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Pairing: Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski
Alternative name(s): Sterek, Stiles/Derek
Gender category: m/m
Fandom: Teen Wolf
Canonical?: sort of
Prevalence: juggernaut pairing - most popular slash pairing
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Derek/Stiles is the most popular slash pairing in Teen Wolf fandom[1] and an OTP for many Teen Wolf fans. The show was known for shirtless men and gay-friendly themes, which contributed to "Sterek" becoming popular quickly. Among a plethora of possible slash ships, it's worth noting that for at least the first two seasons, Stiles and Derek were the only two male leads in the show who were not in a canon romantic relationship. Stiles is the comedic sidekick and Derek is the mysterious rival/frenemy. Partially because of this, most Sterek fans believe their interactions are the most enjoyable parts of the show.

The showrunners and actors were very aware of Sterek.

In January 2023, the pairing became semi-canon (kind of) in the Teen Wolf movie in a somewhat convoluted way involving car metaphors, that also resulted in Derek's death. Comparisons with Destiel's surreal canonisation were rampant.


The Stiles/Derek livejournal community was created on August 23, 2011, two and a half months (80 days) after the first episode aired. The Derek/Stiles "monthly thematic multimedia challenge" dreamwidth community was created on January 23, 2012. The first fic labelled Derek/Stiles on AO3 was There's No Place Like Pack by chase_acow, published on June 26, 2011. The Sterek tag on tumblr is fast-paced during seasons, but slows down the rest of the year.

Fandom Secrets graphic expressing surprise at the lack of Derek/Stiles canon interaction

Some fans were drawn to Teen Wolf because of the Derek/Stiles pairing, and were left disappointed that the pairing isn't as developed as the fandom suggests. Both Fail Fandom Anon and Fandom Secrets have discussed this.

No, you're not missing all that much - the main justification is the pool scene in Season 2 in which Stiles spends 2 hours holding Derek up so he doesn't drown. Which, given the fact that Stiles cares about other people (even Derek), isn't really all that substantial. There are also multiple instances of Derek keeping Stiles safe specifically, although again, Derek cares about people and therefore wouldn't want anyone to get hurt.

It's mostly just pretty to look at. :-D That's why I ship it in a purely-fandom context - I don't think it would work at all in canon unless Derek stops throwing Stiles into things.

hahah yeah, I have no problem reading fun, interesting fic about them! I was just surprised by how little canon evidence I saw, given the hubbub about how it was totally canon.[2]


  • In 2015 Sterek was 16th of the top 20 ships reblogged on Tumblr in 2015[3]
  • In 2017 Sterek was number 22 of the top 30 ships reblogged on Tumblr in 2017[4]
  • As of 2018, Derek/Stiles is the third most popular m/m ship on the AO3, tagged in 56k+ works.[5]


TPTB Involvement

From early days, many people working on the show were aware of Sterek. Many fans saw this as a good thing (see below). Some hoped that this meant Sterek might become canon, and a few pushed for it. However, actors' and showrunners' attitudes toward Sterek, as well as fandom's attitudes toward TPTB's attitudes, have shifted over the course of the show. For example, in 2013 actor Tyler Hoechlin seemed pleased to be gifted The Sterek Book, but by 2014 was refusing to sign Sterek fanart at conventions. In 2014, Tyler Posey said in an interview that he thought Sterek was weird—cue Poseygate. Meanwhile, debates about queerbaiting and the fourth wall have been ongoing in the fandom.

Sterek Mentions by TPTB in the Innocent Days of Season Two

Most of the creators and actors on the show have made their presence known online, usually through twitter. Fans have mostly separated into two distinct groups: those who enjoy the attention and encourage the creator-fan interaction, and those who believe fandom is meant for fans alone.

Jeff Davis (Executive Producer and Writer), Dylan O'Brien, and Tyler Hoechlin have all replied to fans on twitter. Jeff Davis has tweeted about Sterek several times: he is aware of Sterek, has read the Sterek tag on tumblr, is figuring out what Sterek means, and there will definitely be more scenes between Stiles and Derek. Jeff has mentioned That is actually a really good idea lol to someone's suggestion "so one type of wofsbane can make a wolf horny? (how sterek can happens :P)".

