Supernatural 101: A Guide to Who’s Who

Welcome to Supernatural 101, where we try to cram seven seasons of mythology from the TV show Supernatural into one easy-to-read guide! Here are some of the people and things you should probably know about before watching.

Hunters: In the Supernatural universe, when people talk about hunting they’re not talking about deer.  Instead, they exorcise demons and chop off the heads of vampires (among other things).  They live a hard life, traveling from place to place for a hunt, and most don’t live into their golden years.  They impersonate police officers and government agents on a daily basis, dig up graves, and probably have an Internet search history more disturbing than the average teenager’s.

Dean Winchester emoting in SupernaturalDean Winchester (Jensen Ackles): A loveable womanizing alcoholic with a lust for pie and classic rock, Dean is the older of the two Winchester brothers. Raised on the road by his father, John (after his mother was killed by a demon), Dean and his brother became hunters.  Fiercely loyal, he believes that family is the most important thing in the world. He idolized his dad and dutifully followed his orders when John was alive; always trying to keep the family together whenever Sam and their father would fight. Dean loves his brother so much that he sold his own soul to bring Sam back to life when he was killed. Dean only got a year to live in the deal and, when his time was up, hellhounds dragged him to Hell. In Hell, Dean was tortured by a demon named Alastair, who promised to stop if Dean started torturing souls in turn. Dean tried to resist, but finally gave in. Little did he know, this broke the first of 66 seals that, when all were broken, would free Lucifer from his cage in Hell and start the apocalypse. Angels laid siege to Hell to save Dean. Castiel was the first to reach him, pulling him out but leaving behind an angelic handprint burned onto Dean’s shoulder. Dean was the intended vessel for the Archangel Michael but Dean refused to let Michael posses him to fight Lucifer in the apocalypse, so the angels found a loophole: they used Dean’s half-brother Adam instead. Dean went to the battleground where Michael and Lucifer, with Sam as his vessel, were fighting and his presence helped Sam gain control long enough to drag Lucifer and Michael into the cage. Dean then spent a year away from hunting, assuming Sam was dead. He tried to start a normal life with Lisa, a woman he’d had a brief relationship with before, and her son Ben. When Sam came back Dean, even though he felt tired and knew the hunter’s life only ends sad and bloody, left Lisa and Ben to go back on the road. Later, when he discovered that Castiel was working with Crowley to open a portal to Purgatory, Dean reluctantly fought against his friend, feeling betrayed. During the final battle against Dick Roman, Dean and Castiel fought alongside each other, Dean killing Dick with Castiel’s help. Unfortunately, when Dick’s soul went to Purgatory, it dragged Dean and Castiel with it

Sam Winchester looking sceptical in SupernaturalSam Winchester (Jared Padalecki): The younger of the Winchester brothers and owner of amazing hair, he is often the voice of morality and the more sensitive of the brothers. On the night he turned six-months-old, Azazel the Yellow-Eyed Demon entered his nursery and bled into his mouth, giving Sam special powers that wouldn’t come into fruition until he was twenty-two. Unfortunately, Sam’s mother walked in and was killed. Sam was raised on the road and learned how to hunt, but he longed for a normal life and often argued with his father. He went away to college to study law, where he met his girlfriend Jess, but she was killed in the same way as his mother, sending Sam on a path for revenge. At the same time, Sam’s abilities started to emerge, giving him prophetic dreams and, later, telekinesis. Azazel kidnapped Sam and placed him in an abandoned town to fight against others like himself. The winner would lead Azazel’s army. Sam got fatally stabbed in the back by one of the others and was returned to life when Dean sold his soul. A demon named Ruby offered Sam power controlling lessons but he was reluctant to accept her help at first. After Dean’s death, however, he agreed. His powers grew and he developed an intimate relationship with Ruby, who got him addicted to demon blood to increase the strength of his powers. Sam used his powers to kill Lilith, thinking that it would avert the apocalypse, when, in fact, it released Lucifer from his cage.  Sam was meant to be Lucifer’s vessel, which had been part of Azazel’s plan all along. He refused at first, but later decided that it was the only way to stop the apocalypse; thinking that he might just be able to take control for the briefest moment and drag Lucifer back into the cage. Lucifer, in Sam’s body, tried to kill Dean and, in that moment, Sam’s love for his brother gave him the strength to open the cage and pull both Lucifer and Michael inside. Sam was tortured during his time in Hell until Castiel pulled him out. Unfortunately, Sam’s soul was left behind in the cage. He violently resisted having his soul returned, knowing that the damage it had suffered could kill him, but Dean had Death put it back with a wall inside Sam’s head to hold off the horrors of Hell. The wall was precarious, almost breaking, but Sam was able to hold on until Castiel destroyed the wall as a diversion. Sam went insane, seeing Lucifer everywhere, but he discovered a coping mechanism by inflicting pain on a wound to remind him of reality. But this eventually stopped working and Sam ended up in a mental institution, saved only by Castiel taking on Sam’s madness for himself in an attempt at righting what he had done wrong.

