Vampires (also known as The Cold Ones in Quileute legends) are the primary supernatural creatures of the Twilight universe. They are immortal beings who feed and survive on the blood of humans or animals.
Vampires are one of the four known supernatural species in the Twilight series, with the others being vampire-human hybrids, true werewolves (also called Children of the Moon), and shapeshifters. Though generally not thought as supernatural, humans might also be classified as such; vampires and Children of the Moon are transformed humans (by venom and infection, respectively); shapeshifters are a human population with gifts of their own; and, occasionally, humans show gifts of their own.
The origin of vampires remains a mystery. Contrary to popular belief, in the Twilight universe, vampires deviate from those of traditional myth; a fact often alluded to in the series, usually for humor. For example, all vampires have refined and perfected physical features (including their scent and voice), allowing them to lure in prey.
Their skin is flawless and textured with a marble-like substance much harder and stronger than granite. Due to the crystalline properties of their cells, when a vampire is exposed to sunlight, their body will sparkle like diamonds. For vampires who feed on human blood, their eyes reflect a deep red, as opposed to those who drink animal blood, whose eyes will reflect a medium gold color. Vampires also possess superhuman powers, such as speed and strength. They also have incredibly keen senses and are able to hear for miles and see in total darkness.
Vampires are indeed immortal unless destroyed. Unable to sleep, they spend all days and nights awake. After transformation, a few vampires show special abilities such as foresight or telepathy, usually a prominent personality or physical trait magnified from their human life. Most of them, however, do not. Vampires are unharmed by garlic, holy items, or wooden stakes; they have reflections and shadows, and are able to walk freely in the sunlight without being physically damaged by it.
- "When we taste… human blood, a sort of frenzy begins. It's almost impossible to stop."
- ―Edward Cullen to Bella Swan.[src]
Vampires subsist on blood as their only food source. Human blood is by far the most common source and the most appealing, and subsequently the most difficult to resist.
As blood is the only component of a vampire's diet, failing to drink blood (whether human or animal) for an extended period of time will physically and mentally weaken a vampire. The longer a vampire abstains from blood, the more likely the vampire will lose their rationality and mental faculties until they give into their thirst, because their throats are described to be in "burning pain", which will worsen the longer they do not drink blood. Although it still gives them nutrition, animal blood is less appealing to vampires.
Vampires who wish to blend in with human society are also seen to ingest human food and drinks, but, since their bodies can no longer digest this, they must cough everything up later. On occasion, the appeal of human blood can be so enticing that a "vegetarian" vampire will lose control, especially if their self-control is weak. To a "vegetarian" vampire, carnivores' blood is more appetizing than herbivores, though still not quite as good as humans.
On the moral grounds that all human life is precious, a very small proportion of vampires in the Twilight universe receive their sustenance from animal blood, jokingly calling themselves vegetarians. The only examples known are the Cullen family and the Denali coven.
- "I wanted to kill you. I've never wanted a human's blood so much in my life… Your scent… is like a drug to me. You're like my personal brand of heroin."
- ―Edward about Bella's appealing blood.[src]
The blood of each human has an individual taste and smell; sometimes a certain vampire finds a particular human whose blood he or she finds nearly absolutely irresistible. The Volturi call such a human "la tua cantante"—singer—as their blood "sings" to that particular vampire. To most vampires, such discovery is an experience to be savored.
- "As predators, we have a glut of weapons in our physical arsenal—much, much more than really necessary. The strength, the speed, the acute senses, not to mention those like Edward, Jasper, and I, who have extra senses as well. And then, like a carnivorous flower, we are physically attractive to our prey."
After the change, vampires' physical appearance and muscle mass is enhanced and perfected, eye color changes, and they no longer need to breathe, though they often still do so out of habit, and feel uncomfortable without their sense of smell—the first warning of an impending threat or the smell of potential prey. The ability to cut off airflow from their lungs allows them to remain submerged underwater for as long as they wish, and contributes greatly to their excellent swimming capabilities.
Vampires are extraordinarily beautiful, some more attractive than others, such as Heidi and Rosalie. Their beauty is described as angelic or even god-like. This is one of the several features meant to attract their prey—more specifically, to attract, fascinate, and (if necessary) seduce, unsuspecting humans. How physically appealing their prey finds them is determined by how desirable they were as humans themselves. If an already attractive human were to be transformed, their physical beauty would be "beyond breathtaking". If they were of average interest, their attractiveness would be lower, but still stunningly beautiful. If however they were not particularly pleasing to the eye, they would become average (as shown with James), but this is a rare occurrence, as vampires normally select exceptional humans to turn.
