Vlad III Drăculea (1428–1476) was a medieval ruler of Wallachia (a region of what is now Romania) who is best remembered today for his bloody deeds and for lending his patronymic name to the archetypal vampire Dracula. Though he wasn't known for biting people's necks or drinking their blood (maybe), he was nevertheless well-known for spilling it. A man of extremes in turbulent times, he has been regarded either as a brutal but fair hero, or a completely crazy sociopath. As Voivode (warlord) of Wallachia, he earned the nickname "Vlad the Impaler", or Vlad Țepeș in Romanian, from his practice of impalement, which was, and still is, one of the most gruesome ways of dying imaginable.
Vlad was born in Sighișoara, Transylvania in the winter of 1428 to a noble family, in a time when the Christian states of Eastern Europe, which included Hungary, Translyvania, Wallachia, Moldavia and others, contended for power with each other and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. His father was Vlad II Dracul, future Voivode of Wallachia and son of the celebrated Voivode Mircea the Elder. His mother is believed to be the second wife of Vlad Dracul, Princess Eupraxia of Moldavia. He had two older half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad IV Călugărul (Vlad the Monk), and a younger brother, Radu III the Fair. His family lived in Transylvania, but was of Wallachian descent. In later life he would divide his time between the two regions, both now part of modern Romania.
In the year of his birth Vlad's father and namesake had traveled to Nuremberg, Germany where he had been vested into the Order of the Dragon, a Crusader-style knightly organization sworn to fight the Ottoman Turks. At the age of five, young Vlad was also initiated into the Order. Thus his father became known as Vlad Dracul, "The Dragon", and in turn he was Vlad Dracula, "Son of Dracul" or "Son of the Dragon" (more loosely "Dracul Junior").
In 1436, Vlad Dracul became Voivoide of Wallachia as Vlad II (some say co-ruling with his son Mircea II). He was ousted in 1442 by rival factions in league with Hungary. But he secured Ottoman support for his return, agreeing to pay the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to the Sultan and also send his two legitimate sons, Vlad and Radu, to the Ottoman court, to serve as hostages of his royalty.
While Radu became a court favorite and eventually converted to Islam, Vlad was imprisoned and often whipped and beaten because of his verbal abuse towards his trainers and his stubborn behavior. These years presumably had a great influence on Vlad's character and led to Vlad's well-known hatred for the Ottoman Turks, the Janissaries, his brother Radu, and the young Ottoman prince Mehmet II (even after he became sultan). He was also envious of his father's preference for his elder half-brothers, Mircea II and Vlad Călugărul. He also distrusted the Hungarians and his own father for trading him to the Turks and betraying the Order of the Dragon's oath to fight the Ottoman Empire. Vlad was later released under probation and taken to be educated in logic, the Quran and the Turkish and Persian languages and works of literature. He would speak these languages fluently in his later years. He and his brother were also trained in warfare and riding horses.
With Ottoman support, the boys' father Vlad II Dracul took back his throne, but over the years he tried to play both sides. Eventually he and Mircea II were murdered in 1447 by rival factions in league with Hungary (again). The young Vlad was released in 1448 and became Vlad III, Voivode of Wallachia for the first time, ostensibly also with Ottoman backing. But after just a few months he stepped down and went to Moldavia and then Hungary, where he allied himself with the dominant warlord John Hunyadi. With Hunyadi's support, he claimed the throne of Wallachia again in 1456. It was his second reign where he made his name as both a warrior against the Ottomans and as a bloodthirsty ruler. He fought their incursions into his lands and even took the fight to their own territories beyond the Danube River. He continued to be an ally of Hungary, now led by Hunyadi's son King Matthias Corvinus, but also sought to keep his lands independent.
Impalement was Vlad's preferred method of torture and execution. He impaled many of his own country's nobility (the boyar class) because he felt that they had destabilized Wallachia. He also impaled thousands of Turkish soldiers as psychological warfare, all in the name of protecting the Christian kingdoms from the Ottomans. Several of the woodcuts from the German pamphlets of the late 15th and early 16th centuries show Vlad feasting in a forest of stakes and their grisly burdens outside Brașov, while a nearby executioner cuts apart other victims. It was reported that an invading Ottoman army turned back in fright when it encountered a forest of impaled corpses along the Danube River. It has also been said that in 1462 Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man noted for his own psychological warfare tactics, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled corpses outside Vlad's capital of Târgoviște.
But it was also in 1462 that his second reign ended, when an Ottoman army led by his own brother Radu and supported by rebellious boyars captured his castle. He escaped to Hungary but Matthias Corvinus had him imprisoned for political reasons.
The reputation of Vlad's cruelty was actively promoted by Matthias Corvinus, who tarnished Vlad’s reputation and credibility for a political reason: as an explanation for why he had not helped Vlad fight the Ottomans in 1462, for which purpose he had received money from most Catholic states in Europe. Matthias employed the charges of Southeastern Transylvania, and produced fake letters implicating him in high treason, written on 7 November 1462, which were used to justify his imprisonment.
