When John Winchester first became a hunter he never imagined what his sons would go on to accomplish. These two young boys were trained from childhood to be warriors, to fight ghosts and monsters. Their destiny was so much bigger: taking on archangels, the Apocalypse, ancient monsters, demons, and even God’s sister, The Darkness.
Although these two appear to be the non-powered humans going up against powerful, unstoppable beings that couldn’t be destroyed, the series slowly reveals that Sam and Dean are hardly normal. To fight these creatures the boys have done unspeakable things that have marked them forever, they’ve sacrificed themselves on a biblical level and have been chosen by God and The Darkness.
Ironically Sam was treated as the ‘special’ Winchester for the first few seasons and, whilst his differences may have been more obvious than Dean’s, it is revealed that Dean is supernaturally special all on his own. Over the years these paranormal differences have only increased.
Sam has been possessed more than any other character on the show, having been possessed by Meg, Gadreel, Lucifer, and Crowley. Whereas Dean has been turned into a variety of different beings including a vampire, ‘Jefferson Starship,’ a Horseman of the Apocalypse, and a Knight of the Underworld.
The Winchesters have inherited many unique traits that separate them from other hunters, let alone other humans. Many of these are shared, but some things are individual and unique to each Winchester.
Let’s take a look at Supernatural: 25 Weird Details About Sam and Dean Winchester’s Anatomy.
25 BECAUSE IT HAD TO BE YOU
In season five the grand reveal after the long Apocalypse arc is that both the Winchesters are vessels capable of containing archangels. Sam is destined as Lucifer’s vessel and due to Lucifer’s tainted form needs to consume demon blood to support him. Dean, however, is the “perfect vessel,” “the Michael Sword.” He is the single most powerful of Heaven’s weapons. Since Dean is the ultimate vessel whatever possesses him will be more powerful in him than in any other body. Three angels have collectively possessed the two men: Lucifer, Gadreel, and Michael (version two).
24 BETTER THAN MOTHER’S MILK
When Mary signed her agreement with Azazel (the first Prince and current King of Haedes) she gave him license to waltz into Sam’s room and infect him with demon blood when he was six months old. As a result, he has powers associated with the demon, becoming one of many “psychic kids.” He had visions and showed signs of telekinetic abilities. Thanks to Ruby, he discovers he can keep some of those powers (forcefully exorcizing demons) active by consuming demon blood after Azazel perished.
23 EVEN A HUNTER CAN BE A TWIHARD
Dean is often deeply uncomfortable with monsters, raised his whole life to blindly despise them. He steadily learns the world is considerably more grey than he had believed. Ironically, he is the last person one would expect to be a vampire, but for a single day, Dean was a child of the night. With his skills, he managed to wipe out an entire nest single-handedly, a feat he doesn’t remember. Using his sire he was able to synthesize a cure and undergo the unpleasant transformation back to humanity. Since then one of Dean’s best friends has been a vampire from Purgatory.
22 WARDING WORKS
As the series goes on it becomes painfully clear that the two boys were wildly under-prepared for what was to come. After handling a demonic possession at the hands of Meg, Sam and Dean get magical “no demons allowed” tattoos on their chests. They have used hexbags made by Ruby to hide from angels and demons before. It isn’t until Castiel unceremoniously carves Enochian warding into their ribcages that the Winchesters have real protection. The wardings have limitations and there are certain loopholes, but they are an extra layer of defense for mortals fighting gods.
21 MARKS AND BRANDS
Supernatural is a show that loves to come full circle and embraces parallels. After Sam had his short stint as a demon Dean sees a version of the Apocalypse-ridden future where he is a far darker version of himself in 2014. With the unjust end of Kevin, Dean hits his lowest point and, in an act of desperation and self-destructing guilt, he takes on the Mark of Cain. Now, in the true 2014, Dean is a dark, struggling man driven by a curse that needs to be fed. The Mark is revealed to actually be the “lock and key” for God’s sister, the Darkness, making its potency and power more frightening. Although the Mark has been removed God says it has “tainted” Dean, permanently changing him.
20 JEFFERSON STARSHIPS
In season six “The Mother of All: Eve” is introduced. She arrived from Purgatory to protect her children, almost every monster walking the face of the earth, and take vengeance on those systematically destroying her family. She begins building the perfect beast, and after some unfortunate “beta testing” she gets the recipe right, creating a creature Dean coins “Jefferson Starships.” Provoked by Dean she bites and infects him too. He had ingested phoenix ash, the only known way to vanquish her. Once she was destroyed Cas cleared up Dean’s transformation before it could take hold.
19 BRING ON THE PAIN
Both the boys have an extremely high pain tolerance. Aside from their father’s training Dean was on Alistair’s rack for decades, subjected to “Picasso with a razor” who was determined to break him. Sam’s soul was in the Cage with Michael, Lucifer, and Adam for over a year (the time difference in the Cage is never confirmed) being used as entertainment. Both have suffered unimaginable pain in the Pit and thus are unbreakable under regular harm. “I’ve been tortured by the devil himself. You’re just an accent in a pantsuit. What could you do to me?”
