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This page covers tropes found in Supernatural.

See also the episode Recap page for more trope examples.

Tropes A To D | Tropes E to L | Tropes M to P | Tropes Q to Z | YMMV | Shout Outs


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    A 
  • Absolute Xenophobe:
    • Lucifer is the most evil of the archangels, and supremacist even by their standards (even the "good" celestials are fundamentalist racists who want to sacrifice half of mankind, in the Apocalyptic showdown). His end goal is to use the Apocalypse to wipe out all of humanity because they became God's favorite children instead of him. The demons are minions he created himself to be fiercely loyal to him and further his plans, but he actually despises them even more than humans, and plans to kill them all afterwards. He considers the other gods besides his father abominations and murders most of them personally. The only major group he doesn't actively plan to exterminate are the monsters, but then he never has any interaction with them, and considering his opinion of God's other creations it's likely not a positive one. (Lucifer may just be indifferent to the monsters because they aren't actually God's creations, they're Eve's (Mother of All Monsters) children.) He wants angels alone to rule and inhabit Creation, and tries to tempt multiple celestials to join him.
    • It turns out in Season 11 that he literally inherits this from the Darkness, God's sister, who despises all of God's creations bar none for much the same reasons as Lucifer did, out of jealousy that God cared about something besides her. Her destructive tendencies eventually causes God to seal her away, with the Mark of Cain as her lock, which he entrusted to Lucifer and is what eventually made him as extremely hateful as his aunt.
    • Season 12 reveals that the Men of Letters' London Chapter are this: they see any and all supernatural beings on Earth sans those they've made deals with as things to be completely exterminated, regardless of whether or not they're a threat. They even target and kill psychics for not being close enough to their definition of human.
  • Absurd Phobia: Dean Winchester. The same Dean Winchester who, over the course of the show, has become regarded as one of the greatest hunters to ever live, has bargained face-to-face with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is known and/or reviled by name by both angels and demons; up to and including Lucifer and God, has destroyed Death himself with his own scythe and has come back from, among other things, death, being imprisoned in Hell, being a host for the Mark of Cain and becoming a demon. Despite all of that... he's afraid of flying.
    Dean: Why d'you think I drive everywhere, Sam?!
  • Abusive Parents:
    • He meant well, but John Winchester was neglectful to the point of abuse, and left both of his sons with issues. Dean, who began the series utterly devoted to John, eventually admitted that his father was an "obsessed bastard".
    • Max Miller's father and uncle beat him up daily while his stepmother stood by and said nothing.
    • Bela's father sexually abused her, and it's heavily implied that her mother was complicit, or at least did nothing to help her.
    • Bobby's father beat him and his mother, at least until Bobby shot and killed him
  • Abusive Precursors:
    • Lucifer, Many demons venerate him, not realizing that he loathes them and only created them to spite his father.
    • God himself is often accused of being a Neglectful Precursor at the very least. Ironically, the angels (especially Lucifer) are embittered because God supposedly favored humanity over them. But He has subsequently allowed angels, demons and monsters of all kinds to do horrific things to humanity without making more than a token effort to help. By Season 14's finale, however, he is definitively this.
  • Accidental Kiss: Bobby excitedly lays one on Sheriff Mills after she discovers that Borax can hurt Leviathans.
  • Acting Unnatural: Parodied. Dean and Sam are transported to an alternate universe, where they are mistaken for the actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, who are currently filming this very episode of Supernatural. They decide to play along, failing miserably in the task of portraying their respective characters. Lampshaded by Robert Singer, who remarks that they apparently lost any shred of talent.
  • Action Girl: Every female hunter is as capable as their male counterparts, as are the supernatural creatures possessing them. On the angelic side, we have Anna and Hannah, for demons there's Meg and Ruby, and for humans, Jo, Charlie, Alex, Claire, Rowena, and Donna.
  • Action Mom: Ellen Harvellle and Sheriff Jody Mills both kicked all kinds of butt. Also, Mary Winchester, when pregnant with Dean in the episode "The Song Remains the Same" and in Season 12 when she's resurrected and her first instinct is to slam Dean to the ground when he gets too close to her. Then there's the funny detail that she's actually in-universe younger than the very men she's mother of.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Apparently, Sam is well-aware of his actor's previous roles. When he, Dean, and the rest of a group touring Hollywood approach the studio producing Gilmore Girls, where Jared played Rory's unlucky suitor Dean, Sam instantly got uncomfortable and vamoosed. When a leshi shapeshifted into Paris Hilton to attack him and Dean (don't ask), Dean makes a jab at the real Hilton's role in House of Wax (2005), saying he never even watched it, and Sam, A.K.A. Jared, looks a little hurt.
    • Crowley refers to Hell as "the mother ship". Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley, has been on many science fiction shows including Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica (2003), and Firefly. This may also be a Continuity Nod, as the future prophet Krista accused Crowley of teleporting them to the mother ship in "A Little Slice Of Kevin" (S08, E07).
    • When Abaddon screams in anger, it causes thunder and lightning. Her actress played Black Canary on Smallville, a superhero who incapacitates her foes with her sonic shriek.
    • In Season 5's "Changing Channels", the Grey's Anatomy spoof has a character named Johnny Drake, the equivalent of Denny Dequette from Grey's. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played John Winchester, also played Denny. And one of the doctors is named "Ellen Piccolo", a nod to Ellen Pompeo, the lead actress of Grey's.
    • At the end of Season 2 "The Usual Suspects," as Sam and Dean walk away from the final fight, Dean asks if the detective they'd been working with (played by Linda Blair) looked familiar, and then says he has a craving for pea soup.
    • Matt Frewer plays Pestilence in Season 5, a high-ranking servant of Big Bad Satan who is helping bring on the Apocalypse by spreading deadly disease. The same actor had been in the TV adaptation of The Stand as Trashcan Man, servant to another demonic Big Bad, who had a hand in the destruction of almost the entire global population by way of an insanely contagious and fatal super-flu. While Pestilence is not blindly loyal and devoted to Lucifer like Trashy is to Flagg, both characters turn out to be unintentionally instrumental in defeating their masters.
  • Adam Westing: In "The French Mistake" Misha Collins and Genevieve Padalecki have a great deal of fun parodying themselves as a twitter-obsessed douchebag and vain, ditzy Hollywood wife, respectively.
  • Aerith and Bob: Frequently.
    • Particularly notable demons, such as Azazel, derive their names from Biblical lore, which contrasts starkly with demons who were previously human and have retained contemporary names like Ruby. Or in Meg's case, possessed someone and decided to take their name.
    • God and his sister, or rather Chuck and Amara.
    • Often shows up when referring to angels; though most of them have Biblically-inspired names, they use both common and uncommon ones, leading to angels named Balthazar, Castiel, Anael, Metatron, Samandriel, Gadreel... and Anna, Neil, Rachel, and Naomi, too.
  • Aesop Amnesia: With Loads and Loads of Writers, and spanning fifteen seasons, it's not surprising for Sam and Dean to retread lessons they've already learned.
    • Most prominent is What Measure Is a Non-Human?, which Dean reflects on as early as Season 2, seems to get over by the time he befriends the vampire Benny in Season 8, and yet thirteen years into the show he still finds it ridiculous to give Lucifer's half-human son the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind that at this point, he's made alliances with the King of Hell several times, and cared enough for the Darkness that he was able to sympathize with her situation and talk her down from omnicide.
    • Sam and Dean lying to each other for Rule of Drama and then having a massive blowout fight over the betrayal sets in during Season 4 and doesn't quite leave until Season 10.
  • Affably Evil: Casey in "Sin City," the old Pagan God couple in "A Very Supernatural Christmas", Patrick (the card-playing he-witch in "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester") and most notably, demon king extraordinaire Crowley. Osiris often comes across as this in "Defending Your Life". Lucifer is an odd case, as he's initially Affably Evil in Season 5, but eventually becomes more prone to volatile anger with the canonization of his Season 7 hallucination personality, making him no longer this trope.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
  • The After Afterlife: The Empty, an abyss of nothing where angels and demons go when they die, as well as select humans if their Reaper decides so. It's also a sentient entity, that desires nothing but to sleep in peace and is very upset when Jack's powers resurrect Castiel while he's stuck in the Empty, and his consciousness keeps the location "awake".
  • Afterlife Angst:
    • Many of the entities hunted by Sam and Dean are experiencing this, as ghosts are trapped in the veil between life and death and demons are former human souls tortured in Hell to the point they became demonic. In early Season 2, Dean himself becomes trapped in the veil and a grim reaper warns him that if he doesn't "move on" he will go mad like the angry spirits he hunts. He's revived, but only through his father's deal with a demon.
    • Between Seasons 3 and 4, Dean is killed by hellhounds and goes to Hell, where he is tortured for three decades from his perspective, until he breaks and agrees to become a torturer.
    • In Season 5, Sam and Dean are killed by fellow hunters and find themselves in Heaven, where human souls relive their happiest memories. Dean relives moments with Sam and his mother, where he took care of them but then is horrified to realize Sam only relives moments where he escaped his family.
    • In Season 13, Castiel dies and is sent to The Empty, where angels and demons sleep for all eternity. However, thanks to Jack, Castiel wakes up in the void and enrages The Empty, which is a sentient being.
  • After the End: There are two different worlds where the Apocalypse took place and the Winchesters were powerless to stop it. The first was a Bad Future where Lucifer was victorious, creating an Earth inhabitated by zombies and demons. The other is an Alternate Universe where the archangel Michael was victorious, but his version turns out to be an eternal battlefield where angels stomp on humans and demons alike. They're both even worse Crapsack Worlds than even the original timeline.
  • Air Quotes: When Castiel returns to the Winchesters for the first time in a year at the beginning of Season 6, he exasperatedly tells them that he's been too busy to be keeping up any kind of people skills, proving his point by misusing quotation marks in the process:
    Castiel: Sam. Dean. My "people skills" are "rusty". Pardon me, but I have spent the last "year" as a multi-dimensional wavelength of Celestial intent.
  • Alien Invasion: The Leviathans are technically more Eldritch Abominations than aliens (who, apart from a few hints by Eldritch-aged and cosmic characters, are believed In-Universe to be non-existent), but their Evil Plan on Earth in nevertheless an Infiltration-class invasion. After they've infiltrated positions of corporate power and authority in the human world, they start doping the population with food additives so they can covertly and non-violently knock humanity off the top of the food chain without them even knowing and send them marching their "dopey, fat asses down to the new [People Farms]". Technically, this trope could also apply to every antagonistic cosmic being in the show who pre-dates the Earth and wants to invade it.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Monsters and demons in Small Town America!
  • All Myths Are True: Except Bigfoot. Every single story about a god, monster, or other supernatural creature has a basis in fact. However, the stories themselves may be highly inaccurate. The Bible is stated by an angel to be wrong on many things. The polytheistic gods consider their own mythologies true, but the Judeo-Christain one combined with science is the only one confirmed true. A lot of the folklore on supernatural creatures like vampires is not completely accurate either.
    • Despite Kripke stating that aliens do not exist, as well as the fact that aliens are more sci-fi and would be out of place in the show, the angels' claim that Earth's apocalypse is not unique as well as Death's statement of humanity being a tiny speck to him in the grand scheme of things implies extraterrestrial life does exist.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles:
    • Exploited in the episode "Sam, Interrupted", Sam and Dean do go to a therapist and try to explain their problems. Shortly after they start into why they have these issues they get committed to the same facility where there's a potential case.
    • Subverted in the episode "The Big Empty", with the therapist whose patients have all been murdered by tangible ghosts of their loved ones. She's a shapeshifter, but a benign one who uses her powers to take on the appearances of deceased family and friends in order to speak to her patients and help them grieve. It's her abusive shapeshifting ex who's committing the murders to get back at her.
  • Allpowerful Bystander: The Trickster, God, and Death.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Bobby's house is destroyed by the Leviathans near the beginning of Season 7.
    • The Men of Letters' Bunker is infiltrated about once a season.
    • In Season 12, the British Men of Letters' headquarters is broken into by vampires, though Sam succeeds at helping fend off the threat.
      • To be subverted a few episodes later, when he leads a hunter raid against that very compound, when it turns out the British of Men of Letters' has started killing off hunters.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The only way to kill a Leviathan is to have the bone of a righteous mortal washed in the blood of a fallen angel, the king of fallen humanity, and a father of the fallen beasts on hand. That is basically the four main races of the series (a nun for humanity, Castiel for the angels, Crowley for the demons and the Alpha Vampire for the monsters).
  • Alliance with an Abomination: The Winchesters have teamed up with cosmic beings on occasion to deal with other cosmic beings, most notably Castiel and even Death himself. In Season 15 they notably try to get Amara to stop Chuck, but she refuses.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • In "Tall Tales" the janitor turns out to be a Trickster, a demigod that can create things out of thin air in order to cause chaos and mess with people. Later it is discovered that he is actually the Archangel Gabriel.
    • In the episode "Dark Side of the Moon" the lone angel that God still speaks to is not Michael or any of the other archangels, but Joshua, Heavens' gardener.
    • The prophet Chuck Shurley, introduced in Season 4, seems to be little more than a bumbling reclusive homebody plagued by visions, but it's implied at the end of Season 5 that there's something more to him, and eventually became explicit in Season 11 that he is in fact God Himself.
  • Alpha and Beta Wolves: Averted with the Alpha Monsters, who are the progenitors and often leaders of their monster kind, but not due to dominance fights. There's even said to be an Alpha Werewolf as well. This is actually in tune with real life wolf pack dynamics, where the parents of the pack are usually the Alphas.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese theme song is called "Bad Drive" by BoA.
  • Alternate Self: Several of these have been introduced with the introduction of time travel as well as The Multiverse.
    • "The End" is an alternate timeline Bad Future where Sam said yes to Lucifer but Dean didn't say yes to Michael, leaving Lucifer to win the fight and turn Earth into a wasteland teeming with demons and people infected by the Crotoan virus. Dean here is deeply jaded and even darker than current Dean, killing allies without hesitation on the mere suspicion that they're infected, and sending them on a suicide mission for the chance to get a shot at Lucifer.
    • Season 13 introduces the Apocalypse World, an alternate universe where Michael defeated Lucifer and plunged the Earth into a war against humanity and demons. Notable alternates include Bobby Singer, who had a son in this world, Charlie who had a girlfriend who died in the start of the angelic war, and a version of Mary who didn't make her deal with Azazel and thus never gave birth to Sam or Dean.
    • Season 15 shows Sam having visions of alternate versions of himself and Dean becoming monsters and being killed, usually one by the other.
  • AM/FM Characterization:
    • This show is a bit of a running example. Given that Sam and Dean drive state to state and coast to coast with nothing but a stack of classic rock tapes (Tapes!) to listen to, it provides both a soundtrack for the show, and an insight into the characters.
    • In an episode where Dean is dead, we get insight into Sam by his choice of music when Dean isn't around to exercise his veto power. In "Lazarus Rising", upon rising from the dead Dean discovers that the tapes have been replaced by an iPod and the classic rock by Jason Manns. He's not pleased.
      Dean: I told you to take care of her, not douche her up.
  • Amnesiacs are Innocent:
    • Dean discovers a Not Quite Dead Castiel living as a faith healer named Emmanuel with no memory of his previous dark actions. Emmanuel is a peaceful and kind man who shows great empathy toward Dean even as he senses Dean is an unhappy and violent man. Naturally, Dean helps him get his memory back and he is immediately tormented by guilt.
    • In Season 12 "Regarding Dean", Dean is cursed and starts losing his memory, acting quite oblivious and childish in the process, finding Sam's recap of their life to be rather "cool". Once he's cured, Sam says he felt jealous that Dean could forget about all the awful things they've done and experienced, saying that Dean looked happier for it, but Dean disagrees.
      Dean: Was it nice to drop our baggage? Yeah, maybe. Hell, probably. But it wasn't just the crap that got lost. I mean, it was everything. It was us, it was what we do, you know? All of it. So if that's what being happy looks like? I think I'll pass.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: A prime example of the trope, "A Very Supernatural Christmas" has the boys facing off against a supernatural threat killing people around Christmas time in various holiday-themed ways. Has shades of Affectionate Parody toward the Lighter and Softer Christmas episodes many shows in its genre produce. A Coup de Grâce is delivered via giant candy cane decoration.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Angel and demon possession both count as this if the entity possesses them takes over completely, with the victims usually fully aware of what's going on around them but incapable of fighting back (under most circumstances).
    • Sam and Dean bury Doc Benton (who's immortal) alive, chained up in a refrigerator. Another thing to consider: although he can't die, his body parts wear out, so eventually he'll rot away into a sentient and forever conscious pile of dirt.
    • Played for very dark comedy with a teddy bear brought to life by a child's wish, which finds it can't even commit suicide.
    • Also intentionally given by the good guys to H.H. Holmes, the USA's first recognized serial killer. They left the ghost underground, encircled by rock salt. And barricaded the place. And for good measure, sealed the entrance up with concrete in case of earthquakes. That ghost is NOT going anywhere anytime soon.
    • In the fifth season finale, Sam actually volunteers to trap Satan by allowing himself to be possessed by Satan and then jumping into an inescapable cage at the bottom of Hell.
    • Sam and Dean use this to beat the high demon Abaddon in "As Time Goes By". First they shoot her in the head with a bullet engraved with a demon trap, permanently locking her in her meatsuit, which she can barely move. Then (offscreen) they cut her up into little pieces, and to boot it off, bury them in cement, encasing her for at least a few thousand years. As Dean put it, she'll wish they had killed her.
    • Season 14 introduces the Ma'lak box, a warded coffin that can trap any supernatural creature, which is Dean's solution to the Apocalypse World Michael who's possessing him, by having himself and the coffin sunk to the bottom of the ocean for eternity. He begins having nightmares of being stuck inside.
      • Ultimately the box is not used for Michael, but Sam and Dean do end up putting Jack in it instead, due to his soulless status. Unfortunately, Jack realizes they're tricking them and destroys it, escaping.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Used with many different characters throughout the series, usually ending tragically with no hope of returning to humanity, unless you're Sam or Dean.
    • Sam has been possessed by two demons and two angels (at one point, an angel and a demon at the same time) and briefly gained demonic black eyes while using his demon blood powers to kill Lilith.
    • Dean was partially transformed into a vampire in Season 6, though cured in the same episode, whereas he fully became a demon for a few episodes in Season 10, and also experienced angelic possession in Season 13.
    • Garth was transformed into a werewolf in Season 9, though he manages to live a mostly normal happy life despite it.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: People do this to Dean pretty often (in the form of "I'll kill your brother" or "Sam doesn't need legs"), and it's always a bad idea.
  • Animal Wrongs Group:
    • Surprisingly, the Devil and his followers. He actually wants to turn Earth into a massive nature preserve...but he also wants to murder most of humanity and zombify most of the survivors.
    • Many characters believe that this includes demons, who were all humans at some point. Lucifer never confirms or denies this, though he heavily implies it.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Dean's car in Season 6; also mannequins and dolls in the same episode
  • Animation Tropes: "Hunteri Heroici": Sees the brothers investigating a series of bizarre events such as a man's heart jumping out of his chest, a man defying gravity for a few seconds and an anvil being dropped on someone. Turns out a powerful psychic is projecting animation tropes on to the world.
  • Angelic Abomination: Angels in the show are interdimensional, incomprehensible beings straight out of the old testament, and thus they need human vessels or they will burn the eyes out of most humans who see them.
  • Angelic Transformation:
    • Since humans don't "become" angels themselves (with the exception of Anna who was initially an angel reborn as a human), this is largely averted, as the human being possessed and the angel possessing them are explicitly distinct entities. But angels who recover their lost Grace undergo an intense transformation back into an angel that involves a blinding white light.
    • This is eventually played straight in Season 14, when the Angels themselves have become a Dying Race with less than a dozen still around, the current leader of Heaven asks Jack, the Nephilim son of Lucifer, to make more angels. Since he's not God, he can't simply will them into existence, so instead he transmutes willing human souls into angelic grace.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: The mythology in the series has angels from Heaven, demons from Hell, and Leviathans from Purgatory (which Lovecraft himself attempted to access with a portal). The Angels are hardly paragons of goodness, but the Leviathans are predictably the most evil of all of them. Then there's The Fair Folk, who come from another dimension and seem to be in a different category of supernatural beings.
  • Angels in Overcoats: The series' angel-in-residence Castiel sports a trenchcoat. Wings of Desire and John Constantine from the Hellblazer comic are acknowledged as inspirations for his look. By-proxy, Lucifer qualifies as well when he temporarily takes Castiel (another angel) as a host.
  • Angel Unaware:
    • Anna spent some time in mental institutions as a schizophrenic patient. She fell to become human, was born as a baby and grew up, then regained her own grace.
    • Archangel Gabriel, who had been hiding as The Trickster since seasons prior. He has been hiding on Earth for millennia and done such a good job of it that other magical beings and even non-Christian gods do not realize that he is an angel and not one of them.
    • Chuck Shurley is the author of a book series with a cult following, but he finds out in Season 4 he's actually a prophet of the lord and has been writing about the Winchester brothers' lives. Later, in Season 11 it is revealed that Chuck has actually been God the whole time, unbeknownst to any of the angels or the Winchesters.
    • An episode in Season 7 reveals an amnesiac Castiel.
  • The Armies of Heaven: The Host of Heaven is organized like a military. The angelic foot soldiers on Earth are divided into garrisons, of which Castiel commanded one for a while before he was demoted and replaced by Uriel. Their boss Zachariah seems to be in charge of several garrisons and answers to Michael, Heaven's commander-in-chief. God has been missing for millennia.
  • Angst Coma:
    • Sam goes into one after Castiel breaks down the wall in his mind thus allowing Sam to remember his time in Hell.
    • Castiel goes catatonic after he absorbs all Sam's hell memories. When he does emerge from this state, he's a Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Answers to the Name of God: The show likes this trope:
    • Episode 2.16:
      Molly: Oh, thank God!
      Dean: Call me Dean.
    • Episode 4.15:
      Dean: [after seeing Alastair disappear in a bright flash of light] What the Hell?
      Castiel: Guess again.
    • And, from Season 4's finale:
      Ruby: Now guess who's coming to dinner...
      Sam: Oh my God...
      Ruby: Guess again. note 
    • The Web episode in which the Ghostfacers meet Cas.
      Ed: [reacting to Castiel's sudden appearance] JESUS CHRIST!
      Castiel: [slightly confused] No... I'm Castiel.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Four Horsemen.
  • The Antichrist: Three, all of whom end up becoming the Anti Anti Christ.
    • Sam is believed by Gordon to be one, and he largely fulfils the role by being the one to break the Final Seal and being Lucifer's chosen vessel. However, he very much does not want to be evil and his role in the Apocalypse is entirely manipulated by outside forces.
    • Jesse is the Biblical Antichrist, the child of a human and a demon with intense Reality Warping powers. However, he ultimately rejects his destiny and leaves for Australia.
    • Jack is the actual son of Lucifer and a human, and while Dean believes him to be one, Sam and Castiel's support compel him into becoming the Big Good of the show.
  • The Anti-God:
    • Death is portrayed as God's equal and antithesis, with God as the creator, and Death as the ender. As the Anthropomorphic Personification of all death in the cosmos, he is far more significant than most of the Pagan gods in the series, who are more regular monsters with fancy titles. The Grim Reaper and God have both existed for so long that they can't even remember anymore which of the two came first, but Death thinks he will have to reap even God when creation ends. However unlike other examples of this trope he is neither evil, particularly destructive (aside from his "reaping") and is in fact one of the more benign entities in the show and possesses a dislike of the natural order being thrown into chaos.
      • When Death is killed by Dean in Season 10, and Billie is killed by Castiel in Season 12, it elevates Billie to becoming the next Death. While she has a more worldly view of the universe as a result in Season 15, it's revealed that upon God's death, she intends to become the next God and restore natural order by killing everyone who's been resurrected.
    • The Darkness predates even Death, as she is God's sister. They were both created during the Big Bang, and is the natural destruction to his creation.
  • Anti-Hero: It's probably easier to list who isn't. Almost every single hunter needs to do shady, illegal, outright immoral things to be hunters at all, since a large part of their cases that aren't salt-and-burning ghosts requires actually killing living entities, even if they are monsters.
  • Anvil on Head:
    • In Season 3's "Mystery Spot", there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop where each day Dean dies a different death. The beginning of the day always starts the same way, and when he and Sam go outside, one of the things they see is movers trying to get a piano into a building from the ground floor. At the end of one Tuesday, out of nowhere it drops on our hero and kills him. Turns out the movers had spent the rest of the day trying to get it in the window.
    • In the eighth season episode "Hunteri Heroici", the villain, who is using a senile Reality Warper to inflict cartoon physics on selected portions of the world in order to facilitate burglary, drops a literal anvil on an unfortunate security guard. Dean later tries to drop one on the villain.
  • Anyone Can Die: Whether they stay dead is another matter.
  • Apocalypse How:
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Despite making a career out of hunting supernatural menaces and retaining enough experience to fill an aircraft carrier, Sam and Dean Winchester almost inevitably have an argument over whether or not the Monster of the Week could be the real thing or not. While it's implied they've picked up on dud cases before, there are only two episodes out of 327 where there is actually zero supernatural force whatsoever (Season 1's "The Benders", who are ordinary human cannibals, and Season 13's "A Most Holy Man" which is a Noir Episode where Sam and Dean get tangled up with the mafia). Another arbitrary element of this is that the role of the hard-line skeptic switches every time between Sam and Dean.
    • One memorable scene has Dean explaining to Sam why he doesn't believe in angels (their mother said that angels were watching over them, but she was murdered by a demon), despite hunting demons straight out of Hell on a regular basis. When Sam points out that there's more folklore on angels than any other creature they've fought, Dean says that there's a lot of folklore on unicorns as well. Sam's response? "Wait, there's no such thing as unicorns?" In this same scene, Dean says that there's no God. This is an odd belief given that in this series the name of God and holy water are harmful to demons, and Christian exorcism rituals are effective. (According to the series creator, he just sees the rituals as another example of the hoodoo they regularly run across.) By the end of the episode, Dean is less certain that no higher power is at work. Worse, his atheism has been shaken by the events of the episode despite the fact that the "angel" in that episode turned out NOT to be an angel.
    • Then, in the Season 4 Premiere "Lazarus Rising", Dean crawls out of his own grave, somehow having been rescued from Hell. As the episode continues, it's clear a super-powerful entity, one that burns out the eyes of people who see it and which the demons are terrified of, pulled him out. The entity, Castiel, introduces himself as an Angel of the Lord. Dean doesn't believe him and even in the next episode, despite all evidence to the contrary, Dean takes convincing that Castiel is an angel.
    • The episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" featured a series of Christmas-related disappearances (including somebody getting dragged up the chimney). The brothers start to wonder if the monster is some sort of "Anti Claus". They end up doing some research on the concept, investigate Santa's village and try to apprehend the guy playing Father Christmas (who matches the profile of the Anti Claus, but turns out to just be a drunk). After that failure, they consult Bobby who tells them there is no such thing and that Sam and Dean are idiots.
    • Then comes another episode where all sort of weird things are happening in a single university campus. The only one that throws Bobby is an alien abduction. However, he doesn't act like it's impossible, he just says that even if aliens do exist, he's never come across any evidence of them.
    • "Clap Your Hands if You Believe" revolves around supposed alien abductions. Dean eventually begins to talk about how they have to "change their entire worldview" after one such abduction. It's actually a leprechaun, posing as an alien expert, and working with the rest of The Fair Folk, who fakes the "abductions" as part of a Deal With The Devil he has with various people.
    • Despite there being hundreds of years of lore and mythology relating to dragons that pre-dates their inclusion in fantasy fiction and video games, both Sam and Dean believe that they can not exist because they only exist in fiction and video games.
    • Since Season 1, the most consistent mantra has been that "everything's real but Sasquatch". It's actually exactly that. By Season 4, angels and God are confirmed. Aliens have been confirmed by angels and above stating there's other planets and life forms they could be dealing with. Still no sight of Sasquatch.
  • Archangel Michael: Season 5 reveals that Dean is his intended vessel.
  • Archangel Lucifer: Season 5 reveals that Sam is his intended vessel.
  • Archangel Gabriel: Season 5 reveals that he is the Trickster, and he went into what he calls "witness protection" and became Loki of Norse Mythology.
  • Archangel Raphael: Season 5 reveals little of import about him, but he becomes a major Big Bad of Season 6.
  • Arch-Nemesis:
    • Azazel for John, and to a slightly lesser extent Sam and Dean, due to Azazel murdering Mary.
    • Raphael for Castiel, due to being on opposing sides of the Season 6 angelic civil war.
    • Crowley for Meg, due to her allegiance to Lucifer.
    • Sam and Dean for Chuck, and vice versa in Season 15, due to Sam and Dean rebelling against Chuck's intended story.
  • Artifact of Doom: Several of them in "Out With the Old".
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: In the pilot episode, Dean has been arrested and is being interrogated by the local Sheriff. Sam calls in a fake 911 call to provide a distraction for Dean. Before leaving, the Sheriff simply handcuffs Dean by one wrist to the chair he's sitting in, leaving him alone and unobserved in an office filled with supplies, with one hand free. Dean quickly grabs a paperclip and is out of the cuffs in less than a minute. In Real Life, Dean would have been locked in a holding cell.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Over the entire series, the number of times Dean and Sam fire guns without any hearing protection, as well as taking punches and beatings that are absolutely brutal, would have left them deaf and brain-damaged a hundred times over. Hollywood Healing is something the show runs on. Justified after Castiel joins the Winchesters in season 4 as angels of his power level have the ability to completely heal almost any injury done to a human body.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The show falls into this A LOT, especially when handling concepts from the Judeo-Christian faiths. In-universe however, the Bible was this, as Castiel states, "your Bible gets more wrong than it does right." Ironically, he's saying this in response to The Antichrist being Lucifer's spawn, which was never stated in the Bible.
  • Ascended Demon: Season 8 "Clip Show" reveals that a modified exorcism and purified human blood can turn a demon into a human, though its first use on Crowley is eventually aborted. However, in Season 10 Dean suggests it still had some sort of moralizing effect on him. Dean himself is also subjected to this to cure him of being a demon in "Soul Survivor" of the same season.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Season 4 introduced a Prophet who had been seeing visions of the Winchester brothers' adventures and writing a book series about them, selling them as fiction because he didn't know they were real. It was humorously treated as a nice way of adding metafiction to the series, but this raised a lot of Fridge Horror issues about Sam and Dean's entire lives and thoughts, fully detailed, being openly available for everyone to see. In Season 8 one of the villains finally gets his hands on the books. He uses them to track down and kill off the people they have saved in the past so he can destroy their life's work and deny them the only comfort they have in knowing that these people are still alive because of them, while deconstructing their heroic self-image to break them.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • All of the Trickster's victims are described as being "dicks."
    • The victims chosen in "Yellow Fever" were all described by Sam as being "dicks."
    • The personal injury attorney in "My Heart Will Go On" who gets hit by a bus.
    • Subverted in "Defending Your Life". Dean initially dismisses Osiris' victims as this, only for Sam to point out they were all repentant for their crimes.
  • An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost: One of the hauntings dealt with some time in Season 3 turns out to not be a spirit, but the projection of a girl in a coma.
  • The Atoner:
    • Sam in Season 5, in response to his behavior in Season 4.
    • Castiel is often in this role.
      • In "Lucifer Rising" he completes his Heel–Face Turn and sacrifices himself to give Dean a chance to stop Lucifer's escape.
      • In the seventh season episode "The Born-Again Identity" when he tries to fix what he has broken in Sam's head by absorbing Sam's crazy into himself.
      • In general, he also spends several seasons trying to atone for his actions in Season 6 and early in Season 7, and that leads to him getting played by Metatron in Season 8. Arguably, he is doing this all the way in Season 12 when he agrees to raise Jack for Kelly.
      • In Season 9, a human Castiel still tries to help the angels who have fallen because of Metatron's spell.
      • In Season 10, he tries to help Claire Novak, whose family was destroyed when Castiel took her father as his vessel.
  • At the Crossroads: The show takes the ancient association of crossroads with witchcraft and communion with the dead and the Robert Johnson Deal with the Devil myth and makes crossroads the preferred locale for demon deals. There is an entire cabal of demons (referred to as Crossroads Demons) who can be summoned at a crossroads and specialize in making deals with humans in exchange for their souls.
  • Attractive Zombie: Angela Mason from "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" is quite attractive, apart from the "homicidally jealous" part.
  • Author Avatar: The prophet Chuck writes his books under the name of Carver Edlund. Two of the show's writers are called Jeremy Carver and Ben Edlund.
  • Author Appeal: Sera Gamble, one of the lead writers and executive producers on the show, is in fact a successful, award-winning writer of erotic fiction. Although she was not a writer on the show from the outset, Jared Padalecki has noted at conventions that she does seem to enjoy having Sam tortured. A lot.
  • Author Filibuster: The leviathan arc was basically one long rant about the evils of big business. The show's writers had done minor political Take Thats before, but this was the first time they'd let it take over the entire season. Supposedly these monsters are worse than anything the Winchesters have ever faced.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: A staple of the supernatural beings on the show — Archangels, Princes of Hell, and monster Alphas are the leaders of their respective groups and are far more powerful and hard to kill than low level angels, demons and monsters.
  • Autocannibalism: Leviathans who fail are forced to eat themselves, a punishment called "bibbing" since all that's left in the end is a bloody bib.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Rabbit's Foot from "Bad Day At Black Rock". It has the power to grant any who hold it incredible good luck. Unfortunately, once you lose it, and you will lose it, you'll be cursed with incredible bad luck, and you'll most likely be dead within a week.
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    B 
  • Backdoor Pilot: Season 9's "Bloodlines" and Season 13's 'Wayward Sisters' were supposed to be this but the spinoff show didn't get picked up.
  • Back from the Dead: Multiple characters return from the dead, sometimes repeatedly. Sam, Dean, Castiel, and Bobby are the characters who return to life and then continue living (Although sometimes they die again later on). Castiel probably holds the record, having died and come back an average of once a season since his introduction. Two of those have died so often that the show had to invent an extra afterlife to keep them from getting bored so often.
  • Background Halo: In a promo pic of Dean.
  • Backing into Danger: Parodied in an episode where Sam & Dean are Trapped in TV Land, the sitcomesque Special Edition Title shows them walking backwards into each other while hunting. They jump, turn, and then laugh at each other.
  • Backstab Backfire: Sort of Pyrrhic delayed-action one; Jake successfully backstabs Sam to death after being spared. Sam's brother brings him back to life. Sam shoots Jake repeatedly in the face next time he sees him. By this time, Jake has already opened the literal door to Hell — and Dean had to sell his soul to resurrect Sam. While neither Jake nor his Evil Mentor live to see it, their plan still succeeds and several seasons of destruction follow.
  • Badass in Distress: The show runs on this trope, with nearly every episode putting one of the main characters in some terrible situation. Happens big time in Season 4 with Dean being tortured in Hell and Sam going through withdrawal from demon blood in the panic room.
  • Bad Black Barf: Black fluid issuing from bodily orifices is usually ectoplasm and is one sign of ghost possession. Black smoke pouring out of the mouth is a sign of the end of a demonic possession.
    • In Episode 12 of Season 12, Stuck in the Middle (With You), black goo comes out of Cas's mouth as he rots away from the inside out after having been stabbed with the Lance of Michael.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Lucifer fiercely despises the demons, his own creations, even more than he does humans. He sacrifices around a hundred of them to raise the Horseman Death, dismissing them as cannon fodder afterwards when he sees Sam's shocked face. He maintains a facade of being their savior leading them to victory over Heaven, but it increasingly becomes clear that he plans to exterminate them all after he has destroyed the Earth with their help.
    • The Horseman Famine readily kills his demon minions. He kills one for not getting him his lunch (a human soul) on time and sends two more to collect Sam so he can capture them instead and drink their blood. He offers the rest to Sam as well and eats them when Sam refuses to indulge him.
    • The Big Bad Leviathan leader Dick Roman really deserves the "Dick" part when it comes to his treatment of his own staff and kind. Of course one wouldn't expect anything else from a species of eternally hungry Eldritch Abomination, but his enjoyment in punishing anyone who displeases him in any way appears to exceed his desire for his kind to conquer the earth and devour humanity. At one point he forces one of his scientists to "bib" and devour himself when his attempts at turning humans docile and apathetic (and thus easier to farm and eat) had a 0.03% chance of other humans becoming rage-filled cannibals, while in another episode he eats an unlucky leviathan who failed to retrieve a package replaced with a borax bomb (the only thing that hurts Leviathans, at least temporarily).
    • Joyce Bicklebee from the episode "Out With The Old", is a smaller example, a Leviathan posing as a real-estate agent. Her irritability led her to eat four of her assistants who displeased her, then ordering around her latest one like a dog on a leash and threatening him with the same fate. It's really no surprise when he switched sides by helping the brothers dispose of his superior when the opportunity presented itself, and giving them information on the Leviathan's intents.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The angels get a few of these.
      Castiel: You know who we are and what we will do. I won't say it again. Leave now... or we lay you to waste.
      Castiel: You should show me some respect. I dragged you out of hell, and I can throw you back in.
      Zachariah: In Heaven I have six wings and four faces, one of which is a lion.
      Lucifer: I will never lie to you; I will never trick you; but you will say yes to me.
      Castiel: Maybe someday, but today, you're my little bitch.
      Castiel: It scares you. Well, it should. Now put these boys back together and go. I won't ask twice.
    • Anna gets two in "On the Head of a Pin":
      Castiel: We still have orders to kill you.
      Anna: Somehow, I don't think you'll try.
      [later]
      Uriel: There is no will! No wrath! No God.
      Anna:[stabbing him in the throat] Maybe, maybe not. But there's still...me.
    • Demons get these too:
      Crowley: I've sold sin to saints for centuries.
      Crowley: What you people never seem to understand is that you ARE NOTHING! Fleeting blips of light. I. Am. Forever.
      Crowley: [gets punched in the face] You're good... [stabs his opponent] but I'm Crowley.
    • Sam, demanding (not asking for) Castiel's help, say's he'll force the incredibly powerful angel to help them
      Castiel: Will you, boy? How?
      Sam: I don't know. But I'll find a way. And I don't sleep.
    • Dean is absolutely no exception, as he claims so in two words.
      Dean: [after throwing a pen into a gun] I'm amazing... [knocks mook out with a TV remote] I'm Batman.'''
    • The Grim Reaper probably gets the ultimate one.
      Death: I'm as old as God. Maybe older. Regardless, at the end I'll reap Him too.
    • Overlapping with Threat Backfire, when faced with torture by the Woman of Letters Toni Bevell, Sam tells her this:
      Sam: You can ask me any kind of question you want. The answer's gonna be the exact same – Screw you. You want to get mad? You want to get mean? I've been tortured by the Devil himself. So you, you're just an accent in a pantsuit. What can you do to me?
    • Sam, in Season 14's premiere episode, when a bunch of no-name demons are squabbling over the vacant throne:
      Sam: ENOUGH! There will be no new King of Hell. Not today, not ever. And if anyone wants the job, they can come through me.
  • Badass Family: The Winchesters, the Campbells, the Harvelles, and Jody and her adopted daughters, are all skilled hunters. The Campbells are even a hunting clan that's been active for centuries, while the Winchesters are secretly Men of Letters, though John was never told of this.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Castiel as part of his regular outfit. Although it looks decidedly less badass when worn over a mental patient's scrubs.
    • Dean in the episode "Frontierland."
    • Angel-hitman Virgil.
    • Both brothers get one in Season 7's "Out With the Old".
  • Badass Normal:
    • A given, since hunters are overwhelmingly un-powered humans who have to hold their own against the Monster of the Week with artillery, some Latin, holy water and hand-to-hand combat.
    • Zig-Zagged with Sam, who starts out with telekinetic powers that sometimes get him and Dean out of binds in the first four seasons, but after his return from the Cage, he never uses them again and it's never suggested that he could drink demon blood again.
    • When Castiel's angelic abilities dwindle to nothing during his estrangement from Heaven in Season 5, he switches to knives, guns, and the odd molotov cocktail to get the job done. At the end of Season 9, he is fully human and gets captured and tortured by angels. He manages to kill one and take his grace, restoring his powers.
    • Sheriff Jody Mills. She's not a Hunter, she's a normal woman with a full-time job (albeit as a cop), but she's calm, collected, and competent in the face of monsters when they come her way, despite her traumatic history with them.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Sam and Dean playing Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean. Averted, of course, by the amazing acting from Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean playing meta!Jared and meta!Jensen playing Sam and Dean.
  • Bad Future:
    • "The End", with Jerkass Dean, zombie apocalypse, junkie-sex-guru Cas, and Sarah Palin as President.
    • Season 13's Apocalypse World is an Alternate Universe, similar to "The End", where Michael won instead of Lucifer and angels are destroying what remains of humanity.
    • Season 15's planned endings by Chuck, all involving some level of Winchester fratricide or mutual death.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Some episodes end in a resounding victory for the villain and a crushing defeat for the Winchesters. A notably high number of these are season finales (indicated with an asterisk:*).
    • 2.15 "Tall Tales": The Trickster successfully deceives the heroes into destroying an illusory projection of himself, and he gets away scot free for his crimes.
    • 3.16 "No Rest For The Wicked"*: Dean's last attempt to prevent his oncoming one-way tour to Hell by taking out Lillith fails completely. Lillith outsmarts them, and banishes Ruby downstairs to take over her meatsuit. Dean is ripped apart by Hellhounds while Sam is unable to help, Lillith escapes, and the last shot is Dean crying out for his brother in the bowels of Hell.
    • 4.22 "Lucifer Rising"*: After all the effort throughout the entire season to stop Lillith from freeing Lucifer, it turns out that the angels are in on it and Lillith's death is the final seal. Sam is manipulated into destroying her, Dean is too late to stop him, and the Archangel rises. At least Ruby got what was coming to her, but Lillith dies with a smile on her face.
    • 5.10 "Abandon All Hope...": Lucifer turns out to be immune to the Colt, making the entire episode and Ellen and Jo's sacrifice pointless from the jump. Lucifer slaughters a town and raises Death, good people have died, and Team Free Will is left distraught. The best that can be said is that they escaped Lucifer's wrath.
    • 5.19 "Hammer of the Gods": Sam and Dean's plan to use the evil gods against Lucifer turns out to be a pipe dream, as they never stood a chance. Even Gabriel proves to be too outmatched, and Lucifer kills him, reducing the Winchesters' chance of ever killing him to zero. Gabriel does provide one last hope, and posthumously gives them the means to trap his brother.
    • 6.22 "The Man Who Knew Too Much"*: A gone-off-the-deep-end Castiel outsmarts and defeats his infernal, celestial, and monstrous competition in the quest for Purgatory. In the final scene he destroys Raphael, sends Crowley into hiding, shrugs off an attack with an angel blade, and declares himself the new God.
    • 8.23 "Sacrifice"*: Metatron manipulates everyone and kills off the extreme if well-intentioned angel who served as an antagonist earlier in the season. He completes his ritual and every angel falls from Heaven.
    • 10.23 "My Brother's Keeper"*: Death is presumably killed after revealing the truth about the Mark of Cain. Rowena finishes the spell to remove it, and escapes after using the attack dog spell on Castiel, unleashing him on Crowley. Now with the Mark gone, The Darkness, a primordial entity that it had kept sealed since the beginning of time is unleashed on the world.
  • Bait the Dog: In Season 5, Bobby makes a deal with the demon Crowley for his soul so they can find the location of Death, the last of Lucifer's Horsemen. Then Crowley goes out of his way to give Bobby back the use of his legs even though Bobby never bothered to include it in their contract and even promises to give back his soul when everything's done. Except the next season Crowley fully intends to hang on to it and send Bobby to Hell in 10 years and Bobby has to spend the entire episode getting it back.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: God and his "sister" Amara were once the only two entities in existence to emerge from the primordial void before he built the rest of the universe. While Amara embodies destruction and God embodies creation, one cannot exist without the other, and either being killed by their sibling would cause a Reality-Breaking Paradox. However, they're not strictly Good vs. Evil, as they both have shown propensities for either despite claiming to be Above Good and Evil. When they separated, the universe was created, and while neither of them can die without screwing up reality, they can remerge into one entity.
  • Ballistic Discount:
    • A mind-controlled man pulls this off in one of Sam’s visions, finishing by shooting himself.
    • Virgil in "The French Mistake" knocks out a gun clerk with the butt of a rifle, then shoots the next customer who walks in on him.
  • Banishing Ritual: Demons can be removed from their host and sent back to Hell with a Latin incantation (the Winchesters used this to deal with Demons before they acquired a demon-killing weapon), but there's also one for Angels (who also possess human hosts to manifest on Earth) in Enochian to send them back to Heaven. The only character who's ever seen attempting the latter is Alastair, since Angels are far too powerful to be even be restrained by anything less.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • In order to find clues about the Monster of the Week, the boys regularly pose as police, FBI, priests, Forestry Service rangers, Homeland Security agents, Center for Disease Control officers, Health Department inspectors, state police troopers — once they even pulled out badges to convince a little girl that they were teddy bear doctors.
    • Garth is the master of this tactic, despite his slight frame and nerdy looks. He's successfully disguised himself as an active duty member of the military and a Texas Ranger, among other things. Not bad for guy who was originally a dentist.
    • This backfires on the boys a couple of times, i.e. when a real cop looks up Dean's borrowed badge number to discover the real owner is a black man, or when a LAR Per points out that their fake FBI badges aren't even in the right format.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • For the amount that Sam and Dean get their asses handed to them, they should be a lot more noticeably scarred up than they are. Appears as early as Season 1, where there are multiple instances of one or both brothers receiving rather deep and expansive facial wounds, all of which are of course completely gone by the next episode.
    • Addressed in "Lazarus Rising" when Dean crawls out of his grave without all his wounds and scars, except for a mysterious red handprint on his arm. He examines his chest in the mirror and it is scar-free, and he and Bobby later discuss how his body should be a bloated mess.
    • In "Swan Song," Dean is beaten to a pulp but a restored-to-full-power Castiel heals him.
    • Averted at the start of Season 10, in large part due to Real Life Writes the Plot: Jared Padalecki had actually been injured between seasons and so Sam actually looks like he's been having an awful time of it since he saw Dean die and disappear.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Happens repeatedly, with Sam and Dean both becoming supernatural menaces as a consequence of utilizing dangerous supernatural forces against their enemies or to solve their problems. Castiel likewise went from humble, unassuming angel to amok A God Am I while trying to save Heaven and Earth.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The whole reason Lucifer and Michael want to fight in Season 5.
  • Because I Said So: Dean still pulls this on Sam and Castiel once, and their Dad abused this trope their whole lives.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Samuel Colt and Elliot Ness were both hunters.
  • Being God Is Hard:
    • In the episode "Appointment in Samarra" Death gives Dean his ring and has him walk a mile in his shoes. After Dean has to kill a Littlest Cancer Patient, Death remarks to him that some days he wishes he didn't have the job.
    • In Season 13, the remaining Angels allow Lucifer to take over the throne of God (who's AWOL) because they need his help to prevent Heaven from collapsing, and he promised to make more Angels. Lucifer attempts to respond to prayers, but he ignores most of them to intervene in an exorcism. While the priests are thankful that he banished the demon, they're not so happy when he tells them his name. He just disintegrates them after failing to calm them down. Annael outright calls him a loser who doesn't hold a candle to his Father.
  • Being Good Sucks: Sam and Dean's job as hunters is dangerous and completely unremunerative and, aside from individual thanks from the people they save, the good they do is largely overlooked. The law is after them for a good portion of the series, both their parents and the great majority of their friends and allies have died in the fight, Dean's been sent to Hell and back for his efforts, Sam goes to Hell, too, and when his body is pulled out but not his soul, he spends a year and a half being a soulless Jerkass and spends a season haunted by hallucinations relating to his time in hell, and all without a roof over their heads. It's a wonder these guys can even get out of bed in the morning.
  • Being Human Sucks:
    • In the episode "The End", Dean is flung into an After the End future where Hell has overrun the Earth. With the Heavenly armies departing the planet, Castiel the angel becomes human, and immensely depressed.
      Castiel: I'm human.
      Dean: Well, welcome to the club.
      Castiel: Thank you. Except I used to belong to a much better club.
    • Regular timeline Castiel in Season 5 is also slowly losing all his angelic powers after his rebellion, until he's just a flesh and blood human after he burns himself out completely. He starts moaning to Bobby (who is a wheelchair-bound cripple at that point) how useless he feels, for which Bobby gives him an earful — at least Cas can still walk.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil:
    • Ruby states that demons used to be humans, before their humanity was tortured out of them in hell. Dean himself gets tortured enough in Hell so that he finally breaks and starts torturing others and enjoying it because it isn't him, though he apparently doesn't keep it up long enough to turn.
    • Late in Season 4, Castiel is recalled to Heaven when he is just about to tell Dean something important. It's implied that he was tortured to prevent him from telling Dean that the angels were working to bring about the Apocalypse. When he returns, he breaks off his friendship with Dean and releases Sam from the panic room so he can go meet Ruby. He also convinces Dean to pledge his loyalty to Heaven without informing him of what exactly that entails. Dean later convinces him to try and stop the Apocalypse.
    • It's implied that Anna's Face–Heel Turn is a result of her being tortured in Heaven.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Sam and Ruby, before they eventually hook up. Also Castiel and Meg.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Sam Winchester has always got a kind word for someone shell-shocked from a brush with the supernatural, prefers to do research rather than pick locks and break faces, and will most certainly fuck you up if you even think about hurting his older brother.
    • Castiel may seem amusingly out of touch much of the time, but you really don't want to make him angry. Hell, not even Castiel's True Companions are safe from this. At a perceived betrayal, Cas beats Dean to within an inch of his life. Cas going off the rails is not a pretty sight.
      Dean: Word of advice—don't piss off the nerd angels.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Normally, unless you are soulmates, you are limited to your own personal sphere of Heaven. Unless your name is Ash, who managed to discover a means to hack Heaven and walk between the different spheres, for the express purpose of partying with famous figures from history.
  • Big Bad:
    • Season 1: The Yellow-Eyed Demon, with Meg as The Dragon.
    • Season 2: The Yellow-Eyed Demon, with the Special Children serving as Co-Dragons. Gordon Walker and Dean's Crossroad Demon are also recurring villains.
    • Season 3: Lilith, with Bela Talbot and Gordon Walker as recurring threats.
    • Season 4: Lilith, with Ruby and Alastair as Co-Dragons. Uriel and Zachariah are also recurring threats.
    • Season 5: Lucifer, the Greater-Scope Villain of the previous four seasons, with the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse as Co-Dragons. Michael is the secondary antagonist, with Zachariah as his own Dragon.
    • Season 6: Raphael, Crowley, and Castiel. Samuel Campbell is Crowley's Dragon, while Eve and Soulless Sam are Disc-One Final Bosses.
    • Season 7: The Leviathan leader, Dick Roman, with Edgar as The Dragon and Sam's hallucination of Lucifer as a secondary antagonist.
    • Season 8: Crowley, with Naomi as a secondary antagonist. Abaddon and Metatron enter late into the season as their respective Starscreams.
    • Season 9: Metatron and Abaddon, with Gadreel as the former's Dragon and Bartholomew as a Disc-One Final Boss.
    • Season 10: Rowena, although the Mark of Cain is a bigger source of conflict and converts Dean into The Heavy. The Styne family and Metatron are Big Bad Wannabes.
