Some of us are fanatics when it comes to movie monsters, especially vampires, and werewolves. When it comes to werewolves, some have been a bit confused as to the differences between werewolves and shape-shifters. There are, in fact, many differences between the two that can be differentiated when you look closely enough as to how they come about. You just need to take a closer look at their physical and psychological breakdown.
To understand werewolves, you first have to understand there are more than one kind. What we’re all used to seeing are the scary monstrous creatures that morph during the full moon. But there’s more to your average werewolf than you realize.
Heredity – There are certain types of werewolves that get their lycanthropy through heredity, meaning they aren’t necessarily cursed as you would be if you were scratched or bitten. They don’t necessarily have to change during the full moon either; it’s possible they can turn at will, just like a shape-shifter would. They are also similar to an animagus, which is a creature mentioned in the Harry Potter franchise.
Curse – This type of werewolf is the more common type that we are all familiar with. A person is cursed by a werewolf and ends up turning into one by being scratched or bitten. At the next full moon, the person who is cursed suffers the phasing that takes place; turning from human to animal. It’s usually painful and grotesque.
Werewolves are extremely vulnerable to silver, and unlike vampires, can walk around during the day because that is when they are no longer a werewolf. They turn human again, and can only attack and infect someone while they are in their werewolf form. During this time, they can no longer think for themselves and are no longer self aware. They turn into a werewolf and therefore they think like a werewolf would. If someone close to you turns into a werewolf, they will no longer recognize you and will attack you. Once they change back into human form, they will have little to no memory of what took place during their phase.
Werewolves, in appearance, can either be full blown animalistic, or anthropomorphic, meaning this particular werewolf retains their human traits and appearances during their full moon phase. Such was the case in Jack Nicolson’s film “Wolf”.
In other forms of pop culture, werewolves can be seen in the Harry Potter franchise, when Professor Lupin morphed when he forgot to take his wolfsbane potion, which allows him to retain his human mind upon phasing.
Note – There is also a big difference between wolves and werewolves. Wolves are simply canine wild animals that won’t infect you with a scratch or bite, as werewolves do when mentioned in mythology.
Unlike werewolves, shape-shifters turn into any animal or thing at will. As mentioned above, they are similar to hereditary werewolves, meaning they can morph independently of the lunar cycle, and retain their consciousness during their transformation. In mythology, certain gods and goddesses have the ability to shape-shift into any creature, though, shape-shifters can refer to any being with this ability. This the main distinction between shape-shifters and werewolves.
In the Twilight film series, there has been some debate as to whether or not the wolves were werewolves or shape-shifters. After extensive research I found that, although similar to hereditary werewolves, the werewolves in the films and books can shape-shift independently of the lunar cycle, and therefore not true werewolves. Because of the way they are described, it causes confusion for some, understandably. So when it comes to Twilight, those are shape-shifters, not werewolves. Being that the Quileute tribe is a descendent of wolves, this is their main animal to shape-shift into, which is another reason they are thought to be hereditary werewolves.
For more information on shape-shifters and werewolves, visit these sites: