Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series novels and the Summit Entertainment films based on them were all massively successful so it’s no wonder why people all over the world know just about everything there is to know about Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. The massively-popular supernatural fantasy saga focused on that iconic couple as they fell in love, got married, started a family, and survived a wide variety of threats and tests towards their relationship, but it also featured several similarly well-known, beloved secondary characters.
Meyer did a fantastic job delving into the personalities and histories of a number of the franchise’s other fan-favorite humans, vampires, and shape-shifters, providing viewers and audiences alike with nearly all of the details they desired about Jacob Black, the various members of the Cullen family, and some of Bella’s closest friends and most feared adversaries. Unfortunately, only the most avid Twihards know important facts about the Beta of Jacob Black’s Quileute wolf pack and one of the series’ most interesting female characters: Leah Clearwater.
Leah may not have been a central part of the Twilight books or films, but she was one of the most grounded and realistic characters, playing a very important role in the protection of primary protagonists like Bella, Edward, and Jacob. Her backstory and motivations throughout the epic saga were shockingly tragic, and her growth from New Moon to Breaking Dawn was undeniably inspirational. Here are .
20 SHE AND SAM WERE HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS
Leah Clearwater spent most of the Twilight series harboring a serious grudge against fellow Quileute shape-shifter Sam Uley, but things between her and Sam were drastically different a few years prior. When Leah was a freshman in high school, she started dating and almost immediately fell in love with Sam. They were in a serious, committed relationship for three years.
Unfortunately, the Cullen family’s return to Forks triggered Sam’s shape-shifter transformation and changed everything. In Leah’s junior year, Sam disappeared and reappeared two weeks later, unable to give Leah an explanation for his absence. She tried to give him space so he could resolve his problems, but she had no idea what was really happening to her boyfriend.
19 SAM IMPRINTED ON LEAH’S COUSIN EMILY
Once Sam’s transformation was complete, he became capable of imprinting on someone. Imprinting is an involuntary mechanism by which Quileute shape-shifters find their soulmates, and when Leah’s second cousin came to La Push to visit her, Sam saw her for the first time since his disappearance and imprinted on her immediately.
Sam was unable to contain his sudden attraction and broke up with Leah that same night, and Emily told Leah that he was pursuing her shortly thereafter. Leah was understandably furious with her ex and counted on her cousin to reject Sam, but Emily was attracted to him as well and eventually found herself unable to turn him away.
18 SHE RESENTED SAM AND EMILY’S RELATIONSHIP
When Sam first started courting Emily, she turned him away and told him to go back to Leah. Sam visited her daily to try to change her mind, but she kept rejecting him until one day Sam got so angry at being rejected yet again that he lost control of himself and phased into a wolf in front of her. He accidentally scarred her so badly that she had to claim she’d been “mauled by a bear.”
For whatever reason, that horrible incident seemed to bring them closer. Emily became quite aware of how desperately he loved her, and realized that she cared for him too. She told Leah that she and Sam were together, and Leah immediately grew bitter towards both of them, blaming them both for her broken heart.
17 SHE THOUGHT HER ANGER WAS FROM MERE MOOD SWINGS
When Bella Swan met Leah at a pasta party at Jacob’s house in New Moon, Leah’s resentment towards Sam and Emily was worse than ever and she was made out to be an incredibly unlikable character. Leah found herself growing angrier each day, and flew into a rage over every single irritation that came her way.
She argued with her mother about her constant mood swings, and while her parents knew that irritability was a warning sign of a looming shape-shifter transformation, they assumed Leah’s bitterness was just a result of her break-up. Quileute shape-shifters were historically almost exclusively men, so they failed to realize that Leah’s emotions may have been a sign of an impending evolution.
16 HER TRANSFORMATION GAVE HER FATHER A HEART ATTACK
The elders of the Quileute tribe were all aware that the return of the Cullen family could potentially trigger transformations in their sons, and when Sam Uley turned into a wolf, they all prepared for what was to come. Harry Clearwater knew that all of the vampires traveling in and out of Washington might cause his son Seth to become a shape-shifter, but when Leah transformed first in his home and destroyed a couch in the process, the shock caused him to suffer from a heart attack.
In the movie adaptation of New Moon, Harry’s fatal cardiac arrest was caused by Victoria during the manhunt for her, but in Meyer’s novel, Harry heart simply couldn’t handle watching his daughter become a wolf.
15 THE SHOCK FORCED HER BROTHER’S TRANSFORMATION AS WELL
The shock of seeing Leah turn into a massive wolf in front of his eyes and accidentally destroy the furniture inside their home was too much for Seth to handle as well. He was only fourteen years old, but the emotional reaction he experienced upon seeing his sister’s transformation caused Seth to shift into a wolf. Quileutes typically begin their transformations until their mid-to-late teens, so Seth’s early evolution was a big surprise and led to him being one of the smaller wolves in his pack.
