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The Best ‘Supernatural’ Episodes in the First 5 Seasons

Carry on, my wayward readers

dean in Supernatural s5 finale

In later years, Supernatural became more of a meme than anything else. Even fans of the show (such as myself) had a few laughs at the ridiculousness of the last few seasons. However, the show had staying power—for 15 seasons—for a reason. And over the decade and a half that it was on the air, Supernatural gave us some excellent episodes. Whether they be heartbreaking, hilarious, or just classic MOTW (monster of the week). We even got canon Destiel (which is part of the heartbreaking category). But rather than go across all 15 seasons and 327 episodes, I’m going to start with the first 5 seasons of the show. Please don’t take this as the only “good” episodes of the show. There are plenty of gems later on—but that’s for a different list.

So put the keys in the ignition and let’s drive, baby, down the highway, together.

Best Supernatural Season 1 Episodes

dean and sam in Supernatural season 1
(The WB)

The introduction of the cute boys (as my mom likes to call them) is definitely something. Season 1 isn’t perfect (and most first seasons seldom are) but it draws you in. The horror is great and it’s quickly established how dysfunctional Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki)’s relationship is. The season is spent on them hunting monsters, grappling with their Winchester family issues, and trying to find their father—who is dead set on killing the demon that killed their mother and Jessica (Adrianne Palicki). It’s one hell of a ride that kicks off the series-long journey ahead.

Best episodes:

  • “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
  • “Wendigo” (Season 1, Episode 2)
  • “Skin” (Season 1, Episode 6)
  • “Scarecrow” (Season 1, Episode 11)
  • “Devil’s Trap” (Season 1, Episode 22)

Best Supernatural Season 2 Episodes

sam & dean in Supernatural season 2
(The WB)

After the batshit events of the season 1 finale, season 2 doesn’t bother holding back. Certainly not with the death of John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Season 2 focuses mainly on yet another desperate hunt for Azazel. Only this time there’s a healthy dosage of folks with psychic abilities (including Sam) that are linked to Azazel. This obsession proves to be disastrous in the end and leads them down a path of self-sacrifice (which gets stale after a while, believe me, but in 2, everything is fresh and emotional!).

Best episodes:

  • “In My Time of Dying” (Season 2, Episode 1)
  • “Bloodlust” (Season 2, Episode 3)
  • “Hunted” (Season 2, Episode 10)
  • “Tall Tales” (Season 2, Episode 15)
  • “Heart” (Season 2, Episode 17)
  • “What Is and What Should Never Be” (Season 2, Episode 20)
  • “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 + 2” (Season 2, Episode 21 + 22)

Best Supernatural Season 3 Episodes

ruby and sam in Supernatural season 3
(The CW)

Demons getting up to no good, badass female characters, and Dean’s impending doom. That’s a basic summary of season 3. After making the poor decision of selling his soul, Dean scrambles for a year to get out of the deal. This season introduced snarky demon Ruby (Katie Cassidy) and crafty thief Bela (Lauren Cohan), who are two of the best characters in the early seasons of the show. Plus, who can forget Lilith being so terrifying? Even though this season suffered due to the writer’s strike of 2007-2008, it did what it needed to do in 16 episodes. And it’s arguably one of the tensest seasons, due to Dean’s impending doom.

Best episodes:

  • “The Magnificent Seven” (Season 3, Episode 1)
  • “Bad Day at Black Rock” (Season 3, Episode 3)
  • “Red Sky at Morning” (Season 3, Episode 6)
  • “Fresh Blood” (Season 3, Episode 7)
  • “A Very Supernatural Christmas” (Season 3, Episode 8)
  • “Malleus Maleficarum” (Season 3, Episode 9)
  • “Mystery Spot” (Season 3, Episode 11)
  • “Jus In Bello” (Season 3, Episode 12)
  • “No Rest for the Wicked” (Season 3, Episode 16)

Best Supernatural Season 4 Episodes

cas first appearance in Supernatural
(The CW)

Without a doubt, season 4 is one of the best seasons of the show. There, I said it! Not only did we get lots of dark moments—like Sam going dark side—we got Ruby (Genevieve Cortese) back, and the introduction Cas (Misha Collins), as well other angels, into the mythology. It was the beginning of the end (Lucifer going topside) for Dean and Sam, as well as the beginning of Destiel as a ship (which has lasted since this season, mind you). The exploration of faith, what it means to be truly broken down, and how destructive addiction (Sam’s demon addiction in this case) is, makes this season deeper than most. And the finale is so intense that I’d love to relive the moment of watching it for the first time.

Best episodes:

  • “Lazarus Rising” (Season 4, Episode 1)
  • “In the Beginning” (Season 4, Episode 3)
  • “Monster Movie” (Season 4, Episode 5)
  • “Heaven and Hell” (Season 4, Episode 10)
  • “Sex and Violence” (Season 4, Episode 14)
  • “On the Head of a Pin” (Season 4, Episode 16)
  • “Jump the Shark” (Season 4, Episode 19)
  • “The Rapture” (Season 4, Episode 20)
  • “When the Levee Breaks” (Season 4, Episode 21)
  • “Lucifer Rising” (Season 4, Episode 22)

Best Supernatural Season 5 Episodes

lucifer in Supernatural season 5
(The CW)

After royally fucking up by getting knee-deep into his demon blood addiction/trusting Ruby, Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) was set free. Leaving Dean and Sam’s relationship so aggressively fractured. Not to mention Cas betraying heaven for them (more like, because Dean requested that of him). With Lucifer on the loose and the biblical apocalypse officially on the menu—Team Free Will is screwed. This is also one of the best seasons of the show, but for different reasons than season 4. It was meant to serve as the end of the series. And as much as it doesn’t end happily, it felt fitting for the series at the time. With the sacrifice on Sam’s part feeling more final (if the show hadn’t carried on) and not some open-ended thing. Regardless, season 5 does feel like the closing of a chapter of the series. Especially since Sera Gamble took over as showrunner in season 6.

Best episodes:

  • “Sympathy for the Devil” (Season 5, Episode 1)
  • “Free to Be You and Me” (Season 5, Episode 3)
  • “The End” (Season 5, Episode 4)
  • “Changing Channels” (Season 5, Episode 8)
  • “Abandon All Hope…” (Season 5, Episode 10)
  • “The Song Remains the Same” (Season 5, Episode 13)
  • “Bloody Valentine” (Season 5, Episode 14)
  • “Dark Side of the Moon” (Season 5, Episode 16)
  • “Hammer of the Gods” (Season 5, Episode 19)
  • “The Devil You Know” (Season 5, Episode 20)
  • “Swan Song” (Season 5, Episode 22)

(featured image: The CW)

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Vanessa Maki is a writer, visual artist & blk feminist. Her work has appeared in Pink Advocate, The Gay Gaze, & many others. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.