"find this great Un-Dead, and cut off his head and burn his heart or drive a stake through it"
Wooden Stake
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWooden Stake - Credit: mugley at Flickr

The most common method of killing a vampire in Eastern European folklore is a stake through the heart. A stake is a piece of wood or metal sharpened at one end, which is driven into the ground as a marker or peg. For killing vampires, wood is usually preferred. Different woods were considered more appropriate in different cultures, with ash, hawthorn and oak some of the favourites. In Russia and northern Germany, the stake might be driven through the mouth instead, and in some parts of Serbia the stomach was targeted. Piercing a bloated corpse was another method of preventing it from becoming a vampire. In some cultures, particularly Romania, the head might also be removed and stuffed with garlic.

An article about 'vampire' skeletons found staked in their graves in Bulgaria.


Though the stake-through-the-heart method is generally adhered to in adaptations of Dracula, it is often ignored in other vampire fiction, with beheading or burning being more popular options. Many such stories will make a point of dismissing this, along with other elements of vampire folklore such as aversion to garlic and holy objects, lack of reflection, vulnerability to sunlight, etc. A notable exception is Buffy (the vampire slayer) who regularly stakes vampires and even carries around her own personal, trusty stake named ‘Mr. Pointy’, which has been passed on to her by another slayer.