Supernatural and Internet Fandom Have Grown Up Together

By Kayti Burt

As Supernatural hurtles towards its series finale, we’re looking back on how the series has impacted internet fandom over the course of its 15-season run.

While Supernatural has made its mark on the TV landscape, its enduring legacy will likely lie in fandom. 

From Livejournal to Tumblr, The CW series started its run during one era of transformative fandom on the internet and is ending it in another.

“Transformative fandom” is the term for the part of fan culture that reinterprets pop culture by transforming it into fanworks such as fanfiction, fanart, and fanvids. 

In the early seasons of Supernatural, much of the fandom revolved around the relationship between demon-hunting brothers Sam and Dean, and the actors who play them: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.

Some fans ship the brothers together. This is known as Wincest. 

In Season 4, angel character Castiel was introduced, played by Misha Collins, changing the fandom forever. Fans began shipping Castiel with Dean, and the Destiel ship was born.

At around the same time, Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s most popular fanfiction websites, was launching.

In 2014, circa Supernatural Season 8, Destiel was the most reblogged ship of the year on Tumblr, as the platform geared towards transformative fandom. At the time, Tumblr had over 70 million users.

In 2019, Destiel was the most-written-about ship on Archive of Own. The archive currently includes over 224,000 stories written in the Supernatural universe.

Most recently, Supernatural fandom broke the internet when Castiel told Dean “I love you,” then promptly died, in the third to final episode of the series. 

Whatever happens in the final episodes of Supernatural, Destiel will live on forever in transformative fandom.