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History time: In the original folklore, most vampires were ordinary-looking (often, as in real life, short and ugly, mind you) Eastern European peasants little different from the victims they preyed on. Then Westernization of the creatures began in the 19th century; Polidori creates the character of Lord Ruthven and suddenly they're all elegant, English, aristocratic and look suspiciously like Lord Byron. Rymer's Varney the Vampire gives them fangs, but makes no real change beyond that. Then Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla was written, and vampires suddenly became angsty, alluring, bi-sexual upper-class gothic girls. Then, Dracula was written, and they're elegant, Eastern European aristocrats, sexy and deadly, outwardly beautiful yet disguising an inner corruption. Thus, horror turned to fetish, and
pop culture the world was never the same again. And we all know how modern, often Japanese, creators have treated them...
In the early '20s, F.W. Murnau had a great idea. Since the German Expressionist movement was all about stylization, why not apply this to vampires? Why not create a vampire that looks exactly like what he is: a parasitic bloodsucker? And so, Nosferatu got made, and very nearly destroyed.
But Murnau's character, Orlok, played by scary-ass stage actor Max Schreck, has become one of the most iconic vampires ever, and has spawned a flock of imitators, typically used as a contrast to the elegant, pretty vampires, who for some reason are more likely to be treated sympathetically, or at least respectfully.
In order to qualify as a character who Looks Like Orlok, they must possess some combination of the following:
- No hair
- Pointy Ears
- Hooked nose
- Creepy Long Fingers
- Fangs Are Evil on their front teeth, rather than canines (like an actual vampire bat).
- Trenchcoat, ideally with oversize lapels
- Count Chocula, the spokes-vampire for General Mills' chocolate/marshmallow cereal, isn't purely this trope — he has the Lugosian dark hair and widows's peak and tidy, aristocratic clothing, but he has the pointed ears, extra-long fingers with claw-like nails, narrow, hooked nose, and pointy little rat-fangs in place of his incisors rather than as canine teeth. He really owes more to Orlok than to Lugosi.
Anime and Manga
- Hellsing, the antagonist Incognito's appearance seems to be based on that of Count Orlok. By contrast, Alucard is based on the more popular imagery of the suave Dracula. Then again, Alucard is Dracula.
- Black Cat gives us Preta Ghoul. He used to have hair, though, until it rotted out.
- The lizard chimera Bido of Fullmetal Alchemist is completely bald (with a speckled head) and has the requisite pale skin, hooked nose and sharp teeth, and he furthers the similarity by the cloak he always wears, so he can hide from normal humans. Granted, he also has a rather large tail.
- Dr. Sivana the Mad Scientist from the Shazam comic books.
- Moloch from Watchmen, especially after he gets cancer.
- Count Ambrosio from The Unwritten.
- In a Jhonen Vasquez comic, an angsty teenage boy desperately wishes to be made a real vampire-- and his wish is granted by one. Instead of becoming a hip and stylish regent of the night, though, he gains a hideous form whose oversized bald cranium and tusk-like fangs only keep growing as he drinks blood. The final page shows him far into the future, with a head the size of a van, watching TV and thinking "That fucking vampire."
- The Carnival Geek Cannibal version of The Vulture in Spider-Man Noir is based on Orlok.
- The main Marvel Universe Vulture almost fits the trope to begin with.
- During Punisher's "FrankenCastle" arc, Morbius looked a little more like this than usual due in part to not drinking enough blood.
- A short Sam and Max Freelance Police Halloween comic featured what might be Orlok himself as the villain. Sam kicks him in the face.
- The vampire in the Cal McDonald miniseris Two Red Eyes is a hommage Orlok and is known only by the name Nosferatu.
- The Watchmen/Dracula Fusion Fic Bram Stoker's Ozymandias features a vampiric version of Adrian Veidt who looks a bit like this (though with pointed canines instead of incisors, a full head of hair even if it's a bit thin, and an age-related stoop rather than a real hump) before he regenerates to his handsome, canon form.
- The bad guys from Dark City.
- Riff-Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show was partly patterned after Orlok - dark overcoat, balding, thin features and a hunchback.
