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Questionable Things We Ignored In Teen Wolf

"Teen Wolf" fans may love the teen werewolf series, but there's no denying that the show has more than a few problematic and confusing aspects. While the series often boasts inclusion, minority characters were always first on the chopping block, if they were even represented at all. For a show that ostensibly takes diversity and inclusion seriously, it's strange how Tyler Posey, the show's title actor, didn't know his own character's ethnicity and cultural roots. He told HuffPost back in 2012, "It never comes up in the show, but I'm pretty sure that he is Latino." If that's so, why wouldn't it be celebrated on the series? Why do all of the POC and LGBTQ+ characters disappear or get killed off?

In addition to the rocky representation, "Teen Wolf" can't quite figure out its own timeline, nor can it decide how old Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin) is supposed to be. "Teen Wolf" also frequently romanticizes mental health struggles, and consent isn't always the characters' biggest priority. For the most part, "Teen Wolf" is a fun show to get lost in, but it's difficult to ignore some of the more questionable elements surrounding the series, both on and off the set.

Derek has a real Benjamin Button dilemma

How old is Derek Hale at the beginning of "Teen Wolf" and during the fire that killed his family? It's an enigma to fans, and judging by the show, it's a mystery to series creator Jeff Davis as well. At one point, fans get a glimpse at Derek's license, which states his birthday as November 7, 1988. That would be all fine and well if the show's DVD calendar didn't also state it as December 25. However, the most significant snafus in the show's timeline come from throwaway lines citing events from his past that don't add up. Multiple small assertions in the series contradict each other — like how can Derek be 16 at the time of the fire when Jennifer's (Haley Webb) age and timeline counter that?

Meanwhile, when Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) carves his initials as a senior year tradition, he sees the initials "D.H." Of course, fans are meant to think that they're Derek's, but he would never have reached senior year if the fire killed his family at 16, which is what most of the plot details imply. Then there's the fact that when Derek emerges as a de-aged 16-year-old, he clearly knows and is uncomfortably close with Kate (Jill Wagner), adding to the pile of evidence that he's 16 at the time of the fire. All in all, thinking about the "Teen Wolf" timeline is enough to give anyone a headache.

Psych wards are not good first date spots

The local psych ward is neither a romantic hookup destination nor an appropriate one — and even Dylan O'Brien doesn't think so. In Season 3, Stiles and Malia (Shelley Hennig) bond over being virgins while they're in the Eichen House mental health facility. Malia has just been in coyote form for almost a decade without education or social interaction. Mentally, she's still a child who should in no way be thinking about sex, nor should her peers entertain her lust. Meanwhile, Stiles is in the early throes of his Nogitsune possession, so it's not exactly an opportune time for Beacon Hills' resident sleuth to get down and dirty — especially not in a psych ward.

According to Dylan O'Brien at Alpha Con, Jeff Davis had an even steamier moment in mind for the unlikely couple. O'Brien described it as a "full-tilt sex scene," adding that he rejected the idea "because I am not somebody who believes in something like that." After noting that the original version would be "like a sex montage," he explained that the scene would be "so derailing" that they parsed it down. 

As a result, the final version is more implication than montage. Of course, Malia stating "I want to try something else" after sharing her first kiss with Stiles and taking her shirt off leaves little to the imagination. Things might have been different, and much less problematic, if they just hooked up at a party instead of the dingy basement in a psych ward.

The queerbaiting issue

There's no denying that "Teen Wolf" has a massive base of fans who ship Derek and Stiles — and the writers knew it, too. The series would often tease the possibility of a relationship between Stiles and Derek, even putting teaser scenes of the pair in promotional materials for the show to keep fans tuning in. There's not even an excuse of, "Oh, they're just good friends" with Stiles and Derek, because they're not. Their whole vibe hinges on sexual tension and animosity. Yet, they would die for each other at the end of the day. Derek Hale, a man who trusts no one, immediately trusts Stiles and seeks refuge as a fugitive in the house of the sheriff's kid.

