Supernatural Collection Finale Assessment: Why That Comfortable Ending Nonetheless Feels Bittersweet

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Supernatural Cast says goodbye to the fans

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[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series finale of Supernatural. Read at your own risk!]

I’ll be right out there and say it: the finale of the Supernatural series reads like the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You know, the one who was completely unnecessary and had an “unfortunately banal fanfiction” mood? On the one hand, I want to wallow in the bitterness that comes with being a high-meaning Supernatural fan who hasn’t caught on. On the other hand, my significant other came in as the credits were rolling in and asked how my “religious experience” was going and when did I shrug my shoulders and say “Ehhhh?” He took it upon himself to defend the show’s honor: “They gave you 15 seasons. What else do you want?”

And that’s fair.

That’s fair because this cast and crew gave us 15 seasons. And that’s crazy. In addition, there is so much fantastic and innovative in these 15 seasons that the retrospective, which was broadcast before the actual finale, was rightly celebrated. This show can be so proud of, and I’m not even going to say “Carry On” isn’t one of those things. It had its moments.

It’s just not my cup.

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Dean Winchester’s (Jensen Ackles) final death scene was one of the greatest death scenes in a series that turned death scenes into an art form. I loved that it was a stupid accident that happened on a random, largely unforgettable hunt. I thought it was great that the forehead touched and “I love you” and people’s tears and promised not to bring anyone back from the dead because that always goes wrong. Finally someone said it! But this is the point in the episode where the klaxxon went off in my head when I realized we had about 30 minutes left and … oh no. Don’t do it, Supernatural … you did it.

Let’s take a moment to realize what a strange episode “Carry On” is for breaking against so much of the show’s news. Back in 2005, in those heady days before iPhones, Snapchat, and frankly, before some of Supernatural’s current audiences were even born, we were introduced to Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki), who had run away from his maddened family of hunters in a normal life. It is implied that this was a traumatic event for his family, and well into Supernatural’s run, “Sam Runs to College” is still referred to as the ultimate betrayal in Winchester mythology. Dean showed up at Sam’s door and dragged him back into this life to get everyone on their way to literal hell, but 15 seasons later we see the brothers have adjusted and finally seem satisfied. They have a dog. They go to silly parties. You are at peace and didn’t even have to die to get it this time.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

Then Dean and Sam dies … runs away and gets married and has a kid named Dean * eyeroll * and gets the blissfully normal life he always wanted and was on the right track until Dean showed up at Stanford and ruined everything. To be fair, Supernatural gave us hints that this wasn’t quite Sam’s post-Dean life. He answered one of Dean’s cell phones to play the FBI agent. The house in which he raises his family and eventually dies an old man is practically a reproduction of the “Bobby’s House” set. We see his grown son have an anti-possession tattoo. Sam’s main love interest this season has been Eileen (Shoshannah Stern), a fellow hunter, and while she hasn’t shown up herself, the actress who plays Sam’s son shares her oval face and dark hair, which may have been a deliberate casting choice.

Sam as the patriarch of his own little family of hunters is something I can get over with, and I think the implication in Jack’s (Alexander Calvert) new world is that the supernatural threats are relatively minor, relatively manageable, and nowhere near that repeated apocalyptic breakdowns are Dean and Sam exploring a clever way to make this “best of two worlds” situation more plausible than ever for previous generations of hunters.

There’s just something that happens as a result of Dean’s death that feels a little unfair to Dean. Think of it this way: Sam Winchester ran away from his family to lead a normal life. His brother showed up and dragged him back, and Sam worked there in the life he hadn’t wanted for 15 seasons. Then his brother died and Sam was finally free to have the life he tried to live a decade and a half ago before he was interrupted.


The finale got me in a strange place as I advocated that Sam and Dean get less self-destructively dependent on each other since the whole Gadreel thing, and now I’ve got that and I actually got it, don’t be careful what you love make a Wish. Even so, I’m not here to tear apart what was clearly meant to be a love letter to these two suffering legends. I may not be thrilled with where we ended up, but the trip was amazing.

This is a time to celebrate and say thank you. Thank you for another topless Jared Padalecki scene. Thank you for the haunting cover of “Carry on my Wayward Son” by Neoni. Thanks for Sam wearing glasses. Thank you for this good dog, yes it is. Thank you for letting Dean get the whole cake before it was skewered. He earned this cake. And thanks for the weekly reminder that “Family Doesn’t End in Blood,” which has become so much more than a line from a ten year old episode that defined this series, it’s the cast and crew, and it’s fans. You are beautiful and terrifying and I adore you to pieces.

The first 14 seasons of Supernatural are now streamed on Netflix.

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