18 QUITE THE TOURIST
Although Sam, Bobby, and Cas have done a fair amount of supernatural dimensional travel into the afterlife, no one has done as much as Dean. He’s been in the Veil multiple times, often to negotiate with Demise. He’s been in the Pit a couple of times, Heaven multiple times, and survived as a human in Purgatory for a year. What really separates Dean from the rest is his visit to Reaper HQ, the “Reading Room.” No one but reapers can ever go there, and from what Tessa mentioned previously, it seems like the admission of reapers to the room, instead of just the Horseman, might be a recent affair.
17 ONE DOWN
Although the junk food loving, King of Sass Demise himself is missed, it is an undeniable accomplishment that Dean managed to vanquish Demise itself. Although the reaper Billie replaced Demise after she perished, Dean remains the only person to have ever killed a Horseman. He and Sam took the ring of War, Sam used his demon ability to cripple Famine, and Cas defeated Pestilence. The three remaining original Horseman remain incapacitated, although the demon Brady confirms they’re still alive. “They’re withered husks right now… Fetal position on the floor.”
16 HUNTER AND A HORSEMAN
The man who perishes that much deserves a chance to be Demise for day, as a trial from Death Dean had to act in his place for twenty-four hours. Dean worked in the Veil and reaped four people as Demise, with the assistance of the reaper Tessa. The experience earned Sam back his soul, also giving Dean a “look behind the curtain” and a deeper understanding of the workings of the universe he so constantly disregarded. Both Sam and Dean’s existence disrupts the natural order; therefore “chaos and sadness will follow [them] for the rest of [their lives].”
15 TRIALS OF THE PIT
Sam began the arduous task of the Demon Trials in season eight. With instructions from the demon tablet, he completed two of the three trials in order to close all the Devil’s Gates and “banish all demons off the face of the Earth.” After bathing in the blood of a hellhound and saving a soul from the Pit, Sam had to cure a demon, restoring its humanity. The cost at the end of these trails was his life; the “ultimate sacrifice.” The trials ravaged Sam’s body, acting like a holy cancer, the power burning from the inside. When Sam chose to live, not completing the final trail, his body was about to give out. Although Gadreel and Cas healed him, it will forever be in his blood.
14 TINKERBELL IN A MICROWAVE
Dean has the ability to see fairies even when they don’t want him to. He was abducted to another dimension (much like Oz) while on a case and then sent back. These “magical, mischievous beings from the realm next door” are usually only seen if they want to be. Otherwise “only people who’ve been there and returned to our world can see the fairy here.” Until this point fairies were believed to be a myth even amongst hunters. Dean is also one of only two hunters confirmed to have vanquished a fairy (the other is Garth).
13 JUST A BIT OF HISTORY REPEATING
The Winchester boys grew up thinking their family’s introduction to the supernatural started with their mother’s demise. It isn’t until Dean time travels to 1973 that he realizes that the hunter in the family was never John, but his mother Mary. She was not only “raised in the life,” but born into a long line of hunters stretching at least as far back as the Mayflower (the ship that brought the pilgrims to America).
In season eight the last of the pieces slotted together with their time traveling Grandfather, Henry, who was a Man of Letters. The secret organization was dedicated to collecting information on the supernatural and bestowing their knowledge on elite hunters. The Winchester family had been members for generations until Henry disappeared through time only to meet his grandsons in the future.
12 WHERE DID MY SOUL GO
Sam mysteriously returned from the Cage at the end of season five. He didn’t sleep, didn’t feel and lacked empathy… his soul was left behind. His body was dragged from the Cage by Cas, newly empowered and determined to save his friend. He fought his way down to the Cage, facing two angry archangels and barely pulled Sam out, not realizing he left a piece behind. Sam was willing to endanger Dean, lacking instincts of basic morality. As a hunter, he was at his best but he didn’t care much for saving people. Eventually, after a year and a half, Dean negotiated with Death and retrieved Sam’s soul from the Cage.
11 WHEN YOU GET TO BE MY AGE
Dean is the only character to have been magically aged both up and down. In season five he lost a poker game to an Irish witch named Patrick, hitting his eighties early and getting a taste of geriatric hunting.
In season ten, the witch Katja had Hansel use a hexbag to turn Dean and other adults into delicious little children for her dinner. Dean returned, with all his adult knowledge, to his fourteen-year-old body. To save the day he returned to himself, but not before showing Sam that even Dean had been a kid once too.
10 WE’VE ALL BEEN DEMONS
Both Dean and Sam have been non-possessive demons with their original bodies. For Sam, this was a result of his demon blood addiction and only lasted a minute, whereas Dean was a demon for two months after his resurrection with the Mark of Cain.
Sam reverted back to human once he used the full force of his powers to destroy Lilith, the demon blood was then cleaned out of him by God. Dean had to be cured of his demon nature with a Men of Letters procedure, but walked the line between human and demon while he still had the Mark of Cain.
