Abraham Van Helsing
Dracula character
Created by

Bram Stoker
Gender Male
Occupation Doctor
Vampire Hunter
Nationality Dutch

Professor Abraham van Helsing is the protagonist from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula.

Van Helsing is a Dutch doctor with a wide range of interests and accomplishments, partly attested by the string of letters that follows his name: "M.D., D.Ph., D.Litt., etc." The character is best known as a vampire hunter, and the arch-enemy of Count Dracula.


Main article: Dracula

In the novel, Van Helsing is called in by his former student, Dr. John Seward, to assist with the mysterious illness of Lucy Westenra. Van Helsing's friendship with Seward is based in part upon an unknown prior event in which Van Helsing suffered a grievous wound and Seward saved his life by sucking out the gangrene. It is Van Helsing who first realizes that Lucy is the victim of a vampire and he guides Dr. Seward and his friends in their efforts to save Lucy.

In the novel, from the annotations of Leonard Wolf, it is mentioned that Van Helsing had a son who died. Van Helsing says that his son, had he lived, would have had a similar appearance to another character, Arthur Holmwood. Consequently, Van Helsing developed a particular fondness of Holmwood. Van Helsing's wife went insane after their son's death, but as a devout Catholic, he refuses to divorce her. ("with my poor wife dead to me, but alive by Church's law, though no wits, all gone, even I, who am faithful husband to this now-no-wife...")

Van Helsing is one of the few characters in the novel who is fully physically described in one place. In chapter 14, Mina describes him as:

a man of medium weight, strongly built, with his shoulders set back over a broad, deep chest and a neck well balanced on the trunk as the head is on the neck. The poise of the head strikes me at once as indicative of thought and power. The head is noble, well-sized, broad, and large behind the ears. The face, clean-shaven, shows a hard, square chin, a large resolute, mobile mouth, a good-sized nose, rather straight, but with quick, sensitive nostrils, that seem to broaden as the big bushy brows come down and the mouth tightens. The forehead is broad and fine, rising at first almost straight and then sloping back above two bumps or ridges wide apart, such a forehead that the reddish hair cannot possibly tumble over it, but falls naturally back and to the sides. Big, dark blue eyes are set widely apart, and are quick and tender or stern with the man's moods.

Van Helsing's personality is described by John Seward, his former student, thus:

He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy.[1]

In addition to this, Van Helsing has a well-developed, albeit ironic, sense of humor. When Arthur Holmwood mournfully proclaims that the transfusion of his blood into the dying Lucy Westenra made her truly his bride, Van Helsing laughs and tells John Seward that if such is the case, both Van Helsing and Lucy are guilty of adultery. Arthur was not alone in donating blood; Seward, his friend Quincey Morris, and Van Helsing himself have done it as well; Van Helsing also notes that although his wife is insane, the Catholic Church considers his wife to still be alive.

Adaptations of the novel have tended to play up Van Helsing's role as the vampire professional-expert, sometimes to the extent that it is depicted as his major occupation. In the novel, however, Dr. Seward is unaware of this side of his old friend, and requests Van Helsing's assistance simply because Lucy's affliction has him baffled and Van Helsing "knows as much about obscure diseases as any one in the world." Indeed, Van Helsing takes too much time (weeks and months) to recognise Lucy's illness, and seems to have no practical knowledge about vampires. Until her funeral, he tells no one his theory of Lucy's death.

Count Dracula, having acquired ownership of England’s Carfax estate through solicitor Jonathan Harker, moved to the estate and began menacing England. His victims included Lucy Westenra, who lived in Whitby. The aristocratic girl has suitors such as John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris, and has a best friend in Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker’s fiancée. Seward, who worked as a doctor in an insane asylum — where one of the patients, the incurably mad Renfield, secretly serves Dracula — contacts Van Helsing about Lucy Westenra’s peculiar loss of blood. Van Helsing, recognizing the mark of the vampire, tries to save Lucy, but she dies and returns as a vampire. Eventually, Van Helsing and a heartbroken Arthur destroy the vampiric Lucy.

Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters pursue Dracula back to Transylvania. There, they chase him down the Borgo Pass and corner him. Armed with knives, Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris slit Dracula's throat and impale his heart. Dracula's body then crumbles to dust.

