Well, it’s over. The greatest video game adaptation OF ALL TIME, has finally come to an end. I’m of course referring to Castlevania on Netflix (what did you think I was talking about? The recent Mortal Kombat reboot?) For four gloriously profane and compelling seasons, we got to see the harrowing adventures of Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, and Adrian “Alucard” Tepes. There’s not a single bad episode of the series, but this article is about the very best episodes.
Now, I never binge watch a show. I much prefer the Disney+ or HBO Max format of having to wait a week in-between new episodes. But I don’t think I would have been able to handle that format for Season 4 of Castlevania since I binged all 10 episodes in a single weekend. That said, I’m well aware that not everybody has caught up with the series, so I will only be including light spoilers. So, without further ado, the 10 greatest episodes of Castlevania, ranked.
10. “Witchbottle”, Season 1, Episode 1
The episode that started it all definitely set the tone right off the bat. We start off by learning about the vampire, Dracula, and his young wife, Lisa. The two fall in love, and of course hijinks ensue, because Castlevania as a series is nothing if not an animated version of New Girl. But of course, I’m joking. Very bad things occur—mostly because of religion—and it sets Dracula off on a mission to rid the world of all humanity. Because maybe you shouldn’t piss off the vampire with the moving castle?
The first episode is great because it takes its time. We don’t even get the main characters besides a very young Alucard, who is already showing his pragmatism, and his father, Dracula, who seems relatively chill until you piss him off. The animation is stellar, which would become a hallmark of the series, and it’s still a great watch as it sets up so much of the later seasons. A magnificent opening to a magnificent show.
9. “Old Homes”, Season 2, Episode 2
What makes Castlevania such a phenomenal show is that it has such a deep lore. And in this episode, we learn why Dracula’s stoic (and black, and human) forgemaster, Isaac, has sided with Dracula in his quest to destroy humanity. We also get a better sense of why Dracula’s son, Alucard, is willing to help Trevor and Sypha in their quest to destroy his father.
But if one thing in particular makes this episode stand out, it’s the introduction of Carmilla, the vampire mistress who is all about throwing a monkey wrench into Dracula’s plans. We get to see her scheming throughout the entire episode, which is just a pleasure to watch. “Old Homes” is just further proof that Castlevania is a smart show written for adults, which is why it often makes other video game adaptations look like kid stuff.
8. “Monument”, Season 1, Episode 4
Season 1 is really short at only four episodes, but the series definitely made every episode count, especially with this satisfying conclusion. We knew all along why Dracula detested humanity from the first episode, but Trevor Belmont didn’t. We get to watch him figure it all out himself and use the reason to his advantage to get villagers to fight back against the night creatures who are ravaging their town.
I really like this episode for the dramatic, final battle. As a lifelong fan of Castlevania, I live for seeing these characters, who appear in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (Alas, poor, forgotten Grant), fight to death. It almost feels like a boss battle. This is one of the more action-heavy episodes, but it’s definitely not the last to appear on this list.
7. “You Must Sacrifice”, Season 4, Episode 4
Season 4 starts off with Trevor and Sypha never getting a break, and this episode is the culmination of all their stress. We get to see some other vampire slayers in this episode as well as get introduced to two new badass female characters in the town leader, Greta, and a head guard named Zamfir. Meanwhile, Alucard is on his own little quest, where he meets up with Saint Germain, voiced by the always great Bill Nighy. I mean, this episode never lets up.
“You Must Sacrifice” is great because the title rings so true to the episode. All of the characters must sacrifice something, whether it be their sanity or their safety, just to survive, and since all of the characters are so well-developed by this point, we’re constantly left wondering what everybody’s intentions will be by the end of the episode. There’s not a single wasted second in its 28-minute runtime.
6. “The Good Dream”, Season 3, Episode 6
There is no action in “The Good Dream,” just character development, and it’s as compelling as ever. You know how in like Book 4 of Game of Thrones, we get separated from the main cast? Well, that’s what this episode is like since the focus is on Dracula’s other forgemaster, Hector, and Saint Germain, who is dreaming about the Infinite Corridor (where we see a rocket ship and everything!)
