Back in 2011, Jeff Davis’ TV adaptation of “Teen Wolf” premiered and quickly became MTV’s first scripted hit. Now, more than six years later, the series has aired its 100th and final episode, and Davis is ready for some time off.
The original “Teen Wolf” was a campy ’80s comedy best remembered for a scene where Michael J. Fox surfs on top of a van in goofy creature makeup. Davis took that initial premise and turned it into something entirely different, a dark mix between fantasy-drama and high school romance.
Even in the post-“Twilight” explosion of genre movies and TV aimed at a young audience, “Teen Wolf” set itself apart from the pack and became a huge hit, building up a dedicated fanbase and turning its leads from little-known teen actors into bona fide stars over the course of its six-season run.
But after all that success, “Teen Wolf” finally came to an end on Sunday, and Davis reflected on the journey and bringing the series to a close in an interview with TheWrap.
“There is a feeling of sadness in letting go and saying goodbye to these characters,” Davis said. “[But] I never wanted to get to the point where we were really just phoning it in. I’m very proud of the last episode, and I hope the audience likes it. We definitely put our all into it.”
As for what comes next? Davis said he has a few projects in the works, including another adaptation for MTV. This time he’ll be tackling “War of the Worlds.” And, who knows, maybe one day a “Teen Wolf” revival. But first up, a vacation.
Read TheWrap’s full interview with Davis below:
TheWrap: First of all, congratulations on “Teen Wolf.” Six seasons and 100 episodes is nothing to sneeze at.
Davis: Thank you! It’s been a good run. It’s been seven years since I started working on this show.
What comes next for you? What do you have lined up?
I’m working on a couple of things, actually. One one of them is with MTV, a “War of the Worlds” reboot for TV. We just handed the script in, and hopefully the network likes it. We’ll see what happens. I’ve got a couple of other things brewing, but I sort of wanted to take a vacation after this. It was quite grueling to get through this many episodes of a TV show. Especially at the pace we did them.
How does it feel now that it’s over? Are you ready to move on or sad to let it go?
It’s both. I guess that’s why when people get to this point, they always use the term “bittersweet.” There is a feeling of sadness in letting go and saying goodbye to these characters. [But] I never wanted to get to the point where we were really just phoning it in. I’m very proud of the last episode, and I hope the audience likes it. We definitely put our all into it.
Was there ever a point that you thought the show could keep going, or did this always feel like the natural end point?
I felt if the show was going to go on longer, it would probably have to do it without me. I felt this was probably the natural end for me. If I was going to continue doing it, I wouldn’t have put all the effort into it that I could’ve. So I would’ve hoped that new people would’ve took the baton and told their own stories within this world. I’ve had great collaborators along the way, but when it’s something this personal that’s very much in my voice, you do have to put so much time into it. And I feel ready to move on to new things. I know a lot of the actors wanted to continue on. A bunch of them weren’t ready to let go just yet. But I’m sure they’ll find new projects and new characters to inhabit that’ll inspire them.
Every time the actors would talk about working on the show, they’d talk about how much they loved being a part of it, and how much it felt like a family.
That was definitely a conscious effort. There are so many places in Hollywood, and so many TV shows you hear about where everybody is miserable and they hate each other. Or two actors refuse to be in a scene with each other. But I think we got really lucky with the group of people we had and making sure the crew we had made it feel like that. It was a great place to go to work everyday.
How long have you been working toward this ending? Did you always have this particular ending to the show in mind, where Scott takes this new werewolf under his wing?
I had different ideas on how to end the show. At one point I thought the ending of Season 5 was going to be it, and then the network called. Back in Season 4 though, I did have this idea of doing a flash-forward storyline where Scott meets this young, new werewolf. In the series finale it’s the character of Alex, played by Ben Stillwell, and he says those same words to him: “You’re not a monster, you’re a werewolf like me.” And what he’s essentially saying to the audience is if you’re an outsider, you will find people like you. You will find a place to belong. So I like the fact that it carries this message. As for other things, like being able to bring Colton Haynes back, that was on my wishlist. But I didn’t know until this season, a few months into the season, that it would be possible. So some things were happy surprises.
