Supernatural is the last show standing from the days of the WB. When UPN and WB merged, the CW was born. Now 12 seasons into a show that was conceived as a five-year story, Supernatural shows no signs of slowing down.
CW executives maintain that they’ll continue to make the show as long as series stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles want to keep coming back for the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester.
When a show runs for over a decade, writers and production team members recognize just how much love fans have for it. With Supernatural, writers honored that fan affection with plenty of meta episodes and takes on alternate universes to give fans Easter eggs galore.
Of course, they also stick plenty of Easter eggs and pop culture references into episodes on a regular basis for the most diehard of fans to pick up on.
We’ve combed through years worth of Easter eggs, references, and instances of foreshadowing to bring you the 20 Things You Completely Missed In Supernatural.
What you won’t find here is a list of all the episodes that are actually song titles or quotes from movies as that would make for a 200+ list. We also haven’t rounded up the list of aliases used by Sam and Dean Winchester as nearly every single one has been a fictional character, an actor, or a musician.
How many of these did you notice?
20 Swan Song
Many showrunners, despite the uncertain nature of the renewal process, create long term plans for their show’s ending. Eric Kripke did as well, and it got a nod in season five.
Kripke’s initial plan involved a five season run, reasonable for a show that got its start on the WB just before the network became the CW. Five seasons is typically just over 100 episodes, and a long TV life. Supernatural earned a renewal beyond that, which meant the story had to continue.
Kripke stepped down as showrunner and titled the season finale “Swan Song,” as a nod to the final chapter of his story. “Swan Song” also happened to be the name of Led Zeppelin’s record label, Kripke’s favorite band.
Though the music was too expensive for the show to use, he made sure Sam and Dean used aliases that were names of band members throughout those seasons.
19 Jo’s Death
Jo’s death early on in the show acted as an indicator of just how unlucky the Winchesters would continue to be in the future. Everyone they ever care about ends up caught in the demon hunting web and dies-- or worse.
Jo was different than many of the other loved ones in the lives of the Winchesters because though she was connected to them, her family were also hunters, specifically the father she idolized who died on a job. In fact, Jo’s death served as a reminder to the audience of just how much Jo looked up to him.
Way back in season two, the series revealed that Jo’s father acted as bait on the last job he did with John Winchester. He was so badly injured that John shot him to stop his suffering. Likewise, Jo acts as bait, saving Sam and Dean’s lives as she dies.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is something of a TV icon these days. Denny in Grey’s Anatomy, John in Supernatural, and Negan in The Walking Dead. He’s played characters that no TV fan is going to forget.
When Morgan made his debut as Negan on The Walking Dead, some fans joked that Negan was who John Winchester might have become in the events of a zombie apocalypse, and wishes for a crossover, however crazy that idea might be, were born. A cross over between those two universes would never happen on screen, but a nod from one show to another could.
John Winchester’s TV sons carried a very special baseball bat in the episode “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”, with Dean even remarking how much their dad loved it. That bat, dressed in barbed wire, was a version of Lucille, Negan’s weapon of choice on The Walking Dead.
17 Sympathy For The Devil
As season five of Supernatural began, the writers set up an arc that saw Sam and Dean as “vessels” for Lucifer and the angel Michael. Neither of the brothers was too keen on finding out that their bodies would literally be on the line in an ancient war. One scene in the season premiere teased just what was to come.
At the top of the episode, just as Lucifer was freed from Hell, the brothers were transported away from him and into an airplane flying overhead. On the airplane, an episode of Looney Tunes played that involved Yosemite Sam taken to Hell by the devil himself.
While some might see the episode as simply on theme, that episode foreshadowed that Sam would eventually succumb and be Lucifer’s vessel.
16 Dean’s Foreshadowing
Sometimes, Dean’s lines aren’t just fun pop culture shout outs or explanations for demonic activity. On occasion, Dean predicts his own future.
Often this predictions come in moments of anger, like during his confrontation with the angel Zachariah in the episode “It’s A Terrible Life.” The season four episode was a send up for the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life that had the Winchester brothers leading completely different lives - and not knowing one another.
At one point, Dean remarked to Zachariah that he didn’t care that he was an angel, Dean would still “stab him in the face.” He went on to do just that only one season later in another confrontation with Zachariah and other angels.
There are also times Dean says the opposite of what’s coming, like remarking that Death can’t be killed, but going on to kill the entity himself. So he’s probably not exactly clairvoyant.
15 Gilmore Girls
When Sam and Dean went to Los Angeles to visit a possibly haunted film set, the atmosphere was ripe for shout-outs to the real life actors and production team that made the show possible.
Jared Padalecki was a recurring cast member of the WB series Gilmore Girls when he auditioned for the role of Dean on Supernatural. He was eventually cast as Sam instead, and had to be written out of the other series.
