We love Supernatural. Even as the show heads into its fifteenth and final season, it continues to include great storylines and awesome characters. Plus, at this point we know Sam and Dean Winchester so well they're like friends we get to visit with on a weekly basis.
Yet although Supernatural maintains a loyal and avid fan base, 14+ seasons is a long time to be on the air. So it’s really no surprise that that there are certain parts of the show that haven’t aged well. Here, we’re taking a look at some of the things from Supernatural that don’t hold up as well today as they might have when they originally aired.
10 WOMEN IN REFRIGERATORS
When Supernatural premiered in 2005, its debut episode was book-ended by two women in refrigerators. These female characters’ violent, unnatural ends served as motivation for the male characters on the show. In the prologue for the series, the foundation on which the Winchester brothers’ lives is built, is established to be the result of the demise of the boys’ mother at the hands of a demon. This becomes the catalyst for John Winchester to become a demon hunter and to teach his boys to do the same.
Of course, Sam Winchester, who was only 6 months old when his mother perished, wasn’t as attached to the family mythology and tried to give up hunting. To provide him with motivation to re-join the family business, by the end of the first episode his girlfriend meets the same fate as his mother. This leads Sam to embrace hunting in order to get revenge for her. While we got to know Sam and Dean’s mother more in subsequent seasons of the series, in the premiere she and Dean's girlfriend aren’t so much people as plot devices.
One of the things that stand out during a rewatch of Supernatural’s early seasons is the frequent use of words meant to denigrate women. The word bitch in particular is used constantly. While the Winchesters sometimes use the term to describe one another, even in that context, the comparison to weak or worthless women is implied.
Yet more often than not, Sam, Dean, and other male characters direct their demeaning language at women. Bitch is their insult of choice, but slut and even whore pop up too. Thankfully, this has been increasingly toned down as Supernatural has gone on.
8 DEAN’S TREATMENT OF HIS DAUGHTER
The season 7 episode “The Slice Girls” was an oddity when it aired in 2012 and over the years it’s become increasingly cringe-inducing. The story sees Sam and Dean encountering Amazons, an all-female group of warriors who replenish their ranks by getting men to impregnate them. However, their children — all girls, of course — grow at such an accelerated rate that they become young women in just a few days. At that point, in order to complete their initiation into the tribe, they must kill their unsuspecting fathers.
Dean has a one-night stand with one of the Amazons and fathers a child, who of course shows up fully grown after a few days planning to take him out. Dean seems to want to connect with his daughter, but Sam bursts in and shoots her before she can get to Dean. Sam later calls Dean on his hesitation to hurt his own daughter. Yes, Sam and Dean hunt all sorts of baddies, but this was someone who shared their blood. Knowing that made their actions much more disturbing.
7 MINIMAL DIVERSITY
With over 300 episodes under its belt you would think that Supernatural would have found ways to incorporate greater diversity into the show. Unfortunately, even now that’s not the case. From the beginning, every major main character has been a white male.
While the show has included people of color including Rufus Turner, Missouri Moseley, and Kevin Tran and his mother, they tend to be relegated to secondary or even tertiary characters. Plus, a shocking number of them eventually meet their fate in terrible ways. It’s shocking that going into season 15 the four main characters on the show — Sam, Dean, the angel Castiel, and the Nephilim Jack — are still all white males.
6 REGRESSIVE IDEA OF MASCULINITY
From its inception, Supernatural presented a very limited, and limiting, conception of what it means to be a man. Rugged, tough, and uncomfortable with any true display of emotion, Supernatural conjures a retrograde vision of masculinity in which suppressing anything “soft” is the manly thing to do.
Especially in the earliest seasons of the show, characters would mock each other for any expression of feeling or call each other “princess” or “girl” if they ever betrayed the smallest vulnerability. Meanwhile Sam was often called out for being feminine for choosing to eat a healthy diet and being slightly more refined than his brother. While the show has loosened up its masculinity policing over the years, even when the characters do display emotion, it’s usually limited to a single man tear.
5 LIMITED LGBTQ REPRESENTATION
Another area where Supernatural seems outdated is its general lack of LGBTQ characters. None of the main characters are gay, and at times the show seems to go out of its way to make the point that they're heterosexual.
By far the most prominent LGBTQ character on the Supernatural has been Charlie Bradbury, a brilliant hacker who's also a lesbian. While she became close to Sam and Dean and helped them in their demon hunting, she was eventually killed off for her efforts in the show’s tenth season. A sad ending for the character that seemed especially abrupt and unnecessary.
4 MOCKING FANS
At several points during its run, Supernatural has attempted to pay tribute to its fans with varying degrees of success. In the fifth season episode “The Real Ghostbusters,” the brothers find themselves at a convention for the Supernatural novels that detail their lives.
While they fit in perfectly, Sam and Dean are amazed by all the fans dressed up like them and shocked by their ridiculous behavior. The intention may have been good but the tone of the episode made it seem like the show was making fun of its most dedicated fans.
3 LACK OF FEMALE CHARACTERS
Since it began, the female presence on Supernatural has been seriously limited. While there are often female characters popping in and out, they’ve rarely played large or consistent roles on the series. And ultimately many of them don’t make it for too long, especially if they’re potential love interests for either of the Winchesters.
When female characters do stick around for more than one episode, Supernatural has generally done a good job of making sure they're strong, interesting, and distinctive. Characters like Jodie Mills, Donna Hanscum, Rowena, and Sam and Dean’s resurrected mother Mary are an excellent addition to the show. However, they’re often sidelined in favor of more male-centric stories.
2 QUEER BAITING
When the angel Castiel was introduced in Supernatural’s fourth season, the fandom quickly noticed the chemistry between the new character and Dean. Over several seasons the sexual tension between the pair continued to build, causing many fans to hope the two would finally get together.
Unfortunately, it eventually became clear that no matter how much the show teased a potential romance between the two male characters, it was never going to happen. The show was simply queer baiting the fandom. In the past few seasons, Supernatural has tried to avoid the issue, mostly by sending Dean and Cas off on separate missions. Not an especially satisfying solution.
1 CAVALIER ATTITUDE TOWARDS PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR
There has been more than one occasion where Supernatural has hinted at questionable behavior when it comes to sexual consent. After all, many of the villains on the show are demons possessing people. Yet, the show crossed the line with Becky, an obsessed fan of the Supernatural books who discovers Sam and Dean are real people.
While Becky was problematic enough when she was initially introduced, things went completely off the rails with the episode “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” where Becky drugs Sam with a love potion and marries him. The episode makes it clear the couple never consummated the marriage, but Becky’s desire to do so is more than obvious. So although the tone of the episode is supposed to be fun and light-hearted, its allusions to sexual assault and issues of consent make it anything but.