Good news everyone! The CW has deemed today Supernatural Day in honor of the 12th anniversary of the show’s premiere.
While we’re not sure precisely why this is the year they decided to coin a hashtag and sell special merch at Hot Topic, we are nonetheless always game to join in celebrating our favorite fictional Winchesters.
So, in honor of the day, we figured we’d deliver unto you a concise list of the best episodes of the show, depending that is on your mood. Whether it’s laughs, tears, or scares, here’s what we suggest you dive into today.
(author’s note: I considered writing a deeply personal “Why Supernatural matters to me” sob fest. About how, while I love television and consume a lot of it, there are very few shows that I live in the way I live in this one. And while that would have been cathartic, and at least mildly entertaining, I figured that a listicle would be better for you all. Netflix’s lack of a “random episode” button is a travesty and can make deciding just what you are in the mood for very difficult. Hopefully there is something helpful for you below. And if you see a glaring omission let me know on twitter – maybe I’ll write another listicle on the best of the rest. Enjoy!)
Episodes to Make You Laugh
- The French Mistake (Season 6 Episode 15)
- The meta episode to end all others. Come for Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean playing Jared and Jensen. Stay for Misha Collins obnoxiously livetweeting his set experience.
- LARP and the Real Girl (Season 8 Episode 11)
- Charlie Bradbury makes her second appearance and Sam and Dean get to join a group of hardcore LARPers.
- Changing Channels (Season 5 Episode 8)
- Another supremely meta episode in which Sam and Dean are made to live through the Trickster’s favorite television programs.
- Bad Day at Black Rock (Season 3 Episode 3)
- Sam end up cursed with a killer case of bad luck. Also he loses his shoe. Trust us it’s hysterical.
- Yellow Fever (Season 4 Episode 6)
- Dean is infected with an unhealthy dose of fear that turns him into a screaming baby at every turn. Sure Dean’s health is technically declining throughout the whole episode, but boy is is hilarious to watch.
Episodes to Make You Cry
- Heart (Season 2 Episode 17)
- While nearly every episode of Supernatural has the power to make us cry, “Heart” remains the worst. Sam falls in love for the first time since the murder of his girlfriend, and his romance has a very unhappy ending. The entire last scene is played beautifully and to a devastating effect.
- Swan Song (Season 5 Episode 22)
- Considered by many to be the show’s finest hour, the original finale is a fitting cap to the 5 season story Erik Kripke planned out. Sam’s finale sacrifice is maybe the most heroic moment in television ever.
- Death’s Door (Season 7 Episode 10)
- AKA “the episode where they kill Bobby.” Bobby relives memories in his subconscious, while the boys are on the outside willing him back to the land of the living. Bobby’s final memory before passing is the saddest, sweetest moment in the show’s history.
- Sacrifice (Season 8 Episode 23)
- The eighth season’s finale is one of the best acted hours in the show’s history. Both Crowley and Sam have huge revelatory speeches that feel like a punch to the gut every time. Add on top Dean’s refreshingly honest support of his brother, and the chill inducing final scene, and prepare to bathe in your own tears.
- Pac-Man Fever (Season 8 Episode 20)
- It’s not often that someone other than Sam or Dean manages to make the audience cry, but this time it was Charlie Bradbury. Charlie’s final scene, where she says goodbye to her mother by reading The Hobbit, is a stab to the heart each time we rewatch.
Episodes to Spook You
- Bloody Mary (Season 1 Episode 5)
- Personal admittance: Bloody Mary is one of my biggest irrational fears. Passing a mirror in the dark never fails to send my heart rate through the roof. So that, coupled with the fact that this is a genuinely scary episode, makes this the only episode that I can’t watch right before bed.
- Asylum (Season 1 Episode 10)
- Sam and Dean try to save a teenage couple who are trapped inside of a seriously haunted asylum. Current horror gamers will enjoy the atmosphere of this one – it gives off a very Outlast vibe on more than one occasion.
- Everybody Loves a Clown (Season 2 Episode 2)
- Sam, like any rational person, finds clowns scary. In this episode we have a monster, disguised as a creepy clown, murdering people. Boom. Nightmares for life.
