When I wrote my first 10 favorite episodes of Supernatural list, the show was in its 7th season. A lot more has happened since then, and I felt it only fair to make another list. While there’s a lot of great stuff I had to leave off that list, I’m limiting this to the last 5 seasons.
Oh, and I’m still kind of mad at the show after what they pulled in the latest episode. Much love to Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Ruth Connell, Mark Pellegrino, Samantha Smith, and Courtney Ford.
10. Book of the Damned (10×18)
This one is a little subtler than the others on my list. I realize that the episodes that make up my favorites are, for the most part, the episodes that keep a lot of viewers from being bigger fans of the show and pay fan service to the superfans. But I think this episode slips past a lot of people’s radar. It’s not particularly funny or quirky, it’s just really solid. Oh, and MASSIVE POINTS for FINALLY putting a song by the Who in the show (“Behind Blue Eyes”).
Charlie makes her second to last appearance (no, her last episode which leaves her, a gay girl, literally dead in a bathtub, does NOT feature on this list). This is also the only episode in which she interacts with Castiel, and it’s quite possibly the most charming scene ever on the show.
This episode is enjoyable just by being stuffed with magical items and mildly creepy characters, like Styne (Or as I call him, Styne of the Invisible Eyebrows) who was still being introduced. We also get Rowena, who I needed to mention, because she’s so awesome. She doesn’t feature much in this episode, but she was a beacon of light throughout the last couple seasons and fucking delightful.
As is often the case, Sam and Dean have a lot of emotional conflict bubbling beneath the surface, but it’s especially poignant here and given time to air out. They get upset with each other, but that’s not the main thing. For each of them, the brother comes first.
The B-story is a kind of fun, set up like a follow-the-clues game with Cas(s) and Metatron, who are trying to find Castiel’s grace. In the end they do, and after weeks of waiting, his power is restored with a crazy light show and the shadow of his damaged, but intimidating wings.
9. LARP and the Real Girl (8×11)
Yeah, Charlie’s gonna show up a few times on here.
One of the reasons this episode is important is, as much as I love the show, it’s screwed up a few times in relation to how to portrays “nerds,” “fangirls,” and “geek culture.” In the last few seasons they’ve done some serious damage control for some of the broader moments, which sometimes come off as mean-spirited. We, the geeks, have noticed your efforts. And we appreciate it.
The boys are still dragged into the culture while being a little snide, as are the police force, but they get worn down by the good-natured LARPers. Especially when they find out that their queen is Charlie. By the end, they’ve donned full costumes, weaponry, and face paint as they go charging into battle. I’m saying we’ve come a long way since Becky.
This is after Sam and Dean attempt their usual FBI aliases, only to be called out by the LARPers (who think they’re attempting to do a genre mash-up) for not having real badges, and either being banished to the tent set aside for people who need to use the internet or sent to dress the part. And Sam and Dean are willing to follow the guidelines.
I’m not personally much of a LARPer, but this large universe they’ve created with its own politics and rules makes it seem like a lot of fun. And for the most part they’re all in character all the time, which make the little moments when they have to pause, because fake teeth have fallen out or a stray Frisbee comes their way, all the better.
We get a, rare for the show, gay onscreen kiss between Charlie and the damsel-in-distress fairy, who’s forced to kill people while being controlled by the baddie, the deaths are properly gory, and while we don’t get to see the villain’s comeuppance, we can imagine that it was very fitting.
8. Hibbing 911 (10×08)
Why don’t Jody and Donna have a freaking spin-off yet?! We call it Wayward Daughters Academy and they take care of orphans and/or runaways and teach them how to be hunters. This needs to happen. Like, yesterday. In the meantime, they both need to be on Supernatural all the time.
Donna is still fairly new to the SPN universe, appearing in 3 episodes during seasons 9, 10, and 11 (we did not get her last season, and I categorize that as a sin). Meanwhile, Jody has actually appeared in 11 episodes (that’s more than Ellen, Jo, Gabriel, or Death), first popping up back in season 5. The one where her zombie son eats her husband. Her first episode isn’t great, and while she’s a cool character, not especially memorable. Luckily, they decided to bring her character back and evolve her into someone really cool (and kickass), who I’ve grown insanely attached to. And I shipped her and Bobby, so it was extra lame when he died, AND THERE WILL BE RIOTING IN THE STREETS IF THEY HURT MY JODY.
Jody and Donna have little in common, aside from the fact that they’re both sheriffs. So the only natural thing to do was put the two characters in an episode together, and let them play Odd Couple.
Sam and Dean, while fairly featured, take a bit of a backseat. “Hibbing 911” is clearly a showcase for the women. I’m kind of “meh” about the monsters. They aren’t that new or noteworthy, but the way they’re dealt with and how the sheriffs work together is new and noteworthy. And they’re onscreen friendship is made even better by Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster’s off-screen friendship.
