'Supernatural': 16 Essential Episodes to Binge Before The CW Favorite Ends for Good

With 'Supernatural' ending after season 15, mourn the news while simultaneously celebrating the show's long and impressive legacy with this binge guide to the most essential episodes.
The CW Network

After an impressive 15-season run, The CW's Supernatural will do the seemingly impossible and say goodbye for the final time during the 2019-2020 broadcast season.

Series stars Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins announced that the long-running series, the last from the former WB Network, will end after season 15. 

While Supernatural is still in the midst of its 14th season (with another 20 episodes to begin in October), the end of the series that nobody thought would ever end is finally in sight. To mourn the surprising news and mark the upcoming end of an era, The Hollywood Reporter rounded up the 16 most essential Supernatural episodes for the perfect binge-watch to help die-hard viewers drown their sorrows. From the comedic and offbeat meta episodes to the grand finales that always seemed to end the world to every single heartbreaking bromantic moment, this list has it all. So cue up "Carry on Wayward Son" and get started! (Seasons one through 13 are currently streaming on Netflix.) 

16. "Pilot" — Season 1, Episode 1

Can't start a Supernatural binge-watch of all the most essential episodes without looking back on how far the Winchester brothers have come since the very first episode. They were so young! That hair! Those faces!

15. "Nightshifter" — Season 2, Episode 12

All those times impersonating FBI agents came to a head when the Winchesters earned their spots on the FBI's most wanted list themselves. It was a thoughtful look at all the carnage they've left in their wake and introduced a new wrinkle into their lives as hunters always having to watch their backs from humans in additions to the monsters hunting them.

14. "The Man Who Would Be King" — Season 6, Episode 20

For all the Castiel fans out there, this episode was a win as the angel's mysterious story from the entire season was finally explained. And it was more shocking than anyone could have predicted, as it turned out that Cas actually teamed up with the enemy and marked a much darker arc for the character than ever before.

13. "The Monster At the End of This Book" — Season 4, Episode 18

One of the best meta episodes of the entire series, this season four entry introduced fans to Chuck Shurley, a prophet who turned his visions of the Winchesters into a massively popular book series. It was a tongue-in-cheek look back at some of Sam and Dean's more beloved and hated adventures so far filled with so many in jokes, but it wasn't until season 11 that Supernatural confirmed that Chuck really is God, answering a question that been lingering for seven years. Bonus episode: "Fan Fiction," the fifth episode of season 10 that kind of hinted for the first time that Chuck was God, but still left it open to interpretation for fans for just a little while longer. Plus, it's a Supernatural musical!

12. "The French Mistake" — Season 6, Episode 15

Another meta episode worth a revisit during every Supernatural binge is the one where the fourth wall gets so destroyed that you'll forget it was ever there. Sam and Dean were trapped in an alternate dimension where they were actually actors named Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, working on a show called Supernatural about brothers hunting monsters. Sound familiar? And Misha Collins playing himself was a true series highlight.

11. "Changing Channels" — Season 5, Episode 8

If there's not enough time to watch every meta episode, this is the one to include in a binge. Not only did it brilliantly skewer every genre of TV, it also expanded the mythology of Supernatural in a surprising and epic way.

10. "Abandon All Hope" — Season 5, Episode 10

Ellen and Jo deserved better, but at least they went out in this blaze of glory. Wouldn't expect anything less from the two most badass female hunters that have ever existed in a male-dominated world.

9. "Devil's Trap" — Season 1, Episode 22

The beginning of the end for John Winchester is enough to inspire tears in any Supernatural fan. Plus: Bobby's first episode!

8. "Heaven and Hell" — Season 4, Episode 10

Every single Supernatural episode has a brotherly bonding moment at the end, usually with a bottle of beer on the side of the road after they've successfully closed a case. This might be the best one yet, as Dean finally confessed to Sam about how after 30 years of torture in hell, he finally relented and became a torturer himself. The raw emotion and guilt on Dean's face was palpable. Chills every time. 

7. "All Hell Breaks Loose" — Season 2, Episodes 21-22

The final showdown between the Winchester family and the Yellow-Eyed Demon was the culmination of the entire Winchester family journey so far that shaped all their lives for better...and mostly for worse. 

6. "Baby" — Season 11, Episode 4

While not essential for the plot of the series, this episode is an absolute must for any binge-watch in celebration of the show for the creative risks it took in telling an entire story from the point of view of Baby, Dean's beloved Chevy Impala. As the unofficial third member of the Winchester family, this car was so much more important than it ever really got credit for...until this memorable and heartfelt love letter of an installment.

5. "The End" — Season 5, Episode 4

Seeing the world five years in the future after Sam became Lucifer's vessel, while funny and compelling mostly, ended up being one of the most heartbreaking episodes when Sam-as-Lucifer killed Dean. It proved just how high the stakes were as the apocalypse loomed.

4. "Mystery Spot" — Season 3, Episode 11

Want to cry a lot? This episode where Dean dies over and over again to teach Sam a lesson about how he can't save his brother from being cursed to hell is one of the best, most emotional and bromantic hours of Supernatural ever. It's also pretty hilarious to watch all the different and creative ways the writers came up with to kill Dean over and over...and over...and over....

3. "Lazarus Rising" — Season 4, Episode 1

Can't have a Supernatural binge-watch of all the essential episode without including the seminal episode where the mythology of angels was introduced with Castiel's epic entrance, black shadowy wings and all. Plus, Dean came back from Hell after a summer full of anxiety.

2. "No Rest for the Wicked" — Season 3, Episode 16

For proof that Supernatural constantly subverts expectations, look no further than this gut-wrenching finale. There was no last-minute save or loophole for Dean; he was literally dragged to hell while Sam could only look on and watch in horror. The ticking clock ended in total devastation, and it made for one of the best episodes of Supernatural ever. And that "Dead or Alive" karaoke scene is one of the best musical moments of the entire series as well.

1. "Swan Song" — Season 5, Episode 22

The ending that original series creator Eric Kripke had in mind plays out as the apocalypse arrives and Dean watches as his brother Sam, acting as Lucifer's vessel, sacrifices himself to save the world. What would have been the perfect series finale is still one of the best episodes of the series when the show's life was extended (long past year five). Plus, it gave fans this iconic Castiel insult: "Hey, assbutt!"