"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."
Gwen Conliffe
Aliases: Garou
Sub-groups: Blutbaden; Lycans; Mutts
Films: Werewolf of London; Wolf Man (1941); Curse of the Werewolf; Wolfen; An American Werewolf in London; The Howling; Teen Wolf; Silver Bullet; Bad Moon; Dog Soldiers; Van Helsing; Cursed; Twilight: New Moon
Programs: Dark Shadows; Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Werewolf; Buffy the Vampire Slayer;
Books: The Hyde Effect; Cycle of the Werewolf; New Moon
Comics: Astonishing Wolf Man; Werewolf by Night

Werewolves are men and women who, through specific circumstances, adopt the physical, mental and/or emotional characteristics of a wolf. The clinical term for this condition is called Lycanthropy. Werewolves have been a popular part of Western European folklore for several centuries, but it wasn't until the 20th century that they became a part of modern pop culture. In addition to vampires, witches and ghosts, werewolves are one of the most popular breeds of supernatural creature and they have appeared in every aspect of the horror medium from films to television, comics, video games, role playing modules and more.

Origins[edit | edit source]

The process of becoming a werewolf varies, but can usually be traced to one of three different points of origin. One may be have a curse put upon them which turns them into a werewolf against their will. Others may be members of an actual species of werewolf and thus, are born with their special traits. In most cases however, a person becomes a werewolf after having been bitten or scratched by another werewolf. The actual process of transformation classically takes place during the three nights of the full moon, but more modern werewolves have also been shown to transform at will regardless of the lunar phase.

The physical elements of a werewolf are also very varied. Sometimes a person shape-shifts into an exceedingly large wolf, with no human characteristics whatsoever. In other cases, a person may maintain prominent human traits, but possess excessive body hair, pointed ears, enlarged canines and claws. In other cases, a werewolf may adopt a perfect blend of both human and animal traits, becoming a veritable power house. These werewolf forms, sometimes referred to as crinos form, have become increasingly popular in the past several decades and are arguably the most visually appealing types of werewolves found in film and literature.

Destroying a werewolf can be a complicated and dangerous process. Some traditions believe that the presence of wolfsbane may harm or drive a werewolf away. Other traditions posit that when wolfsbane is in bloom, a man may become a werewolf. The most effective means of destroying a werewolf is through the use of silver. Any weapon made of silver be it a silver bullet, or a silver-tipped cane will prove fatal to a werewolf. This aspect remains as the one constant in nearly all forms of werewolf lore. In at least one source, weapons made of titanium are required to kill a werewolf. [1]

Werewolves in film[edit | edit source]

Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot in The Wolf Man.

The first mainstream werewolf movie was the 1935 film Werewolf of London by Universal Pictures. Werewolf of London starred Henry Hull as European botanist Wilfred Glendon, a man who, while on an expedition in Tibet, is bitten by a werewolf and thus inherits the curse of lycanthropy. Although the film has developed minor cult status over time, Hull's character proved to be very unsympathetic and audiences were not entirely impressed with either the character or the toned down werewolf effects. Makeup artist Jack Pierce's original designs for the werewolf makeup was actually more in keeping with what he would do later with Universal's The Wolf Man, but studio execs felt that the look would be too fearsome for 1930s audiences. There are two notable details about Hull's werewolf that distinguish him from others. Chief among them is the fact that he actually talks in werewolf form. This happens at the end of the movie as the character mournfully apologizes to his wife before expiring. Another key point is the fact that Wilfred Glendon is brought down by an ordinary lead bullet, not one made of silver.

