In many ways, the driving force of Supernatural is death. Not an episode goes by without a guest star or two meeting their end at the hands of an otherworldly creature, and being a series regular or popular recurring character in no way insulates one from the possibility of a dramatic demise either. Thankfully though, as plentiful as death is on Supernatural, it is often not a permanent condition.
Series leads Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have each died multiple times as of this writing, and seem to possess an endless supply of "get out of death free" cards. This resistance to the grave is by no means exclusive to the Winchester brothers though, as various supporting heroes and villains have proven to have a knack for proving harder to permanently eradicate than a cockroach.
With all that in mind, it's completely conceivable that some Supernatural viewers might be having trouble keeping track of which characters currently retain their ability to breathe. That's where the below guide comes in, a handy list of who's dead and who's not, as Supernatural prepares to begin season 13.
Castiel: Sam and Dean's angelic buddy has himself died several times over the course of Supernatural's run, and he didn't manage to make it out of season 12 alive, getting killed by Lucifer with an angel blade in the season finale. This time out, SPN's producers didn't even really bother pretending that Cas would be gone for good, including him on every bit of marketing material for season 13. That said, exactly when he'll reappear is still unconfirmed.
Crowley: Sadly, the former King of Hell and unlikely long-term Winchester ally seems to be dead for good. In an uncharacteristically selfless act during the season 12 finale, Crowley took his own life in order to a complete a spell that would hopefully seal Lucifer inside an alternate reality. Actor Mark A. Sheppard has made it crystal clear that there are no plans for him to return, and producers haven't mentioned a possible recasting of the role.
Lucifer: After being sealed back inside his cage in the season 5 finale, the Prince of Darkness entered a long-period of dormancy, outside of haunting Sam via hallucinations during season 7. Finally, season 11 saw the return of Lucifer in a big way, as Castiel agreed to let the fallen angel possess his body in the hopes that he could defeat The Darkness. This didn't happen, but Lucifer remained free, spending some time in the body of rocker Vince Vincente, before being placed back inside his traditional vessel (Mark Pellegrino) by Crowley in season 12. Lucifer begins season 13 trapped inside the aforementioned alternate reality.
Mary Winchester: Mary is in many ways the catalyst for the entire SPN story, as her death at the hands of Azazel drove her husband John to become a monster hunter in the first place, which led to Sam and Dean becoming hunters, too. Mary was resurrected by a grateful Amara at the end of season 11, and worked alongside both her sons and the British Men of Letters during season 12. She also begins season 13 trapped with Lucifer in the alternate reality.
John Winchester: Having not appeared since season 2 - outside of flashback scenes and time travel episodes - John is arguably the most permanently dead character on Supernatural, likely due to the busy career of actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Both producers and Morgan have expressed a desire to bring John back, but it's unclear when that might actually happen.
Bobby Singer: In many ways more of a father to Sam and Dean than their actual dad, Bobby (Jim Beaver) memorably passed away during season 7, but has made a handful of beyond the grave guest appearances since. He was shown to be alive in the alternate reality, and will presumably appear during season 13. However, this Bobby is quite different, having never known Sam and Dean.
Chuck Shurley: Supernatural's resident God, Chuck made his long-awaited return in season 11, but eventually departed back to wherever his spends his time when not interacting with the Winchesters. There are no indications he'll appear in season 13.
Death: Death hasn't been seen since Sam and Dean killed him in the season 10 finale, although it was eventually revealed by a Reaper named Billie that a new Death had emerged to take over the role. This new Death is unlikely to allow the Winchesters to keep re-spawning forever.
Michael: The archangel destined to do apocalyptic battle with Lucifer, Michael ended up trapped inside the cage with his brother at the end of season 5. He's set to finally return for season 13, as part of the alternate reality. The character will now be played by Jake Abel, since Michael is inhabiting a new vessel.
The Wayward Sisters: Finally, Sam and Dean's longtime surrogate mother figure Jody Mills, her fellow cop buddy Donna Hanscum, and Jody's foster daughters Claire and Alex are set to star in a backdoor pilot episode for their own potential spinoff during season 13. Hopefully this one goes over better than 'Bloodlines.'