Castlevania: Killing Off the Big Bad Early Was a Risk That Paid Off

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Castlevania Season 4, available now on Netflix.

While Castlevania set Dracula up as the big bad, he was killed in Season 2. Offing such a prominent villain at the halfway point seemed risky, but now that the show has wrapped up, we can definitively say that killing him off was the right move, as it opened the door for more characters to take on the villain role, as well as gave his generals a chance to step out of his shadow.

Dracula is in a league of his own, but with him gone, characters like Carmilla, her sisters and Death were able to bring new challenges to the table. In Carmilla's case, her plot was not to kill off humanity. Instead, she longed to rule it, forcing humans into "pens" so they could be an everlasting food source. Plus, she felt entitled to the world because humanity failed to do anything with it. Where Dracula wanted to annihilate humanity out of vengeance, Carmilla posed a new threat to the world, which would've prolonged humanity's pain indefinitely, and her motives were more logical for the vampire race while still being selfish, cementing her as a complex villain.

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Meanwhile, her sisters showed a different side to vampires. They were initially down for her plan; however, as Carmilla's ambitions grew, so did their hesitancy. Morana, Striga and Lenore saw humans as animals, but that didn't mean they wanted the enslavement of all humanity. Morana felt guilty over this, and she and Striga debated whether following through with Carmilla's plan was even worth it when they were happy simply being together. Lenore also questioned this and developed an abusive relationship with Hector, yet in her eyes, she cared for him.

Promotional poster featuring Striga (in day armor), Morana, Lenore, Hector, Carmilla, and Isaac

If Dracula remained the main antagonist, it's likely audiences would've seen less of these vampires, and that would be a shame since they showed some vampire value mortals. Even Dracula was won over by humanity before the main events of Castlevania thanks to Lisa, but viewers didn't see too much of that. While none of the sisters developed a relationship with people like Dracula did with Lisa, they showed vampires could have empathy -- albeit twisted empathy -- for mortals.

On top of getting more time with these vampires, Dracula's death paved the way for Season 4's big bad. Death finally entered Castlevania, pulling the strings to resurrect Dracula and Lisa in the form of a Rebis. He wanted to do this because he fed off human deaths, and Dracula's plan to eradicate humanity would've been the best meal of Death's existence. He felt cheated when Dracula died, so he proceeded to manipulate St. Germain and others to make sure Dracula would follow through with this plan.

Death was an intimidating myth that became real in Castlevania, a force that was supposedly unkillable. If anyone were to top Dracula's villain role, it would be Death, and that's exactly what he did, and he also managed to prove that Trevor was even more heroic and strong than before, with the Belmont pulling off the impossible and killing Death himself.

If Dracula was alive, this storyline could not have happened, and introducing Death would've taken on a different form, one that may not have been as successful if he was competing against Dracula for screen time. Plus, using Dracula's death to introduce the next big bad proved what an imposing character he was for the world of Castlevania, as even a god-like being did everything he could to bring Dracula back.

Along with the villains, Dracula's death allowed his Forgemasters, Isaac and Hector, to grow immensely. Hector, as the one who betrayed Dracula, was put through the wringer in Season 3, yet Season 4 gave him his redemption as he aided Isaac in his quest to kill Carmilla while also finally breaking free of Lenore's hold on him.

Meanwhile, Isaac arguably became one of the most badass characters of the entire series. His journey in Season 3 posed a lot of philosophical questions, and it saw him fight a boss battle that felt pulled directly from the games. Isaac grew even more in Season 4, sparing Hector instead of seeking revenge and saving humanity, even though he hated the human race in prior seasons.

These humans started off as Dracula's generals, helping him out with his plans to kill off humanity; however, by the end of Season 4, both played a huge role in saving the human race, and they became more independent individuals, living for themselves instead of following someone else's orders. If Dracula lived throughout Season 3 and 4, it's unlikely this would've been the case, as both were so dedicated to him.

Dracula is a great character in Castlevania, and there is a lot more that could've been explored with him; however, killing him off in Season 2 was a risk well played. While he was dead, the impact he had on the world and characters could still be felt. It was great to see Dracula return in a minor, more peaceful role in the end, especially since he did his job as the big bad seasons ago, and this allowed others the opportunity to follow in his footsteps or grow more as characters.

Castlevania stars Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, Alejandra Reynoso as Sypha Belnades, James Callis as Alucard, Theo James as Hector, Adetokumboh M'Cormack as Isaac, Jaime Murray as Carmilla, Jessica Brown Findlay as Lenore, Bill Nighy as St. Germain, Jason Isaacs as The Judge and Rila Fukushima as Sumi. All four seasons are available to stream now on Netflix.

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