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Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) has a problem. Well, several problems. He's an average high school student with no friends, he's a mediocre player on a losing basketball team, and the girl of his dreams won't even look twice at him. His dad works at a hardware store, and he's generally the Butt Monkey of the entire high school. Life sucks. Scott just wants to be recognized, to be special, to be the guy that everyone wants to hang with.
He's about to discover that "special" runs in his family. It's called lycanthropy.
Released in 1985, Teen Wolf shares many elements with I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957, starring Michael Landon), and helped to revive the popularity of the werewolf in pop culture. It was followed by an animated series, and a sequel, Teen Wolf Too, starring Jason Bateman as Scott's cousin (who is also a werewolf). Teen Wolf, an In Name Only Revival with the Wangst dialed Up to Eleven is currently airing on MTV.
This movie contains examples of:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Pamela doesn't give Scott a moment's notice until she finds out about his animal side.
- Animated Adaptation
- Arch Enemy: Mick McAllister, the star player of the rival basketball team.
- Betty and Veronica: In this case, brunette Boof is Betty, and unattainable blonde Pamela is Veronica.
- Big Game: Winnnnnnnn in the end! I'm gonna win in the ennnnnnnd!
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Mick (in the animated series).
- Body Horror: Scott's first on-screen transformation.
- Break Up to Make Up: Scott and Pamela. In the end, he picks Boof.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Harold Howard vs. Vice Principal Thorne. Point goes to Harold.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Harold's "great power" speech to his son was a deliberate reference to Spider-Man.
- Dawson Casting: Michael J. Fox plays 17-year-old Scott at age 23. Then again, that's just what he did in the 80s.
- Dean Bitterman: Vice Principal Thorne
- Everyone Went to School Together: Harold, Scott's mother, and Thorne.
- Freaky Is Cool: Werewolf = lots of friends.
- Fun T-Shirt: Easily half of Stiles' wardrobe.
- Funny Background Event: See Getting Crap Past the Radar below.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: For once by complete accident. During the scene at the end on the bleachers pay attention to a guy sitting with a red jacket on his lap. As people get up to walk away, you'll notice the guy had his pants unzipped for some reason.
- Hands-On Approach: Scott teaches Pamela how to bowl.
- I Just Want to Be Special: At first, then...
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Scott has a freakout on this theme when he finds out he's a werewolf. He's got enough problems without it. Then he finds out about his high school's apparent furry fandom.
- In the Blood: Scott learns he has to keep a leash on the Wolf after a confrontation at the prom nearly ends in violence. His dad had earlier related a similar tale of werewolf rage from his own youth.
- Jerkass: Vice Principal Thorne. In school, he used to harass Harold and Scott's mother until Harold transforms into a werewolf and threatens him to leave them alone. Then he takes it out on Scott until Harold reminds him again (see Papa Wolf below).
- Jerk Jock: Mick.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Stiles and Chubby. And Boof.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The classic wolf man variant here, along with the family curse.
- Outside Ride: Stiles' favorite pastime is surfing on the roof of a car. It becomes Scott's favorite pastime as well, until his father chides him.
- Papa Wolf: Harold Howard vs. Vice Principal Thorne.
Harold Howard: I want you to leave my son alone. He's a good kid... he's just having a tough time right now. Okay? *Snarl...*
- Paralysis by Analysis: Scott opens the movie at the free throw line. He's clearly thinking too hard and bricks it.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: "Give me... a keg... of beer."
- Transformation Trauma: Averted here; Scott's first transformation doesn't appear to be painful, but more "Holy shit I'm turning into a monster!" Most of the trauma seems to be social, until he discovers that Freaky Is Cool.
- Was It All a Lie?: Harold didn't so much as lie, but never told Scott about it.
Harold: I was hoping I didn't have to. Sometimes it skips a generation, and I hope it would pass you by.