Sleek predators, with cunning pack hunting behaviors, impressively menacing doglike appearances, and, of course, the ever-frightful howl. As one of the top predators in the Northern Hemisphere, wolves were feared as rivals for people of the past, who had to compete with wolves when hunting, and, in times of famine, lost livestock to lupine predation.
Perhaps for this reason the Wolf occupies a singular place in Western folklore and fiction. Among all the predators of folklore, few have been as demonized as wolves, who almost inevitably appear as savage, cunning, endlessly rapacious and irredeemably evil. It is the Big Bad Wolf who devours Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother and the boy who cried wolf; wolf packs that haunt the dark forests. Indeed, in fiction, the wolf almost seems to function as an entire species of evil twins to the tamer, more noble dog. Even when they are good, they are by no means nice. In many aspects, wolves are more similar to humans than any other animal. And well, humans are by no means nice either. It may be these above factors that have uniquely contributed to the popularity of werewolves. While nearly every animal can be given human-like characteristics, with werewolves it also (in fact usually) works in reverse. Being fierce predators, wolves reside partially within the amoral, cutthroat natural world, but being social creatures, they also display the beginnings of civilization. Hence, a man that starts becoming influenced by more of the former starts to look like a wolf.
But as industrialization progressed across the globe and wolves no longer posed as much of a threat, people came to understand wolves differently. The primary reason people disliked wolves - their predation of livestock - was largely forgotten as most people no longer had any experience of livestock themselves. In reality, pure-blooded wild wolves almost never prey upon humans (wolf-dog hybrids and feral dogs are more likely to attack), and display many positive attributes - cunning, cooperation, and great beauty - that gradually elevated them from wicked monsters to respected, even admired predators. It helps that they are devoted to their cubs, who are fall-down cute (they look like dogs; or, more accurately, dogs look like them). For good reason too. After all, dogs are descended from wolves that decided that Man made a better partner than rival.
In keeping with this new, more palatable image of the wolf came a wave of idealized portrayals. Far from being wicked agents of evil, these wolves are proud, majestic, noble protectors of nature, often wise in their own right and sometimes even allies of the forces of Good. Indeed they are almost treated like lions of Europe and North America, or at least a handsome variant of dogs with more personal dignity. Even when wolves were not intrinsically good creatures, they still carried with them a healthy dose of Badass.
Most modern portrayals of wolves range between these two extremes. On the one hand, there's still something chilling about the sound of a wolf's howl, and they look just enough like a dog to be unnerving. On the other hand, having a lupine ally, pet, or character definitely falls under the Rule Of Cool, a law that many fictional wolves benefited from.
In reality wolves fall under neither extreme, much like human conceptions of any animal. While normally nonaggressive to humans, wolves can still be dangerous if cornered, and attacks on humans, albeit very few, have been documented, although these are generally attributed to conditions such as rabies. They are also a major danger to livestock in many areas where ecological damage and/or competition with human hunters has made prey rare.
This is a Cyclic Trope/Evolving Trope.
One of the examples of Animal Stereotypes. Wolves' image is commonly transferred to the faction of Petting Zoo People styled after them.
Compare The Big Bad Wolf, Canis Major, Animals Not To Scale, Our Werewolves Are Different, Everything's Worse with Wolves and Hellhound.
Examples of Big Bad Wolves
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Chip (who used to be a dog) changed into a wolf in the recent Cookie Crisp commercials, perhaps due to this reason.
Anime & Manga
Spice and Wolf is about a merchant who finds a spirit trapped in a bundle of wheat. Guess what? She's actually a god, whose human form comes complete with(admittedly foxish) ears and tail. Her less human form however, is a 20 foot tall wolf.
The Wolf in Chirin No Suzu. Ruthless and vicious, he kills whatever he can sink his fangs into — including Chirin's mother.
Subverted because Chirin soon grew fond of the Wolf, seeing him as a father. In fact, near the end, after killing Wolf, he soon felt sad and realized that revenge wasn't satisfying.
Coyote Stark from Bleach can summon an army of wolves from fragments of his own soul...that explode.
Darcia from Wolf's Raincorrupted paradise and killed all of the main characters.
InuYasha: The wolf-youkai tribe was infamous for eating humans and destroying entire human villages in the process. Kouga's tribe destroyed three human villages (including Rin's village, killing everyone there including Rin herself) before Inuyasha's group was able to catch him. After that first encounter Kouga became enamoured enough of Kagome to convert his tribe from eating humans anymore and from that point on he became both a Karma Houdini and a Big Badass Wolf instead of a Big Bad Wolf.
The wolf shown in the beginning of the film/comic 300 is just demonic and threatening enough to be classified as this.
Bigby Wolf from Fables is a definite bad ass wolf with how he took on the Empire and his whole secret agent thing. Not the mention that he's the original Big Bad Wolf upon whom all the legends are based, and also extremely big, standing up to about seven feet at the shoulder.
The latest Promethea encounters the original Big Bad Wolf concept on her first jaunt into the Immateria. It's probably the only thing in the entire series that's really capable of killing her. By nature, the Big Bad Wolf can only be killed in its own story, by its own plot characters. Anyone else- ANYONE else- just falls into the role of "hundreds of victims."
Promethea also points out that part of why he can kill her is because he's a much older concept than her. Being one of the primal fears of mankind makes you a special kind of deadly.
Fenris from the Lucifer comics manages to take revenge for his fellow mythologies by hijacking Jesus , stomping into a story arc almost entirely populated by Judeo-Christian characters. When one challenges him for this he points out that before humanity cowered before demons they feared the wolves beneath the trees, proceeding to pretty much become the Big Bad through raw Badassery.
