The whip was originally a less powerful magic weapon created with alchemy by Rinaldo Gandolfi prior to Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, known as the Whip of Alchemy. Eventually, it was transformed into a far more powerful weapon after the death of Sara Trantoul, the betrothed of Leon Belmont, wielder of the Whip of Alchemy at that time. Sara, who had been fatally cursed with vampirism, had to willingly sacrifice herself to make the whip "whole" and able to defeat powerful vampires. This was because the whip needed a willing, yet tainted soul to unlock its true potential.
This whip not only does serious damage to vampires, but to any demon. Even the Grim Reaper, Death himself, is damaged by the whip. As Leon says at the end of Lament of Innocence - "I have the power to destroy all related to the vampires. Though you have divine powers, you are no exception." Even powerful beings regarded as gods were not safe from harm any longer. Because the whip was made with alchemy, it could be an explanation for how it can turn from a leather whip to a chained flail.
The Vampire Killer was first used to destroy Dracula in 1476 by Trevor Belmont. After this, it was passed down through the generations of the Belmont family until the 18th century, when it came into the possession of Richter Belmont. After Dracula's defeat by his son, Alucard, in 1797, the Vampire Killer disappeared and the duty of opposing Dracula was taken up by organizations such as Ecclesia. Although the whip's exact location went unknown for a long time, it was revealed that the whip was passed by Richter Belmont to the Morris Clan , who were entrusted with guarding the whip until the Belmonts resurfaced to reclaim it.
The Vampire Killer ultimately returned to the Belmonts by 1999, when Julius Belmont sealed it in Dracula's Castle to weaken Dracula's spirit during the Demon Castle War. Julius retrieves the whip during the events of 2035 and uses it against Soma Cruz. Julius uses the whip again during the events of 2036.
In most games, the Vampire Killer is a standard leather whip, but there are several titles in which the Vampire Killer is actually depicted as a chain whip or even as a flail of sorts. The most famous and most used version of the Vampire Killer is the Morning Star form. This form is a chain whip with a small mace ball tip. The length is normally about 1 to 2 times the length of a man's height (5-10 feet long).
The Vampire Killer can be upgraded in most games by collecting a Morning Star symbol; changing from a leather whip to a chain whip, then to the morning star. Alternatively, in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, upgrades to the whip are purchased. The first upgrade is a Thorn Whip, which increases its attack power and also the length of the whip slightly. The next is the Chain Whip, which raises the whip's attack power. The last upgrades are the Morning Star Whip, which extends the length of the whip again while increasing damage, and finally the Flame Whip, which maxes out the Vampire Killer's power.
In some games, the whip can be left dangling or spinning by holding the attack button. It helps by protecting against projectiles and weak, hard to hit enemies such as Medusa Heads and Flea Men, but does comparatively little damage.
In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, it is revealed that use of the whip by a person who is not a direct descendant of the Belmont clan is potentially deadly, and that it was indeed the Vampire Killer that killed John Morris, whose life was drained away by the legendary weapon. However, before it can reach this level of power, the specific indirect descendant who wants to use the Vampire Killer must undergo a trial to unlock its true strength. Otherwise, the whip will not manifest its legendary power, and seem for all intents and purposes to be a fairly ordinary leather whip, inferior to most kinds of combat weaponry. One thing to note is that when not fully powered up, the whip looks the same as a steel whip; however, when fully powered, the whip glows red, green and blue, all within the length of swinging the whip. It's possible that this is the true appearance of the Vampire Killer's power, because this is the only difference in appearance between the two. Many other games, such as Rondo of Blood, Bloodlines, etc. also shows the whip glowing multiple colors while landing ordinary attacks. John's son, Jonathan Morris, is given the opportunity by the daughters of Eric Lecarde to unlock the whip's true strength at the potential cost of his life; whether or not Jonathan takes them up on this offer is up to the player (although Jonathan's health is not impacted by use of the whip, nor is he negatively affected in any other way).
In Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, it is revealed that the Vampire Killer whip also has a distinct reaction to any vampires in the vicinity, and that its reactions are acute enough to also detect dhampirs as well. This also caused initial problems when Simon Belmont formally met Genya Arikado, where he initially thought the latter was one of Dracula's vampire minions and intended to put the latter down until both Arikado and Lucy Westenra revealed he was in fact Alucard, and also gave Richter initial hesitance by Alucard's presence to escape to safety before deciding the latter was ultimately on his side due to Maria Renard being present with him.
In Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge and Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, the whip upgrades differently. The first upgrade turns it into the morning star for added strength and range, and the second will make it shoot fireballs when swung. Depending on the game, however, the whip may lose upgrade levels when Christopher takes damage.
- In The Adventure, all damage downgrades the whip.
- In Belmont's Revenge, only damage from Punaguchi's energy orbs can downgrade the whip. Most damage will downgrade it when playing in Hard Mode.
