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Is there a general explanation of the limits of vampire regenerative abilities?

Throughout the Buff and Angel TV series, Angel and Spike were constantly being pummeled, shot, and stabbed and then subsequently bandaged up for the remainder of an episode, or magically healed in a following scene. It's very inconsistent. For example, in the Angel episode "Sacrifice", Angel is stabbed through-and-through with a particular demon's appendage, yet in a following scene, he appears completely healed (though his shirt is still in rags).

One scene in particular raised an interesting question in my mind: in the Angel episode "Damage",

Spike's hands were cut off. Would they have eventually re-grown on their own?

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Vampires have advanced healing. Not regenerative abilities. If a wound is severe enough it will scar. See Spike's eyebrow scar and the comment made by Marcus in season one of Angel on how he has "so little external damage". They can go without blood and it won't kill them but does cause weight loss and weakness, as Spike informs us with the description of "living skeletons mate" comparing it to the famine pictures from "one of those dusty countries". Also Angel spent some months under water without food or air so a vampire can survive with neither, but Wesley informed is of irreversible brain damage this could cause. So I believe vampires don't require air for survival, the breathing is just a leftover reflex from needing to do so when alive but in a low oxygen environment they could eventually come to brain damage.

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    It is stated that in Angel: The End that in the first age of the vampire race that they had the ability to regenerate limbs, but not for many centuries. This ability comes back briefly during the events of the book (Angel grows back his hands and feet). – Dracs Dec 5 '12 at 10:49
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There does not appear to be a direct explanation. However, I think that they are more resiliant and heal faster than humans; in fact they have to be, otherwise they would not be able to get up after several injuries. One thing is sure: they never die until they receive a stake into their heart or lose their head, and need blood to revitalize themselves. In the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7, Spike is drowned several times by a Turok-Han (prehistoric vampire) and keeps revitalizing in some way.

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    Near the beginning of Buffy series, Angel states that he doesn't breathe. And that fact crops up again several times throughout Buffy and Angel (when convenient, anyway). Otherwise, you see vampires breathing hard after physical exertion like anyone else. So, it stands to reason that spike really shouldn't have been harmed by drowning. – Force Flow Aug 31 '12 at 20:09
  • Yes you're right. Spike shouldn't be suffering from drowning in Buffy s07e10. Torturing him this way really had no sense :S... Concerning vamps' revitalization, I've just remember that it seems that they may not be able to revitalize from severe brain injuries: in Angel s04e01, Wesley says: "A vampire can exist indefinitely without feeding, but the damage to the higher brain functions from prolonged starvation can be catastrophic." Then, later: Gunn: "Is he gonna be all right?" Wes: "In time - maybe." It seems that such a case applies to vampires in general and not only to vamps with a soul? – Littm Sep 1 '12 at 1:46
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    In "Tomorrow" (Angel, S3E22) Angel is thrown into the ocean locked in a metal coffin. Clearly, since he survives, breathing is purely optional. However, since Angel and Spike began their existences as humans, they are used to breathing and probably find not breathing to be at least unpleasant, if not painful. – Donald.McLean Sep 24 '12 at 17:45
  • Also, Angel once turned a man in a submarine so he wouldn't drown. – Stephen Collings Mar 13 '13 at 17:43

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