Ah, the eternal dilemma: How to stop the fiend that is (in Dracula author Bram Stoker’s words) “The Undead”? If you’re an entranced Bella Swan in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, you might not want to—at least not when the vampire in question is Edward Cullen. For the rest of us, here’s a guide to some…
For centuries, these bloodsuckers have been our worst nightmare so it’s fitting that by now we’d have a list of their pet peeves. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ways to kill or defeat a vampire.
For this list, we’re looking at all the methods that will send the undead packing or crackling to the grave for good. We’re sorry, but you vamps shouldn’t take people’s blood without proper consent and, no hypnosis doesn’t count! Also, if you’re wondering, many of these movies and TV shows usually have the same outcome, but in any case, here’s your SPOILER ALERT.
Let’s be honest: most of us would gladly die before finishing our veggies at the dinner table, but when the marauders of the night come a-knocking, you may want to have a century’s worth of garlic on hand. Garlic has long been the best-known and most accessible repellent against vampires, whether you wear it, hang it in your windows or rub it over your home’s entrances. It’s even been recognized as a way to keep them dead. How? By stuffing it in their mouths following decapitation.
Werewolf Bite or Scratch
Arguably the longest and most heated rivalry in folklore is the dreaded werewolf versus the ominous vampire. These legendary creatures share similarities such as preferring night to day, extremely extended life spans and feeding on humans; there couldn’t be a more dysfunctional match made in hell. A vampire that gets a taste of wolf blood becomes stronger and extremely aggressive, but if a werewolf bites or scratches a vamp, it’s like a supernatural lethal injection.
Lack of Blood / Starvation
It’s not rocket science: vamps need blood to survive point blank – whether it’s yours, the dog, a group of pigs, or synthetic. Blood is their primary life source in death and when they don’t get it, that’s a recipe for one antsy dark lord. Unfortunately, most are not able to feed on other vampires because another vampire’s blood is poisonous – it’d be like just drinking salt water to stay hydrated.
Long has the church and symbols of it been the bane of a vampire’s existence. And with holy water being the equivalent of hot grease, vampires avoid Sunday services with an undead passion. An even better trick is taking regular water and blessing it, which can be considered holy water and will have the bloodsucker’s skin crawling. Knowing this also comes in handy seeing as how going to a church and explaining that you need holy water to combat vampires may get you tossed in the loony bin pretty quickly.
Short on crosses? No worries; any household items that can be made to resemble religious symbols are just as good. Vampires are getting smarter by the millennium though. For example, they’ve figured out that if they didn’t believe in a certain religion before they were turned, then the religious symbols of that faith do not repel – or in this case – compel them as the undead. So in the future, before you try taking them down, make sure you do some background checks on your neighborhood vamp.
A lot of people don’t know this, but silver is just as dangerous to vampires as it is to werewolves, and whether it is a silver stake or a bullet, these guys want no part of it. For vampires especially, even coming in contact with silver will sear their skin. So stock up on medallions, rings, and even spoons – one can never be too cautious in situations involving these creatures.
Hey, everybody’s got some deep dark fear, like heights or drowning. Now being a member of the seemingly immortal undead, you would think with enhanced strength, speed, abilities to fly and so on, that fear would virtually not exist… wrong! Just like Smokey the Bear, vampires hate fire, which is ironic seeing as how if they do still have souls, then they’ll likely end up in a lake of fire after their prolonged afterlife. At least it’s not arachnophobia; seriously, could you imagine being afraid of those insects considering all the cobwebs that are undoubtedly in these mythical beings’ homes?!
In these dark and helpless moments, it’s pretty easy for one to lose their head…literally! But hopefully, it’s the pale dude with jagged fangs trying to bite your neck that it happens to. Beheading a vampire is probably one of the harder methods to employ for supernatural murder, seeing as how you must catch the creature first and then apply enough force to cut its noggin off. And please don’t forget to place the head in between the vamp’s legs and stuff it with a mouth full of the aforementioned garlic to make sure it stays dead.
Mirrors & Sunlight
SPF lotion won’t do you any good if you’re a child of the night strutting around during the day. Sun exposure is often used for torture, executions, or just trying to prove someone’s a vampire. “Rabies may also harbor the roots of the vampiric fear of mirrors,” Mark writes. “Strong odors or visual stimuli trigger spasms of the face and vocal muscles of those with rabies, and this in turn induces hoarse groans, bared teeth, and a bloody frothing at the mouth. What rabies sufferer would not shrink from such a reflection?” Daylight might only make self-contemplation in a mirror worse. At least one scholar has proposed that the genetic red blood cell deficiency porphyria, which (once activated) renders its sufferers pallid and hypersensitive to light, could also have inspired vampire legends.
