Teen Wolf Chat: The Enduring Importance of Stiles

Teen Wolf Season 3 (11)

Stiles could have been nothing more than a stock character on Teen Wolf – the best friend of the hero, the comic relief and the underdog we root for in the final battle. That character, the one he could have been, would probably have been killed off by now. But Stiles lives on, and he’s probably (definitely) the most beloved character on the show.

His popularity and that of actor Dylan O’Brien eclipses everything and, if you were going to start predicting who might exit the series at the end of season four, then pretty much no one would have him on their list. But the sad thing is, as mere fans we can’t predict who’s going to leave or when, and Stiles is just as expendable as everyone else in the show’s universe.

What would happen to Teen Wolf without him? What would that show look like? As popular as he is, Stiles is not the only thing we all love about the show and, should he disappear, there would be plenty left to tune in for. But it would also be a significantly different series, with a shift in tone and dynamics that even outweighs the transition between seasons three and four following Alison’s death.

On supernatural teen shows like this, the token human isn’t supposed to be as important as Stiles has become. Take Matt from The Vampire Diaries, for example. The writers continuously use him as a mortal, vulnerable pawn that can be put in danger in a way that the vampires, werewolves, hunters and witches just can’t. But if he died, it wouldn’t impact what the show fundamentally is as much as just provide some nice drama.

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The same should apply to Stiles, but he has since been elevated above that role. It started happening in the earlier seasons, but last year really cemented him as the hero of the story. Scott has his fans and, as the titular teen wolf, he’s obviously an integral part of the show, but he largely took a back seat last year to make room for Stiles as both hero and villain.

He may end up becoming a werewolf (or something else) down the road, but it’s his role as the human in a group of creatures is what makes him special. Teen Wolf has always been about grounding its fantastic ideas in real, human emotions and ideals – taking its lead from great shows of the past such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and Stiles is a large part of what makes that possible.

Without him, part of that grounding would be lost, and we would just be watching a show about all-powerful creatures wrestling with their natures. There’s a place on television for that show, but it’s not Teen Wolf. We need that human influence to remind us of the stakes. It’s why he and Malia are proving to be a compelling watch, why he and Lydia’s friendship has endured and why Scott hasn’t yet turned full-Alpha-crazy.

The main issue is Dylan O’Brien’s imminent threat of mainstream success, which no fan in their right mind would begrudge him. Along with many of the other stars of the show, he is always on the brink of being noticed and, sad as it may be, a huge box office hit (we hope) like The Maze Runner would most likely take him away from Beacon Hills.

The turnover on this show is much higher than the norm, and there’s a danger that outside forces will, yet again, unceremoniously remove a much-loved character from the equation.

While I hope the film is a big hit and leads to a massive franchise and more movies to come, I can’t help but feel like Teen Wolf would be a poorer show without him. As the show gets more and more ridiculous, as these shows a wont to do, the presence of a character like Stiles just becomes more vital to its DNA. Could it survive his death? Or him moving to London? I’m not sure it could.