In “Hollywood Babylon”, a season two episode, Sam and Dean attended a studio tour while investigating whether or not the ghosts seen on a horror movie set were the real thing. The tour guide mentioned that Gilmore Girls was filming nearby, prompting a surprised reaction from Sam and a thumbs up from Dean.
14 Warehouse 13
Supernatural is definitely known for its pop culture references. Despite always being on the road, Dean seems to watch all of the television, giving nods to classic characters as well as modern storylines. This one might have been a little niche, even for him.
During the season five episode “I Believe The Children Are Our Future”, Dean attempts to convince a kid who had a demon for a parent to come on the road with them. He references a a secret facility in South Dakota where they can go. That secret facility is likely a nod to the television series Warehouse 13.
Warehouse 13 began airing just a few months prior to the episode. The show filmed not far from Supernatural in Vancouver, and because of the close community of actors, shared some guest stars. The series saw secret agents recovering items with supernatural properties to keep the public safe.
13 Familiar Faces
If you pay close attention to the episodes, you might notice that some people in the world of Supernatural have doppelgängers.
Over the course of the show, Supernatural has employed several actors in different roles. Some have progressed from an extra to a guest star. In other cases, they’ve guest starred as several one-off characters.
Erica Carroll appeared in early episodes of the show as a nurse (“Faith”) and a mother (“Something Wicked”) before she was ultimately cast in the role of an angel named Hannah.
Considering Supernatural has been on the air for 12 seasons, the repetition isn’t unusual. The same thing happened on shows like Law & Order and E.R. Shiri Appleby, for example, appeared as a guest star in an early season of E.R. as a teen with a stomach problem, and then played a different character as a doctor in the final season.
12 Weird Science
When characters like Sam and Dean find themselves frequenting roadside bars on their cross-country monster hunting, its no surprise they’ve had more than a few rough mornings. Dean has a remedy for that.
In the season two episode “Playthings”, Dean has an idea to cure his massive hangover, “a greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray.” While that doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, it does have its roots in an '80s movie. It’s the same hangover cure mentioned in the movie Weird Science, which featured two teenage boys creating their perfect woman.
In the ten seasons since, other hangover “cures” have been tried, but the need for them has also lessened.
It’s probably best to remind everyone that there is no actual scientific cure for a hangover.
11 Carver Edlund
When Sam and Dean tracked down a writer detailing stories of their monster hunting, the Easter eggs appeared in full force.
The season four episode “The Monster at the End of This Book” had the guys meet Chuck, a man with the pen name Carver Edlund. His name itself was a nod to the show’s own writers, Jeremy Carver and Ben Edlund.
The shoutouts to behind the scenes writers didn’t stop there though. The diner where Sam and Dean eat in the episode is called Kripke’s Hollow, named for showrunner Eric Kripke, who also penned several episodes.
The same episode also features several posters that correspond to real life comic books, including a Supernatural Origins comic book, making all the meta references stand out to some diehard fans.
10 A Real Wedding
Season six went very meta with the episode “The French Mistake” as the guys were sent to an alternate universe to protect them from an impending attack. They discovered they were the stars of a television series called, you guessed it, Supernatural.
In addition to things like Misha Collins and Genevieve Cortese playing themselves, real items from the actors’ lives were used for the episode, though some of them didn’t know they would appear.
When Sam and Dean discover that “Sam” is married to “Ruby,” they also visit their house, which includes a photo from the couple’s wedding. That photo wasn’t created for the show. Insead, it’s one of Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Cortese’s actual wedding photos, which Padalecki didn’t know the prop department got ahold of to use until the day of shooting.
9 H.H. Holmes
H.H. Holmes was the first documented serial killer in the United States and he inspired the season two episode “No Exit”. One of his victims though was not like the others.
As the characters research into the killer, who in real life had a “murder hotel” where he claimed his victims, one of the images shown is not actually from Holmes’ crimes. Instead, the victim is one of Jack the Ripper’s across the pond in England.
Some eagle-eyed fans might have written this off as a mistake on the part of the writers, but really, it’s a nod to some true crime theorists.
There are some who believe that Jack the Ripper was never caught because he didn’t just operate in London. One of the theories concerning the identity of the most famous English killer is that he and H.H. Holmes are one in the same.
8 A Family Show
When a show runs as long as Supernatural has, there’s a good chance the family of those working on it will have stopped by the set at some point.
In the case of the Supernatural guys, both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles got married and started families while working on the show, so it’s become a family affair. Some of Ackles’ family members have appeared on camera a few times.
Ackles’ brother-in-law and niece appear as demons in the episode “Soul Survivor”. His parents also appeared in the episode “Heartache”, and even his sister has appeared as an extra in episodes like “Bloodlust”.
The props department even showed the Ackles family some love. In the episode “Soul Survivor”, not only did family members appear on screen, but they named the gas station that appears after Ackles’ nephew Levi.
7 The Simpsons
Someone in the writers’ room is definitely a fan of the longest running animated series. In addition to Dean making pop culture references to The Simpsons once in a while, the show had an Easter egg for the animated series as well.