One of these guards the Roark family farm in Sin City, as seen in The Hard Goodbye. Marv has two encounters with it. He first meets it when investigating Goldie's death. The wolf attacks him and he knocks it unconscious, then pets it and explains that he would never kill him ("You're even dumber than I am"), it's his owner he's after. The second encounter involves Marv sawing Kevin's arms and legs off, tying the wounds off with turnequets to keep him alive but letting enough blood to get in the air to attract the wolf, which comes and starts eating Kevin to Marv's approval.
The Grey runs on this trope, with wolves being the film's primary antagonists, especially the Alpha. The wolves are shown as cunning and brutal, often attacking from stealth or when the humans are otherwise compromised. The film does mention several times that the only reason the wolves are so vicious is because the crash victims have wandered too close to their den.
Werewolves in general, though modern writers like to mix things up a bit.
The Big Bad Wolf perception of wolves is directly responsible for the modern Swedish name for wolves: varg, meaning "killer" or "strangler". Folklore had it that saying wolves' proper name (ulv) would call them, or at least cause bad things to happen, which lead to wolves being called what they were seen as (murderous brutes). Problem was, this became so wide-spread and went on for so long that varg ended up as the proper name for a wolf, and the folklore about speaking their name being bad remained...
In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, Gaunt remembers how Colm Corbec would tell stories of wolves circling "the stranded, the unlucky, the lost" to bring them down; his current situation, being stalked by an unseen Chaos creature, reminds him.
In the third Animorphs books the four main Animorphs morph wolves, with Jake naturally getting the alpha male wolf. He nearly throws down with the Alpha Wolf of another pack. Cassie eventually settles on the wolf as her battle morph of choice.
In Book 6, when Jake's a Controller, the other Animorphs set the Yeerk up to run into that same wolf pack. The Yeerk controlling him decides that he won't be able to defeat the Alpha wolf, and gives up.
The werewolf Fenrir Greyback from Harry Potter is quite... disturbing, to say the least. He delights in biting young children to turn them early, and was not opposed to eating someone (Dumbledore) in the climax of Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince. Note: this person was still alive.
Of course, the other werewolf from Harry Potter was caring, intelligent and friendly, except for his 'furry little problem'.
That poor, poor man, struggling with his badly behaved rabbit.
Matthew from Bones Of Faerie when he changes into or is forced into his wolf form.
Genius BruiserWerewolf Derek from the Darkest Powers series. His wolf form reflects his human form in that he is massive, muscular, and weighs over two hundred pounds. He's pitch-black from nose to tail, with very green eyes that have a tendency to appear as if they glow, and it's mentioned by Chloe that his canines are as long as her thumb.
Many of the members of the coyote tribe from the Hank the Cowdog series fit the trope's description, despite not actually being wolves. Rip, Snort, and Scraunch the Terrible the most notable.
The Canim from Codex Alera are a ten-foot-tall, superhumanly-strong humanoid wolf species who live on a continent far to the west of the human realm of Alera. They are widely-considered one of the most dangerous of the many creatures in the world that the Alerans regularly fight, but it isn't until the third book in the series that we really see their armies in action. It turns out that they regularly live for many centuries, and they're very good at engineering and mechanical design, on top of their Blood Magic, and their commanders are smart.
The beast Harley Mac Finn turns into in The Dresden Files when his family curse comes on him. Murphy describes it as an "Ice Age looking thing" and it sounds very much like the direwolves of our racial nightmares...
Lord Byron saw fit to compare Ancient Assyrians to wolves in The Destruction of Sennecherib. No doubt the Assyrians would have taken it as a compliment. It is not clear what the wolves' opinion would have been.
The The Wheel of Time series features normal wolves, as well as corrupted wolves known as Darkhounds. Packs are released one at a time otherwise they will fight to the death with each other. They leave no tracks on normal soft surfaces, but melt them into stone. On top of all that, they have venom which is usually fatal without immediate magical treatment.
As when a prowling Wolfe, Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey, Watching where Shepherds pen thir Flocks at eeve In hurdl'd Cotes amid the field secure, Leaps o're the fence with ease into the Fould:
In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, Jack Jr's medallion was found in the belly of a wolf. Note this means it wasn't the body that was found.
All over the place in Teen Wolf, naturally. Especially in the case of the Alpha.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has several. There are Oz and Nina, but Veruca is the truly evil one as she refuses to lock herself up. Season 8 introduces Monroe and his group, who believe werewolves should revel in their feral side. They stop at nothing to prove it, including killing a monastery full of Buddhist monks on a full moon.
One of the most common Wesen on Grimm is the Blutbad, werewolf-like creatures responsible for most if not all the myths of Big Bad Wolves. In modern times most of them keep their urges in check and one is a main character who wears sweaters and is into Pilates, yet he's still strong enough to rip a man's arm off when he loses control.
Fenris, the giant wolf fated to devour Odin himself, is the ultimate expression of this trope; ironically he is arguably justified for his revenge, having been imprisoned in horrible pain for a crime he had yet to commit.
Norse Mythology also features Fenris' sons, Hati and Skoll, who are destined to devour the moon and sun.
It's worth mentioning that the Norse word for them, "vargr" (and thus its English form "warg") derives from Protogermanic "wargaz", which meant "strangler".
One should take note that in this case, big and giant are relative. Fenris' scale is quite truly mythical, when its maw is open, its lower jaw touches the earth below and its upper jaw touches the very roof of the world itself.
