For Supernatural's Sam and Dean Winchester, keeping the world safe doesn't necessarily mean sticking to the world's laws. At least, not the ones the rest of us follow. But just because the life of a hunter of the supernatural isn't conducive to the rules and regulations of civil society, doesn't mean hunters don't live by some kind of code. Hunter culture has norms and customs of its own, all of which pretty much boils down to survival, secrecy, and seclusion. Hunters are typically solitary, tough, and selfless people. They keep themselves to themselves, never linger in one place for too long, and try to not form too many bonds.
As well as the hunter's code, the Winchesters have developed their own rules and traditions to ensure that they always have at least one foot in the land of the living. It's a thankless, un-glamorous job but, unfortunately, someone's gotta do it. It's also a job that the Winchester brothers didn't have much choice but to accept. The tricks of their trade were passed down to them by their Dad, John Winchester, following the demise of his wife at the hands of a demon. John's disappearance in the show's first episode prompted Sam and Dean to saddle up and track him down, and they've been on the road ever since because -- as the saying goes -- there's no rest for the wicked, and there's plenty of that left for the boys to fight.
20 ALWAYS BURN THE BODY
Though hunters aren't known for sentimentality, funerals for those that fall are the group's most sacred of rituals. The "Pad of Definitions" on Warner Brothers' old online resource for the show describes a hunter's funeral pyre as: "a structure, usually made of wood, that is used for burning a body as part of a funeral rite."
"The body is placed upon the pyre and the pyre is then set on fire." Cremation ensures that the deceased won't return as some kind of malevolent spirit. Sam and Dean clearly know this as we've seen them perform the rite a dozen times so far, as well as light up various corpses in the hopes of solving a suspected haunting.
19 NEVER FORGET THE SALT
For most of us, salt's sole purpose is a basic cooking ingredient. For a hunter, it's one of the most important weapons in your arsenal. As Sam explains in Season Two's "Roadkill:" "Simple remedies are always the best. In most cultures, salt's a symbol of purity, so it repels impure and unnatural things. Same reason you throw it over your shoulder."
In Supernatural, salt is used both defensively and offensively against ghosts and demons -- either to create a protective barrier between you and them or to be put inside shotgun shells to slow them down. Bobby Singer even has a panic room coated with the condiment. If supplies run low, iron, silver, and holy water work just as effectively.
18 DEAN ALWAYS DRIVES
Okay, Dean mostly drives. But, according to him, he should always drive. The boys have long had a third traveling companion, way before Castiel came along: a '67 Chevy Impala previously owned by their father. Dubbed the "Metallicar" by fans and "baby" by Dean, the Winchester's car is far more than just a set of wheels — it's a character in its own right.
Dean's bond with the Impala means he's incredibly picky about who gets to sit in driver's seat, to the point where it looks out-of-place for anyone but him to be behind the steering wheel. He also has very particular rules about the road music: "Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole."
17 STAY PERMANENTLY WARDED
In Sam and Dean's line of work, danger could strike at any time -- especially with teleporting angels and smoke-bodied demons on the loose. In the early seasons of the show, the boys had had few dealings with the latter and were unprepared for their most invasive form of attack: possession. Bobby and Dean had to exorcize a dangerous one from Sam in Season Two's "Born Under A Bad Sign."
By Season Three, the boys were much more savvy to the trick and reveal that they've since been tattooed with matching sigils to prevent it ever happening again. Castiel takes this to the next level in the first episode of Season Five, etching Enochian Warding right onto their ribs to stop angels from tracking them down.
16 PASS DOWN THE FAMILY BUSINESS
Due to the high-risk nature of the job, we rarely meet hunting families in Supernatural like the Winchesters. Those that do exist tend to hand down their knowledge of the supernatural to the next generation, as John did to Sam and Dean. John's father Henry was also a hunter, and almost a member of the American Men of Letters before the demon Abaddon disrupted his initiation.
The boys also have hunting in their blood from their mother's side, too. The Campbells, Mary Winchester's family, were a prominent hunting clan led by patriarch, Samuel, who Sam and Dean later got to work alongside. It's no wonder "saving people, hunting things, the family business" became the Winchester's motto.
15 FAKE NAMES HONOR ROCK 'N' ROLL
Other than his family and his famous set of wheels, there's nothing Dean Winchester loves more than classic rock, which he listens to preferably in his car, on cassette, and without interruption. This hobby has even snuck into his and Sam's professional lives. To gain access to crime scenes that could have a supernatural culprit, the brothers often pose as FBI agents.
