Common Plotholes In Vampire Fiction

Throughout our forays into fantasy fiction, DML and I have noticed that wide, gaping plotholes tend to surround vampires - so we've collaborated to call them out so that future fantasy writers can account for and avoid them.

Table of Contents

The implications of not showing up in mirrors, photographs, or on video.

A question that’s occasionally been asked before - if vampires don’t cast reflections, how do they style their hair so well or shave without cutting themselves? The question is usually asked light-heartedly, but it’s worth taking into consideration.

In some works, vampires don’t only not cast reflections - they also don’t show up in films or photographs. For vampires trying to live among humans undercover, this could pose a serious problem - how would they obtain their driver’s licenses - or any form of photo ID, for that matter? And with no driver’s license or photo ID, how would they work in jobs or utilize services that require one? Not only would your vampires not be able to (legally) drive a car, but they wouldn’t even be able to open a bank account. Without something as rudimentary as that, it’s impossible to justify how a vampire could make tons of long-term investments, own corporations, or get rich playing the stock market on Wall Street.

The numbers of bodies left behind should attract attention.

In Twilight, vampires can go approximately 1-2 weeks between meals. Now, for 3.5 books the Cullen clan comprises of seven members. So, that adds up to 175-350 exsanguinated animal bodies left behind per year - something which the US forest service would find highly alarming. Similarly, the Volturi with its seven members would be leaving behind that many human bodies. While the locals of Volterra may not necessarily notice that tourists are going missing, the friends and families of the tourists certainly would, and it wouldn’t be long before Volterra developed a reputation as a literal tourist trap.

“Okay, but that’s Twilight. That shouldn’t count!” I can hear some of you arguing. Heh. Heheheh. Twilight most definitely counts - because it doesn’t get much better in other vampire literature. In fact... it gets worse. In Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, vampires (if they can) take out 2-3 people per night. So this means that a band of three vampires could be taking out 2190-3204 people per year. Let’s ramp that up to a hundred vampires, and that’s anywhere between 73000-109500 people gone per year. For comparison, as an upper limit, that’s seven times more dead than the United Kingdom’s forces suffered during a three year war with North Korea, or almost twice as many dead the U.S Military suffered over a nineteen year-long military conflict in Vietnam. For that many bodies to show up exsanguinated with double puncture wounds on the necks or wrists, it would be impossible for the muggles/humans not to notice that something odd was going on.

Although a large number of people are reported missing in the United States are reported to go missing every year, only a small fraction of those are actually the highly publicized abductions-by-strangers that are romanticized and talked up by the media. Most abductees are children (out of 840,279 missing person cases in 2001, only 50,000 were over the age of eighteen), and less than a hundredth of one percent of those missing children were kidnapped by strangers. (The vast majority of child abductions are carried out by relatives, usually one of the child’s own parents.) Out of the 800,000 or so missing children every year, about 99% of them are found - leaving about 8000-10000 unaccounted for. As far as adult disappearances go, there are plenty of reasons for those: psychiatric problems (such as elderly persons suffering from dementia wandering off), drugs and alcoholism, and even natural disasters.

It is highly advisable to do the math in your story and determine if things can be held up to scrutiny - do the numbers of victims your vampires leave behind greatly exceed the number of missing persons every year? Do a suspiciously high number of people disappear in certain places, yet no on seems to notice? And what are the vampires doing with the bodies? Although soft tissues will usually decompose in a matter of months to years depending on how hot or cold or wet or dry the environment is, bones can last for decades and evidence can still be pieced together from them. Burning the body? A human body is roughly 80% water. Put a kettle of water on the stove and turn the heat on full blast. See how long it takes to completely evaporate - and that’s just in a pot very close to a source of heat, with the heat controlled and contained for better efficiency. Now imagine all the gasoline and the amount of time you’d need to make an amount several times that all boil away - and remember, large chemical fires are not easy to miss.

Moving around lots of money attracts lots of attention.

In many works, vampires are often extremely rich for one reason or another. However, acquiring and moving around that much money without being noticed is next to impossible. Eventually someone’s going to start looking into what’s going on with all that money, and eventually... well, vampires are gonna get discovered.

Banks and other financial institutions are heavily audited by the IRS so they can keep tabs on the taxpayers, and merely writing this off as ‘corrupt banks’ doesn’t really do it justice. The IRS is looking to collect its dues, and will pursue large sums of money being moved around anonymously, as something like that just screams “Look at me, I’m a money-laundering scheme! Come and bust me for possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxes I owe!”

