Many beloved characters have come and gone over the course of Supernatural’s fourteen season run. It’s possible though that none of them have cast a shadow quite as long as John Winchester. Sam and Dean’s dad didn’t survive very long during the series in actuality, but his memory has never faded. Part of this is in the writing, but Jeffery Dean Morgan deserves much of the credit as well. Side note: why do so many shows and movies insist on offing whatever character Jeffrey Dean Morgan is portraying?
John Eric Winchester was born in 1954, assumedly in Normal, Illinois. He lived a rather extraordinary life, rife as it was with tragedy. Trapped in an unending cycle of grief after his wife lost her life to a demon, John became obsessed with taking revenge on the creature who took her from him. For better or worse, his sons were raised to do the same.
Papa Winchester had complex relationships with both of his boys. Dean was the loyal brother, who took orders without question or complaint, although he lost a bit of himself in the process. Sam, meanwhile, made the more rebellious choice of forging his own path, but he could never truly abandon the love that he had for his family. Flawed as John may have been as a father, there is no denying that the good he did outweighed the bad and Supernatural would not have been the same without him.
Here are 20 Wild Revelations Only True Fans Know About John Winchester.
20 He’s A Vet
If it seems like hunting came naturally to John, despite not being raised in the life, perhaps it was his military training that gave him an immediate leg up. He was a corporal in the Marine Corps during Vietnam and was awarded several medals during that time, including The Bronze Star and The Purple Heart. Not too much is known about John’s experiences during the war, but whatever he went through obviously went a long way toward preparing him for “saving people” and “hunting things”.
John was a skilled soldier before he ever met his first demon. He was not only brave and strong, but clever as well. These traits helped him to quickly become a capable hunter.
19 He’s Good With Cars
Over the years, Dean has clocked a lot of hours fixing up his beloved “Baby.” It turns out that Dean's impressive ability to resurrect the Impala time and again was a skill passed down from his father. Although much of John’s life prior to Vietnam and after remains a mystery, we do know that upon returning from the war, he spent some time as a mechanic.
Working with cars was more than just a hobby, though. John co-owned a garage with his friend Mike Guenther when the Winchester’s were living in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a good thing that Dean shares John’s affinity for fixing cars. Baby would’ve never lasted so long if he had not.
18 The Impala Was His Before It Was Dean’s
By this point in the series, Dean’s ’67 Chevy Impala has become a character in and of itself, with an entire episode devoted to its point of view. Interestingly, the fan-dubbed “Metallicar” was almost a completely different vehicle. Creator Eric Kripke initially wanted the Winchester brothers driving cross country in a ’65 Mustang, before a friend convinced him that a ’67 Impala was the better choice.
The car was passed down to Dean from his dad, but here is where Supernatural lore gets a bit confusing. When Dean traveled back to 1973 in season 4, John had his eye on a WV van. In a strange twist of fate, it was Dean that talked him into getting the car that Papa Winchester would one day pass down to his oldest son. It really was “the car of a lifetime”.
17 He’s Served As The Vessel For An Angel And A Demon
Many a human on Supernatural has found themselves host to a demon, but serving as the vessel for an angel is far more rare. John isn’t the only character who has housed both the damned and the divine, but he is one of very few. In season 1, the Winchester patriarch wound up possessed by Azazel, the very demon responsible for taking Mary’s life.
That wasn’t John’s only experience hosting a foreign entity though. It also wasn’t his first. During another trip through time, Sam and Dean were interacting with their parents in 1978. When the fight against Anna wasn’t going their way, Michael quite literally stepped in to help defeat her. With John’s permission, the archangel took control of his body and ended the fight.
16 He Shot Jo’s Father
Although Ellen Harvelle was always kind to Sam and Dean, she never wanted that life for her own daughter. Of course, Jo was determined to become a hunter just like her father, regardless of how poorly that ended for him. When her desire follow in his footsteps came between mother and daughter, Ellen revealed that Bill’s final hunt was with John Winchester.
More details came to light, however, when Sam was possessed by Meg and took Jo hostage later on. He explained that Bill didn’t lose his life at the hands of the creature that they were hunting. Apparently, it left him so badly wounded though, that John was forced to shoot him in order to put him out of his misery— a decision that John never truly forgave himself for.
15 He Was Shocked That Sam And Dean Were Raised As Hunters
Here’s some dramatic irony for you. When past John Winchester discovered that Sam and Dean, aka Mary’s cousins that he had just met, were raised as hunters, he was both shocked and appalled by that truth. He couldn’t understand how any father would craft such a brutal life for his children.