Right up to the end of the series, in the exaggerated memory scenes where Derek bridal carries Stiles and Stiles drags Derek away from danger, the show toys with fans' emotions on the subject. Stiles' possible bisexuality is also constantly teased throughout the show without the writers ever pulling the trigger. At various points, Stiles stresses out over whether gay guys find him attractive. And at a club in Season 3, Stiles pauses for a while when a girl asks him if he likes both guys and girls. Why allude to Stiles questioning his sexuality and never follow through?

A fan even asked Jeff Davis about Stiles' sexuality, and he remarked with a grin, "That feels like it could enter into spoiler territory." When pushed further, he backpedaled a bit, adding that it's possible if "it's right for the story." However, if it wasn't going to be "right for the story," the never-ending breadcrumbs shouldn't exist.

Don't kiss someone having a panic attack

"Teen Wolf" has a nasty habit of romanticizing mental health struggles. In Season 3, Stiles has a panic attack in the halls of Beacon Hills High, and Lydia (Holland Roden) tries to snap him out of it with a kiss. However, kissing someone is the last thing you should do when someone has a panic attack. How can someone give consent when they can barely breathe? That's a great way to up someone's anxiety and panic response when their emotions are already heightened. Even touching someone in that state can be a massive trigger. And while some people with anxiety do respond to touch as a comfort during a panic attack, that needs to be a discussion ahead of time. 

Granted, this isn't really Lydia's fault because she doesn't know better and just wants to help. But the moment provided a great opening to have an onscreen discussion on the do's and don'ts of approaching someone having a panic attack. Instead, the scene turns someone's mental health struggle into a romantic meet-cute that doesn't lead anywhere until the final season. Not only is it uncool that Lydia would toy with Stiles' feelings for her in his most vulnerable moment, but the sequence also baited the Stydia fandom into thinking their ship was finally taking off — only to have it wholly ignored once more.

Representation? What representation?

In the first half of the series, almost all BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters get written out or killed off, leading to an ever-revolving slate of main characters and guest stars while the show failed to provide significant representation. "Teen Wolf" slowly wrote out Kira (Arden Cho) to give more screen time to boring villains like Theo (Cody Christian), even though Cho wanted to continue on in the series — just as her arc was getting good. This dismissive treatment led to a pretty messy departure from the show that continued into the casting for the follow-up film. According to Cho (via Deadline) she was offered half of the salary as her co-stars for the "Teen Wolf" movie. 

In addition to Kira, the series also ditched Danny (Keahu Kahuanui), one of the only queer characters, right after fans found out that he knew about the werewolves in Beacon Hills all along. What could have been a fascinating story arc was discarded simply because the show didn't see his worth as a character after he and Ethan (Charlie Carver) broke up — despite Danny appearing on the show from the very beginning. 

During the early seasons of "Teen Wolf," actor departures like Crystal Reed, Daniel Sharman, and Tyler Hoechlin later on plagued the show. So why would they cut out POC and queer characters whose actors actually want to stay on the series? Even worse, many POC characters just stopped appearing randomly and never received closure or a tied-up storyline. For instance, after appearing in almost 20 episodes, Braeden (Meagan Tandy) is suddenly and inexplicably nowhere to be found. There are enough real-world circumstances that can alter a cast list without writing out almost every diverse storyline and character. 

The Kate of it all

Given the overwhelming evidence that Derek was 16 at the time, it's clear that Kate manipulated and abused a young Derek in their "relationship" when she was a fully grown (homicidal) woman. After seducing Derek into thinking she loved him, Kate burned his house down with his family inside. 

