At its core, the CW's Supernatural is about family, love, and sacrifice. Monsters, angels, demons be damned–we're on this crazy ride for the Winchesters and the family they've created over 14 seasons. The road so far has been a bumpy one to say the least. Stand-out seasons full of phenomenal episodes delivered cult classics. The show lost its way a bit during fledgling years. However, one constant remains throughout all of Supernatural's amazingly scary/silly/bizarre/frustrating moments over the years.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) are the heart and soul of this show. We grow invested in new characters because of the boys' relationship with them. We love Castiel (Misha Collins) and Bobby (Jim Beaver) because of their love for the boys. As I take on the difficult task of choosing one (-ish) favorite episode from each season, I'm following my heart. To me, these episodes showcase the reasons why Supernatural maintains such a strong and loyal following.
So buckle-up, SPN Family! We're about to take Baby on an emotional ride!
Season 1, Episode 22: "Devil's Trap"
The epic Season 1 finale leaves fans reeling with a brutal, ballsy, and very Eric Kripke-esque cliffhanger. The Winchesters' lives hang in the balance when a demon-driven rig totals the Impala. I felt gutted, shocked and mad at the writers for torturing us like this. On the bright side, we meet our beloved Bobby Singer! John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) goes rogue to protect his boys, so Sam and Dean reach out to Uncle Bobby for help. Sigh. If only we knew how Bobby would become such an important father figure to the boys and to the SPN Family.
Season 2, Episode 1: "In My Time of Dying"
I fell deeply in love with Supernatural after this episode. So many jaw-dropping moments! Ghost Dean takes on Reaper Tess. Sam talks to Dean through an Ouija board. Dean's spirit heart-breakingly confronts John, tearfully pointing out his father's flaws. Sam is consistently critical of John, but this is huge for a blindly-obedient and devoted son like Dean. Of course, stoic John planned on sacrificing himself for Dean the whole time. I cry every time! In this scene, John makes his peace with Dean before leaving.
This premiere also foreshadows the devastating two-part finale. Count "All Hell Breaks Loose" as my runner-up, especially since it is the last time we see JDM as John.
FYI: Morgan's finally returning home, for the 300th episode!!!
Season 3, Episode 10: "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
Despite the 2007 writers' strike, the third season delivered fantastic episodes. "The Kids Are Alright," "Bad Day at Black Rock," "Mystery Spot" and "Jus in Bello" are some of my series favorites–but only one episode became a holiday tradition. "A Very Supernatural Christmas" holds a special place in my heart because we see a crucial and relationship-shaping moment in young Sam and Dean's life. I ugly-cried the first time I watched this episode and it still makes me cry year after year. Sam gives the protective amulet (initially intended for John) to his brother, the one who is always there.
The transition to adult Dean still wearing it around his neck gives me goosebumps every time. Sam doesn't have the heart to celebrate what could be Dean's last Christmas, but he decorates their shabby hotel room, makes some eggnog and puts on a show–all to make Dean happy. The way they look at each other at the end of the episode… Dammit, I'm crying again!
Season 4, Episode 3: "In the Beginning"
Although "Lazarus Rising" serves as Castiel's epic introduction to the series and ranks as one of the best season premieres, the angel's bold move to send Dean back to meet his young parents in 1973 takes precedent in Season 4. This mind-blowing episode reveals that Mary (Amy Gumenick) was the hunter in the family. She makes a deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon to save John's (Matt Cohen) life. (Aww!) As a result, she dies ten years later and he turns to a life of hunting. Dean discreetly warns her, but it isn't enough to change her fate. *tearing up*
We also enjoy some fun times–Dean encourages John to buy the Impala, Mary named the boys after her parents – Deanna (Allison Hossack) and Samuel Campbell (Mitch Pileggi), Dean's grandparents try setting Mary up with him (Eww and LOL). We learn a lot about the boys' roots and see Mary in a different light. Feels-overload seeing Dean fight beside his mom and I felt so bad that Sam missed out on such a special experience.
Honorable mentions to "Yellow Fever" and "Monster Movie" for being hilarious episodes that I have to stop and rewatch during TNT re-runs. "The Rapture" is another fantastic episode that taught us all about Castiel's vessel, Jimmy Novak.
Season 5, Episode 22: "Swan Song"
Again, I'm torn this season because there are so many stellar episodes. I gleefully rewatch fun favorites: "I Believe the Children Are Our Future," "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester," Changing Channels." Gripping and revealing installments left me shook: "Sympathy for the Devil," Good God, Y'All," "The Song Remains the Same," and "Dark Side of the Moon." However, Kripke's final opus to Supernatural takes the cake. This felt like a series finale in many ways, so it wrecked me. I sobbed for most of the hour. Bobby's snapped neck, Dean's pummeled face, the flashbacks of the boys playing in the Impala, Sam fighting through Lucifer's control and begging Dean to finish it, exploding Cass…
This episode reached a whole new level of crazy and brutal. I didn't want Kripke to leave and I'm still pissed at him for making it feel like the Winchesters' Saga was over.
Season 6 – Tie (Episode 15: "The French Mistake")
I'm tired of crying. Time for some feel-good Supernatural. "The French Mistake" is the best meta-hour of television. In another brazen move, Supernatural outrageously pokes fun at itself and lovingly caters to the fans. I pulled a muscle laughing at Sam and Dean pretending to be Jared and Jensen awkwardly acting like the Winchester Bros.
The promos had me at "Mishamigos."
After laughing our butts off, the boys still punch us in the feels at the end.
