Eric Northman VS Spike

Spike vs. Eric Northman
Why Choose?
© Buzzy Multimedia

Being a Vampirologist it is part of my job to keep at Alexander Skarsgard, Eric Northman, True Blood, vampires least half an eye a quarter of the way open and focused on what new fictional vampire books, movies and TV shows are out there. Well, my job just got a whole lot easier now that Eric Northman is primed to take a larger role in the HBO series “True Blood.”

Back in the Golden Age of television, when “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was on the air, there was Spike, and life was good. The original Big Bad, Spike was the “it” vampire as far as I was concerned. He was immortal, so it stood to reason that he had achieved some level of sexual prowess and ability. Here was a bad boy, a punk rocking rebel who lived by his own rules. Spike saw what he wanted and took it. No regrets, never looking back, he strode forward big as life. A wolfish smile, a glint of evil in his eye, and a body that begged to be explored, clad in jeans and leather. He smoked; he drank and drove a classic car. Behold every mother’s worst nightmare manifest. Eric Northman, vampires, True Blood And then, he was also my Blondie Bear, a poet at heart, wanting to love and be loved. A wounded soul in need of comfort and nurturing; his wild heart only tamed by the love of a woman. It didn’t matter that she never loved him back, he was content for whatever bit of attention that he could steal or that she would give him, even when all she had to offer was her hate and scorn.

Wow. I lost track. Am I talking about BtVS‘ Spike, or True Blood’s Eric Northman.

Doesn’t matter really, they are the same character.

Whoah, whoah, whoah there, now wait a minute, calm down and finish reading the blog. My saying that Spike and Eric Northman are the same character is NOT a bad thing. It is not a disrespectful thing. I suspect that Joss Whedon and Charlaine Harris both would admit to you that their respective vampires are perfect working examples of an archetype called “the bad boy.” It OK to admit to using archetypes in your work, in fact, people prefer the archetype, our brains are hardwired that way. Making use of the universal constancy is a good thing.

Now, I’ve already covered archetypes ad nauseam in a blog I did about the characters in Jim Butcher‘s Dresden-verse, and you can read it elsewhere on Buzzy Mag. What I said about those archetypical characters goes for all archetypal characters because, well, they are archetypes.

Granted, the back stories of Spike and Eric are very different, but that doesn’t matter when dealing with archetypal characters. It is important however so that readers (or TV viewers as the case may be) can tell them apart and so that authors do not get sued. How the bad Boy got to where he is not nearly as important as the fact that he arrived. Eric, it would seem, was always a bit of a rounder with a talent for death being the very thing that lured Godric to him in the first place. Whereas mamma-boy William became the vampire Spike once Drusilla had her way with him.

There is a wonderful book called 45 Master Characters, it’s a must have read if you are or want to be an author. It was written by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and when you realize that you need this book in your personal library, (click on this link here to buy it.) Written in 2003 it uses reference and examples that us mortals get and can relate to. At the end of each section Schmidt breaks it down, listing characters from modern day, popular TV shows, books and movies that everyone has heard of and can relate to.

According to Schmidt if you read the names “Luke Skywalker – Dorothy – Xena – Captain Ahab” an instantaneous and clear image of whom and what these characters are comes to mind. We know them. Either we love and want to be like them or hate and want to destroy them. Each one of them has good qualities that we admire and want to emulate, but their darker traits make them complex, human, and interesting. They are iconic, the very embodiment of the universal archetype. I would recommend to Ms. Schmidt that in the next edition of her book that she include Spike or Eric Northman in the Artist Abuser chapter of her book, but not both (unless she just needs to really drive a point home) because they are one and the same.

Spike and Eric, rebels and bad boys that they may be, are labeled as the Artist/Abuser in Schmidt’s own breakdown of the Jungian archetypes. This is the guy who makes decisions based on emotion. Raging one moment, calm the next. He is unpredictable yet intriguing. The Artist/Abuser is clever and too smart for his own good. As soon as you think you know him, he lets slip a mystery about himself. He has trouble trusting others. Helping him through one emotional crisis only leads the way towards opening the door to his next one. He is an overabundant and enthusiastic giver as well as an eternal taker. His intensity and driving passion is what calls women to him. It is also a significant part in what oftentimes drives them away. Just because he loves you doesn’t mean he won’t kill you. Accidents happen, as do events premeditated. There is within him a drive to be a “somebody”. He fears being inferior to those around and under him and so goes that much further over the lines of the rules of convention to prove otherwise both to himself and those around him. Though he fears what he is capable of doing, often he will do it anyway. He is motivated by survival. Handling extremes is easier for him than taking care of the small stuff.

