The Twilight Saga is blockbuster outsider art. When Stephanie Meyer was cooking up those books, it was from a place completely disinterested in how most plots work. Story wheels? The hero’s journey? Take a hike. You only get glimpses of Meyer’s twisted mind in the film adaptations — Jacob imprinting on Renesmee, that time Jane throws a baby onto a pyre, Rosalie’s pre-wedding pep talk — but the books (and especially the Illustrated Guide, which further fleshes out Twilight’s mythology) really let the freak flag fly.
The Twilight renaissance (Renesmeessaince?) has put a focus on the series’ weird-ass lore. Entire YouTube channels and TikTok accounts are dedicated to unpacking Meyer’s apocrypha, and perusing them is time well spent if you enjoy mess. A lot of what Meyer wrote … let’s just say therapy would have been less lucrative but perhaps a better use of her time. Here are the wildest Twilight Saga backstories, ranked by how much they make you become that meme of Selina Meyers on Veep going “What the fuck?”
10. The Denali Coven’s Sexy Succubi
TL;DR: The Denali Coven is the Twilight universe’s version of the mythical succubus. Like their cousins the Cullens, the Denali Coven refuses to feed on humans, but they came to the lifestyle in their own special way. Tanya, Kate, and Irina were all sired by Sasha. Sasha got got by the Volturi (the secret vampire government in the Twilight universe) when she bit a toddler and turned it into an immortal child. In Twi-lore, vampires freeze developmentally at the age at which they turned, so an immortal child will never possess the self-discipline of an adult. A tantrum can take out a whole town. After losing their surrogate mom, the three vampire sisters fucked their way through Europe. Unfortunately for the human men they slept with, they tended to kill them during coitus. Just enthusiastic gals. Anyway, the trio moved to Denali, Alaska, and taught themselves “vegetarianism” so that they could bang without incurring further casualties. Eventually, they were joined by Carmen, Eleazar, and Garrett (played by Vulture Honorary Degree–holder Lee Pace in Breaking Dawn Pt. 2).
9. Charlie Swan’s Dashed Hopes
Charlie’s backstory isn’t fucked up so much as it is very, very sad. Bella’s dad was born and raised in Forks, the only child of two people well into their 40s. Like his daughter, Charlie didn’t really connect with his high-school friends and vibed much more with his bros at the Quileute reservation.
When it was time to go to college, Charlie decided to stay in town and become a cop. His parents were both aging — Mom had Alzheimer’s and Dad had crippling arthritis — so he became their de facto caregiver. He met Bella’s mom Renee when she was backpacking down the coast. She got swept up in their romance and agreed to marry Charlie. But she got really bad seasonal depression, which quickly compounded with postpartum depression when Bella was born. Renee had to move for her own mental health, but Charlie felt he couldn’t leave his parents who were close to death. Despite still loving Renee deeply, he didn’t contest the divorce or custody arrangement. He got to spend a few weeks per year with Bella, and Renee fucked off to Arizona. Shortly after their divorce was finalized, both of Charlie’s parents died. So he was free to move, except now he had no reason to do so. Jesus, Stephanie.
8. Jane and Alec’s Twin Traumas
Tween vampires Jane and Alec are, by far, the most powerful of the Volturi guard. The twins were born in Dark Ages England and showed hella psychic potential, even as mortal children. Aro, head of the Volturi, learned of the freaky psychic twins and thought, Oh dope, their powers will grow exponentially when they become vampires! But he couldn’t turn them while they were still kids, as the Volturi had already figured out that baby vampires are a bad idea. Unfortunately, Jane and Alec did not make it to 18 before getting turned because the people in their village decided they were witches and burned them at the stake. They were 13, tops. Aro rushed to the fire, turned the twin tweens, and presumably slaughtered the entire village.
But the true gag of Jane and Alec is how their trauma affected their powers. While dying, Jane was consumed with anger. She wanted everyone to hurt like they’d hurt her. So now she can psychically make people feel like they’re burning alive. Alec, on the other hand, wanted to feel nothing at all. He was begging for death. So his power is that he can turn off people’s senses. The worst moment of their lives became their superpowers.
7. Alistair’s Brush With a Fake Demon
Alistair grew up the son of an English nobleman during the reign of Edward II. His dad and older brother were schemers who spent most of Alistair’s childhood embroiled in conspiracies to make sure Edward didn’t limit the power of the aristocracy. Eventually, his older brother was caught in one of the many court intrigues he got up to and was executed. This sent Alistair’s dad down a freaky path of revenge.