However, eventually he worked his way back into the king's good graces, even taking the king's sister as his second wife. In 1474 he was released, and went to live in Transylvania. Meanwhile his brother Radu, who the Ottomans had put in his place, had died. In 1476, he returned to Wallachia and became Voivode again for the third and last time.
Vlad was killed shortly into his third reign. There's debate over if Vlad was assassinated or died in battle, but his corpse was decapitated and his head impaled by the Ottomans at Constantinople as a trophy, and his body was buried unceremoniously, possibly at Comana, a monastery founded by Vlad in 1461. The Comana monastery was demolished and rebuilt from scratch in 1589. In 1515, 35 years after his death, Wallachia finally was completely defeated by the Ottomans and became a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.
After Vlad's death, his cruel deeds were reported with macabre gusto in popular pamphlets in Germany, reprinted from the 1480s until the 1560s, and to a lesser extent in Tsarist Russia. These works estimated for the number of his victims ranges from 40,000 to 100,000, comparable to the cumulative number of executions over four centuries of European witch hunts. According to the German stories the number of victims he had killed was at least 80,000. In addition to the 80,000 victims mentioned he also had whole villages and fortresses destroyed and burned to the ground. These numbers are most likely exaggerated, but it can be still inferred he must have had a quite high body count for them to be considered believable at his time.
Surprisingly, while German, Russian, Hungarian, and Turkish literature and folklore all portray Dracula as a monster, he's considered a hero in Romania for his opposition to both Hungarian and Ottoman conquest, being voted among the 100 Greatest Romanians as recently as 2006 (compare Richard The Lion Heart, Napoléon Bonaparte or George Washington). This tradition of valorizing Vlad the Impaler dates to the era of romantic nationalism, when Romanian intellectuals, artists, historians, re-interpreted their past to find heroes of nationalism — Vlad the Impaler fit the tenor and purpose of their times. Before then, interestingly, there's little to no record of Vlad the Impaler being especially popular and well liked by the people of Wallachia and Romania. The earliest Romanian chronicle about Vlad the Impaler discussed his persecution of the Romanian boyars. Romanian folklorists documented the existence of an ongoing Romanian oral tradition among the peasantry which consistently featured Vlad III as an evil feudal lord and boogeyman figure, and the existence and persistence of this tradition from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century suggests that the Voivode's cruelty and misdeeds might have been truly extensive for the peasantry to maintain such an ongoing tradition and that it's not merely the case that his enemies demonized him exclusively. The ameliorative tradition of the Impaler originated among the Romanian intelligentsia, and as such comes from top-down rather than from the people. Most notably, during the Communist Era, where the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime elevated Dracula as a national hero using the earlier romantic tradition, and the precedent of a tradition justifying a ruler who indulged in cruelties for the greater good (as romantic nationalists defended Vlad III) was quite useful to Ceaușescu in a manner not dissimilar to Josef Stalin and his fondness for Ivan the Terrible.
He tends to get a Historical Villain Upgrade even in works that do not identify him with Stoker's Dracula or otherwise depict him as a vampire. Except in Romanian literature, where he always gets a Historical Hero Upgrade, from poetry to historical novels.
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- All Crimes Are Equal: For him, every crime equals death sentence, and he subjects all criminals to impalement, no matter how minor the crime is.
- Anti-Hero: About as far as a negative portrayal you're likely to see of him in Romania. Maybe with some Anti-Villain moments thrown in, but definitely nothing vampire-related.
- Ax-Crazy: Allegedly, not only did he kill babies, and forced the parents to eat the corpse, but he dunked his bread in the blood of his enemies. In fairness the latter really hasn't been confirmed and is thought to be more rumors than real. Both of these were in fact referenced on Deadliest Warrior (and lampshaded as a bit too out there)
- Big Fancy Castle: There are a few real-life fortresses that you could call "Castle Dracula":
- Poenari Citadel (Cetatea Poenari in Romanian) is the most authentic one, whose founding story fits nicely with Vlad's gruesome reputation. A legend states that he forced his father's and brother's assassins (along with their wives and children) to climb 1,000 feet up a hill (with stones carried from the ruins of an older castle below) to expand his ancestral fortress. Most died in the ordeal; those who survived were impaled.
- As far as castles go, Poenari is actually neither 'big' nor 'fancy'; like most fortresses, it relied on the effectiveness of its location and the thickness of the walls for protection more than a lavish, spacious interior (as is often depicted in fantasy castles). For what it's worth, Haunted Castle seems to be a more fitting designation for it (then again, what medieval fortress would not be 'haunted'?)
- Targoviste Palace was actually his main headquarters and residence. Although he was not its founder, he added to it the tall Chindia Tower from where it's said he enjoyed watching prisoners impaled in the courtyard.
- Castle Bran was named by Romanian authorities 'Dracula's castle' likely to draw in foreign tourists who thought it was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's fictional 'Castle Dracula' in the Borgo Pass (due to its deeply gothic and 'romantic' appearance - the result of a 19th century renovation by its owner, Queen Marie), although there is little evidence that Stoker was inspired by it or that Vlad actually visited the castle himself.