It wasn't until 1941 that Lon Chaney, Jr., son of silent film icon Lon Chaney, provided the American market with Larry Talbot, the tragic protagonist from Universal's The Wolf Man, directed by George Waggner. The Wolf Man proved to be one of the most popular and beloved silver screen horror films and Chaney's character joined the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy, earning himself a place in cinematic history as a member of the informally named "Universal Monsters". Although the Wolf Man did not spawn any direct sequels, Chaney reprised the character of Larry Talbot in a number of crossover projects beginning with 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and continuing in Ghost of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein and finally the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, a film that proved to be the swan song for all three classic Universal Monsters. For nearly seventy years, Chaney was the only actor to play the role of Larry Talbot. In 2010, Universal Pictures produced a remake of the The Wolf Man starring Benicio Del Toro as the tormented Larry Talbot.

Werewolves were primarily absent from horror cinema during the 1950s as the genre took a turn towards science fiction, giving audiences giant dinosaurs and mutant beasts born of the atomic age. It wasn't until 1961 that British movie house Hammer Film Productions brought werewolves back into the spotlight with the film Curse of the Werewolf. Directed by Terence Fisher, Curse of the Werewolf was based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore.

Underworld[edit | edit source]

Lycans are a second breed of Werewolves created in the 11th century, descended from William Corvinus's Werewolf bloodline. Once normal humans who were infected by the first born Lycan or another of his victims, they are unlike the first breed in that they retain their human intelligence and personalities while transformed, as well as being capable to take human form. In this article, "Werewolf" will be used to refer to both Werewolves and Lycans collectively (except where otherwise noted), for when both generations need mentioning at the same time. Lycans are constantly at war with the Vampires due to their former status as slaves, and the Vampires begin a campaign to exterminate the entire species after the Lycans stage an uprising that nearly destroys the entire Vampire species in the 13th century. Vampire warriors trained to hunt and kill Lycans are known as Death Dealers. [2]

Werewolves in television[edit | edit source]

Being Human[edit | edit source]

George Sands on the UK series Being Human.

Werewolves on Being Human follow many of the same traditions as those of werewolves found in classic forms of media. There are two methods for becoming a werewolf. One who is bitten or scratched by another werewolf and survives will become a werewolf. The second method is through natural birth. Pureblood werewolves are the offspring of two adult werewolves and have been able to shape-shift since early on in their physical development. Those infected by a bite or scratch will become a werewolf on the nights of the full moon. Their personality is completely submerged and they follow the predatory instincts of the wolf. On the days leading up to a full moon, the werewolf can feel certain urges overwhelming him, including a surge in self confidence and an increased libido. Werewolves often distinguish their base personality from their animal one as if they were two separate organisms, often referring to their internal drives by the pseudonym, "the wolf".

Killing a werewolf is very difficult, but one does not require silver to accomplish this. A well-placed gunshot to the head will kill a werewolf just as readily as a human. When an infected werewolf dies, they revert back to their human form. When a purebred werewolf dies, they revert back (or remain) in wolf form. [3]

There is only known method for curing someone who is a werewolf. This applies only to those who have been infected by a werewolf bite. If a werewolf kills the one who turned them, then he or she will cease to become a werewolf. This only applies to the individual and does not cross generations. It will not cure those whom the newly-cured werewolf may have infected herself. On the North American version of Being Human, this was shown in season three when Josh Levinson killed Ray - the one who infected him. Josh was cured, but it did not cure Nora Sargeant, whom Josh infected in season one.

Dark Shadows[edit | edit source]

Quentin Collins - Playboy, philanderer... werewolf.

Werewolves have been featured in several television series dating back to the 1960s. One of the more popular werewolf characters from this era was Quentin Collins from the ABC gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Quentin originally appeared as an angry malevolent spirit haunting his descendants in the playroom in the West Wing of Collinwood along with the ghost of his lover, Beth Chavez). [4] Quentin and Beth's spirits befriended the children David Collins and his friend, Amy Jennings. Eventually, they took possession of both children and used them to serve their own interests.

In an effort to save his family, the former vampire known as Barnabas Collins, used the cosmological principles of the I Ching to send his spirit backwards through time to the year 1897 (unfortunately for Barnabas, this meant becoming a vampire once again as such was his physical state during that time period). This series of episodes is commonly referred to as the "1897 flashback". [5]

Alex Stevens as a werewolf.

