Making Sense of Twilight’s Vampire Rules

Wanna feel old? It’s been 16 years since author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book was adapted to film by director Catherine Hardwicke. A supernatural romance about human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the book series became a global hit, and then the movies followed soon after and really blew things up.

While there’s plenty to like and dislike about the story arc of the books and films, what particularly riled up fans of the vampire genre was Meyer’s lack of fealty to the rules established by Bram Stoker in his 1897 horror classic, Dracula (which we’re still seeing adaptions of today, as with Renfield and The Last Voyage of the Demeter). 

RELATED: ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ director says he turned down ‘Twi-hard’ Taylor Swift’s cameo request

In Meyer’s mythology, gone were the familiar tropes of how vampires can be killed, what they feed on, and how they procreate. She replaced them with some real head-scratchers that were then translated to film, and are still debated today. With the whole Twilight Saga now on Peacock, SYFY WIRE is taking a deeper look at the funky rules, or rule-breaking, regarding the bloodsuckers that make vampire purists want to scream in frustration.  

What are the vampire rules of The Twilight Saga?


They Are Vampire “Vegetarians”

Human blood is what allows vampires to exist as undead corpses. They hunt their juicy prey, drain ’em, and then move on to the next one. However, Twilight introduces the concept of vampires that like interacting with humans and thus abstain from drinking them. The Cullen family label themselves as “vegetarians” and only drink from the copious species of animals that live in the woods near their remote home. No, it doesn’t taste as good as that Homo sapien stuff, but that’s a sacrifice they are willing to make.


Blood Literally “Sings” to Them

In most media, vampires are portrayed as getting a bit blood drunk when they’re surrounded by the heady scent of it pumping near them. The Twilight films take that a few steps further by introducing the concept of some blood that “sings” to specific vampires. For example, Edward Cullen. He’s got a general tight rein on his impulses to feed on humans, but that’s blown to dust when Bella arrives in town. Unbeknownst to her, Bella’s blood is doing all kinds of funny runs and trills to Edward’s control. In fact, he struggles so hard not to drain her that he has to contort himself to such a degree that it looks like her mere presence is going to make him hurl. Sexy.

RELATED: 31 questions we hope Edward Cullen answers in Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun


They Don’t Require an Invitation to Enter 

Another common trope that helps keep vampires in line is the rule that they can’t cross a private threshold unless they’ve been invited. Otherwise, they’re carcass non grata. To that the Twilight vampires laugh. They can go wherever the hell they want, and they do. 


Their Skin Glitters in the Sun

Perhaps the most controversial of Meyer’s new vampire concepts, in both her books and the films, is that vampires can go out in sunlight. They do not go poof into a cloud of dust. However, they avoid it at all costs because their super-duper pale skin sparkles like diamonds in the Sun and that’s pretty much a clear tell to humans that something’s not right with them. On the page, it works. But in the movies, it’s a real challenge to be scared by a walking disco ball. 


Stakes, Crosses, Holy Water, and Garlic Don’t Work on Them

According to lore, humans are always going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to vampires. They have the speed and the power to knock us mere mortals into submission. And that’s why it was nice to know there are at least a couple of reliable tropes to access for theoretical protection, namely wooden stakes, holy water, garlic, and crosses. They have existed throughout vampire mythology as the few deterrents to a vampire’s pursuit of your personhood. Twilight vamps say, “Not so fast.” Not one of them does a thing to vampires. In fact, the vamps in Twilight are so hard to kill you basically have to behead or dismember them and burn the body parts to prevent them from reassembling like a gory Voltron. 


They Can Have Children

Technically, vampires are undead creatures so there’s no way to procreate in a traditional way. Vampires create offspring by “siring” children when they drink the blood of a victim and then make that victim drink of the vampire’s blood, and voila! New vampire. But in Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Bella starts feeling nauseous two weeks after her wedding to Edward. To his credit, Edward is beyond confused when he’s told the news of his impending fatherhood. As it turns out, their little miracle baby ends up sucking the life out of its human mommy until Bella starts drinking human blood which seems to carry her through to the baby’s horrific birth. By the end of Breaking Dawn, it’s clear that traditional siring is the far more humane way to go when it comes to vampire children. 

The original Twilight film is now streaming on Peacock, alongside The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Part 2.

Originally published Aug 1, 2023.