Carrying On – One Year Since the Supernatural Finale

It’s November 19 – a date that will always make my heart ache a little. For most people, it’s just another day, but for me it carries a significance that might seem silly to some, but has real emotional weight for me. It’s the day Supernatural ended. After 15 seasons, the show that changed my life aired its final episode, Carry On, on this date one year ago.

I sobbed my way through the second half of that episode, so violently I came close to making myself ill, and then smiled through my tears as Sam and Dean were finally reunited in Heaven and allowed to live happily ever after. As much as I was on the same page as Jensen Ackles with having a hard time just getting my head around the idea of Dean Winchester dying at all, once I did I was on board, as he was, with how the finale showed us his last moments and gave us an even deeper understanding of him than we’d had in the fifteen years before.  I’ve had several conversations with Jensen about Dean’s ending and the finale episode (and one with Eric Kripke) over the past year or so, and my appreciation for Carry On has only grown as a result. None of us wanted to say goodbye to Dean Winchester – I sometimes think they are the only two people who love him more than I do, though I know some of you might quibble with that – but that ending felt true to the show that I love and to Kripke’s vision, and ultimately to Jensen’s understanding of Dean and Jared’s understanding of Sam.

I know some people don’t feel that way. Some of my closest friends don’t feel that way. I know it’s been a tough year for people who didn’t like the finale, or even hated it, and that anger and disappointment has fueled a year of infighting in the fandom that – improbably – sometimes seems worse than the infighting that went on when the show was actually on the air! I am tremendously grateful that it worked for me. I feel fortunate, because I care so much about this show, and if it didn’t it would hurt. A lot. So I have empathy for the people for whom it didn’t work, and I hope that one of these days that sense of loss and disappointment will ease and new passions can help people heal.

For me, the show ended reiterating the themes that came to characterize it over its entire run. The Winchesters finally had free will, thanks to their own determination and intellect (and help from Cas and Jack). We got to see them living what passes for a normal life as a Winchester, long enough that there were well established routines and rituals and time for pie fests and snuggles with Miracle, while also doing what gave their lives purpose and meaning: hunting.

The fact that the inherent danger of their profession caught up to them just made their heroism more powerful, to me. Every time they went out there, saving people and hunting things, they knew they could die. They knew there could be a bullet that found them or a monster that ripped them apart or an exposed rebar that a vampire could use to impale them. Every single time. And they did it anyway. That’s what makes them big fucking heroes. The fact that it stuck this time (forgive that choice of words) makes it glaringly obvious that the stakes were back to where they were when we started this journey. No deals with demons to bring them back, no pleading with Death, no playing with time. They were mortal, as vulnerable as all of us are.

And they went out there and did their jobs anyway.

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I could have watched 300 hours of Winchester domestic life – that episode that Robbie Thompson always wanted to write and never got to – but I’m grateful for what we got. And as much as it was agonizing to watch Dean die and to watch Sam lose his brother, the raw genuineness those last minutes allowed felt like a gift. Dean got to say what he wanted to say, right out, defensiveness stripped away. All those times he covered up his feelings or struggled with vulnerability, we got to see how far he’d come, how open he could be. I love everything that Jensen and Jared added on that day, from the ‘yeah, there he is’ to the ‘always keep fighting’ to the callbacks to the pilot when they started this journey together so many years ago, both the characters and the actors. I know how much it meant to them and how proud they are of it.

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I was teaching a graduate course in Grief and Loss most of last year, and I used the finale episode so many times, with its realistic depiction of grief and its hopeful message of being able to carry on. I’m also grateful that the show didn’t leave me there in the barn.

It’s a beautiful scene, one of the most emotional I’ve ever experienced, but it still makes me tear up every time I watch. Supernatural could have left us there, or ended with Sam having permission from his son that it’s okay for him to go now too. Instead we got to experience Sam and Dean’s reunion, Sam and Dean and Baby on that bridge, smiling. The scene didn’t need many words and it didn’t give us many. “Hey Sammy.” “Dean.”  A call back, along with their close-to-the-pilot wardrobe. Saying each other’s names has always meant a lot more anyway.