- It's still possible that Stoker did know of it, as it appears and is described in detail by one of his research books. Additionally, Vlad did travel to its town, Brasov, so he may have visited it at some point.
- If Vlad spent any decent amount of time in Brasov, then it would be next to impossible for him NOT to have at least seen it.
- Poenari Citadel (Cetatea Poenari in Romanian) is the most authentic one, whose founding story fits nicely with Vlad's gruesome reputation. A legend states that he forced his father's and brother's assassins (along with their wives and children) to climb 1,000 feet up a hill (with stones carried from the ruins of an older castle below) to expand his ancestral fortress. Most died in the ordeal; those who survived were impaled.
- Blood Knight: Even the fairly accurate historical depictions tend to make the man very bloodthirsty.
- Church Militant: While Vlad was unquestionably Christian and a defender of his faith, there is debate on whether he was Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Being Romanian, he was born an Orthodox and remained one while his brother converted to Islam. However, some Slavic records claim that he converted to Catholicism under pressure by Matthias Corvinus while in Hungarian captivity, with his Orthodox contemporaries attributing his defeat and death to "apostasy". Modern-day Romanians believe he remained Orthodox all his life and contest the veracity of these claims, considering they were written to vilify him. Either way, he received the blessing from both churches, and it's known he had contact with the Pope.
- Death Glare: Well, we can't actually offer proof, but it seems like a pretty safe bet, judging from the reactions of his contemporaries. Most depictions of him tend to make his also into a Kubrick Stare. Slasher Smile is optional but often added.
- The Dreaded: The Ottomans and the Austrians alike quivered in their boots whenever this man was so much as mentioned, tales of dread spread across Europe of his brutality and ruthlessness (though like several other historical figures it could have been purposeful propaganda to discourage invaders from entering his territory). With that being said, the Romanian people may hail him as a hero today, it's quite doubtful they would have back in 15th Century Wallachia. He was easily one of the most feared and loathed rulers of that period and is infamous even to this day, more than five hundred years after his death. How feared was he? One story tells of a time when Vlad III brought an exquisite golden chalice - said to be of the finest quality and embroidered with all manner of precious stones - into the poorest region of his empire and put it in the town square, by a well or fountain. He claimed the people were allowed to use it freely as long as it never left the town square (the man was a lot of things but humourless was not one of them). It remained in that exact spot for twelve years, with not a single person even daring to touch it (again in the poorest region of Wallachia). While this story may or may not have happened at all, the fact that most people are willing to accept it as fact should tell you something.
- There’s also the story of his encounter with Mehmed II. The Ottoman sultan Mehmed II was set to invade Vlad’s territory, but to do so, he and his men had to pass through a forest. Vlad was aware of this, and so he impaled numerous victims on trees throughout the forest as a warning. When Mehmed II and his men arrived, they took one look at the forest of corpses, and immediately turned around and fled.
- Exact Words:
- A story goes that he invited every beggar in Wallachia to a feast in a great hall. While they were happily eating and drinking, he offered to take care of all their problems. When they said yes, he left and had the building set on fire with them locked inside. And so, he could rightly say, "there are no beggars in my realm".
- Another story goes that some diplomats refused to take off their caps or turbans in his presence because it was their custom to keep their heads covered. Vlad offered to help them with that, and ordered their headgear to be nailed to their heads. The story changes tone depending on the headgear - if caps, Vlad is committing atrocities against fellow Christians; if turbans, Vlad is sticking it to the Turks.
- Folk Hero: In Romania as well as other parts of Europe for his protection of the Romanian population both south and north of the Danube.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Though with him it's kind of difficult. Vlad is quite possibly the most badass of all Romanian rulers, both before and after him. And he has some serious competition, too.
- It's pretty much agreed that he had to be tough given that Wallachia was a fairly small principality surrounded by more powerful enemies such as the Ottomans and the Austrians (who also hated each other) and his father had been assassinated. Vlad was no shrinking violet because he couldn't afford to be.
- Historical Domain Character
- Historical Hero Upgrade and Historical Villain Upgrade: He's got it as bad as Richard the Lionheart. He has been depicted as everything from a just, if harsh, leader of his people to a bloodthirsty brute deliberately slaughtering innocents. The truth presumably lies somewhere in between. In Romania, people would rather not mention him at all rather than say something truly bad about him. Mostly because, when it's all said and done, the one character trait (beside his almost suicidal bravery) that everyone seems to agree on is his incorruptibility. Which tends to make him stand out quite a bit against other rulers, both modern and ancient.
- I Am a Humanitarian: Some historical records claim that he had the blood of those impaled collected and soaked his bread with it, hence his connection to vampires. However, this could and most likely is simply historical revisionism and propaganda by the Ottomans after his defeat.
- Inconsistent Spelling: He usually signed Romanian documents just as Vlad, but sometimes he signed as Drakulya. In Latin documents he rendered his name as Wladislaus Dragwlya, though his birth name was just "Vlad" instead of "Vladislav" - the names were equated in Latin but not in Romanian. Other variations of "Dracula" include Draculea and Dragolea. All of this has mostly stopped now, as if he's being fully named he's just referred to as Vlad III Dracula, Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler (or Vlad Țepeș in Romanian).
