Why Fans Think Dean Overshadowed Sam In Supernatural

As the older of the two Winchester brothers on The CW's long-running horror-fantasy series "Supernatural," Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) is the driven (and Chevy-Impala-driving) character often motivated by his role as protector of younger, more thoughtful brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) as the pair hunt down the show's monster of the week. 

While both brothers shoulder similar responsibilities when taking down the latest episode's evil entity, Dean is clearly more ruthless and unquestioning in his monster-slaying, while Sam tends to be both more emotional and analytical in his approach. As noted in the essay "Latchkey Hero: Masculinity, Class and the Gothic in Eric Kripke's Supernatural" posted on the University of Colorado's website, the psychological underpinnings of Dean's single-minded, occasionally manic attitude as a hunter may be due to the childhood trauma of losing his parents. This early loss of familial security later forces him to overcompensate via slaying monsters and protecting Sam, who, as the younger, dependent sibling, evinces a more conventional and empathetic nature. (Well, as empathetic as any monster-killer can be.) So while there's no debate the two personas are clearly different in many ways, what is the key difference that fans feel causes Dean to overshadow Sam in "Supernatural"?

Fans feel Ackles' acting chops highlighted Dean vs. Sam on Supernatural

While audience response to any given character on a TV show or in a film depends on multiple factors, the innate talent of an actor or actress is often what tips the balance. In the case of Jensen Ackles' Dean Winchester, fans have made it clear how they feel he measures up.

In the "Supernatural" subreddit discussion titled, "I just was wondering how Dean's back is doing after carrying all 15 seasons of SPN," u/AdAlone3213 wrote, "I really do think that Sam was supposed to be the actual star but I think that Jensen's phenomenal acting threw a wrench in that." Redditor u/yaaaaaaqueen also feels that Ackles' portrayal registered as more dramatically credible, writing, "Totally agree! Jensen was Dean Winchester through and through whereas I felt that you could see Jared acting at playing Sam." The original poster, u/creekfreak92, wrote, "Dean is just overall funnier, cooler, hotter, more selfless, a better person," adding that while they still love Sam's character, he could also be boring and annoying in some instances.

In fairness, it must be noted that some fans commenting on the same thread hold an opposing view. In this regard, another user spoke up in Sam's defense, insisting that Ackles and Padalecki make a synergistic and relatable duo and that "the show wouldn't have worked without one or the other; neither was carrying the plot, they were co-stars from start to finish!"