- Werner Herzog's movie Nosferatu the Vampyre, staring Klaus Kinski, which is sort of a remake, keeps this character design, but changes Orlok's name back to Dracula.
- Shadow of the Vampire: Willam Dafoe as Max Schreck playing Orlok, but he really looks like that because he really is a vampire.
- The bad guys from Blade II.
- Freddy Krueger's appearance is somewhat based off of this. In fact, Robert Englund even once stated that he based some of Freddy's movements on Orlok's.
- The vampire in the 1979 TV movie version of Stephen King's Salems Lot.
- The vampires of Thirty Days of Night are a successful balance of a Nosferatu-like vampire and the prevalent "pretty" vampire, so much so they seem to have sparked a revival of the former appearance. They have black pupils, pasty-white skin, claws, and shark-like teeth.
- One of the running gags in the mst-ing of Escape 2000 is that the main female character looks like Orlok.
- The mutated vampires from Daybreakers seem to be heading in this direction. Lack of blood in their diet causes them to revert to a feral state indicated by loss of hair, bulbous head, elongated face, pointy ears, and growth of claws. Of course, these are accompanied by several non-Orlok characteristics like loss of higher brain function, and even arms devolving into wings in extreme cases.
- In Van Helsing, Dracula and his wives all play out the One-Winged Angel trope and can transform from their good-looking normal appearance into bat monsters. In the case of Dracula himself, his "true form" is an Orlok-looking creature with bat wings.
- The chief librarian of the monastery in The Name of the Rose looks like Orlok. It's set in The Dung Ages, so all the ugliest monks seem to wield high influence.
- The makers of Star Trek Nemesis were going for this look for the Remans. They ended up looking like Bat Boy.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Gollum looks like a wet version of this.
- The night-terror creatures in They have heads that Look Like Orlok, while their bodies are even more extreme in their bestial, spindly twistedness.
- Timothy Spall's Peter Pettigrew has elements of this, though he's only balding and he ditches the longcoat for a much-less-impressive cheap suit. He's The Renfield, and the character, like Orlock, is associated with rats, so it's kinda fitting.
- Nicolas Cage does a rather impressive physical impression of Orlok in the movie Vampire's Kiss.
- The pau'an species, as seen in the Star Wars prequels, are obviously based on Orlok's looks; though in a subversion of the expected demeanour they're actually a very decent people, who usually do their best to take the more moral side in a conflict.
- The Penguin in Batman Returns, with his yellow skin, pointy and elongated nose, sunken eyes, and balding head.
- To some extent, Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events is a non-vampiric example.
- Not a vampire, but Voldemort's new body after Harry Potter seems inspired a bit by the look of Orlok, only without a nose.
- Bob in The Discworld Reformed Vampyres' Diary 2003. Subversion in that, over the course of a series of notes between the Black Ribbon leader and the woman who plays the harmonium, it becomes apparent that he isn't actually a vampire at all.
- Count von Magpyr's grandfather's portrait in Carpe Jugulum.
- The Master's appearance from The Strain is heavily influenced by Orlock.
- Vampires in Night Watch look like this, when they shed their human disguise and reveal their true appearance.
- The vrykoloi in The Bone Palace by Amanda Downum look rather like this; rather bestial, even the prettier ones, starving-thin, bat-like ears, animal fangs, light-sensitive eyes.
- In the Laura Caxton novels, vampires have the bald head and pointy ear thing going on, and some let their fingernails grow long and claw-like. However, instead of two front teeth fangs, their whole mouths are full of row after row of sharp teeth, like a shark. Oh, and they're also albinos.
- Concept art for the Yuuzhan Vong depicts them as this. One major difference is that instead of a hooked nose, they have no nose whatsoever. Their warriors at least are also very fit and athletic-looking.
- There was a Nosferatu look-alike in an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? titled "The Tale Of The Midnight Madness".
- The aptly-named Nosferatu clan from Vampire: The Masquerade and its spin-off TV series, Kindred: The Embraced. Their curse is hideous looks, no matter how pretty they used to be as mortal humans.