Later, Van Helsing takes a grandfatherly role in regard to the young Quincey Harker, Jonathan and Mina's son.

Film adaptationsEdit

Notable actors to have portrayed Van Helsing in film adaptations of Dracula include:

Nosferatu (1922)Edit

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror was the first film version of Dracula. Although it followed the same basic plot as the novel, names were changed: Van Helsing is Professor Bulwer and appears only in a few scenes. Unlike the book, he is a friend of Thomas Hutter (the film's version of Jonathan Harker) before he meets Count Orlok (a renamed Count Dracula) and never meets the vampire face to face.

Hammer filmsEdit

Cushing's character in the Hammer movies may not have had the first name "Abraham" as his case reads J. Van Helsing, as seen in The Brides of Dracula. In the series of Hammer Dracula films set in the 1970s, the character of Van Helsing is named Lawrence Van Helsing and is seen in the prologue (set in 1872) of Dracula AD 1972. These movies had Dracula being resurrected in the 1970s only to meet Lawrence's grandson, Lorrimar Van Helsing, a "different" vampire hunter also played by Cushing.

In The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Cushing plays the original Van Helsing from the Hammer series. The film is set during 1904. Since Horror of Dracula was set in 1885, a 19-year gap between the settings corresponds roughly with the 16-year gap between the films, and the consequent difference in Cushing's appearance matches the aging Van Helsing would have undergone. However, the character is identified as Lawrence Van Helsing on the LP record of the movie, narrated by Peter Cushing and released to tie-in with the film's opening.

Dracula 2000Edit

Main article: Dracula 2000

Christopher Plummer portrayed Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 2000 (he had previously appeared as a rather ineffective vampire hunter, Professor Paris Catalano, in Vampire in Venice). After defeating Count Dracula (Gerard Butler), Van Helsing finds that the vampire lord cannot die in the conventional means of destroying a vampire and he only succeeded in paralysing him in a death-like state. Knowing that Dracula would inevitably rise again, Van Helsing imprisoned the vampire beneath his Carfax Abbey estate and used his blood- diluting it with leeches so that he can gain the immortality of the vampire without turning into a vampire himself- to prolong his life to find the means to destroy the immortal. His campaign against Dracula was noted by Bram Stoker, whom everyone believed that the writer wrote the fictional story which has a character sharing the same name as the professor. Since prolonging his life, the professor is forced to hide his true identity by posing as his own descendants to explain his uncanny resemblance to the Dutch doctor from 19th century, eventually living under the identity as his own grandson, Matthew. As a result of his daily injections with Dracula's blood, Van Helsing passed the traits to his daughter Mary (Justine Waddell), whom he fathered with a modern 20th century woman. His wife discovered his true identity and his horrific mission, and left him with Mary in fear of her husband and Dracula. Nevertheless, despite allowing himself to become distant from his family for the benefits of his purpose, Van Helsing tracked his wife and daughter. He also formed a surrogate father/son relationship with his assistant, Simon Sheppard (Jonny Lee Miller), as a means of easing the pain of missing his daughter. His wife eventually died in New Orleans, a United States city located in the state of Louisiana, where Mary attends college.

In 2000, Dracula finally escapes after a group of thieves steals his silver coffin from Van Helsing. The professor knows that Dracula can sense his daughter's existence, and heads to New Orleans to save her. Dracula, and his newly turned vampire consorts (Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan, and Colleen Fitzpatrick) kill the professor after he arrives at his wife's house, and his body is found by his daughter after she returns home. Simon, who was with his mentor, finds Mary and tell her of her father’s secrets and why Dracula hunts her.

Together, Mary and Simon defeat Dracula and his consorts. Mary and Simon return to London and imprison Dracula once more at Carfax Abbey, and Mary vows to continue her father's mission.

Van Helsing (2004)Edit

Main article: Van Helsing (film)

Hugh Jackman played Gabriel Van Helsing, the eponymous hero of Van Helsing (2004), loosely based on Bram Stoker's character. The name was changed from "Abraham" to "Gabriel" for two reasons: because the writer/director/producer, Stephen Sommers, did not feel that "Abraham" was an appropriate name for an action hero, and because Universal wanted copyright privileges to the character. The name change is accounted for in the story of the film, in which it is implied that Gabriel Van Helsing is actually the Archangel Gabriel in human form.

