It’s almost Halloween and Supernatural is about to hit its 200th episode, so now’s the perfect time to look back on this scary and exciting television show’s history. For going on 10 seasons, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have been travelling the United States in their sweet, sweet Chevy Impala saving people, hunting things – the family business. Taking on vampires, demons, shapeshifters, angels, and many more of the monsters that have worked their way into legend, The Winchester Brothers have saved the world again and again.
Creator Eric Kripke and the many writers and directors that have helped to form Supernatural into an exciting and adaptable series have given rise to countless fantastic episodes that keep viewers coming back time and time again. Even through the low points (and those are only a minor portion of the series as a whole), Dean and Sam have remained equal parts bad ass, funny, and charismatic. Just as important, the best Supernatural episodes have been able to create huge laughs, major scares, and a big investment in the fate of the Winchesters.
From hilarious encounters with alternate dimensions to frightening run-ins with the undead, these are the 15 Greatest Episodes of Supernatural!
Supernatural’s time travel episodes are always a guarantee for revelation and added layers to the Winchester mythology. In Season 8’s “As Time Goes By,” the heroes’ family line is further expounded upon as the mythology of The Men of Letters is introduced, giving the show an even larger world. This time, instead of Sam or Dean jumping through time, it’s their long-lost grandfather Henry, who has come into the present to escape the monstrous demon Adaddon. As Henry struggles to understand the future he has jumped into, Sam and Dean work to unravel what happened to The Men of Letters while also battling Abaddon. By the end, the brothers are on a new and more powerful path and now know their full family history.
Best Moment: The fatally-wounded Henry tells his grandsons how proud of them he is before he passes, receiving a hunter’s burial from Dean and Sam.
14. Crossroad Blues (Season 2, Episode 8)
The legend of Robert Johnson intersects with Sam and Dean’s current investigation, as a series of deaths from what turn out to be hellhounds interlink with the mysterious death of the legendary bluesman. Introducing the idea of crossroads demons, who will give a person his or her heart’s desire for their soul and death in 10 years, demon deals would soon become an integral part of Supernatural. The frightening nature of the invisible hellhounds, demonic visions of the damned, and new revelations make “Crossroad Blues” into an incredibly strong and important part of the show’s mythology.
Best Moment: When trying to persuade the crossroads demon to eliminate the deal that is about to kill the man they are trying to save, Dean learns that the reason he was spared from death at the beginning of the season was his father’s own demon deal, which now has his soul in Hell.
After having the law come after them for all their supposed murders and legitimate thefts, the Winchesters are finally captured by FBI Agent Victor Henriken. While the brothers wait in a local jail’s holding cell, their demon enemies seize the chance to storm the location and kill them. What starts out as the culmination to the Winchesters’ outlaw storyline soon turns into a demonic siege, with the brothers and law enforcement using every trick they have to fight back the tide of demons. The huge attack, mounting tension, the introduction of Lilith, and the conclusion of Henriksen’s chase all make this one of Supernatural’s most intense episodes.
Best Moment: The demonic forces finally break in, only to have fallen into the perfect trap: a recording of Sam reciting an exorcism ritual over the PA, dispelling every demon in sight.
12. Monster Movie (Season 4, Episode 5)
Supernatural goes full-on old school with this loving throwback to classic monster movies. Easily one of the show’s most stylized episodes, having the entire show be in black and white helps to make it extremely memorable. With Supernaturaloften having the Winchesters tackle more normalized versions of monsters, it’s fun to see them take on versions straight out of the 1930’s. Undercut with a healthy dose of comedy, “Monster Movie” is all about having fun with the two leads sent into a throwback scenario and the bewilderment of The Mummy, Dracula, The Wolfman, and more all terrorizing an Oktoberfest. Throw in the mystery of how all this is happening and you get a classic one-off episode.
Best Moment: Sam confronts the man he believes to be the shapeshifter behind it all, finding him dramatically playing organ music in silhouette. But he’s wrong, he’s a just a dude that loves to play the Cassio.
11. Bloodlust (Season 2, Episode 3)
With their father John’s death still weighing heavily on them, the Winchester brothers are falling apart at the seams. A series of brutal killings leads them to the discovery of a nest of vampires and the hunter Gordon, whose violent tendencies appeal to the rage-filled Dean. While vampires had already been introduced in the show, the episode’s revelation that these supposed monsters can be far more complex gels fantastically with Dean’s turmoil in the wake of his father’s death while Same desperately tries to bring his brother to reason. The final confrontation with Gordon over the lives of innocent vampires puts the brothers back on track and on the road.