The age of consent in California is 18, making any Kate's sexual relationship with Derek statutory rape. To make matters more disturbing, Kate brags about her actions to a half-naked adult Derek while she tortures him with electrocution. During this Season 1 scene, she horrifically muses, "This one grew up in all the right places. I don't know whether to kill it or ... lick it." Derek isn't the only underage character Kate leers at, however. She comments about Jackson (Colton Haynes) and Scott and makes out with a de-aged Derek — a lovely parting gift to retraumatize him when he returns to his adult self.

Beyond the fact that the show needs to stop sexualizing characters in their most vulnerable moments, the true depth of awfulness of that situation is never really addressed. The show never allows Derek to work through any of this trauma, and he continually seeks out women who use and abuse him. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Gary Sue of MTV

There are plenty of noble and truly selfless characters in "Teen Wolf" and none of them are named Scott McCall (Posey). He suffers from a significant case of main character syndrome and cements his status as a total Gary Sue throughout the entire show. Despite barely lifting a claw as his friends die for him, Scott somehow becomes a magical alpha — which apparently only happens to those truly deserving — in Season 3.

It's unclear how Scott is considered a good leader when in Season 2, he switches Gerard's medicine with mountain ash, using Derek's bite to kill Gerard without telling him first. Not only does he force Derek to commit murder without his consent, but he lets Derek think he's about to die in the process. Given that Gerard and Kate were the masterminds behind Derek's family burning alive, he has the right to get clued into a plan that involves him. That same season, Scott also decides to beat up Isaac (Daniel Sharman) — a victim of his father's domestic violence his whole life – for having a crush on Allison. Yet Scott himself made a move on Lydia, Stiles' long-time crush, back in Season 1.

Between abandoning his best friend anytime he gets a girlfriend, frequently playing the victim, and selfishly acting on his whims no matter who he hurts in the process, Scott isn't even friendship goals, let alone alpha goals. To cap off Scott's self-absorbed mentality, he's too busy judging everyone else for their actions to hold himself accountable for his own. For someone who can barely figure his own life out, Scott has no business holding the fate of fellow teenagers in his hands, and plenty die due to his poor and self-centered leadership.

Beacon Hills' most confusing couple

After disappearing for years, Jackson comes back to the show for the last two episodes and is somehow dating Ethan — someone he never even met before Colton Haynes left the show. Of course, the decision followed Haynes' own coming-out, which impacted his career, as he noted in a Vulture essay. The decision to give Jackson a boyfriend was a lovely nod to Haynes himself, and not all that out of left field for his character, known for deploying lines like, "I'm everyone's type." However, the series missed yet another opportunity to include bisexual representation.

Jackson's love for Lydia singlehandedly saves the teenager during his Kanima days, and there's no need to erase that part of his life to give him a boyfriend, especially when it makes zero sense plot-wise. It's Willow from "Buffy" all over again, except Joss Whedon's excuse that networks won't allow bisexual characters doesn't quite hold up over a decade later. Lydia's line, "I thought you'd never figure it out," also comes out of nowhere given that she frequently used sex to manipulate him during their toxic relationship.

Meanwhile, Jackson definitely had some vibes with his best friend Danny in the early seasons. Having them couple up would have been the perfect way to give closure to a character who was unceremoniously written off. Jackson's boyfriend should have been someone new or Danny. After all, Ethan is Danny's ex, which adds insult to injury on a very forced plotline.

Malia graduates

Imagine spending nearly your entire childhood and teenage years stuck as a coyote in the forest and then graduating high school in just a couple of years. Malia has lived almost a decade as an animal, from the time she was around 8 all the way past her 16th birthday. Not only has she missed out on the developing the necessary social skills that come from being around other people, but she's missed out on an education, too.

For all intents and purposes, Malia is mentally an 8-year-old, and while the show frequently plays that up for laughs when she struggles with school and says her favorite food is deer, "Teen Wolf" never addresses it seriously. Despite her teenage body, by no means should Malia be hooking up with any of her classmates. There's also no realistic way that she would graduate alongside her peers with eight years of schooling to make up before graduation. On top of being constantly embroiled in supernatural drama, she continually struggles in classes without any significant amount of time to study in the midst of her paranormal extracurricular activities. We never see her working with tutors, either. Maybe her teachers just gave her a pass in the hopes that the pack graduating would mean fewer deaths on school property, and as a result, way less paperwork. 

