When Teen Wolf first premiered on MTV in 2011, it is understandable that the specific effects were not at their peak. The underrated show about werewolf teenagers in California started with only twelve episodes and depicted Scott McCall resisting the pull of the Alpha, Peter Hale. The specific effects showed Scott’s semi-wolf transformation in most episodes, but season 1 concluded with revealing Peter’s full wolf form in a major display of computer graphics. Despite the limitations of special effects at the time, Teen Wolf eventually increased in budget and was able to pull off more ambitious sequences. Some of these effects have stood the test of time. And some are just painful to watch.
Kira Is Shocked
Teen Wolf started to get the hang of special effects around season 3. Some displays found the balance of subtle effects, such as Kiras first supernatural experience. Kira was unaware of her legacy when bomber William Barrow kidnapped her from her home. He was intent on making people believe that teenagers with glowing eyes were running around Beacon Hills. He planned to galvanize them into action by shocking Kira. Scott runs in to save her but unbeknownst to him as well as Barrow Kira has something else in store. Barrow attempts to shock her but when he does, he is killed instantly. Kira absorbs the electricity in a beautiful display of sparks.
Kanima At The Pool
Although some of the effects featuring the Kanima did not age well Teen Wolf’s use of practical effects was used in great displays in other scenes. Most significant was when Stiles and Derek are cornered by the Kanima at the pool. In an attempt to fight off the creature, Derek is paralyzed and Stiles, one of the stronger humans on Teen Wolf, has the task of protecting him.They tread water in the pool since the Kanima is afraid of water. The lizard monster is the most life like in this scene. The movements and physicality of the monster were impressive as the computer graphics were dialed back in this sequence.
Lydia Escapes Eichen House
Many fans had been waiting for the moment when Lydia would finally come into her own. Most of her struggles include trying to find out how to channel her Banshee powers. This comes into full effect when she attempts to escape Eichen House at the beginning of season 5. As the Wailing Woman, Lydia was the best character in season 5, though she often only found bodies when it was too late. When being held captive, she uses her powers to fight against her captors.Not only can she hold her own physically, but she also uses her Banshee powers to expel waves of energy against her attackers. Although she does not escape at that time, the special effects demonstrated how powerful she was becoming.
Derek’s Pack Fights The Alpha Pack
Teen Wolf’s werewolf transformations are unique to the show. Most werewolves on Teen Wolf do not become full wolves and only shape shift slightly. Though this did not change since the first season, the effect did become more widespread. One particularly impressive display was when Derek and Scott fight the Alpha pack in season 3. The entire episode revolves around one werewolf battle in the middle of the bank. Each werewolf has their distinct look in their wolf form and looks more realistic than they ever had before.
Lydia Glimpses The Darach
One of the best episodes of Teen Wolf is Motel California. The episode aired amid season 3 and was a bottle episode pitting the teenagers against a dark force in a motel. Each character dealt with their traumas, and the events came to a conclusion after Scott almost sets himself and Stiles on fire. Amid the flames, Lydia sees something that she does not expect. This is one of the first times the audience sees the villain of the season, the Darach. A slashed and disfigured entity this depiction was a great use of practical as well as computer generated effects.
The Cougar In The Parking Lot
Season 1 had the misfortune of having ambitious concepts, but the special effects were not up to par. So, early on in the show, many images could not be executed practically. One of these instances was the night of the parent-teacher conference. Scott and Allison show up late after a day of skipping school and find that an animal has entered school grounds. Chris Argent shoots the animal and it is revealed to be a cougar, not a wolf as Scott had anticipated. The shot of the cougar is entirely animated and looks strange and out of place.
The Alpha Is Burned
There were many instances in season 1 that did not age well. Peter’s Alpha form was not done practically and suffered due to computer graphics. This was most evident in the season 1 finale when Peter is burned in his Alpha form.This is the one moment where Derek is a low key villain on Teen Wolf. He and Scott take down Peter by burning him in a giant fireball. The contrast of the fire burning Peter and the computer graphics of his wolf form did not make the sequence look realistic.
The Twins Chasing Isaac
Season 3 introduced the Alpha pack with Ethan and Aiden. The twins and the McCall pack eventually become a great enemies to lovers relationship on Teen Wolf. But at the time, the Alphas were chasing Isaac when he was searching for Erica and Boyd. Mercenary Braeden comes to Isaac’s rescue and they race away on her motorcycle. But they aren’t able to shake the twins for long. While Ethan and Aiden chase Isaac, their pursuit is augmented by effects. The scene shows the twins gaining speed as they chase Isaac and Braeden on foot. They pick up speed, but it is evident how much the scene relied on a green screen to demonstrate the twins velocity.
The Darach Conjures A Storm
Jennifer Blake’s antagonism as the Darach was often accompanied by strange occurrences. Birds sacrificed themselves against windows and the weather always seemed to be in flux. When Jennifer finally catches up with Deucalion and reaps her revenge, there is a near constant storm. This is mostly demonstrated by cloud cover at night. The rolling clouds and winds look conjured by computer animation rather than magic.
Deucalion Becomes The Demon Wolf
Deucalion refers to himself as the Demon Wolf all through his appearance on the show, but the audience does not see evidence of this until the final episode of his arc. Although blind, Deucalion is the leader of the Alpha pack and Scott finally gets to see what makes him so powerful. Right before the lunar eclipse, Deucalion transforms into his full form. Much like Peter’s Alpha form, Deucalion’s looks fully animated. Even though there appears to be practical effects in later scenes, his unnatural skin looks off-putting and animated.