Tax loopholes and offshore profits run into huge, complicated messes of law, sovereignty, and economics that entire corporate divisions work around the clock on in order to game, and even then, large corporations still get caught and investigated over it. Short of using Bitcoins, (which are not stable and don’t qualify as legal tender,) one way around this problem is to ship large amounts of cash around, which can attract other forms of attention (good luck trying to cross a border with more than $5000 in monetary agents - while easier than exploiting tax loopholes, border security will be very interested in what's going on if they catch you) and pose huge amounts of logistical challenges. In the end, the gymnastics needed to justify a filthy rich vampire (or worse, a filthy rich vampire clan) open up more questions than they answer.

Blood consumed vs. capacity of the human stomach.

Most vampires were human, and as a result usually have the same general body plan as Homo sapiens. The human stomach can generally hold up to about a liter, though whatwith it being quite stretchy, can hold up to four liters - think approximately a gallon of milk, or twenty-four standard-sized soft drink cans, or two large bottles of soda.

In an adult human body (between 150-160 pounds) you’ll find approximately 4.7-5 liters of blood. So while a vampire might be able to drain an entire body, xe most likely be too stuffed to go hunt down a second. (And had better be wearing stretchy clothes!)

Blood packs don't come cheap.

At first, blood banks seem like an easy way for "good" vampires to get a guilt-free meal... until you take into account that a single blood pack meal is going to run into the triple digits. While US law prohibits human blood from actually being sold, a handling fee is often imposed - which as of 2006, was $200, and has almost certainly gone up since then.

What is it with vampires and nightclubs anyways?

In many of the older works of fiction, vampires were hideous, deformed freaks that would have never passed as human. Nowadays, they’re usually prettified enough that they can slip through most human-dominated establishments and territories unnoticed - and in many works of fiction, vampires can be found prowling nightclubs for potential prey.

Ask anyone in the seduction or pickup community, and they will typically tell you that from a man’s point of view, nightclubs are possibly the worst place to look for a quick pickup. Let’s look at how nightclubs in fiction compare to nightclubs in reality:

Fiction: You get into a nightclub immediately.
Fact: Nightclubs are often crowded places. If you want in, you’ll probably have to wait in line for very long periods of time. You may not even get in at all on some especially crowded nights.

Fiction: People at clubs are relatively open to socializing.
Fact: Music at most nightclubs is typically so loud that it can be heard on the streets, making conversation next to impossible. (Noise levels like this would probably be painful, even agonizing to someone with vampiric super-hearing.) People can often be drunk, rowdy, and in some cases, violent or even sick. Typically, clubgoers are people that go with other people they already know, and will typically not admit strangers into their inner circle.

Fiction: Men and women go to nightclubs for sex and hookups, making it relatively easy for a vampire to get someone up for a one-night stand.
Fact: Obnoxious and desperate people often end up chasing other clubgoers in extremely creepy ways, leading them to become jaded and defensive. Both men and women of all levels of physical attractiveness tend to be highly selective of the partners they will approach and/or admit, and in a bar or a nightclub the stakes tend to be high and the competition brutal.

Bottom line: Whoever figures vampires have it easy in nightclubs has obviously never been to one. Now, there are some people who demonstrate the confidence, wittiness, humour, and social skills to be able to seduce people at these places despite all the drawbacks, but how common are these people, compared to the rest of the population that still experiences sexual frustration, relationship issues and difficulty finding love? Consider this: if it’s rare for people to exude that kind of natural charisma, considering that your population of vampires will be far, far, far smaller, how much rarer would it be for a vampire to?

Some people like to attempt to rationalize and/or justify this issue by giving their vampires supernatural force of personality and/or glamour, and while this approach seems to be becoming the norm, whether it’s justified in-universe or not, it is still by fiat. If the trope of vampires in nightclubs evolved out of the age-old association between vampirism and sex, and the whole deal with vampires being in nightclubs is being used to play up the fear of things such as date rape and sexual predators being everywhere, then why not try to expand to other locations where people would be even less guarded and wary of strangers, such as schools, community centers, shopping malls, even work conventions and public parks? There is a huge amount of fear factor in the idea that anywhere you go, places you frequent, and maybe even can’t avoid - such as school or work - could be hunting grounds for a predator, but people meet in other places besides nightclubs; and there’s an even bigger fear factor if it’s in a place where you would least expect it.

Also, check out:

Tips & Ideas To Write More Believable Masquerades
Alexis Feynman's Guide To Writing Better Vampire Fiction
Tips For Writing Better Immortal & Long-Lived Characters
Common Werewolf Tropes You Should Think Twice Before Using

Things About Death, Dying, & Murder Writers Need To Know
Tips For Writing & Maintaining A Horror Atmosphere
More Tips For Horror
Pointlessly Edgy Tropes To Reconsider Using

External Resources/Works Referenced

America's Missing (Page 2)
Five Myths About Missing Children
Missing Children Myths
Volume of a Human Stomach
Volume of Blood in a Human
The Price of a Gallon

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