Follow TV Tropes


Series / Werewolf (1987)

Go To
Werewolf was part of the original line-up of the brand-new fourth network, FOX, in 1987-1988. It followed a format similar to The Fugitive or The Incredible Hulk (1977), with werewolf victim Eric Cord (John J. York) being chased by a bounty hunter (Lance LeGault) who knows what he is, while Eric himself pursues the evil werewolf Janos Skorzeny (Chuck Connors, in his final TV role) whose death may free him from the curse.

The show lasted for 29 episodes before being cancelled.

Tropes associated with the series:

  • Adventure Towns: Each episode is set in a new town; justified twice over due to Eric being on the run from Rogan and having to constantly move to escape him, and to Eric trying to track down and kill Skorzeny to free himself from the curse.
  • The Ageless: A side effect of being a werewolf is that you don't age. Remy is more than 2000 years old but looks like he's in his 30s. The exception is Skorzeny, who Remy says has "a sickness brought about by his own evil" and is slowly but steadily aging.
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: The bikers in "Running With the Pack" are typical brutish thugs. (It being a low-budget show, the motorcycles are heard outside but not seen.)
  • Amusement Park: The setting for "Blind Luck".
  • Artistic License – Biology: In "A World Of Difference" Rogan flashes back to a meeting with a man who kept a real wolf. He spouts a lot of outdated misinformation about wolf society being nothing but battles for dominance. In reality, a wolf pack is a family, and mom and dad are in charge because they're mom and dad, not because they beat up everyone else. (The fight-for-dominance view was based on observing unrelated male wolves placed in an unfamiliar space that was too small and had too few resources, rather like using a men's prison as a model for human behavior, and the researcher who published those early studies has since said outright that they were wrong.)
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In the pilot, we see Ted loading his gun (with what we soon learn are silver bullets), and proceed to spend the rest of the scene holding it with his finger on the trigger, occasionally waving it around as he gestures and paces. Justified as Ted just got it and gun safety classes were not required at the time, plus it illustrates how much of a hair trigger Ted is on mentally.
  • Batman in My Basement: In "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf" young Davy, who loves monster comics, finds a genuine wounded werewolf, so he hides him in his treehouse. In the morning he finds the werewolf has turned into Eric, still wounded because Rogan's silver bullet is still in the wound. Despite promising not to tell anyone, he eventually tells his mom he has a monster in his treehouse, but given his active imagination, she assumes it's just a game. When he gets medical supplies from the local doctor, he tells him it's for a hurt rabbit, but can't resist asking if there's any special way to take out a silver bullet (the answer is to twirl around three times before you do it). By the time Davy's mom realizes there's an actual wounded man, it's just in time for Eric to save her from her abusive boyfriend and disappear.
  • Beast Man: The form werewolves take in this show are roughly humanoid, able to stand on two legs, sort of a mix of human, wolf, bear, and gorilla.
  • Big Bad: Skorzeny for most of the series' run, Nicholas Remy for the last few episodes due to Eric finding out that Remy is the actual origin of the werewolf bloodline.
  • Bounty Hunter: "Alamo Joe" Rogan is hired to bring Eric back after he jumps bail. Subverted in that Rogan, after learning what Eric is and mistakenly believing Eric is causing a "trail of blood" (they're really following the same trails), continues pursuing Eric even after the bail bondsman who hired him calls him off, and Rogan offers to give the bounty to someone else more than once.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Blood On the Tracks" involves an ex-prizefighter on the run from the mob.
  • Burn the Witch!: Diedre is a neopagan-type witch who caters to tourists in "Nothing Evil In These Woods." When a local blames her for the death of his son, he and a couple buddies attack her house, and after a knocked-over candle starts a fire, he gives a sadistic grin and says, "Fire's better'n hanging!"
  • Clear My Name: A twist on this, since Eric actually did kill his roommate, and there's enough evidence Ted was "delusional" that he would certainly be found to have done it in self-defense, but Eric cannot go back to stand trial until he breaks the curse.
  • Clothesline Stealing: Not shown nearly as often as might be expected from a show whose protagonist ends up naked once or twice an episode, but in "Amazing Grace" Eric fishes clothes down from a second story clothesline using a conveniently long pipe left in the alley.