Best Moment: Leaving a beaten and bloodied Gordon behind, Dean admits that Sam was right and momentarily reflects on the far less black-and-white world they are now in. A moment of peace and quiet undercut with sadness.
10. The French Mistake (Season 6, Episode 15)
The only episode from the Sarah Gamble-headed era of Supernatural to make the list, “The French Mistake” is the show at its most divinely meta. When Sam and Dean are attacked by the vengeful angel Raphael, the angel Balthazar protects them by throwing them into an alternate dimension. The dimension? One where Supernaturalis a TV show and the heroes are portrayed by actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Given the premise, the show runs wild with the concept, poking fun at itself and the actors, with Castiel actor Misha Collins especially having fun being a more extreme and goofy version of himself. Putting the characters of Sam and Dean in the midst of the situation makes this into fantastic self-parody.
Best Moment: Dean comments on the craziness of their new world, especially the names of the actors. “The name’s Misha. Misha? Misha, Jensen? What’s up the names around here?”
9. No Rest for the Wicked (Season 3, Episode 16)
While Season 3 was the shortest of all Supernatural seasons, it actually had a particularly stronger story arc, perhaps because it featured far fewer non-essential episodes. With time almost up on Dean’s deal with a crossroads demon, the brothers take drastic steps to kill Lilith and prevent Dean’s death by hellhounds. Like most season finales of the show, no one is safe and everything is at stake. Fighting demons and taking on Lilith in the body of an innocent little girl, the Winchesters fight with everything they have. Having Dean and Sam both take on a massive story arc and change in their perception of Dean’s impending doom fill the episode with tension and, inevitably, tragedy.
Best Moment: Dean is ripped apart by hellhounds in front of a helpless Sam’s eyes. Cradling his brother’s lifeless body, we are shown Dean’s soul – hanging from hooks in the vast blackness of Hell. One of the show’s best cliffhangers ever.
8. Mystery Spot (Season 3, Episode 11)
Like a darker take on Groundhog Day, Sam finds himself reliving the same day again and again, with Dean inevitably dying each time as the stars investigate a man who disappeared at a small town’s “Mystery Spot.” From angry store owners to speeding cars to angry dogs, Dean dies in surprising, gruesome, and often hilarious fashion, only to have Sam wake up that same morning to Asia’s “Heat of the Moment.” The return of The Trickster reveals new ideas on the brothers’ relationship, with Sam spiraling out of control due to the loss of Dean. “Mystery Spot” is easily one of the best comedic episodes of Supernatural, with the laughs and drama given their proper due.
Best Moment: Dean dies a series of stranger and more mundane deaths, intercut with Sam waking up again and again. “Do these tacos taste funny to you?”
7. The End (Season 5, Episode 4)
In possibly the bleakest Supernaturalepisode ever, Dean is thrown five years into the future where Lucifer has gained power and the world has become ravaged by the demonic Croatoan virus. Faced with his future self and a ragtag band of survivors hopelessly fighting to turn the world back to normal, including a drugged-out and powerless Castiel, Dean is forced to see the path that he is headed on if he does not agree to be the vessel for the angel Michael. While this was all a plan by the angel Zachariah to make Dean into the vessel, it only shows Dean he has to make amends with Sam, who he has turned his back on.
Best Moment: Dean is confronted by Lucifer in the future, who is fully in control of Sam’s body. Killing Future Dean and taunting his time-travelling brother, we see the absolute worst thing that could happen.
6. Lazurus Rising (Season 4, Episode 1)
How does Supernatural come back from a season finale that saw Dean ripped apart and sent straight to Hell? By having him crawl out of his grave right at the start. With four months having passed, the audience is just as much in the dark as Dean, with revelations and countless secrets abounding. All the while, Dean is plagued by an invisible entity that shatters glass and nearly deafens him. It all leads to the reveal of Castiel and the existence of angels, who had never been seen before in the show. Not only is Cas one of the greatest additions to the show, but the introduction to angels would change Supernatural’s course forever and lead to its biggest episodes.
Best Moment: Summoned to an abandoned warehouse, Castiel reveals himself, shatter glass and sending sparks flying as he shows Dean and Bobby that he is truly and angels and what he did. “I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.”
5. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
It’s the story that started it all, and the ideas on display here in Supernatural’s very first episode still make it one of the show’s most essential parts. Starting off with the terrifying death of their mother, the Winchester Brothers’ story is kicked off in a frightening and unforgettable fashion. With Sam and Dean reuniting after years of being apart, the brothers chase after their first monster together. While the “Woman in White” story is far from the best monster of the week in the show, it’s a great introduction to the flow of the series. By the end, Jess’s death becomes the impetus for the series as a whole and kicks off everything in a fantastic manner. By the end, the very first episode features fo many iconic moments that it absolutely has to rank near the top of the list.
