The Character Analysis Series: Scott McCall

You’re not a monster. You’re a werewolf, like me.

Tyler Posey, Teen Wolf

After a much overdue re-watch of Teen Wolf, I found myself completely fascinated by the story’s voice and how the way in which an actor works with the script can greatly contribute to this voice. I decided to start a new little series called The Character Analysis series. Here, I’ll be picking apart some of my favorite (and least favorite) characters and what makes them tick. To start this off, I decided that I wanted to write about one of my favorite protagonists: Scott McCall. 

Scott McCall can be summed up in two words: true alpha. Throughout Teen Wolf, Scott has been portrayed as seeing the world in “black and white”. He refuses to kill any of his enemies, instead choosing to grace them with mercy. While many of the anti-hero types on the show throw several well-placed jabs at Scott, he isn’t the type to stray from his views. This turns out to be good for building his pack but nearly detrimental for the maintenance of his pack. The interest in Scott’s personality isn’t something that’s built over the course of one season. Rather, Scott’s character development comes in three well-defined stages (better known as his relationships). Here, I’m going to talk about why Scott’s character development is so important to Teen Wolf as a whole and how Scott’s character development created the man at the end of the show. 

Seasons 1-3A

The bite of an Alpha werewolf is often considered a gift. But, at the beginning of the show, it’s one that Scott McCall doesn’t want. While initially amazed at the new abilities that he possesses, season one consists of discovering the alpha and killing him so that Scott can return to being a human. The development of Scott in this season consists of Scott learning how to control his abilities. This is important for his overall development because of Allison Argent. From the start, Scott defies the logic that controls a werewolf. Derek Hale, Scott’s mentor and friend, originally tells Scott that he should use anger to control his transformation. Scott fights against this by using love instead. His feelings for  Allison Argent keep him tethered to his human self. This distinction between the human and animal parts of Scott serve to create balance (which is a prevalent theme throughout the whole show) within himself. While the events of the show fluctuate between good and bad, Scott’s character remains in a state of balance throughout much of these initial seasons. 

The build-up in these seasons also includes Scott’s pack. Slowly, he draws the supernatural creatures of Beacon Hills to join his pack. But Scott isn’t the kind of Alpha that only accepts werewolves into his pack, but rather, the kind that accepts everyone. This tolerance towards other creatures inspires great loyalty in his followers. This is where Scott begins to fall into the archetype of “The Chosen One”. His ideologies and personality traits inspire loyalty and eventually lead to Scott becoming a true alpha. He embodies hard work and a strong will. The revelation of Scott’s true alphaness at the end of Season 3A serves to show that a strong moral character will get you far, part of the reason that Scott is such a strong protagonist. 

The primary relationship that characterizes this part of Scott’s life is Allison Argent.Introduced in the first episode as a new girl that moves around a lot, Allison is the daughter of a prominent werewolf hunting family (Argent translates to silver).  As I mentioned earlier, Allison is Scott’s anchor to his human part. His relationship with Allison keeps him in balance and in terms of plot development, serves to encourage Scott’s true-alphaness to come out. She is also Scott’s Achilles heel. This is detrimental to Scott when it becomes clear that he has a weakness for his friends. Early on, it’s clear that Allison is Scott’s soulmate. They were meant to end up together. But, despite the rocky relationship between Allison’s family and Scott, there is always a clear indication that Allison is the easiest way to get to Scott and her own family uses that weakness against him. 

Scott’s development from Beta to Alpha in these seasons shows a maturing and an acceptance of the supernatural world. Here, his purpose is to learn and he does that through characters such as Derek and Peter Hale. Without them, he wouldn’t be able to succeed as a true alpha. This period of growth and learning eventually led to Scott coming into his own. Without this, he would have remained a beta because he wouldn’t have been able to prove that he could inspire loyalty the way he did with Stiles and Allison. While at times the development may seem slow, this part of Scott’s growth is meant to be slow as it foreshadows his coming of age in the next arc. 

Seasons 3B-6A

Now that Scott is an official true alpha, things have to change. His purpose is no longer to come into his own abilities but rather help others realize their own. While he had Allison help him develop himself, without Allison, he learned to be his own anchor. Allison’s death in season 3B is arguably necessary because it removes the ultimate weakness from Scott’s life. While it’s always clear that Allison is Scott’s soul mate, she would have stopped him from embracing his true potential. If Allison had stayed alive, Scott would have never grown. He would have always been trying to be the Scott that Allison loved. Scott’s development started with Allison but it couldn’t end with her. He had to grow into the man he became for himself, not for another person. 