A vampire's skin is described as "chalky", alabaster, or marble (because of its texture and feel, as well as its appearance). Regardless of original ethnicity, a vampire's skin will be exceptionally pale. The hue varies slightly, with darker-skinned humans having a barely discernible olive tone to their vampire skin, but the light shade remains the same. They owe their unnatural pale complexion to their lack of blood flow; once they reach the first anniversary of their transformation, they no longer possess blood of their own (though they still become slightly flushed after feeding). When the venom spreads, it also leeches pigment in the skin, so after the transformation is complete, the vampire loses nearly all its skin color, as well as any moles, freckles, scars, tattoos, or any other part of the skin with pigment from their human life. Their strong resemblance to marble statues rests also on their skin's granite-like appearance and impenetrability, as well as the now useless need to blink—the venom-based fluid that resides in the eyes now fulfills the function of eyelids and also lubricates the eye so that it can move easily within its sockets. The vampire also is unable to produce tears after the transformation, as tears are used to remove objects harmful to the eye, and those objects would be unable to harm a vampires eye. A vampire may not move at all, if need be, and if they stay immobile for several thousand years, they will start showing the appearance of fragility or petrification, though their physical capabilities will remain unchanged. Aside from Aro's clouded, "milky" eyes, Bella notes that his skin—as well as that of his brothers, Marcus and Caius—looks like paper. However, though they feel closer to shale than granite, they are no more fragile than those remaining active.
Their body's natural changes no longer occur. They cannot age or grow (things such as fingernails, toenails, and hair will no longer be able to grow. However, if an arm, leg, nose, or other such appendage should be removed, albeit painfully, it can be easily reattached. Vampire venom is noted to be the only thing that scars a vampire. Since the venom is adhesive, coating the severed end with it will help it heal faster. They show no physical or mental illnesses and defects, and their voice becomes more alluring, melodic, and seductive. Their heart no longer beats.
The venom, and venom based liquids replace all of the natural chemical processes and functions in the body. It wets and pools in the mouth instead of saliva. It coats the eyes, burning through contacts after only a few hours, protecting them from damage and thus eliminating all necessity and reason to produce tears. It also lubricates them, allowing them to move around more easily within their sockets. A similar venom based liquid lubricates between the vampires cells allowing their hard stone bodies to move. If a vampire were to remain motionless over thousands of years, dust will actually begin to petrify in response to the venom based liquids, turning their skin powdery and similar to shale in texture, as well as their eyes which develop a milky film over their red irises making the eyes appear pink in color. This can be seen with the ancient Volturi members. These imperfections, however, do not affect the vampires impenetrability or compromise their vision, a vampire that stays motionless would be just as indestructible and sharp as a vampire remaining active.
As vampires describe themselves, they are unchanging, "living stone" beings frozen exactly as they were when they were transformed. (Though to another vampire, the granite-skin feels smooth, soft, and warm and not the icy-hard touch a human would feel). Requiring little or no change to produce sperm, males can still breed, while female vampires cannot; their bodies no longer accommodate the changes related to pregnancy. In male vampires, the venom takes on a form so similar to seminal fluid that it can bond with a human ovum, making possible the creation of a human-vampire hybrid. The underlying biochemistry and physiology is currently unknown.
Their bodily scent is based on their venom, which is pleasant, not only to humans, but to other vampires as well.
A wise vampire will avoid exposure to direct sunlight in public, so as not to be seen by humans during the day, unless the sky is overcast, since their skin sparkles like diamonds; their cells have become hard and refractive as if they were so many small prisms.
- "I saved his eyes for last, knowing that when I looked into them I was likely to lose my train of thought. They were wide, warm with liquid gold, framed by a thick fringe of black lashes. Staring into his eyes always made me feel extraordinary—sort of like my bones were turning spongy. I was also lightheaded, but that could have been because I'd forgotten to keep breathing. Again."
- ―Bella Swan
A vampire's eye color changes with both his/her age and diet. Newborn vampires show bright red eyes regardless of how long they abstain from blood, or their diet. A diet of human blood would eventually darken them to a rose red color. However, a diet of animal blood would instead dilute the eyes to a golden color. A vampire who has recently fed on animal blood will have light, honey gold eyes, while a vampire who has recently fed on human blood will have vivid crimson eyes. All older vampires' eyes darken perceptively as they abstain from blood, until their eyes become onyx, or coal black. The process usually takes one to two weeks before the eyes are turned completely black.
Only the Cullen and Denali covens are known to be vegetarian vampires, feeding only on animal blood instead of human. Their eyes are liquid topaz, or honey-gold, reflecting their diet. These eyes, however, are viewed as strange and somewhat unnatural by other vampires whose diet consist of human blood, such as James and Victoria, and whose eyes are of a vivid deep crimson, becoming even more vivid as they continue to feed on human blood, and a darker burgundy as they abstain.
Newborn vampires are known for having incredible strength as well as brilliant crimson eyes. Both traits are caused by their own blood that still lingers within their tissues, producing the shockingly bright red eyes that "fade slowly over the course of a year" and incredible speed.
Meyer writes that, if a Cullen were to drink human blood, his/her eyes would instantly turn burgundy, and if two weeks were to pass without blood, his/her eyes would grow dark. If he/she were to return to a diet of animal blood, his/her eyes would become dark gold, and a lighter golden color, if they were to continue on animal blood. As a vampire's thirst grows, his/her eyes grow darker with it, until they at last become a coal black. In contrast, as vampires feed, their eyes become lighter. In addition to the thirst, the purplish-black bruises under their eyes become more pronounced as their thirst grows. Though if they have recently fed the bruises becomes less noticeable, and all but disappear (depending on how well-fed they are). The bruises indicate that vampires never sleep.
The bite of a vampire can sever the limbs of their opponents, as vampires are known for having extremely sharp and strong teeth. A vampire's teeth appear no different than regular human teeth. They do not possess fangs. However, a vampire's teeth are flawless, unbreakable, and razor sharp at the edges. They are also incredibly strong, able to bite through almost any solid substance, including vampire skin. Their teeth are also venomous, affected by the vampire venom that flows in their mouths. According to Alice Cullen, a vampire's greatest weapon is their teeth, though they are more armed than necessary.
Vampires carry 25 pairs of chromosomes, 2 chromosomes more than humans. Carlisle reveals this in Breaking Dawn while telling Jacob about their supernatural genetic relations. While vampires have 25 pairs of chromosomes, the Quileute shape-shifters carry 24. Vampire hybrids are theorized to have 24 pairs themselves.
Abilities and limitations
A vampire's physical and mental abilities far exceed those of a human being. These traits vary between different vampires depending on what they were more capable of as humans. Certain vampires also develop one extra supernatural power manifested from their strongest trait as a human.
One of the most amazing among their abilities is their speed. They are able to run in excess of a hundred miles per hour, substantially faster than the human eye can see. When vampires run, they become "all but invisible". The Quileute wolves are noted to be one of the few things that can keep up with them. This suggests that vampires are meant to move to a new location every so often. We see the speed of all the Cullens again during the baseball game. Emmett is described as "a blur around the bases", and Edward can move so quickly that he is able to intercept a ball that has been hit "like a meteor."
They can lay down and sit up within the same fraction of a second, almost without having to even think about going through the motions. After being turned into a vampire, Bella describes her movements as being instantaneous.
- "You are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions every moment that we're together so that I don't hurt you. I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident… I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake."
- ―Edward to Bella on his strength
Another enhanced trait is their unstoppable physical strength. A vampire is said to be thousands of times stronger than any human, able to lift objects several hundreds of times their own weight. They can crush granite boulders, subdue any prey, throw cars, crush metal, and uproot trees with their bare hands. Edward feared his strength when first meeting Bella, and explained that there was barely a difference between caressing her head and knocking it off. A good example of their strength is seen when Bella decides to arm wrestle Emmett after becoming a vampire. She describes the power in his one arm to be about the same as a cement truck moving down a sharp decline at over 60 miles per hour. She beats him, however, because she is a newborn at the time. Newborn vampires are always stronger than older ones, since their strength derives from the lingering human blood left in their body from their human life. A vampire's strength also enables them to leap incredible distances. Edward was able to leap over a 50 yard wide river with ease during Bella's first hunt, while Bella was able to leap over twice his distance, while still only using a small amount of her force.
Diet does not have a massive impact on strength, since it always depends on the individual vampire. Although, a diet of human blood makes a vampire stronger than animal blood, albeit only fractionally. Vampires who feed on animal blood (vegetarian vampires) find that "big game"—predators like bears or wildcats - not only smell more appealing to them, but also make them stronger than the "weaker" blood of herd animals such as deer or cattle.
Strength, of course, is not always physical. If a vampire possessed great mental strength and willpower as a human, he will find it easier to control his wild, animalistic instincts. Even so, if a vampire has not fed for a long time, he will be less likely to think clearly and more likely to give in to his thirst, attacking the first living thing he detects and draining it of blood within seconds, all without a single thought (human or animal). If, however, an unlucky human were to be near their vicinity, they will preferably attack him/her rather than the animal.
A vampire's senses are also greatly enhanced, which enables them to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste things imperceptible to humans.
Sight: While running, a vampire can see and sense everything that is around them, allowing them to keep tabs of their surroundings and avoid hitting anything unnecessarily. A vampire's vision is incomparable. Everything is much sharper, and more defined as a vampire, and their vision is unhindered by darkness. As a vampire, colors are much more vibrant. Humans are considered blind or mud-eyed in comparison. Bella described looking back at her human life as like looking through a thick, dark veil because of her new incredible vision. Their sense of sight exceeds by far that of a hawk: They can see objects in microscopic detail, and can see into the invisible spectrum of light. Vampires also have much better depth perception than humans.
Their enhanced vision allows them to see the smallest details, and extends into the ultraviolet region of the light spectrum. Bella describes her sight as being better than an eagle's. Vampires find wearing glasses or contact lenses to be uncomfortable or irritating because they see the smallest imperfections such as very small scratches and optical aberrations imperceptible to humans.
Smell: When a vampire hunts, he uses his sense of smell to find prey and hearing to track its movements. Vampires can smell objects several miles away in a good breeze. Smell is most intense to vampires, because one can smell the blood of his prey. By not breathing, they feel uncomfortable due to the lack of smell, though they can survive without it.
As they grow older and more disciplined, vampires can learn to smell differences between the scents of various humans' blood, as well as scents of other things (like fabrics - the unique scent of denim). The range of their senses can be increased (though only fractionally) through concentration. Vampires mostly rely on smell to find their prey and take in the environment, which is partly why they find the lack of breathing uncomfortable.
Hearing: Vampires can hear the most muted sounds. When Bella completed her transformation into a vampire, she listened to the sound of rap music until it slowly faded away. She then realized that it was coming from a car with its window rolled down on a freeway, miles away from where she was. When she went on her first hunt, Bella could hear the fluttering wings and heartbeats of small birds flying through the forest. She could also hear the scurrying noises of animals that were beneath the ground, as well as an army of ants on the ground. They also have an instinctive reaction to danger, usually from ill-willed vampires.
They can hear sounds coming from several miles away, and even with their eyes closed, they can be sure that there are multiple people in a room thanks to their varied breathing patterns. They can hear the sound of a heartbeat, a pulse thudding in a vein, and words spoken too quietly or too fast for humans to detect.
Touch: Despite being indestructible and hard-skinned, vampires can feel the things they touch, no matter the softness; such as fur, the coolness of wind, etc. They can feel the slightest changes of temperature around them, though they are not bothered by it. They can feel the heat radiating from a human several meters away. When their skins meet sunlight, they can also feel its warmth. Physical pain is implied when their bodies are being ripped apart by something with similar supernatural strength.
Taste: Vampires have a similarly enhanced sense of taste allowing them to taste flavors with much more depth and precision. They can taste the differences of particles in their atmosphere. They can also detect minute differences between similar flavors. Even as a newborn, vampires are able to taste if the human they are feeding on has recently ingested drugs or alcohol.
Sixth sense: Vampires also have a keen sense to danger, usually from something strong enough to harm them. Sometimes, they may even detect danger before they know it consciously.
Another impressive feature about vampires is their virtual indestructibility. During the transformation process, a vampire's cells become extremely hard, durable, and refractive, rendering their bodies nearly impenetrable. Vampires are noted to be exponentially more durable than "soft" humans. The strength of a vampires skin is described as harder than granite, and even diamond-hard. Their bodies are so hard that they are unable to be harmed by human weapons, and the only creatures capable of killing them are other vampires, or werewolves. Their teeth are also noted to be one of the few things strong enough to be able to cut through their skin, as are werewolf teeth. Because of this indestructibility, it is quite impossible for a vampire to kill himself. As a newborn, Carlisle attempted this in many ways including jumping from atmospheric heights, drowning himself, and starving himself, after all of which he was unharmed.
A vampire's body movements are uncannily flexible. Their agility is more advanced than humans, which allows them to rapidly respond to change by adapting to its initial stable configuration; They can make numerous gymnastic, or martial arts implements with little effort using a combination of strength, balance, reflexes and speed. They can even swing, flip, bend and twist themselves without failure due to their enhanced sense of balance and flexibility. Using their physical senses as allies, they can find motions at human speed too slow for them to miss.
In battle, vampires can swiftly dodge an attack without having to think how to move their bodies first. In general, only something that moves at vampire-speed can render a vampire unnoticed to the motion.