9 LIVING IS EASY
The boys perish more than anyone on the show, probably more than anyone in the Supernatural universe. They’ve been brought back by demon deals, reapers, and angels. Cas has healed and resurrected both of them with angel magic on multiple occasions. Sam has passed a few times, but Dean has perished over one hundred times, even Sam accidentally took out his brother with an axe in Mystery Spot.
They have also become quite adept at fighting in the Veil. Dean and Sam sharpened these skills when astral projecting there with the help of the psychic Pamela.
8 ANGELS AND DEMONS ON MY SHOULDER
Demons “take what they want” in possession of their meat-suit, whereas angels need permission to enter their vessel, once they do the original owner usually gets buried. Regardless, it is not remotely pleasant and both Sam and Cas are the only beings to be possessed by both an angel and a demon at the same time. In both of these situations, the demon king Crowley enters the host in an attempt to help Sam and Cas force out their angelic possessor. For Cas, already an angel himself, it was to assist in removing Lucifer. For Sam, Gadreel had taken control of his vessel and used it to terminate Kevin.
7 A REGULAR DOCTOR DOLITTLE
Dean does not like dogs. Not when they’re witch familiars and not when they’re in his car, until he becomes one himself. Dean does a spell to hear the dog, their only witness, and instead hears all animals and takes on many canine attributes. As an honorary dog, he drove with his head out the window, played fetch, and barked at the mailman. He also gained a new appreciation for man’s best friend; he freed animals from the pound, took down the bad guy together, and he was even privy to the secret conspiracy of all dog kind. Well, he would have been… if only the spell lasted “ten more seconds.”
6 RAISED TO BE WARRIORS
John Winchester was a marine and started training the boys from a young age. The two were “raised as warriors,” having enough know-how to go up against the supernatural, law enforcement and even the Secret Service. Dean began training as a hunter around the same time John did (around four years old) and Sam likely learned after he found out about hunting on Christmas at the age of eight. This combat training is deeply ingrained, John stating he was their “drill sergeant.” Dean’s time in Purgatory with “three hundred and sixty-degree combat” with every fanged and clawed thing to ever walk the earth, also enhanced his fighting skills quite drastically.
5 BACK TO THE FUTURE
Time travel was first introduced in season four as something angels “can bend on occasion.” Both Winchester boys have time traveled repeatedly: Dean six times, Sam twice, however, Sam has only ever time traveled with Dean, whereas Dean has gone alone multiple times. Dean met his family in 1973, revisiting with Sam in 1978 with the aid of Cas. Dean was sent forward to 2014, which can be perceived to be an alternate reality construction rather than time travel. In season six the boys travel back to the wild west where Sam meets Samuel Colt, Dean would later go to 1944 to meet hero Elliot Ness and lastly, to a ship in the second World War to retrieve a hand of God.
4 TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
Dean was touched by an angel in their true form. On the physical plane angels need vessels to interact with humanity, but “Downstairs” they can do battle in their true visage. Castiel pulled Dean from the Pit before taking Jimmy Novak as a vessel. Dean had an angel’s mark (Cas’ handprint on his shoulder), whereas Sam was half-raised by Cas from the Cage when he was in his vessel, thus his lack of a handprint. Although the handprint was healed by Cas, it was the original cornerstone of the “profound bond” that gave the Winchesters the chance to fight back against the Apocalypse.
3 WALLS AND CAGES
Sam was extensively tortured in the Cage by Lucifer and Michael, something that has deeply affected him since. Dean bargained with Death to have a psychic “wall” put up in his mind to keep the horrific memories at bay. Desperate to keep the Winchesters away Cas removed the wall and all the damage tumbled out causing extreme hallucinations. In repentance Cas took on the psychological damage that had been done to Sam’s mind, inflicting that damage onto himself. Whilst the memories remain, Sam no longer suffers the crippling aftershocks.
2 SPARKLES IN MY EYES
When Sam was younger, around the age of nine, Dean had begun to go on more hunts with John, leaving Sam alone. His only companion was his imaginary friend Sully who kept him company and made him “marshmallows on nachos.” As it turns out, Sully is very real and actually a Zanna, a being from Romanian myth that helps lonely kids. Thanks to Sully, for a short period of time, the Winchesters were some of the only adult humans to ever see Zanna. This included a unicorn, a mermaid and specialist in air guitar.
1 SUNS INSIDE
Dean, Sam, and Cas have taken foreign souls into their bodies. Souls are extremely powerful, a source of magic and currency. Each soul is “as powerful as a hundred suns.” Sam held Bobby’s for a few minutes and Dean held Benny for a couple of weeks upon hawking their souls from Purgatory to the land of the living. Both Dean and Cas took on “millions upon millions of souls” in order to destroy The Darkness and the archangel Raphael, respectively. “The human soul is… vulnerable, impermanent, but stronger than you know and more valuable than you can imagine.”