His relationship with Kira Yukimura is the important part here. Scott is drawn to Kira for her personality, but also for the fact that he can feel that there’s something supernatural about her. As an alpha, he feels like he owes it to her to help discover her true talents. Kira keeps Scott levelheaded and gives him someone to protect. For Kira, Scott is a stepping stone in discovering her own true identity, which ultimately is why this relationship doesn’t last. Kira is meant for more than being a part of Scott’s pack and that’s why she leaves. 

In this part of his character arc, Scott is meant to prove that he deserves his true alpha status. This is Scott’s coming of age. Here, he has to justify his actions and determine what it means to be a leader. Scott’s principles keep his pack near him initially, but his rigidity is what ultimately pushes his pack away. During Season 5 when his pack is infiltrated by Theo, he refuses to listen to Stiles who ultimately knows that Theo is not trustworthy. He believes Theo’s lies and this sheds light on his ultimate fear as a leader; he expects too much from the members of his pack. While Scott was always caring and determined to protect his pack, he never seemed to check in on them. After his realization that this was his major shortcoming as a leader, he begins to consciously check in on his friends. He also strives to be more understanding that while it’s inherently in his nature not to kill his enemies, there are extenuating circumstances that led to the need to defend oneself.

 As Scott creates his own beta and starts to solidify his own teachings, characters such as Derek Hale become unnecessary. Derek served to be a teacher but his teachings ultimately proved that Scott would have to learn how to lead others. While Derek’s weakness as he becomes his own alpha is the butt of many jokes, it serves to show that he was never meant to be his own alpha. He was always meant to help Scott and his presence on the show was destined to be short-lived. 

At the end of 6A, we see that Scott is about to leave for college. This is meant to be the finishing touch to his coming of age. But as an alpha that took on the role of protecting Beacon Hills, he has to pass the torch on to someone else and who better than a beta of his own making?

Season 6B

Liam Dunbar was accidentally turned by Scott at the beginning of season 4. This eventually led to an emphasis of Scott’s natural born leading abilities because he was able to turn a teenager with IED (intermittent explosive disorder) into a respectable second in command. From the moment of being turned, Liam was always being groomed for taking over Scott’s legacy. Though it took a while, Liam does become the man that Scott wanted him to be. 

Season 6B is Scott stepping back. He is comfortable in his role as a true alpha and takes on the larger tasks that Liam isn’t quite ready for. But, Scott is also in limbo. He isn’t ready to leave Beacon Hills behind because he feels responsible for the town’s well-being. While he clearly trusts Liam, this indicates the doubt that Scott has in his own abilities. He wasn’t ready to move on because if Liam failed, he would ultimately take the guilt on his own shoulders. So, Scott doesn’t move on. 

The final seasons horrors demonstrate the biggest challenge that Scott has ever had to face.With the biggest challenge comes the biggest sacrifice. Scott sacrifices his own eyesight to fight the anuk-ite. After the battle is won, Scott is initially unable to heal. This leads to his last relationship and the embodiment of Scott’s guilt. Each death that occured over the course of Scott’s coming of age has embedded itself in his conscience. The fact that he couldn’t heal  is indicative of the fact that he is punishing himself for his shortcomings. It’s only after Malia – his final relationship in the show – kisses him that he remembers all the good he did. 

As Scott’s girlfriend, Malia is meant to soothe Scott’s guilt. Her purpose in his life is to remind him of the good that he did because while Scott came into his own as an alpha, he saved Malia’s life and brought her into his pack. He gave her a home and a sense of belonging. Malia fell in love with Scott at his peak because she came to love the man that came from all the heartache. Malia serves to be a reminder that a situation is not all good or all bad. She is a blunt contrast to Scott’s morally straight persona and ultimately helps Scott see both sides of a narrative. Though she’s not Scott’s soulmate and the showrunners make that clear, she is someone who serves to keep Scott from regressing as a result of his own guilt. 

Conclusion

Scott is the epitome of a leader. He never leaves his pack behind and promotes the idea that being a werewolf is not being a monster. He tends to fall prey to his guilt and is acutely aware of his own shortcomings and therefore surrounds himself with people who help him overcome his blind spots. Scott’s narrative throughout the show is indicative of what the showrunners think makes a strong leader. Without Scott’s leadership, Beacon Hills would cease to exist. He exhibits undying loyalty which ultimately makes it difficult for him to live his own life. Scott’s character is broken up into three relationships, though his soulmate is the rest of his first relationship, Scott’s undying loyalty to his first love is the source of much of his strength. Scott is a true leader because he draws on the strength of his pack and knows when they need some of his. While his black and white perspective may seem annoying at the onset, it shows that a leader is meant to hold firm in their ideals and that is what Scott McCall does best. 

P.S: For Teen Wolf, I’ll be doing Scott, Lydia and Stiles as individual character analyses and that’s why I don’t touch on Stiles and Lydia much here. While I would love to do Allison, her character development isn’t long enough to warrant her own post. So she’ll be touched on here and in Lydia’s. Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

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