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Why Supernatural Fans Are Divided Over The Show After Season 5

Few shows have maintained as devoted a fanbase as "Supernatural." Following Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) who specialize in hunting things that go bump in the night, the show lasted for a staggering 15 seasons. Partly a paranormal police procedural a-la "The X-Files" and partly a serialized drama with the fate of the world in balance, it was a series that established a mind-bending range of tones, from comedy to biblical drama, all with an expansive sense of world-building that grew larger with every season.

However, not every "Supernatural" fan thinks the quality was maintained over the show's decade and a half on air. Notably, creator and initial showrunner Eric Kripke left the series after Season 5, which culminated in an emotional season finale and the prevention of the apocalypse. Explaining his decision to leave, Kripke told Entertainment Weekly in 2020 that the pressure around creating the show had become too much for him "The creative never suffered through the first four years," the showrunner said. "And I'm not saying it suffered in Season 5 but for the first time, I felt weirdly sloppier than I was in the past. That scared me."

But unlike the lyrics to the Kansas song featured across the series, there was no peace when "Supernatural" was done. Whether because of Kripke's departure, or because the storyline for those first five years felt like a complete arc in a way that never quite manifested for the rest of the show's lifespan, fans of "Supernatural" remain divided on whether the quality was up to par in Season 6 and beyond. This disagreement in the fandom often spills over into spirited discussions, and one such debate took place in a recent discussion on Reddit.

Some think Supernatural falls off after Season 5, but many disagree

The perceived drop-off in quality after Season 5 among segments of the "Supernatural" fandom has rubbed some newer viewers the wrong way. "You guys really made it seem like supernatural after season 5 is the worst thing on the planet," wrote u/JamesHatesLife in a post on the "Supernatural" Reddit board. "I finished watching it the other day and I loved every season." While the post did acknowledge that there were "bad episodes" among the later seasons, it still sparked a conversation that split the fandom.

Some fans feel that important contributions to the show's legacy occurred in Season 6 and beyond, with u/Gamer-Logic noting that some of the most universally beloved episodes show up late in the show's run. "Without the other seasons," they wrote, "we wouldn't have gems like Fan-Fiction, Dog Dean Afternoon, Wishful Thinking, Changing Channels, Just My Imagination, The French Mistake, or Scoobynatural." Others were emphatic that nothing could surpass Seasons 1 through 5. As u/Icycold157 put it, "To me, it's two different shows. The first show was seasons 1-5 and 6-15 was like a spinoff."

Many fans found themselves somewhere between those positions, giving breakdowns of what they enjoyed — and didn't enjoy — about the two eras of "Supernatural." Speaking for themself and others, u/AdAlone3213 summed those sentiments up, writing, "Most people on here myself included seem to appreciate the entire series while recognizing that seasons 1-5 were peak quality from a storytelling perspective."

Are Seasons 1-5 really that much better?

A quick look at IMDb reveals that fan ratings didn't slip between "Supernatural" Season 5 and Season 6. Later on, such as in Season 10, episodes retain strong scores. In line with that assessment, Looper's definitive ranking of all 15 seasons has a mix of early and late seasons among its best and worst. So how much of the controversy among fans is ... well, all in their heads?

It's possible that much of the sour sentiment can be chalked up to the divisive reception of the show's final episodes. The final three episodes of "Supernatural" had a lot of work to do, as they had to tie up a decade and a half of storytelling in under 80 minutes. Most contentious among fans was the ending given to Castiel (Misha Collins) and Dean's storyline, which culminates with the angel confessing his love to the elder Winchester brother moments before dying. Many felt this moment fed into a troubling media trope most commonly known as "bury your gays," in which a character is killed off after being openly labeled as queer. Collins has denied this reading of the material, telling fans, "Actually, that declaration [of love] ended up ... literally saving the world" (via The Mary Sue). However, that hasn't stopped some fans of the show from voicing their disappointment, with one viewer telling Insider, "It was the fastest 'bury your gays' we've ever seen."

Whether some dissentious aspects of the final episodes retroactively tarnished earlier seasons of the show is hard to prove one way or the other, but the notion that a show could last for a decade after its peak seems a suspect proposition. At the end of the day, each fan will cherish different aspects of the show.