Sam and Dean Winchester have died a lot on Supernatural. Almost 120 times combined, if you want to be technical about it. There is a reason they’ve got their own personal Reaper who is just dying (pun very much intended) to take their souls one final time. All Sam and Dean’s deaths, resurrections or just simple dumb luck incidents of survival aren’t equal, though. Some feats of defying death are much more impressive than others. Here are the eight most impressive times Sam and Dean survived against all the odds.
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8. Dean Overdoses (For No Reason) – Season 11, Episode 17 “Red Meat”
This is one is impressive just for how reckless and ballsy it was for Dean to even try. Thinking that Sam was dead, Dean killed himself just so he could reason with Billie the reaper to let his brother live. The only problem was that Sam wasn’t actually dead, just very wounded. Thankfully, a doctor saved Dean from his foolish gambit but the episode is just a testament to how casual death is for Sam and Dean. “Red Meat” is just one long episode of Billie playing hot potato with the Winchesters. The hot potato being death, never-ending death.
7. John Switches Fatal Places with Dean – Season 2, Episode 1 “In My Time of Dying”
In all honesty Sam and Dean did very little to prevent or stop the first time either one of them died. Supernatural almost ended all the way back in the season 2 premiere when Dean nearly died from a car crash. At the last moment John stepped in and made a deal to switch places so his son would live. This was in a time before death was routine on Supernatural so John sacrificing himself for Dean was as shocking as it was emotional. You can’t really count this resurrection on Sam or Dean’s hunting resumes, but it is easily one of the most memorable instances of Dean defying death.
6. “Samifer” Snaps Future Dean’s Neck – Season 5, Episode 4 “The End”
This death is less about who is dying and how it happening and more about who is doing the killing and when it is happening. This death never really stuck but that didn’t make the image of it any more striking. In “The End” Dean ends up traveling to an alternate version of the future where Lucifer wins and Sam becomes his vessel. The world is thrown into chaos and at the end of the episode Dean witnesses a future version of himself get his neck casually snapped by Lucifer, who is wearing his brother’s body and snappy white suit. It was a horrific vision of the future and in a weird roundabout way it is probably what spurred Dean so much to prevent Lucifer’s victory from happening in season 5.
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5. Dean Kills Death – Season 10, Episode 23 “Brother’s Keeper”
As is going to become clear the more you read this list, Dean has died way more times than Sam. Sam’s death count is nothing to sneeze at, but Dean is way in the lead when it comes to death scenes. So it was only fitting that eventually Dean would kill Death himself (or it is “itself”?). Yes, technically Dean only killed Death’s vessel, not really the concept of death altogether. Still, killing the Grim Reaper ranks among Death’s most impressive kills on Supernatural. It’s right below Hitler and Azazel, in that order.
4. All the Times Dean Died from Gabriel – Season 3, Episode 11 “Mystery Spot”
“Mystery Spot” is why Dean has such a high death count (over 100). Some, OK most, of these deaths were played for laughs, like Dean falling in the shower or dying like a cartoon character from a box being dropped on his head. “Mystery Spot” is, however, bookended with two emotional wallops of death scenes for Dean when it comes to Sam’s reactions.
In the first one, Sam has no idea he is stuck in a loop and in the last one, Sam can’t figure out how to get out of the loop. Sam’s impassioned plea to Gabriel to let his brother live and let them escape this reality remains one of the character’s best moments. Though upon reflection, maybe Gabriel should have let Sam stay inside the loop a little bit longer because he didn’t exactly handle Dean’s “real” death well when it did finally happen.
3. Sam Jumps into the Pit and Gets Back Out – Season 5, Episode 22 “Swan Song”
Sam and Dean ending the apocalypse and Lucifer’s original reign is probably the most impressive feat the brothers have achieved over the many seasons of the show. When it comes to defying death, though, Sam’s survival from this heroic sacrifice isn’t really that impressive. Not only did Sam survive just because of Castiel’s intervention, but he didn’t come back unscathed. Sam was completely missing his soul in season 6. Sam sacrificing himself to save the world is one of his most heroic moments. Sam’s resurrection and everything that followed after, not so much.
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2. Dean Raised from Hell – Season 4, Episode 1 “Lazarus Rising”
Different Winchester brother but the same reasoning. The image of Dean crawling out of his grave in the season 4 premiere is an extremely iconic one for Supernatural fans. Still, without Castiel Dean would very much still be dead. The reason this ranks above Sam’s resurrection is because of how hard it was for Dean to come to grips with life after his death. After Sam got his soul back, he returned to a relatively normal life. It took Dean years to come to grips with his death and his experiences in Hell. You could even argue that Dean’s knowledge that he gave into torture is still causing him pain in season 12. The impressive feat here is not that Dean came back, it is how he fought to regain his old self once he was alive again.
1. Sam Getting Stabbed by a Special Child – Season 2, Episode 21 “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1”
This is easily the most emotional Supernatural death for Sam or Dean. Things looked finally good for Sam and Dean. Sam had survived whatever Azazel threw at him in the abandoned town where he was kidnapped. Sam was one of the few survivors of the special children. Bobby and Dean were arriving to help Sam and everyone was about to be reunited. While distracted by the arrival of Bobby and Dean, Sam was stabbed to death by his fellow “special child” Jake.
Like Dean’s death, which opened season 2, this was a time before death was normal on the show. There was a real fear that Sam wouldn’t make it and he didn’t as he literally died in his brother’s arms. Sam’s death led Dean to sell his soul to allow Sam to live. This eventually led to Dean being dragged down to Hell at the end of season 3. Sam’s season 2 death was shocking and depressing but Dean’s successful attempt to save him was selfless and awe-inspiring.
So what do you think? What are some of your “favorite” Winchester death scenes? Do you agree with this list? What is the most impressive time you feel that Sam and Dean defied death? Which big death scenes did we miss?
Supernatural season 12 will return Thursday, January 26 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supernatural Facebook page!
(Images courtesy of The CW)