Dungeons & Dragons had Dire Wolves, Worgs (taken from Tolkien's "Wargs") and Winter Wolves, all very dangerous.
The final boss of Suikoden II, the beast rune, which is shown to be the embodiment of feral and murderous evil, is presented in the form of a massive, two-headed wolf.
The wolves in Metal Gear Solid will attack you (but not Meryl, they seem to like women) on sight, unless you have Sniper Wolf's handkerchief or use a trick that involves Meryl.
Or sitting in your cardboard box until a Wolf walks up and pisses on it, allowing you to walk around inside your box... smelling like a wolf. Nobody ever said Snake's methods weren't unorthodox but they get the job done.
Madfang Ragewolf from Patapon 3. Although, he's more of a comedic badass (to lighten the mood after a serious event)
In Assassins Creed III wolves are the most dangerous kind of enemies. They hunt in packs, hard to dodge and can dodge assassination attempts themselves.
In No Rest for the Wicked, the woods are known to house wolves, which is why Perrault refuses to believe that November came through the woods alone. However, the actual wolves appear only as skins in Red's cottage.
Captain Scarblade and Balthazar in Neopets, though Balthazar has a more sympathetic shade of light.
In Early Medieval times someone who was declared outlaw (outside the protection of the law, legalizing a Vigilante Execution) was a Wolfshead, meaning that the offender was to be hunted down like a wolf. In other words when the authorities said someone was evil, they compared him to a wolf.
Older than Dirt: This goes back all the way to Hittite law: "If anyone abducts a woman and if those who go after/behind, three persons or two persons, are killed, there will be no compensation. You have become a wolf. UR-BAR-RA." "Ur bar-ra" basically means "Begone, you."
There really were dire wolves. The largest wolf ever known roamed North America for a few hundred thousand years until going extinct 10,000 years ago. You can go see their skeletons at the La Brea Tar Pits museum in Los Angeles. Then you can get down on your knees and thank the universe that they're all dead.
Examples of Big Badass Wolves
Anime and Manga
InuYasha: Once he had converted from a Big Bad Wolf to a Big Badass Wolf, Kouga, the tough and extremely fast member of the wolf-youkai tribe, who was once infamous for killing and eating entire villages of humans (and was the direct cause of Rin's first death). In fact, he was the leader of the Eastern Den (tribe) and a noted thorn in the side of Naraku for a long time as Naraku found it difficult to steal the shards of the Shikon no Tama that were enabling Kouga to be such a fast runner. Once Naraku was finally able to successfully steal the shards from Kouga's legs, everyone thought Kouga would finally be slowed down to a normal running speed, until it was revealed that Kouga was still insanely fast without the shards.
Garurumon/WereGarurumon/MetalGarurumon in Digimon Adventure, literally the best friend Yamato has ever had.
His spiritual successor in Digimon Savers, Gaomon/Gaogamon/Machgaogamon/Miragegaogamon.
Well, Gaomon and his evolution feels more dog-like than wolfish. "Gao" is Cantonese for "dog".
A better example might be Kouji from Digimon Frontier, whose Digimon forms are Wolfmon/Garmmon/Beowulfmon/MagnaGarurumon (Lobomon/KendoGarurumon/Beowulfmon/MagnaGarurumon).
Dorurumon is bringing back the lupine badassery in Digimon, complete with being a powerful character with a rebellious attitude.
The wolves portrayed in the film Princess Mononoke. Wolves in that movie were enormous, the size of quarterhorses, could run unbelievably fast, and leap enormous heights. They were portrayed both as noble creatures who just want to protect their own and even saving a little child and raising her as huge bastards who kill indescriminately and apparently like to eat the people they killed. The movie is actually a subversion of the trope that nature and animals are inherently good and humans and technology are bad. Actually, neither the animal spirits nor the people of the Ironworks are any better or worse than the other.
ALL of the main wolves in Wolf's Rain. Even the apparent wuss Tobe takes down a giant walrus.
The titular pack from the episode "Fallen Wolves" have given up on being badass and make a living through scavenging and even enslaving some of their pack to humans — much to the disgust of Kiba's pack.
Holo from Spice and Wolf. Both extremes exist here; Holo is seen as a gentle and playful trickster, but when she takes her full wolf form everyone is frightened by her. At the end of the first season there's also a pack of wild wolves, led by a bus-sized wolf deity that even unnerves Holo.
Even when defeated, Komamura demonstrates huge resilience having refusing medical treatment after taking a Level 90 offensive kidou from Sosuke Aizen, returning to the fight mere minutes after Tousen's released form's ultimate attack appeared to cave in most of his chest, and counter-attacking Aizen twice despite having had his hand cut off and slashed through the waist. He's also the character best known for his ability to give a Rousing Speech and even at least one Patrick Stewart Speech, earning him the fan nickname "Captain Bromamura". When not in battle, he's a Gentle Giant, who cares deeply for his dog Goro, is well liked by children and adults despite his supposedly frightening appearance, and enjoys watching puppy shows.
Duran from Mai-HIME was Natsuki's Childe, took the form of a giant, metal wolf whose super power was ice. Want to know what fueled him? Love.
War Wolf from Corrector Yui. Very powerful as a Corruptor, and also very powerful as a Corrector.
The Captain from Hellsing is a Made of Iron werewolf who is one of the strongest characters in his series. In Hellsing: The Dawn, he fought Walter and Alucard (Hellsing's resident God Mode Sue) at the same time and won. And despite being a member of an evil Nazi organization bent on starting World War Three, he seems to have an incredibly strong sense of honor, refusing to fight any humans he doesn't have orders to kill, and has a sense of chivalry for fellow warriors (he even decided to spare Heinkel, against orders). He also is incredibly loyal to the Major.