- No Exit (Season 2 Episode 6)
- Jo joins the boys on a hunt inside of a haunted apartment complex and ends up unearthing the ghost of famous serial killer H.H. Holmes. Holmes’ ghost is deliriously creepy, gross, and keeps his victims in incredibly claustrophobic spaces. It’s even scarier when you consider that Holmes was real. *cue unintentional shiver*
- The Kids are Alright (Season 3 Episode 2)
- Is there anything scarier than children? No? How about children who LITERALLY FEED ON THEIR PARENTS. Supernatural always knows how to up its creepy ante.
The Best One-Off Episodes
- Roadkill (Season 2 Episode 16)
- If you haven’t seen this one I refuse to spoil it for you. And if you have, you are welcome for the best single intro you can give to any newbie. Sit down with a friend, tell them that Sam and Dean are brothers who hunt monsters, and enjoy video taping their reactions for the next hour.
- Provenance (Season 1 Episode 19)
- A. Killer. Painting. It’s a classic scary story to tell in the dark, done in a way only Supernatural can do. One of the most solid episodes of the show’s first season.
- Family Remains (Season 4 Episode 11)
- Sam and Dean try to save a family from the murderous ghosts in their new house. Standard, right? Nope. Just… trust us on this.
- Croatoan (Season 2 Episode 9)
- An eerie, tense, Cronenbergian episode that involves a mysterious disease turning small-town locals into rage zombies.
- Mystery Spot (Season 3 Episode 11)
- So this one needs a teeny-bit of extra explanation for the uninformed, but “Mystery Spot” is an enjoyable hour no matter how well-versed you are in the show’s lore. It goes from shocking, to hilarious, to unexpectedly dark all in 42 minutes. It also is guaranteed to get Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
Episodes Full of Girl Power
- Don’t You Forget About Me (Season 11 Episode 12)
- Also known as the Wayward Daughters episode. Sit back and enjoy 4 recurring women characters (still alive!) schooling Sam and Dean in all matters.
- Hibbing 911 (Season 10 Episode 8)
- The first team-up between tough as nails Jody Mills and sweet as pie Donna Hanscum was an immediate hit. The two sheriffs don’t exactly hit it off, but their oil and water personalities turn into one of our favorite pairings in Supernatural history way before the end of the hour.
- Slumber Party (Season 9 Episode 4)
- Charlie Bradbury and Dorothy flipping Gale fight the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s ridiculous and silly and so badass all at the same time.
- Abandon All Hope (Season 5 Episode 10)
- This episode is dreadfully upsetting as it’s Ellen and Jo’s final episode. But the way they go out proves that, while not full appreciated by fans, these two women were undeniable badasses. We miss them dearly.
- Book of the Damned (Season 10 Episode 18)
- While not a Charlie-focused episode, this one is notable for one of the first times we get to see her hunting properly on her own. Charlie’s development over her appearances is one of the best things about the later seasons of Supernatural. Plus she gets to kick major butt in the final fight sequence.
Episodes for Winchester Family Feels
- What Is and What Never Should Be (Season 2 Episode 20)
- AKA “the one where Dean dreams his mom is alive and everyone is happy but he has to give it up in order to save the world and salvage the relationship with his brother that he cherishes so much.” AKA “ugh god it hurts to think about this one.”
- A Very Supernatural Christmas (Season 3 Episode 8)
- Since this takes place during season 3, there is a constant undercurrent of “Dean is going to die soon” which is enough to make anyone upset. But the feels really come in when you learn just where it is that Dean got his favorite necklace. Go on. Try to keep your feelings in check we dare you.
- In My Time of Dying (Season 2 Episode 1)
- The season 2 premiere does an excellent job of showing just how badly the Winchester boys (we’re including John when we say boys) need each other. It’s also the episode that best displays how much John loves his sons, which, of course, leads to heartbreak by the end.
- Fan Fiction (Season 10 Episode 5)
- Supernatural‘s 200th episode could have gone into multiple categories on this list, but I stuck it here for the simple fact that it will remind you of every reason that you love this show. Starting, of course, with the Winchesters themselves.
- Dark Side of the Moon (Season 5 Episode 16)
- Sam and Dean are murdered. That’s not a spoiler as it happens almost immediately. They go through a “This is Your Life” montage up in heaven, while trying to find God, and we learn more about the brothers and what their happy memories entail. A sequence featuring Dean and a young Sam with sparklers is one of the best brother moments in the entire show.