Supernatural: Tropes M to P
This page covers tropes found in Supernatural
See also the episode Recap page
for more trope examples.
Trope Based Episodes
| Tropes A to D
| Tropes E to L
| Tropes M To P
| Tropes Q to Z
| Shout Outs
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- Parental Abandonment:
- It might have been a better plan if John told his son Dean what's going on and ordered him not to come after him instead of just taking off, leaving Dean to think he did something wrong or that something bad happened to John.
- God vanished, leaving the soldierly angels without a father or direct orders.
- Parental Favoritism:
- Played with in the case of the Winchesters. Throughout Season One, Sam thinks that John hates him (when he left for college, he told him to never come back) while Dean is the one who obsessively follows his Dad's orders and can't seem to comprehend not following an order. But it's slowly revealed that Sam is the one who John cares the most about (although this could just be through the eyes of Dean) while Dean is the one who had to grow up too fast and was treated, well, more like a soldier than a son. Although John did try to make it up by doing a deal to save Dean's life, Dean's Daddy Issues (the fact that he still thinks he wasn't good enough for him and that he still thinks he's the one who should have died) continue to this very day. And the Yellow-Eyed Demon knows this. He even taunts Dean by saying that John arguing with Sam was 'more concern than he's ever shown you.'
- Also exists among the angels, as Gabriel points out that they all know that "He loved you best. More than Michael, more than me", discrediting Lucifer's claim that he hates humans because God loved them more. Gabriel reveals that Lucifer hates humans because he thought that God preferred them over him.
- Parents as People: Whether you think he's a useless bastard of a so-called father or a good guy just trying to raise two pretty difficult kids (if "Tall Tales" and "Hell House" were anything to go by) on his own under horrible circumstances, you have to admit that John is just as multi-layered and complex as Sam and Dean.
- Parental Issues: Forget "Supernatural: Scary Just Got Sexy", the show's real tagline should be "Supernatural: Where Even The Angels Have Daddy Issues." (But only because God's just another dead beat dad with a bunch of excuses.)
- Parody Episode: Supernatural likes to play with this trope once a season (in its second half)—while the Winchester brothers are still chasing a mystery, the format and/or subject matter of the episode (and their case) takes a comedic tone and it becomes obvious that it's parodying something:
- In Season 1, they made fun of Ghostbusters in "Hell House
- In Season 2, they did "Hollywood Babylon," which was an Affectionate Parody of the show itself with some blink-and-you'll-miss-'em Take Thats to the WB/CW executives.
- Season 3 had "Ghostfacers," which was a parody of both the Ghost Hunters and The Blair Witch Project.
- in Season 4's aptly-named "Monster Movie", Universal Studio's classic monster movies were awesomely and affectionately homaged.
- Season 5 brought us the instant-classic "Changing Channels" which parodies Grey's Anatomy, a typical three-camera laugh-track sitcom, Knight Rider, a commercial for a genital herpes prescription medication, and absolutely skewers CSI.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: Subverted, played straight, and both times lampshaded in "The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo".
- While trying to hack into Frank's encrypted hard drive, Charlie thinks she found the password in the remarkably simple "WarGames" when this yields results. Then Frank's hard drive opens a program revealing that it's a false lead and taunts her.
- Played straight while she's hacking into Dick Roman personal computer, which is locked by the password "W1nn1ng".
- People Farms: It is ultimately revealed that this is the plan that the Leviathans were working on all through Season 7 — they create a food additive drug that, upon ingestion, makes humans slothful and complacent, causing them to fatten up and dull up, so that they can be marched into the slaughterhouses the Leviathans are building under the guise of agricultural factories. Oh, and the drug is lethal to any other monsters that feed on humans, since the Leviathans don't want any competition for their food.