Accessible, and vampires are always vulnerable to it. Fire can be counteracted, though. Sprinkler systems work for the undead as they do for the living. Immersion in water or earth also puts fire out. If you resort to this tool to destroy a vampire, and she survives, your own life is certainly forfeit.
This is arguably the slowest, most painful, and least costly of the ways to dispatch your nocturnal foes. Take into consideration that most have been alive for a long time and are experts at avoiding the sun though, so have a backup plan.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Wooden Stake to the Heart
The most iconic weapon against the vampire is the primitive yet highly effective wooden stake. Before the days of silver bullets and flamethrowers, there was the extremely simple stake which could also be used as a cross and torch to ward off the undead. More recently, stakes have been used as projectiles via crossbows. So if you ever accidentally invite a vamp into your home, make sure to offer him or her a stake dinner seasoned with garlic and some Vatican water to wash it all down.
A Brick, Stone, or Vine Between the Teeth
For insights on this method, we turn to forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini, Venice during the plague years, and an excavated skull labeled ID6. When the Black Death first passed through Europe in the 14th century, the lethal scourge killed fully 75 percent of Venice’s population. Subsequent outbreaks—including one in 1576 and 1577 that likely killed ID6—ravaged the city again over the two centuries that followed. Brought to horrific Lazzaretto Nuovo with thousands of other plague-struck citizens, she (the bones were probably a woman’s) died there and was buried in a mass grave. Perhaps six weeks after burial, she was exhumed and a brick placed carefully between her teeth.
Borrini’s Robert Langdon-worthy search for a plausible explanation led him to a 1679 tract by Philip Rohr titled De Masticatione Mortuorum: “On the Chewing Dead.” “This volume described the Nachzehrer—German for ‘after-devourer’,” Mark writes, “a kind of mindless, vampirelike corpse that chews its shroud in the grave before consuming its own fingers. As it nibbles away, by some occult process, it also slowly kills the surviving members of its family. It may then begin gobbling corpses in neighboring graves.” Quarantine didn’t prevent the spread of plague, and it would be centuries before folks learned that rat-borne fleas were the primary culprit. Absent that, some held the Nachzehrer responsible for the disease’s spread. And so the brick between ID6’s jaws “may be the first archaeological evidence of what we know from the books was a fairly widespread belief.”
Home, Sweet Home
A vampire’s daylight slumber makes her most vulnerable. If would-be killers can find her haven, she’s in jeopardy. Most vampires set up defenses, however. Ghouls may stand watch. Booby traps might spring. Alarms might go off that call the police to what superficially seems like an ordinary home or office. And then there’s the threat of the vampire rising during the day, in the dark recesses of her hiding place, forcing herself up to kill whomever dares to threaten her.
A vampire is immune to the effects of poison, but her ghouls, herd, and other mortal minions are not. Undermine her support system. Drive off or kill her agents and servants and her means of survival is taken away. Sure, she’s tipped off that someone is after her, but without backup, her weapons may be narrowed to fangs and claws. Those are still deadly, but at least they can be anticipated to some degree.
Hacking and chopping. Believe it or not, the simplest methods still work on vampires. A Kindred can take a lot of punishment from blows, blades, and bullets, but inflict enough damage and even a vampire is pulverized to the point of Final Death. The problem is surviving the attacks she inflicts while you manage to cause her all that harm. Lots of automatic weapons fire by multiple shooters is a good start, followed by judicious use of an axe once she’s down.
Not all weapons that can be turned on vampires are physical or even mystical. Some are completely mundane. A vampire with influence over mortals can get the favors and services she needs to insulate herself. But those very layers and institutions can be turned against her. Maybe the old building she calls home can be condemned and torn down. Maybe the stocks in which she is heavily invested can be ruined on the market. Maybe the police are tipped off to the gambling rings she supports. Denied her comforts and layers of protection in the mundane world, a vampire’s supernatural existence is threatened.
As a rule, the Kindred seek to keep their existence secret from mortals. If vampires were discovered, the human masses would overwhelm the undead.
While most ghouls are enthralled by their masters, not all are dedicated to vampire regnants. If you can ally with a rogue ghoul, he might have information about the nature of the undead or a particular vampire that you do not. He might also be willing to help capture her as a source of blood for himself. Such a partner is helpful for his knowledge and experience, but is also treacherous. He was or is addicted to vampire blood and might just as easily betray you to a targeted vampire as help you defeat her.
If one is a vampire who hunts other vampires, the best way to do away with a quarry once and for all is diablerie, the act of drinking the last of a victim’s blood, and mystically consuming her soul in the act. One of the greatest crimes among the Kindred, diablerie is empowering. The blood of the devourer becomes more potent. He manifests some of his victim’s Disciplines and becomes stronger for his “crime.” The trick is getting another vampire in a position where she can’t resist utter destruction and cannibalization. No small feat when one’s quarry is herself a supernatural predator.