Evidence supporting this implication include Gabriel's memories of participating in ancient battles (including fighting the Romans at Masada in 73 A.D. — although this was in fact a siege as opposed to a pitched battle), references to him as the "Left Hand of God" (traditionally an epithet of the angel Gabriel), and, according to the film's novelization, a triangular scar on his back (a possible indication that he once had wings).

As a man, Gabriel hunts monsters for the Catholic Church, and in the movie is sent to Transylvania to kill Count Dracula. When he arrives, Dracula tells Gabriel that they have already met and have quite a history together. In the video game adaptation of the movie, it is suggested that they once fought for the same side, but eventually parted ways for an unknown reason. At the movie's climax, Dracula reveals that it was Gabriel who killed him, leading him to make a Faustian bargain and become a vampire. This ironic twist makes Gabriel Van Helsing the inadvertent creator of his own archnemesis. Van Helsing finally kills Dracula by allowing himself to transform into a werewolf, the venom in the werewolf's bite 'counteracting' the vampire venom and destroying Dracula for good.

Although it received mixed reviews, the film grossed over $120 million in the U.S. and more than $300 million worldwide.

Appearances in comics/manga/gamesEdit

The Tomb of DraculaEdit

Rachel van Helsing

Dracula and Rachel Van Helsing: The Tomb of Dracula #40 (Jan. 1976). Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

Abraham Van Helsing was also portrayed in the The Tomb of Dracula Marvel Comics series, which was based on the characters of Bram Stoker's novel, but the chronology slightly differs from Bram Stoker's.

His first appearance is in Dracula Lives #3, in which a first encounter between a younger Van Helsing and Dracula is set up. A few days after marrying a woman named Elizabeth, lawyers informed Van Helsing that he had inherited land from a distant relative in Wallachia. Traveling to Romania, Van Helsing had a long conference with some lawyers in Bistritz. Elizabeth went ahead to the manor to set it up for the night.

One lawyer whom Van Helsing talked to had a collection of Hun and Magyar artifacts, and Van Helsing lost track of the time studying them. When he arrived at the manor, he found his wife missing, but did discover several corpses, with "XXX" burned underneath bite marks on their necks. Armed with a gun from his brother Boris, who lived in the U.S., Van Helsing left, frantic.

Returning to Bistritz, a frenzied Van Helsing discovered the existence of the Children of Judas, a vampire coven that served Dracula. He also discovered the location of the Grand Sabbath of the vampires. (Van Helsing assumed that the Children of Judas were human, and merely occultists rather than vampires.) He went there, and found Elizabeth bound on an altar with thirteen Children of Judas and Dracula present.

Armed, Van Helsing opened fire with normal bullets — only to see them have no effect. A group of priests and soldiers saved him, but they could not save Elizabeth. Van Helsing refused to allow Elizabeth’s corpse to be beheaded or staked. Reluctantly, they allowed Van Helsing to bury Elizabeth in the manorial vault — but informed him of what to do in three days. Standing watch in the vault, Van Helsing saw her return as a vampire. He destroyed her, and swore revenge against Dracula, setting the stage for his role in Stoker's novel.

In the twentieth century, Dracula, having undergone many deaths and returns over the years since his struggles with Van Helsing, traveled back in time to the 19th century via an enchanted mirror, attempting to prevent his destruction at the hands of Van Helsing. Instead of arriving before the staking, however, he arrived after, but still tried to kill Van Helsing. However, Van Helsing had left the area of the Borgo Pass and Castle Dracula.

Dracula killed a young woman, and villagers stormed Castle Dracula. Dracula repulsed them, and then discovered that Frank Drake, one of his descendants, and Rachel Van Helsing, Abraham's great-granddaughter, had followed him from the 20th century. Determined to destroy Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula had a subordinate vampire named Lenore battle Drake and Rachel as he sought to find Abraham Van Helsing.

