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Working-Class Werewolves

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The Lupineproletariat.note 

Unlike vampires, who tend to be portrayed as well-off, elegantly-dressed Blue Blood aristocrats, werewolves are often depicted in fiction as being impoverished, or at the very least working-class, especially if they appear alongside vampires. They frequently live in shabby houses (occasionally displaying signs of damage inflicted by their occupants when they've unleashed their bestial forms) and have limited wardrobes (which is sometimes used as an excuse for them to go around shirtless, particularly in modern media).

Sometimes, this is justified as werewolves finding it difficult to hold down a job due to the nature of their condition, or struggling to advance economically due to discrimination. Occasionally, they are contrasted against vampires in a fantastical case of Slobs vs. Snobs, due to werewolves being considered more animal-like and uncivilized, while vampires tend to be associated more with wealth and sophistication.

Although this trope is more commonly found in recent media, there are a few stories featuring poverty-stricken werewolves making the most of their lycanthropy to get a slice of the good life dating back to the 1800s, at the least, likely making this trope Older Than Television.

Compare and contrast with Vampires Are Rich. See also Our Werewolves Are Different. May overlap with Fantastic Underclass.


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    Comic Books 
  • Zombillenium: The werewolf working for the titular theme park is a middle manager, while his boss is a vampire. The main character, who'd just started work that day, ended up repeatedly bitten by both (since they needed another werewolf/vampire for a specific attraction), which turned him into a Big Red Devil and making him the star attraction of the park.
  • Squad: Inverted. All of the werewolves we see are filthy rich. The poorest one, Becca, is at least upper-middle class.

    Films — Animated 
  • The werewolf father in Wolf Children was a truck driver — he meets his future wife in a college class when she offers to share her book because he can't afford one. Later his children, also werewolves, grow up poor, living far out in the country because of the difficulties their mother faces raising two wolf-kids in the city.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Red Riding Hood, the Wolf is revealed to be Cesaire, a poor peasant who intends to leave town with his daughter Valerie to seek out a better life (after making her a werewolf too of course). In the end, Cesaire bites Valerie's love interest Peter, an even poorer woodcutter whom her parents are opposed to her marrying due to his lack of money and social standing, and he becomes a werewolf too.
  • In the Twilight films, as in the novels, Jacob and the other werewolves have very humble backgrounds in comparison to the vampiric Cullens and don't tend to have a lot of clothes. This is fully taken advantage of by the filmmakers to give Jacob an opportunity to strip off or walk around shirtless in just about every scene he's in.
  • Underworld (2003): Lycans were once slaves to the vampires, living in squalor and wearing rags. After their rebellion their conditions improved slightly, but they still seem to be stuck living in abandoned buildings or even sewers and have far fewer resources than the vampires, who tend to live in mansions and throw swanky parties. A notable aversion is Underworld: Awakening, where it's revealed that Lycans control Antigen, a wealthy pharmaceutical company.
  • Zig-zagged in Wolf (Mike Nichols). After being bitten by a werewolf, Will Randall loses his white collar job as an editor-in-chief and finds out his wife is cheating on him (with the guy who ousted him from his job). However, he soon embraces his newfound abilities, standing up to his boss, improving his work and sex life, getting his old job back and generally manages to bounce back better than ever...when he's not going feral every other night and savaging/accidentally turning the townsfolk into werewolves, that is.
  • Inverted in The Wolfman (2010), where the titular character and his werewolf dad too, as it turns out lives on a fancy country estate.
  • The Werewolf Pack that the vampire flatmates rival in What We Do in the Shadows are all seen wearing modest working-class clothing and are all around fairly average when they are not operating as a pack. This is in-contrast to the various vampires seen who, while they are not that much better off, try to live up to their aristocratic heritage in their dress and behavior.

