In the Buffyverse, created by Joss Whedon, werewolves are introduced as a type of demonic humanoid. Their characteristics are similar to the werewolves of folklore, but rather than being included only as brutish monsters, they appear as characters who suffer from lycanthropy, and whose animal side either complements or clashes with their human side.
Werewolves in the Buffyverse are usually afflicted with lycanthropy through a bite. It's never confirmed that anyone is born with lycanthropy, although the fact that Oz's little cousin transmits the condition to him via bite, as well as Oz's conversation with his aunt (see "Oz" below) suggests the cousin may have been born with the condition.
Werewolves turn into wolf form at sunset the night before the full moon and both nights of the full moon (all called "wolf nights" by Willow and Oz), and revert to human form at dawn. In wolf form, they are immensely strong and hungry for human flesh, but tend to fall asleep before dawn, and often do not recall the events of the previous night when they wake (always naked, as their clothes do not survive the transformation). They show some animal characteristics at all times, such as a keen sense of smell and an ability to sense other werewolves. Sometimes their wolf appearance resembles their human appearance (e.g. Veruca is blonde both as a human and as a wolf), and male werewolves may have animal-like qualities to their human appearance, such as excess body hair.
Werewolves may be killed by silver bullets or silver weapons, as well as mauling and presumably other types of weapons. If killed in wolf form, a werewolf reverts to human form, although this may only be true in some species.
The first werewolf seen in the series is Oz
, although he doesn't realize he is one until he wakes naked in a forest ("Phases
"). He says earlier in that episode that his young cousin bit him on the finger, and later calls his aunt to ask, "Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh." To prevent himself from harming others, he takes to locking himself in a cage on the nights he'll turn. In season 4, however, he feels an undeniable attraction to Veruca
, the female lead singer of a local band, and realizes why when he wakes up next to her after a wolf night on which he escaped his cage—he remembers just enough to know that she's a werewolf too, and they had given in to their animalistic desires for each other ("Wild at Heart
"). Oz is powerless to resist his lust for Veruca, and after having sex with her in wolf form, he realizes that he is still harmful to others—namely his girlfriend Willow
— and unable to defeat the wolf in him. This was despite the fact that when Veruca had pursued Willow, Oz interestingly seemed to retain some human memories and slaughters Veruca, suggesting he was able to prioritize his kills based on his human knowledge about Veruca (see below) and his affection for Willow. Still, he leaves Sunnydale
for a few months, returning after having learned meditative
techniques in Tibet
that have allowed him to prevent changing ("New Moon Rising
"). However, emotional stress, particularly over Willow and his jealousy over her new love interest Tara
triggers the changes even during the day, and Oz realizes he will never be able to completely defeat his lycanthropy, and departs again.
Veruca is the lead singer of a Sunnydale band called Shy, and meets Oz through his band, Dingoes Ate My Baby
. After confirming that they are both werewolves, Veruca is dumbfounded to learn that Oz cages himself, and suggests that werewolves should feel free to express their animal side, as they are above regular humans ("Wild at Heart
"). Unlike Oz, she has no qualms about killing humans and views any human deaths she might cause as a wolf as mere ramifications of freedom and right to kill. Oz insists that she stay with him in his cage, saying, "I can't let you hurt anyone," and she complies, knowing she can still enjoy her animalistic expression by having sex with him.
is an art student living in L.A. who was attacked by a werewolf while jogging one night ("Unleashed
is nearby and hears her screams, but by the time he arrives on the scene and kills the werewolf with a silver pen, Nina had already escaped and Angel, smelling her blood, realizes she was bitten. Using the resources of Wolfram and Hart
, Angel tracks her down and cages her to prevent her from harming herself or others. The team
learns from the cryptozoologist
who examines the werewolf's corpse that the particular species is unusual in that it is bipedal. Nina is dismayed to learn that she's a "monster," and reluctantly agrees to let Angel hold her in a cage at Wolfram & Hart so that they can continue to help her. Unfortunately, Nina is captured and taken to a banquet for patrons who enjoy the flesh of demons and other unusual creatures, and who intend to devour her. After being rescued by Angel and the rest of Angel Investigations, she begins to recognize that she is more than the monster, and later has a brief but healthy relationship with Angel.
View of Werewolves
The way people see werewolves in the Buffyverse varies between individuals or groups:
- Gib Cain hunts and kills werewolves for their teeth and pelts, either ignorant to or uncaring towards the fact that they are humans for the rest of the month.
- Werewolves such as Oz and Nina attempt to find ways to keep themselves restrained during their transformations so as not to hurt their friends and families.
- McManus, Nina's attacker in "Unleashed", originally attempted to live in permanent solitude, but eventually went back to populated areas. Unlike Oz and Nina, he did not have the support to hold on to his humanity.
- Werewolves such as Veruca believe the wolf to be their true self, and relish in their condition, even if it means killing someone.
- The Scoobies and Angel's crew do not believe that werewolves are accountable for their actions in bestial form, and attempt to protect them during the full moon; however, they treat werewolves such as Veruca no better than any other vampire or evil demon, or at least a dangerous human such as Warren Mears or Lindsey McDonald.
- Some entrepreneurs consider werewolf flesh to be a delicacy, and capture and eat them whenever, apparently not caring that the death of the werewolf also kills its human self.