1. Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård)
Remember when True Blood was a romance between Sookie and Bill? Remember when everyone realized what a mistake that was and put Eric front and center? The blond bad boy vampire has always been the highlight of the series, from his long-haired origins to his wacky amnesia to his full-frontal nudity. Long after it’s gone, True Blood will be remembered as the show that gave us Alexander Skarsgård, and for that, we will always be grateful.
2. Gratuitous sex
So many boobs. So many butts. So many fangtastic O-faces. HBO series have always pushed the envelope in terms of sexual content, but True Blood took things to a new level. It hardly ever serves the plot, and half the time it’s too gross to be sexy, but the best episodes of True Blood always offer an abundance of supernatural trysts. Vampire-on-vampire, human-on-vampire, werewolf-on-human: It doesn’t really matter, as long as everyone is getting naked. It’s not TV — it’s smutty, salacious HBO.
3. Rampant bisexuality
Barring a stake to the heart or an ill-advised daytime excursion, vampires live forever. It stands to reason they would be interested in sexual exploration — and for many of the characters on True Blood, that means delving into same-sex coupling. While the show could have pushed things even further in terms of its homoerotic content, it does a good job overall of depicting the fluidity of sexual orientation. And of giving us slash pairings other shows would force us to explore via fan fic.
4. Faerie nonsense
At first, it was annoying. But once we learned to stop worrying and start loving Sookie’s fae silliness and jaunts to the faerie world, it was easy to appreciate True Blood’s absurdity. Faeries are inherently ridiculous, and as hard as the series has tried to make us take them seriously, they always come across as laughably over-the-top. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re watching the show for nuance, you’re watching it wrong.
5. Pam Swynford De Beaufort (Kristin Bauer van Straten)
Next to Eric, Pam has always been the vampire to watch. The juxtaposition of her sardonic personality with her penchant for pink made her True Blood’s most engaging contradiction. She’s also one of the few unambiguously bisexual characters on the show (see above), and her relationships with Eric and Tara offered compelling dynamics long after the series had stopped being compelling. It’s unlikely she and her progeny will end up together in the long run, but is it too much to hope for a hint of a happy ending?
6. Objectification of men
Straight male True Blood fans, I know you exist. But come on, this has always been a series geared toward straight women and gay men. It is a gleeful celebration of the male form, with ample shots of shirtless guys and bare man asses and, yes, the occasional penis. With so much objectification of women on TV and in film, it’s nice to see the tables turned — particularly when you have hunky actors like Ryan Kwanten and Joe Manganiello stripping down on a weekly basis.
True Blood may no longer be the goriest show on television, thanks to other cable series like The Walking Dead and shockingly violent network fare like Hannibal. And yet, it’s still one of the grossest. Vampire deaths on True Blood are unlike any other vampire deaths we’ve seen: In contrast to Buffy, where the vampires dissolved into dust, True Blood’s vampires explode, with blood and entrails flying. So disgusting. So satisfying.
8. Jessica Hamby (Deborah Ann Woll)
Eric and Pam are essential to True Blood’s success, but let’s not forget Jessica, a character original to the TV series who quickly became one of the primary reasons to watch. Her transformation from innocent teenage girl to bloodthirsty vampire to morally ambiguous heroine made for great viewing, not to mention her on-again off-again relationships with a couple studly human men. She remains True Blood’s most sympathetic character, even if she did slaughter a few faeries last season.
9. A whole lot of stupid
True Blood has never been a great show. It’s been, at best, entertaining, and, at worst, a dull slog through familiar supernatural tropes. But the longer the show has gone on, the more it’s embraced its dumb side, with time jumps, confusing characterization, and head-scratching plot developments that are best accepted with a shrug. For those who actually care about the series as good television, True Blood is a mess. For everyone else, it’s a mess we’ve come to love.