Romanticizing self-harm

Content Warning: This slide contains discussions of self-harm.

It's well-established that "Teen Wolf" doesn't shine mental health topics in the best (or safest) light. The depiction of self-harm as a strength is one of the show's darker takes. Given that teenagers and young adults are the most at-risk for self-harming (BMC Psychiatry), it's negligent and dangerous to romanticize this behavior in a TV show aimed at the very same audience.

Throughout the show, wolves hammer in the problematic message that hurting yourself makes you stronger as a wolf. Derek teaches Scott to use pain to ground himself, emphasizing the notion that you have to hurt yourself to avoid hurting anyone else. But Derek isn't the only one pushing this idea. Wolves on "Teen Wolf" frequently injure themselves to control their emotions. Even after Scott discovers that finding someone he loves to anchor him is a more successful tool than pain, he still occasionally hurts himself during his more out-of-control moments. Braedan definitely needs to conduct one-on-one therapy sessions with the adolescent wolves on the show (and Derek) to teach them some less destructive coping mechanisms. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Victoria hunts children

Families who kill teenagers together stay together, apparently. The Argents have been in the hunting game since the days of the Maid of Gevaudan in the 1700s, but hunting was simpler then. In modern days, plenty of innocent people and kids get a werewolf bite and they don't all take a homicidal path. Lydia says it best — "Not all monsters do monstrous things."

Despite most wolves minding their own business and trying to live, members of the family like Kate and Gerard (Michael Hogan) frequently ignore their family's supposed code of ethics and hunt down innocent wolves who don't harm humans. Though Victoria (Eaddy Mays) is an Argent by marriage and not blood, she picks up where Kate left off in trying to murder teenagers. As soon as she discovers that Scott is dating her daughter, she concocts a plot to murder him in cold blood. Not only does Victoria run him over with an SUV, but she uses wolfsbane to make him weak. Of course, Derek ends up biting her and turning her into the very creature she despises. Victoria asks Chris (JR Bourne) to kill her without saying goodbye to her daughter, as she considers this preferable to becoming a wolf.

Now, if the show painted Victoria as a villain, that would be one thing. But despite everything she'd done, Allison (Reed) turns her into a martyr and completely destroys her character in the process of a quest for revenge against Derek, whose only crime in this instance was saving her boyfriend's life. All in all, not a great message.

Derek Hale: The Beacon Hills lurker

When it comes to Beacon Hills stranger danger vibes, no one accomplishes this quite as well as Derek Hale. Derek frequently lurks outside of Beacon Hills High, watching and glaring at the underaged students. There's no denying that the Beacon Hills High staff are chronically negligent, but he should have definitely received a talking-to by teachers or the sheriff. You can't just hang out and watch kids at a high school.

There's also the argument that his choice of turning vulnerable teenagers into werewolves is manipulative, and it ends up condemning quite a few of them to death. Derek was born a wolf and had no choice in immersing himself in the world of hunters and the paranormal. Yet Derek, more than anyone, knows the price that often comes with being a wolf. He watched Kate burn his entire family alive, after all. But when it comes to teens struggling with the myriad of teen problems, who among them would say "no" to an adult who claims to have all of the answers wrapped up in a magic bow? Neither Erica (Erica Reyes) nor Boyd (Sinqua Walls) are mature enough to make that call, especially since Derek omits a few key details about the danger, and they pay for it with their lives.

In a similar vein, Derek's make out scene with Erica is highly uncomfortable. Derek is both her alpha and an adult. Despite kissing back for way too long, Derek decides to play an unnerving matchmaker and say, "I have someone else in mind for you." Derek needs to make some friends his age, for real.