Fake badges need fake names -- to protect their identities as hunters -- and these names nearly always reference iconic musicians, from Metallica's James Hetfield to Kiss' Jean Simmons. Sometimes, they extend into other realms of pop culture, like in Season Two's "Heart," when they posed as "Landis and Detective Dante," referring to monster movie directors: John Landis and Joe Dante.
14 KEEP THE SUPERNATURAL SECRET
Despite the strange, potentially world-ending events that have befallen Earth in Supernatural -- the almost-Apocalypse, angels falling from Heaven, and all manner of peculiar weather events -- most of the human world lives blissfully unaware that they live side-by-side with the things that go bump in the night; a debt they owe to the hunting community.
The Winchesters, like all hunters, live and work under the radar so that the people they fight to protect can leave peaceful lives. Unlike your average vigilante or costumed hero, hunters get no plaudits or fame for the work they do. Though Sam and Dean do have to bring people into the light during cases if necessary, it's never a decision they take lightly.
13 STAY OFF THE GRID
As a hunter, the best way to keep the general public in the dark about the existence of the paranormal is by keeping out of the public eye yourself. While there aren't exactly bans per se against being on social media, traditionally, things like only giving out your phone number to certain people and not leaving a paper trace are advisable.
Sam and Dean certainly live this way. They use fake names on credit cards, go from motel to motel and, in more recent seasons, have made an abandoned secret bunker their permanent residence. But though they live on the outskirts of society, they're still engaged with what's happening in the world. References to current pop stars, celebrities, and even political figures are regular occurrences.
12 CONSULT THE LORE
Even after over a decade on the road, the Winchesters still haven't seen and done it all just yet. While ghosts, demons, and angels are no sweat these days, there are plenty of ancient and dangerous surprises lurking in the dark for them. But, while they might get caught off guard every once in a while, there's no mystery that can't be solved by "the lore."
In the early days, Sam and Dean relied mainly on their father's journal as their main source of "lore" to figure out what kind of monster they were chasing. Since then, their new home in the American Men of Letters' bunker has expanded their knowledge pool considerably, turning Sam into a bigger nerd than ever before.
11 SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Though they do communicate with one another, hunters generally prefer to work alone. There have been some exceptions, like the closely-knit Campbell and Harvelle families, but a partnership as tight as Sam and Dean's is very rare. So tight, in fact, that they've been observed to be each other's weaknesses. But, they're also each other's greatest strength.
As the descendants of Cain and Abel, the brothers are predestined to have a fraught relationship. Instead, they always overcome their differences to work as a seamless fighting unit, able to anticipate each other's moves, trust each other's judgment, and easily overwhelm more disorganized enemies. Add Castiel to the mix and you've got three-times the brotherly power.
10 DON'T WASTE HUMAN LIFE
The hardest part of a hunter's job is losing a fight because that usually means losing a life in the process. To begin with, Sam and Dean experienced these losses a lot with demon possessions, as -- unless the demonic entity voluntarily left the person it was possessing -- the only way to force the demon out was using a special knife.
Unfortunately, doing this meant slaying both demon and human together, which both brothers deeply regretted. Fortunately, when they became reacquainted with Bobby Singer, an old friend of their father's, they learned how to perform exorcisms, which spare the human host's life while ridding it of the nesting issue. While they continue to lose plenty, Sam and Dean always try and minimize collateral damage.
9 ROMANCE NEVER LASTS
As is the case with most action heroes, forming lasting romantic bonds is tricky for the Winchesters. Sam experienced this lesson in the very first episode when his college girlfriend Jessica was burned alive, mimicking his mother's horrible demise. His next long-term relationship was with an actual demon.
Dean also has a losing streak when it comes to love. His longest tryst was with an old flame, Lisa Breaden, following Sam's fall into the underworld to trap Lucifer. It was even heavily hinted that he was the father to Lisa's young son, Ben. Once Sam returned, Dean was unable to resist returning to "the Life," and eventually had Lisa and Ben's haunting memories of him erased.
8 DON'T PUT DOWN ROOTS
Before Sam and Dean shacked up in the Men of Letters bunker, they would continually drift from state to state in the Impala; checking into cheap motels and keeping relationships casual. This is typical of how most hunters live. While Bobby Singer ran a salvage yard and Ellen Harvelle owned a bar, being on the move is much more common.
