Howl of Sorrow

"Howl, howl, howl, howl! Oh, you men are made of stone!
If I were you with eyes and a tongue to speak with,
I'd crack heaven wide open with my laments!"

When a character howls or screams in a raw, somewhat primal fashion to express their grief and anguish. Obviously, it's done most often by canines, but not limited to them.

Can overlap with Clifftop Caterwauling, when this is done at the edge of a cliff. Similar to Big "NO!" and Death Wail. See also Wolves Always Howl at the Moon and Howling to the Night, for other howling tropes.


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  • The wolves in Wolf's Rain, quite literally, after finding Toboe's dead body.
    • Toboe does this in remorse after accidentally killing a girl's pet hawk.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch does this when Shirley dies.
  • The dogs of Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin and Ginga Densetsu Weed are known to do this when a fellow soldier dies. It's often a source of Narm, as they often sound more like humans screaming or coyotes barking
  • Erza does this in Fairy Tail after washing ashore when she thought she was finally free from the slave life on an island only to experience that her best friend/love interest turns evil, betrays her, makes all of her other friends slaves again and threatens to kill her and them if she ever tries to rescue them. She even howls to the full moon, cue the chapter title "Howling to the Moon".
  • S Cryed: After the only person he calls a friend dies to save him, Ryuho tries to keep his cool. Until Kazuma tells him it's not unmanly to cry. At which point Ryuho lets out a wail and collapses, a sobbing wreck.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion does this more than once, specially in the TV series when he discovers that Touji was the pilot of EVA 03 and in End of Evangelion when he sees the remains of EVA 02.
  • Hayate does this in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's during her Traumatic Superpower Awakening.

    Comic Books 
  • Wolverine: In Origin, young James Howlett lets out one of these after his claws come out when his father is murdered. A description of the howl is at the beginning of the next chapter:
    Rose (opening narration): I will remember that sound until the day I die. It was an awful, revolting noise~not a scream, but the birth-cry of a new creature that surely had no place on God's earth. The thing mewled and whimpered in pain, and those of us who could stand in witness were transfixed~both repelled and fascinated by the grotesque spectacle of it.
  • In ElfQuest, the Howl is a formal mourning and remembrance ritual among the Wolfriders and their wolves.
  • Tintin's dog Snowy howls if something befalls his master, often saving his life by alerting others to his plight.

    Films — Animated 
  • Lady and the Tramp:
    • Jock after Trusty's Disney Death.
    • The dogs in the pound have a song made up entirely of sorrowful howls.
  • In the "Pecos Bill" sequence of Disney's Melody Time, the coyotes howl at the moon out of sympathy with Pecos, who howls for sorrow at losing Slew Foot Sue.
  • Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy?: Scooby does this when he and the rest of the gang think Cleopatra's curse has turned Velma into stone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Van Helsing movie, the eponymous character does this in the werewolf form after having a cure injected into his body at the cost of the Action Girl Love Interest's life. It morphs into a Big "NO!" as he transforms back into a human.
  • The title dog of Turner & Hooch does this after his owner, Amos, is murdered.
  • In The Muppets Take Manhattan, a lonely and overworked Rolf succumbs to howling.
  • In Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, it's what the eponymous character does after reading Mina's letter, the sheer anguish reaching levels where Empathic Environment is actually triggered as he howls, "Wiiiinds!".
  • This is how the Wild Things say goodbye to Max in the film of Where the Wild Things Are.
  • In Alpha and Omega, Humphrey lets out a howl when he believes Kate has died - particularly notable since earlier in the movie, howling is done by having the character sing, whereas this one is a wordless, melody-lacking real howl.
  • The Return of Godzilla has two given by it's titular kaiju in the theatrical release; One occurs when Mount Mihara erupts and the second, which is only present in the theatrical releases, is bellowed when Godzilla himself falls into Mount Mihara. Several cast members are crying by the time Godzilla dissapears into the volcano.
  • Maleficent has the titular character respond this way after noticing that her wings have been cut off in her sleep.

