An interesting discussion has sprung up over at Boundless Line, considering whether traditionally evil characters – vampires, dragons, witches and wizards – can be legitimately portrayed as heroes, or whether this inevitably blurs the line between good and evil. As you might expect, I tend to think they can, if redeemed (for aren’t we ourselves “good monsters”?), but the whole discussion is interesting, and Ethan Cordray in particular makes some important points for the opposite view:
The trouble with this is that even modern vampires are defined by an essentially evil quality: the need to consume the blood of others to sustain an artificial immortality. That is what makes them vampires, and that is what links them to the old folklore figures. No matter what their personalities or appearances might be, vampires still drink blood and live forever. That’s what makes them vampires.
To imagine a “good vampire,” then, is really an impossibility. Vampirism is essentially evil, and one who engages in it is thus a doer of evil. If being a vampire is the essence of a character — that is, if it’s what defines the character’s personality and behavior — then that character is essentially evil, and I think we can rightly demand that it be portrayed as such.
On the other hand, I think it’s possible to portray a vampiric character that contains goodness, or even one that is morally transformed within a story. This would require, however, that the “redeemed vampire” character give up vampirism, just as we would expect a redeemed criminal to give up crime.