One night, Alistair was brought to secret tunnels beneath London (which don’t exist because Stephenie Meyer does not care about research) into a room filled with aristocrats. Real Eyes Wide Shut shit. Alistair’s dad announces that he will become the next Charlemagne and that he’s sold his own soul to make it happen. His father sacrifices Alistair to a “demon” named Astaroth, who has promised to turn Alistair into a superpowered god-king. Once the humans are gone, Astaroth is basically like, “Psych! My name is actually George. I’m a vampire. This demon Astaroth thing is a prank I do. I’mma turn you into a vampire now, okay?” After transforming, Alistair accidentally killed his dad in a fit of rage. He went home to his mother and sisters only to find that his dad had sacrificed them to George as snacks.
6. Siobhan, the Giant Woman
Siobhan was a female blacksmith living in Ireland in the 1500s. She was also huge, stacked, body-ody-ody. A massive unit. A curvy wife. That song “Giant Woman” from Steven Universe. The way Meyer writes about her is reminiscent of R. Crumb. Are you getting the picture? Word of this BBW blacksmith spread far and wide, and a Turkish vampire named Sancar decided that he must have her for his harem of undead hot girls. He raped her then bit her and abducted her while she was transitioning. But Siobhan, who had Hulk strength before she even turned, killed Sancar with her freakish newborn strength after less than a year in the harem. This is the second most fanfic-sounding backstory in Twilight, but it’s the one with the most sapphic undertones.
5. Victoria’s “Love” Story
Victoria had the power of super self-preservation. Not only could she evade detection like a motherfucker, she had an instinct for conflict avoidance. Victoria was born in 1550s England, the second daughter of a wealthy lord and his servant. Her older sister, Anne, was her protector. Anne and Victoria eventually got jobs in service to a different lord, one who was quite abusive and lecherous. Because of Victoria’s bright ginger hair, she stood out more and often faced more abuse simply because it was harder for her to hide. When Victoria was 12, she and Anne fled and started living on the streets. Anne turned to sex work to put a roof over their heads and made her pimp promise not to turn Victoria out.
After a night on the job, Anne failed to return to the brothel. The pimp decided to confine Victoria until she learned her place, but she escaped. She spent years on the street, stealing and hiding. She got very, very good at hiding. One day, the pimp saw her on the street and tried to abduct her. Victoria evaded him, but she knew her life in the city was almost over. Then her sister came back and seemingly hadn’t aged since she’d disappeared. Spoiler alert: She was a vampire. Anne turned Victoria and they formed a cute little coven with Anne’s maker Hilde. That is until the Volturi decided they wanted Hilde and killed everyone else in the coven. Victoria sensed trouble and got out, but Anne died.
Sometime later, the tracker James picked up her scent. James was a sociopathic hunter who tracked and killed humans and vampires alike. He was the perfect hunter, but she was the perfect hider. He chased her for years … until they fell in love? This is what Stephenie Meyer thinks is heterosexual love: one predator, one prey. I am begging Steph to read the Lesbian Masterdoc and have a big think about comp het.
4. Leah Clearwater’s Nightmare Breakup
Leah is the only female werewolf, maybe ever? In the books, it’s heavily implied that the shock of seeing his daughter wolf out is what caused Harry Clearwater to have a heart attack and die. But Leah’s life sucked before she ever caught a case of lycanthropy. Before she became a werewolf, Leah was dating Sam Uley. Sam was the first of his generation to phase, and not knowing what was happening, he ran off into the woods for weeks. When he came back, he was standoffish and irritable. Y’know, ’cause of the werewolf thing. Leah’s cousin Emily came for a visit, and Sam immediately imprinted on her. So he dumped Leah and quickly got engaged to Emily without ever being able to explain why. Thanks a lot, veil of secrecy surrounding shapeshifting!
But then Leah phased, which meant having to join Sam’s pack. Did you know that Twilight werewolves have a telepathic link to their pack? It’s like a party line you can’t turn off. So Leah is constantly reminded of how in love her ex is and how happy he is now that he’s with her cousin. Plus, she suspects lycanthropy has made her infertile — which is fate worse than death in S. Meyer’s eyes. The Twilight saga’s treatment of the Quileute tribe is pretty much a disgrace. It erases their real culture and invents justifications for an alleged “savage” nature, all for the sake of making Jacob the less appealing side of the love triangle.