I kept crying long after Bob Singer called that final “cut” and Jared and Jensen said goodbye to us, the fans, forever incorporating us into the story. Simply because the ending was an ending, and I don’t think I was ever going to be truly ready to say goodbye to this show. I was so worried, a year ago today, that the fandom would disappear. That everyone would find a new show to love and forget about this one, while I knew damn right well that I’d be sitting here one year later still madly in love with these characters and this show and missing them. I don’t do moving on very well when I’m this passionate about something. I worried that I’d be all alone here, marking the anniversary with a glass of wine and a rewatch and a box of tissues and wondering if I was the only one who remembered the significance of November 19.

Instead it has been a week of shared emotions and memories and beautiful tributes to Supernatural and its ending, social media timelines filled with art and meta and gifs and heartfelt posts about what the show has meant and still means to so many people. I’ve smiled over a million photos of Dean hugging Miracle and Sam kicking the washing machine. I’ve sobbed over every line of dialogue in the barn scene flowing over a screencap that has no right to be as gorgeous as it is. I’ve smiled reading fans’ imaginings of what Heaven is like for the Winchesters and what Sam and Dean are up to now. I’ve tripped down memory lane and all the best times with Sam and Dean and Cas (and Jared and Jensen and Misha) over the years. My timeline has been every bit as vibrant and alive this past week as when the show was on the air and on the covers of EW and TVGuide and everything in between.

I don’t know why I was so worried.

Supernatural has never been ordinary – it has always been extraordinary. It stayed on the air when the network didn’t support it, when viewership was tiny, when the WB went out of existence. It pulled people in from the tiny CW network, and then from Netflix, and TNT, and Hulu, and…  It kept pulling people in year after year after year, word of mouth spreading the word organically and the talents of its cast and crew keeping people hooked. For most of the past year, it has remained in the top 10 streaming content despite being off the air. And more than all of that, what’s extraordinary about Supernatural is that the show has made a difference to countless people. When I decided to put together two books about how Supernatural had changed lives with Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, I wasn’t prepared for the powerful stories I’d receive – not only from fans but from the actors themselves. The show has changed us, and it has changed them. And that is extraordinary.

I don’t know what will happen a year from now. I don’t know if this will be the last big hurrah of a fandom that has survived a lot of ups and downs and a level of infighting that would have tanked a less determined group of people for sure. But here we are. Still loving this show and these characters. Still wanting to celebrate what it’s meant to all of us.

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In their chapters of There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jared and Jensen both wrote about what they hope Supernatural’s – and the Winchesters’ – legacy will be. I reread both their chapters and a few others to remind me today that there is a legacy, and how proud these actors are of that and the characters they brought to life.

From Jensen’s chapter:

I think that the people who have found Supernatural and become part of the fandom and found each other through the show—the SPNFamily—are probably the legacy that we’re going to be proudest of… The show carries the message to always keep fighting for each other, and that has inspired the fandom to keep fighting too, whatever fight they are facing… We started out thinking we were making a horror show about monsters, but it became clear pretty quickly that’s not what made the show important. So many fans have told me that what is special is that it’s a show about two brothers who will do anything to fight for each other and to fight to save the world. Not in a way that people tell them to or according to what’s written in a book, but by making their own choices about what’s right and wrong and always trying to do what’s right. That’s the legacy of the show and that’s what has made a difference.

From Jared’s chapter:

I’m very proud of what we’ve done and of the story that we got to tell. Sam Winchester has inspired me, just like he’s inspired many fans… I think most of us, like Sam, probably do struggle to forgive ourselves sometimes. But I feel like Sam’s actions have been kind and sacrificial and loyal, and I have always wanted him to keep fighting—for his brother, for his family, to save people. I value that about him. The way the Winchesters have faced insurmountable odds inspires me and hopefully others to keep on working as hard as we can.

Jensen’s chapter had an important ending that will be a comfort to me every November 19th and all the days in between:

And let’s be clear. Supernatural will never end. The show might, but what it has built? This will never end. Besides, nothing ever stays dead on Supernatural.

Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Ackles.

Happy one year anniversary of wrapping up, Supernatural.

Here’s to celebrating many more.

— Lynn

You can read Jared and Jensen’s chapters

in both Family Don’t End With Blood and

There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done,

along with contributions from Misha and

many more – Links on home page or at:

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Carrying On – One Year Since the Supernatural Finale

  • NGL I cried when I read this. I’ve watched the finale four times and cried each time. I’m in awe of J2’s portrayal of Sam and Dean and the amount of vulnerability and exposure they brought to this final episode. They never phoned it in but rather gave 100% to each scene in all 327 episodes.

