I began watching the CW’s dark fantasy drama, Supernatural, eight years ago during the summer of 2012. Since then, it has become my all-time favorite show, and one that has impacted me unlike any other. The original premise for the program was about two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, criss-crossing the country to hunt down paranormal creatures. Now, the series is ending with its fifteenth season and has grown so far beyond just being another television drama. Using myself as one example, this show has become so vital to my daily routine. Every day, I’ve talked or seen something about Supernatural—whether I’m discussing the latest episode with my friends, interacting with fan accounts, or viewing recent posts from the cast members. For the last six years, I’ve woken up each morning with the series’ theme song, “Carry On My Wayward Son.” And, for the last five years, I’ve opened up my cell phone to see a Supernatural lockscreen that matches my best friend’s. All of these little instances prove how important this show has been, and will continue to be, in my life.
I can’t fully explain in words all the reasons why I love this series. For one, the creativity and diversity throughout the fifteen seasons has been amazing. At first, the stories revolved around the brothers taking on your “normal” supernatural monsters like ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters. Slowly, the show began to include lore and myths from all types of different cultures, even including Roman and Egyptian Gods. My favorite additions, by far, have been the various twists on Biblical canon. With season 4 introducing the ongoing battle between heaven and hell, my favorite character, an angel named Castiel (Cas), became Supernatural’s third protagonist. Additionally, as the years went on, the show decided to take risks by producing comedic episodes as a service to loyal fans. One of my favorite episodes where this happened was called “The French Mistake,” in which Sam and Dean are transported to our reality and find themselves on the set of the hit TV show Supernatural (breaking the fourth wall). Another fantastic aspect of the series is how well the three main characters have been developed. As Sam Winchester once said, “One thing I’ve learned—heroes aren’t perfect.” Although Sam, Dean, and Cas always have good intentions at heart, they continually make mistakes that they must learn and heal from. I think their portrayals are great because the audience can look up to these strong characters, while also relating to their humanity.
In fact, the three protagonists have all taught me important life lessons by way of the show’s four recurring themes. Firstly, they have helped me internalize the idea that showing your emotions and communicating with others is not a sign of weakness. A second lesson that goes hand-in-hand with this one is: never giving up, despite all the obstacles life may throw at you. Throughout the series, Sam, Dean, and Castiel have hit many low points in their lives, especially the times when they had a falling out with each other, lost family and friends they cared about, or could not find a solution to their problems. They always realized, in the end, that they were stronger together than apart. So, each time they would deal with their pain by having heartful and empowering conversations together. These scenes were extremely powerful since they normalized expressing your feelings, allowing yourself to have moments of sadness (particularly allowing yourself to cry), and asking for forgiveness. Also, the scenes highlighted how there is always a “light at the end of the tunnel,” even at times when it seems all hope is lost.
A third lesson I have learned from the series is the significance of defying people’s expectations in order to become your best self and find your true happiness. During the years, each of the characters have had a defining moment in which they rejected their “destiny.” The best example of this rejection is Castiel’s character arc throughout the show. Originally, Castiel was meant to be a “soldier of heaven,” who only did as he was told by his superiors. After some time, he began to question the morality of their orders, and decided instead to do what he felt was right. In the end, Castiel found a family in Sam and Dean Winchester, who helped him to become a caring, loving, and selfless person. This has been a fantastic lesson for me since I’ve always been afraid of what other people’s opinions of me are based on my thoughts and actions. Castiel has helped me to accept myself the way I am, and to pursue only what will make me happy. Lastly, and I believe most notable, I have learned even more about the importance of family. Although family has always been #1 in my life, Supernatural taught me how my close friends can be part of the extended family I choose on my own. I think that Dean Winchester explained this point best, “A wise man once told me, ‘Family don’t end in blood.’ But it doesn’t start there either. Family cares about you, not what you can do for them. Family’s there: for the good, bad, all of it. They got your back, even when it hurts. That’s family.”
