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Wolves Always Howl at the Moon

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"Listen in awe and you'll hear him...
Bark at the moon."
Ozzy Osbourne, "Bark at the Moon"

In almost any work of fiction that features wolves, werewolves, or coyotes, the canine beasts will almost always be showing howling to the moon at night. On occasion this trope is applied to domestic dogs as well as their wild counterparts.

The howl at the moon is often used to show the power and mystery of the wolves. It also strays into a case of not doing the research because one, wolves howl to communicate, and two, wolves howl just as much during the day as at night.

This trope is often combined with Clifftop Caterwauling to provide atmosphere to a scene. Bonus points if the wolf is silhouetted against the moon.

If the howler is a werewolf, this usually occurs right after they transform.

Other creatures are occasionally shown howling at the moon, but wolves and werewolves are by far the most common.

Compare Howling to the Night which is when a wolf's howl is used to signify the change from day to night. See also Howl of Sorrow, for when a howl is used emotionally.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The wolf characters from Wolf's Rain are actually invigorated during a full moon. It doesn't necessarily make them stronger or anything, but they feel tremendous joy and energy just seeing it in the sky. Joyous enough to want to howl at it.
  • Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust does the werewolf version, with the Wolf Man howling in front of the full moon after he transforms. With a maw that grows from his stomach!
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the first time we see Arf transform was during the eve of a full moon in the first season. Naturally, this trope was required. In fact, it was the only time we've ever seen one of the wolf familiars howl in the series.

  • Digimon Adventure: Gabumon's transformation sequences as both WereGarurumon and MetalGarurumon have him howling at a full moon.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 4 episode 30, Little M., who is dressed as a wolf, howls at the moon.
  • The first episode of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf gives a reason why the wolves howl at the moon - it's to commemorate Martial Wolf's efforts to catch the goats.

    Comic Books 
  • The Powerpuff Girls story "Everything Must Go" (DC Comics, issue #48) has packs of wolves in Townsville howling at the moon. That's because the Amoeba Boys bought a lunar magnet from Mojo Jojo's yard sale and is drawing the moon towards earth.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Prickly City when Winslow complains about how Earth has fewer moons than so many other planets, Carmen asks whether he would be howling all the time. Winslow tells her that such a cliche is shameful — and yes, he would.
  • Parodied in the Italian strip Lupo Alberto: set in a World of Funny Animals, it has the title character not just howl at the full moon but set up recitals, keeping up the McKenzie farm the whole night. And while the special effects are fantastic, he can't sing.
  • Subverted in Safe Havens. Dogs aren't howling at the moon. They're howling at Mars. Eons ago, the Genius Loci Mars and Theia were close to each other in the emotional sense, so much so that Theia tried to jump out of Earth's orbit and into Mars's, but miscalculated and crashed into Earth. Some of Theia's sentience still exists on Earth, along with its desire to join Mars, and when dogs got domesticated they were able to hear the Earth begging for spaceflight.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pocahontas has the line "Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?" and a shadow wolf howling at the moon in the song Colors of the Wind.
  • The "Pecos Bill" section of Disney's Melody Time is used to "explain" this phenomenon in coyotes. They are mourning along with Bill, who is lamenting his sweetheart Sluefoot Sue being stranded on the moon.
  • Played completely straight in Alpha and Omega.
  • Spoofed in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where the were-rabbit howls at the moon doing a Primal Chest-Pound, making all the rabbits hearing it imitate him.
  • Spoofed on Rover Dangerfield. The film opens on a coyote howling, but the camera reveals that he is actually howling in pain as another removes cactus needles from his butt.
  • In Despicable Me, during the montage of reactions to Gru stealing the moon, a werewolf is seen howling at the moon, then turning back to normal (and naked) as the moon disappears.
  • Demonstrated in Zootopia, when Judy fakes a howl to get a wolf security guard to howl, which triggers a "Howl", causing all the wolves in the area to howl and be distracted.
  • In Wolfwalkers, Mebh and Robyn's first night together as wolves culminates with them howling silhouetted against a full moon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie Lupin howls at the moon right after he transforms into a werewolf.
  • Played for Laughs in The Villain. We see a wolf apparently doing this, then it turns out to be Cactus Jack wrapped up in a wolfskin, and the howls are from the Indian braves he's with, working themselves up for tomorrow's battle.
  • In the german comedy Der Schuh des Manitu a wolf sings his lone song in the distance. As in, literally sings a song at the moon. Before being shot.
    "Strangers... in the nigh—" *bang*

