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The Outrage Over Supernatural Season 15's Latest Episode

Contains spoilers for the Supernatural season 15 episode "Despair"

On September 18, 2008 Supernatural aired "Lazarus Rising," the first episode of its fourth season. The story which saw Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) pulled tight and raised him from perdition marked a significant departure for the series. After three years of stories built on the foundation of pagan myths and urban legends, fans were introduced to a more Christian-based mythology. We'd seen demons before, but for the first we were informed that angels were real, too.

There have been a lot of angels on Supernatural in the eleven years since, but the angel who saved Dean from hell in season 4, and who's been with the Winchester boys ever since, is Castiel (Misha Collins). Castiel is often confused by humanity and almost always literal, but he's also easily one of the most beloved characters Supernatural has ever featured.

The most important thing to know about Castiel is this — he's in love with Dean. Or, perhaps it's better to say that fans have seen more than a friendship between Castiel and Dean over the years. And while Supernatural has, on numerous occasions, paid homage to the show's sizable and intense fandom, they have never canonized the relationship fans refer to as "Destiel" — until now.

Unfortunately, rather than excitement over a long-awaited acknowledgment of fan's belief that there was romance between Castiel and Dean, there is outrage as one of the most maligned tropes in fiction rears it's head: Bury your gays.

Bury your gays: a brief history

If you're unfamiliar with the term "bury your gays," in short it is the tendency in TV and film for queer characters to be viewed as more expendable than their heterosexual counterparts. Notably, GLAAD published a detailed analysis in 2016 noting that, "25 lesbian and bisexual female identifying characters died on scripted broadcast and cable television and streaming series since the beginning of 2016."

Shows like The 100, The Walking Dead, and Star Trek: Discovery found themselves rainbow flagged by a disappointed queer fandom demanding better representation after each show killed off an important queer character from its roster.

While Supernatural was not called out in 2016, it has historically been known to kill off any characters who are not Sam (Jared Padelecki), Dean, or Castiel. As a result, that means a lot of women on Supernatural have a nasty habit of being killed off (a related trope known as "fridging"). In the episode "Dark Dynasty," which aired on May 6, 2015, Supernatural's one, semi-regular queer character Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) was murdered.

Since then, Supernatural has used the fact that it is set in a fantastical world to bring a number of dead heroes back from the dead — Charlie included. However, in the latest episode, "Despair," the show not only killed its queer characters all over again, it did so by finally affirming what many fans had long suspected — Castiel is queer and in love with Dean.

Castiel says I love you

In "Despair," Sam, Dean, and Castiel are trying to foil the plan of Billie (Lisa Berry), who just so happens to be Death. Death's plan is to become God and kill off every single person on Supernatural who was ever brought back from the dead, was secreted over from a parallel universe, or otherwise cheated the cosmos in her estimation.

The episode returns Charlie to the storyline, introduces Charlie's new girlfriend Stevie (Catherine Lough Haggquist), and then immediately culls Stevie, seemingly as a part of Billie's plan. Later in the episode, once we discover that it is God and not Death behind the slayings, Charlie is also killed. In fact, we're led to believe that, at this point, everyone on Earth save for Sam, Dean, Cas, and Jack (Alexander Calvert) is dead.

Which brings us to Castiel. In a previous season, Castiel made a deal with an entity strong enough to stop Billie called The Empty (Rachel Miner). Castiel agreed he would die if he ever experienced a moment of perfect happiness. Castiel goes on to question what happiness might even look like for him, and as Death literally bangs down the door to kill them both, Castiel realizes how he can find true happiness and call The Empty. "I never found an answer because the one thing I want is something I know I can't have," Cas explains to Dean. "But 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 says to Dean, making official what fans have believed to be true for 11 years. "Goodbye, Dean."

And with that, The Empty appears and kills both Castiel and Billie in one fell swoop.

Supernatural fans were displeased.

Fans react to Castiel's death

A quick search for the phrase "bury your gays" on Twitter as of this writing yields a metric ton of tweets about Supernatural. User, @moonlillies was retweeted nearly three thousand times when they wrote, "for context for the people who aren't caught up cas had a deal with the empty where as soon as he felt happiness he'd be dragged to a place pretty much worse than hell and so this scene was literally just him confessing his love which made him so happy he fucking died." User @gwenstacying added to the statement "this isn't your normal everyday bury your gays. This is advanced bury your gays."

User @edgeworthlez shared a page from the script of "Despair" which includes the phrase "Dean can't reciprocate, but Cass doesn't need him to," adding, "the writers are literally so homophobic it's hilarious."

The fan response was perhaps best summed up by @HeyRowanEllis, who wrote, "going immediately from queerbaiting to bury your gays with no payoff in between is the most @#$ing Supernatural thing."

With only two episodes left before Supernatural ends its record-breaking 15-season run, it's unknown whether this is the actual end for Castiel or not. For the moment, however, many long-time fans are disappointed and angry that series writers decided to finally acknowledge the fan belief that Cas and Dean were in love only to immediately kill the one queer character of the two.