Scott Howard is a seventeen-year-old high school student who is sick of being average. Living in a small town, his only claim to popularity is playing on the Beavers; his school's basketball team (which is very unsuccessful) and fawning after his crush Pamela Wells, who is dating his rival Mick. Mick plays for the Dragons, an opposing team who tends to bully Scott on the court. Completely oblivious to his best friend Boof's affections, he constantly rebuffs her advances due to their history together.
After a series of startling changes such as long hair suddenly sprouting, hands suddenly getting hairy, he decides to quit the team, but his coach changes his mind. Scoring a keg with his friend Stiles for a party, Scott and Boof end up alone in a closet and Scott gets rough when they begin making out, accidentally clawing Boof's back. When he returns home, he undergoes a strange transformation and discovers he is a werewolf. His father Harold confronts him and reveals he too is a werewolf, and that he'd hoped Scott wouldn't inherit the curse because "sometimes it skips a generation".
Scott reveals his secret to Stiles, who agrees to keep it a secret, but when Scott becomes stressed on the court at the next basketball game, he becomes the wolf and helps win their first game in three years. This has an unexpected result of fame and popularity as the high school is overwhelmed with "Wolf Fever", which quickly alienates Scott from Boof and from his teammates as he begins to hog the ball during games.
Stiles merchandises "Teen Wolf" paraphernalia and Pamela finally begins paying attention to Scott. After he gets a role as a 'werewolf cavalryman' in the school play alongside her, she comes onto him in the dressing room and the two have sex. Later, after a date set up to intentionally make Mick jealous, Pamela tells Scott that she's still seeing him and is not interested in Scott as a boyfriend, much to his disappointment. Harold tells Scott he is responsible for vice principal Rusty Thorne breathing down his neck, due to a scare he'd given him when he was in high school, and advises him to be himself and not the wolf.
With the upcoming spring dance, Boof agrees to go with Scott, but only if he goes as himself, not the Wolf. Scott goes by himself as the Wolf and has a great time. Boof, however, isn't impressed. She takes Scott out into the hallway and they kiss, which turns Scott back into himself. When they return to the dance, everyone pays attention to him, including Pamela. Mick gets upset and taunts Scott until the Wolf comes out and attacks him. His fans then turn on him and he runs out right into Thorne, who threatens to expel Scott from school. Harold appears and after sending Scott home, tells Thorne to back off. He then reminds Thorne of what he is capable of by leaning into him and growling, causing the Vice Principal to pee himself.
Scott renounces using the wolf all the time, quitting the play and the basketball team, who have come to expect it. During the championship game, Scott arrives and rallies his teammates to play without the wolf in order to win the game. Despite the odds, the team begins to play together and they make ground against the Dragons. During the final quarter, behind by one point, Scott is fouled by Mick at the buzzer. He makes both shots, winning the game and the championship to everyone's delight. Brushing past Pamela, Scott kisses Boof as his father comes down and hugs the two of them. Mick tells Pamela that they should leave, but she tells him to "drop dead" and storms off while everyone else celebrates the victory.Michael J. Fox as Scott Howard
Lorie Griffin as Pamela Wells
James Hampton as Harold Howard
Susan Ursitti as Lisa "Boof" Marconi
Jerry Levine as Rupert "Stiles" Stilinski
Matt Adler as Lewis
Jim McKrell as Vice Principal Rusty Thorne
Mark Arnold as Mick McAllister
Jay Tarses as Coach Bobby Finstock
Mark Holton as Chubby
Teen Wolf was one of the first scripts written by Jeph Loeb. Loeb was hired to write it because the studio, after the surprising success of the film Valley Girl, wanted to make a comedy that would cost almost nothing (the production costs amounted to about $1 million) and take very little time to film. The project came together when Michael J. Fox accepted the lead role and his Family Ties co-star Meredith Baxter-Birney became pregnant, which created a delay in the show's filming that allowed Fox time to complete filming and then return to his TV show.
The beaver mascot logo used in the film was the Oregon State University Beavers's logo, in use by the university at that time.
Released on August 23, 1985, Teen Wolf debuted at No. 2 in its opening weekend, behind Back to the Future (also starring Michael J. Fox). After its initial run, the film grossed $33,086,661 domestically, with a worldwide gross of about $80 million.
Despite its commercial success, the film's critical reception was at best mixed. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 47% of 19 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 4.8 out of 10. On Metacritic, the film has a 25 out of 100 rating based on 5 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave the film a negative review calling it "aggressively boring". He went on to say that "the film is overacted by everybody except Mr. Fox, who is seen to far better advantage in Back to the Future."
Teen Wolf was first released on DVD via MGM in a "Double Feature" pack with its sequel Teen Wolf Too on August 27, 2002. The film was later released on Blu-ray on March 29, 2011. The only special feature available on any of the releases is the film's theatrical trailer. The film was reissued on Blu-ray Disc on August 8 2017 by Scream! Factory, with a remastered transfer and a new "making of" featurette.
The film was followed by a cartoon spin-off in 1986, and a sequel in 1987 titled Teen Wolf Too, with Jason Bateman starring as Todd Howard, Scott's cousin. A second sequel starring Alyssa Milano was planned, but never filmed. Another female version of Teen Wolf was in the works that later developed into 1989's Teen Witch.
In June 2009, MTV announced that they would be adapting Teen Wolf into a television series "with a greater emphasis on romance, horror and werewolf mythology". It was created by Jeff Davis. Australian director Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) directed the pilot (and several succeeding episodes) of the television series. The first episode for the new MTV series aired on June 5, 2011. It is currently in its sixth and final season.