7. Slumber Party (9×04)
I get it if you don’t like this episode. To be honest, I’m on the fence as to whether or not I’m totally cool with them taking this whole story line as far as they did, diving into a totally unrelated fandom (aside from a briefly featured witch). But if it all comes down to being entertained and enjoying the episode, this episode belongs here. It originaly aired on October 29th and felt very much like a Halloween treat.
So, yeah. Charlie shows up again. And so does Dorothy. Like, the one from Oz. Though she’s not what you’re expecting. No Judy Garland here. We find out that the Men of Letters bunker, where the Winchesters have been staying, is actually a portal to the fantastical world, and a bunch of L. Frank Baum’s stuff is lying around, and the Winchesters get taken over by the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy and Charlie have to fight them. Does that not sound fun? It does sound fun. And it IS fun. It’s just a very different flavor of fun than the show usually is.
And if the show is usually testosterone fueled, this episode is estrogen fueled. It’s wonderful to see Charlie have a strong woman comrade simply as a friend, and one of the biggest bummers about Charlie’s death is that it probably sealed the possibility of seeing Dorothy in the future (but you could twist my arm into finding a reason to pull Dorothy out of Oz). In the end, I think the writers may have also feared that too much Oz would derail the show.
Ah, well. We’ll always have this episode. And what better way to blend the worlds than for Charlie and Dorothy to step onto the Yellow Brick Road while AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)” blaring.
“Ding dong, bitches.”
6. Hunteri Heroici (8×08)
Again, I get it if this one goes too far for people. Personally, I LOVE it.
The world goes Loony Tunes with real world affects. Throughout the episode we get hearts beating out of chests, walking on thin air before falling, talking cats, exploding candles, falling anvils, portable holes, and more. They really pulled out all the stops.
Castiel is at his most precious in this episode, wanting to hunt with the boys, but not being very good at it. Some of the more memorable points were him sniffing the corpse, his line “I’ll interrogate the cat,” and his exchange with Dean after frightening a victim’s wife (“I was being bad cop.” “You were being bad everything”).
The scene in which Cas(s) is introduced to cartoons is cute, and the scene where he comes clean to Dean is heartbreaking.
There were some really fun effects at the end when we see inside the head of the man creating the madness. First, the world he’s created in his mind is all a cartoon, then it turns to static, then to the colored bars indicating no signal.
I have to retract points for all the stupid flashback to Amelia scenes that went on all season long. They weren’t done particularly well, slowed the action and did nothing to make us care about this character that Sam ditched his brother for. In this episode, we’re also introduced to her awful father, doing no one any favors.
Still, all in all, it’s one of the more entertaining episodes of the last several seasons. It’s funny, clever, and sticks to its guns. They could have done it halfway, and the episode would have fallen apart, but they committed to the concept, and it paid off.
5. Do You Believe in Miracles? (9×23)
I made myself choose between this episode and the finale to season 11, so as not to clutter this up with finales. In some ways I enjoy “Alpha and Omega” more, but this one eventually won out for having the far superior ending.
There’s a lot of really great stuff in this episode. The pacing is excellent, it covers a lot of ground and doesn’t lag. Dean telling Sam “I’m proud of us” as he dies, Crowley’s “let’s go howl at that moon” monologue, and one of my favorite lines from Castiel, given the context, “Wookiee.” Gadreel’s reaction mimics Castiel’s own past confusion. It’s a fun in-joke for fans, but enjoyable for more casual viewers too.
But, man, if you thought you hated Metatron before, this episode resulted in a fury fest. He starts off by masquerading as some hero around the humans, kills Dean (he dies all the time, but this was still a jarring moment), and is about to do the same to Cas(s). Luckily, he gets carted off to heaven, by the angels who arrest him. I loved hating him, but was ready for them to get rid of him after he took things as far as he did in this episode.
On the other hand, Gadreel and Hannah have joined the good guys at this point. Angels trying to subtlety live among humans is always endearing on the show. They aren’t much better than Cas(s).
Of course, none of those bits are what this episode is most remembered for. It’s the ending, the final moment of the season finale, when the dead Dean opens his eyes. And they’ve turned black. He’s not dead anymore. He’s alive, and he’s become a demon. That’s how you tease an upcoming season.
And if you were lucky enough to watch this episode with a group of friends when it first aired…oh my God…so much screaming.
4. Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12×12)
Some people are going. Why? What’s so special about this episode? Those people do not watch Quentin Tarantino movies. This entire episode is riddled with references to Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill.
Expertly directed by Richard Speight Jr., this episode featured coffee shop conversations, slow-mo walks through parking lots, menacing whistling from a villain, a time-hopping narrative, cue cards, and I was in heaven. Even the title calls to mind the notorious Reservoir Dogs scene in which a man gets his ear cut off. Just about every scene in this episode made me squeal and point at my screen, despite the fact that I was watching it alone.
Cas(s) is very much in the Mr. Orange role for much of the episode, slowly bleeding out and unable to provide much help, while his sympathetic friends do a lot of fighting around him. Meanwhile, Mary is scheming and secret keeping, which is frustrating. Aren’t you one of the good guys?! I’m not so sure the writers always think so.
