*WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*
I’m about to start writing a book about werewolves (and circuses, and private detectives, and Norse mythology). Couple this with Halloween being very nearly upon us, and now feels like as good a time as any to share my completely biased, entirely arbitrary take on What I Call The Best Werewolves In The (Fictional, Narrative) World... Ever.
So, without further ado:
5: Scott Howard, Teen Wolf (1985)
He’s a little bit homophobic and clearly a lot of a dick when it comes to Boof... but there’ll always be a place in my heart for the basketball-playing human boy turned breakdancing, Travolta-besuited lycanthrope that was Michael J Fox as I first glimpsed him on UK TV in the late 80s. I hear there’s been a TV show since, but if my experience of Teen Wolf Too is any indication, I suspect my memories of Scott and his hirsute prowess will be better preserved if I avoid it.
4: Oz, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
A placid if slightly self-hating wolf who acted with more dignity than some guys I’ve known when learning that his ex was kinda gay (even if he did try to eat her girlfriend), Oz earns his spot on the list in part because of his hair (impeccable, by late 90s standards) and in part because he never seemed to mind playing second fiddle to every other Scooby in the gang. A werewolf without ego is a rare beast indeed, and I’m here for it.
3: Angua, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
Another wolf whose enhanced night-vision and preternatural speed come with a hefty side of guilt and self-loathing, Angua is strong, smart and, quite frankly, hot in a copper breastplate. One of the few fictional police officers I think we can all get behind, I’ve always read her as (in the words of James Remar’s bartender in Boys On The Side) One Of The Girls, despite the Problem of Carrot. Discworld fanfiction, I’m pleased to say, has confirmed that I was right all along.
2: Willie Flambeaux, George RR Martin’s The Skin Trade
I’m not a fan of Game of Thrones, so was surprised to find myself delighted by GRRM’s (then-contemporary US-set) tale of lycan lore and murderous, skin-stealing monsters - and more delighted still by Willie, the lame-duck shape-shifter whose consistent crapness in the face of evil redefines reluctant hero for the (admittedly somewhat niche) werewolf noir sub-genre. As a protagonist, even one with wolfish superpowers, he’s a little bit rubbish, and he knows it. I love him for it.
1: Wolf, Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman
Gentle, big-hearted and unflinchingly loyal (at least to his buddy Jack Sawyer), Wolf is (ironically) more dog than wolf, and - like Willie Flambeaux - all the more loveable for it. Die-hard Constant Reader I may be, but I’ve never quite forgiven King and Straub for what they did to him in The Talisman - or for neglecting to find a way to bring him back for Black House. He'd have made short work of The Fisherman in French Landing, and I think we all know it.
Anyway... I suspect I’ll be diving headfirst into more werewolf stuff over the next few weeks and months, as the lycan circus rolls into town. So if you have any thoughts on bigger, better and more compelling werewolves out there that I should be (re)visiting - please, let me know!