- Karmic Death: He was stabbed to death (i.e impaled) by some Ottoman soldiers, or supposedly by his own men while disguised as an Ottoman soldier. His head was also reportedly impaled on a spike after his death.
- Knight Templar: He had zero tolerance to criminals, enemies and nobles who would otherwise destabilize Wallachia and the Christian kingdoms. To a degree, he made attempts to purge them at all cost.
- Sadist: A historically sound assessment of his character. While many of the stories surrounding him are debatable in their authenticity, this is the same man who routinely impaled peasants for the smallest of crimes at the drop of a hat and seemed to invent new ways to torture and kill his enemies (or people who pissed him off... or people who didn't) at every opportunity. In fact, most historians agree that for as barbaric the period he grew up in was, he still managed to stand out for his cruelty and bloodthirst, which is REALLY saying something. Or to put it in another way: Many of the stories about him are almost certainly untrue, but the ones that ARE historically verifiable are more than enough by themselves to put him in tyrant territory.
- Shrouded in Myth: Even more so now than he was. Just how many of the "stories" about him are true? Those who despise him tend to believe most of them whereas those who view him as a hero (especially in Romania) tend to discount all the stories as "propaganda" (even though they tend to be willing to believe the more positive myths surrounding him).
- The Sociopath: A pretty common assessment of him by modern depictions and/or psychological experts.
- Terror Hero: Hero, probably not. Terrifying? Definitely.
- Urban Legends: There are so many on Vlad it can get a bit crazy. Most being whether he really was a vampire, where he's buried, and if he will rise from the grave if his remains are disturbed.
- Values Dissonance: While some of his methods were common for the day (such as razing villages, killing innocents during war, etc.) many alive even in his own time considered him terrifying and violent. Granted, those same people tended to be on the wrong end of his sword. This often veers into Deliberate Values Dissonance in modern depictions.
Appears in the following works (most of the Dracula characters tend to also be him, as such this will only list depictions that are actually supposed to be Vlad III, or explicitly based off of him):
- Seraph of the End implies that Krul is descended from Vlad. Even her backstory has similarities to his
- Alucard from Hellsing is Count Dracula and Vlad III. In the manga backstory, he was portrayed as a Knight Templar, fiercely loyal to God, but was disappointed when He did not descend after all his fighting. Feeling forsaken and knowing he lost it all, he became a vampire by sheer willpower, after sucking the blood of the battlefield before he was executed by the Ottoman Empire. Centuries later, he came to England to seek the woman he desired, Mina Harker, and was defeated by Abraham van Helsing and his group. After this second defeat, he became the faithful servant of Abraham's descendants for generations.
- In the Gonzo anime, this connection was merely implied with hints in episode 9 and 13, but supplemental material in the Japanese booklets confirm this. Although, his backstory might be different because his characterization was modified. From steadfast Bodyguard Crush-like loyalty on Integra (and a Berserk Button on people betraying her or insulting her) with a deep respect for humanity like in the manga, he becomes more of a rebellious Psycho Supporter with his own agenda who keeps testing her (but he's still angry when she's seriously injured) and without regard for humanity as whole, exhibiting arrogance and superiority for being a vampire. The OVA is more accurate to the manga.
- And both versions have him indulge in his old pastime of impaling. Skewering a bunch of corrupt police on flagpoles in the manga and OVA, and impaling the Big Bad of the Gonzo anime on a spike of solid silver.
- Alucard's "Release State Level: 0" shows him as he was when he was Vlad III. It's actually one of the most accurate depictions of Vlad III's appearance in Japanese media, especially to the image above. The major differences are his hair being much, much longer and more unkempt, his mustache is much less poofy, him having the stubble of a beard (Vlad III was noted for being clean-shaven aside from the mustache), being very tall (Vlad III was mentioned as being short and stocky), and Reddish-Orange Eyesnote .
- Shaman King has Boris Tepes Dracula, a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, the original Dracula. Not actually a vampire, but his family has used shamanic powers granted by Hao to take revenge on humanity, who treated them like vampires since the time of Vlad.
- Vlad Tepes is the main antagonist of Berserk: the Prototype, Kentaro Miura's first draft his manga. He's portrayed as a demonic Fat Bastard who impales people and have them put on displays on the roads. He also regularly abducts little girls and worships the God of Evil Vana.
- The manga series Vlad Drăculea by Akiyo Ohkubo depicts Vlad III's life as he goes from the puppet monarch of Wallachia to the feared defender of the land against the Ottoman Empire. This manga stands out for its subdued style, including an aversion of Big Anime Eyes.
- Brothers Dracul by Aftershock Comics revolves around teenage Vlad and his brother Radu while they were Ottoman prisoners and being taught how to hunt vampires.
- Dracula Lives!, a Spin-Off from Marvel Comics' The Tomb of Dracula, tells its own story of how Vlad Dracula became the Lord of Vampires alongside with other tales of villainy and bloodsucking.
- In the indie comicbook Dracula vs. King Arthur, Lucifer, wanting to one-up God, sends vampirized Dracula back in time to battle King Arthur in order to destroy his kingdom.
