Did anyone fail to see this coming? If you're a vampire fan and you've somehow missed out on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you've got seven seasons to get through. We'll talk again when you're done.
All finished? Buffy is one of the most influential genre TV shows ever made, and while its vampires are hardly complex creatures at the best of times, the relationships formed while fighting them are legendary. Buffy is your typical petite blonde who you might peg as the first person to die in a B-movie, but she's also the Slayer, a supernaturally strong young woman who fights demons. In her tenure as the Chosen One, the show explores first love, parental relationships, sexuality, death, independence, and addiction, to name only a few prominent themes.
One episode from Buffy's fifth season encapsulates its revolutionary approach to vampires on TV, so if you haven't seen it, be aware there are pretty big spoilers in this paragraph. In the episode The Body, Buffy's mother Joyce dies from a brain aneurysm, devastating her daughters and the entire Scooby Gang (particularly Emma Caulfield's Anya, a former demon who cannot understand what's happened). Buffy kills a vampire in the morgue to save her sister Dawn, but the entire fight is muted and barely choreographed. Suddenly saving the world isn't glamorous, but just a part of Buffy's life that she can't avoid, even when she's almost overwhelmed with grief.
The Body is one of several Buffy episodes which aren't just big moments in the history of vampires in television, but fantastic hours of TV. It is the best vampire TV show ever made by a country mile.