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Shows Like True Blood That Vampire Fans Need To Watch

Whether they're sexy or scary or both at the same time, vampires tend to make a big impression — and that was especially true for the vampires of "True Blood," HBO's southern fried supernatural series that, from 2008 to 2014, followed the citizens of Bon Temps, Louisiana just as the existence of vampires was coming to light. Anchored by the love story between Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress, and gentlemanly vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), "True Blood" portrayed a community where all kinds of fantasy creatures prowled. Viewers were entranced by the show's combination of frank sexuality and shocking violence, two things that seemed perfectly organic to a show about vampires.

Yet, "True Blood" is far from the only series to delve into the lives, loves, and struggles with mortality faced by vampires. Alluring-but-dangerous bloodsuckers have been showing up on television since the introduction of Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) in the gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows" in 1967, and nowadays vampire-centric shows are an accepted part of the TV landscape. That leaves a lot to choose from for vampire fans. So if you're looking for a series that will satisfy you like "True Blood," here are the best bets for your next binge.

Forever Knight (1992-1996)

"Forever Knight" revolved around a detective in Toronto named Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies), who also happened to be an 800-year-old vampire. 

The show follows the basic format of a police procedural, with Nick investigating criminal cases during the night shift with his human partner Don Schanke (John Kapelos). However, there's a twist: Nick often uses his supernatural powers to get the bad guys, while also doing his best to keep his undead status from his colleagues. Plus, each episode includes flashbacks that fill in moments from Nick's lengthy life, including the centuries-long period when he was a cold-blooded killer. Nick's work catching criminals is his way of seeking redemption for all the terrible things he's done.

Though it's not a title often invoked today, "Forever Knight" helped popularize the concept of the sympathetic vampire in pop culture. Nick Knight is a precursor for Bill from "True Blood," a vampire who regrets his past and hopes to do better by humanity in the present. Even more, Nick Knight is a forerunner to the explosion in all sorts of TV detectives of the supernatural variety, including the vampire Angel and "Moonlight" character Mick St. James.

Kindred: The Embraced (1996)

Even some of the most die-hard vampire fans missed "Kindred: The Embraced" when it aired in 1996. That's because the series was extremely short-lived, lasting only eight episodes before Fox pulled the plug. In that time, though, the series presented an intriguing vampire-populated universe. Loosely based on the much more popular role-playing game "Vampire: The Masquerade," the series centered on Julian (Mark Frankel), the vampire prince of San Francisco who ruled over five clans of rebellious, scheming vampires. Looking back now, the series was a precursor to "Twilight" that mixed it with "The Godfather" to create a vibe unexpected of a vampire series, but it made for a fascinating exercise in world-building.

While the show had promise, it never had the opportunity to live up to its potential. It felt like it was just getting started when it came to an end. Still, if you appreciate the relationship challenges between Bill and Sookie and other "True Blood" glimpses into the inner workings of vampire society, you'll enjoy similar elements in "Kindred: The Embraced." Although parts of it are very '90s, the show is a fascinating look at an early vampire series that presented these monsters as complex beings that could embrace both good and bad as it suited them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" first entered the world as an underwhelming 1992 movie. So when it got a second life as a TV series in 1997, it left many people scratching their heads. That is, until they saw the show. 

"Buffy" went on to reinvent itself as one of the most beloved cult TV series ever, with a fan following that still seems to be growing all these years later. The series employed vampires, magic, and demons as metaphors for all the real-life things that scare teens and young adults, and while the result was often very funny, it was also poignant, touching, and genuinely heartbreaking.

Creator Joss Whedon's recent fall from grace may have soured many people on "Buffy," but the show is much more than just him — and therefore, continues to be something every vampire fan should give a chance. A direct line can be drawn from "Buffy" to "True Blood," which in certain ways could be seen as the former's more mature sibling. Both shows depict a world full of witches, werewolves, and especially vampires, and use supernatural powers as stand-ins for real issues. Perhaps most importantly, both shows feature love triangles between a human with special abilities and two vampires, designed to trigger heated fan debates.

Ultraviolet (1998)

Unlike the other shows mentioned here, the six-episode British mini-series "Ultraviolet" took a scientific approach to vampirism, focusing on the people studying and hunting the creatures, not the creatures themselves. 

The word vampire is never mentioned in the series, but between their immortality, agelessness, aversion to sunlight, and inability to be photographed, it's clear what the story's antagonists are. Those antagonists have a plan that has the potential to wipe out humanity, which the secret organization at the center of the series is desperately trying to learn more about. As the organization uncovers evidence at scenes of vampire activity, the vampires' intentions — and the dire situation people may soon find themselves in ' are revealed.

Although the story of "Ultraviolet" doesn't have a lot in common with "True Blood," it includes one element fans of the HBO series will find enticing: Stephen Moyer's first onscreen turn as a vampire, 10 years before he became known as Bill Compton. While Moyer only appears in the first and last episodes of the series, his character, Jack, is the catalyst for the show's main character Michael (Jack Davenport) to get involved in the vampire-investigating organization. Michael's continued devotion to Jack represents the most potent onscreen vampire-human relationship on the show, one that causes Michael to question his new employer's often brutal methods. Between that and a cast that includes noteworthy names like Davenport and an early Idris Elba, "Ultraviolet" is a fascinating must-see.

Angel (1999-2004)

The character Angel (David Boreanaz) started out on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as Buffy's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) vampire paramour — and after losing his soul in the show's second season, one of her greatest nemeses. When he moved to Los Angeles for his own self-titled spinoff series, however, he evolved into a deeper character while amassing his own impressive crew of demon fighters around him. 

Angel sets out to "help the helpless" in this series, as a private detective who specializes in cases involving the strange and supernatural. It's a way for him to continue seeking redemption for the decades of horror he'd wrought when he was soulless, but it evolves into an ongoing mission for both the character and the show.

During the series, Angel tangles with a demonic law firm, has a son with his vampire lover Darla (Julie Benz), is trapped in a demon dimension, and sees a shocking number of his companions die. The core of the story, however, is Angel's determination to help people in any way he can, a metaphor for the responsibilities and compromises of adulthood and what it takes to keep showing up no matter what. Angel is cut from a similar cloth as Bill from "True Blood," while fellow vampire Spike (the James Marsters character who shows up in the final season of "Angel") has a perspective similar to Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) from "True Blood" — and much like Bill and Eric's shared love for Sookie, Angel and Spike both carry a torch for Buffy.

Moonlight (2007-2008)

Mick St. James (Alex O'Loughlin), the vampire private detective at the heart of "Moonlight," is a lot like both Nick Knight from "Forever Knight" and Angel after his move to his own series. Yet, unlike those brooding vampires, Mick is under 100 years old and has much less to atone for. 

Nonetheless, his moral compass is firmly in place, and the character is determined not to hurt people unless they're criminals. Besides the cases Mick investigates, much of the story focuses on Mick's will-they-or-won't-they relationship with Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), a reporter who also happens to be the young girl Mick rescued two decades earlier from his ex-wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), the woman who turned him into a vampire.

During the single season it ran, "Moonlight" amassed a devoted fan following that was as invested in Mick's relationship with Beth as "True Blood" fans were invested in Bill's — or Eric's... or Alcide's (Joe Manganiello) — relationship with Sookie. Unfortunately, while the series started out strong when it premiered on CBS, its ratings fell and it was cancelled by the network. It's too bad, because the show's serialized story of vampire-human romance would have been perfect for a streaming service, perhaps making "Moonlight" just a tad too far ahead of its time. Still, the story offers some compelling elements that vampire fans are likely to appreciate.

The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)

When "The Vampire Diaries" premiered just a year after "True Blood," vampire fans couldn't help but wonder if it was a teen version of HBO's more mature series, or a rehash of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Yet, while the three titles share many elements — not the least of which is a love triangle between a girl and two vampires — "Diaries" quickly demonstrated it was very much its own beast. 