And if it counts as a "wolf", there's Alucard's Hellhound transformation/familiar as the inverse of the Captain. It's a vicious killing machine that only serves Alucard because it was enslaved to do so. It actually turns on its master when Walter releases it from him (or was being controlled by him).
Jyabura, from One Piece transforms into such a wolf as his Devil Fruit power.
Everyone imagines Sakaki as one of these in Azumanga Daioh and goes gaga. Sakaki imagines... something else. A cute widdle wolf puppy.
Sasami finds a wolf in one of the Tenchi Muyo! manga volumes, an escapee from a zoo transport. Notably, all the girls (being not from around here — namely, Earth) have no idea what a wolf is until educated.
Subverted by the player-character Ohka the Werewolf in .hack://Legend of the Twilight. She's only really badass when she's in human form, although she retains her wolf ears and Cute Little Fangs. Despite her protestations to the contrary, when she's in 100% wolf form, she acts like a big, lazy dog.
Kiba the wolf from Cat Paradise, despite being a Spirit Beast, is not nearly as malicious as many of the other Spirit Beasts that appear, and even agrees to help the humans after his job is finished. Possibly justified, since his species flourished overall in the advent of humanity, unlike some other species.
In the G.I. Joe comics continuity originated by Marvel, Snake-Eyes has a wolf named Timber who is his on-again, off-again pet. He and the wolf both spook the nearby townspeople so bad that it's rumored he's a werewolf. When he's reactivated and brought into G.I. Joe, he leaves Timber behind. One of the two characters who came to get him asks the other about his leaving "that poor animal" without any support. The other points out it's a wolf, not a dog, and it "doesn't eat Alpo".
In ElfQuest the reader is repeatedly reminded how badass the wolves are. Even the elves (well, some of them) are part-wolf.
Kyle Abbot from 52 and Batwoman. A werewolf shape-shifter who worships crime. He becomes disillusioned by his peer's interpretation, and breaks off into his own sect, the true believers. He's an occasional ally of Batwoman.
Main character Don Lope de Villalobos Y Sangrin in French comic De Cape et de Crocs, an antropomorphic wolf. Forget him being able to fend off a dozen of swordsmen: when thrown into a shark-infested ocean by pirates, the water went red with the sharks' blood.
Similarly in The Golden Mermaid, although there the prince offered it his horse for a meal.
In The Grateful Beasts, one beast was a wolf. The king's last Impossible Task is for Ferko to summon all the wolves in the kingdom together. It's the last because the wolves are hungry. Only the princess escapes because she was locked in the tower for objecting to all these impossible tasks.
The Grey Wolf in general in Russian Folklore is an aristocrat of the forest.
In White Fang, wolves are presented as harsh and savage, but the hero, being part dog, eventually rises above his instincts to become "tamed"... After being forced into dog-fighting along the way, although "fight" is perhaps not entirely accurate - "execution" comes closer. It got to the point where they had to tie him up for the start of the fight, otherwise he'd kill the other dog before it had finished its preliminary snarl-and-threaten routine.
Once the dog had finished its routine, it would almost certainly not be any more merciful.
Another Jack London novel, The Call Of The Wild, has a dog doing the opposite: after being forcefully taken from his comfortable life on a large estate and then forced into becoming a sled-dog in the Yukon, he eventually joins a pack of wolves and becomes the leader.
The Canim from Jim Butcher's Codex Alera are anthropomorphic Big Badass Wolves. They actually fit this trope both ways - most of the Alerans hate and fear them because of their great skill and physical power and ruthless raiding habits, but Tavi learns to have a great deal of respect for their culture. The Canim generally are treated as the Alerans' Worthy Opponents.
The wolves of David Eddings' The Belgariad are, if not totally idealized, still treated as clever and admirable predators rather than ravening monsters. This is mostly Hand Waved by the phrase/idea that the wolves simply have a different system of morality than humans. ("Try to be a little more open-minded")
The fact that one of them, The Woman Who Watches, is a protagonist and Belgarath's wife (and Polgara's mother!) probably plays a part in this. Poledra's being a wolf doesn't come up much, even in Polgara or Belgarath. Belgarath mentions that he just tries not to think about it much - even deliberately overlooking things that he really should have noticed - and Polgara just comments that her mother "doesn't think the same way humans do" and muses that her heritage probably plays a part in how she reacts when she has to hide the last surviving member of the Rivan monarchy.
Brophy in Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule, a former soldier who was turned into a big wolf by magic.
The wolves of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, while technically not fond of humans, are still more admirable than not. Indeed, they are in fact apparently meant to fight alongside the forces of good during The Last Battle.
Actually, they are intended to fight to balance the Darkhounds, wolves corrupted by the forces of evil, referred to by the wolves as Shadowbrothers.
The wolves in Rudyard Kipling's originalJungle Book(s), although the tiger Shere Khan subverts some of them into Big Bad wolves until Mowgli attacks them with a burning branch.
Special mention to Raksha (Mother Wolf) for going Mama Bear and standing up to Shere Khan to protect Mowgli.
The wolves of Discworld, as described by Angua, are seen as Big Bad but are really Big Badass wolves.
Angua is a very biased source of information on wolves.
The Fifth Elephant: All ordinary wolves in the book are pretty damn clever in their own element, and have no desire to get involved in matters they don't understand. Save for the one Angua apparently had, er...special relationship with some time ago.
