The pack is back, baby! MTV’s supernatural teen soap Teen Wolf took its final bow in 2017 but like so many of its characters, it has risen from the dead in the form of Teen Wolf: The Movie, which hits Paramount+ on January 26. Since Jeff Davis’ series was originally adapted from the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox, it all feels satisfyingly full circle.
For six seasons, kind-hearted alpha teen werewolf Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) and his loyal pack of fellow werewolves (some of the teen variety, some not), chimeras, a banshee, a kitsune, one or two reformed werewolf hunters, and yes, most importantly, a Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), fought off formidable — and, many times downright frightening — foes in an effort to keep their town of Beacon Hills, and each other, safe.
But it’s been almost six years since those adventures that were somehow both wildly supernatural and steeped in some deep human emotion, and even the biggest of Teen Wolf fans might need a bit of a refresher before diving back into that world. That’s where we come in. Below, find a list of 10 essential Teen Wolf episodes — including some of the best episodes over the show’s run as well as some of the episodes most important to the overall mythology — to help remind you of some major McCall Pack milestones and exactly where we left things off. Fire up your blue jeep, it’s time to head back to Beacon Hills.
Teen Wolf’s first episode is surprisingly solid as far as pilots go; still, Episode 2 gives you a perfect lay of the land without feeling like all setup. As Scott figures out how to control his new werewolf powers, wonders how much he can trust the mysterious, possibly killer werewolf Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), and grapples with the fact that he’s in love with a girl who hails from a family of werewolf hunters, we get a great feel for the dynamics among our main group at the start of their journey. Scott and Stiles’ chemistry — their friendship is the real foundation of this entire series — is there from the beginning, as is Stiles’ unrequited love for Lydia (Holland Roden), and Scott and Allison’s (Crystal Reed) immediate connection. A lot of the show’s bigger mythology is introduced or at least hinted at here, including that ever-present spiral marking and the all-important wolf’s bane.
Season 1 goes out with a bang — and by “bang,” we mean two throat slashings! In the finale, the Hale/Argent drama comes to a head. Allison’s Aunt Kate (Jill Wagner), who had previously burned almost the entire Hale family alive (among other things) gets her throat slashed by Derek’s Uncle Peter (Ian Bohen) in an act of revenge. Then, in a bid to become an alpha, Derek turns on his uncle and slashes Peter’s throat. Well, it’s less “slashing” and more “ripping out with his bare werewolf claws,” but you get the picture. That guy, who has been wreaking havoc around Beacon Hills for weeks, had it coming. Elsewhere: This episode also gives us the first hints that there’s something strange going on with Lydia and, since Allison learns the truth about Scott, their Romeo/Juliet romance really kicks off in earnest.
The later seasons of Teen Wolf are littered with episodes that take whatever supernatural terror the gang is facing at the moment and use it to do some emotional character development, but that neat little trick debuts in “Party Guessed." In the middle of the Kanima storyline (turns out Jackson, played by Colton Haynes, is a Kanima), Lydia, who still hasn’t figured out that — spoiler alert! — she’s a banshee, is being increasingly manipulated by a dead Peter Hale. She poisons everyone at her birthday party with wolf’s bane, which leads to some moving and revealing hallucinations for Scott, Allison, and Stiles. With them distracted, Peter gets Lydia to resurrect him from the dead — no big deal. Oh, and Allison’s dad helps Allison’s mom kill herself because she’s been bitten by a werewolf… and that’s the family code. The scene in which Allison learns about her mother’s death is heart-wrenching.
In this harrowing hour, we learn how and why creepy photographer Matt (Stephen Ford) is using Kanima Jackson to murder a whole bunch of innocent people in Beacon Hills. Matt and the Kanima take Scott, Stiles, Sheriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby), and Melissa McCall (Melissa Ponzio) hostage at the police station, which is where Melissa finally learns about her son’s werewolf status (it winds up being a good thing since they’ll need her help at the hospital pretty often). Elsewhere, Gerard Argent (Michael Hogan) exploits his granddaughter’s grief and anger over her mother’s death to push Allison into becoming a lethal, crossbow-wielding hunter (again, this winds up being a good thing). It’s all capital-I Intense.
