Derek Hale

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Character
Name: Derek Hale
Occupation: werewolf
Title/Rank: Beta (Former Alpha)
Location: Beacon Hills, CA
Status: alive
Relationships: Peter Hale (uncle), Laura Hale (sister - dead), Cora Hale (sister), Talia Hale (mother - deceased)
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Other: Played by actor Tyler Hoechlin, Young Derek is played by Ian Nelson
DerekHale.jpg
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Derek is a popular character on the MTV show Teen Wolf.

Canon Background

Derek was born a werewolf in a family of werewolves. The first season provides tantalizing hints about his backstory: When he was 15 or 16 (the show is vague and contradictory regarding ages[1]), he fell in love with Kate Argent, a 20-something hunter who, it is implied, was using him to achieve her ultimate goal of burning down his family's house with his family still inside. The only survivors were Derek, his sister Laura, and his uncle Peter. The third season reveals another survivor--a younger sister, Cora Hale--and a previous love interest for Derek--Paige, a girl his own age (who dies, for extra sadness points).

After the tragedy he and his sister (who became the Alpha) moved away, while his uncle Peter (who suffered a lot of injuries) was left in the Beacon Hills hospital.

The show is set six years later, when Derek has returned to Beacon Hills, looking for his sister, who had decided to come back to investigate the fire. At the end of season 1, he becomes the Alpha.

Fan Responses and Meta

Many (maybe even a majority) of fans are convinced that he was never supposed to become the Alpha[2] in the first place and even though he's trying to look like an expert on the subject, he's not. Fans also speculate about Derek's anchor, which was stated on the show to be anger[3]. The exploration of Derek's anchor, as well as its evolution, is sometimes part of fanfiction where Derek plays a prominent role.

Common Pairings

The most popular Derek pairing is Derek/Stiles, also known as Sterek. There are also fics featuring Derek/Kate, based on their past canonical relationship. Derek/Lydia and Derek/Isaac are also popular pairings.

Fanon and Common Tropes in Fanworks

The show often places Derek in negative light (often despite of, not because of, his actions), purposefully turning him into something of an anti-hero[4] and the fandom embraced that characterization almost without question.

Many gifs circulating on Tumblr wallow in the sadness of his 100% canon tragic backstory. For example.

Fans have thoroughly explored the psychological effects of Derek's teenage self being taken advantage of by an older woman. A related issue that is addressed in some fanfic is how losing his entire support structure at a young age would not only affect him emotionally, but also prevent him from gaining access to important werewolf-specific information.[5]

As a werewolf character, Derek is also subject to the elaborate werewolf fanon that was almost entirely invented by fans and bears little relation to what is revealed on the show.

Inheritance

The show does not provide any information about Derek's exact age, educational attainment, or financial status, but he is shown driving a very expensive car (a Camero) and hanging around a high school during the day. It is generally assumed that he has no job, and Tyler Hoechlin's (the actor who plays Derek) speculation that he must live off his family's life insurance policy[citation needed] has been accepted as fanon by many fans. A lot of fanfic also assumes that Derek inherited the car from Laura.

Standard of Living

In the first season Derek is seen lurking around the burned-out shell of his family's house, so fandom assumes that he lives there, but that there is no electricity or running water. Fluffier stories may feature his new pack helping him renovate the house. Other stories show him bathing in a creek or in the rain (e.g. Sluice by GoddessofBirth).

Derek eventually gets a loft in an old abandoned-looking building; as of season four it's been made clear he owns to building. Derek's loft has been used extensively in fanworks.

Sexual History

It's rare that a fanfic addressing Derek's sexual history doesn't mention Kate. Some fanfics speculate that because of Kate he subsequently became sexually promiscuous as a form of self-punishment, while others assume that he swore off sex entirely. The appeal of the Secret Virgin trope has resulted in stories where other characters expect Derek to be sexually experienced ... and he isn't. For example, see Jinx Removing by DevilDoll. The few Teen Wolf stories in which Derek is asexual (see the AO3 tag) talk about his confusion over Kate as well.

Trust Issues

Derek's trust issues tie in with his sexual history. As a result of his experience with Kate and what happened to his family it is a widely held fandom belief that Derek does not trust people. This is supported in canon by his refusal to trust people numerous times including Scott. It's usually counted as a major milestone, especially in fic, when Derek decides to trust someone.

Derek as the Alpha

See also: Failwolf Friday

When it comes to Derek's characterizations as Alpha, there are two distinct ways fans have been handling it. In the first approach — most common in fanworks created during the hiatus between season 1 and season 2 — Derek is described as a competent and caring Alpha (based on the fact that he's a born werewolf and is "supposed to" know what he's doing); the second approach shows Derek being lost and complete crap at anything Alpha-related (this based heavily on Derek's canon portrayal in season 2). The latter is often combined with Derek getting help from his love interest (most often Stiles) in making the Pack functional and becoming a better, more understanding Alpha.

Relationship with Scott

Derek and Scott have turbulent relationship in canon and this is reflected in fandom. They can be at odds a lot of the time and the relationship morphs into a grudging mentor relationship. Some fans have written meta on the subject of Derek's and Scott's differing approach towards being a werewolf and why it might be putting them at odds[6].

Derek/Scott is also a somewhat popular slash pairing.

Sourwolf and Grumpy Cat

Tumblr-style analysis of Derek's characterization, by stereksextape.

In fanworks, Derek is often portrayed as grumpy, or at least other characters interpret his mood that way. Stiles Stilinski refers to Derek as a "sourwolf" in one episode, but in fanfic Stiles calls him a sourwolf all the time.