Part of this enhancement is based on the enhanced activity of their brains, which allows them to think and move much faster than humans.
- Main article: Venom
When a vampire catches his prey, he bites into its neck and injects his venom into its bloodstream while feeding. This serves as a way to immobilize his prey while also initiating the conversion from human to vampire, allowing the predator to feed on his prey without it trying to resist, even though it would not have done any good. While the venom is transformative to humans, it is deadly to animals and shape-shifters. Children of the Moon, however, are completely immune to its effects.
If a vampire loses a body part, they can use venom to reattach the lost limb, though it is unable to reattach hair.
- Main article: Special abilities
- "Yes, well, there are some vampires who have gifts beyond the usual super strength and super senses. You've seen one aspect in… our coven. Gifts are rare—one in fifty, maybe—but everyone is different. There's a huge range of gifts out there, and some of them are more powerful than others."
Most vampires find their key personality characteristics intensified by the vampire transformation in the same way their physical abilities are strengthened, but relatively few have abilities that can be classified as supernatural. More common would be a human with a love of learning becoming a vampire with an insatiable scholarly curiosity, or a human with a deep value for human life becoming a vampire with the strength to avoid human blood.
But a few vampires do develop additional abilities that go beyond the natural. These extra abilities are due to psychic gifts in the original human that are intensified in the resulting vampire. For example, a human who was very sensitive to other people's moods might develop the vampire ability to read thoughts or influence emotions. A human who had some limited precognition might develop into a vampire with a strong ability to see the future. A human with a good instinct for hunting might become a powerful vampire tracker. If a human already possessed a certain supernatural gift, this talent will be amplified many times after he is transformed into a vampire.
The proportion of supernaturally talented vampires to "normal" vampires is greater than the proportion of psychically gifted humans to "normal" humans. This is due to the same factor of temperament that results in more beautiful humans being selected to become vampires. Vampires are also drawn to gifted humans when they look to create companions. Some vampires actively seek out the gifted in the hope of utilizing that extra ability in their coven.
No gift ever works in the exact same way in two vampires, because no person (human or vampire) is ever exactly the same.
Though there are a range of vampire lifestyles, the most common is nomadic. The majority of vampires move frequently, never settling permanently in one place. This pattern is partly an attempt to hide from the notice of humans. If too many humans disappear from one area, suspicion might be aroused and the Volturi might take notice. Also, if a vampire interacts regularly with humans, eventually the humans will notice that the vampire isn't aging. Another aspect is boredom; vampire lives are so long that many keep up a continuous search for novelty.
A few covens are exceptions to this rule, and maintain semi-permanent or permanent homes. Doing this requires a great deal of subterfuge—if the coven wants to avoid suspicion and keep the Volturi from becoming involved—and most vampires don't care for the hassle.
Vampires usually travel alone or in pairs. It is said in New Moon that James's coven, which included three vampires (members: Victoria, James and Laurent), was considered large. The only exceptions are, in order of decreasing numbers, the Volturi, the Cullens and the Denalis.
Individual characteristics: When a human becomes a vampire, all of his natural behavior, needs and characteristics are frozen within him forever, though they are also heightened at the same time. From the moment a vampire is made, his interests, dislikes and personality are permanently petrified. For instance, if a human with a loving character becomes a vampire, his or her passion is magnified, allowing him or her to love others even more intensely. Another example is if the human was ambitious and cunning, those characteristics become magnified as a vampire, thus making him a ruthless killer. The only aspect that does change is the vampire's outlook on the world.
Basic instincts: Aside from their original personalities, they also have ferocious instincts and a compelling drive for consuming blood. The moment they give in to their thirst, all of their human characteristics disappear and they could risk hurting one another by competing for prey. The longer they abstain from blood completely, the harder it becomes for them to resist, and eventually they will give in to their thirst.
Vampires are feral, predatory creatures, and far more savage and beast-like than their human appearance suggests. They growl, hiss, snarl, and curl their lips back baring their teeth as signs of aggression when provoked. They also have a sense of self-preservation; when they are confronted with danger that proves too overwhelming for their capabilities, they will immediately evade the area, unless there is something holding them back.
Bonding factors: Vampires are mostly territorial and nomadic, but there are a few occasions for them to bond with someone else, human or vampire. The first bonding force is romance: If a vampire falls in love, that feeling never fades away and that love is bound for eternity. As a general rule, only the bond between mates is strong enough to survive the competitive drive for blood. Larger covens are less stable, and usually end because of internal violence. If a vampire was romantically bound to someone before he turned, that love will remain as a permanent aspect in his characteristics after the transformation. It is also possible for a vampire to fall in love after he was turned, and that love will be just as permanent as any other.
Another prevalent vampire trait is that of a vengeful nature. Related again to their unchanging state, vampires are not forgiving; they do not move past an insult or injury. The most common example of vampire vengeance is the aftermath of the loss of a mate. When a vampire loses his mate, he never recovers from the pain. He cannot rest until the party responsible is eradicated. Centuries can pass without lessening the ferocity of his need for vengeance. However, it is possible to suppress that desire if they compel themselves to focus.
The second bonding force, and one that is able to keep a large coven stable, is ambition. Vampires are competitive by nature, and some vampires have been able to evolve this competitive disposition into a greater cause capable of uniting many individuals into a secure whole. The pursuit of power is that bonding cause for vampires. The Romanians were the first to do this successfully for a significant length of time.
The third, and rarest, bonding force is the vampire conscience. Very few vampires are born with or develop a value for human life. The consumption of human blood is such a known aspect of vampire life that few ever question it; the driving thirst for human blood seems irresistible. However, those who do learn to value human life in spite of this reality are able to subsist on animal blood. Vampires who live this way are sometimes referred to as "vegetarians". Animal blood is unappealing to vampires, and thus a difficult diet to maintain. Those who make the sacrifice, though, experience related benefits. In the absence of human blood, the competitive drive disappears. Vampires are able to form bonds of love in addition to the bond between mates. The weak coven alliance is replaced by a strong, family-style union. The Cullen and Denali covens are the only known groups to have successfully adjusted to this diet.
- "The warmth inside my heart got more and more real, warmer and warmer. Hotter. The heat was so real it was hard to believe I was imagining it. Hotter. Uncomfortable now. Too hot. Much, much too hot."
Humans can be changed into vampires by another vampire's venomous bite, and vampire venom is nothing more than a deadly poison to animals.
Transformation from human to vampire is described as being "the sharpest memory they have of their human life." Once a human is bitten, the venom from glands inside the vampire's mouth is injected into the bloodstream and will travel throughout the body to change every living cell.
Depending upon "how much venom is in the bloodstream, and how close the venom enters to the heart", the transformation could last anywhere from two to five days. During this time, the human will endure indescribable pain.
Once the venom is injected, the victim feels very close to being burned alive. The venom will then make its way throughout the body. Next through the heart, and it will pump again and again in the heart until it starts meeting itself in the veins. Then it will burn all the veins until the heart stops beating. It moves slower than blood because it is thicker, which makes the transformation long-lasting. Each beat of the heart can only push it so far. The changing/burning process is slow. The venom has to saturate every cell in the body before the process can be completed.
There is no medicine that is strong enough to numb the pain; the best one could do is to immobilize the body.
- "We have to kill him. Rip him apart and burn the pieces."
In the Twilight universe, vampires are not known to be killed by human effort, are unharmed by sunlight, garlic, holy water, silver, any kind of stake or cross, and can enter homes without permission. Also, any kind of human weapon, including bullets, bounces off of them without any pain or harm done. The only known way to kill a vampire is to dismember his or her body and burn the remains before it can reconstruct itself. Thus their weakness is the strength of their own kind or something as strong, which cannot be copied by humans, and fire that consumes them. If a human were to succeed in lighting a vampire on fire, the vampire could simply take a quick high-speed bound to put it out. This is why it is necessary to rip a vampire's body to pieces before incinerating them into ashes, to prevent them from putting out the fire before it can do serious damage. In Alice's vision in Breaking Dawn - Part 2, it appeared that vampires could be destroyed by molten lava. A number of vampires fell into the deep fissure made by Benjamin and never came out of it; they were likely consumed by magma. During the final battle scene Aro says that humans possess weapons with enough capabilities to destroy their kind. This suggests that a vampire could be vaporized in a nuclear blast. Otherwise vampires are virtually indestructible.
Vampires are more vulnerable in the movies than in the books: they can be killed by severing their heads from their necks. However, fire is still the only known method to destroy them completely.
- "They're incredibly powerful physically, for the first year or so, and if they're allowed to bring strength to bear they can crush an older vampire with ease. But they are slaves to their thirst, and thus predictable."
- ―Jasper Hale[src]
Newborn or newborn vampire is the term for a vampire that has been transformed for less than one year. On average, a newborn's physical strength greatly surpasses that of an older vampire because they still have their own blood lingering in their tissues. As time passes, however, the venom in them will consume that blood, and the newborn's physical capabilities and thirst will slowly diminish until it reaches that of a normal vampire, by the end of its first year. A newborn's thirst for blood is overwhelmingly and relentlessly painful, described by Bree Tanner as being a "fire in the throat", and they will feed as much as possible to curb it.
