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File: Sam Merlotte
Sam Merlotte is a fictional character from the The Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse Series by author Charlaine Harris.
In the HBO series True Blood, based on the The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Sam is portrayed by actor Sam Trammell.
Sam lives in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, and is the owner of a bar named Merlotte's. Sam has strawberry blond hair with blue eyes. He is both a close friend of and the employer of mind-reading barmaid Sookie Stackhouse. Sam is a shape shifter and likes to spend some of his time as a collie. Although his preferred shape is that of a collie, he can change into any animal he sees. On nights when the moon is full, Sam - like all shapeshifters - feels a strong urge to change, the rest of the time he can do it at will.
Sam has expressed his interest in Sookie and has kissed her on more than one occasion, but the two have never actually dated. He remains her good friend and supporter. He is protective of Sookie and is both jealous and concerned when Sookie involves herself first with the vampire Bill Compton and then his employer Eric Northman. Under the guise of platonic friendship, he often advises Sookie to get away from the vampires while she still can. Despite this, Sam is dragged into the drama that surrounds Sookie and other supernatural creatures on an irregular basis.
Sam also engages in a sexual relationship with Callisto, a maenad, who briefly drifts through Sookie's hometown (and later attacks Sookie). Callisto leaves Bon Temps shortly after the attack.
When Sookie unexpectedly discovers that Sam is a shape-shifter, she is hurt that he did not see fit to confide in her because she has always been open with him about her own condition. With time, their friendship recovers.
On the television series, True Blood, he and Tara engage in a brief sexual relationship that ends when Maryann, the maenad, arrives in Bon Temps.