As Dean Winchester himself would probably say, Supernatural is “freakin’ awesome.” As one of the longest-running fantasy shows on television, the adventures of the Winchester brothers has managed to remain relevant by its constant introduction (and re-introduction) of great characters and intriguing story-lines, which are delivered with a heavy dose of action and humor. The beating heart of the show has been, and will always be, the chemistry between the main players, which ensures that even its weakest installments are highly watchable.
But in a series with over 250 episodes, there are bound to be some mishaps. Any show that approaches fantasy with a comedic-edge often walks the fine line between sublime and ridiculous. Naturally, Supernatural has occasionally fallen foul of that line with some truly cringe-worthy moments.
This list will be omitting certain moments, such as Sam and Becky’s wedding, which were intended to induce mass-cringing and will instead focus on scenes that were uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons. Lastly, it is important to mention that this is a list borne of love and is intended entirely in good humor. For a show of Supernatural’s longevity to be so consistently high in quality is nothing short of a Metatron-sized miracle.
Here are Supernatural’s 15 Most Cringe-Worthy Moments.
15. They Grow Up So Fast
Sometimes Supernatural’s world of magic and monsters is a little too silly for its own good. Season seven’s episode “The Slice Girls” is one such moment. One of Dean’s many one-night stands goes incredibly wrong when he finds out his partner for the evening is actually one of the last surviving Amazonian women. The plot thickens, as we discover that the woman is actually using Dean as a glorified sperm donor for a pregnancy that, thanks to the power of magic, takes a hell of a lot less than nine months.
When Dean drops by the next day and finds a baby in the house, his suspicions are aroused. As Dean continues to return to the Amazonian’s house he notices that the child is growing older still. The realization that Dean suddenly has a teenage daughter only adds to the cringe-factor. The debacle is, thankfully, swiftly swept under the rug and Dean’s child is never mentioned again after she is killed by Sam.
14. Annie, Are You Okay?
Being a hunter is like being a rockstar on tour: longterm relationships are hard and casual hook-ups are a perfectly reasonable way of winding down and relieving tension. Dean certainly subscribes to this method and over time, Sam begins to indulge too. Largely, the boys’ romantic interests remain separate but there is one woman managed to snag both Winchesters: the hunter Annie Hawkins.
In itself, this revelation isn’t actually too cringe-worthy but that swiftly changes when it transpires that Annie also had a night of passion with Sam and Dean’s surrogate father, Bobby Singer. Throughout his time on the show, Bobby often stated how much he thought of the brothers as his own kids and so the reveal that they all bedded the same woman is more than a little bit creepy.
13. The Pishtaco Diet
The health spa setting perhaps should’ve been a warning sign that “The Purge” was not going to be one of season nine’s highlight episodes – a belief strengthened when Sam and Dean are forced to take on jobs at the resort, Dean ending up with a hairnet.
With that said, the episode’s set-up is mostly for the benefit of humor and certainly isn’t as bad as it might have been. Until the monster is revealed, that is. As it turns out, the spa’s owners are actually Pishtacos (or Fish Tacos, right Dean?) and have been using their parasitic appendages to suck the fat out of their spa guests, covering the practice up as “cupping.”
It is cringe-worthy because other scenes of the episode are completely serious. Such moments include the attempt to establish Alonzo as a major threat and the attempt to make a moral point about providing monsters who mean no harm with mercy, instead of downright killing them. Had the entire episode been light-hearted, it would have fared much better.
12. Ghastly CGI
With shows such as Game of Thrones and The Man In The High Castle, television special effects have never been better and fans are spoilt with glorious movie-quality CGI sequences. Unfortunately, this means that series with a more modest visual effects budget can look like amateurs by comparison.
Two such instances in Supernatural spring to mind. The first involves the titular bugs in the shower scene of season one’s “Bugs” (which can perhaps be forgiven since it occurred in the debut season). The second includes the far more recent Banshee effect in “Into The Mystic.”
Producing over twenty episodes per season on a tight budget is no mean feat. You have to sympathize with the Supernatural team for not always having the funds to spend on top grade CGI. Nevertheless, these two shocking examples of visual effects look like scenes from a college film-making project, not one of the most popular fantasy shows of all time.
11. The Paris Hilton Cameo
Jared Padalecki and Paris Hilton both starred in the best-forgotten horror remake House of Wax. This connection led to the hotel heiress netting a cameo role in the Supernatural episode “Fallen Idols” as Leshii, a Pagan god who Sam and Dean confront at a local wax museum (get it?). Paris beats on the two hunters for a while and gets a few lines to boot, none of which harbor any genuine quality.
On the plus side, Hilton does get a gruesome decapitation scene but unsurprisingly, considering her most famous movie required very little acting, the performance is far from a thespian masterclass.
10. The Loving Dead
Bringing the dead back to life is par for the course on Supernatural, but even so, sexual intimacy between the living and the reanimated is still generally frowned upon. In the appropriately titled “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,” Friend-zone inhabitant Neil resurrects a dead pal he secretly had feelings for. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan and the zombie soon goes on a vengeance spree.
The cringe-factor here comes from the intimacy between Neil and his zombie lover, Angela. Although nothing explicit is shown, it is very much implied and the two share a passionate on-screen kiss which is, frankly, grim enough. The show has steered largely clear of necrophilia ever since, perhaps recognizing that relations between humans and zombies aren’t a big hit with viewers.
9. The British Invasion
No one ever wants to think about their parents’ sex lives, so it comes as a huge shock when we see the aftermath of a sex scene involving Sam and Dean’s mother, Mary Winchester and the British Men of Letters’ self-proclaimed psycho, Arthur Ketch. Mary gets dressed as a naked Ketch watches her from the bed, remarking on how unexpected their dalliance had been. Mary is quick to make sure that they’re on the same page regarding the relationship and Ketch awkwardly agrees, although it is difficult to discern whether he’s actually upset that they couldn’t be something more.
Not only is Mary having sex for the first time in 33 years since being dead, but she decides to have this first encounter with Ketch. Ketch is unbelievably smarmy and downright sadistic. So, of all people, why him? These two points easily make this one of the most cringe-worthy moments of season twelve.
Misha Collins is fantastic as the Winchesters’ angel pal, Castie. But even Cass has his cringey moments. The most notable of these came as he inadvertently unleashed the deadly Leviathans upon the Earth.
Desperate to warn Sam and Dean of the oncoming threat, Cass lets out a pained croak, growling “LE-VI-A-THAN” as he struggles on the floor, making the line sound more like an angry teenager’s first attempt at death metal vocals than the ominous heralding of a new main villain.
Of course, one slightly embarrassing line could be easily forgiven, especially since Misha claims to have been quite ill when the scene was filmed. However, whoever is responsible for putting together the “Previously on…” montage at the beginning of each episode decided to use this moment in more or less every pre-episode package for the rest of the season. Upon hearing “LE-VI-A-THAN!” for the umpteenth time – especially during a binge watch – it’s impossible not to cringe every time.
7. Finally Doing Hitler
Supernatural loves a good resurrection, and it’s easy to lose count of how many times Dean, Sam, Castiel, etc. have all been brought back to life. But the show pushed the boundaries to their limit when they revived one of history’s most notorious figures – Adolf Hitler – thanks to the returning Nazi necromancers, the Thule Society.
In “Everybody Hates Hitler” the Thule Society gather an antique pocket-watch that holds the soul of Hitler (he made Horcruxes?!) and capture one of his descendants. Using her blood, they are able to transfer Adolf’s soul into the body of one of his former supporters.
Once reborn, Hilter cackles maniacally and jumps up and down like a spoiled child and the cringing duly begins. When the Winchesters finally come and the bullets start flying, Hitler begins running away before being taken down by Dean, to which Sam remarks “Dude, you killed Hitler.”
6. The Wi-Fi Is Haunted
You’d be surprised at the kinds of things that the ghosts of the deceased attach themselves to in Supernatural, but when an angry spirit managed to haunt a town’s Wi-Fi connection in “Halt and Catch Fire,” this concept was stretched a little too far.
In the episode we witness a college lecturer who is rammed against a communications tower in a car crash, due to a group of students not paying attention to the road. To exact his revenge, the teacher inhabits the tower’s Wi-Fi signal and goes on a Final Destination-style killing spree, using a variety of internet-related murder techniques.
What were they thinking?
In “Blade Runners,” Sam and Dean are trying to hunt down Crowley. They decide to summon a crossroads demon to assist them, but as they’re doing the ritual something strange happens. Snooki of Jersey Shore is summoned, which is a surprise not only for the hunters but also viewers. In a very meta, real-world-crossover scene, it transpires that the reality TV star is actually possessed by a demon in the Supernatural world which, as Dean so rightly states, explains a lot.
Unfortunately, Snooki isn’t really an actor and the scene plays out awkwardly, with wooden delivery and zero authenticity. The scene is even more cringe-worthy if you have absolutely no idea who Snooki is while you watch the episode (because not everyone watches Jersey Shore).
4. Racial Prejudice Truck
As members of cast and crew have admitted over the years, some of Supernatural’s earlier stories were a little bit ridiculous. Season one’s “Route 666” was one such episode. Already on shaky ground with the “murderous truck on the loose” concept, the shark was well and truly jumped with the reveal that the vehicle was possessed by the ghost of a racist, hell-bent on getting revenge against the group who put a stop to his crimes years ago.
Putting the debate as to whether such a plot is in good taste to one side, the explanation behind the murders makes suspension of disbelief practically impossible – even within Supernatural’s remit – and the episode easily goes down as one of the worst in the show’s history. A similar mistake was made with the aforementioned “haunted Wi-Fi” episode but at least that one managed to avoid the racial overtones.
3. Dean’s Dog Disaster
“Dog Dean Afternoon” is not one of Supernatural’s best episodes by any measure. It has a number of cringe-inducing moments, all of which revolve around Dean temporarily gaining the ability to communicate with animals. And in authentic Babe-style, the animals are given human voice-overs. The results aren’t great.
The episode begins with the eldest Winchester brother taking a potion in order to interrogate the only witness to a murder: the victim’s dog. In doing so, he becomes able to talk to all varieties of animal, leading to scenes that involve him arguing with a bird and being flirted with by a dog.
To be fair, the episode is supposed to be funny but, while Supernatural’s comedic elements usually hit the mark, the interplay between Dean and the animals misses the mark completely. This led to many fans cringing, despite the fact that the story was meant to be light-hearted.
2. Mary Kisses Her Dad
The time traveling episode, “In The Beginning,” was actually one of the strongest episodes in Supernatural‘s fourth season. It provides some much needed back-story and plenty of juicy character moments. One scene, however, had fans desperately reaching for something to throw up into.
With John Winchester dead, his wife Mary – Sam and Dean’s mother – desperately makes a deal with a demon to resurrect him. Traditionally, such deals are sealed with a kiss and this would have been fine, had the demon not been possessing Mary’s father at the time.
What makes the father and daughter kiss even more cringe-worthy is the fact that Sam is forced to watch it unfold. The Winchester brothers have seen some horrific things in their time, but watching his grandfather and mother make-out is surely enough to make Dean wish he was back in Hell.
1. Charlie Goes To Oz
Supernatural fans are asked to buy into a lot of craziness and, more often than not, they do so without question, knowing that they’ll be rewarded with thrills and entertainment. Vampires, Werewolves, Demons, Angels, and even Wendigos are all accepted with open arms by viewers.
However, the show occasionally pushes the limits of what is believable. One such moment appears in season nine’s “Slumber Party.” Essentially, the episode reveals that the events of The Wizard of Oz are based on reality and that the titular realm of Oz does in fact exist. Author L. Frank Baum thus had visited the realm before writing his infamous book.
If this idea isn’t cringe-worthy enough, the episode ends with a fan-favorite honorary Winchester, Charlie – who is desperately seeking an adventure of her own – walking through the portal to Oz side by side with Dorothy. It was a leap too far, even for Supernatural.
Supernatural season thirteen has been confirmed by The CW.
What do you think of these cringe-worthy Supernatural moments? Can you think of any more that weren’t discussed? Let us know in the comments!