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The Big Bad Wolf

Not just any wolf but THE Big Bad Wolf. The one with the Three Little Pigs, or Little Red Riding Hood, or both.

When the Big Bad Wolf appears in works of fiction, there are usually some common themes included, such as his predatory nature, his knack for disguising himself (used to fool Little Red Riding Hood), and his powerful lungs (used to destroy the two of the Three Little Pigs' houses). Adult-oriented fairytale retellings since the seventies or so have developed a tradition in which he is often either a werewolf or a reverse werewolf (a wolf who turns into a human).

Since this character is a common target of Alternate Character Interpretation: When adding an example, please specify how the Big Bad Wolf is portrayed.

The character is usual a savage wolf but please note that the character doesn't have to be a genuine wolf to fit this trope. Those are traditional characteristics of the character, but Alternate Character Interpretation can go quite far. Not to be confused with a Big Bad who's a wolf, though sometimes they are.

Examples

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    Advertising 
  • In an advertisement for The Guardian, the three pigs, on trial for boiling the wolf alive, confess that they set him up as part of an Insurance Fraud scheme when it is revealed that the wolf had asthma.
  • He appeared in one commercial for Super Golden Crisp cereal. Fortunately for Red, she had Sugar Bear to help her deal with him this time. It's hard to find it these days, but you can see it here at the 4:34 point.
  • This commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios. (Clearly, Red has a lot of friends among cereal mascots. Incidentally, the Wolf's voice is done by Kelsey Grammer here, with Red played by a young Carrie Fletcher.)

    Anime 
  • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, Leon had a card called "Forest Wolf" among his fairy-tale themed cards that was based on the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood (and he had a card depicting her, too), dressed in a nightgown who could attack opposing monsters by swallowing them. (But if it was destroyed, the opponent would get the monster back, symbolizing how the Huntsman in some versions were able to rescue its devoured victims by cutting him open). When Rebecca (his opponent) asked if it was the Big Bad Wolf, he replied, "That's another story." (Being somewhat of an authority on such stories, he wasn't joking.)

    Comic Books 
  • Disney has one version, Zeke Wolf, who is pathetic and always fails to get the three little pigs. His son Li'l Bad, who is friends with the pigs, is ashamed of him.
  • In Fables, The Big Bad Wolf is known as Bigby. He's a great hero, with doing the Big Damn Heroes routine as one of his specialties. But he did very bad things a long time ago, and he is still feared and hated by many. Because the other fairytale animals distrust him, Bigby became a reverse werewolf so that he can pass as a human. His blowing abilities come from his father, the North Wind.
  • In Promethea, TBBW is a primordial monster, fueled by all fear of darkness and predators. He's pretty much invincible.
  • Barnabus Benjamin Wolf in BB Wolf and the 3 LPs is a farmer and blues singer who is a victim of Fantastic Racism on the part of the pigs. When the youngest pig has his home burned and his family killed, BB goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and kills two of the pigs before he is arrested and executed for the murder of the two pigs and his own family.

    Film 
  • Freeway, being loosely based on the Little Red Riding Hood story, has Kiefer Sutherland playing Bob Wolverton, a serial rapist and murderer.
  • Hard Candy is one particulary disturbing modern version of Little Red Riding Hood, with a girl who calls herself Haley in the role of Little Red Riding Hood as well as the woodsman. An Internet pedophile named Jeff fills the role of the Big Bad Wolf, luring Haley over to his place under false pretenses and then starts trying to get her drunk. It goes downhill from there, but maybe not exactly in the way Jeff had planned...
  • In The Woodsman, the main character is not the Big Bad Wolf. Or is he? In this dark drama about a man who was recently released from 12 years in prison for raping a child, "The Woodsman" and "The Big Bad Wolf" exist only as underlying archtypes for who he wants to be and who he fears to be.
  • Max Cady repeatedly refers to himself as "the Big Bad Wolf" in the remake of Cape Fear. This actually holds some appeal for Sam Bowden's teenage daughter.
  • The Big Bad Wolf has a few cameos in Who Framed Roger Rabbit as one of the Toons who live in Toon Town.
  • Red Riding Hood has the Big Bad Wolf as a werewolf capable of telepathic conversations with the heroine. There are various suspects for the human identity of the wolf; the grandmother (who's rather creepy,) the heroine's boyfriend (who wants her to leave town with him, which is what the wolf asks her to do) are the most prominent. The wolf is in fact the heroine's father, which puts his very predatory behaviour towards his own daughter in a rather more disturbing light.
  • The Company of Wolves, based on one of the Angela Carter stories mentioned in the Literature section, is the Trope Codifier for the Big Bad Wolf being a werewolf or reverse werewolf.

