When reading about Dracula (more specifically Vald Dracul or Vlad Tepes) it is important to understand that the versions people read about are from many different sources.
The Germans viewed Dracula in a different light than Romanians. For example, according to Saxons sources Dracula nearly destroyed the peoples of Brasov (the Saxon merchants there) and did so as punishment for lack of support from the Saxon people. This is the records found more in Western Europe and North America. this was due to the printing press in German territory which allowed this information to be passed on quickly.
In contrast, the Romanian peoples and their writings are more of a positive portrait of this mam. While they do not suggest that Dracula was anything but what he was, which was a warlord, who did do deeds which were considered evil; they push more of his positive aspects. These were along the lines of helping the people of Wallachia and Moldavia who were under the power of the Ottoman Empire.
So, was Vlad Dracul a tyrant or misunderstood?
If you simply read only one version of his story, you will think one way or the other. If you read as many sources available about Vald Dracul, then you will find a complex man, while dedicated to his princedom, was never the less cruel.