On Tumblr, the Grumpy Cat meme inspired comparisons to Derek starting within a day of the original Reddit post on September 22, 2012.[7] The "Derek Hale is the grumpy cat" photoset, posted three days later by stereksextape, has become legendary.[8] The post had almost 25,000 notes as of March 26, 2013 and was retweeted by one of the actors on the show.[9] See also I'm the Alpha Meow (posted September 27, 2012) and Lost Sourwolf Comic-Con flyer (posted October 12, 2013).

New York

Common fanon holds that Derek and Laura moved to New York after the fire, and backstory fics or canon AUs are often set there.

Full Wolf Transformation

Derek being able to transform into a real wolf has been a popular trope in fandom for a long time. It became canon at the end of season four. This marks one of a few times that a fandom trope actually became canon on this show.

Example Fanworks

Fanfic

Gen

  • Dreams and Practicality by VelvetMace. Derek wants Stiles in his pack and he's not taking "no" for an answer. Stiles does the one thing he's been told never to do: run away from a werewolf. Words: 15142
  • Is This A Raid? by entanglednow. "He has no self-control," Derek snaps. "Maybe I don't want self-control," Erica protests. "Maybe I want chips." Words: 5889
  • Light and Paper Thin by cheesewithmy. It’s funny, because when Derek contemplated being body-swapped growing up (after what happened to Aunt Julianne and Ms. Fuzzy Whiskers III, everyone thought about it at least once or twice) he’d always assumed he’d loathe it. Words: 5338
  • The Monster In The Tale by rufflefeather. Derek is no one's responsible driver so he's annoyed when Stiles calls him at three in the morning, asking for a pick-up. He doesn't expect to find him in a pool of blood. Words: 2136

Derek/Stiles

Allison/Derek/Stiles

  • Learning To Swim series by tsukinofaerii. Investigating whatever's in the water of Beacon Lake should have been an easy way to pass the summer. Should have been. But one dip in the lake is all it takes to set off a reaction that lands Allison, Derek and Stiles neck-deep in hot water. And Scott? Scott has the world's worst timing.
  • Love Songs For The Desperate And Cunning by Febricant. Allison is the first person he sees when he gets back. Words: 3260

Derek/Erica/Stiles

  • Green Eyed by queenitsy. Five times Stiles and Erica made Derek jealous, and one time they didn't. Words: 7511.
  • Let Me Buy You Desire by agirlnamedfia. They don't talk about it, is the thing. Stiles goes to the pack meetings flushed and with his heart racing, unable to look anyone in the eye. Words: 11471

Derek/Isaac/Stiles

  • From Some Other Beginning’s End by lorax. Isaac Lahey takes a road trip that leads away from one love and toward another. Derek drives, and Stiles calls shotgun. Words: 28876
  • I Need Your Touch by Emeraldawn. So being cursed by a witch…not so bad. Especially when that curse had you attached to two hot werewolves. Seems like Stiles’ only problem is now the curse of the impromptu erection. Words: 11906

Derek/O.C

CHAOS WITHIN by alphagurl24. Cassidy Davis was just an ordinary girl, that was until her life was turned upside down by all the supernatural mayhem Beacon Hills has to offer, it doesn't help that some tall and dark stranger sporting a leather shows up saying he's trying to help while looking impossibly attractive. Will she survive the year or will she be just another casualty of the Chaos Within Beacon Hills... Words: 16572

MONSTER WITHIN by alphagurl24. Ordinary girl, Supernatural friends. Cassidy Davis lived through the wrath of the vengeful Alpha Peter Hale, but now that he's gone and Derek is the new Alpha in town Cassidy feels to some extent that she and her friends are now safe. But then again this is Beacon Hills and things are never safe especially now that their is a reptilian with razor sharp claws which leak venom on the loose who seems to be killing people for no apparent reason. Cassidy and Derek grow closer but as they do so Scott and Alison's relationship seems to be crumbling while Jackson and Lydia's becomes demolished and unfortunately for Stiles he's left on the sidelines watching all this play out. Will Cassidy and her friends be able to survive the Monster Within themselves... Words:6759

Fanart

Fanvids

Meta

Fannish Resources


References

  1. And fans have opinions about this. For example, see hungrylikethewolfie's July 28, 2013 Tumblr post: "You’ve given two of your characters a traumatic/abusive backstory in which their relative ages is incredibly important. To wit: removing the other elements (the fire and the death of the Hales) and leaving only the relationship itself, 22-year-old Kate Argent seducing a 15-year-old high-school sophomore Derek Hale is significantly skeezier than 22-year-old Kate Argent seducing an 18-year-old graduating senior Derek Hale. It’s especially relevant given that you have had Derek choose high-school teenagers himself when selecting his pack, and even more so when you consider his methods when seducing Erica into taking the bite."
  2. Just some Teen Wolf Alpha musings..., teenwolfmeta Tumblr, last accessed January 11th, 2013.
  3. Derek's Anchor by Tumblr user mumblemoose speculated Derek's anchor might actually be guilt
  4. Why is Derek an anti-hero?, cupidsbow, last accessed January 11th, 2013.
  5. At least one story suggests that because he lost his family so young, he might not have been told about Knotting.
  6. Discussion of Scott and Derek and wolfiness., accessed March 16, 2017
  7. See Grumpy Cat on Wikipedia. See also this September 23, 2012 reblog of teddums' now deleted Derek reblog. (The Tumblr post has 2085 notes as of October 23, 2013.)
  8. Copies of the photoset were available at the craft table at Muskrat Jamboree 2013, and someone definitely used them.--user:aethel, 28 March 2013
  9. See obriens' Tumblr screencap of the tweet (which had 8712 notes of its own as of 19 May 2013) here. See the original tweet by Colton Haynes (with over 1000 retweets) on October 3, 2013 here and another joking reference in December here.