The actors involved in Supernatural have influenced me just as much, and arguably even more, than the characters they play on the show. Misha Collins (who plays Castiel) has inspired me to be kind, and to fight for what I believe in. Misha had a rough childhood, as he explained about his family, “We were on welfare and very poor for some time, and we were homeless for a while.” Knowing the struggles that many face first-hand, he has decided to use his popularity to help others in need. In 2010, Misha founded Random Acts, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to worldwide acts of kindness. The acts of kindness done have varied from simple things such as helping families who are economically disadvantaged to large-scale projects like building the Jacmel Children’s Center. This center was built in Haiti to provide orphans with a home, as well as an education. Further, Misha always tries to keep his fanbase updated on important national and global issues, encouraging them to fight and protect those that don’t have a voice. Misha has pushed me to lead with my heart, by lending a hand to those in need and speaking up on issues that are important to me.
Jensen Ackles (who plays Dean Winchester) has taught me the significance of being confident in myself. He has admitted in the past, “Yes, I’m very shy, but I do my best to work around it. I know it may seem strange for an actor, but acting is a good way of overcoming this trait. It gives me the opportunity to open up more to fans.” By challenging his trait head-on, Jensen was able to break out of his shell both on a personal and professional level. He has said he is able to communicate better with his family and friends, including his fellow cast members on Supernatural, and give advice to fans who have struggled with the same predicament. Additionally, since he has learned to trust more in his abilities, he was able to take advantage of other opportunities in the arts such as directing and singing. Having self-confidence is a problem I’ve always dealt with, since I am a perfectionist and never think that my best is enough. Seeing someone who is my role model open up about their struggles with the same problem has motivated me to find healthy ways to express my insecurities and work on ways to overcome them.
Finally, Jared Padalecki (who plays Sam Winchester) has helped me learn the importance of opening up to others, and being there for those you care about. He has commented on various occasions how he often struggles with anxiety and depression—even at times when his life is seemingly happy. At first, Jared wasn’t sure how to cope with his dark thoughts, but learned to communicate to those closest to him about his feelings. Now, he encourages his fans to do the same, or to get the professional help they need to overcome their inner demons. As Jared has stated, “There’s no shame in having to fight everyday; and if you’re still alive to hear these words, then you are winning your war. You are here.” In 2015, Jared Padelcki started a movement called “Always Keep Fighting,” which created a new support system for those dealing with mental health issues. He also helped to promote Jensen and Misha’s campaign named “You Are Not Alone,” which supported those dealing with depression, self-injury, and addiction. Through these movements, Jared has shown me that there is bravery and strength in fighting to stay alive and finding contentment in your life. It is also incredible to know that the campaigns I have donated to helped Jared inspire many other fans to keep living.
It was actually during the start of these campaigns that the Supernatural fandom became known as the Supernatural family, or SPN family for short. It is beautiful to see how this family, which includes the cast members of the show, has grown into one that is so encouraging and caring towards one another. I think two of the best ways to show the impact of the SPN family is through GISH, formerly known as GISHWHES, and Supernatural Conventions. GISH (The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt) is a week-long competitive media scavenger hunt that has occurred every year since 2011. This scavenger hunt was started by Misha Collins with the goals of raising money for various non-profit organizations, and encouraging acts of kindness. By participating in the hunt, you are able to work and connect with a team of 14 other Supernatural fans from around the world. It’s super special to get to know people from all different walks of life, because it truly changes your perspective for the better. I’ve participated in GISH in 2017, 2018, and just this past summer (2020), and I’ve had teammates from other parts of the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. The competition and connections I’ve made have helped me to explore my creative side, become more confident in my abilities, and promote kindness in my everyday life. Supernatural Conventions, on the other hand, have allowed both the actors and fans to come together to celebrate their love for the show. Each convention occurs over an extended weekend, and provides fans with Q+A panels, photo opportunities, and simply a setting to get to know other fans. It’s amazing to see the respect and love everyone has for one another, even when they are just meeting for the first time. This reaction is something I experienced first-hand, since I attended a convention back in September 2015. All in all, the Supernatural family is really a place where you are encouraged to be, and are accepted for being, your authentic self.
Just like everyone else, the one question burning in my mind is: how is the show going to end on November 19th? Will the Winchesters get the happy ending they deserve, or will we be left heartbroken? Honestly, with all of the plot twists over the years, I don’t know which way it will go. All I know for sure is that I’m grateful no matter the end result, the SPN Family will be there to love and support each other for many years to come. Plus, as Chuck Shirley once said on the show, “No doubt—endings are hard. But then again…nothing ever really ends, does it?”