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". note 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 and Horror.
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 big cats, hyenas and bears are the most frequently depicted werebeasts, but many other types of creature has been used as the basis of a werebeast — wereboars and wererats, for instance, are far from unheard of. 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". Taking this to it's logical conclusion and featuring something like, say, an ant that turns into a spider or a mushroom that turns into a mold is however, unheard of.
Super-Trope for therianthrope tropes, like Our Werewolves Are Different and Weredragon. 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 or Animorphism.
- Skin Walker is a Native American multi-animal shape-shifter capable of taking other human forms.
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism is for information on other tropes related to the combination of human and animal features and Shapeshifting for other tropes related to changing form.
- Werebeast Tropes lists tropes related to werebeasts, including werewolves.
- Youkai are Japanese supernatural creatures that are sometimes depicted as having features similar to werebeasts. Examples of these should be listed under that trope.
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- Western Animation
- 2000 AD published a bizarre story called I Was a Teenage Tax Consultant to parody I Was a Teenage Werewolf. A teenager is bitten by a rabid tax consultant and transforms into a red tape-obsessed bureaucrat at night.
- 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. And from the 2000s on, the League of Assassins has managed to get hold of the formula, and is manufacturing and using it on an industrial scale.
- The Batman Vampire novel Bloodstorm featured Selina Kyle as a were-cat after she was bitten by a vampire, with Batman's occult expert Ariane speculating that the were-creatures turn into their totem animals, with wolves just being the most common.
- 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.
- The Marvel Universe features a few:
Caption: Yes. Ninja Were-Snakes.
- "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 varies based on a number of factors (repressing herself strengthens her cat side until it overwhelms her human behavior in one story, in another pregnancy seems to make her act more human (i.e. craving the same foods her mother did when she was pregnant)). 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.
- Wolfsbane is a mutant who can transform into a wolf at will, and her usual combat form is somewhere in between.
- 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. She acts more animal-like than Wolfsbane (or really, any similar Marvel character except, again, Tigra when her powers are really misbehaving) and has been speculated to be a catlike creature who can transform into a human instead of the other way around, but it's not made explicit.
- 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.
- Mighty Avengers has Ninja Were-Snakes. Lampshaded by a caption.
Caption: Don't say we never give you anything.
- Followed shortly by Were-Slugs, Bugs, Rhinos, Octopi, Honey-Badgers, Roosters and Lamprey.
- Sauron is a Were-Pterosaur, being formerly a human who was bitten by a Savage Land pterosaur and got mutated into a humanoid pterosaur.
- 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.
- Tangent Comics has Wildcat, a teenage girl who transforms into a feral werecat when her handler says the word "Shazam".
- Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose has a were-cat named Boo Cat, who's in sexual relationships with a Vampire named Liquorice Dust as well as the title witch. At least 3 of the vampire's friends don't mind, and have joined in. However, her introduction had a werewolf who had very different ideas on inter-species romances. It also featured an Anvilicious speech, a Vapor Wear Little Red Riding Hood costume, and an example of why you shouldn't try to force your tongue down the throat of an angry were-creature.
- Also, compared to the werewolf, the only male werebeast in the series, all of the female were-cats are more human-like.
- In Thrud The Barbarian there was a werehamster. As expected, he was quite monstrous.
- Vampirella: One of Vampirella's allies is Pantha/Sekhmet, an ancient Egyptian woman who can transform into a panther. There's some degree of Morphic Resonance as well, with her stripperiffic outfit (it's not clear if they're actually clothes or formed directly from her skin) containing cat patterns.
- Wonder Woman: The original version of the Cheetah was a normal woman who wore a cheetah costume but the series revamped her as an evil archaelogist named Barbara Minerva whose greed led to her seeking out an African tribe whose guardian had the powers of a cheetah. She partakes in a ritual that will grant her this guardian's powers and becomes a cheetah-human hybrid. Unfortunately, the ritual requires the host of the powers to be a virgin which Barbara is not. As a result, she experiences severe pain and physical disability while in her human form and bloodthirsty euphoria while in her cat form.
- 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.
- Also, werewolves are born shapeshifters, whilst wereleopards use magical rituals that involve binding an animal's spirit to a human host to create an enchanted skin, which they don in order to assume beast-shape and remove to resume human-shape. Except that the ritual & enchanted pelt is actually how all shapeshifters do it or originally did it; way back in ancient history, werewolves managed to breed shapeshifting into an inherent ability through a selective breeding program of wolf-shifters with each other, with humans and with wolves; they then used this ability to drive off or slay the other shapeshifter tribes, then told themselves they are and were the only shifting species. The fic ends revealing the birth of the first natural-shifter wereleopard in Howondalaand.
- This fic series combines cat shifters and Emergency!. The shifters are usually born with the ability, but humans can be infected by a bite or sexual intercourse, as Chet and Johnny are. Most humans don't survive, but some make it. The final transformation involves the skin becoming transparent and then breaking to reveal the new feline form. Those who long enough to become 'brought ins' are stuck for 72 hours, then can shift freely. Most of this shifters live in a communal compound for their own safety, but some are 'lost', living outside and do not know they can shift. They are telepathic when shifted, and some humans, like Roy, can hear and speak to them. They have a group of elite warriors called Haunters who battle rogues, and there is a group of rogue shifters called Maneaters. Parents or older siblings can choose a bride for a young shifter if they don't approve of the young one's choice. Fights over this are settled by the Right of Combat, a sort of Combat by Champion. They don't take kindly to rogues and the woman who kills humans and nearly kills Chet is executed when she is caught. Brought-ins are encouraged to pair up quickly, as a shifter's sex drive is more intense than a human's.
- Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: Fluttershy turns out to be a were-manatee, who was turned as a child in order to save her from drowning. She can transform of her own free will most of the time, but if she's in water during the full moon, the transformation automatically kicks in and her manatee side takes over. Meaning that she's suddenly an enormous sea creature that can only think about gorging itself on sea-grass. Sunset is rather dumbfounded by the whole thing, but accepting of her friend's secret.
- The minor character Bayr in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World is a gigantic werebear and proudly shows off his bear form to George. George, who hasn't bothered to tell the guy that he's an unlimited shapeshifter who can easily turn into a dragon, is not at all impressed, though he pretends to be.
- In Equestria: Across the Multiverse, the group comes across a universe were an evil wizard attempted to turn the mane six into his werebeast minions but the Elements of Harmony caused it to backfire and let them keep their morality and mind. Not only that, but it changed their strain of the werebeast virus to change to reflect their morality in everyone they infect's transformed states. Twilight is a Wereowl, Applejack is a Weredog, Rarity is a Werefox, Rainbow Dash is a Werecheetah, Pinkie Pie is a Weremonkey, and Fluttershy is a Wereskunk. They can transform whenever they please, but have to change at night, are unavailable except to specially enchanted silver bullets, and very powerful allies of the Alliance. Pinkie Pie also infected their universe's Chrysalis while Fluttershy infected Ponyland's Kabuto, and all six infected mortally wounded soldiers during the Winter Wedding battle who accepted becoming one.
- In this Harry Potter fanfiction has him attain the ability to transform into a Nemean Lion, be it full animal or a lion-man hybrid. These type of Mage-magical Animal Hybrids are known as Theonthropes, with several types of them already existing in universe, such as a Raven themed subspecies in Germany.
- The Zootopia fiction A Wing and A Were, Judy Hopps is a Wererabbit here.
- 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.
- Roky Erickson's "It's a cold night for alligators" mentions that people turn into alligators in the fog.
- The Storyteller sketch in John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme Series 6, episode 2 involves a werespider, although he prefers "arachnothrope".
- Monster High features no fewer than five named werecats, with Toralei, who is a tiger-like calico, her girl posse, Meowlody and Purrsephone, being house cats, the black cat pop star Catty Noir, and the Scarisian artist, Catrine DeMew, who is pure white.
- Batsy Claro is the daughter of the white vampire bat; emphasis on bat. She's not a vampire, she's a werebat, with acute hearing, echolocation powers, and a preference for blood... oranges.
- Mouscedes King, daughter of the Rat King, is a wererat, with the ears, tail, teeth, claws, fur, and eyes to go with the theme.
- 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.
- DSBT InsaniT: The Monster forms of Andy, Bill, and Martha.
- How to Hero has an entire entry on were-animals here
- 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 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.
- Petow: In combination with Our Werewolves Are Different, because there are werewolves. There's wererats, weremice, and other things. Apparently they can be detected with genetic testing.
- 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.
- The SCP Foundation has were-bricks. It's exactly what it sounds like.
- 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.
- The Whateley Universe has several "weres" that draw from numerous different archetypes.