In the first season of Supernatural, Dean shows up at Sam's residence asking Sam to help him find their dad. When Dean tells Sam that "Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days," Sam realizes that it is serious and packs his bags. Much of the first season centers on the brothers trying to find their father, John Winchester, as well as dealing with their family business of hunting.
Both brothers have a complicated relationship with their father but it's made clear that John did his best to protect them. In a twist of fate, Sam and Dean have become father figures to Jack, Lucifer and Kelly Kline's son. Here are 5 ways that they prove to be better father figures than John, and 5 that prove that John was far better.
10 John Taught Them Hunting and Purpose
After Mary is killed by a demon, John becomes a hunter to avenger his wife. In turn, he teaches both of his sons to hunt. If it weren't for John, they wouldn't know how to fight, work through their fear, and to consider the importance of saving people despite not having the best of childhoods.
John also taught them how to research monsters and how to use scams (like false names and fake credit cards) to hunt and survive. While John was tough on them, he molded them into becoming the men willing to fight impossible obstacles to save others.
9 Sam and Dean Don't See the World in Black and White
Thankfully, Sam and Dean see the world differently than John did. They realized that there are monsters who are doing their best to be good while there are humans who are worse (i.e. the Benders).
After his own brush with darkness and addiction, Sam understands that you can't judge others so easily and is now giving Jack the chance to be good. Although it takes Dean longer to get there, he's willing to do the same. If it weren't for the fact that Sam and Dean recognize nuances in good and evil, they wouldn't have taken in Lucifer's son.
8 John Shared His Notebook of Research on The Supernatural
John entrusts all of his knowledge to Sam and Dean, leaving them his notebook full of research. In the beginning, this was how the brothers learned about the supernatural beings that they had to hunt. Had John not shared his vast knowledge, Sam and Dean would have had a hard time being successful hunters.
Moreover, John gave them the chance to develop these skills on their own when he removed himself from the picture. The brothers had to learn to rely on each other, making them stronger hunters and giving them the opportunity to develop a stronger bond.
7 Sam and Dean Hold Each Other Accountable
One of the benefits of co-parenting, is that they balance each other out. In addition, Cas is another father figure. When Dean begins to believe Chuck/God's word that he must kill a soulless Jack, both Sam and Cas try stop him. Sam, the more sensitive brother, is able to talk his older brother out of murder.
Although it may look like Dean isn't listening, he does value Sam's perspective. In the end, Dean can't kill Jack, his son. However, if it weren't for both Sam (especially) and Cas working to sway him, who knows what Dean would have done?
6 John Connected Them to a Knowledgeable Network
While John may not have kept the best of relationships with other hunters, they still respect him. So when his sons need help, the network of hunters, psychics, bar owners, and more are willing to come to their aid. It's through John that they know Jo, Ellen and Bobby - arguably a better father figure than John.
Sam and Dean learn from the others that they aren't alone. While Sam and Dean do start to build their own network of hunters, those hunters are newer to the hunt, and less knowledgeable than John's network.
5 Sam and Dean Stayed Around
A big plus for Sam and Dean is that they were there for Jack. He could learn directly from them because, for the most part, they were there with him. Sam and Dean were able to become role models for Jack.
When Jack was born, he had the potential to go bad or good. Having Sam, Dean, and Cas in his life tipped the scale into good because he wanted them to be proud of him. He wanted to be like them. In addition, he never felt abandoned because he felt the security of their love.
4 John Protected His Boys Above All Else
John would do anything to protect Sam and Dean, even sacrificing his life for Dean's and making a deal with a demon to ensure that his son had a chance. When he was in hell and the demons tried to break him, John held on and refused to endanger those he loved.
While Sam and Dean consider Jack to be their own, he's still Lucifer's son. When he nearly becomes soulless after saving them, they don't really stick behind him. Jack becomes the threat they feared he could be. Too easily, Dean tries to stop Jack - dead or alive.
3 Sam and Dean Communicate and Listen
John had a hard time communicating with his boys, often leaving them in the dark. H really seemed to embrace the strong and silent archetype common among fictional dads. While Dean has aspects of this, overall, he is willing to reflect on his behavior and listen to Jack.
Many times, Jack seeks out Sam for advice and Sam listens, empathizes, and communicates well. When Jack's life has an expiration date due to Lucifer taking his grace, Dean takes a break from normal hunting to give Jack more life experiences by road tripping. He is there for his son.
2 John Taught Family Loyalty
Although both Sam and Dean have this aspect in them as well, it's important to note that this all started with John. For John, the family is the most important thing in the world. He is even willing to sacrifice trapping the demon who killed his wife in order to save his boys.
This core value radiates from John. He will do anything to protect his family. Sam and Dean are also like this but if John hadn't instilled this value so profoundly in his sons, they wouldn't be as connected to it as they are.
1 Sam and Dean Don't Look at Being Different as Damaged
No matter how frightening Jack can be, Sam and Dean accept him. They help him learn to understand his powers and they trust that he has good in him. In the end, they serve as role models for Jack. The brothers' faith in Jack's potential for good is something that John wouldn't have were he in their place.
Sam and Dean learned how to recognize the good (or the potential for it) in everyone. By experiencing their own darkness, it made them more compassionate with others, even if this was momentarily challenged when Jack was soulless.