Most of the Royal Wolves in the Firekeeper series, particularly Blind Seer, although there is the occasional Jerkass. Cousin Wolves, by comparison, are just animals.
Owing to their status as emblems of House Stark (arguably the "protagonist" house), the direwolves of the Stark children in A Song of Ice and Fire fit this to a tee. They are also symbolic pets. Jon's is white, separate from all the rest, and he had his eyes open already. Arya is "lost" in the world, and similarly her wolf is wild and untamed (not to mention both are killers). Lady was obedient to the point of death, which bodes ill for obvious reasons for Sansa.
In the children's book, "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" (no prizes guessing what it parodies), three young wolves are sent out into the world by their mother and are promptly harassed by a big bad pig. The wolves are far smarter than their porcine counterparts and bricks are their starting point-unfortunately, their antagonist is also quite a bit cleverer than his counterpart, and uses heavy demolitions to bring down their ever-heavier fortifications. Finally one of the wolves gets the bright idea to make the house out of flowers, and the pig is converted to the side of good by the pleasant aroma.
The Dresden Files has several Big Badass Werewolves, some Big Bad Werewolves, and one Big Badass... anti-werewolf? Tera West is a real wolf who turns into a human, and is disgusted by how some evil werewolves are acting, because animals don't kill for fun, only to get food or to protect themselves or territory.
Although the accuracy of Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf has been disputed, it cannot be denied that the book helped change a lot of minds about the true, and far less threatening, ways of the North American wolf.
A regular battle morph in Animorphs was wolf, at least for Cassie. The others (save Tobias, who was still in Shapeshifter Mode Lock at the time)have also used them on occasion.
The aptly-named Wolf from The 10th Kingdom can often qualify as this-he doesn't turn into a full wolf save for a few occasions, but even as a full human has higher than normal senses and strength, being able to take on the Huntsman one on one to defend Virginia. The actor actually studied real wolves, and as such displays a much more playful, emotional, social nature than the typical dark and brooding wolves depicted in TV. He ends up as the butt of many jokes, but when push comes to shove he tends to be the heavyweight of the group when it comes to a fight.
Kamen Rider Kiva has Jiro, a Big Badass Werewolf who is badass enough normally, but briefly gets to use the IXA Rider System in 1986.
Diefenbaker from Due South. Granted, he's only part wolf, but he is still a complete bad ass — he can even "read lips". Seriously. For an animal on a live-action show, he had quite a few Crowning Moments Of Awesome. His character was also the first of the show to receive fan-mail.
The wolf from Peter And The Wolf is certainly Bad, though it is arguable how Badass he is considering how easily Peter catches him. Then again, maybe that just goes to show how much of Badass Peter is.
On the flip side from Fenris are the wolves Geri and Freki who sit at the base of Odin's throne and accompany him on the Wild Hunt. They're described as being able to devour all that is put in front of them.
If you go back far enough the Valkyries rode wolves the size of war horses, which is infinitely more badass than the way that you see them in art and popular media.
One of the symbols of Ancient Rome, before being supplanted by the eagle, was the wolf. This grew out of legends that Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, were literally Raised by Wolves. There is a famous sculpture, the Capitoline Wolf, that depicts Romulus and Remus and their wolf mother (though only the she-wolf is ancient; the twins were added in the Renaissance).
Its worth to note that, contrary to modern perceptions, the romans didn't adopted the wolf because of any inherent "specialness" atributed - they hated the animal just as much as everyone else around them. Rather, the story is symbolic of how vicious the romans saw themselves to be.
In old Slavic Mythology, some gods were said to take wolves as their avatars, and the animal is a potent symbol of otherworldly power. The animal was so respected that the neighboring nations were said to believe Slavs sometimes turn into wolves themselves.
In old Turkic mythology, the Wolf was the Turkic people's ancestor and the Turks' primary symbol throughout the centuries. Even today the gray wolf is Turkey's national animal.
And the namesake of a notorious ultranationalist paramilitary group.
Since 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons, players have it suggested that wolves aren't there for killing (werewolves are still fair game, though). The biggest example: the default animal companion for a druid is a wolf.
Fenrisian Wolves from Warhammer 40000 take the "big" and the "badass" to, well, 40k levels, sometimes growing to the size of a tank. They're the sometime companions, sometime foes of the Space Wolves chapter of Space Marines, who both revere the wolves and hunt them as a ritual of manliness, wearing their tails and their pelts as trophies. (The Space Wolves themselves are big badasses who call themselves Wolves.)
Presumably wolves, with their acute sense of smell, are able to smell the old pack leader on those who have gone head-to-head with them, and Fenrisian ones are smart enough to know that anyone who can take out the old top dog is not one to be trifled with.
In the latest codex, certain champions can ride especially large wolves.
The Space Wolves' Primarch was actually raised by a pack of these.
There are no wolves on Fenris...
What??! When did this happen? Yes there are.
The Horus Heresyestablishes that the wolves on Fenris aren't actually wolves. It becomes a sub-plot in the Thousand Sons vs Space Wolves books.
There are a number of wolf-based cards in Magic: The Gathering. Most of them are green or white cards and emphasize cunning and teamwork.
There's even a trait that drives home the 'big' part of Big Badass Wolf. The book's numbers indicate that it causes the werewolf to weigh anywhere between 1500 to 2500 pounds in their Crinos war-form.
The Vargr in Traveller who are wolves and other canines genetically engineered by the Precursors . They are great merchants and pirates. But they are incapable of organizing and so aren't as effective in a straight fight as guess who.
