Goodbye, Supernatural. And Thank You.
Carry on, my wayward sons
“You changed me.”
Those were some of Castiel’s final words to Dean Winchester, just two weeks ago. And as we await the airing of Supernatural‘s 327th and final episode tonight, I can’t stop thinking about that simple statement. Because it’s how I feel about this little show that could. This weird long-running series about monsters and demons, full of classic rock and muscle cars and homoerotic tension changed me. I feel like Cas, because this show redefined my life. And a bit like Sam and Dean too, because this show was the angel that saved me.
I came to Supernatural after it already had seven seasons under its belt. I binged it in the summer of 2012, loved it, but went into season eight fully prepared for it to be the series’ last. After all, the story was supposed to end with “Swan Song” in season five. But it didn’t end in season five and it didn’t end in season eight either. In fact, Supernatural was less than halfway to the finish line when I became a fan.
But it wasn’t until 2013 in the hiatus between seasons eight and nine that I really fell into the Supernatural fandom, and it really wasn’t until then that the show truly gripped me tight and raised me from perdition. You see, I went through a severe bout of depression in 2013. I left behind a career as a divorce lawyer that was slowly killing me and I retreated to the comfort of home to heal and find my way back to being human. I gardened. I made jam. I went to therapy and sorted out my medication. And I watched Supernatural.
And … I started to feel like me again. I went on Tumblr. I fell completely in love with the passionate fanbase for the show. That summer we were all high on the episode “Goodbye, Stranger” where Dean told Cas “I need you” and the fact that Cas had ended season eight as a human. It was a magical time for Destiel shippers, which I was, and a fandom full of ideas and excitement. Season nine did not end up being the gay love fest we all hoped, but I was in it by that point and that’s what mattered.
It would be seven more years before the Destiel of it all would pay off. And when it did, Cas would speak about how loving Dean showed him how to love the world. In 2013, that’s what this fandom and this show did for me. Because I loved this show so much, I started talking to people again. I felt less alone. I started writing again. I was creating something. I was learning to feel joy and excitement again.
I started thinking about fandom as an idea. I started deeply studying the meta-narratives of the show and the broader implications of our fandom. By 2014 I was writing about fandom and improbably meeting Misha Collins for the first time during an impromptu trip to San Diego Comic-Con. I went from reading fanfic one summer to Hall H the next, by sheer force of fannish will and luck. And I knew if I could do that, I could do anything.
And I did. I started getting paid to write things! About fandom and—gasp!—about Supernatural. I had a new life and purpose because of this show. I’m here, writing on the Mary Sue, because of that show. And it was still there for me. In the roughest days after I had my daughter, I had fanfic to keep me company through sleepless nights. In the dark days after the 2016 election, I was able to go to a con and find hope in the show and my fellow fans.
Yes, there have been bad days too. Fandom is made of people, and there are terrible people everywhere and I certainly saw the worst of the Supernatural family many many times … but that’s not what I’ll really remember. I’ll remember the joy we found. And the love of a thing that inspired us.
But the thing is … I’m not the only person with a story like this. There are thousands of fans out there who this show has touched. With all its flaws and failings, Supernatural is a show that matters to people. It has, in a very literal sense, saved lives, and changed them. And that impact will endure far beyond tonight when the final credits roll.
This is a show that truly helped people, and much of that came thanks to the incredible kindness and heart of this cast. Misha Collin’s Random Acts charity, now overseen by Rachel Miner (Meg) has built orphanages, helped those in need, saves rainforests, and exemplifies the very best of the Supernatural fandom. Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting campaign has raised awareness of mental health and supported suicide prevention. Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins have raised awareness for LGBTQIA+ youth and funded crisis support lines. The list goes on and on. It’s incredible work that won’t end just because the show does.
Television shows come and go. It’s always bittersweet to see a story you’ve watched and loved end. There’s happiness to see the story come to a fitting conclusion, but it’s also a loss to know that part of the adventure is over. But Supernatural is more than just that. It’s a behemoth that’s withstood huge shifts in the world of television. It’s changed as the world has changed but in other ways, remained stubbornly itself. But the thing that matters, about this story of two brothers and angel who took on heaven, hell, and everything in between, is that it gave so many of us hope.
It gave me hope when I was in one of the darkest periods of my life. It gave millions of viewers and fans hope that they too could stand up to evil, even if they were just normal people. With a cool car and your chosen family with you, you could survive. Even with your trauma and scars, you could find love and family. Supernatural told us that we could carry on. And I will always be grateful for that.
So thank you, to Eric Kripke and Andrew Dabb, to Jeremy Carver and Sera Gamble and Bob Singer. Thank you to all of the cast and crew and writers of this show, some of whom I am now so lucky to call my friends. Thank you to the fanfic writers and convention-goers and gif makers and YouTubers and podcasters and tumblrers, and to the amazing fans I have met and the wonderful friends this show has brought into my life.
And, thank you, Supernatural for … my life. I wouldn’t be here without you and yet it is because of you that I’m ready to say goodbye. Because you taught me to be strong, and believe. And because of you, I know that no story ever really ends. They just go on in different ways. What matters isn’t that they ended, what matters is how they changed us. You changed me. And I love you for it.
I will be grateful to be a part of this family forever.
(image: Diyah Pera/The CW)
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