- Impaler by Image Comics portrays Vlad as a hero fighting against a vampire infestation in America. In this setting, he used magic to become an immortal vampire slayer to combat demons released by the Ottoman Empire in a desperate attempt to take over Europe, and he lived for centuries protecting mankind from these monsters.
- Pathfinder: Worldscape features Vlad the Impaler as Big Bad of the anthology story King of the Goblins. Here, he is depicted depicted as fully human instead of a vampire, and was transported to the titular magical realm (which also takes beings from all over The Multiverse resulting in a Fantasy Kitchen Sink). He rules over New Wallachia, his kingdom in the Worldscape and hopes to return to Earth, but gets pitted against the half-elven anti-hero Seltyiel.
- In Realm of the Damned, Vlad the Impaler is briefly shown in the backstory of the main villain Balaur as one of his previous benefactors. It's also implied he may have been Balaur's vampire sire.
- Requiem Vampire Knight (or Requiem Chevalier Vampire in the original French) has a Dracula who's the ruler of the highest social class, the Vampires, on the world of Resurrection. Interestingly, they make lots of references to the man Dracula was based off and in this universe used to be; Dracula has something of an obsession with impaling and decorates his ship the 'Satanik' with stakes covered with the bodies of those who've suffered the punishment, and an impaling gun has the sound effect of 'Tepes!' whenever it's fired. He also has the mask of the High Priest of the Archaeologists nailed to his face, because the priest hadn't removed it as a sign of respect for the vampire king (and also because Dracula really doesn't like the Archaeologists): this pretty much echoes what Vlad allegedly did to a Turkish messenger who refused to remove his turban. He even looks like the original Vlad, down to the Manly Facial Hair.
- Spawn: Vlad Tepes was also a Hellspawn as depicted in his miniseries Spawn the Impaler.
- DC Comics Victorian Undead: In which Sherlock Holmes is transplanted in the middle of the famous novel and helps the novel's protagonists hunt for Dracula.
- Marvel Comics:
- Much like in Hellsing and Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Marvel version of Count Dracula is presented as being the actual historical figure he's based on, having died and returned as a vampire.
- While Vlad himself doesn't appear as Count Dracula in Ultimate Marvel, he's subjected to Related in the Adaptation on two different fronts as Morbius is reimagined as Vlad's brother and Doctor Doom is one of Vlad's descendants.
- In Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters, Vlad was one of the past incarnations of the Ben Shui Chosen One reincarnation cycle, and thus his spirit lives on in their shared Mental World. He gets a bit disgruntled when the current Chosen One (Jade Chan) mistakes him for his literary counterpart, being particularly annoyed at being called a "count" when his title was "prince".
- Vlad Tepes, produced in Romania in 1979. It can be found on YouTube with English subtitles.
- Bram Stoker's Dracula has a prologue about Vlad Dracula fighting the Turks, his wife's suicide, and Vlad becoming a vampire because of it. His deeds of mass impalement aren't shown, but as a nod he hoists an enemy soldier up in the air with his spear. The film also introduces a key plot element of Reincarnation Romance between Dracula and Mina Harker, who becomes Vlad's wife in a past life.
- Dracula appears as the main villain in the 2004 film Van Helsing, as part of a Monster Mash with Frankenstein's Monster, The Werewolf, and Igor. He gives his full name as "Vladislaus Dracula", and a famous portrait of the real Vlad (the page image) is recreated with the actor Richard Roxburgh's face.
- Van Helsing was originally planned as a direct prequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula (with Anthony Hopkins reprising his role as Van Helsing) to set up the doctor's history with the vampire, but it never panned out.
- Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula, a 2000 television movie about Vlad's life. While liberties are taken, it's a straight historical story until the end where he dies excommunicated and rises from the grave, implied to have become a vampire.
- Dracula Untold, a 2014 fantasy movie about Vlad becoming a vampire to fight the Turks.
- In He Never Died, it's revealed that, as well as being the basic for the Biblical Cain, the main character was Vlad the Impaler.
- The 2003 movie Vlad features the titular character as a vampire that haunts a group of American exchange students currently in Romania. It also opens showing the historical incident of his father Vlad II and elder brother Mircea's capture and summary execution at the hands of John Hunyadi before Vlad and his brother Radu's eyes, with the former vowing revenge.
- In Vampires vs. the Bronx, Vlad's likeness is the logo of the evil Murnau Corporation, which is a front for vampires.
- In Bram Stoker's Dracula itself, Count Dracula doesn't claim to be Vlad Dracula but rather a descendant of him, though other characters eventually speculate about them being the same. Though Stoker gets some history wrong, like attributing the wrong family and social class to the Count and Vlad Dracula, he references real details like Vlad fighting his own brother.
- The New Annotated Dracula isn't, strictly speaking, a totally original work (it's just that, the complete text of the novel annotated) but it does take an interesting angle towards Bram Stoker's novel and its proceedings—taking the statement in the beginning of the novel that the story related is (mostly) factual and being related by a third party and building from there. Places where character names and origins have been changed, edits made in retrospect for later editions by the persons involved to make their behaviour a little more acceptable...
