Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Supernatural recently aired its final ever episode, but fan reaction to the long-awaited ending is fairly negative. Here are the biggest criticisms.

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Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Why has online reaction to the Supernatural series finale been predominantly negative so far? Launching in 2005, Supernatural told the story of two sibling monster hunters, Sam and Dean Winchester, who began hunting vampires, werewolves and wendigos, and worked their way up to Lucifer, the archangel Michael, and God himself. Thanks to the chemistry between Supernatural’s leading duo, Eric Kripke’s epic tale of family and fantasy lasted longer than anybody thought possible, and the Winchesters’ journey ultimately spanned a full 15 seasons. Audiences watched Sam and Dean grow from fresh-faced boys to fully-grown men, and Supernatural’s fandom became one of the most loyal and passionate in TV.

Unfortunately, Supernatural is feeling the wrong end of that passion following the long-awaited finale episode. In an emotional announcement video, Supernatural season 15 was confirmed to be the Winchesters’ final run, and the premiere kicked off proceedings in grand fashion. Sam and Dean were faced with a host of old villains after Chuck opened the gates of hell, and once the satanic orifice was finally closed shut, a cataclysmic battle against the Almighty awaited. Supernatural season 15 was interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but returned in October 2020 for a concluding string of episodes.

The build to Supernatural’s finale had already proved controversial due to the death of a major character and a surprisingly simple battle against Chuck. The closing episode itself, titled “Carry On,” would continue walking that divisive path. Generally speaking, fan response to Supernatural’s ending has been a mixture of bitter disappointment and lukewarm indifference. There are certainly positives to be found (mostly within the performances of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, predictably), but the criticism of “Carry On” is louder than the acclaim. Here are the biggest points of contention among fans.

A Lackluster Plot

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Supernatural boldly chose to forego the usual TV finale format – virtually every plot thread was already tied off in the penultimate episode, leaving one final hour to focus entirely on Sam and Dean Winchester. In theory, this made sense. The brothers were the beating heart of Supernatural, and ending the show with a Winchester-centric episode could have been an appropriate way to bid farewell after 15 years. In reality, however, “Carry On” has been described an anti-climactic finish that didn’t come close to matching the hype. Supernatural’s finale is predominantly a “monster of the week” story, with a modestly-sized nest of vampires embarking on a killing spree, and the Winchesters picking up the case. Supernatural has become steadily more mythological over the years, and fans expected the finale to be suitably epic. Instead, “Carry On” goes back to Supernatural’s season 1 roots, and while some might appreciate this return to simpler times, many viewers were left underwhelmed by the Winchesters’ smaller scale, low stakes final hunt.

Fans are also citing the lack of character comebacks in Supernatural’s finale as a flaw. With the exception of Jim Beaver’s Bobby and a vampire from season 1, “Carry On” is light on familiar faces. Castiel, Jack and Eileen are all conspicuous by their absence, and in a show famous for treating cast members like family, viewers expected more star power for Supernatural’s ending. Naturally, COVID-19 would’ve played a part in this. It’s not clear how heavily the Supernatural finale was rewritten to account for the pandemic, but filming restrictions might’ve prevented the likes of Misha Collins and Alexander Calvert from making more appearances. Would Supernatural’s conclusion have enjoyed a better reception if the show had waited until the finale could be filmed as originally intended?

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Death Winchester’s Death

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Undoubtedly the biggest moment in “Carry On” is the death of Dean Winchester, but many fans aren’t happy with how the moment played out. Since vanquishing the Woman in White in Supernatural’s very first episode, Sam and Dean have developed a legendary reputation among their various enemies, both celestial and monstrous. The brothers have survived primordial entities, biblical warriors, and mythological demons, defeating each on their road to infamy and earning their place at the top of Hell’s (and Heaven’s) most wanted list. And yet, the one obstacle Dean Winchester couldn’t overcome proved to be a rusty spike in a barn, and even the villain who impaled Jensen Ackles was a no-name baddie. As with the episode’s plot, “underwhelming” appears to be the overriding sentiment online with regards to Dean’s death.