  • The Corruption: Once infected with the werewolf curse, its victims tend to start out fighting to get free and to avoid anyone getting hurt by locking themselves up, but over time they gradually become less and less concerned with others and eventually come to enjoy the power and not care who is hurt, even their closest friends and loved ones.
    Ted: See, I'm no longer in control. I could hurt anyone now. You. Kelly. Anyone. And I'm afraid I won't care.
  • Damsel in Distress: Frequently what lures Eric into sticking around even though he's going to change soon and/or Rogan is in the area looking for him.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The two part episode "A World of Difference" is this for Rogan. The story of the episode is Rogan reflecting on his life as he tries to come to terms with the possibility that he's been bitten by Eric.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Eric.
    • Subverted when Eric meets Diedre in "Nothing Evil In These Woods." He snarks about a potion she made, then apologizes for disrespecting her faith, even though he doesn't share it.
  • Destroy the Evidence: In "Spectre of the Wolf" after Eric transforms in front of cameras, the professor is seen erasing the videotapes when Rogan and the cops arrive.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: In "The Unicorn", several prostitutes are killed by Skorzeny.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Favorite targets of Skorzeny in "A Material Girl", the fake cop in "Nightmare In Blue", and a hobo werewolf in "King of the Road".
  • The Drifter: Both Eric and Skorzeny have elements of this, although Eric's drifting is interrupted whenever he gets a lead on possible werewolf kills or Rogan shows up showing his picture around.
  • Enemy Mime: Subverted; "To Dream of Wolves" features several appearances by a rather creepy street mime, but he turns out to be a Red Herring and ends up getting murdered.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog:
    • In the pilot, Ted's dog, Heathcliff, who's been staying far away from Ted, begins to snarl as Eric sees the blood dripping from Ted's palm...and then sees Ted's fangs.
    • After Eric has become a werewolf himself, he tries to pet Heathcliff, who had been very affectionate to him before, but the dog now snarls and snaps at him.
    • In "Spectre of the Wolf" Eric is menaced by a guard dog until it sees him transform, at which point it runs away yelping. The next morning, the professor he'd tried to convince he was a werewolf is attacked by the same dog, but when a naked Eric appears and quietly tells it to back off, it snarls then runs off yelping again, terrified.
  • Evil Laugh: Skorzeny has a truly magnificent cackle.
  • Eye Colour Change: In the pilot, when Eric first looks up at Ted's face as he starts to transform, his eyes become very dark. Later on Skorzeny's eye under his patch has the same appearance, implying this is how werewolf eyes look and Skorzeny's is in that state permanently note .
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Used quite well throughout Ted's confession to Eric in the pilot.
  • Facial Horror: Skorzeny wears the eyepatch for a good reason: under it, his left eye has a solid black iris (and may be fake), and he has extensive scarring around it. In werewolf form, his left eye is missing and that side of his face is heavily scarred due to Remy cutting that eye out long ago.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: If Eric ever actually finds and kills the start of his bloodline, ridding himself of the curse, the show would be over. Even when he finally succeeds in killing Skorzeny, he has already just discovered Skorzeny was turned by someone else and isn't the start of the line.
  • Frequently Full Moon: Despite establishing from the beginning that the change has nothing to do with the phase of the moon, just about every time we see the moon, it's full, and Eric sometimes looks up at the full moon when a change is coming.
  • Fugitive Arc: Eric is on the run after jumping bail on a murder charge.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Where all werewolves are inexorably headed. The longer they're a werewolf, the more they come to like it, eventually no longer locking themselves up or fighting not to kill once changed.
  • Good Versus Good: Eric versus Rogan. Eric is trying to stop a centuries-old Serial Killer (who creates other killers as he goes) as well as free himself of the curse before it turns him into one, and Rogan honestly believes he's tracking a monster who's killed repeatedly (although there are signs he's starting to catch on after Skorzeny's death).
  • Healing Factor: Even when not in wolf form, Eric heals quickly. In "Nothing Evil In These Woods," when Diedre finds Eric just after a fight with Skorzeny, he has scratches on his face (and elsewhere); by dinnertime, they're gone, and Eric tries to pass them off as having been mostly dirt that washed right off.
  • He Knows Too Much: In "Eye Of the Storm" Eric and another character overhear the killers, and when the killers realize this they conspire to get rid of them, too.
  • High-Voltage Death: It takes being impaled with a wooden timber with a silver spike attached to the end and then speared into a theater's lighting control panel to finally kill Skorzeny...and then his body is gone when Rogan shows up later.
  • Hulking Out: The practical upshot of many of Eric's transformations. Fear and stress do seem to trigger them sometimes, and quite often Eric is beaten up or locked up and Eric's wolf form saves the day by breaking free and throwing around bad guys.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game:
    • In "The Wolf Who Thought He Was A Man" a hunting guide is hunting down his customers.
    • In "Wolfhunt" a rancher who started out hunting a real wolf begins hunting Eric too after a visit from Rogan. His partner is disconcerted when his concern that Eric might be hurt and need immediate help are met with a dismissive reply that it's "best to let wounded game stiffen up first."
  • I Have Many Names: Subverted. Even though Eric is on the run, he's only seen giving an alias a couple of times, almost always identifying himself as Eric Cord.
  • Implacable Man: Rogan, the bounty hunter.
  • Informed Attribute: Janos Skorzeny is described as ugly several times. He may be older, but he's still played by Chuck Connors!
  • Inspector Javert: Rogan, who thinks Eric is responsible for Skorzeny's kills.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Eric has little control over his transformations. Other werewolves can trigger the change at will; it's not actually clear whether Eric ever does this when there are innocents in danger, consciously or subconsciously. Choosing to change for a good cause may well be the start of the planned slippery slope.
  • Justified Criminal: Eric has to do everything from steal clothes when he transforms back naked, to mercy-killing a recently-bitten new werewolf who begs him to.
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed: Eric kills Skorzeny, who has been responsible for countless deaths.
  • Kind Restraints: In the pilot, Ted has Eric tie him securely into a chair, then spends the next hours telling him about how he was turned into a werewolf and how he's dealt with it. Unfortunately, when Ted turns, he easily snaps the ropes and attacks Eric.
  • Loss of Identity: Being a werewolf has a corrupting effect on the mind. Ted tells Eric in the pilot that when he first started changing, he did everything he could to keep himself locked up safely when the change was coming, but over time he stopped. He cared less and less about others, until, by the end, he feared even his own sister and best friend were no longer safe from him — and that if he did kill them, he wouldn't even care.
  • Magic Pants: Strongly averted. When Eric, or any other werewolf, changes back, they haven't a stitch of clothing left. Only played straight once, in "The Wolf Who Thought He Was A Man", where Eric appears in torn-up but still-decent clothing, probably a case of Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • Mark of the Beast: Werewolves know the change is going to happen when a pentagram scar appears on their right palm. The scar thickens and turns red as the time before the change shortens, and when the scar starts to bleed, there's only minutes or seconds before the transformation begins.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • This is what Ted asks of Eric in the pilot, to kill him so that he won't hurt anyone else, or lose any more of himself to the curse.
    • At the end of "The Black Ship", a ship captain who was mauled by Skorzeny asks Eric to kill him, not wanting to live with the curse. The episode ends with the muzzle flash of the revolver.
    • When he thinks he may have been bitten by Eric, Rogan asks the local sheriff for this, obliquely.
      Rogan: I'd appreciate it…if you'd follow me to your office, get yourself a comfortable chair and my rifle, and see this thing out with me.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: Eric is shot and killed in "A World Of Difference", confirmed by EMTs and the coroner, and spends the day in a refrigerated drawer in the morgue. Come nightfall, his werewolf form breaks out of the drawer from the inside, seemingly none the worse for wear.
  • Monster Progenitor: First Ted, then Eric try to find and kill the start of their bloodline, in order to end the curse and regain a normal life.
  • Mugging the Monster: Happens in at least half the episodes.
  • Necessarily Evil: Rogan clearly intends to kill Eric when he catches up to him, even if he's already captured and in cuffs/chains, considering it necessary to stop what he believes is a serial killing monster who can't be stopped by normal means.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: There are numerous times that Eric, in wolf form, attacks bad guys, but leaves innocents unharmed. The premise of gradual mental corruption was planned to have seen this change in later episodes if the series hadn't been cancelled.
  • Not Me This Time: Rogan believes Eric is responsible for killings made by other werewolves and/or serial killers, and is very unlikely to believe Eric's denials.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • General for the series: The werewolves are the bear-like type similar to those in The Howling, with individual werewolves having different-colored fur (Eric's is brown, Skorzeny's is black, etc.) and the curse being passed via biting. Transformation happens almost at random for newer werewolves, although stress and fear seem to trigger the cycle, while more experienced werewolves can do it at will. The only thing that can truly kill a werewolf in either human or monster form is a silver weapon or another werewolf's teeth and claws, otherwise the curse will bring them back to life. It's stated that the kill is only permanent if done while in wolf form, but this is never tested on-screen.
    • Skorzeny takes this even further. When he starts to transform he peels the skin off his skull like it's a mask, with the raw flesh underneath taking on the werewolf characteristics. In beast form his muzzle is thinner than Eric's and has a slight twist, with longer, snaggled canines.
  • Partial Transformation: Remy transforms one hand only in order to claw out the throat of a minion who refuses to kill Eric.
  • Personality Remnant: New werewolves can retain enough control while in wolf form to avoid killing — at first. Over time, they gradually feel less and less of their old morals and even loves.
    Eric: How come you never attacked me?
    Ted: Even a rabid dog, in the last stages of its disease, can maybe discern its master and keep from attacking. At least, not until real close to the end.
  • Price on Their Head: Eric has a bounty placed on his capture, although we do see the bailbondsman who hired Rogan telling him he's no longer willing to pay for his capture.
  • Psychometry: When Eric finds Skorzeny's chest, and later when he breaks into Remy's house, he handles their possessions and had visions of moments of their past. It's how he learns that Skorzeny is not the start of his bloodline, which turns out to be accurate.
  • Pull the I.V.: In "A World of Difference", Rogan is hospitalized after being severely injured and possibly bitten, and Eric is apparently killed. When Rogan hears "There's a problem at the morgue", he starts pulling off sensors and pulling out his I.V., saying he'll finally give the sheriff a statement as long as he brings him along to investigate.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: When Shout! Factory tried to release the show on DVD, they couldn't clear all the music. Instead of replacing it, they discovered the raw soundtrack tapes were gone, and could not replace the music. They were forced to let the rights revert back to Sony.
  • Resurrective Immortality: If a werewolf is killed in a way other than with a silver weapon or another werewolf's teeth and claws, the curse will eventually cause the werewolf to come back to life via transformation. This happens to Eric in "A World Of Difference" when he's shot and killed, only to transform and break out of his drawer in the morgue.
  • Ritual Magic:
    • In "Nothing Evil In These Woods" Diedre is setting up a ritual to try to cure Eric when the rednecks arrive to start trouble.
    • There is supposed to be an old grandfather out in the far corner of the reservation who knows a ceremony to cure a "Skinwalker" in the episode of that title. When they send for him, it turns out that no such ceremony ever existed, it was just political disinformation after a chief had to kill his own son after an attempted cure failed.
  • Road Block: Used to catch Eric in "Big Daddy".
  • Scars Are Ugly: Janos Skorzeny's face around his missing eye is heavily scarred, mainly visible when he removes his eyepatch, which Eric uses as part of describing him as ugly more than once. Playfully subverted when a nurse tells Rogan he'll have some very attractive scars after he was nearly killed by a werewolf.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: In the course of his hunt for Skorzeny, Eric takes out several other werewolves, most already responsible for several deaths which led him to them in the first place.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: When a werewolf transforms, they always end up completely naked from total Clothing Damage, no Magic Pants allowed.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: When Eric is wounded with a silver bullet in "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf", even after the silver bullet is removed, Eric is still clearly wounded and in pain. As soon as he transforms, the wound is gone.
  • Shout-Out: The villain-werewolf Skorzeny was named after the vampire in the first pilot movie for the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
  • Silver Bullet:
    • Ted has a silver cross he inherited from his mother melted down and silver bullets made from it.