    This show saved me like many others. It gave me a reason to keep fighting. It brought me many new friends. SPN family forever isn’t just a slogan it’s a fact.

    I will never abandon this show. I have the full set of episodes on my possession so I can watch it whenever I want. Right now I’m rewatching season five. And when I’m down I pick my favorites like episodes 200 and 300, The French Mistake and Goodbye Stranger.

    Thank you Lynn for all you’ve done for this show, this fandom, these actors and all of us

    • I too am in awe of the vulnerability that Jared and Jensen brought to the finale, and the ‘barn scene’. Fearless, and a big fuck you to toxic masculinity. And I totally agree with you, I will never stop loving this amazing extraordinary little show.

  • Amen, Lynn, Amen… <3
    It‘s days/weeks like this one, reading and seeing so much passion and love and simply connection out there, that make me feel hopeful about humanity – something I sometimes have a hard time doing. This show made me, made so many of us connect – with our own struggles, fears, hopes, giving us a better understanding of others‘ emotions and struggles too; and quite physically, through so many deep and lasting friendships that would never have come to life without this „little Show that could“.
    Thanks for being with us on the road, sharing your insights and emotions with us. And, well…. Carry on! (Damn, now I can literally hear the Impala‘s rumble in my head 😄)

    • I so agree – it’s sometimes hard to feel hopeful about humanity especially recently, but the anniversary week, with so many people coming together and sharing the love, brought a sense of hope back. And it felt good! The impact that Supernatural had went far beyond the show itself, and those connections and changes will continue – which means our little show will continue too!

  • As always Lynn, your post sums up so much and you always find the words, so thank you. Also, thank you once again for continuing to host a place where we can come together.

    The Winchesters, and for me Dean especially, are inspiring, they will always be, I chose to celebrate Dean’s(fictional) life today and acknowledge how remarkable he is, how much he has been a power for good, in his world and in ours.

    I connected with this show on so many levels and it changed my life and the lives of others and is still a guiding light to new audiences. It’s a work of exceptional beauty with glorious cinematography, showcased some exceptional talents in all fields, so a big thank you to them all.

    Saying goodbye to new episodes was hard, testament to the fact Jensen and Jared had created characters that leapt off the page and became so real that we felt every step of their journey and they will always be in our hearts, nothing will replace them. Whether you like the ending or not, or just sit somewhere in between, we were blessed to have such a long time with them, long enough to fall in love with the characters, blessed that the cast gave, and still give so much of their time. There’s a unique and special connection to treasure.

    Supernatural may have had it’s wonky moments, the storylines we didn’t always enjoy, but the good we had far outweighs all that, hopefully we will see them again, down the road, until then, as Dean would say “We make our own future”

    • Beautifully said – we were indeed blessed to have such a long time with these extraordinary characters, to fall in love with them, and to connect with a cast who treasured them like we did. Nothing can really replace that for me, not after all these years – and I will probably continue to hope we haven’t seen the last of them, one way or another…

  • Hey Lynn,

    thank you very much for the emotional reminder. My tears are literally drying as I’m writing these lines. I’m a more passive participant in the SPN fandom. SOmetimes I feel more like an observer from the outside. Apart from not participating actively I’m so happy to konow that there are so many individuals loving his show. SO I can relate to those and feel part of this big thing. When watching the finale last year my boyfriend joined me watching from the barn scene on bacause I couldn’t stop crying. My reaction to the last part of the last episode was extreme and he thought I might need either a doctor or just someone to be there for me. 🙂
    What is more I nerver thought I might reach the point were I might be at peace with SPN ending, but I must confess that the ending worked for me and that I’m happy that it worked out for me.
    The days after the finale were devastating I felt like someone actually had died. It took a few weeks to come to terms with these feelings. But still even after a year of adjustung there a days when I’m sad that my beloved show has ended.

    So again thank you again for remembering this great show!!!!!

    Many greetings

    Rebecca

    • I think the fact that we all grieved for so long is a clear indication of just how much we loved it – and still love it. I think I’ll miss the show forever, but I’m also tremendously grateful to have had it in my life for so long.

