Howl of Sorrow

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When a character howls in a raw, somewhat primal fashion to express their grief and anguish. Obviously, it's done most often by canines, but not limited to them.

Can overlap with Clifftop Caterwauling, when this is done at the edge of a cliff. Similar to Big No and Death Wail. See also Wolves Always Howl At the Moon and Howling to the Night, for other howling tropes.

Examples of Howl of Sorrow include:


Comic Books

Rose (opening narration): I will remember that sound until the day I die. It was an aweful, revolting noise~not a scream, but the birth-cry of a new creature that surely had no place on God's earth. The thing mewled and whimpered in pain, and those of us who could stand in witness were transfixed~both repelled and facinated by the grotesque spectacle of it.


  • Jock in Lady and the Tramp after Trusty's apparent death.
    • Also, the dogs in the pound have a song made up entirely of sorrowful howls.
  • In the Van Helsing movie, the eponymous character does this in the werewolf form after having a cure injected into his body at the cost of the Action Girl Love Interest's life. It morphs into a Big No as he transforms back into a human.
  • In the "Pecos Bill" sequence of Disney's Melody Time, the coyotes howl at the moon out of sympathy with Pecos, who howls for sorrow at losing Slew Foot Sue.
  • The title dog of Turner And Hooch does this after his owner, Amos, is murdered.
  • In The Descent, Sarah does this after the events in the cave cause her to snap.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, a lonely and overworked Rolf succumbs to howling.
  • Marianne in A Mighty Heart retreats to her bedroom and lets out an absolutely heartbreaking howl after learning of her husband's death.
  • In Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, it's what the eponymous character does after reading Mina's letter, the sheer anguish reaching levels where Empathic Environment is actually triggered as he howls, "Wiiiinds!".
  • This is how the Wild Things say goodbye to Max in the film of Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart gives a truly heartbreaking one after she is told her husband has been murdered.
  • In Dinosaur, Aladar and the lemurs do this after the meteorite destroys Lemur Island.


  • Gaspode starts a mourning howl, which is passed on into the night by unseen wolf packs, near the end of The Fifth Elephant.
    • Worth noting that Angua, in human form at the time, joins in with a throat-rending primal scream of grief.
  • In The Mammoth Hunters Wolf (a domesticated wolf) howls during the funeral of Rydag.
  • JRR Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham. When Giles rides off to slay a dragon, his dog Garm howled all night because he thought Giles would be killed.
  • White Fang does this when his master goes away.
  • The furcots from Midworld and its sequal use a communal howl to pay homage to dead tribe members, furcot or human. Unusual in that furcots aren't canine in the slightest or, indeed, even animals: they're mobile plants.
  • In Beowulf, the monster (or whatever he is) Grendel lets out a truly horrifying scream when he realizes that he is beaten:

(...) Then an extraordinary
wail arose, and bewildering fear
came over the Danes. Everyone felt it
who heard that cry as it echoed off the wall,
a God-cursed scream and strain of catastrophe,
the howl of the loser, the lament of the hell-serf
keening his wound.

Real Life

  • The legendary wolf Lobo is said to have done this after his mate was killed.
    • One of the supposed reasons why wolves howl is grief.
  • Many dog owners can attest to this trope after a human/other pet has died, though only the dogs know whether this is truly sorrow or simply the dogs looking for their missing packmate.
  • Wolves have been observed to pace in the area where a packmate died and howl for hours.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Nanaki (also known as Red XIII) does this for his father Seto in Final Fantasy VII.
  • Galfor's dog Poppy from Samurai Shodown does this when he's defeated.
  • Amaterasu does this at the end of Okami after she defeats Yami. Issun pops up on her nose and says to give a triumphant howl like normal. Once she realizes she imagined it, she gives a sorrowful howl, only before getting attacked again.
    • In its sequel for DS, Okamiden, Chibiterasu gives a howl of sorrow after Kurow dies.
  • Kevin, the hybrid beastman from Seiken Densetsu 3, emits a piteous howl after killing his wolf cub pal Kevin by accident. So he thinks.
  • Your mabari hound from Dragon Age: Origins will let out a mournful howl upon finding the corpse of King Cailan in the Return to Ostagar DLC.
  • There's a part in the first Modern Warfare where you see a wild dog and are ordered not to shoot it. If you shoot it anyway, it lets out a mournful howl, summoning 13 other dogs to kill you.

Web Comics

  • One use of werewolf howls in Dominic Deegan is to announce the break-up of a pack. Given what breaks up a pack...this is generally a combination of rage and painfully deep sorrow.
  • In Elf Quest the Wolfrider elves and their wolves share communal howls when one of their number dies, or when the elves are commemorating the dead.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Coyote tells Annie about the time that he helped The Great Spirit put the stars in the sky. After rushing through the job, he realized that he'd forgotten to make a constellation of himself. His frustration over that is why he howls at the sky now.
  • Once done by Kevin in Kevin and Kell after difficulties with his family, who really don't approve of his marriage to a wolf. Being that he's a rabbit, somewhat understandable.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Snoopy from Peanuts will howl to show his distress, whether it's being lost or just hearing a sad song.
  • Bronx from Gargoyles has been known to express his dislike of a situation by howling.
  • More of a scream than a howl, Courage the Cowardly Dog does this whenever Eustace chopped down the magic tree. He goes up to the cliff and screams so loud that he shatters the freakin' moon to pieces!