  • Azoth Express has the protagonist Volfram Volkov, who is an "atypical lycanthrope" and a science professor hailing from the former Soviet Union. He's still an unyielding Socialist and shows a diffidence towards the aristocratic Ravenscrofts.
  • The werewolf (or loup-garou) pack at the center of Blood and Chocolate (1997) used to run a ranch, allowing them to live together as a community and earn a living. However, their ranch was burnt down, so now they're scattered across town and taking any jobs they can get to get by. At the end of the novel, new pack leader Gabriel is able to save up enough money for them to buy an inn in the countryside, so while they're not rolling in it they're in a much better financial position than before.
  • Zig-Zagged in Discworld. The most notable werewolf in the series is Angua, who works as a typically underpaid copper (not least because she has to pay for the chickens she eats during her "time of the month"). She comes from a family of werewolves who are aristocratic, but is still very much a case of an Impoverished Patrician living in a fairly rural backwater town. Angua herself mentions that part of the reason for Fur Against Fang is that werewolves instinctively feel unkempt and slovenly compared to vampires (who tend to be supernaturally stylish).
  • Zigzagged in The Dresden Files, where different kinds of werewolf are depicted as having different socioeconomic status. Of the four types introduced in Fool Moon, the spell-changing Alphas are college kids who mostly go on to have successful middle to upper-middle class lives and careers. The Hexenwulfen are professionals with the FBI and dress well, apart from their wolf-transformation belts. The loup garou is a wealthy and powerful man, heir to a very old and influential family through which his were-curse has been passed down. Only the lycanthropes, human-looking but bestially-vicious criminal bikers who operate out of a garage, really live up to this trope's expectations.
    • This also plays something of a role in how the spell-changing form of werewolf became popular, as it spread among peasants during the Dark Ages. As Bob the Skull points out to Harry, the ability to have a warm coat and hunt for prey animals during times of famine was a big incentive.
  • A justified example in Harry Potter; werewolves often have trouble finding work due to Fantastic Racism from other Witches and Wizards. Case in point, Remus Lupin often wears very shabby robes, looks constantly ill, lives in a half-derelict cottage and only got the job as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher because of Dumbledore's generosity. As if that weren't bad enough, there's a recently developed potion that allows werewolves to safely manage their condition, making them less dangerous to other people and themselves, but it's so expensive few of them can even afford it.
  • In Kitty Norville, Kitty is a werewolf who works as a late night DJ. She struggles with her finances until she accidentally starts a talk show about the supernatural, which becomes a huge hit.
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl has Kalix, who is unemployed, lives on the streets and has to sell a charm that protects her from werewolf hunters just to get by. Her laudanum addiction doesn't help.
  • In Night World, Jeremy Lovett is a teen werewolf who lives in a trailer in the woods, works as a gas station attendant and handyman to earn money and has clothes that "aren't as nice as some of the other kids'". His uncle, who was also a werewolf, lived in the trailer too and spent his time dowsing for gold in the wilderness before disappearing. It's mentioned that werewolves are generally seen as 'second-class citizens' by the Night World; they have no representation on the Night World Council, most of the werewolves we meet in the series are employed as bouncers or Mooks and they're (unfairly) dismissed by some as being stupid and brutish.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Jacob Black and the rest of the werewolves (although they're technically "shapeshifters who can turn into wolves") live on a Native American reservation (which are notorious for high poverty rates) in rather rundown houses (or at the very least, Jacob's house is quite humble) and often wear little but denim cut-offs. This a sharp contrast to the vampiric Cullens who regularly show off their wealth with their Cool Cars and Big Fancy House, and own an entire island off the coast of Brazil. It even comes up in the Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle; Jacob gives Bella a second-hand truck he fixed up and a handmade wolf charm on a bracelet as gifts, whilst Edward gives her an Audi and a diamond heart charm.
  • Zig-zagged in Mercy Thompson. Most Alpha werewolves tend to be quite well off- their innate desire to lead others tends to translate into having important and high-paying jobs and even if it doesn't they can get tribute from their subordinates. Adam, the Alpha of the Tri-Cities pack, runs his own security company. However, many werewolves still get stuck working menial jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Warren, one of the members of the Tri-Cities pack, worked as a clerk in a convenience store for a long time until his boyfriend (a well-regarded lawyer) got him licensed as a private investigator. Zack, another member of the pack, was working as a dishwasher while living in a cheap motel.
  • In The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, protagonist Grady suspects that the swamp hermit, a weird old guy who lives alone in a shack in the middle of the swamp, is the werewolf. Subverted, as it turns out that Grady's friend Will is actually the werewolf, although given that the house he says he lives in is revealed to have been empty for months, it's suggested he himself may live in the swamp.
  • The Emberek family of werewolves from The Wolving Time are poor shepherds living in 16th century France. Suspicion of their true nature has forced the family to move around, and as the book opens they inhabit a modest homestead as far from the nearest village as they can manage; both for easy access to the forest (where they have befriended a pack of regular wolves) and to keep from drawing the attention of the village priest Pere Raoul (who regularly persecutes those he deems guilty of witchcraft). While not exactly "upper class," Pere Raoul does have the wealth and privilege of the Church at his disposal when he confronts the Embereks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Being Human (UK): Werewolf George Sands had a roughly middle class background in the suburbs, but after being bitten, he quit his job, became a hospital porter and lives in a cheap house he rents with another guy. This is justified as his condition - involving painful transformations into a dangerous creature every month - make it too difficult to hold down a more steady job. Said roommate is a vampire (and they live with a ghost who haunts the house) and so understands what he's going through.
  • In the US version of Being Human, Josh (the American counterpart to George) was in med school and headed for a bright future until he was infected with lycanthropy, compelling him to drop out and live on the fringes of society. At the start of the series, he is working in a diner until Aiden gets him a job as a hospital orderly.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after leaving Sunnydale part way through Season 4 to get his wolf side under control, Oz only leaves with his van and a few essentials. He spends several months living out of his van and at one point had to trade his guitar to repair the van after it broke down.
  • In Hemlock Grove, werewolf Peter Rumancek lives in a dilapidated trailer and tends to wear the same outfit every day (partly justified in that his family are gypsies, so not having a steady job and moving around a lot comes with the lifestyle). He's contrasted with upir (a type of vampire) Roman Godfrey, who's absolutely rolling in dough (to the point where his mother once casually rented out an entire theme park for him and his cousin for a night).
  • Into the Dark: In "Blood Moon" Esme and Luna are in dire financial straits due to having to uproot (and assume new identities) any time Luna’s werewolf status or activities are exposed, with Esme’s prospects of a stable career shot. She had to quit practicing law as a result, and works at menial jobs like a server in a bar.
  • Teen Wolf: The Hale werewolf family was well-established and respected prior to the events of the show, but after Peter kills the other members of the family, his nephew Derek and his pack operate out of the ruins of the Hale house. Derek himself is essentially homeless at first. On the other hand, other werewolves on the show, including titular teen wolf Scott, are implied to be middle and upper-class. Overall, the show portrays a mixed bag of ordinary people who just happen to be werewolves regardless of financial status.
  • True Blood has Alcide and most of the other werewolves he runs with, all of whom work in manual trades (automotive mechanics is especially popular) and most of whom rock blue collar style with varying degrees of biker flair.

