One for the Good Guys

The TV show “Supernatural” offers an essential kind of hope in addition to over three hundred hours worth of episodes.

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photo from homeofthenutty.com

As the Winchester brothers hunt monsters around the country, they make their viewers believe that good will prevail.

Kristen Kinzler, Junior Class Editor

There are currently 320 episodes of the sci-fi horror TV show Supernatural. That is about two straight weeks’ worth of television, filmed over fifteen years, and I have seen almost every single episode at least twice. I watch “A Very Supernatural Christmas” several times every December. I celebrate Halloween by turning on the episode designed like a 1950’s monster movie. After I’ve had a bad day, I watch an episode that I know will make me laugh.

Since I discovered the show in eighth grade, that’s how it’s always been. I found comfort in Supernatural and all that it represented. Yet somehow, during the coronavirus pandemic, I’m leaning on it even more. Many of my afternoons and evenings are now spent rewatching episodes I could probably quote word for word, simply because, when all else fails, it makes me feel better.

Supernatural centers around the Winchester brothers— bad boy, sarcastic, emotionally damaged Dean and dorky, compassionate, selfless Sam. After their mother was murdered by a demon when Dean was four and Sam was an infant, their father vowed to get vengeance, so the brothers grew up on the road, learning all about the things that go bump in the night.

Now adults, Sam and Dean call themselves hunters, and they drive their gorgeous ‘67 Chevy Impala around the country, blasting classic rock music, solving cases, saving lives, killing monsters, and living off of fake credit cards and cash from winning pool games.

Sam and Dean aren’t your stereotypical heroes– they’re jaded, violent, and tremendously selfish when it comes to their family. But they also have incredibly big, righteous hearts, and in Supernatural, at least, their intentions justify their means. At their core, the Winchester brothers are just two guys traumatized by the loss of their mom and a childhood on the road with their absentee father, trying their very best to save someone else before it’s too late. They connect with the people they help, and they never go down without a fight. Throughout the show, it’s clear that though the brothers may not be the epitomes of heroes, they’re the good guys.

A lot of things right now feel scary and uncertain, and that’s the only kind of life Sam and Dean have ever known. Yet, they manage to wake up every morning and face their fears.”

Supernatural started as a horror show, where the boys faced what the show considered a “Monster of the Week,” typically something like a werewolf, demon, or ghost. The first season began when Sam and Dean’s dad disappeared, and Dean, the loyal son who stayed in the family business, enlists Sam’s, the black sheep who abandoned hunting in favor of a scholarship at Stanford, help. The boys hadn’t seen each other in years, but after Sam’s girlfriend is killed in the same way their mother was, he decides to permanently reunite with his brother in order to find the culprit.

However, as the show progresses, so does its bounds. At the end of season three, Dean goes to Hell and, at the beginning of season four, is rescued by an angel. The fifth season revolves around the apocalypse started by Lucifer. There’s an episode where Dean dies over a hundred times and Sam has to keep reliving the day, and there’s even one where Sam and Dean switch lives with the actors that play them in real life, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively. In season thirteen, the show is animated for an hour when the brothers meet the gang from Scooby-Doo.

It sounds a little eccentric, and honestly, as someone who doesn’t consider herself to be very religious, once the angels showed up, I feared my favorite show was going downhill. But, to my surprise, Supernatural remained grounded. The insane storylines are balanced by real emotions. Even when facing the actual Devil, Sam and Dean are the same people they were when they were fighting a vampire.

In fact, I can confidently say that the only reason the show has lasted a decade and a half is because of Sam and Dean’s relationship. Due to their upbringing, they only have each other. For the first three seasons, the two brothers were the only series regulars. Every episode had a different setting and storyline, but Sam and Dean remained constant. They were always two brothers, codependent on and willing to do anything for the other. In season two, Dean sells his soul, giving himself a mere year to live, to save Sam’s life. In the tenth season, Sam chooses Dean’s wellbeing over the fate of the world. 

And, while it may not be healthy, there is something special about watching such extreme displays of love. It makes your heart bleed for the two monster-hunting brothers, and it forces you to think about your own loved ones and how, given the chance, you’d do anything for them, too.

Supernatural has taught me about ‘70s rock music and how to be a better sister and friend, but it has also given me hope. After watching more than 300 episodes, I feel an attachment to the characters, and, in a weird way, I believe in them. The show acknowledges Sam and Dean’s sacrifices, but it also embraces the fact that, in the end, they will come out on top. There’s an innocence in believing the good guys will always win. And even though I know that’s not how the real world works, I don’t really care. For an episode, I have that innocence again.

During this pandemic, all we can do is hope that the good guys win, so I can’t think of a time when that innocence will ever be more important.

When the cast announced that season fifteen would be Supernatural’s last, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Fifteen years worth of television should be more than enough, but I will miss the show as a constant. The world could end, but it always felt like Supernatural would go on. 

Perhaps that’s why, during the current crisis, I have found myself returning to the Winchester brothers more than usual. A lot of things right now feel scary and uncertain, and that’s the only kind of life Sam and Dean have ever known. Yet, they manage to wake up every morning, face their fears, be there for each other, and try their best. Though they have every reason to believe the world is beyond saving, they continue to fight for it. That’s the pulse of Supernatural– two underdog brothers refusing to give up. 

It’s such a central theme that Jared Padalecki, the actor who portrays Sam, started the Always Keep Fighting campaign to raise money for organizations that help people struggling with depression or suicide.

Supernatural stands as a reminder that, in a world where there are actual demons and monsters and apocalypses, there are also Sam and Dean Winchesters— imperfect people trying to do the best they can. Maybe, in our own lives, that’s as close as we get to real heroes. And I have to admit, after watching the Winchesters for fifteen seasons, I’m okay with that. 

If you’re looking for a little hope and a lot of entertainment during these times, the first fourteen seasons of Supernatural are available on Netflix. I encourage you to find your own comfort in the story, and, at least for an hour at a time, believe that good will prevail.