Ah, Supernatural. For many years, this show about underwear models fighting terrifying monsters straight out of the X-Files and saving the world from the apocalypse has captured the hearts of fans around the world. From horror to drama to dark comedy to a dose of good ol’ eye candy, Supernatural has something for everybody. Or at least it used to.
Few television series, especially those as long-running as the twelve years young Supernatural series, can run their course without a little bit of criticism and controversy popping up here and there. Supernatural really takes the cake in this sense, with controversies that range from demonizing (quite literally) almost every woman on the show to a general lack of diversity to stabbing fans in the heart by killing off beloved characters before their time. Many fans have jumped ship as the show has progressed, arguably way past its shelf life, and we don’t really blame them.
Despite our lasting fondness for the show, we’re still going to roast it for its laundry list of controversial moments that have left fans thinking “Are you kidding me?” Beware of spoilers ahead!
Check out the 15 Most Controversial Things That Supernatural’s Done!
15. Killing off almost every female character introduced
This is one of the biggest controversies to come out of Supernatural, and it’s difficult to rebuke. Even Misha Collins, the actor behind the angel Castiel, has had choice words for how Supernatural treats most of its female characters: “You [writers] have killed every other female character who had more than a two-episode arc. Charlie’s still around, although she’s not a threat to the boys as a romantic interest because she’s gay.”
That’s a fair point, but Supernatural’s writers decided to wreck us by killing off our favorite gay nerd anyway. But not before killing off Ruby, Bela, Anna, Meg, Jo, and Ellen. We also can’t forget Sam’s girlfriend Jessica and the boys’ mother Mary, who died in the blink of an eye during the pilot. The pilot!
Supernatural’s misogynistic tendencies has been a hot topic for years, though maybe with the recent re-introduction of Mary Winchester, the writers are seeking to change that.
14. The general lack of diversity
In our year of 2017, you’d think inclusivity and proper representation of American viewers on television would be less of a struggle to achieve. Not a big deal to some– but for others who rarely see themselves represented as heroes or even as a character who lasts more than a few episodes, it can do some damage to their self-worth. Plus, a lack of diversity on screen is just boring.
Supernatural, in its many years on the air, has been guilty of being very white. Sure, we have a few people of color that have appeared in the series: Missouri Moseley, Tamara and Isaac, Cassie, Rufus Turner, Uriel, Raphael, Gordon, Jake Talley, Victor Henricksen, Kevin Tran, and Mrs. Tran. All of these characters, however, are either evil, now dead, or lack some serious screen time and depth.
13. Becky the sexual predator
We have all probably encountered a Becky before at some point. A fan so obsessed with a television show, comic, or film that she would do anything– including drugging her favorite character and marrying them without their consent– to feel connected to a fictional character they are obsessed with. In the episode “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” Becky uses a love potion to repeatedly drug Sam and even marry him.
While the episode does end with Becky moaning about how they “didn’t get to consummate their marriage” before the resolution, the lighthearted tone of the episode was made more disturbing by its constant allusions to Becky wanting to rape Sam. Her character, while intended to be a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek tribute to some of Supernatural’s more deranged fanbase, was pretty disturbing.
12. Bobby’s death
Who didn’t love Supernatural’s good ol’ Bobby Singer? The hunter was a father figure to Sam and Dean through most of the show.
When he was shot by Dick Roman and died shortly after waking from a coma, the episode went from dramatic to downright shocking. Nobody was expecting one of the more lovable characters to die, and there he went. His affectionate “Idjits” followed by the sound of him flatlining was heartbreaking. Supernatural has had a lot of drama as well as cheesiness, but few moments on the show have been literal tear-jerkers. Bobby’s death scene was one of them.
Since the show is notorious for killing characters then bringing them back, many fans were expecting a resolution before the episode ended– unfortunately, that didn’t really happen.
11. Mary Winchester’s return
Remember Supernatural’s pilot episode where our first introduction to Sam and Dean’s mom is her firey, disturbing death? Mary Winchester was referenced often throughout the serious, but the character herself had little presence in the show. That is, until the season eleven finale where she’s literally raised from the dead by The Darkness as a thank you gift to Dean.
The shocking moment only got more controversial through season twelve as Mary ends up being less enigmatic and maternal than fans would have liked. She joins the British Men of Letters, who eventually betray her and interrogate her. She slowly loses her free will and becomes cold-hearted, leaving her family behind and abandoning her children, much like her father before her. The drama of it all!
10. “The Slice Girls”
Supernatural has had a lot of disturbing moments for sure. However, there’s one episode that honestly surprised viewers with its themes– “The Slice Girls” from season seven. In the episode, Dean discovers that he has a daughter named Emma. Only Emma isn’t entirely human.
The Amazon-meets-demon tribe that used Dean in order to impregnate Emma’s mother Lydia has a mission for Emma– she must kill Dean to complete her initiation and become a warrior. When a confrontation goes down, Emma begs Dean “Please don’t let him hurt me!” before Sam shoots her in the abdomen, killing her.
While very much warranted, the situation was very controversial and disturbing. Sam literally murdered Dean’s daughter, and it’s only mentioned once more, in a joking tone in the following episode.
9. The Bunker
For most of the Supernatural series, Sam and Dean never really had a “home base.” The impala was their only (somewhat) stable meeting ground, and the boys used credit card schemes to hop from creepy motel to creepy motel around the country as they battled demons and monsters.
That is, until Lebanon, Kansas happened. The Men of Letters bunker became the duo’s home base in season eight. An innocent art deco underground studio doesn’t seem like the most controversial thing ever, but some fans disagreed when it became clear that the Bunker was going to become a regular thing. There was something charming about the on-the-road lifestyle that Sam and Dean lived for so much of the series. The sudden Bunker plot device just seemed unnatural.
8. Lots of having sex while possessing someone else’s body
Supernatural doesn’t seem to have much regard for its lighthearted depiction of rape, as we mentioned above. This goes further with the season five episode “Swap Meat”, where a teenaged nerd manages to successful perform a spell that swaps his body with Sam’s. Throughout the episode, Gary enjoys all the perks of being in the body of a demon-slaying underwear model, from going on an investigation with Dean to planning a cash-out on a shady bounty– and having sex with attractive women as Sam. Plus, how much demon nookie happened on the show in possessed bodies of innocent people?
Even if you don’t believe that swapping brains with someone and copulating with unaware people is rape (after all, how many real-life instances do we have to compare that one to?), you gotta admit Gary’s actions were cringe-worthy and creepy at least.
7. Charlie’s death
It’s bad enough that Supernatural has a tendency to kill off every female character on the show, but did they really have to kill Charlie in season ten?
The lovable, quick-witted hacker turned hunter was a fan favorite. Though, that hasn’t stopped them from killing other fan favorites and long-running characters like Bobby, Kevin, Ellen, and Jo just when we had a chance to connect with them.
Her end came when she refused to hand over the Book of the Damned to Eldon, proving until the very end her loyalty and strength as a Winchester ally and friend. While her death was avenged by Dean, the hole she left remains pretty big. Where will we get out snappy comebacks and positive spirit from now?
6. John Winchester’s secret family
The enigmatic father of Sam and Dean has always been a mysterious figure throughout the series. However, nobody would have guessed that the vengeful hunter had a secret family– including a third son named Adam.
Apparently, John met a nurse in a Minnesota hospital post-hunt in the ’90s and conceived Adam. It’d be bad enough if John completely abandoned him, but he took the time to periodically meet up with his estranged second family to teach Adam pool, take him to ball games, and be a fairweather father– all behind Sam and Dean’s back.
Fans early on really wanted to believe John wasn’t such a bad guy, looking past the dangerous lonely life he molded for Sam and Dean, but a secret sibling? Someone’s never getting the Father of the Year award.
5. “Fallen Idols”
Supernatural has its fill of fillers (zing!) and season five’s episode “Fallen Idols” is one of them. This episode is a bit different from most one-offs, though– it’s completely insane. Arguably the most insane episode of the series.
An unassuming town is brutalized by what appears to be a bunch of famous people, some of whom are dead. The spirit of Gandhi attacks Sam, Snooki goes bad, and Paris Hilton squares off against the brothers. The episode was a wild ride from beginning to end. While there is a resolution– Paris is really an eastern European woodland shapeshifting god with a need to feed– it doesn’t make the episode any less WTF.
4. “The French Mistake”
Alternate universe episodes can be fun. Sometimes, they can just be a bit to involved in themselves. A good example of this would be the controversial filler campiness that was delivered in season six with the episode “The French Mistake”. Who knew that some fun meta could be taken way too far?
In the episode, the fourth wall isn’t just broken– it’s shattered into a million pieces. Sam and Dean find themselves stuck in a secondary universe. That universe, to put it simply, is our own universe. Sam and Dean are transported into the lives of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who are filming the Supernatural series. Misha Collins gets killed off in the episode and Jared is married to Genevieve Cortese (Ruby #2). Even though the episode is entertaining, the blatant fan service got a old for some fans.
3. The fan fiction episode
Another dose of controversial weirdness came from the season ten filler “Fan Fiction”. Sam and Dean investigate the disappearance of a teacher at a girls’ school and find that the students are putting on an adaptation musical based on Edlund’s series of Supernatural books. If you hate musical episodes, this isn’t one for you.
The controversy around “Fan Fiction” comes from how the writers portray the show’s fans. The episode is actually pretty cool, as it was clearly intended to be a tribute episode to the show’s fanbase– but some fans felt exposed by the story about fangirls who are reinterpreting Sam and Dean’s story for their own purposes. A lot of fans prefer that their fanwork stay out of the eyes of the showrunners, and they didn’t appreciate it being recreated on screen.
2. The introduction of Jo and Ruby
This controversy involves the fans more than anything, but it’s a Supernatural controversy nonetheless. The simple announcement of romantically viable female characters of an appropriate age sent the fandom into an angry frenzy. Some fans were totally cool with the idea of some tangible romance for the brothers– others, though, weren’t so happy with romantic plot devices getting in the way of their fantasies about the Winchesters.
Jo was far from an unlikeable character– she actually had some depth to her– but rumors say that her character was killed off because fans hated her very existence. Ruby is still one of the most hated characters on the show and her legacy of being in the way still lingers. Fans have kept Supernatural alive all these years, but the sometimes fraught relationship between the fans and showrunners has created several controversies in the show’s history.
1. That one word
Spoiler alert: Some television shows contain bad language. This is far from new, and usually not horrendously offensive. However, Supernatural’s excessive use of the word “bitch” is interesting and a little disturbing when one thinks about how often it’s used.
Think of it this way– out of all the great God-given curse words out there, why is “bitch” used so much on the show? At times, it feels like the word is used at least every episode, particularly by Sam and Dean in reference to unsavory or unpopular women. One could think taking offense to the use of the world is a little dramatic– but the way women have been treated by Supernatural, on screen and within the fanbase, it might leave behind a bad taste.
Did we miss any big Supernatural controversies? Let us know in the comments!