Barnabas Collins is a vampire at odds with his very nature. Cursed by a jealous witch, he spent 175 years locked in his families crypt before being freed by a would-be grave robber. The ancient Collins ancestor quickly adapted to modern life and connected with his descendants by posing as their long lost distant cousin.
Barnabas’ vampiric instincts have brought him no end of trouble. He was initially a threat to the people of Collinsport (including his own family), as his consuming need for blood drove him to commit horrible crimes, and his equally consuming loneliness drove him to seek out a vampire bride, willing or unwilling. A chance for redemption came for Barnabas when he met Dr. Julia Hoffman, who found a possible means of curing his condition and became his close friend and ally. Realizing he was no longer bound by his curse, Barnabas had a crisis of conscience and began taking responsibility for his actions, making up for his own monstrousness by protecting his family from all other monsters.
The name “Barnabas Collins” was gotten off of a tombstone.
Actor Jonathan Frid hated the evil Barnabas from the earlier episodes and was glad when his character became more sympathetic. He even based the kinder Barnabas on his own father.
Supposedly, Frid was always struggling to remember his long strings of dialogue and would often pause several times in the middle of a scene. The audience loved these long, dramatic pauses and thought they were deliberate. They became one of Barnabas most popular traits.