An adaptation of the book series by L.J. Smith, "The Vampire Diaries" started off as the story of Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a teen who recently lost both her parents in a terrible car accident, as she met and fell for good-guy vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) while maintaining a fascination with his bad-boy brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Over time, the show developed into an ensemble piece, boasting a deep bench of supernatural creatures and a complex mythology all its own.

Although the series focused on teenage characters, their parents and guardians were largely absent, allowing them to party, drink, and sleep together without the normal restrictions and oversights faced by high schoolers. As a result, "The Vampire Diaries" evolved into another sexy, scary show like "True Blood," which should satisfy vampire fans who enjoy getting to know characters who walk a fine line between good and evil.

Being Human (2011-2014)

"Being Human," the North American remake of the British show of the same name, centers on a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who share a home in Boston. Like the "True Blood" cast of supernaturals trying to figure out the best way to live with their special abilities, the "Being Human" group of seemingly 20-something characters deals with the existential angst that comes with trying to have a life like any other human when they aren't like other humans.

Each of the show's characters follows their own storyline: recently turned werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) doesn't want to hurt anyone when he changes into a wild animal once a month; Aidan (Sam Witwer), a vampire who's over 200-years-old, wants to make up for his past sins while steering clear of the vampire community that would pull him back into his former murderous way of life; and new ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) works to figure out how she died — and how to make her new supernatural status work for her. Throughout their trials and tribulations, which are sprinkled with just the right amount of humor, the group forms a strong support system for one another that makes their stories feel especially poignant. If you enjoy the close-knit community Sookie has with her loved ones on "True Blood," you'll like the similar experience of "Being Human."

Dracula (2013-2014)

If you recall NBC's stab at a "Dracula" series at all, you probably remember it only had a passing resemblance to its source material. While the characters from Bram Stoker's classic novel are all here, they have a very loose relationship to those Stoker imagined, leading to some unexpected developments. 

In the series, Dracula (Jonathan Rhys Meyer) is pretending to be an American entrepreneur whose goal is to bring technology to 19th century London. Meanwhile, he and Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) have teamed up on a mission of revenge. Mina (Jessica De Gouw) is a medical student and Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a grasping journalist. Also, there's a wealthy secret society after Dracula who may be even worse than he is. 

Yes, the show is a lot like bonkers (albeit, lavishly crafted) "Dracula" fanfiction, but that's what makes it so much fun. Unlike many movies and shows about the ultimate vampire, this "Dracula" sees the character occupy the center of a fascinating tapestry of friends, allies, and acquaintances, much like the many vampires in "True Blood."

Furthermore, it doesn't forego the chance to feature a vampire-human romance. Like the 1992 movie "Bram Stoker's Dracula," the show imagines Mina as a reincarnation of Dracula's dead wife, ensuring he's powerfully drawn to the young woman, and that the show maintains a key component of many other popular vampire-centric series. Sadly, "Dracula" was staked after only one season, but it was a wild ride while it lasted.

The Originals (2013-2018)

The Mikaelsons, the family made up of the world's first vampires, played a major role on "The Vampire Diaries." And audiences enjoyed their antics so much that they eventually ended up getting their own spinoff. Although much of their origin story had already been told, "The Originals" filled in even more of the blanks of the siblings' lengthy existence as two of the Michaelson brothers — volatile Klaus (Joseph Morgan), a vampire/werewolf hybrid, and loyal Elijah (Daniel Gillies) — return to New Orleans where they spent a substantial part of their pasts.

The show is rooted in family, even as the clan squabbles and betrays each other in terrible ways. "The Originals" has a more grown-up tone than "The Vampire Diaries"  — after all, its characters are thousands of years old — that might make it especially appealing to "True Blood" fans. Plus, in Klaus, it has a fascinating character, an extremely powerful supernatural being whose deep psychological wounds drive him to do unforgivable things, even as he can be surprisingly caring toward those he loves.

Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

Like "True Blood," "Penny Dreadful" is a prestige show that takes its fantasy trappings seriously. With a title that nods to the term for the iconic Gothic fiction it borrows many of its characters from, the show imagines a Victorian-era London teeming with vampires, werewolves, and witches — one where Dr. Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Dorian Gray, and Dr. Jekyll mingle and all become key to plots involving entirely new characters created for the show. From its first season, "Penny Dreadful" is connected to many of the characters from Stoker's "Dracula," and by extension, vampires. Yet, it isn't until the third season that the depth of this connection is established. Still, when Dracula (Christian Camargo) finally appears and his objectives are revealed, it's one of the show's biggest thrills.

This "Penny Dreadful" take on Dracula is seductive, charismatic, and utterly evil — something many "Dracula" narratives have aspired to, but have rarely captured. His entanglement with main character Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) is easy to enjoy, even as their relationship is impossible to root for.

Midnight, Texas (2017-2018)

Any fan of "True Blood" should take a look at "Midnight, Texas," another supernatural show based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Like "True Blood," "Midnight, Texas" is also set in a small Southern community that includes a variety of supernatural beings among its citizens, although it's tonally more Western than Southern Gothic. The show's story gets going when psychic Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud) moves to Midnight, a supposedly quiet town accepting of those who aren't quite human. Something evil's brewing there, though, and when it starts disturbing the peace, Manfred finds himself teaming up with the other Midnighters — including a witch, a fallen angel, a were-tiger, and of course, a vampire — to defend their home against the forces of evil.

While "True Blood" could push sex and violence because of its home on HBO, "Midnight, Texas" was relatively restrained because of it was broadcast on NBC. Yet, although the story doesn't have a hook quite as compelling as Sookie's various supernatural entanglements, the show nonetheless features an interesting group of characters who use their special skills to save their town (and each other). NBC cancelled "Midnight, Texas" after only two seasons due a serious drop in ratings, but if you love spending time in novelist Harris' world, this is still an entertaining journey to take.

A Discovery of Witches (2018-present)

Star-crossed love between a vampire and a witch takes center-stage in "A Discovery of Witches," which tells the tale of historian and non-practicing witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) as she meets and falls for the ancient vampire Matthew de Clermont (Matthew Goode). The show, adapted from the "All Souls Trilogy" of novels by Deborah Harkness, is about mature adults making the decision to be together despite the many reasons they've been told they shouldn't, a theme that comes up more than once in "True Blood."

"A Discovery of Witches" establishes a unique world in which three species of creatures — vampires, witches, and daemons — live among humans. Though the creatures are known to one another, their rules have taught them to stay apart. However, when Matthew and Diana are powerfully drawn to one another, things begin to change. That includes Diana's magic, which she long lacked control over, but soon discovers is more powerful than anyone could have imagined. The story moves between countries and time periods to tell a fantastical tale, with each season roughly lining up with one of Harkness' books, making the upcoming third season likely to be the show's last.

Legacies (2018-present)

A spinoff of "The Originals" and "The Vampire Diaries," "Legacies" further expands "The Vampire Diaries" universe while telling a new story. The series, starting its fourth season, centers on Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), the daughter of Klaus Mikaelson and Hayley Marshall (Phoebe Tonkin), and Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and Josie Saltzman (Kaylee Bryant), the twin daughters of Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis) and Caroline Forbes (Candice King). The trio attend the Salvatore School, where young witches, vampires, and werewolves receive an education and learn to control their powers — a place Hope, Lizzie, and Josie consider their home.

"Legacies" is by far the broadest and funniest of the shows that make up "The Vampire Diaries" universe (so far). The students at the school go up against all kinds of demons and monsters on a weekly basis, often with unforeseen — and hilarious — consequences, from magic that causes them to go totally '80s to finding themselves trapped in a horror movie dreamscape. Nonetheless, the show continues the — ahem — legacy of its predecessors, with an increasingly expanding mythology and endearing set of characters. While this spinoff takes the action back to high school, its community of supernatural beings coupled with its many romantic entanglements should resonate with "True Blood" fans.