It’s a tale as old as time: A nice English teacher comes to town and turns out to be an all-powerful druid witch lady making ritual human sacrifices. You know, that old hat. By this episode, Jennifer (Haley Webb) has her final three victims held captive: Melissa McCall, Sheriff Stilinski, and Chris Argent (JR Bourne). The parents! Someone needs to save the parents!
In a moving conclusion, Scott, Stiles, and Allison decide to pseudo-sacrifice themselves by “dying” for a little while in order to locate their parents. But there’s a lot more going on in this episode: Derek gives up his alpha powers to save his long-lost sister just as he’s going to have to battle super-alpha Deucalion (Gideon Emery). Peter also teaches us that werewolf claws can steal and hold memories; we learn a lot about the Nemeton tree, which is linked to a whole lot of supernatural chaos in the future; and we get the iconic Stiles/Lydia locker room kiss. Phew, that’s exhausting.
Season 3B is Teen Wolf at its absolute best. The Nogitsune, a trickster fox spirit that seeks to create chaos and strife, possesses Stiles, turning him into the truly evil Void Stiles, and the gang has to figure out how to kill the spirit without killing their friend. In “De-Void,” Scott and Lydia journey into Stiles’ mind in an attempt to free him. It works, but it winds up playing right into the Nogitsune’s hands. It’s also a little too late: The seeds of chaos Void Stiles has sown begin to play out in some intensely distressing ways. Seeing as how the Nogitsune features heavily in the Teen Wolf: The Movie trailer, this episode might be a good one to revisit.
You don’t think a series based on a cheesy ’80s movie is going to make you sob, but then you get to episodes like “Insatiable.” Now separate from Stiles, Void Stiles has amped up his game of chaos and it has dire consequences: Allison Argent dies in Scott’s arms. It’s shocking and gutting, and do not even get us started on the moment when Chris Argent realizes his daughter, who is a freaking hero, is dead. While this episode remains emblazoned in any Teen Wolf fan’s mind, it, too, might be an important one to refamiliarize yourself with since Allison is returning in some form in Teen Wolf: The Movie.
Only Teen Wolf could take what is at its core mostly a clip show of an episode and make it pack an intensely emotional punch. We’re deep into season 6A’s storyline about Ghost Riders from the Wild Hunt erasing people — and eventually Beacon Hills itself — from reality and here, Scott, Lydia, and Malia (Shelley Hennig) race to figure out a way to remember an erased Stiles in an effort to save him. Each gets time to relive some of their most important moments with Stiles, and some of the most memorable moments of the entire series (Stiles saving Scott from burning himself alive in “Motel California”? Be still my heart!). Plus, you get a subplot that provides a nice encapsulation of the complicated relationship between baby werewolf Liam (Dylan Sprayberry) and sometimes evil, always douchey chimera Theo (Cody Christian).
“Riders on the Storm” provides a gripping end to the Wild Hunt storyline with a little of everything: tear-inducing reunions, a Peter Hale redemption arc, a subplot that might make you care about the junior members of the pack, Sheriff Stilinski doing Hot Dad stuff, and a Nazi werewolf(?). And some Very! Good! Kissing! Should this have been the conclusion of the entire series? Possibly! It wrapped up every main character’s storyline, provided a whole heap of satisfying emotional payoff (Stiles & Lydia forever), and even gave us Scott and Stiles riding off into the sunset one last time before heading to college. What more do you need, honestly?
Well, it’s a real family reunion here in the Teen Wolf series finale. And that’s not just because both Stiles and Derek make their long awaited returns to help their friends one last time — a bunch of baddies from seasons past make appearances, too. Since ultimate werewolf hunter — and man who just will not die — Gerard Argent decides to wage war on Scott’s pack with help from the Anuk-Ite, a shapeshifter that feeds off people’s fears, Scott and friends are confronted by some familiar and horrifying faces. It’s a nice little wrap-up of the past six seasons that ends a few years in the future, in which we learn that the pack is still intact and still dealing with supernatural shenanigans, but doing it, as always, together. Plus, Stiles’ jeep is still in one piece, so that’s nice.
Maggie Fremont is a freelance writer covering all things TV. Her work can be found on Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and more.