|“||The strength of the vampire is that people will not believe in him.||„|
|~ Professor Abraham van Helsing (Dracula 1931).|
Professor Abraham Van Helsing is one of the main characters in the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. He was an elderly Dutch scholar who had delved into "occult" matters sufficiently to offer some assistance when the affliction of vampirism first appeared in England in the late 19th century. He was no action hero, and was reliant on the young wooers of Lucy Weston (Dr. Seward, Arthur Hamilton, and Quincey P. Morris) as well as the recovered Jonathan Harker, to carry out the more demanding physical tasks of vampire-hunting.
Abraham Van Helsing is a Dutch doctor, as well as the archenemy of Count Dracula. Previous to the story, Abraham's son had died, which caused his wife to have a mental breakdown which led them to become estranged (however remaining married). He enters the story when he is contacted by his former pupil Dr. John Seward for assistance treating Lucy Westenra, a woman whom Seward had courted but lost out to Arthur Holmwood, Lucy's fiancé. Van Helsing, who has a broad range of expertise, suspects that Lucy is the victim of a vampire. When Lucy dies and becomes a vampire herself, Van Helsing reveals his suspicions and he and Arthur track Lucy to her coffin and destroy her vampiric form so that her soul can be set free.
When Dracula later attempts to turn Mina Harker into a vampire, Mina is left with the psychic ability to track Dracula which motivates Van Helsing to lead the quest to Dracula's castle in his homeland of Transylvania where Dracula is destroyed by Mina's husband Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris who accomplished the task following Van Helsing's instruction.
After Dracula's death, Van Helsing remained a family friend to the Harker family.
- The late Edward van Sloan portrayed Van Helsing in the older Universal Dracula cycle, where his tendency to make grotesque demands upon the younger men working with him was somewhat toned down.
- The late Peter Cushing portrayed Van Helsing in the later Hammer cycle, and began to be more directly involved in the combat with the Undead, this taken to near-ridiculous lengths when he demonstrated a knowledge of Kung Fu in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires.
- Anthony Hopkins portrayed Van Helsing in the 1992 movie Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- The late Rutger Hauer portrayed Van Helsing in the movie Nadja.
- The late Christopher Plummer portrayed Van Helsing in Dracula 2000.
Abraham is known to be the doctor who has knowledge about vampires and how to combat them and his former student is a friend of one of the victims, which in turn leads him into confrontation with Dracula. Likewise, he is the professor of medicine.
- Abraham Van Helsing is one of the select few characters within the Bram Stoker's Dracula novel who is physically described in one place by Mina Harker.
- Van Helsing inspired the Ravenloft hero Rudolph Van Richten.