Season 6 – Tie (Episode 18: "Frontierland")
Dean in the Old West is priceless! He's like a kid in a candy store, if the candy was riddled with STDs. It also brings back the Colt, which I sorely missed. This episode exemplifies how clever and genre-bending the show can be. Supernatural embraced the Western and perfectly played up signatures of the genre. Seeing the Winchesters cowboy up just makes me giddy. The Phoenix ashes were a cool twist too.
Season 7 – Tie (Episode 10: "Death's Door")
I'm still mad at Season 7. I'll refrain from ranting, but have two big beefs: Evil Cass and Bobby's death. Nope and NO! I hated the Leviathans already but making them the reason Bobby dies pissed me off even more. At least our beloved Bobby got a solid send-off in "Death's Door." Another hour which had me in denial, followed by a flood of tears when I realized he was gone for good. You played me, Supernatural. And I still hold a grudge.
Season 7 – Tie (Episode 12: "Time After Time")
To cheer myself up, I watch the kickass time traveling episode that teams Dean up with Eliott Ness (Nicholas Lea). "Time After Time" is slick, clever and entertaining as hell. There's a touching twist with Chronos (Jason Dohring). It's also awesome to think of Ness as a hunter. I'd love to see the boys encounter more historical figures like that.
Season 8, Episode 12: "As Time Goes By"
By now, you'll probably notice the pattern. I love all of the time travel episodes. I'm a sucker for a good time travel story, but these episodes also teach us a great deal about the Winchesters. Turns out hunting was in John's blood too. His father, Henry Winchester (Gil McKinney), was part of the Men of Letters. He tracks Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) into the present and hilarity/violence ensues. I've hoped for a MOL origins spin-off ever since this episode. It would be so cool! I still get excited over the possibilities and I love it even more in hindsight because the MOL bunker became the boys' safe haven.
Season 9, Episode 11: "First Born"
Timothy Omundson crushed it as Cain! He tugged on our heartstrings with this biblical twist. Cain killed Abel to send him to Heaven and damned himself to Hell with the same fatal jab. I never expected to sympathize with Cain, but his pain was palpable. Supernatural excels at surprises and sibling sagas–this episode has both in spades. We all know the Mark of Cain leaves a lasting effect on Dean. There's major foreshadowing in this intense episode. Plus, it is always fun to see Crowley's (Mark Sheppard) interaction with the guys.
Season 10, Episode 23: "Brother's Keeper"
I actually forgot to breathe during this episode, the Season 10 finale was that intense. After struggling to find a way out from under the lethal Mark of Cain, a meeting with Death (Julian Richings) provides a solution. Just like Cain, the only way out is for Dean to kill his brother. The circle of self-sacrifice should get old by now, but it doesn't. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the boys would get out of this one. Sam egged Dean on and I watched in disbelief. With a show like Supernatural, you assume the boys will always survive. Even when one dies, it is not for good. I braced myself for another Winchester death and a summer speculating miraculous resurrections. Then Dean slays Death. Badass and ballsy as always. With Death and the Mark of Cain gone, the Darkness is finally free.
And yes, I cried. The sappy Winchester score cues my tears like clockwork…
Season 11, Episode 16: "Safe House"
The unconventional "Baby," told from the Impala's perspective, and whimsically heartbreaking "Just My Imagination" are stellar, but a different nostalgic episode won my heart this season. "Safe House" offers a gripping parallel portrait of Sam and Dean tracing Bobby and Rufus' (Steven Williams) footsteps during an enigmatic case. I cherished seeing Bobby again and greatly missed his playful Grumpy Old Men dynamic with Rufus. I loved how the episode flipped back-and-forth between the present and the past. I lost it when Dean and Bobby were together again for a brief moment in that bizarre alternate ghost-time. A good old-fashioned haunting tale with a clever Soul Eater twist, makes this a stand out in my book.
Seriously, the parallels are so well done!
Season 12, Episodes 22-23:
"Who We Are" and "All Along the Watchtower" (two-part finale)
Season 12 was big on motherhood. Mary (Samantha Smith) is sent back to the boys as a "thank you" gift, although she doesn't seem too grateful. It takes her a long time to adjust to hunting, mothering, and life in general. Therefore, it is extra painful to see her fall through the rip and end up in that hellish alternate universe. Mary isn't the only mother willing to die for her son. Kelly (Courtney Ford) loses her life in childbirth to Satan's spawn- Jack (Alexander Calvert), who grows into an adult in mere minutes. Yikes! In another crazy twist, Crowley sacrifices himself for the Winchesters. (I didn't believe it until I knew for sure that Sheppard was out for the following season.) Then Cass comes in to finish Lucifer off. I love having Mark Pellegrino back as Lucifer. He's so fun to watch! Still, Luci is the worst. He kills Cass! WHAT?!?
It took me a while to wrap my head around this season finale. It was jam-packed with shockers–including Alt Bobby! After 12 seasons, I'm still emotionally invested and freaking out over what the future will hold. This clip alone conjures all of those frustrating feels:
Season 13, Episode 16: "ScoobyNatural"
Supernatural + Scooby Doo = Instant favorite episode that was even hyped with a special Paley Center premiere and panel in New York City. Animated Sam, Dean and Castiel just make me giggle. It captured everything people love about both shows and combined them with playful ghost hunting shenanigans. It is a happy highlight and welcomed break from an overall heavy season focused on trying to rescue Mary and Jack (who quickly grew on me) from the Bad Place and Evil Michael.
Here's a behind-the-scenes look at all of the awesomeness:
Okay, so I cheated: there are more than 13 episodes–but these are my favorites over the years. Not sure if I'd call all of them "lucky," but I know these episodes have a lot of meaning for the SPN Family.