Vampires are interesting! They’re the most “human” monster, and they usually represent what society fears.
Look at the OG: Dracula. (He’s not the first vampire in English literature–Polidori’s The Vampyre, our lesbian queen Carmilla, and the serial Varney the Vampire predate him, but he’s the one people think of nowadays.) Dracula was published during a time period when people in England had a lot of anxiety about male “deviant” sexuality after the Oscar Wilde trials, and fears of reverse colonization following a large number of Jewish and Eastern European immigrants. Dracula is an oddly seductive Eastern European nobleman (and is metaphorically sexually deviant–he bites both men and women, insert penetration metaphors here) looking to “invade” England. I really love Kaz Rowe’s YouTube video on the topic and highly recommend it!
(Perhaps not coincidentally, the vampires in my novel in progress include an Eastern European Jew, a queer man, and an eccentric freethinking woman who works as an actress during the 19th century.)
There’s also Interview with the Vampire, both the original novel series and the AMC TV reboot (love them both!). In Anne Rice’s books, they’re mostly queer and sympathetic. (Varney the Vampire was also a sympathetic character, but people usually think of Anne Rice when they think of the first sympathetic vampire–although Rice herself often credited the movie Dracula’s Daughter.) All Anne Rice novel vampires are bi and genderqueer; just look at Lestat’s mother Gabrielle who immediately starts living as a man. (I’m sure it’s banned in Florida.) AMC’s reboot takes it a step farther, with Louis as an angry gay black man and Lestat as a seductive, decadent bisexual European.
Even the much maligned Twilight can be read as a Mormon girl’s fear of teen premarital sex. Edward Cullen is sparkly and sexy, and that’s scary to someone who’s afraid of illicit sexuality. The True Blood TV series is also leaning hard on fear of intimacy and illicit sexuality.
There’s also a long history of depicting societal others as vampires. From French cartoons depicting Jews as vampires during the Dreyfuss Affair, to racist cartoons depicting black men as vampires in reconstructionist North Carolina… well. You get a wide variety of things I’m not willing to link here.
There’s also the immortality. Immortality sounds great if you’re afraid of death (which most reasonable people are; even religious folk who say they’re not afraid of death sometimes say this because they believe in their faith’s version of immortality). On the other hand, you get to sit back and watch everything and everyone you love die while you continue. Since both of my parents are dead, as well as a large quantity of my pets, I think I can say with some authority that this fuckin’ sucks!
(Also, in the modern era in my novel in progress, the vampire’s mortal wife is… a vet. Someone whose entire life is built around our beloved, short-lived companions. She’s also a bi/pan woman with two mommies.)
So, what else? The no daylight thing was invented by the movie Nosferatu, if I’m not mistaken, but I love it. It’s a metaphor for hiding the shadow self, hiding the part of you that’s the thing that society fears. Also, I kind of feel like there needs to be a “price” for being a vampire if the vampire is the protagonist. For Anne Rice’s vampires, the “price” is that you have to be a very old vampire with excellent self-control to not be a killer. I… was more interested in the curse of Immortality, so I let that one go and stuck with no sunlight and no food. I mean, I love history so without all the icky blood (I’m a vegetarian), well. If there was no price and I would continue exactly as before without hurting anyone, sign me up.
Vampire tropes: You can either be the sad broody depressed vampire like Louis, Edward, Varney, Angel… or you can be the joyous, reveling-in-being-an-outlaw vampire like Lestat, Spike, etc. Or more, but those seem to be the most common vampire states of being. Why do Buffy/Angel fans love Spike? Marginalized fans love their marginalized-coded characters embracing who they are. I love Louis with all my heart, but ENOUGH will all the self-loathing! (On the other hand, to quote The Maven of the Eventide, if he’s not sad in the rain is he still Louis?)
Anyway. Yes. Vampires. Vampires are interesting. People tell me vampires are dead, but you can’t kill vampires! they’re UNDEAD and will always come back. 😉