- Perma Stubble: Dean and Castiel.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Castiel briefly becomes one at the end of season 6. While he was already quite a powerful supernatural being to start with, he upgraded himself with what essentially amounts to a supernatural nuclear reactor: 40,000,000 souls from a transdimensional monster afterlife. He goes mad with power and goes around killing hundreds if not thousands of people around the globe and showing his godly 'benevolence' by performing miracles. It's repeatedly mentioned that he's unstable and might take a large part of the planet with him when he reaches critical point. He's eventually compelled to give up his powers because he's housing far meaner beasties inside him.
- Phone Call From The Dead: In the episode "Long Distance Call" several people, including Dean, seem to get this kind of call from deceased loved ones.
- Phony Psychic: Sam and Dean run into an entire town of these in "The Mentalists". Lampshaded to no end, but particularly when Dean mentions that Pamela was one of the few genuine psychics they have encountered. There are actually some real ones as well, including the villain, who has summoned the ghost of a dead psychic to kill the impostors, while her equally psychic and ghostly sister tries to warn people about her.
- Physical God:
- The various Pagan and other non-Abrahamic gods seen in the series are all physical beings with tremendous powers, but can be killed with the right weapons.
- The Trickster. Here, a Trickster is a pagan god. He can reshape reality and mess with time. Dropped a guy into a wormhole For the Evulz. Good times. A few other Pagan gods have also featured in the series. In season 5 it's revealed that the Trickster is actually not a pagan god at all, but an Archangel, specifically Gabriel, who's hiding from his brothers.
- The demons revere Lucifer as a god because he created their race. After he gets released, Meg directly describes the archangel in these terms to Castiel.
Meg: Lucifer is the Father of our race. Our Creator. Your God may be a deadbeat, but mine... mine walks the Earth.
- At the end of season 6, Castiel becomes one. Or at least that's what he claims. He proceeds to take a very active role in managing his new kingdom, roasting half of Heaven, killing people all over the world who displease him, and presenting himself as a wrathful but just deity.
- Plague Zombie: There's the Croatoan virus, a demonic virus that turned humans into 28 Days Later-type zombies, and was especially created by Pestilence to wipe out most of humanity as part of Lucifer's apocalypse.
- Plot Coupon: The 66 Seals.
- Poor Communication Kills: Half the time, lives could have been saved if the brothers just came out and said they were paranormal investigators from the start, without trying to pass themselves off as cops.
- Possession Burnout: What happens to whatever body Satan is possessing.
- Post Modernism:
- In "The Monster at the End of This Book," the Winchesters discover they are the lead characters in a series of horror novels with a small but fervent fandom. Online research turns up fan criticism, Sam!girls, Dean!girls...and slash fiction. When the boys track down the author (who at first believes they are his fictional characters brought to life), he apologizes for all the emotional torment and bad writing they've been subjected to.
When they meet a fangirl who writes Sam/Dean slash fics...well, you can imagine. The boys are understandably
Dean: They do realize we're brothers, right?
- There's an episode where they end up at a Supernatural convention.
- The episode where Sam and Dean end up in an alternate dimension where their life is a TV show called "Supernatural". They have to act. It isn't pretty.
- The Power of Love: Discussed in "Point of No Return."
Sam: There's another way.
Adam: Great. What is it?
Dean: (sarcastically) Well, we're working on the Power of Love.
Adam: How's that going?
Dean: Not good.
- Power of Trust: In season five, Sam's (basically misplaced) trust in him is all that keeps Dean from going through with it after saying yes to Michael.
- Power Trio: Sam, Dean, and Castiel (circa Season 5). They even have the in-canon team name "Team Free Will".
Dean: An ex-demon-blood junkie, a high school dropout with six bucks in his pocket, and Mr. Comatose over there. Awesome.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Every time a Deal with the Devil is made, the victim is supposed to get to live for 10 more years before the demons come for him. Crowley is outraged when a lesser demon comes for his victims early:
- Pre-Climax Climax:
- Done in "Heaven and Hell", except a girl (actually, an angel who has lost her "grace") suggests that to Dean, who is a little put off by the fact that it's usually him who tries to do the same. It doesn't stop him, though.
