TOP 7 VAMPIRE AND WEREWOLF TROPES THAT NEED TO BE STAKED TO DEATH

Vampires have changed a lot since their soulless bloodsucking days of Camilla, Dracula and Varney. No longer a shrivelled menace, but a sexy, sexy protagonist with a dark, brutal past .. washboard abs… and the pain of centuries of loss and denial and longing carried on their big, muscular hunky shoulders… (did I mention abs?) Yeah, goodbye evil demon and hello brooding sex God, vampires are totally teenage fap material now, while werewolves, though  less popular (the bestiality thing is kind of a boner killer), are the cool macho alternative; they can transform at will, are the natural rivals of vampires, and provide a caveman alternative to the metrosexual, refined seducers that are the vampires.

But while change is not bad (and as a woman I admit I actually love the sexy vampires and werewolves as action leads), there are some new annoying patterns that are beginning to emerge again and again. And there are some conventions that just need to be staked to death…

1) The ridiculous homophobia and racism analogies

god_hates_fangs-fangtasia_london_by_essensuate-15
Damn those bigots and their intolerance against beings who frequently kill people!

There’s fantastic racism , but ever since the X-men became mainstream, comparing ‘discrimination’ against your supernatural creatures  to homophobia (while not actually including any actual gay people  as anything more than sassy comic relief or victims) has become the new trend to make a story more ‘edgy’ and ‘relevant’. But comparing the prejudice against a typically harmless minority to a justified fear against a supernatural  whose means of survival regularly ends in murder and torture is ridiculous.

Vampires  are feared  and hated because they’re extremely powerful with absurd wealth, often contacts in high position and have superpowers which they tend to use to kill people on a regular basis.

Fearing vampires/ witches/ werewolves isn’t discrimination- it’s is an entirely reasonable reaction to the threat they pose and the only reason it’s portrayed as prejudice is because vampires and wolves are super hot. If vampires looked less like David ‘putting the Buff in Buffy’ Boreanaz and more like Uncle Lurch, we would still be calling them monsters and no one would call it prejudice. And speaking of sexy vampires….

2) The  whining about the curse of being a super powered sparkly sex God

3f7e916aa9f1c73b15327fea4ecd82d0
Look at my monstrousness!

Ah, the trope that began with Louis, became mainstream with Angel and reached its horrifying pinacle with Edward Cullen: the vampire who is Just. So. Tortured. About being this super special immortal sex God…

Look, there is nothing terrible about being a modern vampire. Nothing.Sure, in the days of Dracula, when people were superstitious and vampires were actual monsters, becoming an evil hell beast would have been a serious downer. But not any more.

In pretty much every modern vampire series, vampires are the ultimate wish fulfillment. They’re eternally young, super sexy, super powered and in many versions they don’t even need to kill people to survive. When they do, there’s usually a way to only kill bad people- like Lestat’s mind reading in the vampire chronicles. Hell, half of them can even go out in the frickin’ sun.

Sure, you can’t have kids (well in some versions you can have little Dhampir babies), but that is pittance compared to all the benefits. There is no downside, and their plight is about as sympathetic as those characters from 90s who whined about how empty it was to have a great job and a nice car.

Lestat here sums up exactly how I feel whenever this trope comes up…

3) The Female Werewolf as the only one, an aberration or an anomaly

bitten_scene-jpg-size-custom-crop-1086x724

Elena the lone female werewolf. Leah the only werewolf in Quilette history. Even in Wolf’s Rain, which has by far the best portrayal of wolves I’ve seen, SPOILER Blue the lone main female wolf in the series doesn’t count and can’t SPOILER enter paradise with the rest of the pack because of her  half dog status and is always the outsider in the pack.Female werewolves in the Mercy Thompson series are rare, and though Mercy herself is a skin walker (though I think that was retconned in later books), she is similar to this trope as she’s a rare canine shifter and is desirable to the males because she’s one of the only females whom they can breed with . And for that matter, the werecats in the shifter series operate on a similar basis. Female werewolves are always extremely rare and a HUGE emphasis is often placed on their fertility.