BIONICLE has the Iron Wolves- big badass cyborg wolves. Sadly, not released as actual sets, though there have been some pretty cool fan creations of them, which became canon under the approval of LEGO.
Hero Factory sees Bulk get a wolf motif in an animal-themed arc. One of the enemy sets from that line, Fangz, is a badass robot wolf from top to bottom.
In Skyrim, you can become a werewolf and any nearby wolves will fight for you.
The Rawulf race from Wizardry games are playable anthropomorphic wolves. This is a unique take on them — as they have a well-rounded build, but with more Piety than most races, making them a good choice for Lord (think of Paladin), Valkyrie, and Priest classes. Rarely do you see a wolf-like race associated with support!
The thought of a race made up of wolflike beings who are exceptionally pious (and therefore presumably exceptionally obedient) really evokes the idea of dogs more than wolves.
Amaterasu, the sun goddess who takes the form of a white wolf to save Nippon from evil. She's not all that big, but she is decidedly badass.
There's also Oki, the greatest warrior of the Oina tribe, who stands larger at the shoulder than Ammy in wolf form.
Shiranui probably deserves her own mention as well, considering she travels from the past to help Amaterasu and is the previous incarnation of Amaterasu at peak power. She looks pretty badass too, with the Solar Flare and alternate design. All in all, Shiranui is probably the only wolf in the game who should inspire more terror than Amaterasu, even after the latter regains her former strength as an Eleventh Hour Superpower.
Subverted in the sequel Okamiden with the adorable puppy protagonist Chibiterasu. He might be badass and a wolf, but big he is not.
Wolf O'Donnell of the Star Fox series. Originally presented as a generic "evil Star Fox", the later games showed him to be a gruff pilot with a sense of honor, teaming up with Star Fox in many an occasion. Super Smash Bros. Brawl even has him as being taller than Fox (Although his stance puts him lower).
Tiger of the Wind from Monster Rancher is another combination, (overly) proud and often rather ruthless yet brave and loyal to the point of death.
Blanca from Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Not someone's wolf pet/companion, not a talking wolf (Though we do get to hear his thoughts and communications with other wolves), not a side character. A white wolf, on its own, as a member of your party. If that isn't Badass, this Troper doesn't know what is.
Luceid, the Guardian of Desire from the Wild ARMs series, takes the form of a wolf and is frequently the only Guardian strong enough to take a physical form without a medium.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a pair of wolves, Volug and Nailah. Nailah is especially badass as she is one of the laguz royals that can stay in animal form indefinitely, but Volug also remains in wolf form for all of Part I.
Shamans in World of Warcraft have the ability to turn into a Ghost Wolf for faster travel as well as summon Spirit Wolves that tend to tear up anything they can.
The Orcs ride large, befriended wolves as mounts in [[Warcraft3 the strategy game]]. The supplementary material has the bonded wolf as one of the orc's closest companions.
With a few exceptions, the portrayal of any wolf that isn't a Random mob is a noble creature/spirit to be respected.
And in one case, even a wolf you do kill is also respected and revered by the local natives, even if none truly mourn Ghost Howl's death due to his unfortunate insanity. Still, one of three particular spawn points of said mob puts it in a good spot to eat newbie characters without any chance for retaliation.
There's also the Worgen, such as the Sons of Arugal, original members of the Druids of the Pack, and the Gilnean Worgen (which are playable).
Heck, one such Gilnean Worgen picks up a STAGECOACH and starts BEATING PLAYERS WITH IT.
Goldrinn is revered as a minor god for good reason. Even the Orcs respect the Wolf-God (though they call him Lo'Gosh).
Wolf pets are available in Lineage 2 at a very low level, and are accordingly weak and squishy. However, once they reach a high enough level, they can be evolved into a Great Wolf, which is considerably more useful and very Badass in appearance.
Mightyena in Pokémon. It looks more like a striped hyena, but its behavior is more wolf-like in that it lives in packs and knows the move Howl. It's Dark-type, but is described as being very loyal to a skilled trainer.
Arcanine, Suicune and Manectric. These are Big Badass Fire, Water, and Electric wolves, respectively.
While Manectric could probably pass as a wolf, Arcanine is particularly a foo dog and Suicune shares traits with the Kirin.
The Fenris Wolf Brood in Age Of Mythology. They are huge wolves that get stronger and faster as their numbers increase. The scenario editor also includes a Fenris Wolf hero named Ornlu.
Ornlu appears in Age of Empires II as well, as a super-powerful wolf you must kill during the first mission of the Genghis Khan campaign.
And Tyr's god power, Fimbulwinter, causes the sky to go dark and snow to fall as packs of wolves attack enemy town centers with surprising effectiveness.
One of the earliest characters you can recruit in Suikoden II is Shiro, who can basically pass off as a white baddass wolf. If you get a Double Beat rune early on (Killer Rabbits on the way to Highland and around the Rebel Fort drop them frequently), he absolutely mutilates the first half of the game, gaining ludicrous stats at level-up and attacking twice every turn. It's only after you start sharpening your weapons above level 10 and gain rare armor that Shiro's dominance starts to wane, but he's still a viable ally to the very end. And he fits the big part, as well, being that Kobolds can ride on him and he's bigger than the main character. Big Badass Wolf, indeed.
Also from Suikoden II is Bob the werewolf. One of the game's later recruits, he can take the form of a human due to his rune. He's an average fighter as a human, but he can shift back into his werewolf form for a few turns once per battle. For those few turns, he becomes one of the hardest-hitting characters in the game.