    Folklore 

    Literature 
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is a book supposedly told by "A. Wolf" that has the wolf claiming that he just had a very bad cold (sneezing) and the pigs were refusing to give him sugar to bake his poor granny a cake. Oh, and he ate the pigs after he sneezed because it's like seeing a cheeseburger lying around.
  • In the Discworld novel Witches Abroad, the main villain warps reality so it'd be like fairly tales. This includes making a wolf think he's a person. The wolf suffers horribly, stuck between species, and begs for a Mercy Kill.
  • In The Sisters Grimm, the Big Bad Wolf is Mr. Canis. He has actually become a good friend with the three little pigs and apparently the story of Little Red Riding Hood is very different: the one that everyone knows is a lie that the woodsman made up to make himself famous while Mr. Canis lost all his memories in the incident.
  • In the Little Wolf books, the Big Bad Wolf is the title character's uncle and eventually dies when he explodes from eating too many baked beans. This doesn't prevent him from appearing in later books as a ghost.
  • The roles of the wolf and pigs are reversed in The Three Horrid Little Pigs - the wolf is a friendly builder while the pigs are crude hooligans who were forced out of home by their mother.
  • The Loups of The Book of Lost Things are the descendants of the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, who seduced and had children with him.
  • Angela Carter's collection of Darker and Edgier fairy tale retellings The Bloody Chamber contains a couple of variations on the Big Bad Wolf.
  • In the children's book, "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" 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 cleverer than his counterpart, and uses heavy demolitions to bring down their ever-heavier fortifications. Finally one of the wolves gets the idea to make the house out of flowers, and the pig is converted to the side of good by the pleasant aroma.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Supernatural, when a ghost is making a town re-enact fairy tales (not as cutesy as it sounds, this is Supernatural, after all), a young man with a Wile E Coyote tatoo gets hypnotised into being the Big Bad Wolf. He attacks three overweight builder brothers, killing two and injuring one (the Three Little Pigs), then murders an old lady and abducts her granddaughter (Little Red Riding Hood). He's freed from control as Sam stops the ghost, just as Dean, acting out the part of the huntsman, is about to kill him.
  • It shows up in Charmed, and is defeated when it swallows Piper whole, only for her to blow it up from the inside with her powers.
  • In Grimm, the actual creatures who inspired the Big Bad Wolf legends are the Blutbaden, who are basically werewolves by a different name.
  • Once Upon a Time reveals that Red Riding Hood herself is actually the storied wolf. Her red cape is what keeps her wolf form at bay.
  • In the early 2000s, a Belgian children's puppet TV show, "De Grote Boze Wolf Show" ("The Big Bad Wolf Show"), centered around a fairy tale wolf who boasted to be a "Big Bad Wolf", but actually rather THOUGHT he was.
  • In Monty Python sketch for German television, also seen in the film Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982) featured a low-budget version of Little Red Riding Hood where John Cleese plays Little Red Riding Hood and a little dog is used as the wolf.
  • Wolf in The 10th Kingdom is a werewolf who works for the Evil Queen. However, he reforms and ends up marrying the heroine in the end.
  • Sesame Street:
    • The Big Bad Wolf is a relatively harmless version of the character who eventually gives up chasing the pigs and takes up bubble-blowing as a hobby. He has a kindly brother named Leonard who gets along well with pigs and explains that he isn't like the Big Bad Wolf at all.
    • In one skit, the wolf stops chasing Little Red Riding Hood when they both get angry at the Huntsman when they find out he chopped down a tree they both liked, and then they both start to chase after him.

    Magazines 
  • A MAD page from 1962 imported the Big Bad Wolf (from Disney's lot in Burbank, apparently) to huff and puff and blow the Berlin Wall down.
    • Years later, in Sergio Aragonés "A Mad Look at Fairy Tales", he tries and fails to blow the Pigs' brick house down, only to stop, gasping for breath; then he storms off, throwing away a box of cigarettes as he does. (Implying that those are the reason he couldn't.)

    Music 
  • Sergej Prokofiev's musical tale Peter and the Wolf features a big dangerous wolf.
  • Sam Sham and the Pharaohs' "Little Red Riding Hood" is sung from the point of view of the Big Bad Wolf, and is sung as a sort of love song, where the Wolf decides to disguise himself so Red won't be frightened away. The fact that this would pretty much prove that he's untrustworthy, thus derailing his chances at getting her to trust him, are lost on him.
  • The music video for the VAST song "Pretty When You Cry" has lots of visual references to Little Red Riding Hood.
  • The Green Jelly song "Three Little Pigs" updates the classic folk tale for modern times (to hilarious effect), but keeps the Big Bad Wolf as its Big Bad.
  • The hit single "Big Bad Wolf" by Duck Sauce, complete with a sample of wolf howling!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Far Side depicted a city of pigs and straw skyscrapers, with a wolf driving towards it thinking, "Oh man... I've been away too long."

    Poetry 
  • The Bret Harte poem "What the Wolf Really Said to Little Red Riding-Hood" presents the wolf as a somewhat romantic Stalker with a Crush who disguises himself as Red's grandmother because he is too shy to approach her as himself.

    Theatre 
  • The Wolf pursues Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods. Basically played straight, although with disturbing overtones about what his actual intentions toward Red are. Traditionally, the wolf suit is as Anatomically Correct as the production feels they can get away with. And since the Wolf is standing like a human (for obvious reasons), it's a lot more obvious than it would be on an actual wolf.
  • In The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf, the Wolf ends up eventually befriending the three pigs after his trial.
  • The Wolf in The Real Story of Little Red Riding Hood is a well-meaning character who joins forces with Grandma to teach the bratty Little Red Riding Hood a lesson.
  • In Baby Bear and the Big Bad Wolf, the Wolf is, strangely, the same character as the witch in Hansel and Gretel. They are defeated by Goldilocks, the pigs, Baby Bear, and Hansel and Gretel invoking Never the Selves Shall Meet.
  • In The Disappearance of the Three Little Pigs, a Film Noir-style mashup of fairy tales, B. B. Wolf is the shady owner of the Howl Hole nightclub.
  • In a Russian adaptation of the Red Riding Hood story, the brutish Wolf is aided by a fox who secretly plans to let the Wolf be chased out of the forest after he eats Red. They are eventually dealt with by the woodsman and Red's friends - a bear, a rabbit, and a grass snake.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In The Zantabulous Zorceror of Zo, this archetype is represented by Shaykosch the Deathless Wolf. An enormous wolf who is defeated by a hero each generation, only to rise again for the next. Though the actual Big Bad name is only used as a term in gameplay mechanics.

    Video Games 
  • The Path is an unusual indie art game that is a modern horror adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. You play as six different girls, all with names that evoke the color red, and each girl has a Mind Screw encounter with a "wolf".
  • World of Warcraft has the Opera event in Karazhan, which sometimes tells the tale of Little Red Riding Hood - the wolf is the boss encounter, chasing after one of the players designated as the girl (and turned into a gnome in appropriate attire)

    Webcomics 
  • In Annyseed, our Big Bad Wolf character is Count Tarrorviene. He seeks the blood of a younger vampire in order to release him from the trappings of his victorian blood machine.
  • In Ever After, The Big Bad Wolf appears to be something similar to the Promethea one — a formless monster of pure fear, which may or may not exist mainly inside the head of the hopelessly-insane Red Riding Hood. Ever After has more-or-less stalled, but Big Bad and his pet chainsaw-wielding crazygirl have also put in a fairly major appearance in the still-progressing Sugar Bits.
  • The The Order of the Stick Stick Tale "Little Red Riding Hoodlum" casts Belkar as the wolf. The wolf's villainy is considerably downplayed from the original story; he only wants one of the muffins Red (Haley) is carrying. He locks Red's "grandparent" (V) in a closet, then tries to pretend that he's the grandparent who's polymorphed into a wolf, but Red sees right through it. He ends up being knocked out and becomes a druid's animal companion.

    Web Original 
  • In Tales of the Big Bad Wolf Maximilian Wolfram is a reclusive king of wolves who meets the Red Riding Hood proxy, Elanore Redley, and deliberates what to do with the young girl who shows an affinity for magic. His approach to dealing with her unnerves the hunter in her life.

    Western Animation 
  • Whenever Looney Tunes spoofs either Little Red Riding Hood or Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf usually appears as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
    • The Trial of Mr. Wolf has the wolf on trial. In his testimony, he tries to convince the jury that Red and her grandma were trying to kill him for his fur coat. No one buys it (despite the fact that the jury is made up entirely of wolves), especially after the wolf says, "And if I'm lying, I hope to get run over by a streetcar!" and a streetcar smashes through the courtroom and runs him over. He then says, "Okay, maybe I did exaggerate a little..."
    • The Turn-tail Wolf has the BBW explaining to his nephew how the Three Pigs had bullied him and stolen his tail. But he's an Unreliable Narrator and he really lost it in a swinging door.
    • In Little Red Riding Rabbit, the wolf and Bugs Bunny end up joining forces against Red Riding Hood, because she's just that annoying.
    • The Big Bad Wolf sides with Bugs Bunny in The Windblown Hare after Bugs realizes that the Genre Savvy Three Pigs conned him into buying the straw and stick houses before the wolf came by. With Bugs's help, the wolf successfully destroys the brick house.
    • Three Little Bops revamped the story as being set in a jazz club where the three little pigs are a hot band. The Big Bad Wolf only resorts to blowing the clubs down when the pigs refuse to let him and his lousy trumpet jam with them. The wolf actually becomes a fairly competent musician after he dies and goes to hell.
      One of the pigs: The Big Bad Wolf, he learned the rule: you gotta get hot to play real cool!
    • Little Red Walking Hood involves Red eventually being saved by Elmer Fudd (in his first appearance), who hits the Big Bad Wolf with a mallet.
  • The Tex Avery character Wolfie, who made his debut in "Red Hot Riding Hood", is either a Casanova Wannabe lusting after Red, or being chased by Droopy. Avery created another interpretation of the character for Three Little Pups in the '50s: a slow-witted, deadpan bungler with a Southern drawl.
    • That wolf-character played the role of the Big Bad Wolf in another cartoon, where Droopy and his two brothers played the role of the pigs, the wolf in this case being a dogcatcher (Droopy being the sensible one with the brick house, of course.) He wasn't all too "big" or "bad" however. He was just as deadpan as he always was.
    • Tex Avery's first MGM cartoon Blitz Wolf cast the Big Bad Wolf in the role of Hitler. He also pit a BBW against a baby pig(modeled after Red Skelton's "Mean Widdle Kid" character) in One Ham's Family. The cartoon was set at Christmas, so the Wolf disguised himself as Santa Claus. The baby pig eventually deals with the wolf himself and presents him as a fur coat to his parents.
  • In Hoodwinked, the Big Bad Wolf turns out to be an intelligent but bumbling Intrepid Reporter and a Master of Disguise, modeled on Irwin Fletcher. As it turns out, he is neither trying to attack Red Puckett (who he thinks was the villain due to an eavesdropped conversation that has a poor reception) nor responsible for the goody thefts that cause the story's main conflict. He is actually a good guy who ends up helping Red catch the real villain in the end.
  • He's a character in the Shrek movies, still wearing Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's nightgown and bonnet. He's actually one of the good guys, and is best friends with the pigs.
  • In Loopy De Loop, the wolf is a kind and helpful character who takes it on himself to give wolves a better name, and was only trying to help Red Riding Hood and the three pigs. Unfortunately, his intentions are often misunderstood and he is constantly the victim of Amusing Injuries.
  • Alexander Graham Wolf, the Wile E. Coyote Expy from the Raggedy Ann cartoon The Great Santa Claus Caper is identified by Comet as the Big Bad Wolf. His main villainous act in-story is taking over Santa Claus's toy factory, encasing toys in his invention, and forcing children to pay for them. The Wolf is eventually redeemed through The Power of Love.
  • The Big Bad Wolf appears in Pigs in a Polka, where the story is told to the tune of many of Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dances", specifically No.5, No.7, No.6 and No.17 (in that order). The pigs defeat him by tricking him into falling down an elevator shaft.
  • In the Dutch series De Fabeltjeskrant, the Wolf turns out to be only bad because of his short temper and loneliness, and softens after being shown kindness by the other fable characters.
  • Disney has it's own version of the Big Bad Wolf: An utter failure of a Card-Carrying Villain who made his first appearance in the 1933 short The Three Little Pigs, and was the subject of the popular song 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf'. He later reappeared in the short's sequels, and, as of late, he has officially been made part of the Disney Villains franchise and can even be seen occasionally roaming Disney parks.

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