Dracula discovered Abraham Van Helsing’s lodgings elsewhere in Romania. Stunned and confused as he had just driven the stake through (the native temporal counterpart of) Dracula’s heart a short time ago, Van Helsing was unprepared to face the 20th century Dracula. However, Rachel Van Helsing saved her great-grandfather, forcing Dracula to flee. Dracula escaped back into the time stream, with Frank Drake, Rachel Van Helsing, and their ally Taj Nital in pursuit.

Abraham Van Helsing then trained Mina and Jonathan Harker’s son, Quincey, in vampire lore, but in 1899, thinking that by staking Dracula he had destroyed him for good, he received a rude surprise when Dracula returned years later and killed him.

Dracula the Un-deadEdit

Van Helsing is now a 75 year old man with heart problems, having apparently been disgraced in the medical profession for deaths caused by improper blood transfusions (Although he defends his reputation on the grounds that nobody knew about blood types at the time he performed the transfusions). He goes back to London because he thinks Dracula is still alive. After Mina informs him that Quincy is asking questions, he confronts him in an alleyway and holds a sword to Quincy's throat warning him to go back to the life he once knew and stop looking to find Dracula.

He is later attacked by Dracula in his hotel room while he is in bed on the verge of another heart attack. He is left with the choice of grabbing the weapons on the table and fighting back or grabbing the pills that will keep him alive and control his heart. He chooses to go for the weapons and just as he reaches the table is hit by Dracula and unable to fight back. He finally blacks out as Dracula sinks his fangs into Van Helsings throat.

He later sends a telegram to Mina telling her that he was attacked and to meet with him immediately. He leaves them the following clue to find them without revealing his location to others: Renfield is my sanctuary at the grand house of the patron saint of children. Beside the cross of the king.

Arthur Holmwood and Quincy Harker find him at the Midland Grand Hotel. He reveals to them that Dracula is the Romanian actor, Vladmir Basarab. He then reveals that Dracula originally came to England to kill Elizabeth Bathory, he chased her back to Transilvania and, over all, Dracula is not evil: he fights in the name of God.

Van Helsing then drops dead. Arthur and Quincy find no pulse but he suddenly springs back to life and attacks them revealing himself to be a vampire and reveals that he is the one who told Bram Stoker their story to be "immortal". Since Arthur and Quincy will not join Dracula in his fight against Bathory, he attacks them.

A fight follows in which Arthur attempts to shoot at Van Helsing with his gun but as they struggle for the gun, it goes off twice shooting Arthur in the chest. He then moves on to kill Quincy. Quincy fights back with astounding strength but he is still no match for Van Helsing. Just as he is about to stab Quincy with a bowie knife, Arthur shoots him with an arrow through the heart and then hurls himself at the Professor sending both of them off of the top floor of the hotel plummeting to their death. Quincy makes his way to the spot where the fell and finds that Van Helsings skull had exploded like a watermelon upon impact.

Anno DraculaEdit

In Kim Newman's series, Anno Dracula, Van Helsing has failed to kill Dracula, and as a result, the vampire lord has conquered the United Kingdom after marrying Queen Victoria and becoming her Prince Consort. Van Helsing, meanwhile, was killed at the hands of Dracula, and his head is displayed at Buckingham Palace.


Abraham Van Helsing has also made a cameo appearance in the Japanese manga Hellsing. The first time he appeared in one of Alucard´s dreams, Van Helsing made many allusions to Dracula when referring to Alucard e.g. "So what are you going to do now, No Life King?". At the end of this dream, Alucard seems to cry blood. The second time Van Helsing appeared as a silhouette after Alucard transforms into the "Count", this last one is the most direct reference to the novel in the manga, since this time besides Van Helsing, Alucard mentions Quincey Morris, Arthur Holmwood and Dr. Seward, although, mysteriously, not Jonathan Harker. He appeared for a third time in a flashback showing Alucard's previous deaths. The Hellsing organization is named after him, and run by one of his descendants; Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing.

Apocalypse vs. DraculaEdit

In the Marvel Comics miniseries X-Men: Apocalypse vs. Dracula, Van Helsing joins forces with the immortal mutant Apocalypse and his worshipers, Clan Akkaba, in order to destroy Dracula, their common enemy. It is noted that Van Helsing had encountered Apocalypse before and previously believed him a vampire. Even despite doing things that angered the mutant, Apocalypse allowed Van Helsing to live, in the end, as he knew that Van Helsing had aided him in his creed.