Of course, both the Winchester brothers and the audience is well aware of the fact that John would go on to do just that. Grief does strange and terrible things to people. John was probably so certain that he would never raise his kids like that, but losing Mary to a demon left him with little resemblance to the man that he used to be.
14 It Was The Search For Him That Reunited Sam And Dean
Although John didn’t get a ton of screen time, even when he was alive, he was always an incredibly important character. In fact, fourteen seasons in, it might be difficult to remember that it was John’s disappearance that kind of started it all. Sam was away at school, attempting to leave his former life behind. At least, he was until Dean showed up with the news that their dad had yet to return from his “hunting trip”.
Despite Sam’s misgivings, he accompanied Dean on the search. However, after helping his brother solve a case, he chose not to continue the journey. Sam was happy with his new life. Sadly, all of that changed when he lost his girlfriend Jessica the same way that he’d lost his mother so many years before.
13 He Traded His Life For Dean's
John might not have always been the best father, but there is no denying that he loved his boys dearly. When Dean’s life was on the line in the season 2 premiere, John didn’t hesitate to make a deal with the yellow-eyed demon. It couldn’t have been an easy decision, especially since Azazel was responsible for ending Mary’s life.
Following a terrible car crash, things were not looking good for Dean, but John had a plan. He summoned Azazel and offered the demon his life instead of his son’s. The bargain was agreed upon and John Winchester’s time on Earth came to end. Unfortunately, there was no light for him to go toward, as the deal sent him straight to Hell.
12 That Wasn't The First Time He Lost His Life
The first time viewers witnessed the end of John Winchester’s life was actually not the first time that his life ended. He was also snuffed him out in 1973, interestingly, by Azazel. The yellow-eyed demon had possessed Mary’s father, Sam. After making sure that her dad would not survive the experience and snapping her mom’s neck, he then turned his attention to John.
Azazel took John’s life, but offered to return Mary’s true love in exchange for gaining entry to her home ten years later. Tragically, although this deal brought John back, it sealed Mary’s fate as well. When Azazel showed up in 1983, Mary interrupted his one-on-one time with Sam and lost her life as a result.
11 He Spent Over 100 Years Below
It has been well established in Supernatural mythology that time moves quite differently in Hell than it does on Earth. After John’s deal with Azazel, he spent over a hundred years being tortured there. Papa Winchester endured countless hours of torment at the hands of the incredibly sadistic Alastair.
John’s demon torturer offered him a reprieve from his constant abuse, provided John take up the mantle himself. He refused to torture other souls, despite enduring his own for decades on end. It was this knowledge that completely destroyed Dean, as he eventually took that same deal during his time in the pit later on. Luckily, John managed to escape from Hell before his son ever wound up there, forcing his way through the open Devil’s Gate.
10 His Father Belong To The Men of Letters
John may not have been raised to become a hunter, but that doesn’t mean that fighting evil wasn’t in his blood. His father, Henry Winchester, was a member of the Men of Letters. Almost like the Watchers Council (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) of the Supernatural universe, Henry came from a long line of Letters. It was always his intention to pass these traditions down to his son.
Unfortunately, after Abbadon saw to the demise of the majority of the Men of Letters, Henry escaped into the future. Abbadon managed to follow and severely wound him. John, with no knowledge of this, thought that he had been abandoned by his father. Despite this tragedy, Henry was at least able to find out that John became a hero in his own right before succumbing to his injuries.
9 Cupid Was Behind His Initial Feelings For Mary
Considering the fact that John and Mary’s epic romance has become the stuff of legends, it’s pretty crazy to think that Cupid had a hand in it. Sure, the audience never sees too much of their relationship, but because their marriage resulted in Sam and Dean, their love has become understandably important. It was so vital, in fact, that the higher ups in Heaven saw to it that John and Mary found each other.
Of course, the love between them was real, Cupid just gave John and Mary that extra push to help them realize it, thus ensuring that Sam and Dean would be born. After the revelation that John was a descendant of the Men of Letters, this made even more sense, because Heaven wanted the Campbells, who were hunters, united with the other side of the supernatural spectrum.
8 He Had Another Son
Supernatural has always had a great sense of humor, so it's not surprising that the episode introducing John’s other son was titled “Jump the Shark”. Okay, so it wasn’t actually the real Adam, so much as it was a Ghoul who had assumed his form, but the idea of his existence was still a shock to fans. Sam and Dean were also completely caught off guard.
