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Whenever there's a werewolf, or werepanther, or were-rabbit, or were-whatever, and this has not been made clear to the characters yet, there has to be at least one scene in which one of the human characters discovering a set of animal footprints which change into human footprints (or vice versa) as the characters follow them along. A great way to set up tension.
Of course, there's a small amount of Fridge Logic involved in this trope, as werewolves are rarely if ever depicted as walking during their transformation. Either they're standing in place or hunched on all fours.
May overlap with Footprints of Muck.
Anime and Manga
- On the other hand, the wolves in Wolf's Rain can make themselves appear human, but they always leave wolf footprints.
- First done in The Wolf Man in 1941, making it Older Than Television.
- Shortly afterwards, done in Cat People to show werepanther-to-human footprints.
- Sent up (along with many other Horror Tropes) in the Claymation film Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the camera follows a set of dog footprints up to the spot where the now-human Sirius Black is standing.
- Featured in the film Skinwalkers, where a Navajo serial-killer uses it as a psychological aspect in his attacks on shamans.
- Done in the movie Dead Birds, as evidence of the children turning into Silent Hill-style abominations.
- Used in one Cthulhu mythos story, where Nyarlathotep takes the form of a colleague of the protagonist. The protagonist realises something is amiss when he finds his friend's clothes stewn around outside the house and footprints that gradually change from human prints to something left by an enormous creature clearly not from this world.
- Done very well in Algernon Blackwood's The Wendigo, where the prints of a man being dragged off by the monster become a copy of the monster's footprints--and grow further apart, until eventually they disappear.
- Played as a Tear Jerker moment in Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry, when one character enters the long-abandoned tower in which the Love Interest of a now-evil werewolf character once lived. He finds her bed piled high with flowers, and sees footprints in the dust - and the tracks of the giant wolf who walked away.
- In a campfire story of unknown authorship, generally known as "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf," the titular boy tries and fails to fake these. The person he shows them to notices that not only do the prints switch immediately from human to werewolf, they switch from left foot to right foot.
- Folklore about witches who turn into hares sometimes involve a hunter following wabbit twacks that turn into human footprints.
Live Action TV
- Used in The X-Files, episode "Shapes", where despite normally suffering from a horrible transformation into a beast, the tracks clearly change.
- The discovery of Tooms' stretched-out fingerprint in "Squeeze" might be considered a variant of this.
- Not exactly used, but definitely evoked, in the beginning of the 2003 Halloween episode of CSI, "Fur and Loathing".
- The very low-budget Animorphs TV series featured this at least once to show how Ax got through a locked door. Human sneakerprints yielded to Andalite hoofprints to lizard tracks that went under the door, then hoofprints again, then sneakers and Ax in human form. All in such clear black prints that it looked like he'd paused every couple of steps to dip the relevant appendages in tar.
- Played much more intelligently in one of the books. When they're on a beach and realize that Controllers are closing in on them, everyone's first instinct is to morph to seagulls and escape -- except Marco, who reminds the others that if they did that, they'd leave human to bird footprints in the sand. Instead, they run into the water and morph to fish.
- In Once Upon a Time, when Snow White and Red Riding Hood are tracking the wolf, the wolfprints eventually turn into bootprints...leading right to the window where Red's boyfriend always shows up.
- The song "Became" by Atmosphere is a rare musical example. The narrator is camping with an unspecified close friend. He wakes up in the snowy morning to find that his friend is missing. He follows his friend's tracks...when he notices several wolf tracks following his friend's tracks. The narrator panics, thinking that this meant his friend was stalked and chased by wolves. Then he comes to a clearing in the woods where his friend's footprints disappear, replaced by a wolf's footprints (implying the friend was running with the wolves and transformed).
- In the American Dad episode "Dances with Werewolves" an encounter with a wolf convinces Steve that he's becoming a werewolf. This fear is reinforced when he wakes up to find bloodstained wolf prints in his bedroom. But actually the prints were left by the real wolf, which Roger is attempting to keep as a pet.
- In the Ace Ventura cartoon series episode Howl Of The Weremoose there's a scene where Ace follows a trail of moose hoofprints that turn into human footprints.
- There was a scene from the 1960s Popeye TV episode "The Whiffle Bird's Revenge" where the sailor follows a trail of wolf prints that are immediately replaced with shoe prints.
- One of the Animated Adaptations of Zorro had an episode where a Magical Native American child turned into a were-bull, with matching footprints at some point.
- Speaking of were-bulls, one of the Halloween episodes of Phineas and Ferb, That's the Spirit, has a scene where Doofenshmirtz looks back at a muddy trail of hoof prints that shift into human foot prints.
- In the "Moonlight Madness" episode of the Aladdin animated series, Aladdin and Iago come across a young lady's footprints which gradually change into those of a jackal. Of course, this leads the two of them to think that the strange woman who's been trying to scare them away has just been eaten by a jackal, instead of realizing that she is said jackal.