Memes were quick to call out Dean’s less-than glorious exit, poking fun at the relatively mundane manner in which the eldest Winchester bowed out. Always the warrior of the two, it’s arguably fitting that Dean Winchester die on a mission, rather than as an old man warm in his bed. However, many viewers are arguing that Dean deserved a more dramatic send-off. After 15 years of fighting the good fight, Dean could’ve at least died saving the Earth, or taking down a major villain befitting of his storied reputation. Instead, Dean’s last mission was a hunt he might’ve completed one-armed, drunk and blindfolded in previous seasons.

Poor Representation

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Representation of homosexuality has been a problem in Supernatural’s final trio of episodes, with plenty of Twitter users complaining about the show’s handling of gay characters. The issue first became apparent in “Despair” when Castiel declared his love for Dean shortly before being killed by the Empty. Viewers half-joked, half-bemoaned that as soon as Castiel came out, he died, and this is a common occurrence in film and TV. Known as the “Bury Your Gays” trope, it’s often said that TV shows are more liable to write-off homosexual characters than their hetero counterparts, and some Supernatural fans saw Castiel’s demise as a disappointing continuation of this very trend. Dean never addresses Castiel’s feelings towards him, and was promptly killed off several episodes later in the finale, adding fuel to the stereotype fire.

While it’s impossible to say for sure whether the deaths of Dean and Castiel were at all connected to the angel’s heartfelt parting speech, it’s easy to see why Supernatural fans were left unimpressed by the level of representation on display. A romantic connection between Dean and Castiel is something that has largely played out in the pages of fan fiction rather than the episodes of Supernatural itself, but Misha Collins (Castiel’s actor) confirmed his character’s final scene was intended as a romantic admission. Whatever motivations Supernatural might’ve had in killing the duo, a gay relationship was introduced between two main characters, and nothing of substance materialized before both characters bit the dust.

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Words Left Unsaid

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

Just as many viewers seem to feel that Supernatural’s finale deserved a grander plot, the episode also left a disappointing amount of details to the imagination. The broad strokes are covered – the deaths of both Winchester brothers, the fate of the world, Heaven getting a makeover, etc. But after 15 years on screen, Supernatural had more bases to cover. One of the most glaring omissions regards the legacy of the Winchester brothers. During their lifetime, the Winchesters inspired countless other hunters and earned the respect of the entire monster-killing community. While the audience are introduced to Sam’s son (his “legacy” of sorts), Dean’s death passes by without fanfare. Given their deeds over the past 15 seasons, Sam and Dean Winchester should’ve left a lasting impression upon the Supernatural world, and the finale offered a perfect opportunity to take stock of their impact. Alas, “Carry On” had fans asking “what was it all for?” as Dean died like any other hunter, and Sam’s adult life was rapidly glossed over in a montage sequence.

Very few finale episodes manage to cover every unresolved question (just ask Lost), but Supernatural omits some of the basics. What happens to the Bunker, for example? Supernatural could have included an emotional scene where the keys to the Bunker fall to a new generation of hunters in a passing-of-the-torch moment, reassuring viewers that the Earth will be looked after in Sam and Dean’s absence. Moreover, there’s no confirmation that the mother of Sam’s child is Eileen, where even a framed photo on the mantle would’ve sufficed. And, as referenced above, what happens when Dean and Castiel reunite in the afterlife? Do angel and human come together in a loving embrace, or does Dean awkwardly have to explain that he sees Cass more as a brother?

Sam Winchester’s Aging

Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale

The most unintentionally hilarious moment in Supernatural’s ending is the montage taking Sam Winchester from the present day to his death bed. The first two clips pass without incident, with a pre-school Dean Jr. playing catch with his Dad on the front lawn. Eyebrows begin to raise when Sam is busy helping his teenage son with homework and not looking a day older than when the episode began. And the best is yet to come… An aged Sam Winchester scene has Jared Padalecki donning a cardigan, glasses, and terrible gray wig, but still having the face of a youthful 40-year-old. The getup has been compared to everything from Doc Brown to a cartoon professor selling chocolate cereal on TV, and sucks away any gravity the sequence might’ve had otherwise. The image of Old Man Sam has rapidly become the visual representation of fan opinion after Supernatural’s finale – hastily assembled and rough around the edges, but liable to make the audience cry nonetheless.

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