Unlike vampires and other supernatural entities, most of our favorite werewolves in pop culture are male.
Even the female werewolves that do exist in pop culture, such as Leah Clearwater (Twilight), Jules (The Vampire Diaries), Hayley Marshall (The Originals), Veruca (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), and Carolyn Stoddard (Dark Shadows) are few and far between, often side/background characters whose stories are never fully told.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any good stories with female werewolves as protagonists out there. We went digging under the light of a full moon and found aplenty.
Here are some of the best, most underrated stories of female werewolves from books, comics, and film.
Female Werewolves in Movies
Ginger Snaps (2000)
A Canadian supernatural horror film directed by John Fawcett, Ginger Snaps tells the story of two teenaged sisters, Ginger and Brigitte. Ginger, who has just begun to menstruate, is attacked by a mysterious creature. Then, she begins to change. Ginger becomes more violent, has unprotected sex with a classmate, and slowly loses her humanity as her wolfish instincts take over.
The film spawned a cult following (with a sequel and a prequel released soon after) for the way it darkly straddled the themes of puberty and monstrosity. It isn’t a coincidence that Ginger’s descent into lycanthropy occurs right after her first period— a subtle way of highlighting patriarchy’s distrust and othering of the female body.
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology horror-comedy film by Michael Dougherty that tells four semi-interconnected stories set during Halloween. It mixes in a lot of classic horror tropes, urban legends, and has an iconic scene where Laurie (played by a delightful Ana Paquin) and her friends transform into werewolves to devour a serial killer and their dates for the night.
While it would’ve been nice to see more of Laurie, the film is a fun watch for a horror night.
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The Howling (1981)
The Howling and its many sequels remain quite popular among horror aficionados, especially for its plethora of male and female werewolves onscreen.
In the first film, Karen White is a television journalist who is traumatized after an encounter with a serial killer. As part of recovery, her therapist sends her and her husband Bill to a secluded countryside resort where the residents all turn out to be…you’ve guessed it, werewolves.
By the end of the film, even Karen turns out to be a werewolf. The sequel, aptly titled Your Sister Is A Werewolf (1985), continues her story and introduces the viewer to more female werewolves, including a werewolf queen.
Female Werewolves in Books and Comics
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
Angela Carter’s noted short story collection offers feminist retellings of Western fairy tales, revisiting familiar themes with marvelous twists and lush, decadent prose. Several of the tales explore the Red Riding Hood folktale from various angles.
In “The Werewolf”, the grandmother is suggested to be a werewolf that the young girl cunningly defeats in order to gain her inheritance.
In “Wolf Alice”, a feral girl-child grows up in the company of a vampiric duke, while slowly developing her own sense of morality and self-awareness.
Finally, “The Company of Wolves,” which was adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Neil Jordan in 1984, is a surreal and modernist retelling of Red Riding Hood. It's interspersed with the stories of different women whose lives have been harshly impacted by men/wolves.
In Bitten (the first book in Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series, and also her first novel) Elena is justly frustrated with a world that’s mostly run by men, so she leaves the Pack and tries to eke out a quiet life in Toronto by passing as a human. But when the Pack leader calls upon her to quell an uprising, Elena decides to help as she owes him a favor.
According to Armstrong, the novel was inspired by an X-Files episode on werewolves. Bitten does a wonderful job in exploring Elena’s “otherness” and estrangement (from both male werewolves and humans in general) and her struggle to find her place in society.
Moreover, in Armstrong’s detailed worldbuilding, werewolves can shift their shapes at will and are not affected by the cycles of the moon, which is a neat break from the cliched tropes about lycanthropy being inextricably linked to moonlight.
A lycanthropic love letter to L.A., Sharp Teeth follows a female werewolf and the dogcatcher who falls for her.
A pack of ancient werewolves are swelling their ranks with the vulnerable in Los Angeles, but the two outliers must learn to form a pack of their own.
Blood & Chocolate
This Maryland-set story centers around Vivian Gandillon, a teenage werewolf still reeling from the death of her father. Vivian is shocked when she falls for a mortal human, but she trusts Aiden to see her as more than a monster.
Trapped between her pack loyalty and her fascination with humans, Vivian must decide which world she'll belong in forever.