Supernatural has been on the CW longer than many shows have aired on any network in history, and while its Monster of the Week, continuing saga of brotherly love and awesome cast (not to mention the many conventions featuring said brothers and the cast) are what keep it going, there's another fan favorite component that makes the show so binge-worthy. One major relationship that viewers come back to see week after week, (hoping that one day we'll finally get a distinct confirmation)is that of Dean Winchester's love for the gruff angel Castiel.
"But Dean has only ever dated women," the naysayers might protest, and while that's true up to this point in the show, that certainly doesn't negate the fact that he can also be attracted to men--in this case, a handsome if naive angel who not only routinely saves his life (and puts him in danger) but also provides us with both canonical and off-the-record evidence supporting their mutual attraction. Some showrunners confess to rooting for the pair and both Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins themselves even enjoy dropping hints about the 'ship in bonus footage.
It's pretty clear if you've seen the show since the fourth season that the two are meant to be. They've shared more relationship tropes, gasp-worthy secret drops, and smoldering gazes than many of the most famous canon couples on the CW. Don't believe us? See for yourself in these Supernatural: 25 Crazy Revelations Behind Dean And Castiel's Relationship.
A hero's weakness is almost always someone they desperately love. For Disney's Hercules, it was Megara; Superman, Lois Lane. When you call someone a weakness it's pretty much a confirmation of romantic love.
When Uriel tells Dean, "He has this weakness. He likes you," in the tenth episode of season four, "Heaven and Hell," it's not only a bold statement, since it's in response to the whereabouts of Uriel's "boss," as Dean put it, but it highlights the fact that the angels are well aware of Castiel's fondness for the older Winchester.
While it wasn't canon on the show, it almost was: there's a moment in the show when Metatron shows that he knows what Castiel's Heaven would look like for the angel. In a panel discussion, Misha Collins cracked up while revealing that the vision of Heaven originally displayed a bunch of men with Jensen Ackles's face on them all.
While the writers eliminated it from the scene, both Collins and Jared Padalecki wanted to keep it in and they have plenty of support from fans who would also love to see this scene as a canonical moment. The actors also enjoy shipping each other and make routine comments about it at Supernatural conventions.
What pairing can you think of, from ANY fandom, that utters, "I need you," more often than Dean Winchester and his favorite angel, Castiel? They say it more than a Chicago song and all it does is encourage us all to further support the CW's most adorable Couple That Isn't A Couple (Yet).
What makes this so revealing is the fact that Dean is always growling about how he hates touchy-feely language with his brother, Sam, yet always seems to be engaging in it when it comes to Cas. "I need you" was the very phrase that broke Cas's brainwashing when he almost took Dean out.
It's almost ridiculous to even think that Cas never showed up until the end of the third season of Supernatural, but we actually went almost three full seasons without meeting our favorite angel with the best intentions. We didn't find out that he'd yanked Dean from the dark clutches of the underworld, however, until the following season, when he not only admitted to doing the deed but that he "gripped him tight."
Those are some lovey-dovey words to us, Cas. Gripping someone tight sounds more like a sweet hug than a moment of redemption.
As an angel without free will, Castiel has never had the reason nor the inclination to say curse words--that is, until he met Dean Winchester, the king of cursing. Cas's attempt to utilize his more colorful vernacular, particularly when interrupting the brothers as they nearly brought about the apocalypse in season five, episode 22, wasn't exactly an example of proper execution of the terms, but it was so funny.
Cas also combined his statement with a little Molotov cocktail, which seemed a Dean thing to do. Yes, we had to witness him get destroyed in the process, but in the end, it was worth it.
Having an angel at your beck and call seems like something that you wouldn't take for granted, but after Cas pulls Dean out of the underworld that's pretty much what the Winchesters do. They get blase about having their own angel and Castiel, who is a busy guy, reminds them that, "I do everything you ask. I always come when you call."
It's true that Cas had an ulterior motive for staying on the good side of the Winchesters, but once he joined Team Free Will it quickly became apparent that his willingness to answer so many "prayers" was due to his fondness of Dean.
Nothing is as we know it in purgatory, except Dean's feelings for his angel. In season 8, episode 2 we see that Cas has grown a beard in the harrowing place. Dean seems to be impressed with it at first, stroking the pretty facial hair after giving Cas a heartfelt hug.
The beard-stroke makes this moment much more revealing than the hug: You hug a good friend when you've missed him or when you're relieved to see him, but you only stroke the face of someone you romantically care about.
When it comes to remembering a loved one lost, keeping a coat as a memento has been a poignant example of mourning ever since Heath Ledger's Ennis couldn't quit Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack in Brokeback Mountain. That's why when Dean, believing Cas to be gone forever, kept his best friend's coat fans went wild over what that small gesture revealed.
Keeping Cas's coat gave a nod to the unspoken romance between Dean and Castiel, and it also proved that no matter how far Cas went in betraying Dean that year, Dean still loved him.
Everyone, even in the kingdoms of Heaven and the underworld, can easily see how Cas and Dean feel about one another, but it's the revealing statements they make that really clear things up. Naomi, one of the meanest and coldest angels who ever lived, told Dean that she knows he wants Cas to "return to him," making his absence sound much more like a long distance relationship than an absent friend.
It's obviously Naomi's tone that is as revealing as her words in this example, but when someone as callous as Naomi even notices your crush, you know it has to be pretty obvious to everyone. In this case, she almost sounds like she's saying, "I totally stole your boyfriend and he's mine now."
Whether under orders from Naomi or Heaven itself, Cas is typically an obedient servant of the Feather Squad... unless it comes to Dean Winchester. Dean is the very reason that Castiel began defying Heaven's orders in the first place, which reminds us all of pre-meme Nicolas Cage choosing free will and Meg Ryan overhearing the melodic sounds of Heaven on the beach in City of Angels.
Sure, Team Free Will did end up unleashing purgatory at one point due to Cas's best of the worst intentions ever, but most of the time we're glad that he makes his own choices.
Don't think that Castiel and Dean Winchester are in love? Take it from Balthazar, who literally admits it in season six. When the Winchesters come a knocking, Balthazar says, "You have me confused with the other angel. You know, the one in the dirty trench coat who's in love with you." The look Dean gives him is priceless.
Sure, it can be argued that it's the exasperated look of a person who's being teased, but what if Dean's more aggravated about the idea of A. him ever confusing his Cas with Balthazar or B. the insult to his boyfriend's coat? Either way, it's another Destial Easter egg.
Dean seemed bent on hooking Castiel up with a woman and making him feel more human for a while, but once it really happened it proved to be too much for Dean to handle. In an alternate future reality in season five's fourth episode, "The End," Cas is at the center of a cult of women with whom he is romantically involved. Dean is aghast to see him behaving this way.
When Dean returns to the actual present reality he tells Castiel to never change, which reveals how uncomfortable he was with the idea of his angel being with anyone else.
When it comes to pleasing Dean Winchester, Castiel proves that he not only knows the key to his heart better than Dean's own brother, Sam, but that he even knows how to apologize to him better. In season eight's 22nd episode, "Clip Show," he manages to assemble the most adorably awkward gift basket for Dean, including beef jerky, toilet paper, magazines, and drinks.
It's the epitome of the on-the-outs and trying to make it up to the misses trope so many movies have featured down to Cas demanding that there be pie to bring home for his Dean.
It's something that a friend would insist upon: I'm leaving this terrible place full of monsters and you're coming with me. The only thing is, Cas felt as if he deserved to be in Purgatory and he pretty much did. He was the reason why it opened in the first place and Dean's left behind, or even offed, other beings for doing much less harm in the past.
Refusing to leave Cas behind almost negates everything that Dean's done in his life. How many monsters did he do away with who inflicted much less damage than Castiel did by opening Purgatory? It's very revealing in terms of Dean's motivation and which of his own rules he's willing to break for love.
Meg and Cas share a moment before the demon is destroyed that made many fans go, "Awww!" She nurses him back to health, saves him from Hester, flirts with him, defies other demons for him and even kisses him, which is a long way from that time he tossed her into fire back in season five.
Like most women in the show, Meg is callously knocked off to further the plot, which is a common problematic theme, but before she is she admits that "emo boy" Cas was Dean's boyfriend first. Come on, you guys, even demons can see it.
We can forgive Cas for many things, but working with Crowley, choosing the demon over his beloved Dean and opening the gates to Purgatory came pretty close to unforgivable. Fans were appalled that Cas was not only able to deceive Dean for this long but then he demanded god-like reverence from the brothers, saying, "So you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your Lord. Or I shall destroy you."
It's not the first abusive statement Cas has made toward Dean, and no one ever said they shared a healthy relationship, but this was one of the top gasp-worthy moments that proved how destructive they can be toward one another.
Season eight's episode eight, "Hunteri Heroici," involves Castiel being a cute, naive angel who attempts to do detective work like the Winchesters, which in his case involves smelling a body and otherwise acting ridiculously funny. The episode features a few revelations, like the fact that Cas wants to stay in the hotel room with the Winchesters at night despite the fact that he doesn't sleep. It gave some viewers a whole Edward-watching-Bella-while-she-sleeps vibe. He even says, "I'll watch over you."
Then there was the mistletoe hanging above Dean and Cas. No, they didn't share a smooch, but just the fact that it was there serves as an Easter egg of sorts for many shippers.
It's not that we've never seen Sam and Dean hug. They hug a whole lot more than Dean will admit, as he likes to play the gruff, no-touchy-feely brother next to Sam's "too precious for this world" outlook. But when we count the number of times he's hugged anybody other than Sammy, Castiel certainly wins.
Dean also usually appears much more eager to hug Cas and refrains from his usual, "I'm too tough for this" drivel while embracing the angel. He's downright overjoyed during some of their hugs and fans have created entire hug compilations of the two.
In the 22nd episode of season four, "Lucifer Rising," Dean snarls, "We're done!" to Cas, effectively "breaking up" with him, at least for the moment, after Cas refuses his request for help.
When have you ever heard someone say, "We're done!" to anyone other than a boyfriend or girlfriend? It happens, but it's rare; the words are normally reserved for a lover's quarrel during a heated moment, especially when the two are not, in fact, done. If this were a Vine, it's where the narrator would chime in, "But they weren't done, not in the least!"
Castiel isn't known for his profound thought droppings, but he's also not one to mince words. That's why when he admits that he and Dean share "a profound bond," in season six's "The Third Man," it's much more meaningful than it is at face value.
The statement could easily just mean that he likes Dean better than Sam, especially since it's given after Sam asks, "So what, you like him better or something?" But Cas's word choice here indicates that his feelings run deep. He could have easily simply confirmed Sam's guess with a taciturn "Yes."
Naomi is one tough cookie and when she brainwashed Castiel, all seemed lost. After endless conditioning designed to prepare Cas to truly take out Dean, it appeared as if he would truly do the deed and destroy so many people's dreams of the OTP becoming real.
Luckily for us, Dean was able to break through the brainwashing to connect with Cas, using the same line that always seems to connect them: "I need you." Seeing Dean's broken face, nearly undid Cas altogether. One of the most difficult moments to ever watch on the show, it revealed how no matter how strong Naomi was, Dean and Cas were stronger.
One of the best parody episodes of Supernatural occurred in season 10. Episode 5, "Fan Fiction," directly referenced the unspoken love and fan pairing by its nickname, "Destiel." When Sam remarked that he didn't understand and Dean said that he didn't, either, Sam said, "Shouldn't it be Deastiel?"
Dean appeared annoyed by that being Sam's issue with the pairing name, but he looked even more unhappy when Sam pointed out that it could just as easily be Cas and Sam instead. "How about Sastiel? Samstiel?" While the episode didn't make the pairing canon, it did acknowledge that it exists.
When we first meet Castiel, he is as unfeeling and detached from humans as we expect angels to be. This doesn't make him any less funny; on the contrary, it makes him unwittingly hilarious on occasion. But it does make him much less sympathetic to the plight of the Winchesters.
Like many couples, Dean and Cas have sparked change in one another over the years, some of which have been positive. In caring for Dean, Castiel developed his own humanity and became able to not only understand other humans but to empathize with them as well.
In one of the most adorable Dean/Cas moments of Supernatural, Dean doesn't just appear to be relieved when Castiel returns from purgatory but completely attracted to him. In the seventh episode of season eight, "A Little Slice of Kevin," Cas shaves, dons fresh clothing and looks so fetching that Dean shifts uncomfortably in reaction to his cleaned up friend.
It speaks volumes when Dean attempts to conceal his excitement over Cas's fresh face, adding further tension to the pairing that fans love so much. Many viewers even love to make memes out of this revealing moment.
While the "will they or won't they" question has injected agony into the hearts of Dean and Cas shippers for years, Misha Collins admits that there's something between the two. Regarding Purgatory, Collins gave an impersonation of Dean saying, "Where’s the angel, where’s the angel, you know, the guy I’m in love with?"
When fans said they didn't remember that line, Collins continued, "He might as well have. You know, we know what it is, what’s going on. We don’t talk about it. The actors don’t, Jensen and I don’t. But we’re all perfectly aware of how the relationship is, the writers are completely aware of how it’s being written. It may be unspoken but that doesn’t mean it’s not there or not true."