- Kazikli Voyvoda (1928) by Ali Riza Seyfi is arguably the first work to reveal the Count Dracula character and Vlad the Impaler as one and the same, a link which was rather vague in the original story. The story - an almost identical copy of Stoker's original - is set in Istanbul instead of London, with the titular villain repelled by the Koran instead of Christian imagery.
- Popular knowledge that a real Dracula actually existed arose only late in the 20th century, at least outside Romania and its neighbours. It seems fitting that the first people to draw the connection would be the Turks, given their shared past with the bloody Impaler.
- Hideyuki Kikuchi, author of the original Vampire Hunter D light novels, also wrote a novel about Dracula in Japan during the Meiji Restoration.
- Will Hill's Department 19 explicitly makes Vlad and Dracula the same person, revealing that Vlad survived his final battle with the Turks, albeit with mortal injuries, and made a Deal with the Devil to become the first vampire. Later, he is resurrected in the modern day and becomes the series Big Bad, portrayed more as the sadistic Blood Knight and ruthless conquering general of history than the conventional idea of Dracula.
- In a light novel from Type-MOON, Fate/Apocrypha, Vlad the Impaler is once again a Lancer class Servant. However, this incarnation is a different character than his Fate/Extra counterpart, and is actually rather upset about the whole "Dracula" thing, saying it was malicious rumors spread about him. He's still not a vampire, as within the established rules of Nasuverse vampires, though he has a Noble Phantasm that turns him into the common depiction of Dracula.
- Night Huntress does introduce Dracula in book 3. He prefers "Vlad".
- In The Dresden Files, Dracula is said to be the son of Vlad Drakul, a monster of enormous power. Dracula is a member of the classically vampiric Black Court, but according to Ebenezer McCoy joined as an act of youthful rebellion. The book Dracula was commissioned by the White Court to Bram Stoker, to act as a manual to explain to Muggles how to kill Black Court vampires. It was very effective, and nowadays only the most badass Black Court vampires survive. Whether Dracula is among them is unknown; the book might have also been an account of Dracula's death, or might have simply used a powerful Black Court member as an example. Vlad Drakul, on the other hand, is immortal, still in Romania, and a freeholding lord under the Unseelie Accords, meaning he and his underlings are a small supernatural nation unto themselves.
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is a novel that has the actual Vlad Dracula as a vampire, using books printed with a signature dragon with the word "Drakulya" to entice curious historians into finding his grave and, thereby, himself so that he can make them his minions. In this version, he is essentially an eternally undead Badass Bookworm. However, he's still evil.
- David Weber's Out of the Dark makes some oblique references to Dracula, with a significant part of the Alien Invasion story taking place in the woods and mountains of Transylvania, and a local resistance fighter seems to take inspiration from Vlad the Impaler by impaling alien invaders on stakes as a terror tactic. He actually is Dracula and finally gets really pissed at the end of the book, leading to a Curbstomp Battle when he takes the fight directly to the invaders.
- In Lawrence Watt-Evans's short story "The Name of Fear", a Romanian vampire kills Vlad Dracula and later impersonates an undead version of him, in order to bring back the fear of vampires. It works: the peasants, who formerly easily protected themselves from vampires by usual wards, now don't dare to use something like this against the dreaded "Vlad".
- Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys is a novel about his life and struggle against the Turks, posthumously framed through the recollections of his closest friend, his confessor, and his mistress. It's suggested his cruel deeds including impalement partly had their roots in a Freudian Excuse as he was raped by the Turks as a boy. In the end it's revealed he faked his death to take revenge on his greatest enemy.
- Count and Countess by Rose Christo is a novel in the form of a series of letters that Vlad and Elizabeth Bathory secretly send to one another despite living one hundred years apart in time.
- If we were to list here all the Romanian historical novels starring Vlad, we'll be here all night, and possibly still miss a few. Most of them make an honorable effort to be realistic — though how that translates varies a lot. Some are merely finding Freudian excuses (which, frankly, he had in spades anyway), others are going out of their way to show his cruelty. A few are true gems of psychological analysis that, if properly made into movies, would probably shatter the box office.
- The historical serial novel "Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade," by Christian Cameron, features a young Dracula just prior to becoming Voivode of Wallachia. He's depicted as affable and gentlemanly, and not at all sinister.
- In Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape and its sequels, Dracula is very much Vlad III and even spends some word count reminiscing about his breathing days, including acknowledging both the torture he underwent in Turkish captivity and his own later atrocities.
- Vlad appears in Victor Hugo' Sultan Mouradnote . The poem is about Ottoman Sultan Murad II, his reign, his wars, and numerous crimes. A few verses mention one of his enemies, "Vlad boyar of Tarvis, called Beelzebub", who impaled the whole local Turkish embassy after refusing to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. Victor Hugo died a decade before Stoker published Dracula.
- The Conquerors Saga is an Alternate History in which Vlad was a woman. Due to this, Lada Dracul has a considerably harder time to the throne, often prompting her to be even more brutal than her inspiration. Her main motive is her Undying Loyalty to Wallachia and she does help the people living there at first, but it's slowly drowned under her ambition.
- The Shadowhunter Codex reveals that Vlad the Impaler was the first vampire in The Shadowhunter Chronicles universe. In 1444 he summoned the greater demon Hecate by sacrificing a large number of prisoners of war by impaling them on wooden spikes. In exchange for the sacrifice, Hecate turned Vlad and a large portion of his court into the first vampires.
- Went up and won against Sun Tzu in Deadliest Warrior.
- Appeared in episode six in the first season of Da Vinci's Demons ("The Devil"). He later returns mid way through season 3 as a reoccurring character; his brother, Radu, is also featured as a villain. Notably, he is Ambiguously Human in the show rather than being depicted as an actual vampire.
- He appeared in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "Darkness Visible", depicted as a contemporary and friend of Hercules during Ancient Greece instead of the 15th Century, ruling over Dacia (Romenia during the Antiquity) and its mentioned that he was at war with the Turks (despite them not originating until the 11th Century).
- The second season of the historical docudrama Rise of Empires: Ottoman is about the Ottomans' war against Vlad. The series also gets heavily into the personal relationship between Vlad and Sultan Mehmet II, since they grew up together at the Ottoman court. Vlad is played by Romanian actor Daniel Nuță.
- Count Strahd von Zarovich (of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons adventure and subsequent game setting Ravenloft) started out as a renamed Count Dracula, drawing upon the movie portrayals more than the book. Similarities between the two persist to this day. To muddle the waters somewhat, though, the actual Count Dracula is used as a villain of the sub-setting Masque of the Red Death, where attempts are made to portray the character with Vlad III Tepes as a basis. As if to wring the most out of the concept, the accounts of Vlad III's infamy, taken to extremes, had in turn already been a large part of the basis for a non-vampiric villain of the main setting: Vlad Drakov.
- Interestingly, the character of Count Strahd was first sketched out as a villain in a standalone adventure module written in the early '80s. The release of the Realms of Terror campaign boxed set was the first, though, to detail his history and motivations in depth. As the campaign setting was released in 1990 and the Bram Stoker's Dracula film in 1992, this makes the movie version of the good Count Older Than They Think.
- The Warhammer Vampire Counts have two bloodlines modeled on versions of Dracula. The Necrarchs resemble the character's portrayal in Nosferatu, but for the closest match, the von Carstein vampires tend to dress exactly like Bela Lugosi, and live in huge haunted castles beyond the forest. The character of Vlad von Carstein is probably the closest match to Dracula; though he is long (permanently) dead in the main storyline, his vampiric offspring (first Konrad and now Mannfred) continue the family tradition. Interestingly, all three take on different aspects of the Dracula archetype. Vlad is an artist, philosopher, and a genuine romantic who reluctantly made his dying wife a vampire so as to not be separated from her, and is Dracula as a charming, seductive noble. Konrad is a bloodthirsty, sadistic butcher, with no sense of subtlety, art, or manipulation, but takes a fierce glee in battle, and so is Dracula as Vlad the Impaler. Mannfred, finally, is a sociopath (though, as the current one, he has been suffering Villain Decay and is now something of a General Failure) who indirectly caused the defeats of the first two to satisfy his own ambition, and is possibly the closest to Stoker's original portrayal of Dracula. As of this edit, all three of them are 'permanently' dead, but there may be other spawns of Vlad's out there.
- Interestingly, the Iron Kingdoms setting has a Vlad Tepes Expy that isn't a Dracula: Vladimir Tzepesci, the Dark Prince of Umbrey, complete with a spell called "Impaler."
- Steve Jackson's Car Wars had a car catalog that included a large American car with a spike on the front... 'Vlad the Impala'.
- Due to the fondness the Old World of Darkness exhibits for the Beethoven Was an Alien Spy trope, it comes to no surprise that Vampire: The Masquerade features a version of Dracula that is explicitly stated to be Vlad Tepes in Transylvania Chronicles. He is given a suitably badass backstory, his manipulation of several vampire factions leading to his embrace into the Tzimisce clan and the Diablerie of one of the clan's Elders. His family dynasty, the Basarabs, are also stated to have once been a family of Revenants, with a Weaksauce Weakness to garlic.
- Castlevania: Lament of Innocence serves as a spin on Dracula's Origins Episode in the Castlevania series: instead of Vlad Tepes, Dracula is the fictional Crusader Mathias Cronqvist, former friend of the Belmonts. However, this character is partially named after a real person who spread inflated tales of Vlad III's harsh rule: Matthias Corvinus. The game also never uses the name Dracula directly, and is set centuries before the real Vlad's time.
- However, the earlier Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had direct allusions to Vlad III. The player character Alucard (Dracula's son) has the surname "Tepes" and in the game manual, Dracula's full name is "Dracula Vlad Tepes". There's also a bomb item called "Power of Sire" (sire being an archaic term for father) which generates an image of Vlad III, based on the portait used as the page image. Since this was never really retconned, just established later that Dracula existed before Vlad, one might suppose Mathias just... changed his name.
- The even earlier Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse had an oblique reference to Vlad. The game depicts the canonical first defeat and death of Dracula. It's set in 1476, the very year Vlad died in reality.