- In Adventure ReBirth, the fireball ability is a timed effect and vanishes once depleted. When playing in Classic Mode, any damage taken will instantly remove the ability, but the morning star lasts until death.
In Rondo of Blood, the whip cannot be upgraded, but if the player has no sub-weapons, Richter can use a special Flame Whip attack. The same is true in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where the whip is imbued with fire for a fixed amount of time. As a boss, Richter uses the Flame Whip during the second half of the battle (after using Hydro Storm).
In Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Juste can augment his whip with many magical artifacts, including the Morning Star, elemental stones, a charm that makes it launch fireballs when at full health, a charm that allows the whip to constantly spin when the B button is held a la Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, and finally a charm that allows for the charging of energy in the whip, transforming it into an energy wave.
In Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, several elemental whip upgrades are hidden throughout the stages in Trevor Mode. Trevor can collect and equip them to inflict different types of elemental damage.
In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, the player stars with the Vampire Killer as their starting weapon as usual. However, it is one of the weakest weapons available throughout the majority of the game, although it can later be upgraded into one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful weapon, after defeating the optional boss known as Whip's Memory. Distinctive to this game, the Vampire Killer has the ability to strike twice per whiplash, the second strike dealing roughly 7% the amount of damage of the first one. This behavior only manifests once the real power of the whip has been unlocked. The player is also able to use the Flaming Whip Critical Art, doubling the attack power of the already powerful strike. It is without a doubt the most useful of the Critical Arts in the game against Final Guards, as well as against the Iron Golem lying in wait in the optional Nest of Evil. All these traits make the Vampire Killer even more powerful than the expensive Holy Claymore in many instances. Storywise, it serves as the best weapon to use against Dracula due to its ability to strike twice with the Holy attribute.
Wielders of the whip
- Rinaldo Gandolfi - Rinaldo was the one who created the Whip of Alchemy based on text found in Mathias Cronqvist family's book of spells. He was not able to use the whip very well, though. He later gave it to Leon Belmont.
- Leon Belmont - Leon Belmont was able to use the Whip of Alchemy better than Rinaldo, who later showed him how to unlock the whip's true power by striking down someone who was tainted by the vampire who trusted him. Leon passed it down to his descendants with the hopes of defeating Mathias.
- Pumpkin (non-canon) - In "Pumpkin" mode, a little guy with a pumpkin for a head used the Vampire Killer whip at its full power against the forces of darkness in the castle.
- Leon's descendants - Leon passed the whip to male descendants for centuries. His descendants used it to hunt vampires and hoped to ultimately defeat Mathias.
- Trevor Belmont - Trevor, the heir to the Vampire Killer whip, was sought out as a last resort to defeat Dracula; which he did. Trevor took his whip and mystic weapons with him to find out what was going on near Dracula's Castle in the events of Curse of Darkness.
- Christopher Belmont - Christopher Belmont brought down Dracula after his first full resurrection with the aid of the Vampire Killer whip. He was about to pass it on to his son Soleil, when Dracula's spirit, which had lingered on the Earth, possessed him. Christopher used the whip again to free his son and put down Dracula for good for the next hundred years.
- Soleil Belmont - Soleil was probably formally given the whip after he had come to his senses.
- Simon Belmont - Simon Belmont may have inherited the whip from his father or grandfather. He defeated Dracula with it twice.
- Juste Belmont - Juste became the whip's successor by becoming the strongest Belmont in the clan. He took it to the castle when his childhood friend Lydie went missing.
- Richter Belmont - Richter may have been Juste's son or grandson. He defeated Dracula with the Vampire Killer during his third great resurrection. He fell into Shaft's spell four years later, and hoped to revive Dracula in order to destroy him once again. He used the whip against Alucard, who released him from the spell. After the Nostradamus' prophecy was revealed that Dracula would revive in 1999, the Belmont Clan vowed to never use the power of the whip until that fateful day. Richter became known as the "Last Belmont" and the whip contained a memory of him. Anyone who could defeat this memory (which could be conjured through the power of the Lecarde Clan) would become the rightful owners of the whip and use it at its full power. The whip was passed to the Morris Clan at some point along the way.
- Morris Clan - At some point, the whip came into the possession of the Morris Clan.
- John Morris - Eric Lecarde enabled John Morris to defeat the whip's memory. John defeated the memory and became its rightful owner and was able to use it at its full strength. He defeated Dracula, but took a long time to recover from his injuries. The Lecarde family discovered that this was due to him using the whip for too long, which had drained his life force. He was only able to train his son Jonathan in the very basics of fighting and insured that he would be able to fight without use of the whip. He did not reveal to him how to unlock the power of the whip, much to Jonathan's dismay and confusion.
