What We Do in the Shadows: The Vampiric Council Explained

Somebody needs to keep Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, and Colin Robinson in check on What We Do in the Shadows. Unfortunately that somebody is the ineffectual Vampiric Council.

What We Do in the Shadows Vampiric Council
Photo: Russ Martin/FX

The following contains spoilers for What We Do in the Shadows season 2 episode 10.

Near the end of the superb What We Do in the Shadows season 2 finale, wayward familiar Guillermo de la Cruz returns to his master Nandor’s mansion to discover that he, Nadja, Laszlo, and Colin Robinson have hit the town to take in the legendary Nouveau Théâtres Des Vampires. Guillermo is very impressed with the attention to detail on the invitation but then a particular detail catches his eye – the unmistakable logo of the Vampiric Council. 

“Only an idiot would go to something…this is clearly a trap,” Guillermo says. Then upon remembering exactly who he’s talking about adds: “Oh my God, they’re all gonna die.”

Yes, the Vampiric Council and their very understandable grudge returns in a big way in “Nouveau Théâtres Des Vampires.” As Guillermo correctly surmised, the Council used the cover of a theater performance to get the Staten Island vampires out of their home to pay for their many crimes against vampiredom. What We Do in the Shadows filmmaker and show producer Jermaine Clement even reprises his role as Vladislav the Poker to emcee the event. Ultimately, Guillermo takes out huge swaths of the vampiric organization thanks to his inherited Van Helsing skills. Before that, however, it’s truly wonderful to be back in the goofy world of the Vampiric Council.

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So what exactly is the Vampiric Council and what role does it play on What We Do in the Shadows? The answer is ultimately whatever role it needs to play. As a (truly great) comedy, What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t really have to concern itself with an overarching mythology. Still, it can be fun to build up a logical vampire underworld throughout its largely self-contained episodes. And that’s where the Vampiric Council comes in.

The concept of a centralized vampire agency was first introduced in season 1 episode 7 “The Trial.” Following the unfortunate sun-induced death of Baron Afanas, Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, and Colin Robinson are summoned to the Vampiric Council headquarters to face judgment. The headquarters just happen to be in a nondescript New York office building in the basement known as “The Temple of the Blood-Devourers,” just below “Quisly’s Food and Beverage.” Vampire-kind has one rule above all else: thou shalt not kill other vampires. And thanks to their association with Guillermo, that’s a rule that Nandor and company have broken time and time again. 

“The Vampiric Council is an ancient organization. Very powerful and apparently very scary,” Nandor tells the assembled camera operators in the season 1 episode.

“They travel from all corners of the globe to administer supreme and final justice on any vampire in violation of the vampiric code,” Laszlo adds. 

Another bit of the vampiric code is that babies must not be turned into vampires. That is a rule that Laszlo has freely broken when bored. That’s why a fanged baby is briefly shown in both “The Trial” and then again via flashback in “Nouveau Théâtres Des Vampires.”

Of course while the in-universe purpose of the Vampiric Council is to set and enforce the rules of undead life, its narrative purpose is really just to highlight how stupid our core quad of vampires is while also introducing some truly remarkable guest stars. 

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“The Trial” is a notable episode of What We Do in the Shadows for the sheer star power it brings to the table. Not only do Kristen Schaal, Dave Bautista, Alexandra Henrikson guest as vampires, but the episode also implies that any actor who has ever played a vampire in film or television is an actual secret vampire. Clement reprises his WWDITS role as Vladislav, as do Taikia Waititi (Viago Von Dorna Schmarten Scheden Heimburg né von Blizenberg) and Jonathan Brugh (Deacon Brucke). But then it’s revealed that none other than Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Reubens, Danny Trejo, and Wesley Snipes are all part of the Vampire Council. “Rob (presumably Pattinson),” “Kiefer (Sutherland),” Tom (Cruise),” and “Brad (Pitt)” are all confirmed to be vampires as well but are currently shirking their council duties. Colin Robinson is also technically a member of the Vampiric Council but he was either kicked out or the Council just forgot about “the Dilbert-looking guy.”

What We Do in the Shadows likely has no intentions of becoming a highly-serialized show in which Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, Colin Robinson, and Guillermo team up to take down the Vampiric Council, Twilight-style. This isn’t really that kind of endeavor. Above all else, FX’s stellar comedy is concerned simply with things that are funny. And it just so happens that a level of staid bureaucracy in the sensualized world of aristocratic bloodsuckers is pretty funny. 

Perhaps the show will continue to fill in the lore of the Vampiric Council here or there as new seasons arrive. Rob, Tom, Brad, and Kiefer still have to make it to a meeting after all.