    • Season 11: The Darkness, with Lucifer as the secondary antagonist.
    • Season 12: Lucifer and the British Men of Letters, led by Doctor Hess, with Dagon and Arthur Ketch as their respective Dragons.
    • Season 13: Lucifer and the Apocalypse World Michael, with Asmodeus as a Disc-One Final Boss.
    • Season 14: Apocalypse World Michael, with Nick and Duma as secondary threats that take prominence after his death. God is revealed to have been the Greater-Scope Villain of the entire series in the finale.
    • Season 15: God and Billie, the new Death. Lilith returns as the former's Dragon, Belphegor acts as a Disc-One Final Boss, and the Shadow is the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The show tended to have more or less consistent Big Bads for its first four seasons, before using this trope in Season 5:
    • In Season 5 Lucifer is freed from his Cage, and starts the Apocalypse. He wants to wipe out all humans, as well as the demons, and turn the Earth into his own personal playground, considering it a last testament of God's work. On the other side of this are the forces of Heaven, led by the Archangel Michael. While Michael is the Lesser of Two Evils between the two, he still intends to destroy part of humanity as a "necessary sacrifice" for defeating the forces of Hell and bringing about Paradise on Earth. The Winchesters finds them both despicable, and strive to find another way to beat the devil. In the end, Lucifer and Michael both get trapped in the Cage.
    • Season 6 takes it even further, featuring four separate Big Bads. Early on in the season, to start with, we have Crowley — the new King of Hell — who wants to find Purgatory and take control of its souls, and the Archangel Raphael, who is trying to take control of Heaven and restart the Apocalypse. Then, midway through the season, we meet Eve, the "Mother of All", who wants to overrun the world with her "children". And then, a few episodes before the season finale, we find out that Castiel has been in a tentative alliance with Crowley to find Purgatory so that he can defeat Raphael and prevent his plans from coming to fruition. Eve is killed about the same time we find out about Castiel and Crowley's alliance, so that knocks her out of the competition. This all comes to a head in the season finale, where Castiel cuts Crowley out of the deal; Crowley retaliates by teaming up with Raphael, only for Castiel to Out Gambit them both. He absorbs the souls of Purgatory, kills Raphael, and sends Crowley running, all before proclaiming himself the new God.
    • Season 8 has the Winchesters fighting both Crowley and the angel Naomi — the latter indirectly most of the season through her Manchurian Agent Castiel — for control of the Word of God tablets. Abaddon gets in on the act near the end of the season as a potential Starscream for Crowley while Naomi has a Heel Realization in the finale, only to be killed by Metatron, who casts a spell to banish all angels from Heaven.
    • Season 9 builds on the previous season's Ensemble as it stood at the end of the season: Bartholomew and Malachi emerge as the leaders of the civil war amongst the fallen angels, with Metatron — now in full A God Am I mode — also recruiting in order to secure his own position as sole ruler of Heaven. Meanwhile, Abbadon is continuing to try and usurp Crowley's position, while Crowley himself is now a Wild Card. In something of a subversion, Bartholomew is impaled by Cas in his second appearance while Malachi doesn't get a second appearance, being Killed Offscreen by Gadreel, so that helps narrow things down. Abaddon also dies midway through the season, leaving Metatron as sole Big Bad.
    • Season 10 lacks a central antagonist. The season sets up a roster of characters who could fill the role, including Metatron, Crowley, Rowena, Dean under the influence of the Mark of Cain, and Sam, having jumped off the slippery slope in an attempt to cure his brother. However, by the season finale, Metatron gets Brought Down to Normal and subsequently becomes totally irrelevant, and Crowley and Rowena have teamed up with Sam to cure Dean of the Mark, leaving the true Big Bad Ensemble as Sam and Dean Winchester themselves.
    • The first half of Season 11 seems to return to form with The Darkness as sole Big Bad, but then midway through, Lucifer returned, setting him up as a second major threat. Until he's forced to ally with the Winchesters.
    • Season 13 once again gives us an assortment of main bad guys with both Lucifer and the Prince of Hell Asmodeus trying to find Lucifer's half-archangel son Jack to harness his power, as well as an Alternate Universe version of the Archangel Michael trying to break into the main reality. However, Lucifer is soon depowered by Michael, forcing him into another Enemy Mine with the heroes.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Happens often when one brother has barge in to save another at the last minute.
    • In "On the Head of a Pin," Anna saves Castiel just as he is about to be killed by Uriel.
    • Castiel pops in to save Sam and Dean in the Season 5 premiere. He plows through two angels and scares Zachariah away.
  • Big Entrance: Castiel's first scene. All the lights start flickering and bursting, the roof starts rattling, and the barn door breaks open, and Castiel casually strolls in amidst the howling wind and sparks.
    Dean: [panicked] Who are you?
    Castiel: I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Sam lets one out at the end of the pilot episode when Jessica dies.
    • In "All Hell Breaks Loose", Dean also lets out one when he just finally found Sam and seen him get stabbed in the back. Helped by the fact that the viewers are probably feeling the same thing and his look of complete panic and devastation at the sight of his little brother getting knifed.
    • This is Gordon's reaction in "Fresh Blood" as he's being turned into a vampire.
    • Played absolutely hilariously when a wishing well turns a girl's teddy bear into a life-sized, sentient being. A very depressed, alcoholic, somewhat perverted, plushy sentient being. Eventually, he (it?) decides to end it all and sticks a shotgun in its mouth, graphically blowing a cloud of fluff across the room. Which doesn't kill it, as apparently cotton batting doesn't double for brains. Despairing, the teddy raises its paws to heaven and implores "WHHHYYYYYYY?!"
    • Dean reacts this way in "Swan Song" when Sam!Lucifer telekinetically snaps Bobby Singer's neck.
    • In the Season 9 finale Sam lets one out when Metatron stabs Dean in the chest with an angel blade.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Winchesters and Campbells. The Host of Heaven is even worse.
  • Big "WHY?!": The Teddy Bear that the little girl brought to life with a wish in the "Wishful Thinking" episode tries to kill himself by blasting his head off with a shotgun and discovers that it won't kill him. Cue big why.
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Used in the seventh season by the Leviathans against the other monsters. They used a special chemical in fast food that would make the bodies of humans who ate them deadly to all monster species, and this is a series where everyone is a Humanitarian.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: As the show becomes more and more of a Crapsack World, it's only right that they should start to wallow in this too. Dean and John's deals with the devil are seen more as selfish suicides than Heroic Sacrifices, they later kill demons without any thought to the human host, John was a suicidally broken man who fucked up everything, Dean's annoying martyrdom, low self esteem and messed up death wish frustrates Sam and Bobby and Sam's willing to destroy everyone and everything that might hurt Dean. After all this, you start to get the impression that becoming evil might look like a much better deal. Castiel gives a speech to Dean about how every human is a work of art and thus all precious to God. When Uriel's disdain for humanity is answered by an icy cold "You're close to blasphemy", you can't say that Good doesn't exist or that it doesn't care. It's just very outnumbered.
  • Black Eyes of Evil:
    • Most demons have these, although their human hosts usually only show it when the demon is expressing malevolence or using its powers. Only special snowflakes like Azazel and Lilith get to stand out, and the Crossroads demons as well.
    • In the Season 4 finale, Sam Winchester gets these when juiced up on a massive amount of demon blood and trying to kill Lilith. Where the "evil" part comes in is Castiel indicated that if God hadn't cleaned the demon blood from Sam's system in the next episode, Sam's demon blood O.D. would've likely turned into something just as bad as the demons.
    • Chuck, who is revealed to be a case of God Is Evil, gains a partial one in Season 15 after he merges with The Anti-God.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Sam's visions of doom. As one of a group of psychic children, some of whom have powers such as Super Strength, Mind Control, Telekinesis and the ability to electrocute people with a touch, he gets uncontrollable, painful visions of violent deaths. As one of the other psychics put it: "Dude, [that] sucks."
    • Best summed up by Dean in All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 when Sam manages to send a vision.
      Dean: Well, that was about as much fun as getting kicked in the jewels...
    • Chuck's visions of the brothers' adventures, which he channels into his novels involve headaches and have led to him having a drinking problem. Later subverted when Chuck is revealed to be God.
    • Kevin Tran's life is ruined by being a prophet, which Dean informs him of early on. Poor Kevin goes from a high-achieving honors students with his eyes on Princeton to a broke Woobie with a target on his back.
  • Blind Seer: Silas in the Rising Son comics, and Pamela in the main series after having her eyes burned out by Castiel.
  • Blood from the Mouth: It would perhaps be easier to list episodes where this did not happen.
  • Blood Lust: Several creatures.
  • Blood Magic:
    • Human blood is used by demons to contact other demons, and can be used by angels to communicate across dimensions.
    • Demon blood can be drunk by certain chosen humans in order to give them demonic powers and control over other demons.
    • Any blood can be used to create sigils to ward off and disperse angels, and specific quantities of virgin blood can be used to open doorways to purgatory.
    • Crowley and Castiel's blood is particularly valuable, as it's needed to kill a Leviathan. Same goes for Alpha blood.
    • Human blood can be used to "cure" demons.
  • Bloody Bowels of Hell: How Meg-in-Sam describes Hell in "Born Under a Bad Sign."
    • This is later changed when Crowley takes over as ruler of Hell, making it even worse! Instead, you suffer an eternity of endlessly waiting in line, only to get to the front and discover you're at the back of the queue again.
  • Bloody Horror: The show loves this, particularly in the Kripke era when it pushed the limits of the amount of gore that could be shown on broadcast television. "My Bloody Valentine" and "It's A Terrible Life" are two stand-out examples of very bloody episodes.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: The show is fond of these:
    • Season 1 Finale: John and the boys have just been in a nasty car accident. We see them in the destroyed car, but don't know if they are alive or dead until the Season 2 premiere.
    • Season 3 Finale: Dean is killed by hellhounds, and his soul is sent to Hell, leaving his future uncertain. Overlaps with Downer Ending.
    • Season 4 Finale: Castiel is facing off an archangel, said to be one of the most powerful entities in existence, and Sam and Dean are faced with Lucifer rising from his cage.
    • Season 6 Finale: Castiel gives the boys an ultimatum: bow down and swear their love to him, their new Lord God, or be destroyed.
    • Season 7 Finale: Castiel and Dean just killed Dick Roman, but are dragged along with his soul into the dimensional realm of Purgatory, where the soul of every monster that ever lived hunt for all eternity. Sam is left completely alone back on Earth, which is now the site of a turf war between the remaining leaderless Leviathans and Crowley's demons. Oh, and Kevin the prophet is now Crowley's prisoner.
    • Season 10 Finale: Rowena finishes the spell to remove the Mark of Cain from Dean's arm. Castiel is placed under sway of her attack dog spell and attacks Crowley while she makes her escape. With The Mark gone, The Darkness is unleashed onto the world with Sam and Dean at ground zero. They attempt to flee in the Impala, only to be engulfed by a black wave.
    • Season 14 Finale: After God kills Jack and announces His intent to destroy all of Creation, Sam, Dean, and Castiel are left alone in the cemetery with Jack's body when hundreds of bodies possessed by ghosts from Hell rise up and attack them. Sam and Dean grab a pair of iron bars from a nearby fence and Castiel pulls out his angel blade, and the three do their best to fight the horde as they start to swarm them.
  • Book Ends:
    • At the end of the pilot episode, Sam tosses a shotgun into the trunk of the Impala and says "We've got work to do." before closing it. Dean later does the same thing at the end of the Season 2 finale with the Colt, marking the end of Azazel's villain arc.
    • Season 4's first episode is named 'Lazarus Rising.' The last episode of the same season is 'Lucifer Rising.'
    • The series finale involves several Call Backs to the pilot episode, but most notably includes the episode's ending and the last scene of the entire show, where Sam and Dean reunite on a bridge in Heaven, wearing the same outfits that they wore on the bridge in Pilot.
  • Bound and Gagged: Sam for a few minutes in "Bloodlust" and Dean for about half of "Hunted." Sam has visions of being this when he is going through demon blood withdrawal.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul:
    • Sam meets Ruby, only to discover she is a demon.
    • Dean meets Anna, who is a Fallen Angel.
    • Dean meets and befriends Benny, a vampire. It's platonic outside the plentiful Ho Yay.
    • Castiel meets April, but she turns out to be Reaper.
  • Brainwashed: Heaven's preferred methodology for dealing with insubordination.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Krissy from "Adventures in Babysitting." as well as Alex and Claire from Season 9 and 10.
  • Break the Cutie: The entire tragedy of most hunters and supernatural victims is that they were completely normal before experiencing losses.
  • Breather Episode: Usually the signal for the next episode to crank up Angst.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In The Devil You Know, Crowley angrily shouts that demons are rampaging around the Earth, causing death and destruction and also "ate [his] tailor!!" Six episodes later, in Weekend at Bobby's, it's revealed that Crowley was a tailor when he was human.
    • In The French Mistake, after getting thrown into the "Real World", the directors discuss salvaging the footage of the brothers being thrown through the window by freeze-framing right before the interference. At the end of the episode, when they're getting thrown back into their own universe, how do you think they film it?
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu:
    • In the Season 5 finale, Sam invokes this trope to stop the apocalypse. He invites Lucifer to possess him, then throws the both of them back into the Devil's Cage.
    • In the Season 7 finale, Dean and Castiel kill Dick Roman, but the backlash causes them to be sucked into Purgatory along with his soul.
    • In Season 15, Becky admits most of her current fan fiction writing is Curtain Fic, with the Winchesters doing laundry. Come the finale, we get to see the brothers in a domesticity montage, complete with Sam doing laundry.
  • Broken Angel: Castiel, to an extreme in the future timeline of episode 4 "The End". To say that he continues to suffer throughout the rest of the show is an understatement.
  • Broken Hero:
    • Both Sam and Dean qualify, though their optimism has been somewhat drained by circumstance.
    • Cas (from Season 5 onwards) and Bobby definitely qualify too. Although Bobby is probably the most functional of the group, he's still alcoholic and pretty messed up about his wife's death.
  • Broken Masquerade: Several times over the course of the series an innocent extra with an ordinary life has had an encounter with the supernatural that they can't brush off with a logical explanation and has stayed alive. Most hunters were originally ordinary people who went into the business when a supernatural creature killed a loved one and shattered their life.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • Happens to Castiel several times over the series. In a Bad Future, he becomes human after the angels leave Earth for good and is a complete mess, indulging in drugs, booze, and orgies. Near the end of Season 5, he gradually loses his powers as he's cut off from Heaven and becomes much weaker, even needing to rest and sleep, although he regains his powers after God brings him back to life after Lucifer's defeat. For the first half of Season 9, he is reduced to human after his Grace is stolen by Metatron, forcing him to kill enemy angels to take their Grace for himself as a temporary measure until Metatron returns Castiel's own Grace to him.
    • In the fifteenth season episode "The Hero's Journey", Dean and Sam find themselves dealing with regular human problems such as cavities, expired credit cards, and car trouble, which is attributed to them having previously enjoyed God's favour as the stars of his story; now that they have turned against God, he has brought them down to normal people. In the subsequent episode "The Gamblers", Dean and Sam are able to make a deal with the goddess Fortuna to restore their previous luck.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • Lily is the first of the Special Children to die in the Season 2 finale. Her death even occurs so early in the story that her powers (which caused her to accidentally stop her girlfriend's heart) never actually gets an on-screen demonstration.
    • The Season 3 Episode 13 "Ghostfacers." The lone gay character among the Ghostfacers is the only one to be killed by the ghost. This one is especially cruel as the straight man he crushed on must 'humorously' pretend to confess love to his spirit to snap it out of a replay glitch. His friends attempt to memorialize him in the episode they craft from their footage, only for Sam and Dean to destroy their data and equipment for shits and giggles.
    • Sue in Season 7 Episode 5 is very unsubtly implied to be a lesbian with a crush on her married best friend. She's decapitated by said friend's husband.
    • Due to the show's Anyone Can Die status, the deaths of recurring queer characters are either downplayed or justified examples, if only because of the sheer amount of straight characters who also suffer awful, unfair, and tragic deaths.
    • Season 15 sees Castiel confessing to Dean that he loves him in order to summon the Empty and take out Billie. It is downplayed, however, because it coincides with God's Depopulation Bomb, which kills off everyone in the world besides Sam, Dean, and Jack, including Sam's own heterosexual love interest Eileen.
  • Bus Crash:
    • Krissy Chambers' father Lee who appeared in her debut episode. It's revealed when Krissy reappears in "Freaks and Geeks" that he's been killed by a vampire on another hunter's orders since we last saw the two of them.
    • After his only appearance in the Season 9 midseason finale, Malachi is mentioned near the season's end as having been murdered by Gadreel at some point.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When a child whose father Dean killed grows up to confront him, Dean has since been turned into a demon, and invokes this, even dropping the famous My Name Is Inigo Montoya line from The Princess Bride, in order to taunt him.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind:
    • Reapers are only visible to people who are either already dead or close to death.
    • Hellhounds are only visible to people who have made a Deal with the Devil and are nearing the end of their contracts.
  • By the Hair:
    • Happens twice to Sam, once in Season 4's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" flashback when Ruby reunites with him and her fellow demon holds Sam upright by his hair, and again in Season 5's "Two Minutes To Midnight" when he's collapsed on the floor next to Dean and a villain lifts his head by the hair.
    • Dean isn't spared from this either, despite his shorter style, Abaddon grabs him this way while he's down on his knees in Season 9's "Devil May Cry".
    • Several seasons later, Mary discusses the issue when she cuts her hair to prepare for returning to hunting life:
      Mary: Why give the bad guys the advantage of long, pullable hair, you know?
      Dean: Wow. I've been trying to tell Sam that for years.

    C 
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Hinted from day one. Season 5 tells us that Dean is supposed to be the vessel for the Archangel Michael, while Sam is supposed to be the vessel for Lucifer, and the older is supposed to kill the younger.
    • The real Cain shows up, but subverts this by explaining that he killed Abel in order to send him to Heaven, as his brother was praying to Lucifer.
    • God and the Darkness are the primordial example, and like their relationship indirectly spawns the other three Cain and Abel pairs. The Darkness tried to destroy God's creations, so he sealed her away with the Mark of Cain as a lock. However, he entrusted the Mark to Lucifer, who was eventually corrupted by it.
    • In Season 15, the fact that Sam and Dean have defied this so many times is precisely why Chuck hates them so much, as it's his ideal ending for one of them to kill the other.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live:
    • Happens twice in the pilot episode for Sam. First, his Dad goes missing and Dean comes to get him. He refuses that after killing the Monster of the Week, but watching his girlfriend burn up on the ceiling like his mother finally forces him to take the call for good.
    • In fact, any time either boy starts thinking about getting out of the business, they're dragged back in by rather brutal means. The Call doesn't just know where you are, it will stalk you from Hell and back. Literally. As in, angels besieged Hell and dragged Dean out because they had work for him. They dragged the brothers back from Heaven, too.
    • In Seasons 4 and 5 and most of 3, The Call is in fact semi-omniscient beings, requiring them to travel under a couple different types of mystic shielding. It steps up from hex bags to ribcages engraved in Enochian so Heaven and Lucifer wouldn't turn up and explain with nasty graphic examples why You Can't Fight Fate.
    • The other Call instances are mostly equally engineered, although the menace that sends soulless Sam into Dean's neighborhood in Season 6, dragging Dean slowly back onto the road after over a year of retirement, was just a monster seeking revenge on them for an earlier kill.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • When Gabriel and Lucifer come face to face, this is the first thing Gabriel proceeds to do with his arrogant brother. "Lucifer, you're my brother, and I love you; but you are a great. Big. Bag o'dicks!" As Gabriel goes on, he insists that humans are not only better than Lucifer thinks, but deep down Lucifer is just jealous of 'Dad's' new creation. Lucifer does NOT take this well.
    • Bobby does this to his drunken, abusive father in "Death's Door", though technically it's an interactive memory of his long-dead father rather than the real thing.
    • Bobby also once did this on Dean and Sam's behalf, as seen in a memory in "Death's Door", where he gave John a piece of his mind for not treating them like children. This is probably what started the argument mentioned in Series 1 which ended in Bobby pointing a shotgun at John and threatening to shoot him.
  • Came Back Wrong:
    • In Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Angela, the zombie, came back violently insane.
    • Subverted for Sam's first death at the end of Season 2. While Sam is immediately implied to be this by Azazel, his darker actions are ultimately linked to his desperation to save Dean, and have nothing to do with his resurrection.
    • Downplayed for Dean's resurrection in Season 4. He doesn't so much come back "wrong" as he comes back utterly traumatized by Hell, but otherwise all the after-effects are a really, really shitty case of PTSD.
    • In Season 6, Dean's suspicions that Sam is different since returning from Hell are confirmed by Castiel, who reveals that Sam has no soul. This is remedied by midseason, but Sam's soul remains deeply damaged and he's plagued by hallucinations when Castiel breaks his wall of Hell memories.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • In Season 4, Uriel tells Sam to cease his demon blood consumption at once, because the minute he stops becoming useful to the angels, he intends to kill him.
    • In Season 5, the boys and Crowley capture another demon who serves and looks after the Four Horsemen. They need him to reveal the locations of Pestilence and Death, but the situation is complicated because this demon is revealed to have tortured and roasted Jessica, Sam's deceased love interest. The demon gives a disgusting gloat about his crimes, and Sam can just barely resist killing him on the spot and getting his revenge because they still need him.
    • In the seventh season, a slipping Castiel does this to Crowley because he still has use for him despite Crowley's counter betrayal to him the previous season. He directs Crowley to downsize Hell and maintain the Cage for the two remaining Archangels. Crowley happily obliges.
    • In Season 9, Dean and Sam use Crowley to get the First Blade and find Abaddon, intending to kill him after.
  • Cartwright Curse: Subverted. Sam's love interests do have a dangerous propensity to die in the first eight seasons, but after that point the only person he hooks up with/dates who dies is Eileen, someone he never actually got together with until she was resurrected in Season 15, three years after she died.
  • The Case Of: The episode named "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester".
  • Catching Up on History: the Darkness, aka Amara, is forced to possess the body of a newborn baby, and slowly (though much quicker than usual) grow up into an appropriate age for world domination. While doing this, Crowley, who raises her in an attempt to gain her favor and use her power, sets about teaching her about what she's missed since being sealed away before the universe through various videos on a laptop.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Gordon was right all along about Sam. Subverted: while Sam definitely has darkness in him and accidentally started the Apocalypse, he sacrifices himself to save the world instead of siding with the demons or helping Lucifer take over the world.
    • For being the Messenger of God, Gabriel seems to have this problem more often than not. When warning Sam in Mystery Spot about how badly his plan to save Dean was going to fail, on top of the obsession of it all was going to kill him, he didn't listen. Guess what happened. When trying to convince the pagan gods from Hammer of the Gods that their idea to gank Lucifer was only going to get the whole Legion of Doom toasted, nobody listened to him and subsequently tried to kill him while he tried talking sense into them. The end result went as badly for anyone who didn't take him seriously as expected.
  • Cast from Lifespan:
    • A Deal With the Devil usually includes selling your soul after a fixed amount of time (effectively reducing your lifespan to that amount).
    • There was an episode with a magic user who played poker with people, and the chips represented years of his life. If he won he got 25 years back, but if he lost he aged 25 years. He did this so he and his wife could be immortal. He wasn't all bad though (as he keeps telling everyone). Notably, he deliberately folds to let an old man see his grandson grow up.
    • Season 12 introduces Lily Sunder, a witch whose magic cast is from one's soul. It's incredibly powerful, even capable of letting her stand against angels, but has the consequence of eventually rendering her completely soulless.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Catapult Nightmare:
    • Averted — surprisingly — when Dean startles awake from dreams of his time in hell with nothing more than a slight twitch.
    • Played straight when Dean wakes up from a nightmare in 7.05 "Shut Up, Dr Phil".
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: It doesn't actually cause a problem, but lampshaded in "Like a Virgin" when Dean finds out that the only way to kill a dragon is with a sword forged using dragon's blood.
    Dean: So you need one to kill one, but you got to kill one to make one. How does that work out?
  • Catchphrase:
    • Bobby's "Idjit"[sic] and frequent exclamation of "balls".
    • "Son of a bitch!" — Dean's cuss phrase of choice.
    • Dean: "Bitch!" Sam: "Jerk!" (kind of an informed catchphrase, only said two or three times on screen)
    • Dean: "Good times," delivered deadpan when facing some insurmountable problem.
    • Dean refers to killing things as "ganking" them.
    • Crowley often calls people "darling" and when frustrated is known to say "Bollocks!", ironically the British equivalent of balls.
  • Caught in the Ripple:
    • "My Heart Will Go On" features a fallen angel going back in time and changing the timeline, preventing the Titanic from sinking, and causing all sorts of ripple effects. Sam and Dean are blissfully unaware that they're living in an altered timeline until they discover it over the course of the episode because of the actions of another supernatural being who is trying to undo the changes made by the angel.
    • Another episode has Sam & Dean Winchester leading completely different lives as unrelated people Dean Smith and Sam Wesson, an executive and an IT guy working at the same firm who get sucked into a supernatural mystery. Turns out it's a Secret Test of Character by some angels to prepare them for the intensifying war between Heaven and Hell..
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Implied in an episode, although when two male characters who are not having sex spend all their time together, it is to be expected.
  • Caused the Big Bang: The Big Bang was caused when Chuck and Amara, i.e. God and the Darkness, separated in two and creating the Balance Between Good and Evil upon which the universe is built.
  • Ceiling Corpse:
    • This was what became of Mary and Jess in Season 1, twenty-two years apart. Both times their bodies are revealed when it drips blood onto Sam's face.
    • A similar event happens in Season 12 "Celebrating The Life of Asa Fox" when the characters are at a hunter's wake and go to say goodbye to the body, only for blood to drip onto his forehead and reveal there's another hunter strung from the ceiling. Bonus points for the people discovering this being Sam and Mary.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Contains numerous examples due to the massive cast and Reference Overdosed nature of the show:
    • In "Hollywood Babylon", the tour guide mentions that the next stop is the set for Gilmore Girls, at which point Sam looks uncomfortable and hops off the tram. No one on the tour seems to notice that the guy who just jumped off looks exactly like Rory Gilmore's first- and second-season boyfriend, Dean Forrester (who was also played by Jared Padalecki).
    • In "Fallen Idols", Dean says that he's never seen the House of Wax remake in order to insult a shape-shifting god who has taken the form of Paris Hilton. At this news Sam looks startled, and a bit disappointed. Both Jared Padalecki and Paris Hilton were in House of Wax.
    • Dean has seen The X-Files, yet he does not recognize the guy from "Scarecrow" (William B. Davis) as Cigarette Smoking Man, his grandfather Samuel Campbell (Mitch Pileggi) as Mulder and Scully's boss, or Crowley (Mark Sheppard) as the character "Bob the Caretaker" from the X-Files episode "Fire".
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been mentioned on the show, yet, despite the fact that several of its actors and actresses such as James Marsters, Charisma Carpenter, Harry Groener, Mercedes McNab, Amber Benson, Julie Benz, and Felicia Day have guest-starred on it, absolutely no one has come up to any of their respective characters and commented on the fact that they look familiar.
    • In one episode, Dean jokes, "Oh look, it's The Suite Life of Zack and Cas." Kim Rhodes, who plays Jody Mills, also costarred on The Suite Life as Zack and Cody's mom.
    • Dean references Girl, Interrupted, in which Misha Collins (Castiel) had a small role.
    • In "Gimme Shelter", a cop mentions Baby Yoda. Emily Swallow, who appears in this very same episode as Amara, plays the Armorer in The Mandalorian.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Heaven. Apparently God organized it this way from the very beginning, as particular angels belong to specific organizations. Anna, Castiel and Uriel were in a garrison. The Cupids are responsible for pairing up human beings. Naomi directs something analogous to the CIA/NSA. Metatron was originally part of the "typing pool" before getting promoted to God's personal stenographer. Zachariah was a subordinate to the Archangels, tasked with getting the Winchester's into their roles for the coming Apocalypse. They have a full celestial hierarchy except for the missing God. Fortunately for the souls of dead mortals, they don't run into all this organizational stuff because they all get put into their own personal heaven, seemingly to minimize the amount of effort the angels have to spend on them.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: Archangels have showed up, particularly in Seasons 5-6. The only resident Archangels are Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael. Lucifer is still one even after his fall, but is no longer part of the Heavenly Host. Archangel Gabriel went missing too (although revealed in Season 5 to have been Hiding in Plain Sight as another character since Season 2). Interestingly, Uriel is present, but is not an Archangel.
  • Cessation of Existence:
    • Discussed in earlier seasons. Bobby and Annie initially believed this is what happens to ghosts whose bodies are burned. As it turns out in later seasons, under normal circumstances, Cessation of Existence is not really possible. Human souls ascend to Heaven or descend to Hell and ghosts are no exception, and monster souls go to Purgatory. Even angels and demons (who do not have souls) wind up in the Empty, as do the consciousnesses of The Soulless (although it should be noted that the only time the latter happened, the Soulless in question was a Nephilim, so that might've influenced it).
    • The above having been said, it's implied Cessation of Existence would've happened for everything self-aware in the universe if Chuck or Amara died, as the death of one of them would cause the whole of existence (including the surviving twin) to disappear into nothing.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Horsemen's rings are needed to trap Lucifer in Hell again.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Hey, remember how throughout Season 5, the angels want Dean to be the vessel for Michael but he keeps rejecting them? Remember how the ability to be a vessel is a bloodline trait? Remember the Winchesters' half-brother Adam from a few seasons back who turned out to have been killed by a ghoul? Remember how the angels can bring people back from the dead?
    • Midway through Season 6 we meet Bobby's friend Dr. Visyak, a professor with knowledge of the supernatural. In the penultimate episode of the season, we discover that she is an escapee from Purgatory, and is the only one who knows how to open a portal to it.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In "On the Head of a Pin", Alistair escapes from the devil's trap when Uriel manipulates a nearby water pipe. In "Abandon All Hope...," Cas pulls something similar on Meg to get out of the angel equivalent of said trap.
  • Chess with Death:
    • Dean has one of these with Death: in exchange for bringing Sam's soul back to his body Dean has to do his job for a day. Dean ends up failing the test, but Death returns the soul anyway. Firstly because his real reason for the task was to show Dean what forces he was messing with by constantly resurrecting, and also because Sam and Dean's current investigation suited his purposes. He may have wanted a day off too.
    • Also, the whole premise of "The Curious Case Of Dean Winchester" revolves around this trope, even though the game of choice is poker.
  • The Chew Toy: With what they go through and the fact that they looked so darned pretty when being put through pain, both of them (but especially Dean) are walking a very fine line between this and pure-and-simple Woobification.
  • The Chooser of the One: This was basically Azazel's role. First, he chose a variety of kids who were possible candidates. Out of this group, one of them would be chosen ultimately. The idea was that the chosen one would not only free Lilith from hell, but also be instrumental in releasing Lucifer as well as become Lucifer's vessel.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Sam Winchester is essentially the chosen one of the series. He was chosen to be the vessel for Lucifer. Everything that has happened, including the death of his mother, to Azazel/YED bleeding in his mouth, to the development of Sam's special abilities has led up to the fact that Sam was the one that would eventually destroy the world.
    • Dean as well, for the exact same reason that Sam is, as it's revealed in Season 5 that he's the intended vessel of the Archangel Michael, which he doesn't agree to.
    • Prophets are chosen to deliver the word of God, often through debilitating headaches. Kevin Tran in Season 7 is a normal high school student who becomes one, and Dean informs him that It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Subverted in 99 Problems. The very Christian anti-demon militia in Blue Earth, Minnesota is Lutheran.
  • Christmas Episode: The Christmas episode A Very Supernatural Christmas has Evil Santa, sacrifices to gods (and what says Christmas more than watching someone's fingernail be torn off?) and a surprisingly effective ending. Sniff. And a tree decorated with air fresheners and fishing flies.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Sam has this whenever he's not otherwise occupied.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Both Castiel and Crowley exhibit this to some extent, although Castiel genuinely wants to be good while Crowley is as evil as they come.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The writers managed to do this in the span of a single episode in Season 5. It introduced Jesse Turner, a young boy explicitly identified as the Anti-Christ. This resulted from a union between a demon and a human, which somehow imbued him with high-level Reality Warper powers, an ability neither species displayed in any way. Possibly realizing how little sense it made that this would result in the most powerful character depicted in the show up to that point (with the possible exception of God) and the Story-Breaker Power it entailed, the writers immediately sent the character off to nowhere, and he's never mentioned afterwards. It's technically also Put on a Bus, but it goes straight past even Long Bus Trip because everyone immediately forgets he ever existed at all.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Beautifully (and hilariously) played with in "Monster Movie," this vampire turns out to be a lonely shapeshifter who admires the old Universal movie monsters.
  • Cliffhanger: Every season finale.
    • Season 1: Azazel escapes and a truck drives the Impala off the road, leaving Dean and John unconscious.
    • Season 2: The Devil's Gate has opened, allowing thousands of demons to escape and walk the earth. Dean has made a deal which gives him one year to live.
    • Season 3: Dean is killed and dragged to Hell when his deal comes due.
    • Season 4: Sam kills Lilith, inadvertently freeing Lucifer from hell.
    • Season 5: Sam throws himself into Hell in order to defeat Lucifer, Castiel returns to Heaven and Dean goes to live with Lisa in order to fulfill his final promise to Sam. The final shot of the season is of a mysteriously-resurrected Sam staring creepily through Lisa's kitchen window while a single streetlight flickers.
    • Season 6: Castiel absorbs all the souls in Purgatory to give himself enough power to defeat Raphael, and subsequently declares himself the new god, demanding that Sam, Dean and Bobby bow down before him or be destroyed.
    • Season 7: Dick Roman is defeated but Dean and Castiel are dragged to Purgatory with him. Crowley takes Meg and Kevin prisoner, leaving Sam alone on earth with the remainder of the Leviathans.
    • Season 8: Metatron cuts out Castiel's grace to use in a spell that will banish all the angels from heaven, leaving him human. Sam goes into convulsions after failing to complete the trials on the demon tablet and he and Dean watch helplessly as the angels begin to fall to earth.
    • Season 9: Dean dies. Sam tries to summon Crowley to make a deal, but Crowley is already there, talking to Dean's body. He tells Dean a story about the Mark of Cain, which Dean possesses, and tells Dean to open his eyes. Dean does, revealing pitch black demon eyes.
    • Season 10: Dean kills Death. Rowena removes the Mark of Cain from Dean's arm, then casts a spell on Castiel that causes him to attack Crowley with an Angel Blade while she escapes. Since Dean no longer has the Mark, the primordial Darkness is released. Sam and Dean try to escape the Darkness in the Impala, only for a wheel to get stuck in a pothole and the Darkness to engulf them.
    • Season 11: Sam and Castiel return to the Bunker and are greeted by a Woman of Letters from the English chapter, who banishes Castiel with a sigil. Sam, thinking Dean is dead, doesn't heed her warning not to approach her, and she shoots him in response. Meanwhile, Dean runs into none other than Mary.
    • Season 12: Castiel dies, Mary and Lucifer are dragged into the Apocalypse World, with the portal closing behind them, Lucifer's son is born and the closing shot lingers on a glowing pair of eyes, as he asks for his father.
    • Season 13: Dean says "yes" to Michael in order to kill Lucifer, and successfully saves Sam and Jack, only for Michael to renege on his deal and take over Dean's body for good and promptly vanish.
    • Season 14: Chuck reveals himself for the first time in three years, and orders Dean to kill a soulless Jack. Sam infers that Chuck wants Jack to die, and that he's enjoying the drama. Chuck then declares that the story is over, kills Jack, and opens the gates to Hell, leaving Sam, Dean, and Cas to the mercy of the ghosts of the cemetery they're in.
  • Coins for the Dead: In the Season 11 episode "Baby", the way to defeat the Monster of the Week is to place a coin in his mouth. This reminds the undead creature that he is in fact dead and sends him back to his resting state.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: In Season 5, Sam is briefly tempted while killing demons, but this no longer becomes an issue after he returns from the Cage.
  • Comatose Canary:
    • Dean at the beginning of Season 2.
    • Sam in Season 6. After getting his soul back from Death it is mentioned at the beginning of "Like a Virgin" that Sam has been "asleep" for almost ten days. Also at the beginning of the last episode of Season 6 "The Man Who Knew Too Much" as the mental wall keeping all of the hell memories at bay has been destroyed by Cass
  • Combat Pragmatist: Whether fighting monsters or ordinary people both Sam and Dean use every dirty trick in the book.
  • Companion Cube: The Impala to Dean.
  • Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit: When Sam and Dean travel back to 1978 in "The Song Remains The Same", Dean off-handedly suggests they invest in some Microsoft stock while they're at it. Sam says they may have to if they can't find a way back.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    • Ron Reznick in "Nightshifter", who is convinced that the shapeshifter attacks he's been doing independent research on are caused by "mandroids".
    • In "Slash Fiction" paranoid whackjob Frank Devereaux doesn't put much stock in magic, but he's sure that "The government's been cloning people for years."
    • Also Herb Nelson from "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell", a restaurant owner who has security video of Dagon taking Kelly. He thinks the demons are "reptilians"
  • Constantly Changing Name: Charlie takes on new aliases whenever she moves around. The second time she meets the Winchesters, she mocks them for thinking the name she gave them the first time was real. However, they continue to call her 'Charlie' anyway, so for the viewers that name sticks.
  • Continuity Drift: Several details of the worldbuilding change as the show progresses, such as in the first season, vampires were shown to require blood in much smaller amounts than in other shows and movies (it took weeks for an entire coven to drink enough blood to kill two people). This is very difficult to reconcile with later appearances (i.e., they were somehow unable to drink cow blood without slaughtering the cows, despite having a huge supply and being easily able to go from cow to cow?).
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Sometime off-screen third season, the Winchester brothers each got a possession-blocking protective tattoo. From that first appearance onward, the tattoos can be seen from time to time over the collar of their shirts, though attention is almost never drawn to them again.
      • The tattoos were featured prominently in the Season 8, Episode 2 episode, and were used as a means to convince Kevin Tran and his mother to get similar tattoos to ward off possession.
    • Dean's amulet, which at this point has been missing from the show for two full years, appears on Dean's neck in a flashback in the Season 7 episode "Repo Man."
    • In "Home", Sam hands the kid he just rescued to the kid's big sister and says "Take your brother outside as fast as you can, and don’t look back," echoing his father's words and actions to Dean in the pilot.
    • Dean slams Sam against a wall in "Pilot" for questioning the family mission; Sam slams Dean against a wall in "Salvation" for doing the exact same thing.
    • In "What Is and What Should Never Be" there's a ton, visual and verbal, to the pilot episode: Mary going down the stairs (replaced by Sam), Dean and Sam fighting in the dark after Dean breaks in, "Lookin' for a beer," etc.
    • After finally killing Azazel at the end of Season 2, Dean tosses the Colt in the Impala's trunk, says, "We've got work to do," and closes the trunk, which is what Sam says and does (though not with the Colt) at the beginning of Season 1 after Azazel kills Mary and Jessica. This gets yet another Call-Back when Dean is resurrected in Season 4 and Castiel tells him that he was brought back "Because we have work for you." Also referenced at the end of the Season 15 opener. Complete with a handy flash to the scene from the pilot as Sam closes the Impala's trunk.
    • Season finales "Devil's Trap" and "No Rest For The Wicked" both involve Sam helplessly pinned to a wall by that season's Big Bad as said demon murders Dean in front of him.
    • Compare the Season 3 and Season 5 finales:
      [hellhounds are ripping Dean to shreds, killing him]
      Sam: No!
      Lilith: Yes! [tries to fry him]
    • and:
      [Lucifer snaps Bobby's neck like a twig, killing him]
      Dean: No!
      Lucifer: Yes! [tries to beat him to death]
    • While trying to convince Sam to come with him, Dean admits that he doesn't want to do it alone. He mentions this again in Season 7 while on trial in "Defending Your Life".
    • Uriel frees Alistair from a Devil's trap by loosening a bolt and letting water drip onto the devil's trap. Castiel uses a similar trick to free himself from a ring of holy fire.
    • In Season 12's "Twigs, Twine, and Tasha Banes", Sam convinces Dean to help Alicia find her and Max's mother because, "Their mother's on a hunting trip, and hasn't been home in a week". Dean gives him an exasperated look and agrees.
    • The series finale, naturally: Sam and Dean discuss their first hunt together as adults in Pilot, including a word-for-word repetition of what Dean used to convince Sam to go on the road with him, but this time with Sam begging Dean not to leave him, not because he can't do it alone, but because he doesn't want to. And, when they reunite in Heaven, they're on a bridge like Pilot, wearing the same clothes as they did in that episode.
  • Cool Sword: The angels carry these, as they are among the few things that can actually kill them. By Season 8, other characters including Meg and Crowley have started carrying them and they have shown to be useful in killing other supernatural creatures including demons, hellhounds and even reapers.
  • The Coroner: A different one appears in many episodes (since they're moving all over the country working on cases) to explain to the Winchesters how the latest Victim of the Week met his or her gruesome end.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Sam Winchester's entire life consists of a plot to do this to him. It sort of works, to the point where the Big Bad manipulates him into starting the Apocalypse thinking he was preventing it, but it doesn't stick.
  • The Corruption:
    • At the end of Season 4, Castiel tells Dean that consuming enough demon blood to kill Lilith will permanently mutate Sam into a monster. Possibly, God cleaning it out of his system prevented this.
    • In the finale of Season 6, Castiel has turned evil and absorbs the souls of Purgatory into himself upon which he declares himself the new God. In the first episode of Season 7, he goes around killing corrupt and wicked people on a massive scale to prove his "godhood", but it eventually turns out that he's also hosting far older, nastier entities who are corrupting him. His body slowly degrades and mutates and he gets temporarily taken over to perform indiscriminate massacres, ending with being totally under their control after he loses the souls. His body goes through a meltdown under the strain, and the monsters escape out into the world.
    • The Mark of Cain drives anyone who bears it incredibly violent and functionally immortal, as it turns Dean into a demon upon his death.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: In Hammer of the Gods, the council composed of ten gods, including Odin, Mercury and Kali.
  • Council of Angels: Heaven is apparently somewhat of a bureaucracy, as God has gone AWOL. In Season 6, Heaven has descended into full scale civil war as Michael, its former leader (After God), has been trapped in Hell with Lucifer.
  • Covert Distress Code: Funkytown. (Dean came up with it.) They also have "Poughkeepsie" for "run like hell" and "Jefferson Starships" for "creepy monster hybrids."
  • Cowardice Callout:
    • In "Changing Channels", at the end of the confrontation with the archangel Gabriel, Dean deconstructs Gabriel's assertions that his older brothers' world-ending battle is inevitable and his personal justification that he just wants to get the damn thing over with already by saying that Gabriel's just making excuses to cover up the fact he's "too afraid to stand up to [his] family". Gabriel responds with a Death Glare and complete silence for the rest of the scene, and the next time he appears (and gets a repeat of the accusation from Dean), Gabriel admits that Dean was right and extends aid to help Sam and Dean stop the Apocalypse.
    • In "Don't Call Me Shurley", Metatron chews God/Chuck out upon realizing that the latter apparently threw up his hands and decided to let Amara devour all of creation the moment she was freed, hiding away in a bar where Amara can't destroy him and writing a memoir which no-one will be around to read. When Metatron calls Chuck a coward for all this, Chuck becomes furious to a terrifying degree. Ultimately, however, Chuck seemingly concedes to Metatron's point and moves to join the fight to save creation.
    "Now... I've been called many things. Absentee father, wrathful monster. But coward..."
  • Crapsack World:
    • And how. Earth is pretty much the playing field for the cosmic battle between heaven and hell, and to make matters worse just about every monster ever referenced in mythology exists and most feed on humans. There isn't even any reprieve in death: if you're 'lucky' enough to go to heaven you can expect a matrix-style simulation where you relive your best memories but never actually get to reunite with any of your loved ones. God is AWOL and the operation is overseen by the angels: a Celestial Bureaucracy of squabbling, petty Eldritch Abominations who won the Superpower Lottery but have the emotional maturity of five-year-olds. If you end up in hell, on the other hand, you can expect to endure an eternity of agonizing torture until you eventually become a demon yourself. There is a third option: if you happen to get turned into a monster you might get to live for a few centuries before some hunter kills you, and which point you'll get sent to Purgatory and forced to engage in eternal, never-ending combat with every other monster that ever died. Really, it's no wonder most of the characters are dealing with major depression.
    • Viewers later learn that the two most powerful beings in the universe are God/Chuck, a sexist, lazy deity who abandoned humanity for millennia, and Amara, who longs to annihilate the universe. God/Chuck plans to sacrifice himself to Amara in the hopes that she will spare creation, but as Dean points out, she would probably destroy creation afterwards anyway. It's a pretty crapsack world when one deity wants to destroy the universe and the other one is too passive to stop her.
      Sam: Look, Dean, you're leaving right? And I got to stay in this craphole of a world... alone.
    • The Apocalypse World Alternate Universe is even worse off. Half the Earth is a scorched wasteland, the angels are bloodthirsty warmongerers who reign dominant and they're actively exterminating the desperate remnants of humanity (including use of extermination camps, and torture techniques that have zero regard for basic human rights), and monsters have mentally devolved to feral monsters due to mass starvation. Even the afterlife likely sucks in this universe, since the reapers are the angels' slaves.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Most hunters, but especially Bobby. Let's recap, shall we? The guy blesses the beers he has in his fridge, making detecting a demon hiding in a friend as easy as offering him a beer. He built a demon- and ghost-proof panic room made out of solid iron coated in salt covered in devil's traps in his basement — because he had a weekend off. He apparently has weaponry and ingredients all over his house in case he gets ambushed or needs to work a spell. He has a bank of telephones in his kitchen so if an undercover hunter needs to have someone phone their "superior" for verification, he can pose as anyone from the FBI to the CDC to the Federal Marshalls. And if the hunters can't use regular phones, he has a satellite phone link and a radio. When being chased through his house by a soulless Sam, he hides in the closet...and when found, activates a lever inside that drops Sam into the basement. He has hundreds of books of lore (some going back thousands of years) on monsters of all kinds scattered around his house, and copies secreted in lock-ups scattered around the country, and apparently around his own house as well, in case his already-extensive knowledge of the supernatural comes up short or something is stolen or destroyed. In his own words: "Hi, glad to meet you. Bobby Singer. Paranoid bastard."
    • In "Mother's Little Helper" Sam is revealed to have made a recording of himself performing an exorcism that he can play from his smart phone if he's otherwise unable to.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Dean and Sam Winchester were genetically engineered to be the human embodiment of the archangels Michael and Lucifer respectively. To make them strong enough to physically/emotionally handle their essence the Winchesters' lives were made a living hell, almost from infancy. Guess who defeated, multiple times, Michael and Lucifer's attempts to end humanity?
  • Creator Provincialism:
    • It is...interesting...how the vast majority of the important events of the apocalypse take place in the continental United States. Kali is actually rather upset over this fact, and laments that "Westerners" are trying to take away her rightful spot in her own Apocalypse. If you wanted to be generous, you could grant that at least the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse is taking place in America because that's where Sam and Dean are, but it only gets worse in subsequent seasons. By this time Sam and Dean are peripheral to events and yet celestial wars, fallen Angels, Roman Gods, Scandinavian god cults, and even freaking Cain all just happen to be in America. And mid-western America at that.
      • Fortunately, Castiel is on hand to pop over to the Holy Land to fetch any necessary Plot Device that the boys have need of, thus sparing them the onerous burden of international travel. As long as you have the right roadies you don't have to put any more effort into obtaining Holy Oil from Jerusalem than J-Lo does to getting Perrier from across town.
  • Creepy Child:
    • The show is fond of this trope in general, but Lilith possessing little girls is by far the creepiest example.
    • Lampshaded in "The Real Ghostbusters"
      Hookman: Yeah, how original. Supernatural bringing in more creepy children. Sigh.
    • Played with in "The Kids are Alright". It is revealed that the children are actually changelings.
    • In Season 11 Amara, the Darkness, undergoes an Overnight Age-Up, but still comes off as such when she's in the form of a little girl.
  • Creepy Doll: The episode "Playthings" is chock full of 'em — though they are only creepy, not actually dangerous.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: The Shtriga in particular has fingers that look more like twigs on a tree branch in its true form, which it uses to open its child victims' bedroom windows at night. There's also H.H. Holmes, whose ghost pushes his fingers through air vent slats at the sight of his haunting.
  • Creepy Stalker Van: In Season 14, the man who used to serve as the host body for the Devil becomes obsessed with tracking down the demon responsible for murdering his family, killing many innocents in the process. He starts to drive around in a large suspicious van to kidnap and kill people in.
  • Crossover Cosmology:
    • Just like All Myths Are True, so do all gods exist. Though they are apparently not all equal given how easily Lucifer mows down a dozen of them in "Hammer of the Gods."
    • Given the incessant complaints from pagan gods about losing their followers, it's likely that this is why the Christian/Jewish/Islamic God is capital-G God while the others are barely more than ordinary monsters
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Teetering on the precipice of this trope. While pretty much all of the Apocalypse storyline contains heavy use of individual elements and characters from Christian eschatology, the actual usage of God, Lucifer, the angels and the demons, to say nothing of the complete and utter absence of Jesus, really ends up presenting a pseudo-Christian world where most of the Biblical characters are really Captain Ersatz versions of the ones from the source material and their link to the religion overall is essentially as a fantasy remake of the original with updated, modernized, characters cherry-picked for dramatic convenience.
  • Cuckoo Nest: In "Sam, Interrupted" the boys check into a mental hospital to investigate a case.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Winchesters, especially, get their asses handed to them by the Big Bad all the time.
    • This happens several times with Alastair and Lilith, who pwn humans and angels alike to begin with, only for Sam to eventually kill them with his brain.
    • Anything attempting to take on an archangel ends up burned to dust with a simple touch, or exploded with a snap of the fingers. Lucifer slaughters pagan gods without breaking a sweat and then kills his brother — the archangel Gabriel — just as easily.
    • In the Season 6 finale the final battle between Castiel and Raphael ends up being like that. Amped up on purgatory souls, Castiel merely snaps his fingers and Raphael explodes into bloody goo.
    • In Season 9 and 10, Dean starts delivering these while under the influence of the Mark of Cain, often requiring Sam to tell him to stop.
    • In Season 11 an angel blade shatters when used against Amara, and she easily wipes out entire armies of angels on her own.
  • Custom Built Host: Angels require a vessel to be able to walk the earth, as their true forms cannot be perceived by humans, but not all humans are capable of acting as a vessel for them (with unsuitable ones literally exploding upon attempting it). As such Angels have long practiced using Cherubs to ensure certain bloodlines continue or combine, so that they have more hosts. One specifically brought John and Mary together, to ensure Sam and Dean were born to act as Michael and Lucifer's one true hosts.
  • Cut Apart: In "Folsom Prison Blues", Sam and Dean pull a jailbreak and go to the cemetery to destroy the remains of a nurse who is haunting the prison. The FBI is headed to the cemetery to recapture them. The camera cuts back and forth until it is revealed that the FBI was directed to the wrong cemetery.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Played straight in Sam and Dean's case. Sam's death is the final straw for Dean and he makes a desperate and suicidal Deal with the Devil to bring him Back from the Dead, which in turn spurs Sam to equally desperate measures to try and save Dean from his fate, and when that doesn't work, he goes off the rails to try and get Dean out of Hell.

    D 
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Lampshaded in "The French Mistake."
    Misha Collins: [typing into his phone] Ever. Get. The. Feeling. That. There's. Someone. In. The. Back. Seat? Frowny-face.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: If you haven't realized already that this show relies heavily on this trope, then you obviously have not seen the first episode. Or any episode. Or were severely inebriated or high while watching... Or some combination of the above. Even Bobby (previously the Only Sane Man...okay, still the Only Sane Man but for this show that doesn't say much for his comparative sanity) has massive problems.
  • Dark Messiah: In Season 4, Sam heads this way, fully expecting/intending to die killing Lilith and willing to shoot a few dogs to do so, but doesn't realize he's playing right into Lilith's hands until it's too late.
  • The Dark Side:
    • After spending three seasons trying to avoid "going dark side," a demon blood-addicted Sam skids down the slippery slope after attacking and attempting to choke Dean following a failed intervention in which Dean called him a monster. Sam kills Lilith, therefore (inadvertently) starting the Apocalypse by freeing Lucifer.
    • Castiel, with good intentions, teeters on the dark side through most of Season 6. When he absorbs all the souls from Purgatory, however, he goes fully dark side.
    • Dean struggles with this as early as Season 4, as it's revealed he was not just tortured in Hell, but became a torturer himself, and a near legendary one at that. While he's rescued before he can turn into a demon, Season 10 makes him into one anyway, and the Mark of Cain steadily chips him down into an immoral killing machine.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget:
    • By the end of the fourth season, Sam pretty much runs out of legitimate excuses for his dark side-skirting behavior. He cops to this in early Season 5.
    • All through Season 6, Castiel is legitimately tormented by his actions, but when he absorbs all the souls from Purgatory, he no longer appears to have much affection for the Winchesters and Bobby.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 1 is more or less a show about two brothers trained to fight the supernatural, looking for their lost father. Then things go downhill.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Sam Winchester (a hunter of supernatural monsters) and Ruby (a demon). She eventually seduces him while mentoring him to kill other demons, and they start a physical relationship. In a later episode their foreplay jumps straight into Hemo Erotic territory when she lets him drink her blood, to which he is addicted. When he admits it to Dean, his brother is more than squicked out.
    • Castiel and Meg share a lot of sexual tension before they make out, and later express their love for each other. An angel and a demon, how poetic.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "Ghostfacers", which featured two characters from a first season episode and their friends. Fans either loved it or loathed it.
    • "The Rapture", told the Backstory of Castiel's vessel, Jimmy Novak.
    • The Impala gets flashbacks and a backstory in "Swan Song".
    • In Season 6, Bobby Singer gets one of these, aptly titled, "Weekend at Bobby's" (also a Shout-Out, as the episode titles often are). It focuses on what Bobby does when he's not helping Sam and Dean, and how that actually interferes with his life. The episode also wraps up the minor Story Arc about selling his soul to Crowley to help save the world.
    • "The Man Who Would Be King" is about Castiel, and narrated from his point of view.
    • "Apointment In Samarra" is one for the Reapers, as Dean learns exactly what the Psychopomps of his reality have to deal with every day.
    • The Season 11 episode "Baby" is shot entirely from the car's perspective, with the camera never leaving it.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Sunlight is not deadly to vampires, but it causes a nasty sunburn, thus they usually sleep during the day and hunt at night.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Crowley's "muffins" in "Slash Fiction."
  • Deadly Euphemism: "ganking" = to kill.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It'd be easier to list who isn't. Dean established himself as one of these within the first episode of the first season.
    Sheriff: You boys are in a lot of trouble.
    Dean: Are we talking misdemeanor trouble, or squeal like a pig trouble?
    • Especially true in late Seasons 4 and 5. Dean has completely run out of fucks to give.
      Bobby: I thought you were on-call for angel duty?
      Dean: I am, in my car, on my way to murder the bitch.

      Dean: [facing down Raphael] By the way, hi, I'm Dean.

      Adam: [talking about Plan B for stopping the Devil] Great, what is it?
      Dean: Well, we're working on The Power of Love.
      Adam: How's that going?
      Dean: Not good.

      Lucifier: Sorry if it's a bit chilly. Most people think I burn hot. It's actually quite the opposite.
      Dean: Well, I'll alert the media.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • In several episodes, including "In My Time of Dying" and "Crossroad Blues." Plus, it's a major plot point in Season 3.
    • Recurs in Season 5 with Bobby.
    • Crowley as well. Turns out he sold his soul while human for a "few more inches below the belt."
      • Crowley loves dealing out these things, too, being King of the Crossroads and all. In the seventh season finale, Dick Roman, the head Leviathan, gets one, which the two go over in detail. In the Season 8 finale, he tries to pull one on Sam and Dean but they nab him instead.
    • Subverted in Seasons 9 and 13, where Dean makes deals with angels, both of which involve said angel possessing someone to save someone, and both of which end with the angel taking the vessel permanently and absconding with it. In the first case, Gadreel usurps Sam's body, and in the second, it's Dean himself.
  • Decapitated Army: The Season 7 finale. When the Leviathans' leader Dick Roman is killed by Dean and Castiel, Crowley comments that they won't be a Big Bad-level threat anymore, since Roman's been their leader since basically the dawn of time and losing him will throw them into confusion. The remaining Levis are quickly dispatched by Crowley's own demon army.
  • Deus ex Machina: Dean always seems to pop up and save the day whenever Sam (or anyone really) is in trouble.
  • Deus Exit Machina:
    • Having Castiel around and fully angeled-up is basically the Easy Button, so he gets hit with this a lot, usually involving Power at a Price. In Season 5, he's specifically depowered to avoid this, so feats like time travel nearly kill him, and his healing and resurrection powers become limited. Eventually, they begin saddling him with other plots so he's not around Sam and Dean to help him.
    • They used all the bullets conservatively and only missed once. In Season 3, it got unlimited ammo, making it a gamebreaker, so it was stolen by Bela after a few episodes, and not seen again until Season 5. Lucifer revealed that he was immune to its effects, but it disappears for several seasons afterwards before finally returning in Season 12... to be used once against a Monster of the Week and immediately destroyed before it can be used on the Arc Villain.
  • Death by Gluttony: Played for horror in the Season 5 episode "My Bloody Valentine." The Horseman Famine compels a town full of people to eat and drink themselves to death in truly horrific ways. A young couple eat each other to death while having sex. One man binges on Twinkies until he can't swallow anymore, at which point he starts shoving them down his throat with a toilet brush. Another man wants fries so badly he shoves his hands and then his face into a fryer where the fries are still cooking. Even Castiel, an angel who doesn't feel hunger, is compelled by Famine's presence to devour raw meat off the floor. Eventually Famine itself is defeated the same way: When he fails to tempt Sam with the blood of several demons, Famine eats the demons himself. Sam then exorcises the demons, ripping them right out of Famine's guts.
  • Death Faked for You: Dean and Sam after their run-ins with multiple law enforcement personnel. Most notably in Season 4 and in the Season 7 episode "Slash Fiction."
  • Death Is Cheap: Played straight. Sam and Dean have died multiple times. Castiel died six times. One episode even had Sam and Dean killed by a couple of mooks trying to prevent the Apocalypse; Dean even tells them he will be back and he will be pissed when he comes back. Even if you're functionally dead, it won't stop you from turning up as a ghost or in the afterlife, which is how Bobby manages to come back in Season 8, 10, and 15 despite having died in Season 7.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
    • Averted in "Mystery Spot," as none of Dean's on-screen deaths are dramatic/demonic-related. Especially his final death, where he gets shot by a mugger. No going out in a blaze of glory, it could have been easily prevented and nothing heroic about it whatsoever.
    • Played straight with many other deaths, most notably those of Jo and Ellen and Bobby Singer.
    • Subverted in the series' finale Dean's actual cause of death is very mundane, being shoved onto a piece of rebar while fighting off vampires, but he still spends seven minutes giving a Final Speech to Sam where he admits his fears from the pilot episode that Sam wouldn't want anything to do with him after he left for Stanford.
  • Death Is the Only Option: At the end of Season 5, Sam allows himself to be possessed by Lucifer, then jumps into Lucifer's cage, trapping both of their souls and killing himself in the process.
  • Death Montage: Courtesy of the "Groundhog Day" Loop episode "Mystery Spot", where we're presented to Dean dying several times in succession of increasingly zany and absurd causes.
  • The Death of Death: In Season 10 Dean kills Death to avoid killing Sam. Two seasons later, Castiel kills Billie, a reaper, who then becomes the next Death.
  • Death of the Old Gods: In one episode two pagan gods are eating humans around the Christmas season and one of them reflects on how Jesus is the big new thing. Also in "Hammer Of The Gods". Vesta in "Rock and a Hard Place" complains that "some hippie from Bethlehem" messed up her thing.
  • A Death in the Limelight: "Abandon All Hope" (Ellen and Jo), "Hammer of the Gods" (Gabriel), "Death's Door" (Bobby)
  • Death Seeker:
    • The brothers, especially in early-mid seasons and especially if the other is already dead:
      • Dean's earliest brush is Season 1 episode "Faith" when he learns that a faith healer saving him caused the death of a young man. After his dad dies for him, he becomes tired of this life, selling his soul to get Sam back when he dies. By Season 5, Dean's even more tired of the life, even willing to be possessed by Michael to stop Lucifer. Then there's Season 13, when he sees Castiel die and presumes his mother is dead, he tries to commit a Heroic Sacrifice.
      • In Season 1, Sam was willing to die killing Azazel/YED, and in Season 2, he wanted to be killed before his destiny could change him. Sam's entire Season 4 arc was suicidal, as was Season 5, which ended with Sam jumping into Hell's solitary confinement to take Lucifer with him.
      • Castiel, once he rebels against Heaven, is regularly seen sacrificing himself for the Winchesters or being willing to sacrifice himself for them. He dies and is resurrected at the end of Seasons 4 and 5 and dies again early in Season 7, only to be resurrected. After that, he comes to see his resurrections as a punishment, with God expecting him to atone for his many mistakes.
  • Deathless and Debauched: Although most angels are cold, inhuman, uptight and ruthlessly obedient rule-sticklers, angels whom have turned their backs on Heaven tend to be more loosened-up. Examples which take it up to hedonistic levels include the party-loving Balthazar, and the Hugh Heffner-like Gabriel (justified in the latter's case by him posing as a Trickster, who are naturally sweet-toothed and hedonistic).
  • Debate and Switch:
    • Frequently, usually in the form of whether to let someone who is doing bad things against their will (e.g., a werewolf) go, or kill them. The person usually dies or makes some sort of Heroic Sacrifice by the episode's end.
    • Not quite lampshaded, but somewhat self-consciously averted in Season 8's "Bitten." The brothers briefly discuss whether the 'noble' werewolves can be left alone, decide in favor, and then sit quietly for a moment as if waiting for the last body to turn up.
  • Deconstruction: The entire sixth season episode "Live Free or Twi-hard" is a deconstruction/parody of Twilight. It has vampires pretending to be harmless Edward expies because it's so easy to lure Twilight fan-girls into a trap. Also, one recently-turned guy is shown sneaking into his girlfriend's bedroom at night to watch her sleep. Unlike the similar occurrence in Twilight, this scene doesn't come across as romantic. At all.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • While demonic possession features heavily, particularly in later seasons, only Sam has ever been possessed the once. This is explained through the use of protective charms and, later, through magical protective tattoos.
      Henrickson: Smart. How long have you had those [tattoos of magical possession protection]?
      Sam: Not long enough.
    • Season 4 introduces the concept of angelic possession, as seeing the true form of an angel can burn out your eyes. Unlike demons, angels require consent, but as Michael and Lucifer both demonstrate, it's entirely possible to coerce a "yes" through torture.
    • Season 6 also introduces ghosts possessing inanimate objects, or dolls to be more specific, and it happens again in Season 11's "Plush" episode, with the ghost possessing several children's entertainment costumes.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils:
    • Season 8 introduces the Knights of Hell, the first-fallen demons handpicked by Lucifer, with Abaddon, who displays abilities not used by any other demon, and can only be killed by an Archangel (who are all conveniently either dead or locked in Hell).
      • Season 9 introduces the Biblical Cain, a Knight of Hell himself who slaughtered the rest besides Abaddon when the latter killed his wife in order to get him out of retirement. He's further empowered by the Mark of Cain, which is the only thing that can kill a Knight of Hell, and passes it on to Dean so he can kill Abaddon.
      • In Season 9 Dean himself becomes a Knight of Hell himself after the Mark of Cain resurrects him as a demon.
    • Crowley is the self-proclaimed 'King of Hell' and currently rules over all of the tortured souls there. So, after Lucifer was locked in the Cage, Crowley is the top of the demon totem pole. Before that, he was the 'King of the Crossroads,' in charge of all Devil Deals.
      • Toward the end of Season 10, he shows exactly WHY the other demons are so willing to submit to him. Sam, as per a deal with Rowena attempts to kill Crowley using a combination of a Devil's Trap bullet, and special hex bag. At first, it seems to work... until Crowley taps into the full extent of his demonic power, shrugging off the effect of the bag and ripping out the bullet with seemingly little effort (something even Abaddon struggled to do). He then proceeds to hand Sam his ass before leaving, letting the younger Winchester know that the only reason he is still alive is because he allowed it.
    • Season 12 further gives us the Princes of Hell, of which Azazel was one, denoted by their yellow eyes.
  • Demon of Human Origin:
    • This is how demons are created on the show — essentially anyone who goes to Hell will eventually end up with a job there, as their humanity is stripped away and they become a demon. This means that demons are essentially a type of ghost — for instance, burning the bones of either a demon or ghost's mortal remains will destroy them for good. The quality of the position is directly based on how tough the person in question is; Hell is an Asskicking Equals Authority place, and the only person with a guaranteed spot, Satan, is both out of circulation and an archangel, meaning he outranks the rest of them so totally he could probably ash the whole place alone.
    • Between Seasons 3 and 4, Dean takes a job and spends ten years torturing souls in Hell. He doesn't get to leave and it scars him for life. He gets yanked out before he could get proper job security/transformation. At the end of Season 9, he dies and because he was carrying the Mark of Cain, he is cursed to be resurrected as a demon.
  • Demon Slaying: In the early seasons, the brothers have no known way of killing demons and can only exorcise them. In Season 3, Ruby gives them a demon-killing knife, Season 4 Sam develops demon-killing psychic powers, and by Season 6 everyone has angel blades that can kill just about any run-of-the-mill demon.
  • Den of Iniquity: Dean takes Castiel to a strip club in one episode, but Castiel ends up reading the stripper's mind and tries to assure her that her father leaving her was not her fault.
    Castiel: This is a den of iniquity. I should not be here.
    Dean: Dude, you full-on rebelled against Heaven. Iniquity is one of the perks.
  • Depending on the Writer: It's safe to say that with a show this long, the characters' personalities, relationships, and competency can wildly pivot between episodes. Most notable are how serious or unserious Sam and Dean are in a given situation, the worldbuilding lore, if Castiel's social awkwardness is due to him being an angel or just how he himself is, and exactly how sympathetic John Winchester was supposed to be.
  • Depopulation Bomb: Towards the end of the final season, Chuck deletes every human (and human soul) on Earth except the Winchesters and Jack, and their little dog too.
  • Depraved Bisexual / Depraved Homosexual:
    • Crowley, the King of Hell, is noted for a consistent attraction to men and is also a manipulative, cruel, dog-kicking bastard.
    • There's also Jeffrey from Season 7, Episode 15, "Repo Man", who is revealed to be an Ax-Crazy serial killer attempting to re-summon the sadistic (male) demon he describes as "the love of his life" and dances romantically with. In both his and Crowley's cases it's unclear if the moments where they are shown courting women are meant to be acts.
    • Lucifer after Season 5 makes disturbing sexual remarks to just about everyone, but especially towards Sam.
  • Depth of Field: The shallow depth of field in most close shots works against them with the advent of HD; seeing Dean's stubble or Bobby's whiskers slip in and out of focus through the course of a scene as the cameraman fails to hold it just right is a common occurrence.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Dean crosses it when Sam dies at the end of Season 2, and doesn't really manage to find his way back for several seasons. He crosses it against at the end of Season 12, when he sees Castiel die, presumed Mary was murdered by Lucifer in the Apocalypse World, and cannot get a response from Chuck to fix things. Castiel returning a few episodes in helps him deal with this.
    • Sam crosses it at the end of Season 3 when Dean is brutally killed in front of him and he fails to find a way to free him from Hell. Were it not for Ruby's intervention, he likely would have killed himself.
  • Destroyer Deity:
    • There are many grim reapers who take souls. However, Death himself is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and says that it's his job to reap God himself. Though it might not necessarily be him personally, since it turns out that being Death is a God Job and he gets replaced by one of his Reapers, Billie, after Dean kills Death first.
    • A more literal example is The Darkness, aka God's "sister" Amara. They're both primordial entities, but she embodies Chaos and Destruction and tries to unmake reality by killing God.
