a patio umbrella to save the main trio from execution by sunlight exposure.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer for Episode 4 frames Nadja finding Simon as a surprise. Truth is, Simon was the reason the Staten Island vampires went to Manhattan, and while Simon is caught off-guard, he was also aware the main trio (and Colin) were coming. Nadja's surprised tone comes from her finally finding him in the crowded nightclub.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Nadja, like the other vampires, can turn into a bat and is excellent at hypnosis, but she is also capable of wall-crawling and brings back Gregor's memories at first with a touch, then more so with a kiss.
  • Not Quite Dead: The eyes of the Baron glow as the remains are being buried, implying this.
  • Not So Different: Ange and Nadja are both bloodthirsty lady beasts who are tired of their men's squabbling and mismanagement, preferring to go straight to fighting. They come to grudgingly recognize this in each other during the big showdown.
  • Obliviously Evil: Laszlo killed a bunch of raccoons and left them on a Councillor's front steps. He thought he was doing her a favour, as he knew she didn't like the raccoons rummaging in her garbage. At the next council meeting, though, the Councillor is understandably shaken.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Staten Island werewolves don't need an actual full moon to transform; they just need to "picture" one. It's implied that Toby's the only one of the pack who can do this successfully, though.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • In Episode 5, Colin implies that energy vampires are mortal.
    • Vampires can consume garlic in very small quantities. It's uncomfortable on top of eliciting the same reaction as other human food, but it can be done.
    • Nadja can use her powers of hypnosis to force hosts to invite her (and whomever she wishes) into their building.
  • Out with a Bang: How Nadja's ex-lover Gregor actually died. Apparently she occasionally gets so worked up during sex that she just slices her partner's head off for no particular reason.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Nandor gives one to Guillermo while the latter is in the hospital. Nandor is quickly embarrassed by it, though, so he hypnotizes Guillermo into forgetting right after.
  • Poverty for Comedy: Nadja claims that before she became a vampire, she was a Romani whose family was so poor that they could only fuel their campfires with donkey dung. When the dung ran out, they burned the donkey.
    Nadja: So yes, I do know what it is like to be mocked, and teased, and to cry myself to sleep at night by the light of a burning donkey.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Played with: the main trio are fine with killing humans and committing other acts of vampire-based villainy, but they're only trying to conquer Staten Island under penalty of execution.
    • The Vampiric Council. None of them (except maybe for Deacon) are that concerned about getting justice for the Baron (none of them really liked him), but they're obligated to do so anyway. (They might not have even followed through on that obligation had Deacon not pointed out they were obligated.)
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Councillor Lazzaro did not appreciate Laszlo's gift of dead raccoons—or know that they were from him.
    • Guillermo is obviously traumatized over killing the Baron.
  • Really Gets Around: The Baron, despite the fact that he doesn’t have genitalia anymore. Nadja claims it somehow makes him a better lover.
  • Reincarnation: Nadja believes that Gregor, a knight she loved in medieval times, has been reincarnated as a guy named Jeff Suckler, whom she begins stalking/trying to kindle a relationship with. She was right.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Nadja and Gregor have met many times, her immortal, him reborn. Their relationship apparently tends to hit a snag when Gregor invariably manages to somehow get decapitated.
  • Reinventing the Telephone: Nandor complains in episode 7 that the Vampiric Council should've just phoned them about their meeting instead of using ravens, a communication method that none of them had any familiarity with.
  • The Renfield: Guillermo, for Nandor. While he's a bit of a bumbler, he's not as much of one as his master, and is much more in touch with the modern world.
  • Running Gag: Nadja and Laszlo's familiars tend to get killed off in various accidents, much to their annoyance.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Laszlo has a very inflated ego and seems to think of himself as a sexy, badass super-vampire. He’s really a bumbling loser.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Vampiric Council would have been completely successful in killing the nightwalkers had Colin not come by with a patio umbrella, allowing the others to transform into bats and escape.