Dylan O'Brien tweeted that he was tickling Hoechlin behind the cage, he licked Hoechlin's abs, and the headbash was only on the last take. Other cast members have tweeted about Sterek: Colton Haynes.

During a Teen Wolf post-episode 2x06 "Frenemy" livestream, galaxy-lights asked "best bromance in the show?" Holland: "Come on, Dylan and Tyler!" Keahu: "Sterek! You mean Sterek." Holland: "Sterek?" Although Holland did not specify which Tyler she meant (actor Tyler Posey plays Scott, the lead and Stiles' best friend), most fans have either ignored this or focused on Keahu's blatantly pro-Derek/Stiles response. The exact wording of this exchange is next to impossible reproduce since it seems no one recorded the conversation at the time.

After episode 2.10 Fury, one of the actors (Stephen Lunsford) tweeted I gave you #Sterek You're welcome. His character, during the episode, said, "Oh, I don't know, Derek. I think you two make a pretty good pair" when Stiles was paralyzed on top of a paralyzed Derek and Derek wanted Stiles off of him.

Promo for the Teen Choice Awards 2012

To help spur votes for Teen Wolf to win best summer show on the Teen Choice Awards in 2012, Dylan O'Brien and Tyler Hoechlin filmed themselves on a ship asking people to vote. The video and accompanying photos spread like wildfire on tumblr because Dylan used phrases like "We're on a ship...pun intended" as well as implying that Sterek could be a possibility if the show won the award (crossing his leg over Tyler's lap saying "That's all that needs to be said.")

Several interviews have mentions of Derek/Stiles:

Sterek Fans Advocate For Sterek to Become Canon

See Tinhats and the Fourth Wall

The Sterek fandom has made several "official" requests to the creators to make Sterek canon. Two of the most notable of these are the Open Letter to Jeff Davis by markedwithgrace and the Petition to Make Stiles/Derek Canon by Dillon Spencer on Fan response to these overtures has been decidedly mixed, with some fans loving the attention and others stating that they feel people are putting too much pressure on the creators (perhaps even pushing them away from making Sterek canon).

One fan tweeted the same message "Well Derek and Stiles have any interactions togehter in the gay bar scene?" 25 times to Jeff Davis. He responded with two tweets, one questioning how many times he had to receive the message before it counted as spam and the other pointing out the misspelling. Fandom promptly responded by freaking out and posting about how Sterek fans were bothering Jeff. Several fans encouraged each other to apologize on behalf on Sterek fandom. Jeff responded by saying no apology was necessary. Interestingly, TeamxSterek has not tweeted since then, although that account is still active, having apparently been hacked by someone selling diet strategies.

Sterek Fanon and Tropes

Derek: "Shut up."
Stiles: "Don't be such a sour wolf."[6]

Derek/Stiles fandom tends to focus on their love/hate relationship, as well as every single werewolf trope known to mankind. Their onscreen banter, Derek's threats of physical violence to Stiles, and the horror movie aspect of the show leads to many fanworks exploring themes of characters becoming close in dramatic or tense situations. Common themes are Stiles is Alpha Derek's mate, Alpha/Omega/Beta dynamics, Stiles turns into a werewolf, a new supernatural creature is in Beacon Hills, and someone gets severely injured or dies from a supernatural creature. Usually the tension in Stiles and Derek's relationship is addressed in some form, either through the plot or other characters.

