Mrs. Intergalactic Gladiator and I just started the third series of Being Human (The UK version) and I’ve been wondering about this more and more. How do you stop lycanthropy?
I’m not asking how do you kill a werewolf. Everyone knows you just get a silver bullet. No problem. I’m asking how do you stop lycanthropy from spreading?
It seems to me that being bitten or scratched by a werewolf would turn the victim into one is a little too easy. What would happen if a werewolf got loose in a modern city? There could easily be thousands of werewolves within a few months. Have those werewolves running around for a year or so and you might have a whole country cursed with it. Add a few years to that, and you could easily have almost the whole planet cursed (there’s your story idea authors, you’re welcome).
In the show, George and most other werewolves he’s met along the way all put a lot of effort into not getting to anyone else. They lock themselves up in cages or find a secluded place in the woods and ring the area with a dead chicken to keep the wolf form chasing the scent. I can’t believe everyone would do that though, what about the werewolves who aren’t so scrupulous? And adding to that, the people cursed have no ability to control the wolf form anyway, so even try as they might, things do happen.
I haven’t seen the show - do they contaminate when they’re not in wolf form?
At any rate, there are lots of diseases that spread by contact with blood - someone unscrupulous could infect tons of people, but they don’t. I guess it helps that if you’ve got a highly contagious disease you often look really sick - big pustules or skins sloughing off or whatever.
On the other hand, would it be so bad to catch the disease? One night a month you have to chain yourself up, but you also are nigh-on immortal.
I haven’t seen the show, but if they follow the usual Hollywood version of how a person gets cursed with lycanthropy, the new victim has to survive an attack by an existing lycanthrope who is in wolf form. It isn’t spread by simple contact or blood splatter or the like. So, given that werewolves attack with the goal of killing (and devouring?) their victims, not spreading lycanthropy, not too many victims will survive to become lycanthropes. The spread, therefore, should be pretty slow. Even slower if, as you say, some lycanthropes are taking measure to prevent themselves from passing on the curse.
Right. Most victims of werewolf attacks end up dead, not survivors who are now cursed to become werewolves themselves.
The problem for werewolves that don’t take precautions, is that rampaging around downtown London on a full moon is likely to get you killed. I don’t see how werewolves can keep up a masquerade like vampires do. The whole point of being a werewolf is that you lose control when you turn into a wolf, and unless you take extreme precautions you’re doing to expose yourself to the world very quickly.
Yeah but imagine if that werewolf is scratching and biting its way down the street until it is killed! Next month there’s a dozen or so werewolves running down the streets of London scratching and biting their way as well.
And is it me or is a werewolf scratch just a little too easy to get the curse? A bite I can understand, but “oops, I got a little scratch here” seems just too easy. To become a vampire, there’s (usually) more to it than just getting bitten. With zombies, they’d have to bite you and not eat all your brains. Mmmm, brains…
Yeah, it’s definitely a bite. But that’s a wolf’s main weapon, anyway (doubtless also explaining why werewolves are more common than any of the feline lycanthropes).
The other thing about werewolves, as opposed to, say, vampires, is that they’re inherently scary. If you’re out walking one night and you see a vampire coming the other way, you wouldn’t think anything of it: They look human (and possibly, like very attractive humans). If you see a werewolf, though, even if you don’t believe in supernatural monsters, you’re still going to think it’s a vicious and possibly rabid wolf, and try to get to safety.
Well, I don’t think it’s technically required for the vampire to suck your blood, but that’s like saying it’s not required for a chocolate lover to eat the whole cake. Sure, they could skip it, but that’s the fun part.
Like zombies, in order to reproduce they need to wound but not kill their most dangerous enemy: uninfected humans. Being better hunters and better fighters, they are they are more likely to get the required 1:1 infections:deaths ratio to not get wiped out immediately, but it’s still going to slow them down.
A werewolf spends a lot of their time as a human. This means that the werewolf may try to incapacitate or kill himself to protect other people, and the uninfected will probably start shooting anyone who is wandering around naked the next morning.
And of course, silver. If a human-form werewolf is injured by contact with silver (or maybe by inhaling dust with silver as a component?) and not just by being shot with it, weeding out the infected just became a whole lot easier.
In the Being Human universe, Lycanthropy can also be caught if you are clawed. That’s how both George and Nina caught it. The big thing as many have said, is that most wild animals dont take a swipe at you and move on, and in the show the wolf form is very much a wild animal. If a werewolf attacks, it’s going for the kill. So if one escaped in a city it’s likely that it would attack the first person it came across and kill them. Then, if it’s undisturbed, sit down for breakfast (being nocturnal and all). This gives everyone else time to run and hide, or call the authorities.
It’s a total fanwank, but it’s possible that there are psychological effects that occur to the human form. It may make you prefer isolation, or simply increase your fight/flee response. Making you uncomfortable, and unwelcome, around other humans.
A final possibility is that the vamps controlled the werewolf population. It’s shown that vamps can sense if someones a “lyco”, but it doesn’t work the other way round. And Mitchell is apparently familiar with the vamps “dog fights” that used to be run.
In An American Werewolf in London, the guy that was killed by the werewolf (can’t remember his name – Griffin Dunne played the part) keeps showing up to warn his friend, David, that he will become a werewolf under the full moon, and encourages David to kill himself before then.
In Being Human, IIRC, George tried to suppress his lycanthropic tendencies with tranquilizers, but all that did was bottle them up so they could leak out unexpectedly. It seems to be no only a curse, but one to be ashamed of. Most 'wolves on the show, the ones we’ve seen anyway, take precautions to contain themselves in some way before the full moon.
Traditionally, lycanthropy was not spread through bites. This seems to have been something filmmakers borrowed from vampire lore.
In folklore, most werewolves became werewolves deliberately, though black magic or a pact with Satan. One could also be cursed with lycanthropy due to violation of some taboo. So the only way to stop new werewolves from coming into being would be to stop people from doing things that turned them into werewolves.
Some stories deal with people who were born werewolves, usually because they happened to be born at a time or with physical traits that were considered to have supernatural significance. There’s not much that could be done about that.
I can’t cite this, but several years back I read a scholarly book about werewolf folklore and learned that by the 1500s there was a belief that werewolves didn’t really change from men into wolves. It was just an illusion created by Satan. I do mean illusion and not delusion, as it was believed that sane, honest people could witness the seeming transformation of a werewolf.