In Fangland by John Marks, the re-imagined Van Helsing is split into two separate characters, namely Clementine Spence and Austen Trotta.

Martin MystèreEdit

In Italian comic book Martin Mystère, Van Helsing's name is Richard. He became a vampire after being bitten by one, and after destroying Dracula, he came to London, to solve the case of Jack the Ripper. He discovered that the killer was in fact an ancient mythical force, divided into several knives, which forced their holders to kill. Van Helsing has found one knife and this was destroyed by Sherlock Holmes. Afterwards, Van Helsing went in search of other knives, and emigrated to USA after World War I. In 1990s he helped Martin Mystère and Java to find one knife and he personally destroyed the demon in the knife. Before he continued his search for other knives, Van Helsing revealed his vampire nature to Martin and Java.


In the video game series Castlevania, a vampire named Dracula is the ultimate recurring antagonist. This Dracula, however, has proven to be the same Dracula from Bram Stoker's original novel. The novel has been included as a canon part of the complete overall storyline of Castlevania, which spans over a number of centuries. The events of Dracula have not yet featured in a game, but have been referenced, most notably in Portrait of Ruin, where one of the two playable protagonists is Jonathan Morris, who was revealed to be the grandson of Quincey Morris. Van Helsing, or any of the other characters from the novel, haven't been referenced, but if a game title is introduced that is closer in chronological proximity, or even covers the events, it is probably likely he would be included.

Media involving descendants of Van HelsingEdit

In addition to adaptations of Dracula itself, there have been numerous works of fiction depicting descendants of Van Helsing carrying on the family tradition.


  • The comic book series, The Tomb of Dracula featured Rachel van Helsing, granddaughter of Abraham, as a major member of the principal hunters. Minor characters were Abraham's wife Elizabeth and his brother Boris.
  • In the manga and anime, Hellsing, modern day descendant Integra Hellsing leads a British government strike force against supernatural menaces. The story also includes her father Arthur and uncle Richard.
  • The DC comic Night Force features Abraham's granddaughter Vanessa Van Helsing.
  • Sword of Dracula is a comic book with Veronica "Ronnie" Van Helsing.
  • Helsing (not to be confused with Hellsing) is a Caliber Comics title about a Samantha Helsing and a John Van Helsing.
  • The Vampirella comic books feature father-son vampire hunters Conrad and Adam van Helsing.



  • A humorous British TV series, Young Dracula, featured Mr. Eric Van Helsing — presumably the descendant of his more famous predecessor, though with none of his competence — trying to exterminate Count Dracula and his children, who had been chased out of Transylvania by an angry mob and were now living in rural Wales. Eric lives in a travel trailer with his son Jonathan. There are also references made to previous Van Helsing vampire slayers, such as Manly, Porphyria, Abraham III and Norris.
  • The 1990 series Dracula The Series had Bernard Behrens as Gustav Helsing. He was looking after his two nephews, Christopher Townsend and Max Townsend. They fought Dracula, who in the contemporary world, had taken on the name of Alexander Lucard. In this version Gustav Helsing's son, Klaus Helsing, Geraint Wyn Davies had been turned into a vampire by Alexander Lucard (Dracula).
  • The 2009 ITV series Demons follows a modern-day teenage descendant of Van Helsing; the season finale reveals that the main character's father tried to sell his son to the demons in a belief that demons were the way of the future.
  • In Tales of the Slayer story "House of the Vampire", part of an unofficial series of short stories based on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Peter Van Helsing (cousin to Abraham) is a Watcher (an advisor and trainer of vampire Slayers.) Within the Buffy canon, Dracula is a real vampire but a charlatan and Van Helsing is unmentioned.

Books and storiesEdit


  • In Dracula eller Skriet från spa-avdelningen by Örebrospexet, Abraham van Helsing and his children Alice (who wants to become a great monster hunter like her father) and Bastian (who is more interested in reading books) visit a hotel run by Dracula and Elizabeth Báthory. Unlike what Abraham and Alice assume, neither of them is a vampire. Bastian is eventually made a vampire by Florence Nightingale.


External linksEdit