Teen Wolf’s Derek Hale has arguably been on the most drastic journey of all of our favorite characters. And this just makes us love him even more.
When we first met Derek Hale in season 1, we weren’t quite sure what to make of him. Was he good or bad? Did he truly have Scott’s best interests at heart? In hindsight, we now know he was a little misguided, but he was never a bad guy. That title is reserved for his uncle, Peter Hale, who was the Big Bad of the show’s premiere season (and continues to be a thorn in everyone’s side).
Derek didn’t trust anybody, least of all Scott, who appeared to be a wildcard after he was bitten by Peter. Derek continuously kept secrets from Scott and urged him to break off ties with Allison because her family was full of werewolf hunters. Given his past dealings with the Argents in particular, this is no surprise.
By the time season 2 rolled around, Derek was an Alpha, and he began to build his pack. He started with Jackson (though that didn’t go according to plan), and continued to grow via Isaac, Erica, and Boyd. Scott remained on the outskirts, despite Derek’s attempts to bring him into the fold.
In season 2, Derek’s main concern was stopping the Kanima by any means necessary. It didn’t matter if it was one of Scott’s friends, like Lydia or Jackson. He felt the creature was too dangerous to exist and had to be put down. Near the end of this season is where Derek began to come to the realization that though Scott didn’t have a pack of werewolves on his side, he had a pack nonetheless. For someone who grew up in a traditional werewolf family, that must have been quite a revelation.
Season 3A brought a new dynamic to the show — Derek’s sister Cora had survived the fire. Clearly this was an immense relief to Derek, since the only other family member still alive was his crazy uncle Peter. Cora didn’t last long on the show, having gone back to South America by the end of the first 12 episodes, but her presence was the catalyst needed to explain Derek’s troubled past with Paige and really move him onto a different path.
This is especially apparent at the end of season 3A when, after everything he had gone through to gain his Alpha status, Derek gave it all up to save his sister. “I don’t care about power,” he tells Peter. “Not anymore.”
Season 3B gave us much more of Derek as a Beta. It definitely didn’t make him any less lethal, and it did wonders for his personal life. In this season, Derek was able to talk to his mother (yes, his dead mother), who assured him the Scott was meant to be Beacon Hills’ savior. Derek was still there to help him, of course, but he found his lot in life as a Beta, and it made him so much more Zen than we ever could have hoped.
This season also saw Derek making peace with his past and learning to trust more than he ever had before. His relationship with Chris Argent was a highlight of the back end of this run, and watching him inspire the twins to fight alongside Scott and his pack will never get old.
Season 4 focused heavily on Derek and his journey as a character on this show. It began with him being captured by Kate Argent of all people, and slowly losing his powers. Luckily for him, Braeden was there to teach him how to wield a weapon other than claws. Because of Derek, as well as Scott, Braeden learned to trust the group and think of more than just herself and her need to survive.
Most importantly, however, was Derek’s final transformation. At the end of season 4, he is wounded and appears to be dead. However, he comes back stronger than ever and with the ability to transform into a full-fledged wolf. This special trait doesn’t happen to just anyone, and when we look back on how far Derek has come from season 1 and his driving need to obtain and maintain Alpha status, it’s no wonder he was able to grow into the type of person who would be able to do this.
Season 5, unfortunately, will give us less of this new and improved Derek Hale. Actor Tyler Hoechlin will no longer be a recurring character, but don’t count him out just yet. He will return, though in a limited capacity.
So, what do we hope from Derek in Teen Wolf season 5? We’d certainly love to see more of his ability to transform into a wolf, his wise advice to Scott, and his trademark ribbing with Stiles. Derek has walked the longest path of all our heroes, and though it’ll be strange not to have him around as much, we know he’ll still be there in spirit.
Teen Wolf season 5, episode 1, “Creatures of the Night,” airs Monday, June 29 at 10:00 p.m. ET on MTV. You can watch the first six minutes here.
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