  • Thank you so very much, Lynn. Having you to give words to my love for these characters and this show has been one of the biggest blessings the famdom has provided. You are the best.

  • I remember the feeling of anticipation and dread when that final episode was going to air. And telling my husband to go away so I could watch it alone.

    I also remember the pride when they thanked their fans for the 15 years-not many (if any) shows remember their fans like that. Personally, I loved the final episode-it made me smile, gasp, cry and smile again. No other show has ever had that much reaction from me. I still miss that thrill of Supernatural Day!! And looking forward to watching my boys.

    • I still miss that feeling of anticipation too – I don’t think I’ll ever feel anything quite like that again! I also am s grateful for the show including the fans so overtly, which rarely happens on TV. It felt so right to be ‘there’ as Bob Singer called ‘cut’ for the final time.

  • I started watching Supernatural in January of this year. I binged it all in a matter of weeks and became fairly enthralled (okay, obsessed) with it. I simply fell in love with the characters and who they are. They are real to me, even though I haven’t been here since the beginning. I honestly thought the finale was beautifully, heartbreakingly done, and I can’t think of any other way the show could have ended. I know others have their opinions and ideas, and that’s fine too. Are there things I would have changed? Sure. I’d have included Cas in heaven and made the final episode 2 hours long.. Still, what I found so beautiful about it is that the show ended where it started: with Sam and Dean. It was always a show about them. I’ve since gotten my husband hooked, and we’re almost through season 11, and I’ve started a rewatch by myself and going through season 2 again. I am discovering new things every time I watch and it tugs at my heart in different ways, I think what I love about SPN is that it never shies away from ugliness and pain. Life isn’t always kind or sweet, and Sam and Dean knew that better than anyone.

    • I think that’s part of why I expected the finale to be heartbreaking – the show has never shied away from ugliness and pain, as you said. That’s part of what I love about it, the reflection that life isn’t always kind or sweet, but that we – like Sam and Dean and Cas – can always keep fighting.

  • I loved the beauty of what you wrote above. I can’t watch the end. I have lived through some awful ends, Castle and Blindspot, just left me so confused and angry. For me it was the relationship between Dean and Sam, and the boys and Castial that was so important. I watched it on TV here from the beginning and l am so glad the Channel kept it to the end. So few shows show that depth of feeling and l think we need that. Much comes down to the relationship between Jenson and Jared. I don’t think it would have worked so well if they hadn’t clicked together. I have watched romance/thrillers were it is clear there is no connection between the actors and you don’t believe the story of them funding love. I must admit l love Dean the most, flawed but fantastic.

    • Flawed but fantastic indeed! And yes, if Jared and Jensen hadn’t clicked, I don’t think Sam and Dean would have been as compelling characters as they have been.

  • Lynn, I so envy you for being able to love the finale. I still adore Supernatural, but I will never forgive Andrew Dabb for that finale. My heart aches with bitterness and pain that this show, that has been a hugely important part of my for so many years, ended the way it did.
    I remember so clearly that the boys said more than once at cons that they had been assured they would have some say in how the show ended. Then they told us what happened: they were presented with a script and told, “Take it or leave it. This is all we’ve got.” I also hate that they made such a point of Dean’s happiness that they were no longer living Chuck’s story, but their own. Well, he got it for a few months. So, yay?! A few MONTHS?!
    The fact that Jensen Ackles, who knows Dean inside and out, took a long time to accept the ending just shows how wrong it was. If it was right for the show he would not have struggled so much! The heart and soul of the show is the brothers’ bond. I never would have dreamed they would be separated like that. They should have either died together in an epic world saving battle or lived on together driving into the sunset in Baby. Sam grieving his brother for 30 or 40 years is still gut wrenching to me, wife and child or not. It goes against everything I “knew” the show was.
    And in my rewatches, by the way, I have come across at least 4 scenes where people ask Sam if he misses the “apple pie” life he could have had, and he says no, that is not who he is anymore. He says the hunting life is who he is now.
    I will never stop loving our little show, but I am never watching that finale again. I loved how they thanked the fans at the end, but that was it. I have tried and tried to accept it but I have realized I never will.