  • Gaspode starts a mourning howl, which is passed on into the night by unseen wolf packs, near the end of The Fifth Elephant.
    • Worth noting that Angua, in human form at the time, joins in with a throat-rending primal scream of grief.
  • In The Mammoth Hunters Wolf (a domesticated wolf) howls during the funeral of Rydag.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham. When Giles rides off to slay a dragon, his dog Garm howled all night because he thought Giles would be killed.
  • In White Fang, the canine protagonist does this when his master goes away.
  • The furcots from Midworld and its sequel use a communal howl to pay homage to dead tribe members, furcot or human. Unusual in that furcots aren't canine in the slightest or, indeed, even animals: they're mobile plants.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, Snuff the watchdog overhears a mournful canine howl in the distance, which translates as "Lost!" in the language of dogs and wolves. Later events suggest that the howler is Larry Talbot the werewolf, wracked with remorse over having lost control of his lunar bloodlust and killed someone.
  • In Beowulf, the monster (or whatever he is) Grendel lets out a truly horrifying scream when he realizes that he is beaten:
    (...) Then an extraordinary
    wail arose, and bewildering fear
    came over the Danes. Everyone felt it
    who heard that cry as it echoed off the wall,
    a God-cursed scream and strain of catastrophe,
    the howl of the loser, the lament of the hell-serf
    keening his wound.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, the demons known as tomescu know exactly when they're going to die, and so do this twice a day, at dawn and dusk. This is how demons tell the time.
  • Some authors/media have the Space Wolves of Warhammer 40,000 do this when a friend or leader is killed in battle, due to their (almost literal) pack mentality and general lupine association. They also tend to express their grief by hacking the killer into pieces so hearing this is a sign it's probably time to be elsewhere.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • One use of werewolf howls in Dominic Deegan is to announce the break-up of a pack. Given what breaks up a pack...this is generally a combination of rage and painfully deep sorrow.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Coyote tells Annie about the time that he helped The Great Spirit put the stars in the sky. After rushing through the job, he realized that he'd forgotten to make a constellation of himself. His frustration over that is why he howls at the sky now.
  • Once done by Kevin in Kevin & Kell after difficulties with his family, who really don't approve of his marriage to a wolf. Being that he's a rabbit, somewhat understandable.
  • The wolves in Off-White do this after Gebo's old pack is killed.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Snoopy from Peanuts will howl to show his distress, whether it's being lost or just hearing a sad song.
  • Bronx from Gargoyles has been known to express his dislike of a situation by howling.
  • More of a scream than a howl, Courage the Cowardly Dog does this whenever Eustace chopped down the magic tree. He goes up to the cliff and screams so loud that he shatters the freakin' moon to pieces!
  • Invoked in the Adventure Time episode "What Have You Done" when the Ice King accidentally causes a disease that can only be cured by the sound of him howling in pain. Princess Bubblegum captured him to get the howls herself, but Finn and Jake, who didn't know what had happened, free him considering he is innocent, causing Ice King to think of them as friends. Finn eventually plays dead to get a pained howl out of him to cure the disease.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Well, a bat-hybrid (who's just a woman, in reality) has a SHRIEK of sorrow at what she's become. Doesn't make it any less sad (and comforting to know this didn't last long).
  • Wilford Wolf in Animaniacs, who isolates himself and cry-howls to the sky after Minerva has utterly rejected him. And then the moon comes out and he starts transforming, turning it into a normal howl.

    Real Life 
  • The legendary wolf Lobo is said to have done this after his mate was killed.
    • One of the supposed reasons why wolves howl is grief.
  • Wolves have been observed to pace in the area where a packmate died and howl for hours. Biologists have also noted that when a pack member dies the howls of the remaining wolves take on a distinct change in pitch.
  • Many dog owners can attest to this trope after a human/other pet has died, though only the dogs know whether this is truly sorrow or simply the dogs looking for their missing packmate.