- The Master from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The interesting thing is that the vampires in that world usually look like normal humans most of the time and then put on their vampiric Game Face when they're about to do some vampire shit. The Master always looks like Orlok, and the other vampires are pretty impressed by it.
- The implication with the Master is that he's so old that he's now in permanent Looks-Like-Orlok-mode.
- Pretty much confirmed - as vampires age, their outward appearance gradually changes to show the demon within. One old vampire even has hooves.
- The Turok-han ubervamps from the final season also followed the Orlok mould.
- The Prince of Lies in Angel (episode "Why We Fight") is probably the most explicitly based on Orlok, with trademark pointed ears and long fingers. Like other Buffyverse examples, his appearance is credited to age.
- The TV-movie version of Salem's Lot makes the character Kurt Barlow look like Orlok, although in Stephen King's original novel he's depicted as a more standard vampire.
- The look of a horror character from a running sketch on The Fast Show was based on Orlok; he would emerge out of the night to awaken a young woman in black and white, but would answer her scream only with non sequiturish betting tips.
- The League of Gentlemen contained a rare female example. Well, the character was female. But was played by a male actor.
- While Sylar from Heroes certainly doesn't resemble Orlok himself, Nosferatu was an early inspiration for the character. While most of the original idea was changed, it is held over in his depiction in the prophetic paintings from first season. This is most obvious in Sylar's own rendition of himself posing as Nathan in that season's Bad Future, which featured long, taloned fingers. Also, he stole Orlok's coat.
- One episode of The X-Files involved a brain-eating mutant with pale skin, jet-black eyes, and no ears.
- Perhaps Uncle Fester of The Addams Family, although he's a much cuter version.
- Mr Gryle the banshee in the TV adaptation of Going Postal.
- Not an actual vampire, but Lx-3, the failed Lex clone in Smallville's tenth season premiere, "Lazarus" definitely has this going for him. Between the Bald of Evil, Pointy Ears, protruding front teeth, and grey, wrinkled skin he could easily pass for one of Orlok's relatives.
- The vampires in the video for They Might Be Giants' "Damn Good Times".
- Played for Laughs with the "vampire" in the video for La Floripondio's "Zunga de cuero".
- Many of the Nosferatu in game art took on this appearance in Vampire: The Masquerade, but it could differ quite a bit from the Orlokian norm, as long as it was hideous.
- The Necrarch bloodline in Warhammer Fantasy Battle.
- The Strigoi even more so - giant mutated bloodsuckers that are barely human. By way of comparison, Necrarch vampires often resemble rotting corpses.
- The Basic Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri had the vampire-like nosferatu monsters (inspired by Nosferatu), whose illustration looked like this.
- The text didn't mention them looking weird or standing out in a crowd, however. Later appearances by Mystaran nosferatu show them passing for human, so it's probably artistic license.
- The D&D third edition Ravenloft books introduced the Vrykolakas, a subtype of vampires that look like Orlock. They are specifically described as "night scavengers and plague-carriers" to play up Orlock's plague rat aspects. One key difference is that instead of fangs they have a long, barbed tongue.
- The Deadlands TTRPG has the Nosferatu as a subspecies of vampires. They look like Orlok. And ride macabre trains when raiding for victims.
- Some of the races of Talislanta look a bit like this, such as the Na-Ku cannibals, Marukans, and Nagra. Even the Kang might fit, if Max Schreck had gotten really ripped at the gym and suffered a bad sunburn.
- Two examples in Castlevania: Olrox from Symphony of the Night (his name is a giveaway) and Brauner from Portrait of Ruin. It should be noted that while Brauner physically resembles Orlok, he dresses like the later, classier versions, making him a weird hybrid of the two designs.
- In a more direct Shout-Out, Orlok himself is seen in the background of a stage in Castlevania Chronicles, frozen in a block of ice for some reason.
- The Council's Vampyri in City of Heroes look like this, although they are not actual vampires. They are the result of a super-soldier program inherited from the 5th Column, which they overthrew. The highest-ranking of them is actually named Nosferatu.
- Igor of the Persona series; although it should be noted that he is an ally character.
- Baraka from Mortal Kombat was visually based on an Orlok mask, with extra teeth added on.