  • The first time the Animorphs morph wolf, they can't stop howling at each other.
  • In Dracula, as Jonathan is being transported to Dracula's castle, the moon comes out and he realizes that the carriage is surrounded by wolves. They had been dead silent as they surrounded them, but "all at once the wolves began to howl as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them."
  • A Wolf in the Soul averts this in combination with a Freudian Slip:
    Gregory: That's a myth. Wolves don't howl at the moon.
    Gregory: Why are they laughing?
    Rafael: What did you expect would happen when you said, "We don't howl at the moon"?
  • In Spice and Wolf Holo is introduced howling at the moon; a pretty powerful scene, as though she is in a human form, the howl is definitely that of a wolf.
  • In Survivor Dogs this is called the "Great Howl". At night and especially during a Naming Ceremony, dogs (and wolves) sit in a circle and howl to the Spirit Dogs. It's also mentioned that Alpha (a wolf-dog raised amongst wolves) does a more personal howl alone by himself.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The Blue Öyster Cult album track Baby Ice Dog ends on a protracted wolf-howl, which also cues in the following track Wings Wetted Down, concerning sinister creatures on a rainswept moonlit night.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs: Dinos howl at the moon. Howling Day is the day a male dino first gets to howl (a la a Bar Mitzvah).

    Video Games 
  • Werewolves in DragonFable can attack by howling and summoning a projection of the moon.
  • The wolf boss Lykane from Dusty Revenge is introduced in a cutscene where he howls at the moon. And does that again in the middle of the fight against a smashed window with the moon in the background.
  • Worgen in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm are shown howling to the moon.
  • Exaggerated in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 where a Wolf Man has to fight the urge to howl (and then transform) at any round object.
  • Zigzagged in Ōkami. Amaterasu howls a few times to summon the moon, and the 'sundown' animation involves a wolf howling. But she's more often seen howling at the sun, because she's the sun goddess.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, whenever the sun sets and the moon rises, a wolf howl is heard.
  • The introductory cutscene of Monster Hunter (PC) features a werewolf - one of the many monster mooks you'll fight on the game - howling against a full moon. Before a Lightning Reveal shows the titular hero making his entrance.
  • The fight against Touhou Project's resident werewolf (naturally) takes place during a full moon, and involves howling. Lots of howling.
  • When you first visit Garoh in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the music is interspersed with howls due to it being nighttime. Sadly, the howls are absent from the regular music.
  • In NetHack you can sometimes hear "a wolf/jackal howling at the moon" if there is a werewolf/werejackal on the level. The howling happens more often if it is night, full moon, or both (the real life date/time is taken into account).


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Fangface is a werewolf who always howls at the moon when he turns.
  • Done on an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, as Jimmy is running frightened through the woods.
  • In Futurama "The Honking" were-car Bender howls/honks at the moon.
  • Timber Wolf from Legion of Super-Heroes does this at least twice in the series. His first ever appearance before the opening credits had a full shot of him howling at the moon before jumping down the cliff.
  • On an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, the Wolfe family are seen howling at the moon from their rooftop. Heffer joins them as a full-fledged member of the pack, even though he's a steer, and the elk dinner he was supposed to bring home consisted of soy-based elk substitute.
  • On the Pluto the Pup cartoons featuring the coyote Ol' Bent Tail and his son, the two are usually introduced howling at the moon. One cartoon ends with Pluto joining them.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter gives a dog the ability to speak, revealing that when he howls at the moon, he's actually saying "Mooooon!"
  • In a halloween special of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2017) series, the mayor transforms into a werewolf and howls at the full moon.
  • In Wakfu a switch from Dally-centered part of plot to Yugo-centered bit is telegraphed by Igole (chasing after Yugo at the moment) taking an opportunity for a dramatic howl at the full moon.
  • In an episode of The 7D, the moon goes under different color changes, one of them causes Happy to turn into a werewolf and he howls at the moon.
  • Total Drama:
    • In some episodes of Island, the campfire ceremony is preceded by a scene of a wolf on a cliff that howls at the moon. In "No Pain, No Game", the wolf is replaced with Chef Hatchet.
    • After being rejected by Sky in "Hurl and Go Seek", Dave proclaims himself a lone wolf and starts howling on all fours on a rock. The camera pans upwards to the moon bright in the sky as other wolves answer Dave's howl.