Some indications which show a newborn are their bright crimson eyes (due to the blood left in their body at the time of changing), uncontrollable thirst that makes them more ferocious than most vampires, and superior physical abilities. In the Olympic Coven, Emmett Cullen was the hardest to contain when he was a newborn because of his superior physical strength, though he did become a vegetarian successfully.
Newborns appear much like normal vampires with the exception of their eyes. A newborn's eyes are an incredibly bright crimson, indicating that their own blood is still in their system, though their heart is no longer beating. In the months that a vampire feeds on animal blood, their eyes will change from red to amber and then to gold. If he reverts to feeding on human blood, the eyes will darken to be almost a burgundy color.
Newborns are also incredibly powerful in the physical sense, being much stronger and faster than a regular vampire, which allows them to easily crush an older vampire. As they become older their strength begins to wane, and after the first year, their strength will be reduced to that of an average vampire. In Breaking Dawn, Bella arm-wrestles with Emmett and wins easily because of her newborn strength.
Newborns are often bloodthirsty, violent and uncontrollable. Their enhanced emotions are hard to control and they anger easily. They are also likely to kill one another to compete for blood. When they catch the scent of blood, their hunting instincts will take over and cloud their ability to focus, even the thought of the word "blood" is enough to make their thirst unbearable. The thirst is so maddening in the first year that most newborns are more animalistic and wild than their older counterparts. However, as time passes, their thirst will slowly diminish and become easier to manage. Their secondary human emotions and desires will mostly be dormant for a while, and resurface slowly over time.
Bella Swan is an exception to this rule, as she had time to think about her decision and therefore did not have the first brutal year that most vampires encounter. Carlisle Cullen showed an amazing control of his thirst for human blood as a newborn, which kept him from feeding on humans and redirecting his thirst to animals instead. Rosalie Hale had never tasted human blood, though she had killed her attackers and their bodyguards by torturing them to death.
It is impossible to predict how long a newborn or an average vampire will remain vicious and bloodthirsty before their secondary desires and personality resurfaces, since every person is different. Certain vampires may have to wait for at least a few years after their first year ends.
In the 19th century, a vampire named Benito invented the idea of raising an army consisting of newborn vampires, since their strength and speed were much greater than regular vampires and were therefore more powerful as a whole. His invention triggered the vampire wars of the south, and devastated the human and vampire populations as a result. The threat of exposure caused the Volturi to arrive and stop them. Though the wars continued after they left, they fought on a smaller, less noticeable scale. A newborn army also appeared in Eclipse, created by a vengeful vampire named Victoria to destroy the Cullen coven and Bella Swan. The newborns wreaked havoc in Seattle, with many humans dying at their hands. When the Cullens find out that the army is moving in on them, they form an unusual alliance with the Uley pack and initiate a battle against them, and win with much ease due to Jasper's knowledge of newborn movements and weaknesses.
In Eclipse, Jasper mentions a Mexican vampire named Maria who had previously created an army with his help. When the newborns reached the end of their first year and became of little use, he was to dispose of them. Except for one case, Peter, who was kept as a babysitter for the newborns. Later he ran off with Charlotte, after her newborn mark, to save her from execution. Years later, they came back to him, inviting him to the North and its better life. He accepted the invitation.
The following is a list of vampires notably described during their newborn phase:
- Bella Swan
- Rosalie Hale
- Carlisle Cullen
- Emmett Cullen
- Bree Tanner
- Beau Swan
- "What they were thinking, those ancient ones, I can't begin to understand. They created vampires out of humans who were barely more than infants… They were very beautiful. So endearing, so enchanting, you can't imagine. You had but to be near them to love them; it was an automatic thing. However, they could not be taught. They were frozen at whatever level of development they'd achieved before being bitten. Adorable two-year-olds with dimples and lisps that could destroy half a village in one of their tantrums. If they hungered, they fed, and no words of warning could restrain them… In the end, the practice was completely eliminated. The immortal children became unmentionable, a taboo."
- ―Carlisle, on the immortal children[src]
Immortal children are human children who have been turned into vampires at a very early age. Creating immortal children has long been outlawed by the Volturi due to their inability to remain concealed from the human world. There is no absolute age limit set as to what constituted an immortal child; it was a subjective definition, based on the child's ability to behave himself in a way consistent with vampire law.
Like all vampires, immortal children are frozen at the mental and physical age at which they were transformed. Post-transformation, these small children continued to exhibit childish behaviors, including impulsive acts, tantrums, irresponsible activities, and a general lack of circumspection. It is said that an immortal child's tantrum can kill people, since restraint is basically impossible for someone so young.
