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Every Season Of Supernatural Ranked Worst To Best

"Supernatural" started life in 2005 as one of the many teen-oriented genre shows on the WB Network, the simple story of a pair of brothers who hunt demons, ghosts, and every other evil being that goes bump in the night. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester quickly connected with viewers, who became deeply invested in the brooding, often ill-fated brothers. While they remained true to their mission statement of "saving people, hunting things," their plight often became downright biblical, as they took on everyone from Lucifer to God himself.

The show's combination of brotherly devotion, fantastic scares, and good-natured humor resonated, allowing it to reach an unbelievable 15 seasons. It had its ups and downs, but the quality of the series never dipped for too long, and by the time the Winchesters laid down their weapons once and for all, they had left behind over 300 episodes: Funny, heartbreaking, and nail-biting stories, as well as a vast mythology that provides a whole new spin on heaven, hell, and everything in between.

But which season of "Supernatural" is the best, and which ones don't work quite as well? Here, based on Rotten Tomatoes critics ratings with audience scores serving as tie-breakers, we present every season of the series ranked worst to best.

15. Season 8

The exact midpoint in the series' 15 seasons, the eighth season of "Supernatural" is lowest in our ranking — not because it's all bad, but because it is uneven. While there are some great episodes, none of them stand out as much as the series' most beloved outings, and there are some elements that were hard for long-time fans to embrace. This is particularly true of Sam's romance with Amelia (Liane Balaban), who he meets and starts a relationship with while Dean is trapped in Purgatory.

In fact, after Dean frees himself and reunites with his brother, he learns Sam wasn't actively working to rescue him, creating a rift between the typically ride-or-die pair. The brothers' relationship devolves even further when Sam learns that Dean befriended and brought back a vampire named Benny (Ty Olsson) from Purgatory with him.

In many ways, the Winchesters are at their worst in Season 8, but that doesn't mean there aren't some bright spots. Particularly noteworthy is the plotline that sees Sam and Dean working with prophet Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) to translate the Demon Tablet in the hopes of sealing the Gates of Hell forever. Plus, the boys meet their paternal grandfather and, through him, learn about their family's legacy with the mysterious Men of Letters.

14. Season 14

By the time the 14th season rolled around, fans were too invested in the Winchester story to abandon the show. Still, this batch of episodes felt a bit lackluster, in part because the show was revisiting old plotlines that it had done better earlier in its run. In Season 5, Dean fights to avoid becoming the vessel for the archangel Michael. But here, he becomes the vessel for Michael from the Apocalypse World, who decides to use him to pursue a pro-monster agenda. While it's fun to see Ackles play a character other than Dean — a first for "Supernatural" — the storyline feels a little stale. Plus, Jack (Alexander Calvert), the son of Lucifer who the Winchesters all but adopted, dies multiple times, loses his soul, and accidentally kills Dean and Sam's mother Mary (Samantha Smith).

It's all a bit too familiar, making the season come across as more of a remix of past storylines than something fresh and new. Still, the season has some high points — especially the series' 300th episode, "Lebanon," which revolves around the emotional return of John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Sam and Dean's father. While the reunion is brief, it's a cathartic moment for Sam, Dean, and long-time fans.

13. Season 1

It's astonishing how many of the key ingredients of "Supernatural" were present from its very first episode: The vastly different brothers who still care deeply for each other, the difficult family history, even the Impala. From the beginning, it was clear that creator Eric Kripke had an epic story to tell. Yet Season 1 ranks at number 13 because the true breadth of that story isn't really made clear until the final few installments of the season. Until then, this initial batch of episodes largely consists of monster-of-the-week storylines, many of which aren't especially compelling, including "Bugs," which is often pointed to as the worst "Supernatural" episode ever.

However, the season still plants the seeds of the series' deep mythology, including hints of Sam's mysterious but growing psychic abilities, the introduction of the monster-killing Colt, and the yellow-eyed demon Azazel (Fredric Lehne). And on top of establishing the brotherhood that anchored "Supernatural" for 15 seasons, it also introduces the characters of John Winchester, Meg (Nicki Aycox), and especially Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), all of whom made an indelible mark on the series.

12. Season 4

While many fans love the fourth season of "Supernatural," there are those who take exception to just how dark it gets, and specifically how that darkness divides the Winchester brothers. Dean is resurrected after being dragged to Hell at the end of Season 3, only to learn that Sam has been working with the supposedly good demon Ruby (Genevieve Cortese) to tap into his demonically granted psychic powers. While Sam claims his only goal is to use his growing skills to bring down more monsters, his sneaking around and lying indicates that he knows he isn't exactly doing the right thing. Meanwhile, the demon responsible for killing Dean in the previous season attempts to break a series of 66 seals to free Lucifer from Hell and start the Apocalypse on Earth.

It's definitely a gloomy story, and it's difficult to watch Sam fall further and further under Ruby's spell. Nonetheless, this will also always be known as the season that introduces the fan-favorite character Castiel (Misha Collins). As the angel that raises Dean from heaven, Castiel is initially a question mark in the Winchester world of monsters and demons, but soon grows to become almost like a third brother.

11. Season 3

Coming in at number 11 is Season 3, which some fans were disappointed was reduced to 16 episodes (instead of the usual 20+) due to the 2007-2008 strike by the Writers Guild of America. Part of the problem is that the smaller number of episodes means that the season is dominated by the presence of the frustratingly written Bela Talbot (Lauren Cohan).

Bela, who procures mystical objects for the highest bidder, would have been a thorn in Sam and Dean's side even if she was simply an immoral adversary. However, Bela takes things one step further by going out of her way to hustle and even hurt the boys, while pulling focus from them for much of the first part of the season.

That said, the rest of the arc of season 3, which involves the brothers fighting to get Dean out of his contract with the demon Lilith before he's dragged to Hell, is solid. And it also features the introduction of another female character who fans greatly preferred over Bela: Katie Cassidy's version of Ruby.

10. Season 11

Just slipping into the top 10 is Season 11, which focuses on what happens after the Darkness is released at the end of the previous season. It's here that the series reveals that the Darkness, who prefers to be called Amara (Emily Swallow), is actually God's vengeful sister, introducing a divine soap opera into the Judeo-Christian mythology. God locked Amara away in order to create the world and now that she's been released, she's determined to destroy her brother's creation to teach him a lesson.

It falls to Sam, Dean, and Castiel to stop Amara, but she's pretty much as powerful as God. Yet while that raises the narrative stakes big time, the season doesn't adopt a pace to match, making it a little less satisfying than it might have been otherwise. Still, the 11th season features the stand-out episode "Baby," which is told entirely from the perspective of Dean's beloved Impala, an installment that demonstrates that even after so many seasons, "Supernatural" was still willing to take risks and experiment with its form.

9. Season 12

The 12th season of "Supernatural" returns once more to the Lucifer well, but with a twist: Lucifer is jumping vessels attempting to find one that can hold him without disintegrating. This leads to some amusing shenanigans, especially when Lucifer possesses a rock star played by Rick Springfield. But that's not the only thing going on during this jam-packed season.

Not only does Lucifer, in the guise of the American president, impregnate the commander-in-chief's assistant, leading to the impending birth of a half-human/half-angel Nephilim, the season also introduces a far less biblical threat in the form of the British Men of Letters. The newly arrived group is better funded, better trained, and more murderous than the American hunters, and they prove to be just as big a threat as the monsters the Winchesters regularly go up against.

The season also features the resurrection of Sam and Dean's mother Mary after decades away, leading to an uneasy reunion and Mary's unfortunate alliance with the British Men of Letters. If that weren't enough, in the season finale, the Winchesters and their allies do everything in their power to keep Lucifer away from his newborn son, leading to the shocking deaths of Crowley and Castiel, and the expulsion of Mary and Lucifer to an alternate dimension.

8. Season 13

By Season 13, "Supernatural" was definitely a little long in the tooth, but this new batch of episodes managed to be a bit more vital than some of the other later seasons. The Nephilim Jack grows into a teenager within moments of being born, and with Jack's mother gone, it falls to the Winchesters to take him under their wing. This puts them in the strange position of becoming father figures to a boy who may have preternatural abilities and looks like an adolescent but knows next to nothing about the world.

The show also addresses the idea of alternate dimensions by stranding Mary and Lucifer in another world torn apart by angels. It's a plot point that gives the show the perfect excuse to bring back new versions of beloved deceased characters like Bobby and Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day). While this could be seen as pure fan service, it still fits into the context of the story and allows the show to consider what would happen if some of their most well-known characters were shaped by different circumstances.

But the stand-out episode of the season is "Scoobynatural," the one and only animated adventure of the series. In it, Sam, Dean, and Castiel are sucked into an episode of "Scooby-Doo," leading the Scooby gang to learn that ghosts are actually real.

7. Season 15

The stars of "Supernatural" sent shockwaves through the fandom when they announced Season 15 would be the series' last. The show had gone on for so long, fans had started to hope it might continue forever. However, the decision to finally bring the story to a close meant that expectations for the 15th season were higher than ever. The show attempted to meet them by having Chuck go full vengeful God (Rob Benedict). Having God be the show's final Big Bad made sense and created some epic moments, but was also polarizing, given that it was a big change from Chuck's warm relationship with the Winchesters for most of the series.

The season also stumbled by attempting to wedge in a confirmation that Castiel had feelings for Dean. While the moment is meant to acknowledge and validate fans of the Destiel ship, Castiel died immediately afterward, making it yet another example of the "Bury Your Gays" trope. Plus, many fans took issue with the series finale, which was tragic, funny, and for some, totally enraging. The split between those who loved Season 15 and those who hated it is why the series' swan song is so close to the midpoint of this ranking.

6. Season 7

Season 7 boasts some of the most memorable villains "Supernatural" has ever seen: the Leviathan, the first creatures God created. Part of the reason they are so memorable is that they're kind of gross. Their primary goal in life is to eat ... everything. In fact, God banished them to Purgatory to keep them from chowing down on the rest of his creations. Unfortunately, in his misguided quest to become the new God, Castiel releases them, leading to all sorts of problems.

The show creates an engaging mix of humor, despair, and action. Nowhere is the despair more potent than in the poignant death of the boys' surrogate father Bobby, who tries to hang on even after he dies to help Sam and Dean, only to start evolving into a vengeful spirit. At the other end of the emotional spectrum is the introduction of computer hacker Charlie Bradbury, who brings a buoyant lightness to the show, even in dire circumstances.

Season 7 ends on a shocking cliffhanger when Dean and Castiel are pulled into Purgatory. Together, it all creates a strong season-long arc with consequences that reverberate into the next season.

5. Season 9

Kicking off the top five is Season 9, which takes place in the immediate aftermath of all of the angels being expelled from Heaven. This leaves Sam and Dean to fight both the interlopers from above and the Knight of Hell, Abaddon (Alaina Huffman). But first, Dean has to heal Sam after the failed ritual to seal the Gates of Hell, leading him to secretly invite an angel to possess his brother, a decision that leads to tragedy when the angel smites Kevin Tran.

Meanwhile, the second half of the season deals with Dean and Crowley's (Mark Sheppard) search for the First Blade and Dean taking on the Mark of Cain in order to dispatch Abaddon. At the same time, Castiel and Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) square off in a battle for leadership of the angels. Of course, this leads to Dean's ill-advised decision to go up against Metatron, whose brutal takedown of the Mark of Cain-infected Winchester leads to perhaps the biggest reason this season is remembered: the shocking last moments of the finale, in which an expired Dean opens his blacked-out eyes, revealing he's become a demon. It was a development that left fans reeling, the perfect capper to a season where the brothers are forced to make impossible decisions to save each other and the world.

4. Season 6

During the initial few seasons of "Supernatural," it was rumored that the show would end with season 5. Of course, that didn't happen, but even though the show went on, it did so without creator Eric Kripke as showrunner. With executive producer Sera Gamble now in charge of steering the story, the series could have jumped the shark. Luckily, as can be seen by its number four ranking, "Supernatural" didn't just maintain its quality, it improved.

The season starts with Sam on Earth, mysteriously freed from Lucifer's Cage in Hell and hunting monsters with his resurrected grandfather Samuel (Mitch Pileggi). Meanwhile, Dean is living a normal life with girlfriend Lisa (Cindy Sampson) and her son Ben (Nicholas Elia), but is still hypervigilant about what could be lurking in the shadows of suburbia. It doesn't take long for Dean to re-team with Sam and discover his brother is missing his soul. Or for the duo to begin to realize there's a shocking conspiracy behind the returns of Sam and Samuel.

While this would make the season thrilling enough on its own, the sixth season also includes "The French Mistake" — widely considered the show's single best episode — in which Sam and Dean are transported to an alternate reality where they're actors named "Jared Padalecki" and "Jenson Ackles." It's a hilarious episode that is as entertaining on its own as it is in the context of the season-long story arc.

3. Season 10

A decade in, "Supernatural" manages to continue to go in new creative directions in Season 10. Dean spends the first few episodes as a demon, but even after he's human again, he continues to contend with the malevolent influence of the Mark of Cain. The season also follows up on the story of Claire (Kathryn Newton), the now-teenage daughter of Castiel's vessel Jimmy Novak, who Castiel decides to attempt to help after learning her life deteriorated after her father deserted his family. There's the introduction of Rowena (Ruth Connell) as well, a powerful witch who is soon revealed to be Crowley's mother.

Rowena becomes a key player in the brothers' fight to remove the Mark of Cain, as does Death (Julian Richings), whose help Dean seeks out. Dean's deal with Death leads to an especially memorable scene between the Winchester brothers that results in a surprise no one, especially Death, sees coming.

It's a noteworthy climax to a season that also boasts the show's very meta 200th episode, "Fan Fiction," which centers on a musical production of Sam and Dean's story at an all-girls high school. The musical both comments on and mocks the quirks of "Supernatural" with songs like "A Single Man Tear" and "I'll Just Wait Here Then," sung by the teenager playing Castiel.

2. Season 5

Season 5 is the final chapter in the epic story arc that started in the first season, and the end of Eric Kripke's initial vision for the series. While it isn't the last season of "Supernatural," it's so grand in scope and ends on such a perfect note, it very well could have made for a satisfying conclusion.

The plot focuses on the Winchester brothers' efforts to stop the coming Apocalypse, while also resisting the archangel Michael and Lucifer's brazen attempts to manipulate them into serving as their vessels. Their battle leads to the heartbreaking deaths of Jo (Alona Tal) and Ellen (Samantha Ferris) as well as the introduction of Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and the chilling Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The season is alternately moving, amusing, and poignantly sad, but entertaining throughout. It's a grand conclusion to a five-season-long story that rarely hit a false note.

1. Season 2

While the fifth season of "Supernatural" reaches impressive storytelling heights, Season 2 arguably goes even higher, resulting in its first-place ranking. The season starts with the tragic death of John Winchester and includes the even more agonizing death of Sam in the penultimate episode. But what really makes this season stand out is the way it unravels the mystery of why Sam has psychic abilities, introduces other people who were granted powers like Sam's, and finally reveals what the demon Azazel's goal is for these psychic individuals.

While the show is still finding the right balance between monster-of-the-week and serialized storytelling in Season 2, it ultimately tells an engrossing tale with such massive implications for the Winchesters that it's easy to get caught up in the plot. The season is also more confident than the first, taking bigger and bolder strides toward building a mythology that continues to grow until the show's conclusion. Plus, with their father gone, Sam and Dean's undying devotion to one another is solidified, an emotional bond that's essential to the show's ongoing plot — and its appeal.