This makes NO sense. This makes no sense whatsoever. What kind of species operates like this? Not real wolves, which has a pretty even gender split. Moreover, in a wolf pack only the Alpha couple will breed, meaning that the fertility of the rest of the females aren’t a big issue.

It is an absolutely annoying trope which often reduces females to commodities to be fought over because of their gender, or treats them as a bizarre anomaly. And speaking of werewolves…

4) ‘Of course they’re like that- they’re werewolves’ as an excuse for the male lead’s douchey behaviour

beauty-and-the-beast-gaston.jpg
Paranormal Romance: making this guy look like the paragon of progressive gender roles

Clay Danvers. Adam Hauptmann. The literal alpha male. He’s  possessive and controlling. He makes decisions for our heroine ‘for her own good’.Not because he’s a co-dependent dick with no boundaries, oh no. It’s because he’s a werewolf, not a human, and of course they’re like that. Okaaayy now…

5c140f332ee0eb5051462f402ed9c150

First off, werewolves don’t exist and therefore  they don’t have to be anything. If they’re sexist dicks, then they’re sexist dicks because the writer chose to write them that way and that’s a really terrible thing to make your romantic lead. If vampires can stop being hideous chaotic evil monsters and go out in the sunlight sunbathing (which is wrong on so many levels), then werewolves can not be completely terrible too.

Second off, this has nothing to do with actual wolf behaviour. Compared with primates, wolves are fairly egalitarian, as they have an alpha couple, and a parallel rank structure for each gender- the males compete with the males while the females compete with the females. The curse of the werewolf should make men less patriarchal compared with humans if anything.

And finally, even if being a werewolf meant he had to be a controlling dick, for reasons, then there’s still no reason why any woman should put up with this. I don’t care if they’re mate bonded/ pinkie promised whatever  and he just can’t help himself- no.  That’s his problem and his responsibility. No heroine should have to put up with this.

There are plenty of human men out there, and If he wants to be with her that badly, because they’re SOULMATES, and IF SHE SAYS NO  it will cause A WHOLE PACK RIFT and HE CAN NEVER LOVE ANOTHER WOMAN AGAIN, then he needs to get his shit together. Just because he’s a werewolf doesn’t mean he’s not sentient and can’t control his actions- which are nothing like any real wolf. And if it does mean that, then he is a monster who needs a silver bullet not sympathy.

This trope is like Beauty and the Beast if Belle loved Beast BECAUSE of his shitty behavior and she didn’t make him change.Sounds fucked up? Well, welcome to paranormal romance.

maxresdefault (1).jpg
See this? This is Belle’s ‘I’m not impressed by your Alpha male shit’ face.

 

5) The Stupid Amount Of Money That’s Always Brushed Over

tumblr_mslx9kwdn11rkumvuo1_400

This is more a trope I want to see explored rather than wiped out. Most vampires and often werewolves are insanely wealthy and it’s never really explained how. But it really should. How do they do that? I mean, when you can’t go out in daylight, can’t age and therefore can’t stay in the same job long enough to build a business empire.

I mean, think of the possibilities: maybe they gain money by offering the rich and powerful money in exchange for their business know how, creating a rather privilidged class of dangerous aristocrats (like Dracula). Or they could constantly have to make human contacts to look after their money? This trope is something that began with Dracula and continued with The Vampire Chronicles, and should really be something that’s explored.

6) The Generic Sexed Up Vampire Babe

KAITLYN LEEB

Vampires aren’t nearly as male dominated as werewolves, but when you think of all the prominent pop culture vampires: Dracula, Louis, Lestat, Jean Claude, Alucard, Blade, Angel, Spike, Bill, Damon, and many more, they’re all men. Honestly, the highest profile female vampires in pop culture I can think of are Marceline from Adventure Time, Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, those strippers from Dusk Till Dawn and that little girl whose name nobody remembers from let the right one in.

Vampires in fiction are very male dominated, And when females do appear? It’s usually not good. While male vampires can be heroes and villains, sexual and well rounded, vampire women are usually always evil and are relegated to the laziest of all female villain tropes: the evil sexy women. No ‘complex’ brooding for you, you are just evil and like sex, and use sex to get your way. And it is boring. These characters are comparatively shallower, less memorable than their male counterparts.