Who am I talking about here anyway – Classic Spike or New hotness Eric? (Maybe I’m prattling on about Dean Winchester.) I could be, but it doesn’t matter. They are Him, the one and same, the Artist/Abuser, the Bad Boy, the Rebel, the Punk Rock Vampire, the Viking from the North.

QtR – Theresa Bane, vampirologist and lover of archetypes
© Buzzy Multimedia

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Theresa Bane

Theresa Bane

QrT – Theresa Bane Vampirologist and one of Jim Butcher’s Asylum Inmates.
Theresa Bane
  • D.Arrowood

    Eric doesn’t appear as vulnerable as Spike. On True Blood the only chink in his armor appears when Gordic decides to meet the sun. Spike was forever idolizing one special woman, you really don’t see that with Eric. I do agree that they are drawn from the same archetype but it seems you can have many variations from that same source.

  • Lomax Lamat

    so you agree. Spike swooned over Buffy as well as Drusilla and that other girl, the blond who went on to become Angel’s personnel sectary. And the girl that got William in trouble, Ceciley, who rejected him when he was still mortal. So there was no one girl, Buffy was his most recent girl.

    Archetypes do not vary, that is the opposite of an archetype called a variable.


  • June K. Williams

    Ceciley, check. Drucilla, check. Buffy, check.
    Harmony, NO. He used Harmony. In the most shameful ways. Ways that were OK for William the Bloody or even Spike but not William the Bloody Awful Poet or chipped Spike. Most certainly not like the Spike that went to the ends of the Earth to regain his soul.

  • Lomax Lamat

    Yet the point remains…. they are the same character.

  • Althea Robbins

    I lost an entire decade to a man that fit that archetype. Artist/Abusers are better in fiction than real life I always say. Just thinking about Dante makes me a little queasy

  • elaine

    Spike will always be my favorite vampire, much sexier and better looking than me. He is the bad boy that thrills you and scares you. The man that you want to mother the little boy inside, then run and hide from the monster in there. Spike is the best character ever on TV.

  • Lila

    See as far as I’m concerned Eric has more style, but Spike has more heart. They are both fabulous characters with multiple layers which makes them so enjoyable. Oddly one thing they both have in common is a fundamental respect for the strength of the women around them. You’ll never see them implying a woman can’t handle something or hasn’t any power… maybe that’s one of the big draws of a bad boy:)

  • Veiriti

    Spike is the greatest vampire ever! I love him so much!!! And I do agree with Elaine – he’s the best tv character… and the best character ever!! Now I follow his adventures on comic books, but it would be nice to see him on tv again – Spike needs his own show!!!

  • Jessie Osbun

    Spike is great; Angel is great–come on–is he not a Bad/Good guy? I greatly enjoy the by-play between Spike and Angel in season 5 of Angel.

    Eric Northman is, well I have his picture over my desk. His background in the novels is different from the background in the show. I enjoy both the novels and the show as much as I have ever enjoyed anything.

    I can’t WAIT for the next episode on TV and I can’t wait for the next novel.

  • Dorothy S

    I haven’t seen True Blood yet but I’m familiar with the books and I very much prefer Eric’s character to Bill’s. Kinda like how I always preferred Spike to Angel – so you may be on to something here 😉 Yes, I’m a sucker for a “good” badboy too.

    Thank you for mentioning Schmidt’s book. It sounds pretty interesting so I’ll have to check it out. If you would like another ‘Classic Spike’ to add to your list, check out Jeaniene Frost’s “Halfway to the Grave”. I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize and enjoy Bones’ character 🙂

  • Nara

    Spike is a legend. Will Eric be? Time will show. But man, to have Spike back…I would kill for that…Love to JM.

  • Naia

    Have to disagree that these are one and the same, even with the details blurred.I’m very interested in the book of archetypes to which you referred and will definitely check it out.