Derek: "No, no, no, no, no, don't even think about it!"
Stiles: "Can't you just trust me this once?"
Derek: "No!"
Stiles: "I'm the one keeping you alive, okay? Have you noticed that?"
Derek: "Yeah, and when the paralysis wears off, who's gonna be able to fight that thing? You or me?"
Stiles: "Okay, so that's why I've been holding you up the past two hours?"
Derek: "Yeah. You don't trust me. I don't trust you. But you need me to survive which is why you're not letting me go."
pause during which they stare at each other, then Stiles drops Derek
Derek: "Stiles!"[7]

Most NSFW involves biting, knotting, or bestiality. This fandom (and canon) shows a decidedly calm reaction to bestiality, which may not be so surprising considering the show focuses on werewolves. Quite a few mpreg fics have been written that tie-in with the mating and Alpha/Omega/Beta themes. Also, fandom as a whole seems to have decided to ignore the fact that being bitten by a werewolf turns a human into a werewolf unless Derek is biting someone who isn't Stiles.

Stiles: "A bestiary."
Scott: "I think you mean bestiality."
Stiles"No. I'm pretty sure I don't."[8]

The majority of AUs are fairly standard: crossovers, fusion, Mundane AU, and Fairy Tale AU. The fairy tale AUs tend to center on wolf or monster-related fairy tales, such as Beauty and the Beast or Little Red Riding Hood. The last has become more popular since Stiles wore a red hoodie in 2x03 "Ice Pick".

Additional tropes:

  • Derek shoving Stiles against various surfaces. Although Derek does smack Stiles several times, there is only one scene in season 1 where he shoves Stiles against the wall; this scene has been reblogged as a Tumblr gif and reworked in fanfic A LOT. (See Fandom Secrets graphic above.)
  • Derek is taller than Stiles. Some Sterek fic and art [1] describes Stiles as shorter than Derek, but there has also been some meta pointing out that the actors are the same height,[9] as well as a fanart interpretation of the meta response itself.[10]
  • Stiles befriending wolf!Derek. Some fanworks show Stiles befriending Derek as a wolf, often because Derek became stuck in his wolf form after the fire. This trope appeared long before Derek's ability to fully shift became canon in the Season 4 finale, but only grew in popularity after.

See also Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski for general character-based tropes.

Example Fanworks


Canon-Compliant Stories

These stories were canon-compliant when they were written, though many have been jossed by subsequent seasons.

Canon AU Stories

These stories use some elements of the canon, but deliberately diverge in some fashion.

Complete AU Stories

These stories take nothing from the canon but the characters.


Fancomics and Zines




Example Art Gallery

Tumblr Resources

Other Resources

Rec Lists


  1. ^ On the AO3, Derek/Stiles is the single most popular Teen Wolf pairing, irrespective of gender, with five times more fanworks than the second most popular pairing, Scott/Allison. See the Relationship filter on the Teen Wolf works page. As of December 2018, the most-tagged pairings are Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski (56k+ fanworks), Allison Argent/Scott McCall (7400+), Peter Hale/Stiles Stilinski (5800+), Lydia Martin/Stiles Stilinski (4100+), Vernon Boyd/Erica Reyes (4000+), Lydia Martin/Jackson Whittemore (3800+), Scott McCall/Stiles Stilinski (3200+). Note that AO3 tags do not indicate whether or not it is the "main" pairing of the work. Also note that 55% (56k of 102k) of all AO3 Teen Wolf fanworks are tagged with Derek/Stiles (down from 63% in February 2017). AO3 may skew more toward slash than some other fanfiction archives, but the AO3 is also a more popular destination for Teen Wolf fanfiction than other archives (compare with's 23k+ Teen Wolf stories).
  2. ^ Fandom Secrets (Thread started Dec. 25, 2012. Accessed Dec. 26, 2012).
  3. ^ 2015 Most Reblogged Ships
  4. ^ 2017′s Top Ships
  5. ^ Sort and Filter sidebar on the M/M works page; Derek/Stiles works page; accessed December 2018.
  6. ^ From episode 1x06 "Heart Monitor".
  7. ^ From episode 2x04 "Abomination".
  8. ^ From episode 2x04 "Abomination".
  9. ^ For example, see this November 2012 Tumblr conversation: Some fans thought this was problematic because it was an example of heteronormativity in slash, while others thought the actors' physical appearances were not the same as what their characters were supposed to be.
  10. ^ cynictis. August 9, 2012 Tumblr post. The post has 703 notes as of 23 July 2013.