3. Jasper Hale, the Confederate Empath
Jasper is an empath. Even in life, he could feel and even influence what others were feeling. As a vampire, this power grew exponentially. And yet, somehow, this deeply empathetic guy was the only member of the Cullen family to own slaves. Yeah, the Confederate vampire trope rears its ugly head. Jasper Whitlock (he took the last name Hale after joining the Cullens, pretending to be Rosalie’s twin) enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 17. On his way home from a battle, he was recruited into the undead lifestyle by Maria. She was building an army of newborn vampires and thought a guy with military know-how would be a real asset. Maria enlisted Jasper to train the newborn vampires and also to kill them when they stopped being useful (newborns are superstrong for about a year). She was basically creating an army of child supersoldiers to fight for her in an era known as the Southern Vampire Wars in Twi-lore. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see more of that than the fourish minutes we got in Eclipse? Too bad.
Jasper, super-empath that he was, felt the pain of every vampire he killed. It bummed him out, and Maria started plotting to kill him. Jasper eventually fled with two newborns he’d spared, Peter and Charlotte, but also got bummed out while killing humans and feeling their deaths. It wasn’t enough to stop him, though, until he met Alice and she told him about the future she’d seen in which they were married and living the “vegetarian” lifestyle with the Cullens.
Weird tangent about Jasper: Remember when we talked about S. Meyer not doing much research? One of the few things she looked up was the names of Confederate soldiers. She found a Jasper and a Whitlock, and thus Jasper was born. Why was this the thing worth studying, Steph?
2. Alice Cullen’s Double Amnesia
Alice Cullen was born in 1901, and like many of the other vampires that later turned out to have powers, she showed early signs while still alive. Alice experienced visions of the future, even as a kid. One vision she had was of a stranger murdering her mother. The family took precautions until dad decided it was a waste of time. And the minute he let his guard down? Boom, mom murdered. The killer made it look like an accident, but Alice had a vision of the truth.
Soon after her mom died, her dad remarried a much younger chippie. Alice suspected her new stepmom had something to do with her real mom’s death until she had a vision of her dad paying the killer to do the hit. Her dad reacted to this with the classic “She’s a crazy woman, LOL” defense and had Alice institutionalized.
While at the mental hospital, Alice underwent so much electroshock therapy that she ended up with total amnesia. Which was actually kind of good since it erased the memory of her dad killing her mom and locking her up. She also met a friendly vampire who worked at the hospital. But then Alice saw a vision of James hunting her down and killing her. He caught her scent and went on one of his serial-killer hunts for her. The friendly vampire turned Alice and died keeping James away while she changed. Alice’s transformation was so painful that she actually got amnesia again — forgetting the hospital, James, and the vampire that saved her life. She had no past, but she did get a clear vision of her future with Jasper and the Cullens.
1. Rosalie Hale’s Roaring Rampage of Revenge
What could be weirder than double amnesia? How about sneaking the entire plot of Kill Bill into one flashback? Rosalie was the daughter of a wealthy banking family that somehow suffered no financial difficulty during the Great Depression. (Again, Meyer is not really one for research.) Rosalie was betrothed to banking scion Royce King II and thought her life was all set. Until one night he and his friends raped Rosalie in the middle of the street, beat her, and left her for dead. That’s when Carlisle Cullen found her. Carlisle had been galavanting around the country with his wife Esme and their adopted sullen vampire teen Edward for about a decade when he found Rosalie dying in the street. He thought Rosalie could make a good GF for his son, so he was like, chomp. Rosalie woke up from her extremely painful transformation to find Edward being like, “Hard pass,” which is a slight that Rosalie never forgave.
However, not being saddled with an arranged vampire boyfriend freed her schedule up for revenge. Rosalie killed every single man who assaulted her, never spilling a drop of their blood because she didn’t want to drink them. She was disgusted by the thought of any part of them being inside her. She saved Royce for last, who was pretty freaked out by all his rapin’ buddies getting killed. Rosalie found him hiding in a windowless room with a heavy, vault-like door and surrounded by bodyguards. Wearing the dress she would have gotten married in, she busted down the door and killed everyone inside. We’re supposed to hate Rosalie, despite this incredibly badass revenge story, because she’s a girly girl. In Midnight Sun, Ed is constantly complaining about her vapid thoughts. The girl’s been through a lot! Let her think about makeup, damn.
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