    • I’m so sorry the finale felt wrong for you – Jensen initially just could not get his head around Dean dying at all, not about the details of the finale (which wasn’t written at the time). Once he had time to reflect and talk to Dean’s creator about it, he was on board – and came to love the finale alot, if that helps. It also helps me to know that Sam and Dean had a good amount of time together living what passes as a normal life for Winchesters before that hunt – Jensen assumed a few years, which is what I assumed too given the clear attempt to show they had fallen into established routines. But Dean dying and Sam losing his brother was tragic, no two ways around it. I always expected this show to end that way – it telegraphed a tragic ending often enough, so the heartbreak of it I guess was something I was prepared for. And it gave Dean a chance to tell Sam things he never would have otherwise, so I’m grateful for that. I have several close friends who felt like you did, and I feel so much sympathy – some of them consider 15.19 the ending with Sam and Dean driving off into the sunset, so maybe that will work for you too!

      • Thank you. I read all the articles, I saw the panel where Jensen said he called Kripke who convinced him it was OK. I remember Jared saying at a con that he perceived the finale to be a few years out from 15×19, though I heard that he found out the script said it was only a few months. But it is better to think of it as a few years.

        And I’ve always considered episode 19 to be the final episode: from when I fist saw it just haven’t accepted the finale into my head canon. It was so wrong to me on so many levels. And I just don’t believe Sam was meant to live for 40 years without Dean. It’s literally horrific to me to even think about. But I appreciate your sympathy!

    • I agree with you. I can never really accept the finale. I loved the final scene on the bridge, but I didn’t like how they got there, or rather how Dean got there. Right after Dean said that they were “finally free”, he got killed. And that so tragic that I can’t even find words for that. Judging by what Dabb wrote in the script (that it 6 months after Chuck), he intended it to be that way. Which only makes me more angry at the guy, but I am not going to start talking about how much I don’t like him. In recent panel Jensen said that the gap between final 2 episodes was several years. It changes things a lot for me. I still don’t like it, but I can at least take comfort in the fact that Dean got to live his “free life” on Earth for some time, not 6 months! And I don’t care what Dabb intention was. Apparently, Jensen and Jared don’t care what the script said about time gap too, and I love them even more for that. It’s like they are trying to soften the blow for those who couldn’t accept the finale.

      For me, the show ends with the brothers driving away into the sunset. Then I can jump right to the hug on the bridge. As for how they got to heaven…I think everyone who didn’t like the finale can write their own story.

      I watched the finale twice, and I don’t think I will ever watch it again. But I did re-watch the “death scene” few times anyway, even though I hate the fact that Dean died, but the way Jared and Jensen acted in that scene was outstanding. If Dean had to die, then I love that his last moments were with Sam, that he was telling him things he never said before. Honest, open and fearless. I loved that! Oh, and standing! (I love Jensen for fighting for it to be that way). No one understands this character better than him.

      I do believe that after everything the brothers went through, they should have either died together (“If we die, we do that together too”) on a hunt or they should have left the ending open, with them driving away into new adventure. That’s what I wanted and that’s what I didn’t get.

      Maybe I took the finale too personal. I lost someone I loved who died right after finally starting to enjoy life again and trying to make a new future. Imagine battling cancer for a long time and finally winning against all odds. Being happy and trying to live your life again and make a new future. Only to die weeks later in a car accident. When I saw how Dean got killed…I couldn’t take it, because in a previous episode I saw him happy and “finally free”. That was too much for me.

      Those few years change things a lot. Still, hate that Dean had to die and Sam had to live without his brother for so many years…it’s often how life is, but I didn’t want to see it happening to my favourite characters of my favourite show. And I wasn’t prepared to see it, because yes, I believed that the finale was going to be tragic, but I always assumed that the brothers would die together. They’ve seen each other die too many times…how many times can you see the death of a person you love? One is too many…I can’t even imagine being in Sam’s place. And Dean deserved better, that’s for sure.

      • I think if it had really been right after they defeated Chuck, I would have had a hard time with the ending too. I need to believe, like Jensen said recently, that they had a good few years, lived the life they wanted, were happy. I expect tragedy from this show, but that would have been TOO much tragedy! And I’m also very glad the last scene was of the brothers reunited – and happy once again. It helps me to know that Jared and Jensen are so happy with the finale as it turned out too, since it affects them perhaps most of all.

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