Lawrence Talbot, originally portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr., is the first and most famous incarnation of Wolf Man
, albeit not the first incarnation of werewolves in general. He's appeared, so far, in six movies (five of which feature Chaney in the role, and the sixth is a remake), two Neil Gaiman
stories, various novels, and one shortlived (but rumored to return) webcomic
. He's the Trope Codifier
for most werewolf tropes, and one of the more human and tragic iterations of the lycanthrope story.
In every incarnation (most of which fit more or less within the same continuity, 2010 remake exempted) he's the estranged son of Welsh lord John Talbot. After the events of the first movie, Talbot's appearances fall generally into one of three categories:
Works featuring Lawrence Talbot include:
Original movie series:
Remake movie (series?):
Tropes relating to Lawrence Talbot:
- Alternate Continuity: The 2010 remake. The webcomic and Gaiman stories both build on the original movies, and don't actually contradict one another. In fact, since both the comic and the Gaiman stories portray Talbot as a private detective, they fit pretty nicely together into the established continuity.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: His "Wouldn't wanna run away with a murderer" speech in the first movie is an interesting version of this, in that he doesn't actually say much about his feelings, specifically, but the context and his facial expressions make everything perfectly clear.
- Anti-Hero: Talbot is a Type II. The Wolf occasionally plays as a Type V.
- Arch-Enemy: Dracula. Alternatively, his own Super-Powered Evil Side.
- The Atoner: The longer he's been a werewolf in any given work, the more likely he is to be this.
- Because Destiny Says So: He's destiny's bitch, as a certain poem he can't seem to get away from so succinctly points out. The worst time was when destiny decided he had to kill the woman he loved.
Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, maybe become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the Autumn Moon is bright.
- Somewhat hypocritically Talbot at one point tries to use this to get Wilbur to help him go after Dracula.
Talbot: But you and I have a date with Destiny!
Wilbur: Let Chick go with Destiny.
- Big Damn Heroes/Big Damn Villains: Has pulled a lot of these over the years. Hard to say which is which with him, as
- Blessed with Suck: He's immortal and he heals very quickly... but he also regularly and involuntarily turns into a horrible monster that tries to kill his loved ones (and anybody else).
- Body Horror: Suffers through this at least once a month, and nightly throughout Autumn.
- Cassandra Truth: Talbot dutifully tells anyone who will listen that he's a werewolf. They never listen.
- Catch Phrase: Several.
- "You don't understand!" Usually delivered while grabbing someone by their shirt and shaking them.
- "You've got to believe me!" or some variation.
- "Last night I went through another one of my horrible experiences. Many years ago I was bitten by a werewolf. Now, whenever the full moon rises I turn into a wolf myself. "
- Not originally Talbot's line, but he's heard it so many times and occasionally ends up reluctantly quoting it himself: "Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the Autumn moon is bright."
- In several of the sequels, the final line is changed to "And the moon is full, and bright!" The webcomic implies that both poems are accurate; Talbot transforms on full moons, and every night during Autumn.
- The Casanova: Talbot's a pretty suave ladies' man before becoming a werewolf, and every once in a while he stops angsting long enough for it to show through.
- Continuity Nod: The villain of the second story arc in the webcomic is almost certainly Elsa Frankenstein, last seen in Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman.
- The poem, which shows up in every movie (usually with Talbot lampshading it), as well as in the comic.
- Death by Origin Story: Talbot himself.
- Death Seeker: On and off.
- Despair Event Horizon: A little too frequently, really. At least once per movie. The Gaiman stories and webcomic wisely avoid this.
- Downer Ending: Put it this way: the happiest ending to any of the movies is when Talbot has to kill the man who cured him.
- Dying as Yourself: Talbot's tried it without much luck a few times (including jumping off a cliff), but every time he dies, he dies hairy. He does revert to human form after dying, though.
- Evil Is Petty: Dracula goes out of his way to be a dick to Talbot.
- Expy: Freakazoid! featured Lonny Talbut, who looked and exacted exactly like Larry.
- Fate Worse Than Death: His feelings about being a werewolf.
- Genre Savvy: Played for Drama. Every time Talbot is brought back from the dead, offered a cure, or meets a girl, he knows what's coming but can do next to nothing about it.
- Fur Against Fang: Against Dracula. Arguably the Trope Makers, and almost certainly the Ur Example.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: He goes to a costume party with Dracula in one of the movies.
- Word of God claimed that had the webcomic continued, he and Dracula would have had an annual one-day truce to have dinner together on Christmas.
- Guile Hero: What he eventually evolves into in the Gaiman stories and the webcomic.
- Gypsy Curse: Yup.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Any chance he gets.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Inverted; Talbot starts fighting other monsters because he's already (involuntarily) become an inhuman killing machine.
- Hope Spot: Gets one about Once an Episode. It never lasts.
- Horror Hunger: The wolf isn't just a wild animal; it's a compulsive murderer. And, occasionally, it picks predetermined targets Because Destiny Says So. Like, say, Talbot's girlfriend.
- Human Popsicle: briefly, between the second and third movie.
- Implacable Man: To Dracula, on occasion.
- Involuntary Shape Shifting: Yup.
- Ironic Echo: Frequently, usually involving a certain poem.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: An interesting case in that the enemy in question is Talbot's Superpowered Evil Side.
- Karmic Death: Talbot's handed out a couple.
- At the beginning of the second movies, he kills some grave-robbers...inside of a tomb.
- In the comic's first story arc, Talbot wolfs out on the villain who'd been faking werewolf attacks.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Slowly becomes this over the course of the movies. Goes Up to Eleven in the Gaiman stories and the webcomic.
- Lightning Bruiser: In his wolf form, he's very agile, and more-or-less invulnerable to everything but silver. While still being strong enough to wrassle with Frankenstein's Monster.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He has this to say to anybody who brings him back from the dead, lets him out of a cage, or otherwise lets him loose. Not quite Once an Episode, but pretty often.
- Occult Detective: Ends up as one of these.
- Odd Friendship: When human, Talbot gets along very well with the Frankenstein monster.
- Fridge Brilliance because even if the monster goes into one of its trademark rages, it can't really hurt Talbot in any permanent way.
- Older Than They Look: Talbot always looks to be in his mid 30s. But he's actually much older (how old depends on whether or not you count the years he spent dead).
- Only Sane Man: CONSTANTLY.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Talbot can only be killed by a silver bullet, a silver knife, or the head of a silver cane. He only stays dead until the body is exposed to moonlight.
- Police Are Useless: In every single Talbot appearance to date. Justified in that if Talbot's in the story, it probably involves something a little bit beyond the police's ability to deal with.
- Averted in the 2010 remake, where Hugo Weaving's inspector is very competent, and influence the plot a number of times.
- Private Detective: He's this in the Gaiman stories and the webcomic. He's pretty close to this in the final movie, as well, tracking Dracula all over the world.
- Private Eye Monologue: In the Gaiman stories and the second story arc of the webcomic.
- Screw Destiny: He's always trying to pull this off. He never manages it intentionally, sadly, but he is spared from killing his girlfriend in the first movie when his father beats him to death.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Talbot was actually briefly this when frozen under Castle Frankenstein. He gave a decent Nice Job Breaking It, Hero speech to the scientist who thawed him out. Only problem one, the scientist wasn't a hero.
- Serial Killer Killer: Later appearances depict him as this. Technically, he's been this since the first time he tried to kill himself.
- Shout-Out: Talbot's bookshelf in the webcomic is full of them, including Dracula, The Necronomicon, and The Secrets of Life and Death:
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: He starts out as idealistic as they come. He's spent every appearance since falling further down the scale.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Talbot's wolf form is nigh-unkillable, and able to go toe-to-toe with the Frankenstein Monster and Dracula.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Any time he gets killed/cured/frozen solid. It never lasts.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Talbot's involved in several of these; the final three movies in the original series involve not only Talbot, Dracula, and the Frankenstein Monster, but an evil Mad Scientist and his hunchback (House of Frankenstein), a good Mad Scientist who ends up a Mr. Hyde-esque monster (House of Dracula), and finally The Invisible Man (althought he didn't do much) and a vampiric seductress (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein).
- What Could Have Been: The webcomic. Word of God states that it was going to span a 70+ year timeline, out of sequence, and attempt to marry Film Noir and classic horror tropes, but it ended up ending abruptly during the second story arc when the whole studio imploded. While it didn't last very long, it was by far the most successful comic on the site, and rumors persist that it's going to return, mostly fueled by the site recently being re-activated and cleaned up.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Talbot attacks somebody in the last movie, and the guy lives through it. We never find out if he becomes a wolf himself, though. In fact, throughout the movies we never find out if Talbot's bite transfers the curse. In the older movies, this may be intentional; his wolf form is substantially different than the one that bit him, and it's not clear that he can pass it on. The 2010 remake implies pretty heavily that he can, though.
- The last time we see Talbot in the original series, he's falling off a cliff fighting Dracula. The movie doesn't bother to indicate what happens after they land.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Not Lawrence.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Lots. A particularly vicious one from the first movie is mentioned above, but the second movie isn't much better. He travels across Europe, hearing of a brilliant scientist who could help him (Frankenstein), but by the time he gets to the Doctor's castle, he's long since deceased. Talbot's persistent, though, and manages to find both Frankenstein's notes, and a scientist willing to use them. Then the scientist decides to re-power the monster For Science!, and it all goes to Hell.
- Again in the third movie, the Mad Scientist villain keeps promising to cure Talbot, but has no intention of doing so and both Talbot and his love interest end up dead because of it.
- Again in between the fourth and fifth movies; he seems to be cured at the end of House of Dracula, but it doesn't last.
- In A Night in the Lonesome October, Talbot's finally managed to concoct a remedy that lets him retain his mind when he transforms, even during a full moon. He uses it to intervene on the side of the Closers ... just in time to get sucked into another dimension full of Lovecraftian horrors.