A more proper example is King Diulf of Suikoden Tierkreis. He's the king of the Furious Roar tribe, and a very powerful and loyal ally.
Z.W.E.I. from Soul Calibur V fights using an arming sword and a werewolf spirit called E.I.N. that he can summon at will.
While he's not technically a wolf, Shi-Long Lang in Ace Attorney Investigations seems to actively be trying to be one. He refers to his team as his 'pack', uses wolf metaphors constantly, and howls when he's in distress. Even his appearance is vaguely lupine, with hair perked into ear shapes and what appear to be fangs.
In Diablo 2 a new class is introduced, the Druid, who can turn into a Werewolf. Which makes the character a monster when it comes to hit-and-run tactics. Run to a massive group of enemies, wipe out one third, run, heal, wipe out.
Mabari War Dogs from Dragon Age: Origins are... well, DOGS, not wolves, but they deserve a mention for the simple fact that these fighting dogs are trained to be able to break ranks of pikemen and UNSEAT MOUNTED KNIGHTS. Best of all? You can GET one in your party.
Rogues who take the sub-class of Ranger can summon wild animals; guess which is the first available?
Brad Fang, a wolf-like humanoid in Contra: Hard Corps.
Great Grey Wolf Sif from Dark Souls is a Big Badass Wolf...and we mean big. The player character only comes up to his chest, and in the area where you fight him, there are many swords stuck into the ground, and corpses littered around. His opening cutscene shows him leaping off a great stone tower towards the player, removing a Big Fancy Sword from the ground with his jaws, and flipping it to the other side dramatically. Prepare to Die.
Volk from Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits was a humanoid wolf species of the Deimos (monsters) that wielded an axe. He starts the game with a hatred of the humans, but he ends up fighting alongside some in the last half of the game for the greater good.
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd introduces Zinogre, a gigantic lupine monstrosity with the ability to absorb nearby thunderbugs release them with electrical attacks, and its red Dragon-element Subspecies from 3G. He returns for the first time in the West in Ultimate.
In Solatorobo, the Precursors to the Caninu were the Wolves, who were both highly skilled in the magical arts (unlike their decedents) andgood with technology, first providing robots to Shepherd during the Hundred Lilies War five hundred years ago. Sadly, they never appear in the game proper and are only mentioned in lore.
In Intrusion 2 enemy soldiers ride massive wolves and after killing it's rider the player can mount them. They can run faster and jump farther and higher then the player can on foot, will automatically bite any enemy in range and all weapons except duel pistols can be fired while riding them.
Reynardine falls under this indirectly, even though he's actually a fox. Since possessing Annie's wolf doll, he seems to be undergoing a slow Heel Face Turn - in particular, he's noticeably less of a "jerkface" when he takes the form of a full-sized wolf, rather than his usual pint-sized plushy form.
One could argue that this is more of an Alternate Character Interpretation. More and more it appears that he never was a bad guy to begin with. Of Course, as with most everything at the court, we really don't know.
The Cyantian Chronicles has Syris Akaelae, who has been so badass during several wars that the artists among his enemies depict him as a god of war! Thankfully, he's also got a heart of gold.
Hinjo rides a big badass wolf into battle. It even has the ability to harm devils with its silver teeth, thanks to the paladin's obfuscatingly stupid uncle misunderstanding the definition of "table scraps" (The Chessmaster or he planned it all along]]).
And according to the backstory in Start of Darkness, the goblin deity the Dark One rode one of these as his mount when he was still mortal.
See also her boss, R.L. In a recent comic, a polar bear attemted a hostile takeover of the company in the middle of a slide presentation. By the time the presentation was over, it was being shown on his skin.
Cry Havoc s werewolves become this with a full moon. They stand about 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and are capable of standing on two legs, raising their height to nearly 12 feet. Needless to say, they also weigh more than most cars.
Rule in 10%+ arguably manages to be both Bad and Badass - he's a crazy Well-Intentioned Extremist, a Determinator who wouldn't even let death stop him, and a very experienced fighter who developed some of his own fighting styles.
King Altador and Jeran in Neopets. Tormund as well in the PS game "The Darkest Faerie".
In Web Serial NovelWorm, one character, Bitch, has the ability to make dogs temporarily grow into giant, spiky monsterous forms. When she gets a wolf cub, it definitly fits this trope when transformed, particually as it transforms better than the dogs do (it's less deformed by the transformation), possibly because wolves are just better.
This may not count, but in the episode of The Simpsons called Cape Feare, grandpa Simpson is in front of the Simpson house and says "I'm cold and there are wolves after me" (cue scary howl... in the middle of the day). Also, in one epside, Groundskeeper Willy goes mano-a-wolf-o with an escaped Alaskan timberwolf, "Whose jaws can bite through a parking meter."
Young Justice has Wolf, a big white wolf and one of many wild animals injected with the Kobra venom (a combination of Bane's steroids and the blockbuster formula). Starts off as a Big Bad Wolf that Superboy fights, but fights alongside him after Superboy removes the mind control collar, and decides to stay with Superboy instead of return to the wild. The Super Strength granted by the venom makes him a very useful fighter.
Lobo, the King of Currumpaw, a wolf from the 1890s. Hunters tried poison, bear traps, hunting parties, and everything they could throw at him, but were unable to catch him. Finally, a group of hunters including Ernest Thompson Seton captured Lobo's mate Blanca and killed her, then used her scent to lure Lobo to the traps. When they finally found Lobo, all four legs were in traps. Upon seeing Seton, "Lobo stood up and howled". He died shortly after being caught. Seton's book (Wild Animals I Have Known) portrayed Lobo as a Hero Antagonist, whose downfall was his devotion to his darling mate.