You ended up bringing a lot of familiar faces back this season, and it was fun to watch them all come through, especially in the finale.
The nice thing about that is that they definitely didn’t do it for the money [Laughs]. A lot of times when you see characters come back, they got paid. We couldn’t afford it, so you know with a lot of these actors that it was really for the love of the show and for the people they work with.
And Scott’s final battle was almost like a “greatest hits” collection of the show’s villains. Did you ever worry about having too many callbacks? Was there a line you were careful not to cross?
Definitely. You definitely worry that you’re just throwing people in for a cameo, so it could end up being a kind of roll call that just feels silly. But bringing the villains back in this way was sort of organic to our story. This was a creature that gets into your head and tried to use every fear that Scott ever had against him. So it was organic to the story, and it was also a way of saying in the moment that Scott had faced these fears. When he said to the Anuk-Ite, “You can’t beat me, I’m not afraid anymore,” he’s saying he’s conquered these fears. [The scene] is also a testament to the rogues gallery we’ve built up over the years. We’re very proud of our bad guys.
A lot of the finale takes place back at the high school, where none of these characters are even students anymore. But those are iconic “Teen Wolf” sets by now. Did it ever start to feel silly to you to always have these characters back at school?
Oh, of course! But when you’re on a cable show, you’ve got this set, that set and this set. So a lot of the time it was, “Hey guys, we’re out of money and can’t go on location. Do you want to have the fight scene happen in the tunnels, the hospital or the school? Your choice” [Laughs]. So some of it is economics. But I also think it’s a bit poetic to end this story and have the fight for Beacon Hills at the school, since that’s where it started. I do like the fact that we shot the opening and the ending in downtown Los Angeles and set it there. I think that opened the world up and gave it a more global feel.
Fans seem to be split down the middle over the Scott and Malia romance that blossomed this season. What was your thought process in pairing those two?
I was kind of in the middle when we started it, too. But I kind of said, “What the hell, let’s go for it.” You wonder if the main character has to have a romance? Does there always have to be romance in a story? But I like them together. I thought they had chemistry, and I thought they worked. It’s a dark show at times and you want to give some characters moments of happiness. I do like that romance myself, I was really happy with it. But I’m totally fine with people hating it as well, because if everybody liked everything in the show, there’d be nothing to talk about.
Dylan O’Brien came back for two episodes this season, and he discussed in a recent Vulture interview returning to finish off the show after his accident. What was it like having him back?
He was there so little time, and I was off doing re-writes and editing, so I didn’t get to be on set as much as I would’ve liked. But when I saw him walk up the steps at our stage in his FBI intern outfit, I thought “Oh, this is perfect. This will be great”… I was on set with him when we had him in the Void Stiles makeup again, and he said it was really fun to be able to play this character one last time. I remember seeing him bursting out of the doors carrying Derek, and then doing the opposite version from Derek’s perspective. It was really fun to be able to write those scenes and being able to see the actor inhabit all the best qualities of that character.
And, of course, the question that comes up anytime a TV show ends nowadays is when it will come back. I know you’re just putting the show to bed, but have you ever thought about what the show might look like if it came back?
The only idea I had in my mind is if you set it in a completely new place. It’s so hard for me to see a “Teen Wolf” revival without Tyler Posey. The idea I could see happening is Tyler a the Professor X character, and he brings in a whole new crew of werewolves and teenagers and they’re his new pack under his tutelage. I could see that, sort of like how the “Dark Knight Returns” comic book ends where old Bruce Wayne has a whole new team of proteges to train. I could see that, that would be fun. And I know Posey would probably be up for it. [Note: Yes, he would.]
Is that something you would actually see yourself wanting to do one day?
I don’t know. It’s funny, unless we edit ourselves, we all tend to sound like Daniel Craig talking about how he’d rather shoot himself in the face than do another Bond movie. But you give yourself a few months, a year or two maybe, and you go, “I actually have another idea and this could be really good.” So who knows. I have such a love for the world and the characters. We’ll see. But it is such a nice challenge to take on a new world and new characters.