  • Devil, but No God: Basically assumed true until Season 4, where angels of the Lord started showing up. God is confirmed to exist in Season 5, but he refuses to do anything.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Dean attempts to steal Death's ring from him, but gets caught. Death sits him down, offers him pizza and then tells him how annoyed he is that although he is infinite, eternal and will eventually reap the entire universe, he is stuck being tagged to one tiny little planet with one puny little being (a.k.a Lucifer). ... upon hearing this, Dean has a little trouble swallowing his pizza. Death does this a second and a third time when the Winchesters (mostly Dean) encounter him, as he has quite a fondness for fast food.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • Winchesters! Stop pissing off insanely powerful creatures who already do not like you! Azazel, Lucifer, Crowley — take your pick; the Winchesters have insulted or enraged every supernatural Big Bad that roams the earth.
    • "Castiel. Did you just Molotov my brother...with holy fire?" "Uhh...no."
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Sam and Dean actually manage this once or twice. Although as often as not, their attempts will end up in Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?:
    • Lucifer manages to trap Death into his servitude. Death, who is very annoyed that he's being leashed by a petulant child with daddy issues (...yes, that is how Death perceives the Devil), proves that it's not a good idea to piss off an eternal and infinite force of nature by actually helping the Winchesters imprison him again.
    • The Winchesters attempt it themselves in Season 7's first episode in a last-ditch effort to stop the newly god-like Castiel. Death warns them that it won't end well for them, but he doesn't follow through on his threat after Castiel unbinds his restraints because the "mutated angel" is a bigger concern for him.
  • Dimensional Traveler: The half-human offspring of an Archangel can open doorways to alternate universes. The first time, this happened unwittingly when Lucifer's son wasn't even born yet, but his mere presence tore a hole in the fabric of reality to a realm where the Apocalypse was never stopped.
  • Dirty Business:
    • The first season finale has the first instance of the Winchesters being able to kill a demon... if they're willing to ice the innocent, possessed human too.
    Dean: Killing that guy, killing Meg—I didn't hesitate, I didn't even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I'm willing to do or kill, it scares me sometimes.
    • In Seasons 4 and 5, every time Sam drinks demon blood to fuel his powers, he looks at it this way.
  • Disabled Snarker:
    • Pamela, after she loses her vision (although she was plenty snarky before that, as well).
    • In Season 5, Bobby, but only temporarily.
  • Disappeared Dad: A major theme throughout the show.
    • In the "Pilot" Dean shows up at Stanford because John has disappeared and he wants Sam's help in searching for him. They spend the first season looking for him.
    • The angels themselves are all reeling from the absence of their father, God, and not coping well. In Season 5, Castiel searches for God and is eventually devastated to learn God is well aware of the ongoing Apocalypse and doesn't care. This is paralleled and Played for Laughs in the episode "Free to Be You and Me" when Castiel alienates a prostitute by reading her mind and trying to console her about the father who abandoned her.
    • A lot of John Winchester's issues apparently stem from the disappearance of his own father, Henry. Henry time-traveled to 2013 to escape Abaddon, unwittingly bringing her over with him, and died at her hands.
    • Pre-teen Claire Novak is happy to see Jimmy after a year's absence in the "Rapture" but circumstances force him to abandoned her again for her own safety and then permanently to spare her from becoming Castiel's vessel. When Castiel reconnects with the teenage Claire Novak, she is traumatized by losing her father and then her mother.
  • Disc-One Final Boss:
    • While at the time of Season 2, Azazel was a very major threat, but ultimately made way for Lilith and Lucifer himself.
    • In Season 6, Crowley appears to be this to Eve, the Mother of All. Except, in actuality, she was the this to him. In the season finale, it turns out that they were both this to Castiel, of all people.
  • Disney Death: The Season 5 finale, BIG TIME. First, Castiel and Bobby die abruptly and shockingly. And then Sam, one of the two main characters, apparently dies too in what appears to be a chilling "Everybody Dies" Ending. By the end of the episode, however, God brings Castiel back, Castiel resurrects Bobby and then, right before the credits, we see Sam is back too.
  • Disposable Woman: Played painfully straight with Jess, who has very few defining characteristics besides being someone Sam loved, but subverted for Mary, as it's revealed John was actually the Disposable Man that motivated her to make a deal with Azazel to save him, and she was the reason why Azazel visited Sam at all. Azazel even says that if she hadn't walked in, she would have lived, and then in Season 11 she's resurrected.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • "Don't objectify me!" cries Dean to Bela, after she proposes they have angry sex.
    • Deliberately invoked by Meg when she kisses Cas in Season 6 in order to steal his angel blade to go after the Hellhounds she needed to kill. Even Meg is surprised by how well it worked though, considering it's Cas.
  • Distressed Dude: So they might be big, tough men, but they've got nabbed enough times for this trope to apply. Sam is more often the one in peril, but when Dean is captured, he is usually captured for longer. Trying to list them all would easily mark a good chunk of the entire show, but it's never a good idea to kidnap either of the Winchesters while the other is still kicking...
  • Divine–Infernal Family:
  • Does She Have A Sister:
    • In "Tall Tales," Sam recounts how the past days went by to Bobby. When talking about the past night, he plays up his brother Dean's drunken sluttiness; Dean, well-intoxicated, is all over a random girl he picked up in the bar and uses the inversion when he proudly declares to Sam that the girl has a sister and gives his own brother an obvious wink in case he didn't catch on yet. Sam isn't interested.
    • In "Various & Sundry Villains", Dean is under a love spell and tells Sam he's met his soulmate, and that she's got a sister.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The Monster of the Week in "Something Wicked" was played like a pedophile.
    • The male vampire in "Fresh Blood" is portrayed like a date-rape sexual predator.
    • Boris, the vampire in "Live Free or Twi-Hard," is presented like a drug pusher who exploits the glamorous modern views of modern vampire literature to have pretty boy vamps seduce impressionable girls, get them addicted to blood and essentially force them into prostitution to seduce the next batch of pretty boys to the cause.
  • The Dog Is an Alien: There are Skinwalkers who can take the form of a dog. One of them becomes attached to the family he lives with.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Several lines throughout the series imply that the angels and Heaven can be rationally explained through quantum physics and higher mathematics.
  • Doppelgänger: Naturally, in any episode with shapeshifters, Leviathans, Alternate Universes, or any supernatural entity that can copy appearances.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Death embodies this trope, and everyone knows it. Dean, who has at one point threatened to hunt freaking God down like he hunts down everything else immediately shuts up in Death's presence. When they mess things up in Season 6 and the Leviathans get out of Purgatory, Death tells Dean what he needs to do to put them back in and Dean snarks for the first time in Death's presence. Death immediately turns around and says "Figure it out." Dean shrinks down and obeys.
  • Don't Fear The Reaper:
    • Tessa, one of the Reapers. Admittedly, some of the other Reapers we see range from creepy to outright scary, but Tessa appears to spirits as a gorgeous/hot, compassionate and genuinely sweet servant of Death, and Sam and Dean even willingly save her from a grisly fate in Season 4. Though during her role there, she's a bit more snippy than in her first appearance, mostly dismissing the bros when they try to help a dead young boy who has yet to pass on. The reason being, for the latter, was that she was supposed to take Dean until he was brought back to life by Azazel thanks to his dad making a deal.
    • Death himself, the boss of the Reapers, also appears. Death is a Cosmic Entity who is as old as the universe and about the same age as God (or older; neither he nor God can remember). He runs on Blue-and-Orange Morality and has seen the death of entire galaxies and will eventually reap God! Hence, he is extremely pissed off that he is bound to one tiny planet circling around a barely newborn sun in a young galaxy that usually wouldn't even be a blip on his radar, due to "a spoilt brat having a tantrum" (a.k.a Lucifer). Dean has a little problem swallowing his pizza after being told this. Just a gentle reminder that, no matter how much of an Eldritch Abomination Lucifer may seem, there is Always a Bigger Fish. A much bigger fish. This Death is also given a very human trait, one he shares with Dean: he really likes cheap but tasty food such as pizza, bacon dogs and fried pickles.
    • In a later episode, Dean wants Death's help to restore Sam's soul and Death gives him a test where Dean has to do Death's duties for a day. Dean fails the test but attempts to fix his mistake as much as he can. Death is impressed that Dean was able to understand how serious and important Death's job actually is and gives Sam his soul back.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Lucifer begs Gabriel, his beloved younger brother, not to stand against him, and says this trope nearly word for word. Gabriel retorts that "No one makes us do anything," a criticism of Lucifer's tendency to blame others for his own actions, and attacks him. It doesn't work out well for Gabriel.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi:
    • The show has this as a recurring issue, and the only time it is averted or even remotely acknowledged is in Season 4, probably by Author's Saving Throw, when Sam is implied to have had sex with the demon Ruby, but it has been established that demons possess the bodies of living people, so Sam would be a rapist. Fan backlash was immediate and soon a flashback scene was written showing that Sam refused to have sex with Ruby until she explained that her body had just flat-lined in the hospital when she took it over and there was nobody else in it...which of course has Unfortunate Implications in itself. If the body is technically dead, and Sam has sex with it, doesn't that mean...note 
    • In the episode "The French Mistake" where Sam and Dean get sent to the real world and it is implied that Sam gets intimate with his actor's wife. The Reality Subtext makes this merely amusing, but purely from an in-story perspective, Sam is a rapist.
    • The episodes "Wishful Thinking" and "Trial and Error" both have a man making a woman fall in love with him with magic (a magic coin and a Deal with the Devil). In both cases, the word "rape" isn't mentioned, and the situation's only treated as "How did this guy end up with that girl?".
    • The episode "Season 7, Time for a Wedding!" has a gender-flipped version of the same situation, with Becky basically drugging Sam into falling in love with her. When it starts to wear off on him, she knocks him out, takes his pants off, and ties him to the bed (but insists that she didn't "consummate" their "marriage" yet). It's Played for Laughs and also used to show how much of a loser Becky is... in the exact same season where it is repeatedly implied that he was raped by Lucifer in Hell and is slowly going insane from the memory of it. This show has issues.
    • Castiel's and Meg's attraction spread out over seasons six through eight comes without any mention of the fact that Castiel is possessing Jimmy Novak (who is at this point dead, though this was not clarified for many seasons and, even then, runs into the same I Love the Dead issue as above). Nor is it ever brought up that Meg is possessing someone, even to give the justification played with Ruby.
    • In "I'm No Angel," a Reaper possesses a girl named April and seduces newly human Castiel into having sex with her after providing him with food and shelter. Aside from the issue with dubious consent that is brushed aside for Cas, there are serious implications that April was raped against her will under possession. Yet the brothers show no concern or alarm over the matter aside from high-fiving Cas for losing his virginity. This matter is worsened in where Dean and Cas discuss how "hot" April was, disregarding the fact that she was raped, had stabbed Cas and was murdered by the brothers.
  • Downer Ending: Has its own page.
  • Draconic Humanoid: A bizarre example: there are actual dragons who have no draconic physical features at all. They look and act identical to humans (it's stated that they're shapeshifters, and we never see them in their full dragon forms). Their behaviour, however, is rather draconic, such as kidnapping virgins and possessing fire-based powers.
  • The Dragon:
    • Meg for Azazel and then Lucifer. Though she outlives them both.
    • Ruby and Alastair for Lilith.
    • Lilith and Azazel to Lucifer.
  • Dramatic Irony: After finding out what Castiel has done, Dean tells him he should have come to them. As revealed in the flashback in "The Man Who Would Be King," Castiel wanted to, but didn't because Dean was so happy living with Lisa and Ben and he didn't want to ruin that. But it was ruined anyway, thanks to him bringing Sam back to life (but without his soul).
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: In the Season 4 finale, Sam sits on the floor and stares on in horror after he realized that, by killing Lilith, he set Lucifer free. Ruby monologues until Dean bursts in and they kill Ruby together.
  • The Dreaded: "Picasso with a Razor" Alastair and Abaddon Knight Of Hell.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Sam, for the first two seasons. He later believes this is the case in Season 11, when he believes God is sending him visions, telling him to speak to Lucifer in the Cage. They're not.
  • Dream Sue: In "Tall Tales" (which is The Rashomon), Dean retells an evening in a bar to Bobby as if he is a romantic Dream Sue, with hints of being a perfect hunter as well. The entire setting is glamorized, and a girl just completely swoons over him and showers him with praise, while he insists that he has to do his "duty" of interviewing her because lives are at stake. Sam, by contrast, is turned into a whiny jerk who simply wants to interrupt Dean and his lover, eventually just descending into whining "Blah, Blah, Blah."
  • Dream Walker:
    • Angels can enter dreams to speak with the dreamer and deliver messages if they need to. This is sometimes the only way angels can communicate with Sam and Dean who are often warded against (via hex bags) or physically marked against (via writing etched onto their ribs by Castiel) angels finding them personally.
    • Azazel is also shown to be able to communicate with people this way, though he can sometimes also influence the dream.
    • Sam and Dean have to do this when Bobby and later Charlie are trapped in nightmares.
    • In Season 13, they meet Kaia, a literal Dreamwalker.
  • Dream Weaver: "Dream a Little Dream of Me" has a substance that allows one to do this.
  • Dress-Up Episode: Quite a few, given the number of different officials Sam and Dean end up posing as. In "Frontierland" they dress up as cowboys, and in "Time After Time After Time" Dean dresses up in a 1940s suit. In "Just My Imagination" they pretend to be child counsellors, putting on knitted vests over dress shirts. Dean calls it the "Bert and Ernie pretext". However, they mostly go for the federal agent disguise, though special mention goes to "The One You've Been Waiting For" as it's one of the few times where they actually fight in the suits.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Although Dean is frequently a case of Not Afraid to Die, there are only a few circumstances where he deliberately tries to off himself:
      • "Croatoan", he stays with Sam despite the fact that Sam is infected with the Crotoan virus and will kill him.
      • "What Is And Never Should Be" where he stabs himself on the off-chance it wakes him up from the djinn's Lotus-Eater Machine world.
      • "Point of No Return" when he writes what amounts to a suicide note and prepares to say yes to Michael.
      • Twice in Season 11! In "Red Meat" when he believes Sam is dead and kills himself to speak to a reaper and trade his life, and not even three episodes later, "Don't Call Me Shurley", Sam has succumbed to another Crotoan-esque situation and Dean tries to die with him, only to find out he's completely immune to the effect because of his connection to Amara.
      • "The Big Empty", he recklessly kills himself to enter the Veil and find out where the ghosts are buried, but when Billie shows up, he only asks for her to let the ghosts rest, after which she points out he could have asked to return to life.
    • Sam is just as suicidal as Dean is, though he doesn't manage to go through with it as often:
      • In "Playthings", he ''begs'' Dean to kill him if he ever turns dark.
      • Two seasons later, while escaping the panic room in "When The Levee Breaks" Bobby stops him at gunpoint, and Sam reacts by grabbing the rifle at pointing the muzzle at his heart, telling Bobby to shoot.
      • In the ensuing finale, Sam doesn't believe he will — or want to — survive killing Lilith.
      • In Season 5, upon being told he's Lucifer's vessel, Sam says he'll kill himself first, to which Lucifer nonchalantly says he'll just resurrect Sam, which carries over to the hallucinated version of Lucifer, who suggests Sam kill himself three times.
    • Let's not forget the Suicide Bear in "Wishful Thinking."
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Dean will frequently take his eyes off the road to look at Sam during conversations in the Impala, with zero repercussions in the entire show. It's Lampshaded in Season 11 "Baby", after Sam tries to take the wheel while Dean eats a burrito wrap and Dean bats his hand away.
    Sam: You're not even looking at the road!
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • The standard Winchester coping mechanism. Especially Dean. This seems to be a common thing among hunters in general.
    • Castiel engages in this in "99 Problems," though it's tough for him due to his angelic constitution:
      Castiel: I found a liquor store.
      Sam: ...and?
      Castiel: And I drank it!
      [later, Dean asks where he's been and he replies, "On a bender."]
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: At the end of Season 6 and the beginning of Season 7, this has happened to Castiel after he absorbed all the souls in Purgatory to gain the power to prevent Archangel Raphael from restarting the Apocalypse. After proclaiming himself a new god, he threatens his friends' lives, goes out for some Disproportionate Revenge and then accidentally releases unkillable monsters on the world.
  • Dumb Struck:
    • In Season 1's "Dead in the Water", the boy Lucas stops talking after witnessing the death of his father. Dean sympathizes with him and it's implied (and confirmed in the novelization of John's journal, if one considers it canon) the same thing happened to him after Mary's death in the pilot episode.
    • In Season 13, Dean is rendered mute again after seeing Sam killed by vampires and his body unrecoverable, to the point that he can't even speak to Mary when they reunite for the first time since the end of Season 12.
  • The Dutiful Son:
    • Dean obeys his father without question and berates Sam for questioning his orders, as revealed by the shifter in "Skin", Dean does resent Sam for getting to leave and John for disappearing on him despite being the good son. His Character Development in the first season causes Dean to begin questioning John, though.
    • Michael continues to follow his absent father God's orders millennia after God suddenly abandoned his sons and is determined to murder Lucifer not because of his plan to Kill All Humans, but because he thinks it's what God would have wanted. Dean's relationship with John and Sam mirrors the relationship between Michael, Lucifer and God. As it is in Heaven, so it shall be on Earth and all that.
  • Dying Curse: In "Death Takes A Holiday," the boys talk Pamela into helping them into the spirit realm, despite her objections that it is a stupidly dangerous endeavor. Sure enough, she gets hurt protecting their comatose bodies. As she dies, Pamela tells the Winchester boys to curse Bobby for introducing her to them.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Two notable ones at the tail-end of Season 15:

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