John Winchester in SupernaturalJohn Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan; younger version played by Matt Cohen): A mechanic and former marine, John had had a normal life until he saw his wife pinned to the ceiling of his son’s nursery and burned in a magical fire that took the house with her. After that, John became obsessed with finding the creature responsible. He brought his two young sons on the road with him and became a hunter. He eventually discovered that his wife had been killed by the demon Azazel, though John only knew him as the Yellow-Eyed Demon. He went looking for Azazel and the weapon he thought might be able to defeat him, the Colt. John and his sons came together to face Azazel but Dean ended up in a coma after an attack and John traded the Colt and his soul to keep Dean alive. John went to Hell, where the demons had hoped he would be the one to break the first seal and start the apocalypse, but he resisted until a devil’s gate was opened by Azazel and John was able to escape from Hell. The last that Sam and Dean saw of him, he turned into a bright ball of light and disappeared into the unknown.

Mary Winchester in SupernaturalMary Winchester (Samantha Smith; younger version played by Amy Gumenick): Raised as a hunter by her parents, Mary always wanted a normal life and thought that the worst thing that could happen would be to have her sons raised as hunters (oops!). In 1973, Azazel killed her parents and forced her to make a deal by killing John. He didn’t ask for her soul, he just wanted to make a visit ten years from then and in exchange he would bring back John, but only John. She agreed and left behind the life of a hunter, getting married and naming her two sons after her late parents, Samuel and Deanna. Ten years later, Azazel came to collect on his deal, visiting Sam in his nursery. Unfortunately, Mary walked in on him and Azazel killed her. She became a fire-covered ghost that haunted their rebuilt house. Sam and Dean returned to the house as adults to fight a poltergeist that had moved in and was terrorizing the new family living there. Mary sacrificed herself to defeat the poltergeist when it tried to kill Sam and Dean, her energy cancelling it out. Whatever happened to her spirit afterwards is unknown.

Bobby Singer in SupernaturalBobby Singer (Jim Beaver): One of John’s old hunter friends, Bobby helped raise Sam and Dean when John was busy with a hunt. He got into hunting when his wife was possessed by a demon and he was forced to stab her to death. He lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was the go-to man when a hunter needed a fake reference from a government agency or help researching anything supernatural. He may have seemed like a grumpy, grizzled guy but he was dedicated to the people he loved, and he considered Sam and Dean his adopted sons. In the fifth season premiere, he was possessed by a demon that tried to stab Dean but he managed to take control long enough to redirect the knife, stabbing himself and becoming paralyzed below the waist. Later, he “leased” his soul to Crowley for the location of the final horseman, Death. Crowley, in an unexpected show of kindness, threw in an extra clause that healed Bobby so he could walk again. When the Leviathans were trying to conquer the world, Bobby uncovered a secret set of coordinates of a building site, but was shot by Dick Roman before he could tell Sam and Dean and ended up in a coma. Inside his head, Bobby tried to find a way to avoid the reaper that had come to claim his soul and to tell Sam and Dean what he had discovered. Gradually, his memories all started to fade as the damage done to his brain by the bullet increased, but he managed to wake up for a brief moment and write most of the numbers on Sam’s hand before succumbing to his wound. But Bobby still refused to go with the reaper, staying behind as a ghost to help Sam and Dean, his spirit connected to his old drinking flask. However, his anger with Dick Roman started to turn him into a vengeful spirit and in the end Sam and Dean burned the flask, releasing Bobby’s soul, but not before he could give them a proper goodbye.

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