A vampire hunter is someone who specializes in finding and destroying vampires and sometimes other creatures of dark fantasy as well.
With the exception of the Romanian belief that a dhampir, offspring of a vampire and its human partner, could be used to detect a vampire, there is no direct evidence that vampire hunters actually existed when vampire lore was common among the Slavic and Romanian people. However, the vampire hunter has found popularity in fiction and popular culture.
The most widely known example of a vampire hunter is Abraham Van Helsing of the novel Dracula and in other works of fiction adapting or modifying that work. Other more recent figures include Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the television show and film of the same name, and BloodRayne from the eponymous video game series and film. Also well-known are the Belmont clan from the Castlevania series.
As well as being knowledgable about vampire lore, vampire hunters in fiction are often armed with an eclectic mix of items and weapons which are designed to take maximum advantage of the monster's traditional weaknesses. These have included firearms with silver ammunition, appropriate religious symbols, crossbows that fire all wood bolts and waterguns filled with blessed holy water.
The organizational strength of depicted vampire hunters can vary wildly. Most hunter characters are in small groups working alone and in secret; the extreme opposite example is the British vampire hunting organization in Hellsing which is a part of the British government with a large number of troops, vehicle fleet and even loyal vampires at its disposal.
While predominantly depicted as human, examples of other types of vampire hunters also exist. Dhampiric figures, having a mix of human and vampire blood, are a popular form. Examples of this include D of Vampire Hunter D and Blade of the Blade series of comic books and movies.
The image of the vampire hunter is often a mysterious and dramatic avenging hero, an eccentric extremist, or sometimes a bit of both. A hunter may be a heroic figure, a lonesome avenger, or sometimes even a bounty hunter-style character, hunting Vampires for profit. Vampire hunters have also popularly been depicted as hunting various creatures such as werewolves, demons, and other forms of undead as well. Having vampire hunting become a family tradition handed down to future generations of a bloodline is a popular use of the archetype in fiction.