'Teen Wolf': How the Movie Explains Dylan O'Brien's Absence

O'Brien explained last year why he opted not to reprise his fan-favorite character, Stiles, for the Paramount+ reunion movie.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Teen Wolf: The Movie.

The Teen Wolf movie brought Scott McCall and his friends back to Beacon Hills, but one key person was missing from the action: Scott's best friend, Stiles Stilinski.

The two-hour reunion film, which dropped Thursday on Paramount+, kept Stiles' presence alive even though its portrayer, Dylan O'Brien, did not appear onscreen. The 31-year-old actor made it clear last year that he would not be reprising his fan-favorite character for the movie.

So, how exactly did the movie explain Stiles' absence? 

One of the first mentions came early in the film, after Scott (Tyler Posey) recruited the help of Lydia (Holland Roden) -- who, at the end of the original series, was happily in a relationship with Stiles -- to figure out what was going on with the newly resurrected Allison (Crystal Reed).

After discovering that Jackson (Colton Haynes) had tagged along, Scott questioned why Lydia stopped using her banshee powers, which included the ability to have premonitions, usually of someone's death. Jackson said in response, almost as an afterthought: "Stiles. Obviously, it has something to do with Stiles."

Grief was a major through-line for many of the Teen Wolf characters, and in the climactic moment of the film -- a life-and-death showdown between Scott and his friends, and the evil Nogitsune -- the cause of Lydia's pain was finally revealed. And yes, it had everything to do with Stiles.

Curtis Bonds Baker/MTV Entertainment

With Jackson's life on the line, Lydia tearfully disclosed why she and Stiles were no longer together, and perhaps why he did not return to Beacon Hills to help them fight the monsters.

"I left because of a dream," she emotionally revealed. "My eyes open and I see broken glass. It's from a windshield and I'm crawling on the pavement. I'm trying to reach Stiles. There was a crash. We'd been thrown from the car, except he's not moving. He wasn't blinking. He wasn't breathing."

Jackson told her it was "just a dream," but to Lydia it felt all too real because "it happened again, and again." "[It] becomes this recurring dream until I can't tell anymore that it's a dream," she said. 

"If I was never in the car with him, there wouldn't have to be a crash. He wouldn't have to die," Lydia concluded, implying that the only way to save Stiles' life was for her to be out of his forever.

In other moments from the movie, Scott left a voicemail on his phone as he, Lydia and Malia (Shelley Hennig) searched for a sacred tree in their quest to save Allison from purgatory. Though it's unclear who the call was meant for, it could be inferenced that Stiles could've been on the receiving end. "It's me. We're still looking. Getting a little worried about meeting up on time, so just give me a call or text. Anything," Scott said in his voicemail message.

At the end of the film, Stiles' father, Sheriff Stilinski, offered the keys to his son's old Jeep to Derek's teenage son, Eli (Vince Mattis), commenting that Stiles left the car behind and it was later entrusted to Derek (Tyler Hoechlin).(Derek, unfortunately, sacrificed himself during that final showdown to save his son and friends.) He told Eli the only request he had: to make sure the Jeep keeps on running, in a sign of a new chapter potentially beginning for the Teen Wolf franchise.

The final shot of the film left the door open for a possible spinoff or continuation of the story, as Eli was essentially introduced as the "new" Teen Wolf.

Curtis Bonds Baker/MTV Entertainment

Early last year, O'Brien explained why he wasn't returning to Teen Wolf, telling Variety it was "a difficult decision."

"A lot went into it," he said at the time. "Ultimately, I just decided it was left in a really good place for me and I still want to leave it there. I wish them well and I’m going to watch it the first night it comes out. I hope it f**king kicks a**, but I’m not going to be in it."

But during a San Diego Comic-Con appearance that July, Posey hinted that the film would feature "every character that you’d ever want to see again." O'Brien was later asked whether that meant he'd make a "surprise" appearance.

"I don't think there's any truth to that rumor. What I've said is the truth, yeah, so I don't know," O'Brien told ET in September, shutting down any speculation that he makes a cameo.

He shared that his personal Jeep, the same one his character drives, is featured in the film. "My Jeep's in it," he noted. "I lent them my Jeep for the movie. That's the car my character drives in the show, yeah."

Teen Wolf: The Movie is streaming now on Paramount+.