- Subverted in "Abandon All Hope..", where Dean tries to do it with Jo, only for Jo to say that if this is really her last night on this Earth, she'll spend it with dignity.
- Pretender Diss:
- The monster hunters dislike wannabe-hunters, since they tend to derive their knowledge of monsters from popular fiction - which can get them and others killed. When Dean meets Samuel, Samuel tests him with a question about vampires that a wannabe would fail.
- Sam and Dean are also very derisive of Vampire Wannabes and vampire fandom in general. Supernatural's vampires are, with very few exceptions, brutal killers who will use their fans for food without second thought. And the exceptions don't act anything like Pattinson.
- Death himself delivers one to a power-tripping Castiel in the season seven premiere. "I know God, and you, sir, are no God."
- The Problem with Fighting Death: Discussed. To stop Lucifer, Dean tries to kill Death, unaware that he could've gotten what he wanted without killing him, as they both had a common interest in stopping the "bratty child". Dean assumes that Death would be angry at this, but it turns out the problem with a human fighting Death is that the human just doesn't matter.
- He later gambles with him and buys him a hotdog, but continues to impress upon him the depths of his insignificance at every opportunity. It's here that Death also clarifies that he himself cannot, in fact, die.
- Promotion to Parent:
- Bobby for the boys, although considering Dean's daddy issues, fans would have preferred him to remain a friend-type. Explicitly stated in "It's a Terrible Life" and most of Season 4.
- Deconstructed with Dean for Sam: it left him with a whole ton of issues—not the least of which is his lack of a spine when it comes to family—and an unhealthy need to keep Sam alive and safe.
- Michael also claims that he was this to his younger brother Lucifer.
- Properly Paranoid: Frank. Even dying messily doesn't stop him from being effective.
- Proscenium Reveal: "Hollywood Babylon" opens with two terrified 20-somethings, Wendy and Brody, in the woods. Brody runs away; Wendy calls for her friends, hears a noise, turns toward the camera and screams — unconvincingly, at a tennis ball stuck on top of a movie camera. "Cut!" calls the director. "Wendy" is actually Tara Benchley, the lead actress of Hell Hazers 2.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Averted averted averted. Sam's psychic powers begin as harmless visions that help them save people in peril, but still cause all main characters to completely freak out because they must be evil. Turns out, they are.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Sam, when he uses his psychic exorcism powers against particularly difficult demons.
- Psychic Powers: Sam and the Special Children. Pamela Barnes and Missouri Mosely are more garden variety clairvoyants.
- Psycho Serum: Sam Winchester spent half the season break between three and four, and all of season four, using demon blood to enhance psychic powers conferred upon him by feeding him demon blood as a baby. This allows him to kill demons without necessarily killing their hosts, a power no one else in the setting except angels ever demonstrates, and angels rarely bother. There turn out to be three definite problems with the system:
- The woman providing him with it is engaged in a long-term manipulation to help the current Big Bad with her Thanatos Gambit to free Lucifer.
- Most definitely an unavoidable problem: The stuff is incredibly addictive, and his growing addict behaviors are not good for any other part of his emotional life.
- It apparently is, to some degree, slowly turning him into something other than human. To what degree his bad behavior stems from this instead of straightforward addiction is impossible to determine; he never seems to approach outright Transhuman Treachery, and he demonstrated a capacity for being dangerously obsessive before he started on the stuff. A majority of his choices were actually pragmatic logic for the greater good, but they sure wrecked his relationship with his brother, who has this weird power to be right about everything even when it's for the wrong reasons.
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance: See above.
- Pulling Themselves Together: The Leviathans have a regular Healing Factor, but when their heads get cut off, it instead reattaches itself to the body if left alone for too long. The Winchesters and Bobby use this to figure out a semi-permanent way of dispatching them by storing the body parts far away from each other.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Mostly Sam and Castiel, although Dean can also manage to look like a stomped-on puppy at times.
- Pyrrhic Victory: