Werebeasts are creatures that can transform
between a human (or at least humanoid) form and an animal or animal-like form. They are also known as "werecreatures" or "were-animals". The prefix "were" comes from the Old English word "wer", meaning "man". The technical term for this is therianthropy
, from the Greek words
for "beast" and "man". The better known lycanthropy
comes from the Greek words for "wolf" and "man", and should only be used for werewolves
. Such creatures can be found in the mythology of many cultures
, and the myths have inspired the frequent use of werecreatures in modern Speculative Fiction
, particularly Fantasy
By far the most common form of werebeast depicted in fiction inspired by European folklore is the Werewolf
, but many stories use other animals as the basis of their werebeasts. Some of these are inspired by pre-existing mythologies and others are purely the invention of the authors. Other than wolves, potentially dangerous predatory mammals such as cats, panthers, lions and bears are the most frequently depicted werebeasts. However, many other types of creature has been used as the basis of a werebeast. Sometimes authors use normally harmless creatures as the basis of a werecreature for the sake of Rule of Cute
or Rule of Funny
. Some works will even use extremely unconventional ideas such as werecars
. It should also be noted that while werebeasts normally have humanoid shapes as their default form, sometimes a work will reverse the order and make a werebeast an animal that transforms into a human
. The wolf version of this is sometimes called a "wolfwere".
Werebeasts often have variations and characteristics similar to those listed on the Werewolf Analysis Page
. For more information see The Other Wiki Therianthropy page
This page is the Super Trope
for all therianthropes. The preference for examples on this trope is for creatures explicity called "were", however very similar cases of human-animal transformation can also be listed, if the nature of the character or creature is strongly linked to a specific animal species. Creatures that can turn into any sort of creature or multiple types of creatures should not be listed here, but on the pages for Voluntary Shapeshifting
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- DC Comics supervillain and Batman enemy Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom) is a Mad Scientist who experimented on himself with a serum that causes him to randomly transform into a monstrous were-bat. Sometimes his wife Francine is also infected with the serum.
- In Thrud The Barbarian there was a werehamster. As expected, he was quite monstrous.
- The Marvel Universe features a few:
- "The Cat" was once just a costumed heroine, but a ritual was performed on her, transforming her into the werecat Tigra, who would go on to join The Avengers. Her costume was later inherited by Hellcat of The Defenders. There's a tug-of-war between her human and feline instincts and which has the upper hand tends to depend on the writer. One day she's able to fly interstellar spacecraft, the next she's chasing and eating mice and unable to speak (except in cat noises).
- Ursa Major is a Russian superhero (real name: Major Mikhail Ursus) able to turn into a humanoid bear.
- Catseye was a member of the Hellions and was meant as an Evil Counterpart to New Mutant Wolfsbane. She eventually evolved to a Friendly Rival instead.
- Gator Grant, a Thing foe, can shift between a regular human form and the form of a humanoid alligator. At least once, his transformation was allowed to continue and he turned into regular alligator. It did not last.
- In Fred Perry's Gold Digger, one of the main characters is one of the last Werecheetahs. Other weres include Lions, Tigers, Rats, and of course Wolves. Each subspecies is able to shift between human, animal, and a "Wolf-Man" styled hybrid form. All of the weres retain their rationality in each of their forms, although they need to learn to control their instincts during childhood. Although the weres are separate species, they are capable of spreading thirianthropy to Humans as a disease; they were originally created by a wizard as Super Soldiers before said wizard was betrayed. They have a Healing Factor for everything except attacks by another were, silver, magic, and Dwarven Steel.
- Tangent Comics has Wildcat, a teenage girl who transforms into a feral werecat when her handler says the word "Shazam".
- In the Furry Comic Red Shetland, Eon is one of these (technically) of the Animal-Into-Man variety. Or...Normal horse into bi-pedal walking/talking horse. It's a curse thing.
- In the Discworld spy/supernatural/political/general murderous mayhem thriller Why and Were, the dynamic balance of the city of Ankh-Morpork is upset by new arrivals, diplomatic staff accredited to an Howondalandian Embassy. For a long time, Angua von Uberwald has considered her own kind to be the only were-creatures still living on the Disc. But new arrivals from Darkest Howondaland prove her to be utterly wrong. The axiom about two kinds of creatures fighting like cat and dog is proven to be literally correct when Werewolf meets Wereleopard for the first time. Ankh-Morpork is suddenly a far more interesting - and dangerous - place to live in.
- Flippy T. Fishead had a song about becoming a Werecow. There is another werecow which he is engaged to (who is female when human, and whom he "turned"). The how-and-why of the male-to-female transformation is not addressed.
- The music video "Thriller" by Michael Jackson has Michael turn into a werecat. He also changed to and from a panther in the hyperextended "Black or White" video.
- Similarly enough, the Bjork music video Hunter had her changing back and forth into a bear and back into herself. Although she seemed to be holding back her bear transformation.
- A werecat character, Toralei Stripe, was introduced in the Monster High doll collection.
- In New Vindicators, there are several Neo-Sapiens who have powers that turn them into a humanoid animal. This ranges from Otso, who turns into a man-bear (and in an alternate universe, turns into a man-narwhal), to Doug Droll, who turns into a man-quail, and many more.
- The Whateley Universe has several "weres" that draw from numerous different archetypes.
- The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have had a number of were-somethings, in include Werewolves, werepenguins, weretigers, werehawks, and even a were-sea-anemone.
- Above Ground also features all kinds of werebeasts, although the predominant one remains werewolves. Whatever their animal type, their bite is not infectious: it is a trait inherited genetically. Furthermore, the weres are Voluntary Shapeshifters who learn how to control their change as they grow older. To be able to fully control the change back and forth is their passage into adulthood.
- Adam Squall◊, the Author Avatar in The Incredibles crossover fanfiction Rise of the Galeforces, is a were-Pteranodon.
- Nathan, the Author Avatar in the Monster World series by monstermaster13 is a weregrinch.
- In the world of A Study In Moonlight, werebeasts are an exotic, and sometimes poorly understood, but well-known minority. The narrator is half werewolf, a minor character is a wererat, and werebears have been mentioned. Therianthropy can be infectious or inherited, therianthropes can only take mammalian forms, and they have to obey the conservation of mass.