Supernatural likes to
torture stretch its actors. Whether it making Sam soulless or turning Dean into a vampire (or both at once), the show has come up with some creative ways to keep the show fresh.
For the first 3 seasons there were only 2 1/2 characters that they really had to worry about. Which was actually probably difficult to manage. Sure, a character may pop up fairly consistently within a season, but they basically kept the line-up as just Sam and Dean. And Bobby to a much lesser extent (he has technically appeared in every season so far, except for season 12, which we’re only just starting).
They were a lonely little family all to themselves. And then Dean made a demon deal and was dragged to hell. And then his guardian angel pulled him out, and their family gained a member.
9 seasons later and he’s still there. But as was the case with the boys, Castiel has gone through a lot of changes and they’re arguably more defined. So here’s a helpful little guide that follows his progression.
Season 4: The Bad-Ass Angel of the Lord Castiel
In the beginning (how else can you introduce a biblical creature), Castiel was fierce. He was a soldier. He saved Dean, but he wasn’t his friend. He was more like a strict parent. Yes, he was a guardian, but in a My-Way-Or-the-Highway capacity. Castiel was slightly frightening, the way angels often are in the bible.
Castiel was powerful, but did everything by the rules and would become frustrated with Dean when Dean wouldn’t follow them. Castiel also wasn’t supposed to stick around very long. Cas(s) was meant to be a temporary gig, with Misha Collins appearing in only a few episodes.
Then Lazarus Rising aired and that plan was immediately shot to hell. The character had to evolve, have an arc. By the end of the season, Castiel was still tough as nails, but he wasn’t following the rules.
Castiel realized that he sort of liked these humans and began to relate to them, so in the end, he takes Dean’s side and dies for his troubles.
Running Death Count: 1
Season 5: Clueless Castiel (AKA The Best Castiel)
But he doesn’t stay dead for long. He’s presumably (definitely) raised by God. And he’s a little smug about it, though doesn’t understand it. He also doesn’t understand much of anything else.
At this point, Misha had been promoted to series regular, so we saw a lot more of Cas(s) than before. So he just sort of hangs around with Dean, and occasionally Sam, and doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s adorable about it. Pretty much all of Dean’s pop culture references sail way over his head.
Castiel grows a bit of a human aspect. He gets sad, angry, frightened. He undergoes the most change in this season, and the writers still seemed excited at having this character and getting to use him this way.
He gets to have some human experiences while still being all powerful (with the exception of that one episode that takes place in the future, in which he’s human and is presumably killed attacking Croatoans. Add a death). until the end of the season when he loses his powers and is killed by Lucifer and then brought back in the same scene.
Running Death Count: 3
Season 6: The Traitor Castiel
But we do know that he’s a traitor until way at the end of the season. He doesn’t show up right at the beginning of the season either. And when he does show, he seems flustered and impatient, but then he gets really squirrel-y.
See earlier on, Cas(s) burned the demon Crowley’s bones. Except he didn’t. He just made the Winchesters and Bobby think he did. He was actually working with Crowley for most of the season.
There were moments that should have made the audience suspicious. Castiel was sneaking away at every opportunity and even fighting and killing the occasional angel.
When they kill the season’s big bad, Eve, Bobby points out that something isn’t right, and we get an entire episode from Castiel’s perspective.
Castiel needs souls and plans to get them from purgatory. So he makes a demon deal with Crowley to get them. He admits this to the Winchesters and tells them to abandon him so they can save themselves. Which leads to:
Season 6: God Castiel
This doesn’t last long, but it’s noteworthy. Castiel is all jumped-up on soul juice and thinks that he actually is the new God. He takes out scores of angels and punished humans in cruel and humiliating ways, not because he had been told to, because he things he has the right to make these judgments on his own. He just thought they should die. He even threatens Dean.
He finally kills the archangel, Raphael, before Bobby and the Winchesters convince Cas(s) that he has to give up the souls. He can’t contain them all, and demons are coming. They do a spell, and the souls leave Castiel’s vessel, returning to purgatory. Castiel then collapses dead.