It’s a shame, because while Camille and Elizabeth Bathory provide some great precedents for cool female vampires, who are sexual but also powerful, Instead they seem to always use the overdone Bride of Dracula route with a bit of vampire queen Akasha from Queen of the Damned mixed in, as often vampires will have a female Queen or leader.

In short, we need more Francines and Claudias in our life, and less of these vampire succubus.(although Claudia is the mother of the creepy child female vampire trope which while enjoyable, is still a role that women get relegated to.)

7) The Ridiculously Old Vampire That Acts Like A 12 Year Old- and the Immortal Teenager

the-vampire-diaries-stefan-and-damon-wallpaper-3

 

Ever since The Vampire Chronicles introduces the ‘children of Millenia’ and the idea that a vampire’s strength increases with age, we’ve had a litany of vampires who are just stupidly old and it really has no bearing on their character. Especially the goddamned immortal teenagers.I mean, age just seems like a status symbol in vampire fiction, like a rolex watch.

Even if a vampire is old enough to have seen kingdoms rise and fall, or at least old enough to have seen the horrors of both world wars, their biggest priority is getting that 17 year old to go prom, or the decor or whatever childish problem they have…

It shouldn’t be that way. Having an ancient vampire that has lived through God knows how many tragedies should change the character and make them extremely different from the rest of us. Say what you will about Anne Rice and her purple prose, at least she made their immortality mean something, at least we felt the impact of the years on them and they felt different from everyone else around them. In many modern works, the immortality means nothing and doesn’t has lost so much of its impact.

 

Those were my top 7 biggest gripes with the werewolf and vampire mythologies, and if you have your own I’d love to hear about them.

 

TOP 11 VILLAINS OF FANTASY

A good story needs to have a good conflict, and who usually drives that conflict? The villain of course! They’re the ones that threaten the world, kidnap the damsel and burn down your village, so the better the villain, the higher the stakes. In this list, I’m going to look at some of the best villains I’ve come across in the fantasy genre.

11) The Yeerks- Animorphs.

Yeerk
Before we were scared of aliens bursting through your chest, we feared mind control slugs crawling through your ear

The Yeerks are disgusting slugs that crawl through your ears and control your brain. They could be anyone around you, even your own family. That combination of body horror, paranoia, and terror of losing control of your mind and being controlled made them a far scarier villain than we were used to seeing in our books and kids’ shows

10) Angelus- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Angelus.jpg
If only Lestat could break whatever curse was giving Louis a serious case of musty vampire. But then again, Angel needed a moment of true happiness to break his and we all know nothing wold make that man happy.

There was a lot that was …very unfortunate… about the ‘sex turns you evil’ storyline on Buffy.

But Angelus was still a brilliant villain. He lost the vampire brooding act that he stole from Louis and became everything a vampire should be. He was terrifying; he was truly cold, sadistic and played horrible mind games with everyone around him. Yet he was devastatingly charismatic, dangerous and sexy. His dangerously, charged antagonism of Buffy was compelling to watch and made him the memorable villain of the series.

9) Child Lilith- Supernatural

Child Lilith
…And yet still more child- friendly than Miley Sirus

Supernatural had a tonne of great villains.However, one of the best is child Alice. There’s something eerie about that childlike innocence being twisted into simple singleminded cruelty. Lilith is one of the most perfect examples of this. Just for kicks, she terrorises a family and forces them to play Stepford Happy Families while she kills them off one by one.

Honestly, what is it about little girls that makes them so damn terrifying?

 

8) Queen Jadis

Jadis-jadis-queen-of-narnia-19951050-700-535
Forget Queen Lucy and Aravis, bad girls have all the fun in Narnia

Powerful, tyrannical and the terror of woodland animals and small children, Queen Jadis was the female character I most wanted to be in the book. While Lucy and the good girls were told that ‘wars are so ugly when women fight’ and never got to rule by themselves, Jadis got to be the sole regnant of Narnia, lived in a cool ice castle, and kicked ass in battle with no restraints. Plus, she killed feline Jesus. That’s one heck of a villainous achievement.