In the episode “Something Wicked”, Sam and Dean made their way to a small town in Wisconsin where children mysteriously fell ill. As it turned out, they were being targeted by a witch known as a Shtriga. When Sam decided to track the Shtriga’s history, he found a very specific set of towns impacted by the witch.
The places that were hit by the Shtriga just before included Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook. Those three towns were all also involved in monorail accidents in The Simpsons episode “Marge vs. the Monorail”.
6 Hidden Names
It’s not just writers and producers who wind up with their names hidden in episodes. Plenty of the art department members have their names in episodes of the show as well.
Members of the art department often see their names crop up on the show as owners of business, authors of books, or victims in newspaper articles. For example, in the episode “Faith”, A. Hrytzak is the credited writer for the Encyclopedia of Christian History.
He also happened to be the Art Department Coordinator. Likewise, Lee Anne Elaschuk, graphic designer for the show, was credited as the writer of an article read in the episode. Names seen in John’s journal in “In The Beginning” also feature members of the art department.
Considering the art and props departments are the people responsible for designing nearly everything the audience sees on screen, it seems only fair that they give themselves shout outs.
5 Riverview Hospital
When operating on a television budget, plenty of set pieces get reused. Any show that runs for an extended period of time is going to have a few familiar sites, and Supernatural is no exception.
Riverview Hospital, just outside of Vancouver, first appeared in the season one episode “Asylum” as a mental hospital. Since then, it’s also appeared as a hospital, a prison, an apartment building, and more over the years. The architecture is distinctive and has made it popular amongst television shows.
The hospital was built in 1913 and went through several changes over the decades that followed. It closed in 2012 with a plan to construct new facilities in the surrounding area.
Other Canada-based shows have used Riverview Hospital and the surrounding area as well, like The X-Files, Smallville, and most recently, Once Upon A Time. Because of that, it’s also become a popular attraction for TV fans.
4 Significant Hotel Rooms
Nods to the fans don’t always have to be overt. Some of the significant episodes of the show have featured nods in unlikely places-- like the names and numbers of hotel rooms.
As Supernatural hit TV milestones like episodes 100 and 200, both episodes featured the main characters staying in motel rooms, as is par for the course with the show. A slight touch to acknowledge the high episode count achieved was the room numbers. The episodes featured rooms numbered 100 and 200, respectively.
Of course, sometimes, the nods are a little sneakier. The episode “A Very Supernatural Christmas” saw the guys staying a room labeled the Thomas Kinkade Suite. That was a nod to Jared Padalecki’s role in the holiday movie A Christmas Cottage in which he played Thomas Kinkade.
3 Weekly World News
Throughout the course of the series, Sam and Dean used plenty of aliases and fake jobs to get close to law enforcement and the victims of supernatural tragedies. Sometimes, they don’t pretend to be detectives or members of the FBI. Instead, they pretend to be reporters.
In the early series episode “Bloodlust”, the duo pretended to work for an outlet called Weekly World News. Inspired by a real tabloid that went out of business in 2007, the publication spotlighted weird, wacky, and supernatural stories that didn’t always need to be true. The series gave a callback to the tabloid even after it stopped publication.
The paper makes another appearance in both season five and season seven. In the season seven episode “Hello, Cruel World”, Lucifer is even seen reading the tabloid when Sam hallucinates.
2 Kim Manners
Kim Manners was a well known director/writer/producer in the television industry. He worked on several episodes of Supernatural before his death, and as a thank you for his work, the show never misses a chance to give him a nod.
In the season four episode “Jump The Shark”, his photo actually appears in a bar, and the entire season is dedicated to his memory. He also got another mention just two seasons later in “The French Mistake” as the studio featured in the episode was named for him: K M Motion Picture Studios.
Likewise, when The X-Files revival hit screens in 2016, the series also gave a shout out to Manners, making a headstone in his honor when Mulder visited the cemetery. Manners was instrumental in his early work on the show, which in turn, inspired Supernatural storylines.
1 Carry On My Wayward Son
Any Supernatural fan worth their salt knows that “Carry On My Wayward Son” is the show’s anthem. Since it was initially secured in the penultimate episode of season one, it’s appeared in every season finale. It’s only appeared in one “normal” episode of the series since though.
The season ten episode “Fan Fiction” saw Sam and Dean get a glimpse at their own lives from the outside. An all-girls school put on a play inspired by the books written about the Winchesters earlier in the series.
The episode provided plenty of meta humor, but it also provided Sam and Dean the first chance to actually listen to the song the fans associated with them-- and the audience a sweetly poignant moment.
The school play ended with the main cast of teenage girls singing their own (partial) version of the show’s unofficial theme song.
There’s no shortage of Easter eggs, pop culture references, and bits of foreshadowing in a long-running series like Supernatural. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if we missed one of your favorites, let us know in the comments!