We’re introduced to likeable side-character, Wally, who doesn’t, unfortunately,survive the episode, but I guess someone had to die.
The Colt finally reappears here. I don’t know why, but that always felt like a Tarantino style weapon. Maybe because it’s Western -y? We also saw some long absent yellow-eyed demons, but there wasn’t much follow through on that front. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a return.
It also ends on a great cliffhanger, revealing that Pellegrino-Lucifer is back.
3. Just My Imagination (11×08)
I miss you, Jenny Kline! She’s gonna go work on Jessica Jones, so it’s all good, but she was great on this show.
There aren’t many specific Supernatural episodes that you can say are actually award nominees, but this is an exception. And with good reason.
The premise is simple enough: kids imaginary friends are actually real. And they’re getting killed off. But the execution, if you’ll pardon the expression, is brilliant. And I’m including the execution of the writing as well as the production.
Supernatural has never done imaginary friends before. Which, in retrospect, seems like an obvious thing to cover. But the flavor is very similar to “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie.” And I think I made it pretty clear how obsessed I am with that episode in my last SPN list. I love it a lot.
In “Just My Imagination” we meet Sam’s imaginary friend (of course it was Sam. How wouldn’t it be Sam?), Sully. Sam thinks he’s an intruder before being convinced by Sully revealing information no one else could know. Sully explains that imaginary friends are creatures called Zanna, and they protect kids. Always. Which is really a lovely thought. You just can’t see them unless they let you.
Of course, it all goes south and in an incredibly morbid and hysterically funny scene. Sully takes Sam and Dean to the scene of the first Zanna murder, where a mother is unaware of the paranormal crime scene in her daughter’s room. She inadvertently gets glittery blood all over her face (remember, she can’t see the dead Zanna, but Sam and Dean can), and the reactions by Sam, Dean, and Sully are priceless.
Throughout the episode they meet many Zanna, and they walk a tricky line of making them over-the-top and ridiculous looking, while still keeping them sympathetic. They could have easily become obnoxious, but they never do.
And there’s a flashback with Kid Sam and Kid Dean and we’re, thankfully, still under the reign of Best Kid Dean.
And Richard Speight Jr. directed this episode as well!
2. Don’t Call Me Shurley (11×20)
This episode is essentially an hour of exposition in one setting, and it’s still considered one of the best episodes of the show. The last line, “we should probably talk,” was clearly an echo of the writer’s thoughts when writing this episode.
While Sam and Dean appear in the episode, I found myself, in a rare turn, wanting to cut back to the bar every time, even amidst the rather horrific events and multitude of deaths Sam and Dean were encountering.
Fan favorite Chuck, who many suspected to be God, was MIA since the end of season 5. The amulet storyline was dropped, Metatron was powerless, Cas(s) was possessed by Lucifer, and Amara was about ready to tear the whole world down. And in the 4th to last episode of the season, Supernatural did a record scratch and tossed Chuck back into the mix. And it was revealed that he was, in fact, God. This was a moment fans had been wanting for a long time. And starting to assume they’d never get.
He’s joined by Metatron, who while I spent a good deal of time hating him over the course of the series, I have to admit, was the perfect character to play opposite Chuck in the episode. And Chuck proceeds to answer several long held fan questions, through the guise of Metatron’s questions. Chuck fills in plot holes, confirms theories, and generally explains what’s been going on. What the whole episode builds up to is an argument between Chuck and Metatron. Metatron admits to his mistakes, but also accuses Chuck of cowardly turning away when he was needed. Chuck’s angry with Metatron, but Metatron also gets through to him. The episode ends with the town being revived, courtesy of Chuck and him finding Sam and Dean to help them take on Amara. It’s a brilliant set-up for what was a great season finale, which almost got a spot on the list itself.
As the fandom knows, the actor who plays Chuck, Rob Benedict, is the real life frontman for the band Louden Swain. So the whole episode is tied up with Chuck playing and singing a really gorgeous cover of “Dink’s Song.”
1. Baby (11×04)
I don’t really have much to say about this one. It’s better just to watch it really, and I don’t want to analyze it to death anyway. The Impala has always been the soul of the show, and whatever monster they’re facing, whatever motel they have to stay in, and wherever they have to travel to, Baby means they’re home. Even when they have the bunker to stay in.
Nearly the entire episode takes place from the interior of the car and feels very much like a thank you to the fans. I have nothing against the 200th episode. I liked it, but this felt more in the spirit of the show and packed a proper emotional punch. It’s beautiful and poignant, and for fear of gushing, I’ll leave it at that.
I don’t know how much longer the show’s gonna run for. I’ve been hearing talk of them wrapping up with the 300th episode. Which if my calculations are correct would still give us a full 23 episode season and a short 13 episode season. That’s a lot of episodes. But it’s still sad to think of it ending. That being said, there’s a lot of really good stuff to rewatch in this batch.