7) Dominga Salvador- Anita Blake

Dominga Salvador

Reading the (first ten)  Anita Blake books was an amazing experience. It was full of  larger than life characters, had lots of action and an engaging plot. One of the best aspects of the books were the villains, who were always tyranical, strong and absoltely memorable. I could have put any one of them on this list, but I chose Dominga because there’s something awesome about a well mannered older lady who inspires so much fear and terror.

6) Princess Azula- Avatar the Last Airbender

azula.png

“If I sense any loyalty, any hesitation, any weakness at all, I will snuff it out.”- Forget angst and endless monologues. Azula is one villain that doesn’t mess about

 Princess Azula was a brilliant character. She was cold, charismatic, manipulative and single minded in her goals. In the series she was so powerful she could hold her own against all of team Aang and Iroh and was so manipulative she could fool a living lie detector.

But she wasn’t just powerful, she was ruthless and a brilliant tactician, actually able to defeat the heroes and genre savvy enough to know she shouldn’t rely on having killed them unless she sees the bodies. She was so driven, so talented and such a good planner that there were many times that a part of you actually wanted to see her succeed in her goals.

5) Lucifer- Supernatural

Supernatural-5x22-Swan-song-mark-pellegrino-16819200-1280-720.jpg

‘I will never lie to you, I will never trick you but you will say yes to me.’

Supernatural’s Satan is one of the best versions I’ve seen since the definitive fallen archangel of Paradise Lost. Cold, calm, and possessing a supreme arrogance dressed in the mask of sympathy, his confrontations with Sam were always chilling. . And, like Paradise Lost’s complex, failed rebel, he was tormented with his love of God and made some very good points.

4) Dolores Umbridge- Harry Potter

Dolores Umbridge
Clearly this is the office of the devil

I’ve already discussed how brilliant Dolores is on my Harry Potter Top 11. Voldemort was our impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own deeply personal demon.

3) King Joffrey

King Joffrey.jpg
Jack Gleeson did a great job in giving Joffrey’s every smug mannerism the ability to inspire rage and contempt.

In the rich, complex world of Game Of Thrones and A Song Of Ice And Fire,  there are no true villains- except for this little shit (and the bastard of Bolton).   Every mannerism, every smug look makes you want smack him, and you just hate him more and more with every sadistic abuse of power. Unfortunately, the downfall of this little shit wasn’t the glorious display that Dolores’ was, but for making us hate him more than we ever thought we could hate a fictional character, King Joffrey well and truly earns this spot.

2) Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

 

Maleficent Cartoon

If there’s one thing that old school Disney did better than anyone else, it was creating compelling villains. They created so many brilliant antagonists, but the best has to be Maleficent. I mean even her name, Maleficent- a cross between malevolent and magnificent- sounds so beautifully devious. She’s incredibly powerful and (until the new movie anyway), is evil just because it’s so, so, so much fun.

1)Griffith- Berserk

Griffith.png

Devoid of all the typical anime tropes, Berserk  is a dark, complex high fantasy tragedy. It is a tragedy in the most Aristotelian manner possible, complete with the drama between friends and family, the characters whose fatal flaw causes their fall from grace and reversal of fortune. We have the ill- fated tragic characters; Guts, a brusque, straight forward soldier who for all his strength was helpless to do anything when it mattered most.

Casca, [SPOILER] the warrior maiden doomed to get her wish in the most twisted, nasty way possible.

Then we have Griffith. Griffith, like a lot of the best villains, is a perfect foil to Guts. Silver tongued, cunning and skilled, he oozes charisma and an almost otherworldly presence and you can see why people so readily follow him. However, his otherworldliness soon turns monstrous as the path of fate twists and turns and pushes the characters to perhaps the most gut wrenching and brutal climax I have ever seen.

The rawness and inevitability of Berserk’s tragedy, the complexity of Griffith and his genuine friendship with Guts make him my number one villain of the fantasy genre.