- In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Dracula's tombstone in the endings has the years of Vlad's birth and death listed on it (1431-1476).
- In Europa Universalis IV, he can become the ruler of Wallachia if the country allows it. If he doesn't, he'll launch a pretender rebellion. If he does become leader, he's a good general, but as a monarch he excels only in military matters.
- Melty Blood has a vampire called the Night of Wallachia. No, that's not just a fancy title, he's actually a night, as in the period of time between sundown and sunrise. He was an alchemist who was obsessed with stopping the end of the world that he predicted for the distant future. However, he was mortal and didn't have enough time to figure out the solution, so he made a Deal with the Devil and turned himself into both a vampire and a recurring phenomenon (likened to a hurricane, something that just happens whenever the conditions are right) wherein he would materialize local rumors. The first place where his night occurred was Wallachia, giving him the shape and personality of Dracula, which seems to have stuck with him for future occurrences.
- Well, it's a bit unclear, since the manga adaptation says that his form in the fighting games is how he looked like before becoming a phenomenon. Then again, the Nasuverse has never been consistent to begin with. Incidentally, his appearance is a reference to Castlevania - he's based off the concept art for Dracula in Super Castlevania IV.
- Interestingly, it's pretty conclusively stated that Vlad Tepes in the Nasuverse was not a vampire; rumors and legends of the vampire Dracula were just that: rumors and legends (although the Night of Wallachia appearing as a physical incarnation of those legends probably bolstered them quite a bit). A bit strange considering the heavy emphasis on vampires that Tsukihime and its spinoffs take.
- In Fate/EXTRA, Dracula becomes a Lancer class Servant, based on his other name Vlad the Impaler, in which his tendency to executing his enemies by impaling them with spears became the basis of his class selection as Lancer. Incidentally, he doesn't seem to be a vampire, since there's already Night of Wallachia for the Dracula stand-in and Vlad/Dracula's classic vampire attributes don't seem to match the established Nasuverse vampire attributes. Like the Fate/Apocrypha version, he has has some vampire attributes despite not being a vampire, because Servants are shaped by their legend as well as their actual attributes in life.
- Additionally, both the Apocrypha (as a Berserker) and the EXTRA versions of Vlad appear as summonable Servants in Fate/Grand Order. In a case of Shown Their Work there are two versions of Lancer Vlad. One as the Historical Villain Upgrade version where he's a Chaotic Evil Monster. And the other is his Historical Hero Upgrade version where he is a Good Christian King.
- Vlad Tepes, while presumably not possessing any special powers is a member of The Knights Templar in Assassin's Creed. He's also one of the multiplayer characters in Assassin's Creed: Revelations though he doesn't appear in person, having been killed by the Ottomans a while ago.
Herald: "To all visitors from Transylvania looking for the head of Voivode Dracula: Yes, we have it. Yes, he's dead. No, you cannot see it. No, he will not return and invade you again. It has been over thirty years, please stop pestering us."
- Totally Accurate Battle Simulator: The many units of the Secret Faction happen to include the Vlad unit, which is a tall man wielding a massive spiked log that he impales enemies with. He can also summon more log spikes from the ground for the same purpose.
- Remilia Scarlet from Touhou Project is a vampire that claims to be the descendant of Vlad Tepes or the original Dracula. As every character (and fan) knows, this is an obvious lie. Ironically, if Dracula is assumed to have become a vampire at the time the real-life Vlad the Impaler died, Remilia is actually old enough to have plausibly claimed to be his daughter. Apparently she didn't realize this and went with the less impressive claim of merely being "descended" from him.
- The final few areas in The Secret World are set in Romania, where an army of vampires are trying to Take Over the World. Despite having been dead for centuries, Vlad Dracul is an important character in the backstory. He was a vampire hunter, and his followers are still battling his estranged vampire wife's minions.
- The Last Resurrection uses Dracula, alongside Hitler, as a servant of the main villain: Jesus.
- There's a Vlad campaign in The Forgotten expansion of Age of Empires II. One of the missions includes a cutscene about the impalement of thousands of Ottomans in Târgoviste.
- Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell has Vlad sent to him Hell where he became general of Satan's legions, but after a failed attempt to invade Heaven, Satan punished him to a fate worse than death... By forcing him to listen to "Wheels On The Bus" in a daycare center for all eternity. He joins Johnny and Kinzie as their ally after being freed from prison and clearing out his fortress after it has been taken over by some demonic dudebros.
- Omen of Sorrow: He was born with a debilitating blood disease and his father desperate to save his life so that someone could carry on the Order of the Dragon's mantle as defender of Christendom, used the Book of Tears in an attempt to cure him and turned him into a vampire instead. Now Vlad searches for an cure to restore his humanity.
- During his Let's Play of the first Drakengard game, The Dark Id wondered that would have happened if the events of the game never took place and Cain was crowned king. Cue the portrait of Vlad you see used as the page image. Given that Cain is a murderous nutcase that gleefully brings death and destruction in the most over-the-top ways possible to all enemies that cross his path, the man's got a point.