    • Rogan has a silver cross melted down in a ceremony at the reservation (possibly blessing it) and uses the silver to make his own bullets. He sometimes gives them to others, as in "A World of Difference" and "Wolfhunt".
    • When Eric first asks for silver bullets to be made, he's asked if he's the Lone Ranger or hunting werewolves. He claims they're for a nephew who's into horror movies.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers:
    • Werewolves can only be seriously hurt or killed by silver weapons (or another werewolf's teeth and claws). When Rogan hits Eric's wolf form with a silver bullet in "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf", the wound remains when Eric transforms back, and only heals after the bullet is removed and Eric transforms again.
    • Infusing a silver solution intravenously causes Eric to transform briefly in "Big Daddy".
    • When Remy forces Eric to prick his own neck with a silver knife in "To Dream Of Wolves" he comments on how silver wounds burn.
  • Skin Walker: As often happens, this term is appropriated to apply to werewolves, rather than to the unique creature of Navajo traditions.
  • Stern Chase: Rogan's constant pursuit of Eric forces him to stay on the run.
  • Stock Footage:
    • Skorzeny peeling back his face to reveal the wolf within was shot with a black background and the same shot was used every time he was shown transforming.
    • Wolf-vision footage of a parking lot, skulking from car to car, from the pilot was re-used later.
  • Take That!: Chuck Connors tried to renegotiate his contract for more money not long after the series got underway, which angered the show's writers. They stuck it to him by eliminating most of Skorzeny's scenes in human form after the early episodes (and using body doubles with no dialogue for scenes where he did show up). They also had to drastically rewrite his death after Connors apparently reneged on a commitment to appear in those episodes, condensing three episodes' worth of story into two, and took out their frustrations by having Skorzeny's last scene as a human be him groveling before Remy and kissing his hand.
  • This Was His True Form: Eric chases a werewolf-shaped Skorzeny into a shopping mall in "Material Girl", where he meets a homeless girl living there. In the end, when he kills a werewolf and it de-transforms, it turns out to be the girl, not Skorzeny.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A small mob comes after Diedre, a self-identified witch, in "Nothing Evil In These Woods" and they end up causing a fire that burns down her home with her trapped inside.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: In the pilot, Eric bursts into Skorzeny's cabin in the woods in werewolf form while Skorzeny is still in human guise. Skorzeny proceeds to pull off his human face like a hoodie, grow a snout, and complete his full transformation before he and Eric begin fighting. Often averted, however, to keep Eric out of a situation until it's time for his wolf form to start throwing around bad guys.
  • Transformation Sequence: Full transformation sequences (or at least full within budget and nudity limits of 80s broadcast television) happen in the pilot, courtesy of Rick Baker and Greg Cannom, no less; the rest of the series reuses footage, mostly of Skorzeny's unique sequence. Otherwise only bits of transformations are shown, mostly averting the trope by throwing Eric behind a couch or otherwise putting him out of sight.
  • Villainous BSoD: In both "Blood Ties" and "Nightmare In Blue" a villain ends up staring into space and we're told they end up in a rubber room.
  • Walking the Earth: Eric is forced to live this life, taking odd jobs and hopping trains or hitchhiking, as whenever he tries to stay in one place too long, either his curse strikes or Rogan shows up, or he gets a lead on Skorzeny and takes off in pursuit.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Rogan's version identifies Eric as "missing" instead, but it serves the same purpose.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: In "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf", Rogan shoots Eric non-fatally with a silver bullet. A boy discovers Eric and hides him in his treehouse, and Eric has him dig the bullet out of his side. Justified in this case, as the wound won't heal until the silver is removed.
  • Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: Eric is often seen in wolf form howling at the Frequently Full Moon.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: When Rogan first catches up to Eric, Eric tries to tell him that Kelly has been kidnapped and is going to be killed, but Rogan doesn't believe him. It doesn't help that Eric was tied up in the hotel bathroom in preparation for a transformation, at first claimed it was because someone broke in and robbed him (with no mention of Kelly), and only starts saying a girl's been kidnapped and trying to get Rogan to go rescue her after Rogan reveals he's a bounty hunter come to bring Eric back to L. A. Eric says this trope word for word.

Alternative Title(s): Werewolf