Again, Castlevania is a series for adults, and it’s just so great to watch an animated show that takes its time and isn’t worried about you getting bored by the politics of vampires, or the obsession of one man and his mysticism. We learn so much about these two characters in such a limited amount of time, it’s insane.
5. “Walk Away”, Season 4, Episode 3
My favorite character on the show is Isaac (Dracula’s black forgemaster), and I love his character because he probably has the best arc in the entire series. I won’t spoil it for you, but out of all the characters, I would say that Isaac changes the most.
The episode starts with Isaac talking to one of his night creatures who is having an existential crisis. We also get a total character-defining moment with Striga, who has found a solution to being a vampire out in the daytime, and it is BAD-ASS. Have I mentioned that I love this show?
4. “The Endings”, Season 4, Episode 9
The penultimate episodes of Castlevania are usually the best, and Episode 9, “The Endings” is no exception. This episode is literally nonstop action, with our three main heroes going to town on night creatures for the entire episode. It’s actually kind of hard to keep up and decide who has the best moment. They’re all really good.
But what I love is that the climax of this series is not saved for the final episode. You see this far too often on other TV shows, leaving next to no breathing room for closing up any loose ends (Coughs The Falcon and the Winter Soldier!). Rather, we get all the hard-hitting stuff in the penultimate episode, which leaves the final episode, “It’s Been a Strange Ride” to actually be satisfying. And all it took was a cartoon based off of a video game to actually get a series finale right.
3. “For Love”, Season 2, Episode 7
Another penultimate episode, this one is absolutely bananas and a precursor to Season 4’s “The Endings”, in that all three heroes are fighting together and looking awesome while doing it. So, why is this episode better than “The Endings”?
Personal stakes, that’s why. Unlike “The Endings”, which has our trio fighting in Alucard’s castle, “For Love” has our trio fighting in DRACULA’S castle (which eventually becomes Alucard’s castle, but that’s all I will say on the matter). There’s just so much more emotionally at stake in this episode than in “The Endings”, and the final scene just breaks my heart. I’m going to repeat, this is a cartoon BASED OFF OF A VIDEO GAME, and it genuinely got me misty-eyed. Thanks a lot, Castlevania. I’m not crying. You’re crying… Bloody tears! (That one was for the fans).
2. “The Harvest”, Season 3, Episode 9
Yet another penultimate episode, this one is the very best. Everything comes to a head with the two Japanese vampire slayers, Taka and Suki, engage in a Menage a trois with Alucard. But this is Castlevania, so you know things don’t go well.
I would tell you more about this episode, but it is genuinely the most shocking, and distressing, episode in the entire series. On the flip side, we see a literal portal to Hell open up within the Infinite Corridor, with Trevor, Sypha, and Saint Germain on the receiving end of it. And if that’s not enough, we also find out what happens to the “relationship” between Lenore and Hector, and also get to see Isaac wreak havoc. Again, not a second wasted, which is just how I like it.
1. “You Don’t Deserve My Blood”, Season 4, Episode 6
Okay, so whether you think this is the best episode of the series or not is entirely up to your feelings on Isaac. I already mentioned how he is my favorite character, and this episode is his defining moment as he faces off against Carmilla. But even if you DON’T love Isaac as much as I do (And how could you not?), this is still one of the greatest episodes of the series. It legit feels like it has all the qualifications for a final episode with just how grand scale and epic everything is.
Isaac is storming Carmilla’s castle with his night creatures, because he’s decided that maybe vampires wouldn’t be the best rulers of the free world. But here’s the thing. Isaac is not the kind of person who fights for power. He just sees the world differently now, and a world with Carmilla in charge doesn’t seem like the kind of world he would want to live in. I won’t tell you who wins, but from front to back, “You Don’t Deserve My Blood” is just another reason why Castlevania is the greatest video game adaptation of all time. Like, it’s not even close.
Honestly, even if you don’t love the Castlevania video games, I still think you should watch the Netflix series. It’s only 32 episodes, so it’s definitely manageable. And if you’ve already finished watching the show and are just looking for something new to binge, then why not check out our 2021 Summer TV schedule? Because there’s still tons of great TV that you can look forward to in those hot, summer nights.