On Supernatural, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester are the stars of the show, but there would be no Sam and Dean without their parents John and Mary. John and Mary loom large over everything the brothers do, from their dedication to hunting to their commitment to family. Even though they’re gone for major parts of the show, John and Mary maintain a place in the boys’ hearts and minds. They think about what their parents were like and what actions they would take — and they dream about the way things might have been had their family’s lives never become entangled with the supernatural. Sam and Dean were forged in loss and it was the original loss of their mother when they were young that set the foundation for their lives moving forward.
Yet, John and Mary had lives of their own, full of ups and downs, hopes and dreams. Their life together wasn’t always easy but it was as normal as they come. And it was exactly what they both wanted.
While Sam and Dean's early childhood represented what could have been for them, the truth of their parents’ lives was actually much more complicated. Throughout Supernatural, fans have learned about the ways John and Mary fought for the life they wanted — and rose above difficult circumstances, often while being tracked by demons, to live in peace — at least for a while.
Here are 25 Crazy Revelations Behind John and Mary’s Relationship.
25 THEY DIDN’T LIKE EACH OTHER AT FIRST
Years after they are both gone, Sam and Dean meet a cupid who informs them that John and Mary couldn’t stand each other when they first met. A cupid had to be called in to make sure they fell in love, and after he worked his magic, they were the perfect couple.
However, the story John told his sons about how he met their mother was a little different. In that story, Mary ran into John on March 23, 1972 after seeing a movie, knocking him down in the process. To make it up to him, Mary took him to get a coffee. After talking and discovering John liked Led Zeppelin, John asked for her number. The rest is history. Of the two stories, John, Mary, and their sons, clearly prefer the second one.
24 THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS PREORDAINED
The fact that a cupid had to get involved to ensure John and Mary fell in love made it clear that someone had a vested interest in them getting together. According to the cupid that Sam and Dean met, the pairing of John and Mary was a very big deal in heaven.
The couple’s relationship was a top priority to the angels upstairs because it was imperative that Sam and Dean were born. As a result, heaven was willing to do whatever it took to make sure John and Mary paired up. As the cupid says, they’re “a match made in heaven.”
23 MARY’S FATHER WASN’T A FAN OF JOHN
Later, it becomes clear that Mary’s hunter father’s objections stemmed from John being a naïve civilian. Both Mary’s parents believed John couldn’t protect or partner with Mary against mystical forces, leaving them both vulnerable. Not to mention making him odd man out with their family.
22 JOHN WAS A VIETNAM VETERAN
John was a corporal in the Marines and served in the Vietnam War. He met Mary after he got home. Unlike many that served in the war, however, John’s time in Vietnam didn’t seem to negatively impact him.
In fact, even after what he saw in the war, John stayed optimistic and still believed in love. Mary describes him as “everything a hunter isn’t.” It isn’t until years later when Mary is taken from him that John'a attitude completely changes and he becomes the paranoid, gruff individual who raised his sons to be hunters.
21 THEY MET THEIR SONS BEFORE THEY WERE BORN
Dean was zapped into the past to help his parents in 1973 and again in 1978. Sam joined him the second time. As a result, the pair met John and Mary before they were even born. In 1973, Dean never reveals his relationship to the couple. He poses as another hunter — by the name of Dean Van Halen — to gain their trust.
In 1978, the brothers travel to the past to save their parents from an angel. While Mary recognizes Dean, John doesn’t, so over Mary’s objections, Dean introduces himself and Sam as Mary’s cousins. Later, in an effort to make Mary understand the stakes of the situation, Dean reveals to Mary that he’s her son.
20 MARY KEPT HER HUNTER BACKGROUND FROM JOHN
Mary was raised by a family of hunters. Her father, in particular, was a dedicated hunter and he moved his family around constantly in pursuit of the next case. In the process, he taught Mary about different demons, how to defend herself against them, and how to take them out.
Yet, when Mary’s family ended up in Lawrence, Kansas and she met John, she decided to keep her background as a hunter a secret from him. In John’s naivete about the supernatural, she saw the possibility of a life she never had, and she had no desire to spoil that by revealing the truth about monsters and demons.
19 JOHN BUYS THE IMPALA OVER THE VAN HE PROMISED MARY BECAUSE OF DEAN
It’s hard to imagine Sam and Dean without their ’67 Impala. It’s the car they’ve relied on their whole lives. Dean even affectionately refers to it as "Baby." Before it was Dean’s, however, it belonged to John. Had Dean not been there in 1973 when John went to buy his car, he might have made a very different purchase.
Disoriented at being thrown into a different time before he was even born, Dean nonetheless has the presence of mind to notice that John is planning to buy the van. John implies that he promised Mary he would, but Dean easily steers him in the direction of the much more appealing Impala.
18 MARY USES HER HUNTING SKILLS TO PROTECT JOHN
Despite desperately wanting to leave the hunter’s life, Mary showed time and again that she had a knack for it. John may have been a Marine, but it was Mary who stayed vigilant to what was going on around her at all times.
She showed this skill when Dean was brought to 1973 to help his parents. In an effort to stay inconspicuous, Dean followed the couple from a distance. Mary noticed, however, and confronted Dean, landing a few kicks and punches before he could explain his good intentions. Mary was always willing to put herself in the line of fire to protect both herself and John.
17 JOHN’S PROPOSAL TO MARY IS INTERRUPTED BY A DEMON
On a case with her father and Dean in 1973, Mary is over-powered by the yellow-eyed demon. Although she escapes, she’s badly shaken up by the experience. She calls John to take her away and he drives her out to the waterfront to propose.
As he shows Mary the ring and professes his love, they’re interrupted by an angry rapping on the car’s window. It’s Mary’s father, who drags her out of the car. What the couple doesn’t realize is that Mary’s father is possessed by the yellow-eyed demon, giving his actions a very different meaning than if it was just Mary’s father objecting to his daughter marrying John.
16 MARY SAVED JOHN’S LIFE BY MAKING A DEAL WITH A DEMON
When the yellow-eyed demon interrupted John’s proposal to Mary, he gets extremely rough with her. Unaware that he’s taking on a demon, John tries to intervene to prevent Azazel from hurting his girlfriend. The demon responds with intense force, mortally injuring John’s neck and leaving Mary devastated.
Azazel offers Mary a deal: if she agrees to let him enter her house in 10 years, he’ll bring John back to life. As long as Azazel isn’t interrupted, no one will get hurt. Unable to live without John and not wanting to be alone, Mary agrees and John wakes up in her arms.
15 JOHN BELIEVES MARY’S FATHER PASSES AWAY FROM A HEART ATTACK
When Mary, her father, and Dean, confront the yellow-eyed demon in 1973, the demon jumps out of the body he’s occupying. What Dean and Mary don’t realize is that he doesn’t go far. He possesses Mary’s father. He reveals himself to Dean and, in an effort to achieve maximum intimidation, he stabs himself, ensuring that Mary’s father won’t live when the demon leaves his body. Then he takes Mary’s mother’s life.
When John is brought back to life by Azazel, he sees Mary’s father on the ground nearby lifeless. Later, it’s revealed that the explanation Mary gives to John is that her father passed away because of a heart attack.
14 MARY WANTED A NORMAL LIFE FOR HERSELF AND HER SONS
In many of the interactions Dean has with Mary when he’s an adult, especially when he meets her in the past, she expresses her desire to raise a family and have a safe, normal life. She can’t think of anything worse than raising her children the way she was raised. For a time, she gets her wish. She marries John and they have a perfectly traditional home life.
Yet, ironically, it’s her loss that leads to her sons becoming hunters. By making the demon deal with Azazel and letting him come into Sam’s nursery, she ensured that one way or another, Sam and Dean’s lives would be anything but normal.