  • Take That!: Episode 3 opens up on Twilight with both barrels when the Staten Island Werewolf Support Group is infuriated by the politically incorrect suggestion that they're all "Indians," with the sole werewolf who's actually Native American saying that he's not a werewolf "because he's a Native American. It's not an ethnic thing." This is a direct reference to the fact that Stephenie Meyer wrote all the werewolves as Quileutes.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Colin Robinson openly pesters his housemates while they are stuck in their coffins and has a habit of feeding off of both their victims, making those victims' blood less nutritious, and them directly. (Colin refers to hassling them in their coffins to feed off their annoyance as his 'morning cup of coffee'.) The other vampires hate him and only put up with him because his job pays for their considerable rent and because they're True Companions.
  • Troll: Aside from boredom, Colin can also feed on feelings of anger, so when he is not attempting to bore people out of their skulls, he deliberately tries to be as huge of a nuisance to them as possible.
  • True Companions: Colin may be The Friend Nobody Likes, but when the nightwalkers are sentenced to death by sunlight exposure, Colin shows up with a patio umbrella to save them—and Guillermo, too, who was running around terrified in the woods. Per Nadja's intoxicated comment in the previous episode, the sentiment is very much reciprocated.
  • Understatement: Nadja's rant about the Baron in Episode 2.
    Nadja: This is too much to ask. What a big, bloody jerk, coming here, telling us to take over the whole of Staten Island just by ourselves, while I bet he's having a lovely bloody nap up there! ... Silly boy!
    • In Episode 6:
    The Baron: You know, this is going to sound odd, but I was thinking of killing you all tonight.
  • Vampire Vannabe: This is generally how vampires convince their familiars to serve them. Nandor got Guillermo to serve him by promising to make him a vampire, something Guillermo direly wants. Later, Guillermo is talking with other familiar, some very elderly, who have been waiting decades to be turned and are still entirely faithful that they will be, even though they've never heard of any familiar being made one.
  • Verbal Tic: Nadja has a bloody punny one.
  • Villain Protagonist: While the vampires seem nice enough, they do kill people for food and keep future victims locked up in their basement.
  • Villains Out Shopping: In the first episode, Guillermo and Nandor go out shopping for party supplies like glitter and construction paper to prepare for the Baron's arrival. Nandor tries to pay for it all with centuries-old coinage and orders Guillermo to stab the cashier when he refuses to take it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jenna appears in the Cold Open of Episode 4, and we see how she's been doing since being turned in Episode 2. She doesn't appear outside the opening. We eventually see much more of her in Episode 8.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • The werewolves are quick to call Nadja out for making a (non-fantastically) racist comment implying werewolves are all Native Americans—-or, as she puts it, "Indians". Nadja and Laszlo later tut-tut Nandor for choosing the squeaky toy to defeat Toby. (Chad's not impressed by it, either, calling it "cheating".)
    • Laszlo and Nadja rebuke Nandor in the previous episode for mind-controlling a Councillor and "[driving] him mad".
    • Guillermo stands up to Nandor over his apathy that one of Simon's underlings was about to eat him near the end of Episode 4.
  • Wizard Duel:
    • Colin and Evie ends up in a energy vampire duel, with them trying to drain each other's energy (Colin by spouting boring facts, and Evie by telling melodramatic sob stories). When it ends in a draw, Colin suggests that the two should try to work together instead.
    • Nandor and Colin start to have one at Animal Control before the deskman interrupts them.
  • Women Are Wiser: Downplayed. While Nadja displays this on occasion, being the only vampire to take issue with Laszlo's cursed hat, or the only one to think openly plotting the Baron's murder is a bad idea, she pretty much is just as off-kilter as Laszlo and Nandor.
  • Worth It: The Baron, drunk on a night out on the town, decides to give pizza a try despite vampires going into violent bursts of projectile vomiting if they consume human food; the slice (complete with a "hint of garlic") is enough to send The Baron careening into the sky for about 30 seconds from the force of his vomiting, but after a crash-landing, declares this trope for the pizza.
  • X Meets Y: Interview with the Vampire meets The Office (US).


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