Wolf Man

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Benicio del Toro in the 2010 Remake of The Wolf Man.

    "Even a man who is pure in heart
    and says his prayers by night,
    may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms,
    and the autumn moon is bright."


    Subtrope of Our Werewolves Are Different, dealing with a Beast Man that has wolf features, but retaining human proportions. Together with Count Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster, this is generally considered to complete the set of "classic" horror monsters. Unlike the other three, however, there is no single specific source of popular werewolf lore. The closest claim to one would be Lon Chaney Jr.'s character (Lawrence Talbot) from the film The Wolf Man, one of the Universal monster films that codified the "classic" set.

    However, far and away the most popular conceit is that a werewolf is a human who has somehow (especially against his will) become able to temporarily transform (usually unwillingly) into a wolf. Usual methods include a Viral Transformation spread by being bitten, but a lot of depictions show lycanthropy as solely hereditary. Other popular causes include curses and typical Mad Scientist experiments. Some lycanthrope characters use the Wolf Man as a Partial Transformation.

    In '50s horror films, the transformation usually took the form of getting hair and fangs but otherwise remaining almost entirely human. (The "classic" Wolf Man appearance is not entirely dissimilar to the symptoms of a rare genetic disorder, hypertrichosis.) With the advent of more sophisticated make-up and visual effects, techniques have been developed that allowed more wolflike features on humanoids, such as giving a character a wolf's muzzle and ears. Phlegmings are popular for modern versions.

    Depending on the adaptation, he may or may not have nards. Also generally equipped with fearsome claws, despite real wolves having blunt toenails instead. Usually switches between running on two legs and Running on All Fours.

    Wolf Men often employ the following tropes:
    • Anti-Hero: Most adaptations depict the Wolf Man as a bloodthirsty creature with genuine animal instincts and reasoning.
    • Clothing Damage: Depending on the form, is prone to lose most of the clothes on his back.
    • "Growing Muscles" Sequence: Commonplace on some monster flicks, such as the Underworld franchise.
    • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Mostly justified with the full moon influences.
    • Little Bit Beastly: Depending on the story, some wolfish attributes might become evident during the Wolf Man's human state.
    • Monster Modesty: Not often, but it's uncommon for most wolf men to still have what's left of their trousers after they change.
    • Shapeshifting: The general aspect of changing from a man to a wolf, depending on methods.
    • Transformation Sequence: You can expect at least 2 or 3 of these during any given film with werewolves.
    Examples of Wolf Man include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Liru from Magical Pokaan turns into a cute little puppy with anything round, strangely enough, except for the full moon.
    • Wolf familiars Arf and Zafira of MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha, who are shown as capable of shifting from giant wolves, to this, to full human (i.e., no wolf ears or tails), to Fun Size versions of the first two forms. And just to punctuate the Wolf Man image, Arf's first on-screen transformation into a wolf was accompanied with a full moon in the background.
    • Kotaro Inugami of Mahou Sensei Negima is technically a dog boy, but he associates himself with wolves. He's also proven capable of turning into a really Big Badass Wolf at full power.
    • Holo from Spice and Wolf is a cute female version.

    Comic Books

    • Werewolf by Night at Marvel Comics. The main character is named Jack Russell, which is a breed of terrier.
    • Mikola Rostov from The Warlord was a Russian fencing instructor cursed to become a werewolf every full moon. he tried to escape his curse by moving to world of perpetual sunlight. This was not as successful as he might have hoped.
    • Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair) of the New mutants (X-Men, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor...) has an interim form of a bipedal wolfgirl/woman (often wearing a leather jacket and some form of trousers). This has become the default 'combat form' for her recent outings. Her fully-wolf 'sensitive senses' form is almost never seen these days.
    • John Jameson, son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, has served as a member of Spider-Man's rogues gallery as Man-Wolf after being exposed to a moonstone that mutated him into a werewolf.



    • The "Wolf and Raven" stories, which are part of Shadowrun's Expanded Universe, feature a man who is possessed by Wolf, one of the many animal totems of the world, which grants him powers and mannerisms similar to the classic Wolf Man (as well as a Split Personality, of sorts). It should be noted that this is very different from the game's usual take on werewolves.
    • The Canim of the Codex Alera are a whole species of wolfmen - specifically, nine-foot tall wolfmen with enormous physical power and durability and who can live for hundreds and hundreds of years. And they are extremely competent warriors and fighters, who control a much larger continent with a much more expansive civilization than the Alerans. The only reason Alera remained unconquered by the Canim was because they generally didn't care about Alera, beyond the nation of Narash, which would occasionally launch raids at Alera.
    • The Border Town series has Wolfboy, a human who was targeted by an offended elf, and found himself permanently transformed into this. (She was actually meaning to transform him into a dog, but magic doesn't work so well in Bordertown.)
    • The Belgariad has Poledra, who turns out to be a natural wolf able to shapeshift into a human, a trick she learns from patiently watching sorcerors. Belgarath meets her after he tries his hand at shapeshifting (in the early days of magic, when the sorcerors had to find out everything by themselves), and after they eventually marry, Belgarath spends a lot of his time in wolf form and starts to consider it as natural as his human form. Belgarion, the series' main character, has the time of his life when he gets invited by Poledra to try it too.
    • Werewolves in Discworld vary enormously in their powers and appearance. The best example of this trope is probably Ludmilla Cake, who is a perfectly presentable young lady for three weeks out of the month, and a perfectly well-behaved Wolf Woman for the remaining week.
    • The Erasers from the Maximum Ride series.
    • The Dresden Files has four different kinds.
      • Lycanthropes have the genetic disorder that causes continuous hair growth on their bodies and their change is mostly mental, they tap into a primal rage and strength. They are most connected with this trope.
      • Werewolves are people who have mastered one particular spell that allows them to turn into a wolf. The Were-form is often bigger than a normal wolf because they are using their image of a wolf as opposed to an natural wolf.
      • Hexenwolves make a Deal with the Devil to get an Amplifier Artifact that turns them into a beast that is larger and more powerful than a Were-form but it is addictive.
      • Loup-Garu are people who were cursed. They and their descendants will transform into a huge Anthropomorphic Wolf on the full moon. They have a weakness to Inherited Silver as it has an element of sacrifice to it.
      • Bob as stated that the Viral Transformation is something that is something that Hollywood took from Vampires.
    • Ulf Turesson differs from most wolfmen in that he is about ten - but then, he appears in a Swedish children's novel called Jag är en varulvsunge - "I am a werewolf cub". (Also, his condition is probably just a child-friendly version of a psychosis, not a true metamorphosis.)