- Jonathan Morris (potentially) - He inherited the whip from his father, but had to rely on other weapons for slaying vampires. After his encounter with the ghost of Eric Lecarde, he learned the secret of how to use the whip's full potential. After Charlotte purified Eric's daughters, he can choose to have them perform the ritual, and if he does, Jonathan becomes the whip's true owner, although he made it a point to only use it in the battle against Dracula, less his life be cut short drastically. If the player chooses not to undertake this optional fight, Jonathan battles Dracula using some of the less powerful, though still potent weaponry he'd gathered in his adventure, and still proved victorious over the Dark Lord. It's possible that Jonathan lived long enough to pass the whip back to the Belmont clan personally after Dracula had indeed fully risen in 1999.
- Julius Belmont - Julius Belmont claimed the whip and was able to use it at its fullest without risk of using up his life force. With help from many friends, he defeated Dracula with it, once and for all. Dracula's castle was sealed into a solar eclipse, which cut off Dracula's soul from its power source, ending his cycle of rebirth forever. The whip was weakened after Dracula's defeat, but not entirely, and it too was sealed away with the castle. Julius also lost his memory. When Dracula's castle reappeared in the sky in 2035, Julius returned to the castle and his memories returned to him. When he realized that Soma Cruz was Dracula's successor, he challenged him with it, but soon recognized that Soma had a determination to fight his dark destiny. He made a promise to Soma that he would destroy him if Soma ever succumbed to the dark powers and became the next Dark Lord.
- Soma Cruz (non-canon) - Soma Cruz can equip the Vampire Killer, simply called "whip" in the inventory, in Dawn of Sorrow if the Succubus glitch is used. Because this is a glitch, however, it is non-canon.
- Sonia Belmont's grandfather - Sonia's grandfather possessed the whip and was killed by the forces of Dracula. Sonia took the whip from him and set out into the castle shortly after his death.
- Sonia Belmont - Sonia Belmont took hold of the whip and used it to become the first Belmont to destroy Dracula with it. Shortly thereafter, she bore a son (presumably with Alucard) who would retain the Belmont family name and passed it to him.
- Sonia's child - The whip was probably passed down to the son of Alucard and Sonia Belmont.
The Belmont Legacy saga
- Totoyan Family - The whip was handed over to members of the Totoyan family for several generations, who would keep it safe until it was needed again. Gaspar Totoyan gave it to Christopher when it was clear that Dracula had returned. Gaspar and his son both became vampires and were killed, possibly ending the male line of the Totoyan family.
- Christopher Belmont (The Belmont Legacy) - His ancestors were vampire hunters that subdued Dracula a hundred years before his time. However, Christopher dismisses this as mere folktales at first until he is forced to take action himself.
- Christopher Belmont (ReBirth) - Christopher, a descendant of the Belmonts, decided to stand up for humanity against the demon. He alone infiltrated the dark castle and managed to put an end to Dracula.
- Desmond's father - Desmond's father, who was perhaps Soleil's son or Soleil himself, was not able to unlock the full power of the whip. He, along with his wife, were slain by Dracula's servant Rohan Krause, while his son Desmond and daughters Zoe and Dolores were very young. It's not known who held onto the whip until its next heir.
- Desmond Belmont - The whip was eventually passed to Desmond Belmont when he became of age, though his sisters were capable of wielding the whip as well. After he defeated Rohan, he unlocked the whip's true potential and proceeded to slay Dracula, who had been risen prematurely as the result of Rohan's death.
- Simon Belmont (Vampire Killer) - Simon took his father's enchanted whip and headed to the castle haunted by the evil spirits. In the end, Simon managed to put Dracula to sleep once again and the town restored its peace.
- Simon Belmont (Haunted Castle) - In order to save Selena, Simon headed to Dracula's demonic castle. After fighting his way through many foes, he eventually managed to vanquish Dracula himself. Standing atop a mountain cliff with Selena, he watched as the castle disappeared within the lake.
- Simon Belmont (Super Castlevania IV) - Simon armed himself with the whip containing mysterious powers inherited from his ancestors, set out to the demon castle and managed to subdue Dracula.
- Simon Belmont (Chronicles) - Simon, determined to rid the land of evil once again, took the mysterious whip left to him by his father and set to Dracula's castle alone. He confronted the Count at the castle's highest floor, defeated him and sealed him away.
- Simon Belmont's son - A non-canon cameo game suggests that Simon Belmont's son was Simon Belmont II (it features a character using the whip called Simon Belmont III).
- Simon Belmont III - A character from the Wai Wai series.
- Michael Gelhart Schneider - Michael Gelhart Schneider, a descendant of the Belmonts, kept the whip, though he never faced Dracula with it. He trained his son Reinhardt to use it and gave it to him.
- Reinhardt Schneider - Reinhardt used the whip to defeat Dracula yet again.
- According to a statement made by the head director of the three Famicom Castlevania games, Hitoshi Akamatsu, the inclusion of the whip as the player's weapon of choice is a reference to Indiana Jones.
- In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, both hilts of Simon and Richter's Vampire Killers were redesigned to resemble their Lords of Shadow series counterpart, Gabriel's Combat Cross, while the chain whip part is the fully upgraded version of the whip from the main series.