Another aspect was their appeal; they were both beautiful and endearing that any human or vampire would automatically love them. Carlisle described them as adorable little children with smiles and dimples that would destroy a village in one of their tantrums.
It is presumed that while their mental maturity is frozen at the age they were transformed, they still have the vampiric gifts of enhanced strength and speed as well the supernatural gifts of certain vampires.
The uncontrollable, childish behaviors of immortal children battled the vampire laws of secrecy, and these children often attracted the notice of humans.
Because they were too young to be controlled, the Volturi killed all those who could be found. Under this law, anyone who knows about or stands by the child is also punishable. Countless humans and vampires were massacred because of these creations. The creators of immortal children and those who knew of them were utterly devoted to the children and opposed the Volturi at all costs to protect them, and were all destroyed in the process. Sasha, the adopted mother of Tanya, Kate and Irina, was killed for creating such a child named Vasilii. Jane and Alec were barely above the age of immortal children before they turned.
The Volturi found themselves punishing individual covens for the behavior of their immortal children with a much greater frequency than other occurrences of lawlessness. Because of the devotion inspired by immortal children, the Volturi were forced to destroy full covens in order to destroy one immortal child. After some study into the matter, the Volturi decreed that immortal children were not capable of following the law, and therefore it was made illegal to create them. Creating one had since become the worst crime in the vampire world, under penalty of death for both the child and its creator, whether the child had broken the law or not.
Even after the law was established, the Volturi kept two children to experiment on. However, no matter how many centuries they'd spent teaching the children, they still could not be controlled or taught. Carlisle Cullen stumbled across these children during his stay in Volterra and learned of this law. After they determined that immortal children could not be tamed, they had the children destroyed.
In Book 3 of Breaking Dawn, Irina misidentified Renesmee for being an immortal child because she witnessed her inhuman capabilities and beauty from a distance, prompting her to report the child to the Volturi.
Libishomen is the word that people in South America (tribes like the Mapuche or the Ticunas) use to refer to vampires. Libishomen are blood drinking demons who prey exclusively on beautiful women. In the Twilight Saga, the vampire Joham, who believes that he is creating a new race by impregnating women with half-mortal, half-vampire babies (like Renesmee), would be called Libishomen. Joham has created half-mortals which include Nahuel and his half-sisters. An alternate term for this being is "incubus."
The Denali coven's female vampires, with the exception of Carmen, used to lure men to their deaths by seducing and engaging in sex with them before feeding on their victim. However, in the long term, the strain wore on them and the Denalis started to feed on animal blood. They, however, kept enjoying the company and nocturnal activities with men, both vampire and human, who by now could survive the experience. This may also be the origin of the succubus myth: a demon that assumes a woman's aspect, seducing men to have sex with it.
Deviations from traditional vampire legend
- Vampires in the Twilight universe are hard to destroy, as they are not harmed or deterred in any way by sunlight, holy water, running water, garlic, stakes, crosses, or human weapons.
- Rather than being viewed as supernatural beings, they are depicted in the series as more of an evolutionary anomaly race.
- Their bodies and skin are made of a material that is as hard as diamond (if not harder); to humans it is impenetrable.
- They are much stronger than most other vampires in fiction. Some are strong enough to stop a cement truck on a freeway with one hand.
- They sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight.
- They are reflected by mirrors and show up in photographs.
- They have no need for coffins; they do not sleep.
- They are not theriomorphic - meaning, they cannot transform their bodies.
- They do not have fangs as all of their teeth are unbreakable, and incredibly sharp and strong - strong enough to easily chew through steel, or their diamond hard skin.
- A vampire society has developed, with a conduct code that provides them with a greater chance of survival than if they were alone.
Vampires are said to have two natural enemies: werewolves and shape-shifters; to each of the creatures the other smells repulsive. These smells are too enhanced for a human sense of smell. Vampires are said to be stronger than shape-shifters, and can usually overpower them easily. In Quileute history, one lone vampire was able to kill three wolves at one time, and the same vampire managed to kill two of the three wolves that hunted him another time, while the third managed to rip him apart. A true werewolf's greatest advantage to its battle against vampires is their immunity to vampire venom.
Vampires often fight amongst themselves. There had been many cases throughout history where vampires created armies of newborns to challenge one another and gain territory.
If a vampire's mate is attacked or killed, then he or she will likely seek revenge, hunting down and killing the attacker.
In Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, the Cullens and La Push shape-shifters become allies, mostly because of Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee.