They said it couldn’t be done, that it couldn’t possibly ever happen, but alas, Supernatural has come to a true and final end after fifteen seasons of monster-hunting, self-sacrifice and too many resurrections to count. To celebrate the end of this incredible journey we looked at all of Supernatural’s endings to rank every finale from worst to best, including the series finale.
So let’s take a look at the entire journey of Sam and Dean.
15. The Man Who Knew Too Much (Season 6)
Season Cliffhanger: Cas orders the boys to bow to their new god or be destroyed.
Season 6 was Supernatural’s first outing beyond creator Eric Kripke’s five year plan, and let’s say the show didn’t exactly thrive without him. This finale had everything no one was looking for, including Castiel going evil completely of his own free will, as he did things like tear down the wall in Sam’s mind that kept him sane, worked with Crowley to eat the souls in Purgatory, and topped it all off by killing Balthazar in cold blood, the angel responsible for “The French Mistake” episode, arguably the greatest Supernatural event of all time. Dude deserved better.
The story of Sam fighting himself in his own mind is actually pretty good, but not good enough to overcome the lackluster storyline about Cas’s fight with Raphael which has no tension, sees Castiel being almost irredeemably evil for no reason, and ends with a suped up Cas threatening to destroy Sam, Dean and Bobby.
It can’t be emphasized enough, no one wanted any of this.
14. Carry On (Season 15)
Where to even begin with this finale.
While it was a nice idea to have the final episode be about a routine monster hunt, having Dean die via an oopsie onto a big nail mid-vampire fight was not what this character deserved, especially as he doesn’t even die saving Sam or an innocent. He just kinda falls and dies a few weeks after finally gaining the freedom to live his life he fought so hard for.
The remainder of the episode involves saying good-bye to Supernatural with only Sam and Dean (and a brief scene with Bobby). It’s come out that Covid kept them from filming any large group scenes like a crowded funeral for Dean or any reunions in heaven, and that explains what happened sure, but doesn’t make watching an episode devoid of those things enjoyable. Castiel, who died for Dean two episodes earlier, isn’t in the episode at all and only mentioned twice in passing. Sam’s future wife is never even named, though again the writers have told us the shadowy figure in the background is meant to be Eileen. It just doesn’t feel like it’s really the end of the show we’ve been watching for fifteen years.
But hey, not complaining that the boys made it into heaven and kudos to Jared and Jensen who, as always, knocked it out of the park performance-wise.
13. Brother’s Keeper (Season 10)
Season Cliffhanger: The Darkness is released.
Similar to the season 6 finale, season 10 gave us one of the boys going slightly evil and doing slightly evil things, but at least in this case we knew what was causing it: the Mark of Cain. Highlights of this finale include the final appearance of the original Death in all his junk food loving glory, and a genuinely interesting moral discussion about whether it’s evil and selfish for Sam and Dean to keep sacrificing themselves to save each other instead of just letting go.
On the other end of the spectrum though this episode includes Dean trying to kill Sam for the greater good out of nowhere, Rowena murdering an innocent man to help Dean, which Cas not only allows but facilitates, and ends with Dean killing Death in a very rude turn of events considering he had invited Death there to help him like an hour ago.
Overall this finale was pretty low on stakes, reason or emotional depth, the three necessities of a great Supernatural ending.
12. Let The Good Times Roll (Season 13)
Season Cliffhanger: A terrible freeze frame zoom on Dean in a newsies hat now possessed by Michael.
This is the rare finale that manages to be chock full of epic stuff happening, but it’s all so rushed that none of it feels particularly important or as game-changing as it should.
The biggest problem with this finale is that it seems to negate everything done in season 5 where it was grilled into us that Dean absolutely could not say yes to Michael because the Michael/Lucifer showdown would destroy humanity, yet here in Season 13 Dean begs a fully evil Michael to use him as a vessel to fight Lucifer without hesitation or any attempt at another plan. And it turns out a fight between Michael and Lucifer consists of a couple of energy balls, some bad wire work, and a quick stabbing that kills Lucifer quickly and easily, no harm no foul. Hard to believe Sam tossed himself into hell just to avoid this from happening eight seasons earlier.
This episode also suffers from the previous episode being incredible as Gabriel completed his character arc and sacrificed himself for the team, which all felt like a much bigger and better ending and probably should have just been the finale of the season.
11. Do You Believe In Miracles (Season 9)
Season Cliffhanger: Crowley resurrects Dean and he wakes up with demon eyes.
This finale admittedly ends strong but it takes a long time before it packs any punch worth mentioning. The story revolves around Metatron trying to get humans to worship him, but his plan is so vague and Metatron is such a lackluster villain that stopping him never feels very urgent. It definitely doesn’t feel like Dean should be risking his soul with the Mark of Cain to kill Metatron and it ABSOLUTELY doesn’t feel like Dean should lose that fight and legitimately die at the hands of freaking Metatron!
Despite the bad plotting, the episode is partially saved with a triple combo of great moments in the last minutes which include Dean’s dying declaration to Sam that he’s proud of all they’ve done, Castiel getting a rare win when he tricks Metatron into revealing his true nature to heaven, and the fantastic final monologue by Crowley who refuses to make a deal with Sam and instead goes for the “unexpected” by bringing Dean back as a demon, a moment that is genuinely haunting.
10. Sacrifice (Season 8)
Season Cliffhanger: The gates of heaven are closed and the angels fall to Earth.
The final episode of Season 8 consists of two parallels storylines with Sam going through the trials to close Hell permanently, and Castiel simultaneously trying to close the gates of Heaven. The big difference however is that Sam has been going through the trials all season, gradually getting weaker and sacrificing more to protect the earth from hell, and Castiel started his trials earlier that day at Metatron’s urging (and quickly messes it up). Leaving aside the fact that it’s unclear why we would even want to close the gates of heaven, Cas’s storyline is so abrupt that it has no impact at all, and also involves an incredibly long sequence of Cas and Dean being obtusely heteronormative as they spend an entire day without once considering the possibility that Cupid could make two men fall in love instead of a man and woman. We expect this shit from Dean, but recent events tell us that Castiel at least should have known better.
That being said, Sam’s half of the episode is pretty great as he almost turns Crowley human in a spectacular performance by Mark Sheppard and then ends up giving up the trials at Dean’s pleading for him to live.
And we again see a final shot that is both shocking and haunting due to that pesky Metatron.
9. No Rest For The Wicked (Season 3)
Season Cliffhanger: Dean hanging from chains in hell yelling for help.
Here we are at the 9th best finale and we’re already getting into the good stuff! Season 3 was all about killing Lilith to save Dean from going to hell when his contract expires. This episode works on a lot of levels and has the rare distinction of getting better over time as we can go back to see the brilliance of Lilith’s plan unfold now that we know both Ruby and Lilith were playing Sam from the very start. On first viewing one of this episode’s best moments is Lilith running away scared when it seems Sam is able to negate her powers, and it’s just as good a moment years later when we know she’s just pretending.
This finale also has an excellent ticking clock keeping the action moving forward as Dean literally runs out of time and gets killed by hellhounds in a shocking and gory turn. And let’s not forget the creepiness that is child-Lilith in a truly memorable performance of evil.
8. Alpha and Omega (Season 11)
Season Cliffhanger: Sam is shot by the Men of Letters; Dean finds their mom alive after being resurrected by Amara.
Just hold on because this finale is better than people give it credit for.
After shotgunning 14 Supernatural finales in a row I actually found myself breathing a sigh of relief watching this one as it’s a little bit different in some great ways. Alpha and Omega is the culmination of the season arc involving God’s sister, Amara (aka The Darkness) and yes, that’s a silly premise, but the execution delivered an episode with great emotional resonance as Team Free Will says good-bye to Dean before he goes to sacrifice himself, and also has a surprising amount of fun and lightheartedness as Chuck, Crowley and Rowena banter throughout the episode. It ends with a lovely resolution more akin to Doctor Who than Supernatural as there is no violence and the characters end up just talking and finally forgiving each other to become a family again. Honestly, it was just nice to see someone other than the Winchester family be treated with empathy and compassion instead of violence and I personally liked it.
Until the Men of Letters showed up anyway.
7. All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 2) (Season 2)
Season Cliffhanger: The team gets ready to hunt down the demons that escaped the devil's gate.
There’s a lot to like in just the second finale in Supernatural history and the only official two-parter the show ever did. The episode starts with Dean making a terrible deal with a demon to bring Sam back to life and then moves on to stopping Yellow Eyes from opening a gate to hell being very awesomely contained by iron railway lines making a devil’s trap.
The episode loses a few places in the list due to its easy resolution as killing Azazel and closing the devil’s gate literally just involved pushing the door closed. Kind of hilarious to think that if Azazel had just wedged it open somehow all of hell would have broken out.
Highlights of the episode include Dean’s monologue to Sam’s dead body, John’s ghost escaping the Devil’s Gate to help fight Yellow Eyes as a final good-bye, and Dean getting to shoot Azazel in the head cause screw that guy.
6. Survival of the Fittest (Season 7)
Season Cliffhanger: Dean and Cas are transported to Purgatory.
This episode saw the end of the Leviathans in a finale that managed to put the heart in the middle of the episode and surround it in fun on both ends. This was a wonderful step forward from the previous season as we had a nice straight forward evil that just needed killing and didn’t involve any in-fighting amongst our boys, and for once no one felt the need to sacrifice their life or soul to stop the big bad.
From fun scenes like Crowley and Dick having a hilarious contract negotiation, to heartbreaking moments such as Sam and Dean saying good-bye to Bobby for a final time as they put his soul to rest and Cas being forgiven for going evil the season before, this finale had a little something for everyone and combined to be greater than the sum of its parts.
5. All Along the Watchtower (Season 12)
Season Cliffhanger: Cas is killed by Lucifer and Sam finds a fully grown Jack with glowing gold eyes.
This is another finale that works spectacularly well because the show decided to try something new and focused the emotional crux of the story not on any of Team Free Will but on Kelly Kline, Jack’s mother, who knows she is about to die while giving birth to Lucifer’s son. We’re given some incredible scenes with Kelly including trying to build a crib so she can leave something behind for her child, a beautiful video message she leaves for Jack, and a delightful scene with Cas about how he took a doula class to help with the birth, all of which combines to make her death both beautiful and tragic.
This is also another season that includes no in-fighting between our main characters and everyone is united in trying to stop the always-delightful Lucifer from taking his son.
Admittedly, the portal to another dimension was a little random, but it worked as a great way to trap Lucifer when they were all out of ways to try and kill the guy.
And of course, this is the final appearance of our dear Crowley who kills himself to trap Lucifer on the other side of the rift. RIP Crowley, you were always the sassiest of us.
4. Moriah (Season 14)
Season Cliffhanger: Cas, Sam and Dean surrounded by a zombie horde unleashed by Chuck.
The end of season 14 finds the boys trying to stop Jack who has all his angel powers back but has no soul to guide his actions towards good or evil.
This finale found a great balance of fun off the top as lying is removed from the world, moves into a few classic Supernatural style discussions about morality and sacrifice as Chuck creates “The Equalizer”, a gun that can kill anything but also kills the bearer, then bring us to the wonderful twist that Chuck has been the villain all along and has purposefully written their lives to be difficult for his own entertainment. God then kills Jack and releases every soul in hell back to Earth in an ending that would feel abrupt if not for the fact that something about God has always felt just a little off, and finding out he is actually much more powerful and vindictive than we’ve ever seen just kind of makes sense.
The montage of souls returning at the end is also haunting as we see recent ghosts like the Killer Clown but also go all the way back to episode 1, the Lady in White, highlighting that Chuck has truly undone all the good the Winchesters have ever done.
3. Lucifer Rising (Season 4)
Season Cliffhanger: Lucifer’s cage opens in front of Sam and Dean
We are now entering the holy grail section of excellent finales in Supernatural and oh boy, everything about "Lucifer Rising" just worked! The season arc of trying to stop Lucifer’s cage from being opened reached a wonderful climax and everything came together with absolute perfection. It’s hard to even list all the highlights in this episode, from the reveal of Ruby’s true nature, to her death, to the chilling kidnapping of the nurse demon that Sam has to drain, to the revelation that the angels want the Apocalypse to happen, to Dean convincing Castiel to betray the angels and help him (leading to his first of many deaths), to the arrival of Lucifer himself.
The entire episode is perfect storytelling with an incredible payoff, and wonderful character development. Dammit Kripke, when you’re good, you’re good.
2. Devil’s Trap (Season 1)
Season Cliffhanger: A demon hits the already injured Winchesters with a truck, demolishing Baby.
It’s not hard to understand how Supernatural lasted as long as it did when it came out of the gate so strong with this episode. Devil’s Trap easily has the lowest stakes of any season finale on the show, their goal is literally just to find their dad with no evil plan to stop, and that should make the episode bad, but instead it makes it great. The small stakes are incredibly personal and it’s nice to see the boys mourn a stranger’s death like they do for Meg’s host who dies at Bobby’s house after they send Meg to hell.
Essays could be written about the moral complexities launched in this episode as Sam has to decide whether to be like his Dad and choose revenge or like Dean and choose family, and we as an audience have to deal with the heartbreaking fact that Dean only knew his father was possessed because his real dad would never say he was proud of him. It’s a moment that hits hard, as does the entire sequence of Sam and Dean being tortured by Azazel, but it sincerely feels special and epic despite the small scale.
This episode also introduced the tradition of season finale cliffhangers that change everything as the already dying Winchesters are hit by a truck on their way to the hospital. It was shocking when I watched it fifteen years ago, and it shocked me almost as much today.
It might even be categorized as a perfect finale if not for the fact that the recap doesn’t use Carry on My Wayward Son, an almost unforgiveable offence.
1. Swan Song (Season 5)
Season Cliffhanger: Sam has escaped the Cage and is watching Dean
Come on, you knew before you even started scrolling down this list that Swan Song would be number one because there’s no question that it’s the best finale in Supernatural history.
Closing out the Kripke era of the show and ending his five-year arc of the battle between angels and demons, Swan Song is a beautiful story told in a unique way, with Chuck narrating the history of their car between acts as Sam and Dean try to stop the final battle between Michael and Lucifer that will wipe out most of humanity.
Everything about the episode makes it feel like real stakes are on the line, like the world might actually end, and like evil really might win. After Sam says yes to Lucifer and is unable to take control of him, it truly does feel like all hope is lost. Even Dean admits that he is going to the final battle not to stop it, but to keep Sam from dying alone in the fight. Then as Lucifer tries to beat Dean to death on the hood of their car, Sam is overcome with flashbacks of their life together giving him the strength to beat Lucifer and lock them both in the Cage. It sounds cheesy but dear god it works.
This episode is simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful, a wonderful potential end to the Winchesters’ story, and right in the middle of all that drama, Castiel calls Michael an assbutt.
There has truly never been a more perfect episode of television.