13 THE COUPLE WAS HUNTED BY AN ANGEL
Sam and Dean try to help a fallen angel named Anna, but in the end, she gets imprisoned in heaven for disobeying orders. Anna breaks out with a very specific mission: Take out Sam before Lucifer can possess him and bring on the apocalypse. When she realizes she won’t be successful in the present day when Sam and Dean are adults, she brings herself back to 1978 before they were born. There, she seeks out John and Mary, reasoning that if she takes out one of them she’ll eliminate the threat.
Trying to fix the problem, Sam and Dean attempt to convince Mary to leave John. They wouldn’t be born but they’re fine with that as long as she’s safe. Mary reveals she’s already carrying Dean and refuses, so Anna keeps coming.
12 JOHN AGREES TO BE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL’S VESSEL TO SAVE MARY
When the angel Anna comes after Mary to prevent Sam from being born, the archangel Michael approaches John. Michael promises to save Mary if John agrees to be his vessel. John agrees and Michael saves them both, eliminating Anna and the threat to Sam and Dean’s parents.
Michael doesn’t injure John. He leaves his body after having a conversation with Dean about the confrontation he plans to have with his brother Lucifer. Before he goes, however, he scrubs both John and Mary’s minds of their memories of fighting with angels or meeting Sam and Dean.
11 THEY NAMED THEIR SONS AFTER MARY’S PARENTS
Mary was the only daughter of Samuel and Deanna Campbell. Both of her parents meet their end at the hand of the yellow-eyed demon on the night John proposes to her. Several years later when John and Mary have their first child, they name him after Mary’s mother, shortening Deanna to Dean. When Sam is born three and a half years after that, they name him after Mary’s father.
Mary’s relationship with her parents, and especially her father, was strained because she hated the hunter life they raised her in. Yet, in naming her children after them, Mary showed that she still loved and missed her parents.
10 BEFORE HIS SONS ARE BORN JOHN DISAPPROVES OF HIS OWN PARENTING
When the angel Anna comes after John and Mary, John learns the truth (at least temporarily) about the supernatural. As Sam and Dean help the couple prepare to fight Anna, John and Sam talk about how Sam learned to hunt.
John is horrified to learn that Sam’s father raised him as a hunter. John thinks it’s an irresponsible way to raise a child. He’s shocked that Sam’s father didn’t do a better job protecting him, unaware that he's criticizing his future self. Sam ends up defending his father, realizing in hindsight that he was doing the best he could in terrible circumstances.
9 THEIR MARRIAGE WENT THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH
John always told Sam and Dean that his marriage to Mary was perfect, but the truth wasn't that rosy. Before Sam was born, John and Mary hit a rough patch that led to John moving out of the family’s home for a couple days.
While Dean didn’t remember why their temporary separation happened, he did remember his mother speaking angrily to John on the phone and crying afterward. He also remembered comforting his mother and telling her that his dad loved her and that he loved her too. Sam is surprised by the revelation, which he realizes means that Dean started cleaning up their father’s messes when he was very young.
8 MARY’S UNNATURAL DEMISE DROVE JOHN TO BECOME A HUNTER
Mary’s demise is the incident that started it all — both literally and figuratively. In the very first sequence of the first episode of Supernatural, Mary met her end at the hands of the yellow-eyed demon, Azazel. At the time, John was unaware of the supernatural, but after saving his sons and then witnessing Mary’s tragic passing, John becomes obsessed with learning the truth.
Driven by grief and vengeance, John dedicates his life to finding and taking out the demon responsible for cutting his wife’s life short. He learns everything he can about the supernatural and becomes a hunter, bringing his sons into the life too. While he claims he and his boys would stop hunting as soon as Azazel is no more, he passes away before that can happen and Sam and Dean continue to hunt even after Azazel is gone.
7 JOHN IS SURPRISED TO FIND MARY’S SPIRIT PROTECTS THEIR SONS AT THEIR OLD HOME
When Sam has a premonition about something bad happening in their childhood home in Kansas, Sam and Dean return to find a woman has moved in with her two children. They also learn that strange things have been happening in the house. To figure out what’s going on they enlist the help of the psychic Missouri Mosely, the woman who taught John about the supernatural years before.
They discover a poltergeist in the house, but just as it attacks Sam the spirit of Mary appears. She takes on the poltergeist herself, sacrificing her spirit to defend her sons. When Missouri returns home, John is there. She informs him of what happened and he’s happy to learn that Mary is still protecting their children.
6 WHEN MARY IS RESURRECTED SHE MISSES JOHN
Mary is resurrected by God’s sister, Amara, 33 years after her life ended. Mary’s return was a gift to Dean. He gave Amara what she needed most and she wanted to return the favor. Although Mary might have been what Dean needed, returning to the world after decades away was challenging for Mary.
Not only had technology advanced in a way that left her baffled, but she also missed the life she had. With her sons grown up and her husband gone for a decade, things were completely different from the way she left them. Mary missed the domestic life she’d built with John and her two young sons and she was sad to learn she’d missed her boys’ entire childhoods.
5 MARY BELIEVED JOHN WAS A GOOD FATHER
After Mary is resurrected, her memories of her human life come flooding back to her, many of them revolving around John and her sons when they were young. Mary confesses to Dean that she has dreams about the funny things John used to do.
Although Mary is disappointed to learn that John had raised her sons to be hunters, based on her memories of him before she met her demise, Mary declares that John was a great father. Dean doesn’t dispute her account, although his expression indicates that he knows things weren’t so black and white when it came to his father’s parenting.
4 MARY IS UNAWARE THAT JOHN HAD A THIRD CHILD
After Mary passed away, John had at least two additional relationships. One was with Kate Milligan, a nurse in Minnesota who patched John up after a hunt. After 12 years apart, she informed him that she’d had his son, Adam. For the remainder of his life, John maintained a secret relationship with Adam, never exposing him to the hunters’ life he’d raised Sam and Dean in. Instead, when he saw Adam, he’d do normal father-son activities with him, a fact that surprised Sam and Dean when they learned about their half-brother a couple of years after John passed away.
Despite John’s best efforts, Adam got dragged into the Winchester’s struggles with the supernatural, and he ultimately became the archangel Michael’s vessel. Having been trapped in Lucifer’s cage years prior to her resurrection, it appeared that Mary never learned about John’s third child.
3 MARY’S COUNTERPART IN THE APOCALYPSE WORLD NEVER MADE THE DEMON DEAL
Unlike the Mary fans know, the alternative version of Mary from the Apocalypse World, who goes by Mary Campbell, never made the deal with Azazel to resurrect John. As a result, Sam and Dean were never born and couldn’t prevent the apocalypse when it came.
Mary Campbell’s decision left her full of regret. John Winchester was the love of both her and Mary Winchester’s lives and Mary Campbell never moved on after losing him. Mary Winchester regretted making the deal with Azazel but after learning about her counterpart, Mary realizes she made the right decision after all.
2 JOHN’S WEDDING RING IS AN IMPORTANT SYMBOL TO BOTH OF THEM
Even after Mary was gone, John continued to wear his wedding ring. Even two decades later, he kept it on to remind him of the woman he loved. After he passed away, Sam and Dean kept John’s possessions, including the ring.
When Mary was resurrected, they gave John’s ring to her and she wore it on a chain around her neck. Since Mary’s ring seemed to have gotten lost, John’s ring remained an important symbol of their relationship for both John and Mary and a way to maintain their connection to each other.
1 THEY ARE BRIEFLY REUNITED IN 2019
In 2019, Sam and Dean find a pearl that is supposed to grant the thing a person desires most. Dean attempts to use it to banish the archangel Michael from his mind. Apparently, that wasn't the thing Dean truly wanted though, because instead of ridding himself of Michael, his father is pulled forward in time from 2003 to 2019.
John learns that Mary has been resurrected and their reunion is touching. The family soon learns, however, that if John stays and changes the timeline of events, Mary’s resurrection won’t take place and she’ll simply fade away. To prevent that from happening, John tearfully agrees to return to 2003. When he gets there, he resumes his old life with no memory of seeing his wife or sons in the future.