Upon meeting Quentin, Barnabas discovered him to be a selfish and spiteful individual, a womanizing manipulator constantly at odds with his family. Quentin earned himself the reputation of being the black sheep of the family – due largely in part to his marriage and subsequent abuse of a gypsy girl named Jenny Rakosi. Along with Beth Chavez, the two conspired to keep Jenny hidden from the rest of the family by imprisoning her inside of the tower room at Collinwood.

Quentin's philandering lifestyle changed forever when he ran afoul of an occultist known as Count Petofi. Through Petofi's machinations, Quentin inherited a curse that transformed him into a werewolf whenever the moon was full. Barnabas, sympathetic to Quentin's plight, tried to help him overcome the curse, but to no avail. He did however, succeed in altering Quentin's destiny, preventing the creation of the future timeline where Quentin's spirit would plague Collinwood.

Quentin's curse extended through his own family bloodline, affecting his descendant Chris Jennings (Chris' twin brother Tom ironically enough, became a vampire).

In the series, the role of Quentin Collins was played by David Selby. Chris Jennings was played by Don Briscoe and stunt coordinator Alex Stevens played the role of the werewolf for both characters.

Grimm[edit | edit source]

On the NBC television series Grimm, werewolves are referred to as blutbaden (singular blutbad). Bludbaden are essentially werewolves, who possess uncontrollable rage and an ability to adapt the physical characteristics of a wolf, including excess hair, contorted faces, enhanced strength and animal senses. In modern times, people have vulgarized the name to mean "Big Bad Wolf".

On Grimm, one of the main characters is a Blutbad named Eddie Monroe. He is a Wieder Blutbad, or, "reformed Blutbad", and no longer engages in the act of killing people. In order to keep his more savage tendencies in check, Monroe employs a strict regimen of diet, drugs and pilates. Not all in Monroe's family had his measure of self control however. His grandfather for example, was capable of some fairly horrific acts, and even Monroe admits that his death at the hands of a Grimm was probably well-deserved.

Another Blutbad featured on the series was an unnamed postal worker and serial killer. This man murdered a jogger named Sylvie Oster in Berkeley Park and devoured her remains. He also abducted young Robin Howell and kept her locked up in the cellar of his cabin. Detective Nick Burkhardt and his partner Hank Griffin raided the Postman's cabin and Griffin killed him. [6]

Werewolves of note[edit | edit source]

Character Source
Aiden Teen Wolf
Amber Bitten
Antonio Sorrentino Bitten
Clayton Danvers Bitten
Daniel Santos Bitten
Douglas Patrick Reagon Dreadwolf
Elena Michaels Bitten
Ethan Teen Wolf
Ethan Chandler Penny Dreadful
J.D. Carson True Blood
Jeremy Danvers Bitten
Jorge Sorrentino Bitten
Karen White The Howling II
Karl Marsten Bitten
Lester Lowe Cycle of the Werewolf
Liam Dunbar Teen Wolf
Logan Jonsen Bitten
Malcolm Danvers Bitten
Nate True Blood
Nick Sorrentino Bitten
Nina Ash Angel
Pete Myers Bitten
Raymond Coker Marvel Comics
Raymond Santos Bitten
Rikki Naylor True Blood
Samuel Boggs Bitten
Thomas LeBlanc Bitten
Victor Olson Bitten
Zachary Cain Bitten
Yara The Howling III

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Bitten logo.jpg
This article relates to the Bitten television series.
Ds logo.jpg
This article relates to the Dark Shadows franchise.
Tales from the Cryptkeeper logo.jpg
This article relates to the Tales from the Cryptkeeper television series.
Underworld logo.jpg
This article relates to the Underworld film franchise.
This template will categorize articles that include it in into the Underworld miscellaneous category.
Wolf Man logo.jpg
This page is a miscellaneous article relating to the Wolf Man film franchise. This template will categorize images that include it into the Wolf Man miscellaneous category.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.