"The boot prints became paw prints, and they led right back into town."
Whenever there's a werewolf, or werepanther, or were-rabbit, or were-whatever, and this has not been made clear to the characters yet, there has to be at least one scene in which one of the human characters discovers a set of animal footprints which change into human footprints (or vice versa) as the characters follow them along. A great way to set up tension.
If the human footprints started as clearly done by shoed feet, they might find his shoes discarded or torn apart nearby, when not his entire outfit turned into shreds.
Of course, there's a small amount of Fridge Logic involved in this trope, as werewolves are rarely if ever depicted as walking during their transformation. Either they're standing in place or hunched on all fours.
May overlap with Footprints of Muck.
- On the other hand, the wolves in Wolf's Rain can make themselves appear human, but they always leave wolf footprints.
- Shaman's Tears: Not a werewolf but another form of transformation. When Jon Sable is tracking Joshua Brand through the sewers, he is confused when Joshua's footprints change from boots to moccasins. This is because Joshua has magically transformed into his costumed identity.
- Done in Cat People to show werepanther-to-human footprints. The Footprints of Muck change from pawprints to tracks left by what are apparently magic high-heeled shoes.
- Done in the movie Dead Birds, as evidence of the children turning into Silent Hill-style abominations.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the camera follows a set of dog footprints up to the spot where the now-human Sirius Black is standing.
- Featured in the film Skinwalkers, where a Navajo serial-killer uses it as a psychological aspect in his attacks on shamans.
- First done in The Wolf Man during one of Lawrence's transformations.
- Folklore about witches who turn into hares sometimes involve a hunter following rabbit tracks that turn into human footprints.
- In a campfire story of unknown authorship, generally known as "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf," the titular boy tries and fails to fake these. The person he shows them to notices that not only do the prints switch immediately from human to werewolf, they switch from left foot to right foot.
- Used in one Cthulhu mythos story, where Nyarlathotep takes the form of a colleague of the protagonist. The protagonist realises something is amiss when he finds his friend's clothes stewn around outside the house and footprints that gradually change from human prints to something left by an enormous creature clearly not from this world.
- Played as a Tear Jerker moment in Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry, when one character enters the long-abandoned tower in which the Love Interest of a now-evil werewolf character once lived. He finds her bed piled high with flowers, and sees footprints in the dust - and the tracks of the giant wolf who walked away.
- In The Underneath, Hawk Man discovers Night Song's footprints change when she transforms back from a human into a snake. Given that she can only turn into a human once in her life...
- Done very well in Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo, where the prints of a man being dragged off by the monster become a copy of the monster's footprints — and grow further apart, until eventually they disappear.
- The very low-budget TV series featured this at least once to show how Ax got through a locked door. Human sneakerprints yielded to Andalite hoofprints to lizard tracks that went under the door, then hoofprints again, then sneakers and Ax in human form. All in such clear black prints that it looked like he'd paused every couple of steps to dip the relevant appendages in tar.
- Played much more intelligently in one of the books. When they're on a beach and realize that Controllers are closing in on them, everyone's first instinct is to morph to seagulls and escape — except Marco, who reminds the others that if they did that, they'd leave human to bird footprints in the sand. Instead, they run into the water and morph to fish.
- The muddy wolf paws to human footprints scenario was also featured in the Fear Itself story "Something With Bite."
- In Once Upon a Time, when Snow White and Red Riding Hood are tracking the wolf, the wolfprints eventually turn into bootprints...leading right to the window where Red's boyfriend always shows up.
- Used in Teen Wolf, except as photographs of a beast-like figure in one, an then a human-like figure in another.
- The X-Files:
- In episode "Shapes", despite normally suffering from a horrible transformation into a beast, the tracks clearly change.
- The discovery of Tooms' stretched-out fingerprint in "Squeeze" is a variant.
- Lost Tapes: a typical example occurs in "Skinwalker", but not in "Werewolf" or other episodes involving shapeshifters, interestingly enough. A pair of men at Skinwalker Ranch in New Mexico are investigating a coyote problem and finds pawprints in the dirt which turn into human footprints. There's even a transitional footprint where it looks human but still has clawmarks at the end of the toes.
- The song "Became" by Atmosphere is a rare musical example. The narrator is camping with an unspecified close friend. He wakes up in the snowy morning to find that his friend is missing. He follows his friend's tracks...when he notices several wolf tracks following his friend's tracks. The narrator panics, thinking that this meant his friend was stalked and chased by wolves. Then he comes to a clearing in the woods where his friend's footprints disappear, replaced by a wolf's footprints (implying the friend was running with the wolves and transformed).
- The 'folksong' "The Grisly Bride" doesn't specify that a werewolf specifically is at issue, but the lines run "his angry mind was gone, for where a two footed track gave out, a four footed track led on. Her night dress lay on the snow as it would on a bed sheet, and the track that led from where it lay was ne'er of human feet". The song ends with "an empty bedstead still waits for him, as he lies in a crimson tide. Beware beware all trapper men; beware of the grisly bride". Song possibly by Cynthia Mc Quillin but appears in regional variants.
- In Paradigm Shift, the construction site has human footprints going into the corner where the vagrant was seen sleeping, but animal prints coming out.
- In the Ace Ventura cartoon series episode "Howl Of The Weremoose" there's a scene where Ace follows a trail of moose hoofprints that turn into human footprints.
- In the "Moonlight Madness" episode of Aladdin: The Series, Aladdin and Iago come across a young lady's footprints which gradually change into those of a jackal. This leads the two of them to think that the strange woman who's been trying to scare them away has just been eaten by a jackal, instead of realizing that she is said jackal.
- In the American Dad! episode "Dances with Werewolves" an encounter with a wolf convinces Steve that he's becoming a werewolf. This fear is reinforced when he wakes up to find bloodstained wolf prints in his bedroom. But actually the prints were left by the real wolf, which Roger is attempting to keep as a pet.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- One of the Halloween episodes, "That's the Spirit", has a scene where Doofenshmirtz looks back at a muddy trail of hoof prints that shift into human foot prints.
- In ''Night Of the Living Pharmecist" the opening animation plays with this, showing ordinary foot prints turn into Doof's foot prints. And then showing Perry's foot prints turning into Doof's foot prints.
- There was a scene from the 1960s Popeye TV episode "The Whiffle Bird's Revenge" where the sailor follows a trail of wolf prints that are immediately replaced with shoe prints.
- One of the Animated Adaptations of Zorro has an episode where a Magical Native American child turned into a were-bull, with matching footprints at some point.