The hit MTV show Teen Wolf has its origins in the cult classic film of the same name, starring Michael J. Fox as the man-beast himself. So, how much did the show take from the movie and, more importantly, is the source material worth a watch?
After viewing the film, you’ll be unsurprised (and probably a little grateful) that creator Jeff Davis sampled lightly when developing the TV show. Whereas the movie is a little raunchy and a whole lot cheesy, the show takes on a different tone altogether while still running with the idea of what it would be like to be a werewolf and a teenager.
The general premise behind the show is essentially the same. The main character is just a normal, nerdy teenager. That is, until he starts turning into a werewolf. He has to deal with girls, homework, and sports on top of trying to figure out why he suddenly has superpowers. Both versions blend your typical teen narrative seamlessly into a supernatural storyline.
While the movie leans more toward drama and the TV show leans more toward horror, both have their roots in comedy. The movie is your typical 1980s cheese-tastic film, inserting cheap gags here and there that you can’t help but laugh at, despite the fact that you’re probably shaking your head at the same time. The show hits the mark a bit better (although, that could be because it’s a modern adaptation and everything lands better in the day than it does 25 years down the line). Introducing physical comedy stints and snappy one-liners, the show is sure to make you laugh at regular intervals.
Some of the characters translated from the big screen to the little screen, Scott being one of them. While TV-Scott is a bit different than movie-Scott, they do share the obvious connection that they’re the titular character who also happens to be a werewolf. Both are athletic and unpopular, and their lives change as soon as they begin to transform.
Stiles is another character that graces both versions. Both movie-Stiles and TV-Stiles have a certain disregard for the law, though movie-Stiles is a bit of a stoner and has a strange affinity for “surfing” on top of moving vehicles. Both versions are loud, obnoxious, and crazy, and both versions are definitely fan-favorites.
The third character that both the show and the film have in common is the coach, Mr. Bobby Finstock. This transition from one to the other is the most seamless out of all three. Both coaches are completely ridiculous, yet entirely loveable, and have a habit of using catchphrases that just don’t make any sense. We’re happy to report that “everything else is cream cheese” made it from the movie into the TV show.
One of the most obvious differences is that although both adaptations are about sports, they don’t share the same one. The movie focuses on a losing basketball team that’s transformed once Scott becomes a werewolf and puts his talents to good use. The show focuses on lacrosse – which is a nice change, considering it’s a lot more intense than basketball. The team is actually pretty solid to begin with, but as Scott vastly improves, so does their winning streak.
Another major difference – thank goodness – is that the werewolf makeup has changed drastically. Movie-Scott looks a lot like a relative of Cousin It, with an obscene amount of hair covering his entire body.
Throwing a jersey and a sweat band over that does not make matters better in the slightest. TV-Scott just gets some extra long chops and bigger teeth, but is overall still quite recognizable.
The show wanted to make the werewolves a little sexier (mission accomplished) and decided to do away with the foot long dreads. Good call. In the same vein, the way in which the main character turns into a werewolf is different between the two mediums.
In the movie, Scott is a werewolf for genetic reasons –- his father was one before him, and the genes were passed on to the next generation. In the show, genetic werewolves also exist, but Scott is bitten within the first few scenes of the pilot and that is what begins his transformation.
While you could arguably say that Jackson and Lydia were based on Pamela and Mick, most of the other characters are completely different. Both Pamela and Mick were the popular kids who also happened to be dating, but their dynamic with one another and with Scott and his group are completely different than the Jackson-Lydia-Scott-Stiles relationship. The love interest in the movie, named Boof (no, really), is nothing like Allison. She’s not a newcomer, she’s not a hunter’s daughter, and she’s not friends with the Pamela/Lydia character in any way.
No other werewolves besides Scott’s father appear in the movie, so there’s no one to compare to Derek or Peter. There are some characters that are aware of werewolves before Scott wolfs out on the basketball court — one even claiming to have killed Scott’s werewolf mother — but no one that could be called a hunter.
Movie-Scott wolfs out on the basketball court for basically the whole town to see. After some awkward silence and shifty eyes between players on both teams, Scott continues the game as if he’s not covered in hair from head to paw. After they win the game, the whole town carries Scott back to a restaurant for some celebratory pizza. They don’t mind that he’s a werewolf, and actually think it’s pretty cool. Popular girl Pamela, who hadn’t said two words to him before now, is suddenly attracted to this boy who anyone in their right mind would say needs a serious shave. Not only that, but the entire school falls in love with the wolf and Scott feels the need to hide his true self behind this new persona in order to fit in.
Meanwhile, back in the realm of at-least-kind-of-possible, TV-Scott’s identity is only known by a fair few. Those who find out what he is go through an initial shock phase and eventually learn to accept him as a teenage werewolf. Like normal human beings would when their friend tells them he’s a mythological creature of the moon. Scott must keep his identity a secret because if he doesn’t, chances are that someone will either kill him or lock him up, not ask him out on a date to prom.
There are countless other differences between the show and the movie. In the movie, the main character goes by Scotty Howard. In the show, it’s Scott McCall.
You’ll find the original Teen Wolf in Beacon Town, whereas the newbie lives in Beacon Hills.
The unfortunate team mascot for Scotty was a beaver, whereas the high school in the newer version is the home of the Cyclones. Movie-Scott’s jersey was #42, but TV-Scott’s is #11.
These small details can often ground a show or film in reality and there’s definitely a difference between the original film and the TV show.
The bottom line:
Picking apart the movie scene by scene would be too much to handle and not quite worth the time, but these are arguably the major similarities and differences between the two. The real question is, however, how do they rate against each other?
Well, that’s a bit unfair. The show takes the general idea of the film and turns it on its head. They can’t really compare because the objective of each one is so vastly different. The movie is a fun romp with plenty of laughs if you enjoy throwback movies with bad prosthetics and corny humor. The show does a much better job of portraying a realistic version of what would happen if a kid actually did turn into a werewolf.
If you’ve never seen the movie before and are a fan of the show, we’d recommend giving it a shot. It’s nice to see where the story came from and the few throwbacks the show has given to the original will make more sense upon viewing the film.
If you’re a fan of the movie and are hesitant to watch the show, don’t sweat it. The show is so vastly different from the movie that there’s pretty much no chance it’ll ruin what love you have for the original. It’s practically a different story that just happens to be called the same thing.
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