I don't suppose it counts as a spoiler to tell that Dracula ends with the true death of the master vampire. This sounds straightforward, but consider how many ways that might play out...
- Mina lures Dracula to her bed, keeping him there until the sun rises, turning the Count into dust.
- Van Helsing and Seward finds Dracula's resting place and drive a stake into his heart.
- Or Van Helsing traces the vampire to his castle lair, and the two fight it out with weapons, until the Professor pulls away the curtains to flood the room with sunlight.
- Arthur Holmwood gets close enough to Dracula to drive a wooden stake into him, but dies in the process. Later, we see the aged, wizened vampire lurking in shadows, watching our heroes.
- Our heroes trap Dracula, using crosses to keep him out of his grave until the sun dissolves the vampire. But Mina quietly clutches her masters ring, the expression on her face sullen and secretive.
- After defeating all his foes, the great Count begs Mina to slay him, to end the centuries of hungry darkness. Weeping, she does so, then kills herself.
This gives just a tiny example of the possibilities. In some cases, such as Hammer's famous series of movies, it came down to finding a new way to kill the vampire--falling backwards on a cross, drowning in running water, wrapped in the thorns of a hawthorn bush, even struck by lightning at one point! Which is cool and all, not wanting to put such invention down, but what I find more compelling is what the end signifies.
Has the light vanquished darkness? Is Dracula destroyed, punished, or maybe set free at last? Are there any more vampires left? If so, who? And how do we find out about it? Or did Dracula fake his ending? Was the vampire killed even the "real" Dracula?
Since the (presumed) defeat of the mysterious nobleman from Transylvania makes for the climax of the story, detail and nuance matter. Putting into those terms, a shadow of an image of how I want things to end comes to mind. Not a simple answer, no. Not an ending of horror or hope, but maybe both.
We shall see. I will, anyway. Hopefully, so shall you.
The End (for now)