If you haven’t heard, Supernatural is coming to a close in a little over two weeks. The series finale, titled “Carry On,” will air Thursday, November 19th after a one-hour special called “The Long Road Home” which will celebrate the series’ epic run. But why wait weeks to start remembering just a few of the highest points of the show?
Supernatural will end with 327 episodes in the can, so even picking a top thirty is no easy task. Getting a list down to just 14 was even harder because there are so many great episodes. We were up for the challenge, but to keep this short we kept it to one episode per completed season, so just know that if your favorite isn’t in here, it was probably pretty close. And the book is far from closed on season 15. And I’m just listing these episodes chronologically because, again, ranking feels like choosing a favorite child.
Faith, Season 1, Episode 12
I often talk about how this episode, and the preceding one, “Scarecrow,” are the two hours where Supernatural really becomes the show that fans have loved for over a decade and a half. I’m picking “Faith” however because while “Scarecrow” kicks off the mythology, “Faith” is where we truly see how deep Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) can go as characters. As the brothers face Dean’s imminent death then grapple with his sudden recovery, the episode digs into themes of free will, faith, endurance, and brotherly love that will define the entire series.
All Hell Breaks Loose parts 1 and 2, Season 2, Episodes 21 and 22
Yes. This is cheating. But Season two of Supernatural is nearly a perfect season of television. Seriously, there’s not a single lemon in the whole season and so, we have to pick the emotional and epic two-part conclusion. Sammy dying in Dean’s arms? Dean selling his soul? The guys getting a rare win and killing the demon that killed their mother? It’s all so great and so well done and so emotional, with repercussions that last for a decade.
Mystery Spot, Season 3, Episode 11
This is one of those episodes I put on when I’m feeling stressed. It’s … actually playing right now. For reasons. Supernatural is a brilliant show and has lasted so long because the series has mastered a mix of humor and weirdness with huge emotional punches. “Mystery Spot” is the perfect example of this. This fun take on the time loop trope, where Dean keeps dying in an endless cycle of Tuesdays, is so fun and funny … until it isn’t and we see how bad things get when one brother doesn’t have the other all thanks to Richard Speight Jr’s Trickster. Perfect episode.
Lazarus Rising, Season 4, Episode 1
I don’t think a single episode of the series had a bigger impact on Supernatural than “Lazarus Rising.” The introduction of Misha Collins as Castiel is the reason Supernatural made it 15 seasons. It opened up a whole new world of angels, God, and destiny in a way the show is still paying off. And it’s a great episode to boot, from Dean’s slow crawl out of the grave to Castiel’s unparalleled introduction.
Changing Channels, season 5, episode 8
It’s hard to pick a favorite episode from season five or four because they’re both really excellent, but if there’s an episode that truly stands out for its creativity and fun, it’s “Changing Channels.” The Trickster is back in this one to spoof a myriad of television shows and tropes, and it’s more like seven great episodes of television, all in one hour. And I would propose that it’s thanks to episodes like this that so many shows today feel free to let their freak flag fly.
The French Mistake, Season 6, Episode 15
Am I going too hard on the weird and meta episodes here? Maybe so, but the hours when Supernatural shatters the fourth wall are always their best. And this episode where Sam and Dean visit a world where they’re actors named Jared and Jensen on a show called Supernatural is a level of meta that can’t be matched. How many shows have given you a scene where the “creator” of said show gets mowed down by an angry angel?
The Born Again Identity, Season 7, Episode 17
Now. I’m gonna be honest with you here. One of the things I love about this show is the fandom ships, especially Dean and Castiel’s dynamic. I know Destiel probably won’t ever going to go canon because we can’t have nice things, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the incredible story between the two on-screen. And not only does this episode have Destiel up the wazoo, and Meg the demon, it also has an incredible plot for Sam, showing how he stays a hero even in his darkest moments. It’s a huge acting showcase for Padalecki in a great episode in a not-so-great season and I love it.
LARP and the Real Girl, Season 8, Episode 11
I love a lot of season 8, but I especially love this return of Felicia Day’s Charlie. Seeing the guys loosen up and get their LARP on, and having Charlie be the one who gets to make out with the fairy princess is such a treat. There are so many great episodes in season 8, which I think is underrated, but I love this one in particular because it knows the geek will inherit the earth.
First Born, Season 9, Episode 11
Much like “LARP and the Real Girl,” this episode showcases another strength of Supernatural: amazing guest stars. Over and over the show has thrived thanks to a knack for perfect casting and even if an actor only appears for a few episodes, they make a huge impression in the universe. That’s the case here, with Tim Omundson’s incredible turn as Cain, the father of murder, paired with an incredible fight scene makes this episode a standout.
Fan Fiction, Season 10, Episode 5
There are fandoms and then … there’s the Supernatural fandom. They exemplify some of the best (and sometimes the worst) of what fandoms can do an be. Endlessly devoted, creative, queer, and fearless, the SPN Family is something very special, and this amazing musical 200th episode is a love letter to them and to the long winding road of the show itself.
Baby, Season 11, Episode 4
Again, another episode that goes way outside the box to give loyal fans and even casual viewers something really special. Except this episode says in the box, or at least the car. Filmed entirely in and from the perspective of the Winchesters’ loyal Chevrolet Impala, “Baby” is so creative and ingeniously made and tells a really great story about where the Winchesters’ real home is.
Regarding Dean, Season 12, Episode 11
This episode has some of my favorite things. Humor. Bunnies. Mechanical Bulls. And also Rowena (Ruth Connell). Rowena gets to have some wonderful moments in this episode, but the winner by far is Jensen Ackles’ acting. The scene where Dean is staring into a mirror, slowly losing himself and trying to remember who he is? Some of the best acting on the series and maybe on all of television?
Scoobynatural, Season 13, Episode 16
Crossovers are one thing, a lot a series can do them. But a fully animated crossover with a legendary show that’s been going for decades? That’s amazing. And this episode is also AMAZING. It’s not just an incredible feat as a Supernatural episode, it’s also a great episode of Scooby-Doo! I mean, could any other series do this?
Peace of Mind, Season 14, Episode 15
In some ways, season 14 still feels a bit too fresh to pick a favorite episode, and we could go with the beautiful mourning of Byzantium or the emotional reunion of Lebanon, the 300th episode. But … I’m gonna go with this incredibly fun hour that gives us a rare pairing between Sam and Castiel, and Sam in a cardigan. It also reminds us of why we look to Sam and Dean and ask ourselves in dark moments “what would the Winchesters do?” I ask myself that every day.
There are literally dozens of more episodes I could list off here. That’s how long this show has been going and how long it’s been good. I didn’t even get to mention some of the best moments for Bobby (Jim Beaver), Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and Jack (Alexander Calvert), who are huge parts of the series and have been showcased in amazing episodes all their own. There’s so much that makes Supernatural great we can’t contain it to such a small list.
It’s going to hurt a lot to say goodbye to Sam, Dean, and Castiel, but we get to keep these hundreds of episodes of saving people and hunting things forever.
(image: Cate Cameron/The CW)
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