Running Death Count: 4
Season 6: Leviathan Castiel
Surprise! Castiel wakes up and his wounds heal, but he begins to spasm and realizes he’s being controlled by Leviathan. He tells Sam, Dean, and Bobby to run, but it’s “too late.” The Leviathan confirm that they’ve killed Cas(s) and they take control of the vessel. And the season ends.
I’m also adding a death for the French Mistake, even though Misha is the one that technically dies.
Running Death Count: 5
Season 7: Leviathan Castiel Continued
Season 7 picks up right where season 8 left off. The Leviathan are burning through Castiel’s vessel quick, so they/he toss(es) Bobby and Dean around a bit, before heading to the river and taking to the water, drowning the Castiel vessel (does this count as a death? We’ll count it as a death).
Running Death Count: 6
Season 7: Amnesia Castiel
And then there’s no Castiel for about the first half of the season. Then Sam ends up in a mental institution. So Dean goes to this house, where there’s supposedly this spiritual guy who can help, and Castiel lives there. He has no memory of who he is, but was found by a woman who nursed him back to health and married him.
Dean tries to remind Cas(s) of who he is. When he does, it doesn’t go so well. Dean takes Cas(s) and Meg 2.0 (cause she is the ONLY other person who will help and just gets repeatedly screwed over for her trouble) to the the hospital where Sam is, but Castiel won’t help, and says he can’t.
Demons show up and Castiel finds he has the power to smite them, breaks into the hospital, finds Sam, and basically takes the crazy, transferring it into himself.
Season 7: Crazy Castiel
Sam and Dean just leave him there (I guess because they’re actually terrible human beings)! And Meg pretends to be a nurse, so she can keep an eye on him. But he’s basically a vegetable at this point.
Meg eventually gets the Winchesters to come back because Castiel is awake. He’s not talking sense, but talking. He wants to watch the bees and play Twister and talk about cat penises, but he’s semi-coherent. Dean’s still mad at Cas(s) for trying to be God, but there are Leviathan to take down.
Castiel goes along with the Winchesters, but feels so guilty about all the deaths he’s already caused that he won’t fight. Unless Dean has, like, a really good pep talk and maybe a forgiveness up his sleeve, which luckily he does. They manage to send the big bad Dick back to purgatory, but get swept along with him. Add it to the Death Count.
Running Death Count: 7
Season 8: Survival Castiel
To be totally honest, I’d have structured this season very differently. As it is, the first several episodes of season 8 employ a lot of Flashbacks. Blech.
But we eventually learn that Castiel left Dean as soon as they arrived in purgatory as Castiel (correctly) assumed all the creatures there would be especially prone to hunt an angel. But Dean and his new vampire friend, Benny, soon find Cas(s) and they hatch an escape plan.
Along the way they have to fight monsters, mostly Leviathan (though I don’t know why. We’re in purgatory there should be all manner of freaks and creeps). This results in Cas(s) going slightly mountain man.
When Dean and Benny escape purgatory, the plan was for Cas(s) to go too, but Cas(s) feels like he needs to do penance for all the angel killing, etc, and won’t let Dean return him to Earth.
Season 8: Mind Controlled Castiel
But Castiel is saved. By the angels. Who feel that the only way he can do penance for all the angel killing he did is by…killing more angels? Well, it’s not that straight forward, but that’s the result.
Half the time, Castiel seems to be himself, the other half, the angels hack his brain and use him to get information through some pretty horrific means. Castiel is eventually brainwashed into killing Dean. Almost.
In that last minute, Dean is able to reach him and, after Castiel pummels Dean into a pulp, Dean’s voice and words are able to wrestle out the conditioning. Castiel heals Dean, and Cas(s) hightails it before he can do anything else.
Castiel has his own turn at being tortured while in heaven, and just when you think that bitch, the brain-washer Naomi, is as bad as it gets, she’s killed by the king of the assholes, Metatron, who takes Castiel’s grace and casts him down to Earth, powerless, along with all the other angels.
