Top 10 Supernatural Episodes (Seasons 1-5)

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When I first started watching Supernatural, I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed it. On a network known for peddling teen soap operas, I was impressed that they were carrying a show about two brothers, driving a ’67 Impala across the U.S. in search of monsters to kill, while listening to classic rock. This wasn’t a show for those whose tastes ran to Gilmore Girls and Smallville, but it was a show for monster kids looking for revenge after the popularity of Stephanie Meyer.

Unlike most shows, Supernatural didn’t just take place in New York or Los Angeles, it had stories set across the U.S. This gave the audience a greater connection to the characters and what they were fighting for. Sam and Dean are not hot young doctors or privileged college students, they’re blue-collar guys. The characters live in and visit towns that make up much of America, and while plot lines may revolve around ghosts and fallen angels, I’d wager most of us can relate more to gruff hunter Bobby Singer and tough bartender Ellen Harvelle, than we can to…a young Carrie Bradshaw.

Created by Eric Kripke, Supernatural began airing in 2005, with original plans to be three seasons long, but the storyline was later expanded to five. Kripke wanted to tell a complete arc of how the Winchesters find the demon that murdered their mother and save the world through sacrifice. The series has expanded beyond the initially planned arc of course and is now heading into its ninth season.

As a fan of the show, I wanted to combine a Halloween list for Nerd Reactor that might encompass the original arc that Kripke had in mind, so no disrespect to later seasons, but right now we’re taking a look at 1-5.

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Pilot (Season 1 Ep. 1)

This is a solid first episode and an excellent entry into the series. The episode begins with the inexplicable murder of Mary Winchester as her husband John and his two sons gaze on in horror. Flash forward twenty-two years, where we are introduced to Sam Winchester, law student, and his girlfriend Jess. Late one night Sam receives a visit from his estranged brother, Dean who informs Sam that their father is missing. Sam and Dean come together to look for a “woman in white’ which was the case their father was on when he disappeared. This episode is solid. Giving one of the best introductions to a series ever. We get the hook, the characters and the reason for the series, as clear as can be.

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Dead Man’s Blood (Season 1 Ep. 20)

This episode follows Sam and Dean to Boulder, Colorado as they find proof of a mystical colt pistol that is said to be able to kill demons. In pursuit of the colt, they run afoul of a nest of vampires whom they will have to destroy. This episode introduces the “Mcguffin” of the colt, an item that would prove more important to Supernatural mythology as the series went on. This is also the first mention of vampires in the show.

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Crossroads Blues (Season 2 Ep. 8)

I love it when an episode of Supernatural brings in a historical element. This episode hinges entirely upon the legend of Robert Johnson, the blues man who supposedly sold his soul for the ability to play a guitar (They riff on this in O’ Brother Where Art Thou). The episode begins with the death of Johnson at the razor sharp maws of invisible hounds. We then catch up with Sam and Dean as they investigate a series of dog attacks that seem to be connected to the victims selling their souls.

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Jus In Bello (Season 3 Ep. 11)

This episode is a Western, pure and simple, which makes sense, because Supernatural is truly “American” show in every way, from the road trips to the soundtrack. After getting arrested, Sam and Dean have to protect a small town place station from a horde of demons that are possessing the townsfolk. This episode is like The Alamo and Assault on Presinct 13 all rolled into one.

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Ghostfacers (Season 3 Ep. 13)

This episode is a brilliant send up of the “Ghost Hunters” shows seen on places like the Discovery Channel and SyFy. Sam and Dean cross paths with some amateur ghost hunters shooting a reality show. This episode uses the documentary style to provide laughs and scares in equal measure. The Ghostfacers would become occasional foils for the Winchesters in future seasons.

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Mystery Spot (Season 3 Ep. 11)

This pivotal episode provides some excellent pitch black humor, but also gives us a psychological change in Sam as he if forced to witness his brother die over and over again. When the Winchesters investigate a tourist trap to look for a missing man they are caught in a time loop similar to the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, only Dean dies repeatedly and Sam is powerless to stop it. Fortunately Sam finds the trickster god responsible and learns that he is intent on teaching Sam an important lesson.

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Monster Movie (Season 4 Ep. 5)

Supernatural has done some excellent homages to monsters before, but nothing beats this episodes call back to the Universal Monsters. Showcased in brilliant black and white, this episode finds the brothers investigating a series of murders at an Oktoberfest where people are being killed by classic movie monsters. This episode features top notch comedic performances from both Jensen Ackles and Jered Padelecki as they try to navigate a campy world where vampires wear capes and mummies attack security guards.

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The End (Season 5 Ep. 4)

Most viewers of Supernatural were wondering if they’d every get around to do a zombie apocalypse episode, and in the shows fifth season they were not disappointed. Dean wakes up five years in the future after Lucifer has brought on the apocalypse and the Coatoan virus has devastated the population. Dean gets to see what will happen if he doesn’t fulfill his destiny as Michael’s vessel. This episode has John Carpenter vibe to it, showing a battle-hardened Dean leading a pack of scrappy survivors, even as Lucifer-possessed Sam has control of the world.

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Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Season 5 Ep. 15)

The dead are rising from the grave in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as a part of the apocalyptic prophecy, and when the brothers go to investigate they find that Bobby is now living with his fully restored, previously deceased wife. This episode is a tear-jerker, because everyone in town is happy to have their departed loved ones back, the luster soon wears off when the recently reanimated turn into flesh-hungry zombies. This is a strong Bobby-centric episode and offers his character much in the way of development and back story.

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Two Minutes to Midnight (Season 5 Ep. 21)

This episode covers a lot of ground in the lead up to the story arc finale; angels, demons, the four horseman of the apocalypse, leading up to the end of the world. Even with all of the major events happening in the episode, the reason to watch is Dean’s sit down with the horseman Death. In a Pizza Parlor littered with dead bodies, Dean asks Death for his ring in order win the war with Lucifer, both Ackles and Julian Richings as Death deliver crisp and personal performances in this scene. There is more tension and gravitas happening in their single scene together than in much of the series’ previous four seasons.

Though there are so many to choose from, these are some of my my favorite episodes, but I’d like to know, what are some of yours? Let us know in the comments.

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Robert Walker
Robert Walker 152 posts

Rob Walker is a writer and filmmaker in Colorado, and is creator of the comedy web series Victorian Cut-out Theatre. He loves horror films and comic books (American Vampire, Jonah Hex, The Flash, Planetary). Rob has been a Sherlockian since the age of ten, is a Dark Tower junky and believes that Indiana Jones is the greatest cinematic hero ever created. You can follow him on twitter at: @timidwerewolf and see his other writings and videos at robwalkerfilms.com