    You’ve got Spike to a T. He’s a mass of contradictions– everything all at once.

    Eric, on the other hand, is almost perfectly composed and controlled. Very few characters have been so perfectly logical and pragmatic as he has. The incident with Godric seemed much more a chink in the armor than the hint at a whole ‘deep’ Eric as Sookie seems to think in her dream. I don;t see the artist tag as especially fitting int his case– I doubt very much Skarsgard’s character wills tart having heart to hearts with kid sisters or give repeated, pained declarations of love for myriad women.

  • June K Williams

    Guess not everyone will agree to Spike and Eric being the same archetype. Wish people would try to see that an archetype doesn’t mean a clone. Not every element must be present in equal amounts in each character for it to be true. The fascinating thing is to see how we all respond to the various archetypes

  • Vanessa

    Eric was my favorite until I watched the vampire diaries, and i started liking Damon, but then I starting watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I have fallen in love with him. I ? Spike, he’ll always be the best, but I also like Damon and Eric.

  • Vanessa

    Spike will always be #1. He’s one of a kind.

  • Tricia

    Same here Vanessa. I really liked Damon when I first watched Vamp Diaries. Then I started watching Buffy in Jan/Feb and fell in love with Spike. He will forever be my favorite vamp. I just don’t see how any other vampire can top him in my opinion.

  • Rachel

    It seems that a great number of people are missing the point here. She’s not saying that Spike and Eric are exactly the same in every way, merely that the very smallest of details that create them are the same. They are bad boys who aren’t entirely bad – they’re bad boys with a glitch that makes for the perfect (at least to those of us who are attracted to that sort of thing) vampire character.

    I’ve always been drawn to that sort of character in books and movies and television. So when someone asks me who my favorite vampire is, I say it’s a tie between Spike and Eric. Nowadays the immediate response is a shocked look followed by the question, “What about Edward Cullen?”

    Well, he’s all fine and great, but if I had to pick a vampire in Twilight, I’d much rather go for Jasper, the stiff, quiet one with the dangerous and fear-inspiring past, or James, the villain from the first book and movie.

    Neither of those characters is, in any way, as incredibly brilliant as Spike or as scarily charming as Eric, but it’s all kind of the same. They do have the archetype or “Artist/Abuser” quality that I love in my vampires and fictional characters in general.

    In conclusion, they’re not exactly the same. Just the very base of them – the bad boy with a tortured…whatever…part.

  • Trixi P

    Interesting also how neither Spike nor Eric are either the main love interests or the ‘baddies’ of their respective series, however they both eclipse and far out-rank those characters.

    Spike was always far more interesting, sexy, deep and witty than Angel who took the brooding to such extremes you got quite irritated with him.

    Likewise, one wonders what on earth Sookie sees in Bill who’s quite frankly boring, especially when Eric is in the room towering above him!

    Not a Twilight fan, but yeah, Edward (main character) – boring, Jasper (secondary) – intriguing with a tinge of danger.

    Vampire Diaries – Stefan (main character), snoozeville, Damon – hot, hot, hot….

    Wonder if the writers of these get side-tracked along the way… 🙂

  • June K. Williams

    It is easy to see why the main character is often not considered as hot as some of the secondary ones. The protaganist is usually the last one to know what viewers ( or readers in the case of print stories ) are able to parse out. Clueless is not so sexy.

    Sidekicks and secondary characters have much more freedom. Spike and Eric both seem to have complicated pasts and of course they are both blond 🙂 Spike followed the hero’s journey. Eric, not so much yet his devotion to family is touching. They both are very passionate but try not to wear their hearts on their proverbial sleeves.

  • Arthur DeLorenzo

    Looks like almost all women have responded to this and why not, these are two characters that have appeal to the opposite sex. Now coming from a hetero male perspective, I do believe Spike still come out on top as a character. As has been pointed out by others, he has traveled the heros’ journey to the point of even regaining his soul. Eric may have a sense of honor and loyalty to a chosen few but he has not really had that type of rebirth. As actors I believe James Marsters has the upper hand, not that Alexander Skarsgard is without talent but at least in this character he hasn’t had to stretch very much.