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Supernatural: 7 Times They Got Folklore Right (and 3 Times The Writers Made It All Up)

Over 14 seasons and counting, Supernatural has introduced a deep bench of monsters, spirits, and other supernatural beings. In the process, it’s developed a rich mythology that incorporates God, the Devil, angels, and demons.

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From the very beginning, Supernatural’s lore was largely based on pre-existing myths and legends. The writers simply twist their tales a bit to fit into the world of the show. However, there are times that the writers conjure up completely original ideas to serve the show's story. Below, we'll take a look at some of the legends and folklore that have inspired Supernatural's stories, and also point to a few times when the writers made it all up.

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Supernatural Woman in White
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10 RIGHT: THE WOMAN IN WHITE

Supernatural Woman in White

From the pilot episode, Supernatural established that it would be adapting folklore for the show. The first legendary spirit fans saw Sam and Dean face was a Woman in White, also known as a weeping woman or La Llorona. The legend appears in many places around the world and her story often goes like this: a woman is married to an unfaithful man, and when she discovers his infidelity she takes her own life. In many cases, before she takes her life, she first takes the lives of her children in a fit of insanity.

In some versions of the story, the ghost of the woman waits along the side of the road to get picked up by unfaithful men. This is the version of the Woman in White that Sam and Dean meet.

9 RIGHT: WENDIGO

The second episode of Supernatural was named after the show’s very first monster, the Native American Wendigo. The Algonquin legend says that the Wendigo started out as a man, but when he got lost hunting in the woods during a cold winter, he turned to cannibalism to survive. This twisted him into a monster determined to find more people to consume. As Sam and Dean explain on Supernatural, the name Wendigo (and its variants) roughly translates into “The evil  that devours.”

One of the Wendigo’s special skills is imitating a human’s voice to lure its victims, something Supernatural’s Wendigo does in the show’s fairly faithful version of the monster.

8 MADE IT UP: THE COLT

The Colt Supernatural

The Colt is a revolver that can take out almost any supernatural entity. In fact, there are only five things in the world it isn’t effective against. On Supernatural,  the Colt was the stuff of legend until it was finally unearthed by Sam and Dean.

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While there was never anything supernatural about him, Samuel Colt was the inventor of the Colt revolver, which he patented in Britain in 1835 and the US in 1836. However, The Colt used in Supernatural is a replica of one of the first firearms produced by Colt in 1836, with some nods to the paranormal carved into it, including a pentagram on the handle.

7 RIGHT: CROSSROADS DEMONS

They're a well-known part of the show now, but it wasn’t until the season 2 episode "Crossroad Blues" that Supernatural introduced crossroads demons, the deals they make in exchange for people’s souls, and their use of hellhounds to collect. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this introduction, however, is in the prologue to the episode, which dramatizes the death of real-life bluesman Robert Johnson.

In reality, Robert Johnson died mysteriously in 1938 at the young age of 27. However, legend has it that he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for unparalleled guitar-playing talent. While he’s said to have died from poisoning — not at the claws of hellhounds as depicted on the show — some of his songs do seem to acknowledge the legend, including “Cross Road Blues” and “Hellhound on My Trail.”

6 RIGHT: CROATOAN

Croatoan, Supernatural

The word Croatoan came up starting in the second season of Supernatural and was used several more times to reference a deadly virus. For American history buffs, the word should ring a bell for other reasons. As Sam describes: In 1587, a group of over 100 English people settled on Roanoke Island near what is now North Carolina. Supplies were dwindling so the colony’s governor returned to England to gather more. When he finally returned in 1590, though, the settlers were nowhere to be found. All that was left behind was a single word etched into a wooden post: Croatoan.

No one knows for sure what happened to the Lost Colony, but in invoking the name Croatoan, Supernatural connects its lore to this historical mystery, even though the show never directly addresses what happened to the colony.

5 RIGHT: DJINN

Supernatural Quiz - Djinn

Djinn were introduced for the first time on Supernatural in the second season, but the creatures have reared their heads consistently throughout the show’s numerous seasons. Djinn, which is sometimes spelled Jinn and are more commonly known as a genie, is a creature from Arabic mythology.

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According to the Koran, Djinn have free will and can choose to be good or evil but were nonetheless considered dangerous. In fact, in many ways, the story of the Djinn in Islamic lore resembles Lucifer’s fall from grace. Of course, the Djinn on Supernatural can also spin realistic fantasies in its victims’ heads, like the wish world the Djinn made Dean see. This aspect of the Djinn appears to be taken from another Islamic creature that is associated with Djinn called Marid.

4 MADE IT UP: LUCIFER’S CAGE

Supernatural Lucifer Cage

Supernatural spends a great deal of time exploring different corners of the underworld and its demonic inhabitants. One key location that has played an important role on the show is Lucifer’s Cage. The cage was created by God and placed in the deepest, darkest part of Lucifer’s domain in order to trap him and prevent him from wreaking havoc on Earth. It’s where both Sam and his half-brother Adam ended up after serving as vessels for Lucifer and the archangel Michael.

Yet, while the story of Lucifer and his fall from grace is an important story in Christianity, nowhere in the story is a cage to lock Lucifer up mentioned.

3 RIGHT: MYTHOLOGICAL GODS

Supernatural Quiz - Kali

The season 5 episode, “Hammer of the Gods,” featured mythological gods from several traditions. They included the Hindu goddess Kali and god Ganesh, the Norse gods Odin and Baldur, and the Greek god Mercury.

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However, this attempt at folding several pagan traditions into the show suffered from some criticism. The premise of the episode was that the old gods came together to challenge Lucifer. Yet, it was clear from the beginning that Lucifer could easily best the whole group. However, many of the gods that were featured are quite powerful. Plus, there’s a difference between the Hindu gods like Kali and Ganesh who still have followers and those who no longer have many worshippers.

2 RIGHT: NEPHILIM

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The first encounter the Supernatural characters have with a Nephilim happens in season 8. Since then, the idea of these half angel/half human creatures has taken on a much more central role in the character of Jack. He is the son of Lucifer and a human mother and was born at the end of season 12. He eventually became an ally to Sam and Dean.

Nephilim are mentioned in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, and in other biblical texts. There, they are the product of the union of the “sons of God,” which many believe are fallen angels, and human women. They are often thought to be giants and the cause of the biblical flood that wiped out most of humanity. Other than being really tall, the biblical descriptions don’t hint at the massive powers the Nephilim on Supernatural have, so it seems the writers created that for the show.

1 MADE IT UP: GOD HAS A SISTER

The Darkness, who also came to be known as Amara, was the big bad of Supernatural’s eleventh season. In Supernatural lore, the Darkness predated everything, even God, her younger brother. She was locked away by her brother and his Archangels because she was an existential threat to God’s creations on Earth.

This diverges sharply from Judeo-Christian scripture, though. According to the monotheistic religions like Catholicism and Judaism, there is only one God — and he’s an only child. Also pretty much nothing pre-dates God because he’s responsible for making everything. Furthermore, at least as far as anyone knows, God probably isn’t masquerading as a guy named Chuck.

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