Clearly drawing on the reputation and adopting the usual style, wolf packs.
Adolf Hitler seemed to have had an affinity of some sort for wolves. His first name derives from Athalwolf, Old High German for "noble wolf", and for this reason "Wolf" became his childhood nickname. He later used it as a pseudonym for himself in the 1920s, ostensibly for security reasons. When his sister Paula Hitler asked him for financial support around 1930 (she was fired from her job in Vienna when her employers found out who her brother was) he granted her request, but insisted that she go under the assumed name "Paula Wolf" from then on. Some of his military headquarters were named Wolfsschanze ("wolf's lair"), Wolfsschlucht ("wolf's chasm"), and Wehrwolf (lit. "defense wolf", probably a play on words with Werwolf i.e. "werewolf").
"Wolfpack" has also been used as a nickname by various military units throughout history. Ace PilotRobin Olds bestowed this nickname on the Eighth Tactical Fighter Wing during the Vietnam War, shortly before launching Operation Bolo, in tribute to another famed fighter unit from World War II.
At least three breeds of dog are intentionally bred to resemble wolves. Of these, two of them are also extremely wolf-like of temperament and not for the inexperienced dog caretaker, while the third, the tamaskan, is a very friendly and personable breed suitable for anyone with the time and the space to care for it.
The Beast of Gévaudan a wolf-like beast (or several of them) terrorized the area of Gévaudan (now called Lozčre) in the Auvergne region of France for several years during the 1760s, killing over a hundered people. The speculations of what the beast really was range from a ordinary wolf or wolfdog to a Hellhound or Werewolf. These later theories are in line with the legend that claims it was killed by a silver bullet.
Can we just say that the entire species counts? They have been an apex predator of the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere for 300,000 years, and even when domesticated, they prove to still be quite badass.
Also, American wolves may not be considered really dangerous, but in Eurasia the story is very different. In Russia alone there were 169 children and 7 adults killed by wolves between 1840 and 1861, and 122 children were killed in India between 1980 and 1986. Througout Europe and Asia, even today, wolves are considered a major threat to people and livestock alike. Also single wolves are known for killing adult moose. MOOSE. ALONE. One can imagine what they can do in packs. By the way, they also kill bison and musk ox... Again, alone.
Many Eurasian wolves have partial dog ancestry, and hence are genetically less prone to be frightened of humans, this may help account for this disparity in aggression towards people.
Not to mention the Australian subspecies, the dingo. It might look like your family Labrador Retriever, but it sure as hell isn't, as you will painfully learn if you try to pet one.
The Prehistoric ancestors and relatives of modern gray wolves tend to be overall smaller, aside from a few notable exeptions.
The Dire Wolf, (which co-existed alongside modern Gray Wolves) which hunted megafauna (mammoths and the like). Averaging 1.5 metres in length and weighing about 57 to 87 kilogrammes. They looked like a larger, stockier Gray Wolf (which vary in size geographically. The heaviest gray wolf on record was of equal size: 86 kilogrammes, but the gray wolf average weight is closer to 33 kilogrammes).
There are reports of wolves hunted in Russia and even Northern America reaching over 100kg, it's has becoming a regular claim that at least two of those are caught every season in Siberia, unfortunately they don't keep records of weight there, only size measures (head, height, etc)...
Bear Dogs. Ancestors of both bears and dogs. Some were fox-like creatures, but many mixed the features greatly—including size.
Numerous names (mostly masculine, many of Celtic or Germanic origin) derive from local words for wolf
The aforementioned Adolf and its cognate Adolphe and Adolphus (noble wolf).
Ludolf (also meaning noble wolf).
Conán (little dog).
Faolán or Whelan (little wolf).
Lowell (little wolf).
Conall (strong dog).
Conchobhar or Connor (dog lover).
Conrí (dog king).
Guadalupe (toponymic for river of the wolf).
Radulf and Ralph (wolf counsel).
Randolf (shield rim wolf).
Rudolph (famous wolf).
Sandulf (true wolf).
Ulric and Wulfric (wolf power).
Wolfgang (wolf path).
Loup, Lupus, Lyall, Ulf, Vuk and זאב Ze'ev (wolf).
Caleb (כלב Ka-Lev) means "like the heart", but is spelt identically to the Hebrew word for "dog", כלב kelev, simultaneously hearkening to the positive traits associated with dogs. Caleb is a Biblical name well-respected in ancient Hebrew times, and has been adapted as a respectable name in various European languages including English. But it's rarer as a given name in modern Hebrew, probably because while כלב kelev still means "dog" in the ordinary sense, it is also commonly used today as an insulting epithet equivalent to "bitch" or "whore". Though Kalev and kelev have one different vowel in modern spoken Hebrew, they are indistinguishable in written Hebrew.
Surnames include Wolfson, Lopez and Volkov, (all meaning son of the wolf) Farkas, Lupei, Lupino, Ochoa, Vovk and Vukotić.
Wolf itself is also a name.
In Russia, the name itself has not been used for centuries, but derived last names are not uncommon.
Vuk in Serbian. Vuk Karadić, a notable Serbian linguist was given that name because his parents' children tended to die as babies, and naming a child "Wolf" was believed to help. Apparently, it worked.
The Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, especially their previous superstar, Kevin Garnett, and their current superstar Kevin Love.
The Japanese rock band Man With A Mission consists of five members who constantly wear wolf masks and claim to be wolf hybrids.