Best Moment: In the aftermath of Jess’ death mirroring his mother’s, Sam decides to start hunting with Dean. The iconic shot from within the Impala’s trunk and “We’ve got work to do” are the perfect start to Supernatural.
4. Nightshifter (Season 2, Episode 12)
The Winchester Brothers are on the case of a murderous robber who smacks of the supernatural. Discovering that it is a shapeshifter, the heroes are soon drawn into a bank heist thrown together by a man who is on the track of the creature as well. By the end, Sam and Dean have suffered a major setback, as the FBI is now on their trail and believe them to be serial killers for all the death left in their wake across the U.S. The real strength of “Nightshifter” is that it takes a well-worn story, a bank heist, and gives it the Supernatural spin. As the situation grows worse and worse, the noose tightens around the Winchester Brothers’ neck. Seeing how they make it out and feeling the repercussions of the episode make this an absolute must for any fan.
Best Moment: With SWAT moving into the bank, Dean and Sam escape dressed up as members of the squad. Their slow motion escape set to Styx’s “Renegade” and Dean’s commentary of “We are so screwed” is the perfect cap to the episode.
3. In My Time of Dying (Season 2, Episode 1)
In the wake of Season 1’s cliffhanger ending, which saw John, Sam, and Dean Winchester broadsided by a demon-driven big rig, the hunters wind up in the hospital with Dean clinging to life. Through it all, Dean’s spirit roams the hospital’s halls, seeing what his father and brother are going through while being tempted by a reaper to cross over to the other side. While “In My Time of Dying” has elements of a monster of the week episode with the reaper following Dean, this is much more focused on the relationship of the three Winchester men and the story’s mythology as a whole. Small reveals and greater mysteries are created right here, with the episode’s huge ending making this an incredibly powerful episode.
Best Moment: After whispering an obviously horrifying secret in Dean’s ear, John goes to fulfill his secret deal with Azazel that brought Dean back to life. Sam’s shocking discovery of his father’s dead body and the silent finale are heartbreaking after a season of searching for their father.
2. Swan Song (Season 5, Episode 22)
It’s the culmination of five seasons of stories and the finale of everything leading up to this point. While Supernatural would continue on, this is the grand finale of what creator Eric Kripke planned for the series. With the prophet Chuck narrating the episode and flashing through the Winchester brothers lives, everything comes together in this finale. Sam agrees to be Lucifer’s vessel, hoping to be able to restrain him but failing. While Dean, Castiel, and Bobby looking to stop Michael and Lucifer from fighting, which would spark Armageddon on Earth. It’s a powerful and emotional climax as Dean is willing to sacrifice everything to save Sam. The Impala, five years of stories, and creator Eric Kripke’s meta-commentary on Supernatural all combine for the end.
Best Moment: With Lucifer-Sam about to beat Dean to death, his memories and love for Dean are sparked by the Impala, giving him the strength to jump into the cage that trapped the Devil for years, taking Michael with him and leaving an heartbroken Dean behind.
1. All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1 and 2) (Season 2, Episodes 21 & 22)
A bit of a cheat since this is a two-parter, but this epic season finale takes everything great about Supernatural and puts them front and center. With Sam abducted by the yellow-eyes demon Azazel, the plot threads put in motion since the very first episode start to converge and come to a head. While the killing of Azazel ends this chapter of the story, the countless demons released give way to bigger and crazier things in the seasons to come. Sam’s abduction and shocking death in Part 1 lead to Dean selling his soul in Part 2 to resurrect his brother. Plus, Azazel’s endgame leads to the release of countless demons from Hell. By the end, Azazel is dead, closing one chapter of Supernatural. But Dean’s impending death and a bigger threat to the world than ever open up new roads. Combined, these two episodes are Supernatural’s best.
Best Moment: With Azazel about to win, the spirit of John Winchester (newly freed from Hell) retrains the yellow-eyed demon long enough for Dean to shoot him dead with The Colt. Easily the most cheer-worthy moment in all of Supernatural.
Honorable Mentions: A Very Supernatural Christmas, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Phantom Traveler, Dead Man’s Blood, Salvation, Lucifer Rising, Sacrifice, Changing Channels, The Magnificent Seven, Fresh Blood, The Monster at the End of this Book, Yellow Fever, Hunteri Heroici, Devil’s Trap, Bloodlust