    Mythology & Folklore 
  • One German folktale revolves around a woman named Trine who, despite being a poor widow, is always able to provide her guests with fresh meat to dine on (meat being quite expensive). One day, a male relative came visiting and asked her where she had got the mutton she served him from. She told him to climb up to the roof of the house and she would show him. Whilst up on the roof, the man saw a wolf attacking a nearby flock of sheep. No prizes for guessing who the wolf really is. The man figures this out and when a shepherd attacks Trine, he calls out her name in a panic. Unfortunately, this causes Trine to turn back into a human and the shepherd promptly kicks her ass, with Trine barely escaping with her life. The source for this story is dated at 1896, making it at least Older Than Television.
  • According to other folktales across Europe, werewolves could be people who made a deal with the Devil for a magical strap to turn themselves into a werewolf when they put it on, which came in handy for hunting livestock if your pantry needing restocking, or just ambushing travellers for their money if your piggybank was running low. In which case, being poor would be an incentive to become a werewolf.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Bone Gnawers tribe are required to live on the fringes of human society, often as homeless people. Many other tribes' kinfolk are working class immigrants or otherwise marginalized. Averted by Silver Fangs, who are all European royalty to some extent, and many corporate-minded Glass Walkers.
  • The Vampire: The Masquerade and subsequent vampire source books all portray the Gangrel vampires as working class, as they are the most bestial of vampires, with their signature powers allowing them to shapeshift and communicate with and control animals.

  • In a somewhat Flanderized version of the original Harry Potter, in A Very Potter Sequel, the werewolf Lupin was a homeless alcoholic before he was hired at Hogwarts. When the kids first meet him, they mistake him for a vagrant.

    Video Games 
  • In The Sims 3 Supernatural, the neighbourhood Moonlight Falls has a premade werewolf family living in one of the smaller and simpler houses, whilst a premade vampire family is living in a mansion. Werewolves also automatically get torn and tattered clothing and bare feet when they change into their wolf forms, though they have the option to have these clothes in their human forms too.
  • Zigzagged by the Worgen in World of Warcraft. With the whole kingdom of Gilneas being plagued with lycanthropy, everyone from the common peasant, to the soldiers, to King Genn Greymane, to your playable character, are affected by it.

    Web Comics 
  • Menu of Charby the Vampirate was homeless even before being inflicted with lycanthropy. Seeing as it takes rare potions to temporarily turn him human again at any time and he spends the night of the full moon frothing at the mouth, he won't be gainfully employed anytime soon. He does currently "own" a cabin, by virtue of accidentally eating its previous inhabitants.
  • How to be a Werewolf: Downplayed. While a significant number of the werewolves have white-collar jobs and are well-off due to the werewolf community's assistance, every pack alpha is too busy with clan politics and upholding borders / The Masquerade to even think about retirement, effectively setting the glass ceiling for werewolves to middle-class, while witches (and presumably vampires) can get aristocratic-rich if they're willing to break a few rules.

    Western Animation 
  • Love, Death & Robots has a variation; "Shape-Shifters" features a pair of werewolves who have joined the U.S. Marines. (Military service, especially enlisted soldiers, typically being the domain of the lower and middle classes.) They end up fighting some werewolves from the terrorists' side, who live in stereotypical Middle-Eastern poverty.