In the BBC/Netflix show, Count Dracula has a new trick: learning languages by drinking blood. Here are the vampiric abilities and traits Bram Stoker gives to Count Dracula in the novel. These are from notes I took when rereading it a few years ago. The most succinct summary comes in chapter 18 when Van Helsing runs through a number of them, but he exhibits other powers throughout the story.

Physical characteristics:

  • Hair on the palms of his hands (in Dracula’s case only; the four female vampires we see aren’t described this way)
  • Sharp fingernails
  • Sharp teeth
  • Red eyes
  • Complexion of “exceptional pallor”


  • “Can command all the meaner things: the rat, and the owl, and the bat – the moth, and the fox, and the wolf”
  • Strength of twenty men
  • “Of cunning more than mortal, for his cunning be the growth of ages”
  • No reflection in mirrors
  • Can scale walls vertically like a lizard
  • Turns into mist, a dog, a bat, and “moonlight rays as elemental dust”
  • Create a storm and fog around himself
  • Can incite the insane to his aid from long distances (Transylvania to London)
  • Can secure girls from a long distance, causing them to sleepwalk and lose pallor
  • Victims do not decay in death before their undeath begins
  • Strength of twenty men
  • More cunning than mortal man, “for his cunning be the growth of ages”
  • Has the aids of necromancy
  • Can grow and become small to slip through a “hairbreadth space”
  • “Throws no shadow”
  • Cannot die by mere passing of the time
  • Can grow younger by drinking the blood of the living
  • Can see in the dark
  • His victims can be made to forgot his attacks, and he has mental control over them, so he can command them to come at will, for example.


  • Afraid of the Crucifix
  • Repulsed by the Sacred Wafer; unable to pass by it if it’s crumbled up and placed in a doorway or made into a circle
  • Physical contact with a consecrated Host will burn a vampire’s skin, leaving a mark
  • Must travel in a coffin (meaning large box, not necessarily a burial coffin) filled with soil
  • Cannot stand the smell of garlic
  • When asleep, face is like the dead (unable to move or react)
  • To kill: cut off head, fill mouth with garlic, drive stake through body (though a Bowie knife will also do)
  • “A sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead”
  • The branch of the wild rose placed over coffin will prevent the ability to exit
  • “Cannot flourish” without drinking blood
  • “He may not enter anywhere at the first, unless there be some one of the household who bid him to come; though afterwards he can come as he please”
  • Power ceases at the coming of the day (sunrise)
  • “Only at certain times can he have limited freedom. If he be not at the place whither he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or at exact sunrise or sunset.”
  • “Can only pass running water at the slack or the flood of the tide”
  • Harker strikes him while he’s asleep in his coffin and this scar persists throughout the novel.

Sunlight has no particular effect on the count, aside from that his powers cease during the daytime. He’s seen out during the day in the novel.