Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) has a problem. Well, several problems. He's an average high school student with few 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.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 that went decidedly Darker and Edgier 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.
- 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!
- Body Horror: Scott's first on-screen transformation.
- Bookends: Scott misses his free throws in the beginning of the film. He makes them to win the Big Game at the end.
- Break Up to Make Up: Scott and Pamela. In the end, he picks Boof.
- Bring My Yellow 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.
- Cool Loser: Scott is supposed to be a bit of a loser, but he's cool enough to have a few friends and get invited to cool parties. He's even got a doting female admirer.
- Dean Bitterman: Vice Principal Thorne
- Down to the Last Play: The final game against the Dragons comes down to Mick fouling Scott at the end while the Beavers are down by 1, and Scott having to make two free-throws to win.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Harold, Scott's mother, and Thorne.
- Freaky Is Cool: Everyone is freaked when they first see Scott transform, but once they get a load of his sweet basketball skills, they love him!
- Fun T-Shirt: Easily half of Stiles' wardrobe.
- Funny Background Event: 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.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: None of the censors apparently noticed the Funny Background Event of the background extra with the open fly.
- 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 already. 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.
- Last Name Basis: "Stiles" is probably his last name, though we never learn for sure.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Chubby and Boof. Stiles is apparently a Last Name Basis.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Although Michael J. Fox is mostly impeccable at being a Fake American, he briefly slips back into his Canadian accent when he says "sorry", pronouncing it like "sorey".
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves automatically change during a full moon, but also can undergo Voluntary Transformation. They maintain their minds, but they have to be more careful with their strength.
- 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...*
Vice Principal Thorne: [promptly wets himself out of fear]
Harold Howard: I knew I could count on you, Rusty.
- 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."
- Sins of Our Fathers: Vice Principal Thomas' dislike of Scott is because of a confrontation he had with Scott's dad, years ago. Harold eventually confronts Thomas over this.
- Transformation Trauma: Psychological rather than physical; Scott's first transformation doesn't appear to be painful, but more "Holy shit I'm turning into a monster!" Most of the rest 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.
Scott: Well, dad, it didn't pass me by! It landed right in my face!
- Wham Shot: After an exchange designed to make the audience (and Scott) think Harold thinks Scott is masturbating, Scott is finally convinced to open the door - to see a wolf looking back at him.
- Wolf Man: A light comedy version.
- You Sexy Beast