- Though Magus is often drawn as a White-Haired Pretty Boy in Fan Art, and his sprite could be mistaken for one, his character portrait is basically Orlok with long, blue-white hair and red eyes.
- Medeus from Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon fits this despite being a dragon instead of a vampire. He's got the bald head, clawed hands, fangs, and batlike ears. All of these traits make him a dead ringer for the Count.
- These appear as (low level) monsters in The Witcher alongside more traditional Vampires.
- The Vampire creatures in Dungeon Keeper are like this.
- Vorcha in Mass Effect 2.
- Vampires from the Legacy of Kain series go through a progression of appearance as they age; they start out fairly human-looking, develop into a more elven/bishonen form with talon-like nails, further evolve to gain more bestial traits like three-clawed hands and feet, and the really ancient ones like Kain and Vorador end up with a far more reptilian look.
- There's a much more direct Orlok homage in Blood Omen 2. Marcus, one of the bosses, dresses in a voluminous black overcoat and has the requisite pale complexion, bald head, angular features, and spindly fingers.
- Ordinary Vampires in RuneScape look like this. The more powerful and civilized Vampyres, however, are more human-looking. (Sans the Vyrewatch, who are completely different.)
- The Vampire units of Necropolis city in Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (HOMM 2 vampires are Classical Movie Vampires, and HOMM 5 vampires look like undead nobles in battle garb).
- Lord Erebus from Demigod.
- Dracula himself in Bookworm Adventures, oddly enough. Like Brauner, he was much more sharply dressed than Orlok.
- Dreadlords from Warcraft, though they are demons instead of vampires, are a species of Orlok lookalikes.
- Despite being demons Dreadlords are very heavily based on vampires, with the ability to control bats, hypnotize victims to sleep, and occasionally life-draining powers.
- The "true" vampires in World of Warcraft, the darkfallen, are NOT this, however. Since they are all undead blood elves it's no surprise they qualify for The Beautiful Elite.
- Agile from Mega Man X2 has fangs, a thin build, a pointed chin, and decorations on his chest resembling lapels, along with coattails, giving him somewhat of a resemblance to Orlok.
- Imp of School Bites is said to be a "Nosferatu prince". However, he's actually generically cute.
- Vampires in TRU-Life Adventures start out looking like themselves, but grow to resemble Orlok as they lose their humanity.
- In Shadowgirls, a very Orlok-looking member of EoD was sent to eliminate a hospitalized cop. It 's a bit unclear if he was a vampire or something else, although the almost certainly wasn't human.
- Although Count Chocula blended Dracula and Orlok as a cereal mascot, in Breakfast of the Gods, Brian Sanderson subtly played up the Orlokian aspects more. While he kept the elegant clothes and dark widow's peak, he's far more ratlike and sinister: his face is more pointed, his fangs are longer and more wedge-shaped, and his hands look more like the paws of a rat with long thin fingers and prominent knuckles.
- Count LeShoc of Transylvania Television is based on this type of vampire.
- Zellie T of ASCZ's Horrorshow compares this video of El Chupacabra to Count Orlok.
- Mr. Burns looks like Orlok even when he's not a vampire. Especially when he wriggles his fingers...
- Botticelli, the leader of the rats in The Tale of Despereaux, looks like a furry version of Orlok.
- At the end of the Graveyard Shift episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, the lights start to flicker, and thinking that it's the Hash Slinging Slasher's doing, everyone looks over and is relieved to find that it was only that silly Nosferatu!
- The Baron from rejected Nickelodeon pilot, The Modifyers.
- In the animated series School for Vampires the vampire kids' main teacher is based on Orlock's appearance. Somewhat subverted in that we see, through flashbacks, that he once had a long, flowing mane of blonde hair.
- In episode 6 of Ugly Americans, Blake is a blatant Expy of Edward from Twilight, while Blake's father was obviously modeled after Orlok.
- Mighty Max gives us Skullmaster, an ancient warrior-sorcerer with chalk white skin, fangs, claws, and pointy ears (who's also very buff). His menacing voice was provided by Tim Curry.