Of all the minor recurring characters in Supernatural, Garth is the one whose potential hasn't been fully realized. Currently gearing up for its final 15th season, Supernatural has, naturally, seen a revolving door of recurring characters. The likes of Ruby, Crowley and Benny were once regular components of Supernatural's cast, but are now mere shadows upon the lives of the Winchester brothers. Of course, not every character in such a long-running series can be fully fleshed-out and explored, and some weren't built for this purpose anyway. Others might be afforded a short but simple arc that is completed within the span of a single season. But a select few characters hint at great potential, only to drop off the radar without even a brutal on-screen demise to explain their absence.
Played by DJ Qualls, Garth Fitzgerald IV was introduced in Supernatural season 7 in the brilliantly titled "Season 7, Time For A Wedding." As a substitute hunter sent by Bobby to help Dean while Sam was otherwise engaged with the aforementioned nuptials, Garth was far from the professional monster-killer the Winchester brothers were used to working with, and his laid back approach caused problems for Dean at first. Fortunately, the unlikely duo soon began to gel as Garth proved his worth and, one season later, Garth had supposedly taken over from Bobby as the organizer of the hunting community. In season 9, tragedy befalls Garth as he is bitten by a werewolf but, crucially, Garth is able to fight his human-eating urges and live with a group of other werewolves who opt for a vegetarian lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Garth only appears sporadically in Supernatural, featuring in a handful of episodes, the most recent being season 14's "The Spear" in which he acted as an informant against the archangel Michael. Garth has featured in only 5 Supernatural episodes, but he had all the makings to become one of the show's regular cast members, and possessed a fascinating and unique arc that should've reverberated throughout the whole series.
First and foremost, DJ Qualls' performance is befitting of a much bigger role. As the hapless hunter, Garth is the polar opposite to almost every other beast-slayer in the series and provides a fresh, less serious take on the profession. While he may have started out as comic relief, Garth's personality naturally attracts sympathy from the audience, giving him all the ingredients to become a secondary protagonist in the long term. This relationship with viewers made Garth's eventual werewolf transformation all the more effective and it's this storyline that really underlined the character's potential.
Supernatural has numerous examples of monsters that have been morally sound, posing a dilemma for Sam and Dean as they ready their machetes, and this has often been a point of contention between the brothers. However, Garth is a rare example of a hunter who has been turned into the very thing he's charged with killing, but then found a way to live a normal life with the affliction and still contribute to the hunting community. In the wider context of the Supernatural world, Garth's very existence is a revelation - proving that man and monster can plausibly co-exist. Garth should be a major factor in how Supernatural balances up its ethics but is instead limited to sparse, mostly comedic, appearances.
Over the past two seasons, Supernatural has used the character of Jack to prove that being born a monster needn't lead to an evil existence. Although only a werewolf, rather than the son of Satan himself, Garth is living proof of this possibility and would've been a natural regular addition to Supernatural's past two seasons, helping the Winchester brothers juggle their hunting duties with raising Jack.
With a unique charm not found anywhere else in Supernatural and an inherently fascinating place within the show's man/monster dynamic, Garth's potential as a character has only been hinted at. Perhaps the reasoning behind this is to avoid fans becoming too averse to wanton monster-killing. Despite running for 15 seasons, the bread and butter of Supernatural is Sam and Dean taking down paranormal nasties and Garth's presence might turn viewers towards thinking that the Winchesters should perhaps ask questions first and shoot silver bullets later.
Supernatural season 15 premieres October 10th on The CW.