CW TV show ‘Supernatural’ features a LGBTQ love confession, then deletes all online content of the show
It was November, 5th and we were stilling waiting for the presidential election results. My friends and I got grilled by a school newspaper reporter, while getting our grilled cheese, on our thoughts about the election and political climate on campus. We walked back to our house with bated breath. I stress baked a batch of cookies. Finally, my roommate, Greta, told me the news from the internet, saying, “Destiel is canon.”Suffice it to say, this not the kind of news that I expected.
Greta proceeded to show me the video, a clip of episode 15×18 of Supernatural titled, “Despair,” Cas says to Dean, “…the one thing I want…it’s something I know I can’t have. But I think I know…I think I know now. Happiness isn’t in the having. It’s in just being…It’s in just saying it…I love you.” Cas then proceeded to die, being consumed by the Empty, which is the afterlife for angels on the show. Oh, yeah, Castiel is an angel. Perhaps I should backtrack in case you haven’t watched as much of Supernatural as I have. Granted, even I haven’t watched all of the episodes because there are fifteen seasons of Supernatural, so most readers probably haven’t seen all of it.
Supernatural is a monster-of-the-week TV show on the CW network that first aired in 2005. Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) is one the protagonists who hunts monsters, the other being his brother, Sam (Jared Padelecki). In Season 5, an angel named Castiel, “raised Dean from perdition.” The character, played by Misha Collins, quickly became a fan favorite, and a regular on the show. I heard about “Destiel”, the ship name (shipping is what fans call wanting a pairing to end up together romantically). I didn’t instantly ship it, mostly because the idea of “shipping” two men together who had been portrayed as friends, was foreign concept to me as a repressed and closeted teenager.
Then I watched the episode “I’m No Angel” in which Cas (the nickname that Dean chose for Castiel) ends up getting killed by grim reaper and Deans says, “Cas” with such tenderness that suddenly I saw it. Dean loved Cas, and Cas loved him too. Finally, on November 5th, it was at least confirmed that Castiel was in love with Dean Winchester. Misha Collins even confirmed on twitter that this Castiel was making a homosexual declaration of love. Except that it wasn’t confirmed that Dean loved Cas.
Then the Spanish dub of Destiel came out and Dean said I love you back, saying, “Yo a ti”, or “I do to,” in Spanish. The internet erupted again, with fans theorizing that Dean said this in the original English, but that it was edited out of the final cut. The tag, “They Silenced You” began to trend on twitter targeted at the Supernatural show runners. Misha Collins then tweeted that there was a rogue translator that wrote that part of the Supernatural script. There is some precedent for this, as there have been translations of Supernatural that have suggested more strongly at Destiel than the original English version in the past, like the Albanian version that translated Dean calling Cas, “sunshine”, into Dean calling Cas his “soulmate”. However, it would be highly unusual and unprofessional for a translator to write the line, “Yo a ti,” out of nowhere.
Many fans are excited about Destiel being canon at least on some level, but disappointed that Cas died right afterward, falling into the “bury your gays” trope, which is the pattern of LGBTQ characters commonly dying in various forms of media. It didn’t help that he ended up going to the Empty a place that Supernatural is even worse than hell, causing fans on the internet to jokingly dub it “Turbohell”, since LGBTQ people consistly have to deal with being told that we’re going to hell. Cas apparently wasn’t “permakilled”, a term which means permanently killed because he is mentioned to be in heaven as in angel in the finale. However, he is never seen again by Sam or Dean, and never gets to have an actual conversation with Dean about their feelings for each other.
Not only did Cas die in Supernatural Ep. 15×18, “Despair”, the canonically lesbian character Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day), and her girlfriend died too. Her girlfriend was actually the first to go, causing Charlie to ask Sam and Dean, “Are we just collateral damage to you?” Maybe they’re not collateral damage to Sam and Dean, but they clearly are to the Supernatural writers. LGBTQ characters aren’t the only ones to disproportionately get killed on Supernatural, this is also common for female characters, characters of color, and disabled characters. Which makes Charlie’s girlfriend fit into that pattern perfectly as a queer, Black woman. It’s unclear whether or not Charlie and her girlfriend were brought back to life. I think they were supposed to be, but viewers never actually see them again past their deaths.
Part of the Supernatural’s cast and crew’s explanation for all of these concerns was that COVID changed their filming process and content they were able to put in the episodes. Filming itself had been put on pause, causing “Despair” to air on election day instead of during the spring. This excuse is frustrating because Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles did film together, surely they could have had a longer conversation? Surely Castiel didn’t need to die permanently since Misha Collins was part of the main cast and was part of the filming as usual. It’s frustrating because the show has been queerbaiting fans for years, a term for “creators hinting at, but never actually depicting same-sex romance or other LGBTQ representation”(Wikipedia). They had lines like, “He’s [Cas] in love- with humanity,” and Cas saying to Dean and Sam, “I love you. I love all of you.” And instead of listening to fans concerns what did they do? CW deleted all the Supernatural content off of their website and YouTube.
Well, Supernatural belongs to the fans now. Perhaps I never loved the show itself, so much as the concept, an angel falling in love with humanity and by proxy falling in love with a human man. The allegory of queer people as angels who have fallen from grace. The concept of Supernatural as a metaphor for that complicated relationship with religion and with our parents that most of us have. As Tumblr user, Clairenovvak wrote, “I really am obsessed with supernatural as a concept. It’s one of the worst pieces of media I’ve ever willingly consumed in my life and yet I think Castiel is the greatest character ever written. To which, user Supernatural2005 replied, “someone said spn stannies [stalker fans] love blackout poetry because that’s the way we consume the show”. It’s true that we see bits and pieces of the show that we enjoy and we write fanfiction for the rest. So to me, Dean and Cas, Charlie and her girlfriend, all grow old together.