Adam has become a bit of a running joke in Supernatural fandom, as he kind of breaks down the whole “family first” thing that has always been so important to the Winchesters. Sure, Sam and Dean never really knew him, and of course, they attempted to save him from the war between Heaven and Hell, however, when they failed to do so, poor Adam was left to rot and hasn't been heard from since.
7 He And Negan Use The Same Weapon
Supernatural has proven time and again that it’s open to new ideas. Season 4’s introduction of angels into the mythology was a huge paradigm shift for the series. The Winchester brothers have traveled to an alternate reality in which their names were Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. They’ve even hung out with Scooby-Doo in cartoon form. The show even featured a shout-out to The Walking Dead.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who portrayed John Winchester, also plays Negan on TWD and although he didn’t make a cameo, his trademark weapon did. Much to the delight of fans, Season 12 saw Dean in possession of Negan’s barbwire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille. Apparently, John was the previous owner and had really loved it.
6 Bobby Once Threatened To Shoot Him
Bobby Singer is the closest thing that Sam and Dean had to a father after losing their own. It wasn’t long before he became a staple of the series, as well as a fan favorite. Most viewers are still crushed that he’s gone, even though it happened some time ago. Although Bobby and John were incredibly close, it would seem that they didn’t end up on the best of terms.
The last time John had seen Bobby, the latter had threatened to blast him with rock salt. He actually wound up chasing John off of his property and even took shots at the Impala. To be fair, John had dropped his boys at Bobby’s house for a month with no word. In typical Bobby fashion though, when Sam and Dean needed him, he came through.
5 He Was One Of The Greatest Hunters
Hunters are an undeniably tough bunch, but even among the best of them, John Winchester was considered one of the greatest who ever lived. Considering the company he kept, like Bobby Singer, Rufus Turner, and Ellen Harvelle, that’s pretty high praise. In fact, within those circles, John became a bit of a legend.
This left Sam and Dean with some pretty big shoes to fill, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think that John’s sons have risen to the challenge. The Winchester brothers have visited Heaven, Hell, and pretty much everywhere in between. They’ve spent quality time with God, defeated the Devil, and saved the world on more than one occasion. John would be proud.
4 He Has Appeared In Most Seasons
While this isn’t true of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, it is absolutely true of John Winchester. In almost every season, he has appeared in some form or another. Early on it was Morgan, but other seasons have featured a younger version of John or even shown him as a child. Sometimes, John’s voice was heard or his silhouette was seen, although Papa Winchester himself never showed his face.
The only seasons where John has not appeared in some form are 6, 7, 10 and 12. It was actually reported at the time that he would be a part of the 7th season finale. However, fans were crushed to learn that this was nothing but a cruel April Fool’s joke.
3 He Has Been Portrayed By 3 Different Actors
Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s time as John Winchester came to an end during Supernatural’s sophomore season. However, that doesn’t mean that the series hasn’t found ways to bring him back in some form. As earlier stated, a younger version of John has appeared several times throughout the series, portrayed by Matt Cohen.
That’s not the only other iteration of the character that fans have seen though. Viewers were also introduced to John as a child, a role played by Nels Guloien. It speaks volumes to Papa Winchester’s impact on the series that he has shown up in so many different shapes and sizes. Across fourteen seasons, his importance to the Winchesters, as well as the viewers, has never waned.
2 His Original Name Was Jack Harrison
Can you imagine if Supernatural had centered on the Harrison brothers? Eric Kripke’s original pilot script was released with the season 1 DVD box and it was quite different from what wound up onscreen. One of the most notable changes, as it would’ve altered the entire series, is John’s name: Jack Harrison.
Sure, if we only ever knew him by this name, it probably wouldn’t sound so strange. Even still, Winchester has become so ingrained in fans’ brains after all these years that it’s likely no one could imagine him as anything else. Plenty of changes are made from page to screen, but we can all probably agree that John Winchester is a cooler name than Jack Harrison.
1 He Will Return For The 300th episode
It has been over a decade since Jeffrey Dean Morgan appeared on Supernatural as John Winchester, but the milestone 300th episode will finally see his return. It’s unclear exactly how he is meant to come back from the afterlife, but apparently, it involves a wish. Although it will no doubt be a joyous reunion, this is Supernatural we’re talking about, so the good times can only last so long.
The 300th episode is titled “Lebanon” and recently aired on February 7th, so viewers should already be able to dive back in by now. At least the wait wasn't too long this time and behind-the-scenes photos had already revealed that this was not an April Fool’s gag. The cast is known for the practical jokes that they like to play on one another, but this time, Papa Winchester does return.
What did you think of these facts about John Winchester? Let us know in the comments!