Leah never openly stated it, but she clearly felt some guilt for triggering Seth’s premature transformation because she immediately made his protection her top priority and refused to ever leave Seth’s side.
14 SHE WAS FORCED TO SHARE A MENTAL LINK WITH HER EX
Leah hated being a shape-shifter right from the start, because she knew that her transformation caused her father to suffer from his fatal heart attack. Her reaction to her new life only got worse when she was forced to join her ex-boyfriend Sam’s pack of fellow shape-shifters.
Quileute wolves all share a telepathic link that allows them to communicate while they’re in their monstrous wolf forms. This mental connection gives them the ability to know each other’s thoughts, and being bonded with Sam in this way meant Leah constantly got reminded of his feelings for Emily. This made Leah even more miserable, and only increased her resentment towards her new alpha and her cousin.
13 SHE USED THE TELEPATHIC CONNECTION TO TORMENT SAM’S PACK
The mental connection that tied Leah’s mind to Sam’s made her depressed and angry, but since she was unable to simply avoid her ex and stay out of his brain, she decided to take advantage of the psychic bond she shared with her fellow shape-shifters and use it to make them similarly unhappy.
Leah repeatedly thought of a variety of things that her pack would rather forget, so they’d suffer the same way she’d been forced to suffer. Innocent bystanders like Seth, Embry, and Quil became collateral damage in her war to get revenge on Sam, even though she now understood that Sam couldn’t control who he imprinted on and that her heartache wasn’t really his fault.
12 SHE NEARLY PERISHED FIGHTING A NEWBORN ALONE
When Victoria created an army of violent and incredibly powerful newborn vampires in Eclipse with the intention of using them to take out Bella and the Cullen family, Jacob managed to convince his fellow shape-shifters to aid the vampires in their war against the vengeful redhead. During the conflict, Edward pointed Leah out to Bella as the “smallish gray wolf,” but Leah did everything she could in the battle to prove that she was more formidable than she looked.
Leah was desperate to demonstrate her worth to her pack, so she tried to fight one of Victoria’s newborns all on her own. Luckily, Jacob managed to knock her out of the way a second before another vampire attacked her from behind. Leah claimed she’d had the situation under control, but she may not have made it out of the war alive if Jacob didn’t save her.
11 SHE CLAIMED SHE JOINED JACOB’S PACK TO PROTECT SETH
When Sam found out that Bella was pregnant with Edward’s child, he decided to lead an unprovoked attack on the entire Cullen family so he could eliminate Bella and her monstrous baby. Even though Bella had officially turned him down and married Edward, Jacob still loved her and refused to follow Sam’s orders, so he broke away from his pack to protect Bella. By separating from Sam, he became the new alpha of his own Quileute wolf pack.
Seth immediately chose to leave Sam’s pack and follow his idol Jacob, and Leah elected to follow suit so she could protect her brother and keep him from becoming a “vampire chew toy,” even though she was never particularly close to or fond of Jacob.
10 SHE REALLY JUST WANTED TO GET AWAY FROM SAM
Leah felt a great deal of responsibility for Seth and his safety, but her reasons for joining Jacob’s new pack and remaining her brother’s guardian weren’t entirely selfless. By leaving Sam’s tribe, Leah also severed the mental bond she shared with her ex-boyfriend.
As a member of Jacob’s pack, Leah no longer had to suffer from daily thoughts of Sam and Emily’s relationship. Her decision hurt Sam’s feelings and he sent a messenger to try to get Leah to change her mind, but she was too happy with her newfound freedom to even consider going back to her original pack.
9 SHE WAS INSTANTLY PROMOTED TO BETA OF JACOB’S PACK
Seth always viewed Jacob as his idol, so when Jacob left Sam’s pack so he could help protect Bella, it was no big surprise that the young teenager chose to follow him. Seth was Jacob’s most loyal follower and was the very first person to join his pack, but Jacob actually chose to name Leah his second-in-command instead of Seth.
Leah was far more mature than her younger brother, and while they weren’t exactly friends, Jacob trusted her. When she promised she’d do whatever he asked of her so long as he didn’t make her return to the Uley pack, Jacob told Leah she could be his beta. She took the position very seriously, and always gave Jacob sound advice and watched his back.
8 LEAH AND JACOB BONDED OVER THEIR BROKEN HEARTS
Leah disliked being around with Edward and the rest of the Cullen family, because shape-shifters and vampires are natural enemies and don’t enjoy each other’s scents. She grew to accept Jacob’s choice of company, however, because, over time, Leah and her alpha bonded over their broken hearts and similarly tragic circumstances.
Leah’s past with Sam made her incredibly capable of sympathizing with Jacob’s depression over being rejected by Bella. Their mutual heartache helped them become good friends, and that bond made it easier for Leah to accept her duties of protecting Bella and the Cullens despite not particularly liking any of them. Leah constantly told Jacob to get over his unrequited love, but she understood from personal experience that it wasn’t that easy.
7 SHE OPENLY DISLIKED BELLA
Bella Swan is the main protagonist of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, but some fans find her to be the franchise’s worst character as well. Bella is often whiny, awkward, and insensitive, and several Team Jacob enthusiasts dislike her for constantly leading Jacob on and breaking his heart.
Unlike most of the series’ characters, Leah had no issues with pointing out all of Bella’s most glaring flaws, even to Bella’s face. She constantly made fun of Jacob for falling for her and told him to move on and find someone better, and when he proved to be incapable of that, she took her insults right to Bella. She was so harsh with her criticism that Leah actually managed to make Bella cry on one occasion.
6 SHE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GET PREGNANT
Shape-shifters have an accelerated healing factor and age at a far slower rate than average humans. These special abilities are meant to be positive, but when Leah found out Bella was pregnant, she realized that her gifts actually caused her own cycle to stop and feared that may have disabled her ability to get pregnant.
Even though Leah didn’t like Bella, her own potential infertility provided her with extra motivation to protect Bella during her pregnancy and caused her to support Bella and Rosalie’s controversial decision to keep the half-human, half-vampire baby. That didn’t stop her from confronting Bella while she was pregnant, though, and criticizing her for constantly “torturing” Jacob.
5 SHE NEARLY PERISHED TRYING TO SAVE ESME
Alice put an end to the Cullen family’s war against the Volturi before it started in the Breaking Dawn novel, but in the film adaptation, fans got to see what might have happened if Aro decided to follow-through with his plan. In Alice’s vision of the battle, Leah was seen destroying several Volturi guards, but her brother perished at some point while she was busy eliminating vampires. She howled in grief, but continued to fight until she saw Esme in danger of falling into a sinkhole created during the conflict.
Leah immediately came to Esme’s aid and saved her from the Volturi guard holding her, but she fell down into the underground lava herself as a result. Luckily, that terrible possibility never actually took place because Aro saw that he would have lost his life as well in the war and chose to retreat.
4 SHE AGREED TO BE EMILY’S BRIDESMAID
Leah was first introduced as an incredibly angry and immature character who Jacob considered to be a “harpy,” but after she joined Jacob’s wolf pack, she started becoming a more understanding and compassionate woman. Over time, she accepted that Sam’s attraction to Emily was never really his fault, and that her cousin couldn’t be blamed for falling in love with Sam either, so she was able to forgive them both for their role in her heartbreak.
Once Leah finally let go of some of her resentment towards Sam and Emily, she agreed to take part in their wedding as one of Emily’s bridesmaids. It was still difficult for her to be around the happy couple, though.
3 SHE’S THE SMALLEST AND FASTEST WOLF IN HER PACK
Leah’s wolf form was taller than Seth’s and the other young shape-shifter’s wolf forms in the Twilight films, but in the novels, she was the smallest of all of the Quileute wolves. The films indicate that age at transformation can affect a shape-shifter’s size, but Meyer seemed to want readers to think that Leah’s gender was responsible for her size.
Leah didn’t like being smaller than the other wolves in her pack, but she did enjoy one particular advantage she held over the other shape-shifters. As a wolf, Leah was the fastest of her pack, and enjoyed racing against her peers to prove her superior speed. Her agility was the only thing Leah liked about being a shape-shifter.
2 SHE CUT HER HAIR TO DECREASE HER FUR LENGTH
In the novels, Leah was described as being incredibly beautiful in an exotic way, with perfect copper skin and eyelashes “like feather dusters.” She originally had long, sleek black hair, but after she underwent her transformation into a shape-shifter, she cut her hair in a short pixie cut.
Longer hair as a human apparently means longer fur as a wolf, so Leah wanted to have short hair that’d keep her fur length in check after shifting in order to be better suited for battle. The other Quileute shape-shifters seemed to feel the same way about disliking long fur, as they all shaved or cut their hair after their transformations. Even Jacob, who loved his long locks and believed Bella preferred them too, opted to cut all of his hair off after he became a shape-shifter.
1 SHE INTENDS TO QUIT PHASING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Jacob and Seth always seemed to enjoy being wolves, because they had fun utilizing their superhuman speed and strength and benefited from the invulnerability gifted to shape-shifters. Leah never took that same liking to her life as a supernatural being, and told Jacob that she intends to quit phasing as soon as she becomes able to control it.
Leah aspired to enroll in community college, and told her alpha that she wanted to try out meditation and yoga to help with her temper issues. She loved challenging her fellow wolves to races, but she preferred being normal and was more than willing to give up her special powers in order to lead a quiet life as a regular human.