    Live-Action TV

    • The way werewolves in Buffy the Vampire Slayer are shown varies over the seasons. They started out as a feral-looking wolfmen, walking on two legs but with a wolf-like head. Later they are portrayed as quadruped and without a muzzle. The season 8 comics show them as a hybrid of the two, able to walk on two legs but running on four.
    • Angel has a 'special' kind of werewolf that differs the Buffy ones. They walk on two legs, have powerful jaws but lack the thick coat of fur.
    • Wolf from The Tenth Kingdom.
    • The main character from the aptly-named Big Wolf on Campus.
    • Eddie Munster from The Munsters was the werewolf child of a Frankensteins Monster and Countess Dracula. You really have to question the genetics of that.

    Apu: If your mother was a vampire and your father was a Frankenstein, how come you are a werewolf?
    Butch Patrick: Huh, I never thought of that. Doesn't make sense, does it? But what does make sense is putting your children in the hands of Mr. Kidkill here.



    • Aaaa-ooooooooooo! "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon.
    • "The Animal" by Disturbed celebrates this trope on all its lupine glory.
    • Howl by Florence + the Machine, a verse of which is paraphrased from the page quote.

    Tabletop Games

    • Dungeons & Dragons. Werewolves, wolfweres (wolves that could take human shape) and greater wolfweres could half-change, thus gaining a hybrid mostly human body.
    • Not surprisingly, the game Werewolf: The Apocalypse was all about these, as is its successor, Werewolf: The Forsaken. Werewolves in both have a hybrid form (Crinos in Apocalypse, Gauru in Forsaken) and the wide range of other werecreatures in both old and new Worlds of Darkness have such forms as well.
    • Shadowrun has a virus which turns people into mindless Neanderthal types which get stronger and vicious during the full moon. However, they don't gain animal traits, beyond the extra hair. What Shadowrun does have are Shapeshifters, as in normal animals of all varieties spontaneously giving birth to magically active stock able to take on human form. Not to mention all the dragons who've learned the ability...
    • Warhammer 40,000 brings us the Wulfen, werewolves In Space. With guns.
    • Werewolves can take this form in the Role Master campaign setting Shadow World.
    • GURPS 3E sourcebook Bestiary Second Edition. Were-Creatures (such as werewolves) could have a "Beast-Man" form, an anthropomorphic blend of human and animal.
    • Michael Stackpole's Shadowrun Wolf and Raven short story "If As Beast You Don't Succeed" in Ka•Ge magazine Volume 1 Issue 12. Wolfgang Kies can turn into a half-man half-wolf form.

    Video Games

    • Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within.
      • Averted: Von Zell, Von Glower, and Gabriel all turn into full-fledged wolves, albeit obviously computer rendered ones. However, the in-game opera "Der Fluch Des Engelhart" plays this trope straight with the actors donning wolf masks.
    • One level of Osu! Tatake! Ouendan 2 has the group cheering on a werewolf as he struggles to keep from transforming in front of his girlfriend. Made more difficult for him because he transforms just by seeing things that are round, including balls, ice cream, and bald heads. If the player fails the song, the poor lug gets carted off to the pound. The actual ending of the stage has him finally transform in front of his astonished girlfriend (set off by her eyes), who turns out to be happy because she loves dogs.
      • Poor kid's name is even Goro Okami, with the kanji for "Wolf Boy" on his shirt.
    • Werewolves are a common enemy in the PC game Nocturne, appearing in all but one chapter, and they can be killed with any weapons; it's just that silver bullets kill them a lot faster.
    • Saberwulf of Killer Instinct & J. Talbain of Darkstalkers.
    • Tinek/T'Nique/whatever from Star Ocean. Despite the series borrowing heavily from Star Trek he's the only thing that comes close to being a shapeshifter in any of the games.
    • Kevin from Seiken Densetsu 3 is a beastman that turns into a full wolfman at night. This effectively gives him two sets of moves to the other characters' one.
    • Berserkers in Battle Realms can be given the Lycanthropy ability.
    • World of Warcraft has the Worgen, a race of Wolfmen that infects others through biting. Though most Worgen are feral, the Kingdom of Gilneas manages to create a "cure" that, while not removing the curse, allows the Worgen to retain their human minds while in Worgen form. The Gilnean Worgen were added to The Alliance as a playable race in the third expansion, Cataclysm.
    • In Altered Beast, the first (and also the last) beast the player can turn into is a Werewolf - preceded by a Transformation Sequence - which is basically a muscular and furry man with a wolf head.
    • Gerhalt from Shining Force II becomes this upon promotion. It is unknown whether or not he has the ability to return to his human form.


    Web Original

    Western Animation