This was baked into the show's premise through creator Eric Kripke's love of "Route 66: The Great American Road Trip," while, in-universe, it's just a necessity of having to go wherever the work takes you. There aren't enough hunters to be stationed in every corner of the country, and moving around stops you from being tailed by antagonistic forces -- monster or human.
7 MAKE DEALS IF YOU HAVE TO
To begin with, Sam and Dean -- especially Dean -- had a very black-and-white view of living in a world filled with monsters. The idea of allying themselves to one of things they hunted seemed out of the question. This began to change after Sam's psychic powers manifested.
The demon blood fixation he developed to enhance these abilities started to blur the line between good and evil irrevocably for him and Dean. Since then, and after finding themselves trapped between a rock and a hard place more often than not, they've made a habit of forging uneasy alliances with lesser monsters to fight bigger ones.
6 WHERE THERE'S PIE, THERE'S DEAN
If pie is on the menu, Dean is ordering pie. It's as simple as that. In the dark and draining world of Supernatural, Dean's relationship with junk food offers much-needed comedic relief, particularly as his orders of the greasiest, sugariest thing available draw disapproving looks from his health-conscious brother.
Somehow a life of sitting in cars and wolfing down truck-stop burgers and deserts hasn't adversely affected his physique in the way it probably should have (or maybe hunting provides the perfect cardiovascular work-out to offset it all?). Of all Dean's edible obsessions, fans know that nothing pleases him more than pastry and filling.
5 LEARN YOUR LATIN
The vast majority of incantations you'll hear in Supernatural are in Latin. This tradition likely comes from the real-world origin of exorcisms: the Catholic Church's Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual). Supernatural's Pad of Definitions calls the book the only "formal exorcism rite" sanctioned by the church.
The first time Sam performs an exorcism, he reads an abridged version of the rite from his father's journal. Eventually, it becomes apparent to the boys that this ritual will be essential to the job description, as they both commit it to memory, as well as how to quickly draw magical symbols for trapping or dispersing different entities in a pinch.
4 ONLY CRIME PAYS
Money can be hard to come by when you're always on the road and usually leave chaos in your wake. For Sam and Dean, hunting is a way of life, and that includes their professional lives. The problem is, it's a voluntary career, not a paid gig. While the boys are hardly materialistic they still need to survive.
This is where the legally grey area to their heroics comes in to play. The bulk of their wealth comes from credit card scams using multiple fake identities with spare change coming in from Dean's pool hustling. They've amassed quite a rap sheet over time and even spent time as fugitives from the law.
3 ALWAYS CHECK THE BODY
Usually, Sam and Dean aren't alerted to the presence of a supernatural evil until it claims a victim -- which usually happens in the show's cold opens. After the scene of the crime, their next stop is either to the victim's house for interrogation, or if they weren't that lucky, to the morgue to poke around their corpse for clues.
In the case of ghosts, a trip to the cemetery is also on the list. When in doubt, dig up a body. If the coffin is occupied, the bones are salted and burned to purify them. If the coffin is empty... there’s going to be trouble. As a result, "grave desecration" are among the boys’ list of crimes.
2 ONLY DEAN CAN USE SAM'S NICKNAME
Sam and Dean have voluntarily gone by numerous false identities to gain access to crime scenes and haunted houses. Involuntarily, they've also collected a bunch of nicknames, from Bobby's "the boys" and Crowley's "Moose and Squirrel," to affectionately calling each other swear words and "jerk."
But, Dean and only Dean alone can call Sam by his childhood nickname: Sammy. When Dean first uses in it the pilot episode, Sam is resistant. By the time Season Two rolls around, he defends his older brother's exclusive ownership of the name when villainous hunter Gordon Walker uses it: "He's the only that who gets to call me that."
1 THEY HAVE EACH OTHER'S BACKS
Sam and Dean's bond is the glue that's kept Supernatural going for so long. In the show, while they could be called each other's Kryptonite, their relationship is also what's helped keep them alive for so long through so many apocalypse-level events. Bitter feuds and petty squabbles aside, "Team Free Will" are tough to split up.
Of course, most of their greatest enemies have observed and exploited this co-dependence, knowing that harming one will also emotionally harm the other. Even when one of them does lose their life, soul, body or freedom, the other will do whatever it takes to recover them -- even at the cost of their own life — determined not to continue the fight alone.