Season 9: Human/Fallen Castiel
Otherwise known as “Jared and Jensen put it in their contracts that they weren’t doing shirtless scenes anymore, so Misha never gets to where clothes again, ever; not that we’re complaining” Castiel. Laundromat.
After Castiel falls, he’s essentially homeless, can’t get in contact with the Winchesters, and doesn’t dare try to reach any potentially vengeful angels who fell with him.
This plot mostly involves Cas(s) realizing that being human is a miserable business, but he discovers the joys of food and sex before being murdered, just as the Winchesters show up to rescue him. In other words, life sucks, and then you die.
At this point, Sam is being possessed by another angel. Sam doesn’t even know this. The angel was given permission to use Sam’s body by Dean, since Sam was in a coma. The angel takes control and tells Dean that he’ll restore Castiel to life, but Castiel isn’t allowed to stay at the bunker (the angel is lying about who he is and is worried Castiel will find him out).
So Castiel is revived, taken to the bunker to clean up, Dean tells Cas(s) he can’t stay, and we get the saddest puppy dog look ever seen on the show (and that’s saying something. Between Sam and Cas(s), it’s a wonder Dean ever gets his way).
Running Death Count: 8
Season 9: “Steve”
After being thrown out of the bunker, Castiel gets a job at a gas station, a crush on his boss, and the alias “Steve.”
Dean shows up, asking Cas(s) to help him with a case. Castiel, more than a little annoyed with Dean, tries to brush him off, but eventually helps him stop that week’s monster.
Dean clearly wants to bring Castiel back to the bunker with him, but figures he can’t chance it for Sam’s sake and leaves Castiel to his new life.
Season 9/10: Leader Castiel
Castiel spends much of the second half of season 10 having run-ins with angels who are none too pleased with him. But he also starts gaining followers. By the end of the season, many angels still don’t like or trust him, but he wins the majority of them, swaying them from following Metatron.
In the next season, he and Hannah, another angel, begin searching for angels on Earth, trying to convince them to join Castiel’s side.
Season 10: Bad Dad Castiel
So. There’s this thing whole other thing I didn’t mention. Cas(s)’s body isn’t actually his body. He can’t appear to humans without burning their eyes out, so he needs to get permission from a human to inhabit their body through angelic possession. Cas(s) is in the body of a man named Jimmy Novak. There was an episode that covered that. Jimmy Novak has a daughter, Claire (who was also possessed by Castiel, but only for a few minutes).
I’m not a Claire fan, nor a fan of this whole story line, but a lot of Cas(s)’s role in season 10 has to do with him trying to make right the damage he did to the Novak family, namely the troubled teen and juvenile delinquent that Claire’s become.
Claire pops in and out of the show periodically. When last we saw her, she was staying with Jody Mills (yay!) and Alex. Claire’s not a terribly big fan of Castiel or the Winchesters, but recognizes they were at least trying to set things right.
Season 11: Recovering Castiel
Castiel gets hit with a spell at the end of season 10, he’s then captured and tortured before Sam and Dean find him and take him to the witch/Crowley’s mother, Rowena, who cures him.
He’s then taken to the bunker and confined to bed rest. He discovers Netflix.
Season 11: Cacifer/Lustiel
For the second half of the season, Cas(s) wasn’t really around. It was Lucifer pretending. Actually is was delightfully Misha Collins impersonating Mark Pellegrino playing Lucifer impersonating Cas(s). Until it’s revealed who he really is and he drops the act. And it was fun to watch. For a time.
The problem was that this meant that, while Misha was on regularly, Cas(s) wasn’t really in the show for much of the season. But it was a good season, regardless of who he was playing.
Lucifer vacated the vessel by the end, so the season finale gave us Cas(s) back and it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Season 12 and Beyond
Collins has said in interviews that the Cas(s) we’re going to see in season 12 is going to be a little harsher, frustrated with himself for giving Lucifer the go-ahead to use his vessel and then letting him escape.
It sounds like he’ll be more like he was in season 4. Which could be great because then we might see a return to season 5 Cas(s) (again, best Cas(s)) in season 13. And also like a return of the original blue tie. This stripey business just isn’t working for me.