Supernatural season 9: Why the TV series is so popular almost a decade on

Elsa Vulliamy explains the force of Supernatural, a US sci-fi/fantasy drama series with a global online fanbase in the millions

Now approaching the end of its ninth season, US sci-fi/fantasy show Supernatural is making its way up the list as one of the longest-running TV dramas of all time, with more than 190 episodes having aired since 2005.

What started off as a show about two brothers who fight monsters has developed over time into an epic action-packed tale of angels, demons and monsters - and so far it shows no signs of stopping.

Having gone from strength to strength in almost a decade, Supernatural has attracted an astoundingly large and dedicated fan base, forming an internet community of millions all over the world.

Several Supernatural conventions take place every year - from Rome to Melbourne- without fail, with fans coming in their thousands to celebrate the show together.

But what is the secret to the long life of this show? And why does it attract the most dedicated of fans, willing to travel miles for the sake of discussing a TV series?

It’s typical sci-fi/fantasy escapism

Watching the long-suffering Winchester brothers come up against monsters, demons, angels and one apocalypse after another is a sure-fire way to make your own troubles seem small.

Not only does this draw fans in early on, but it keeps them watching- over the years they've become so invested that they'll keep watching until the bitter end.

But it’s also about the real world

It’s the strange, turbulent, yet unconditionally loving family relationships that drive the over-arching Supernatural storyline.

Sam and Dean struggle with their sibling relationship throughout the show, while their angel friend Castiel deals with divides within his own family (we all know what happened with Lucifer), and finds himself having to choose between his family in heaven and his love for humanity.

And it makes you cry

A combination of heartfelt writing and beautiful acting means that Supernatural isn't just a fantasy show, it’s also a drama guaranteed to make you sob into a pillow at some point.

Sam Winchester's demon blood problem will strike a chord with anyone who’s dealt with addiction, and Castiel's conflicted search for approval from his family (who just happen to be the heavenly host) is something anyone with family troubles can relate to.

But it's also hilarious

The show is filled with snappy and hilarious one-liners, the majority of which come from lovable villain Crowley, who gives just the right amount of comic relief to a show that might otherwise be too depressing.

There are also intermittent episodes throughout that leave behind the apocalypse temporarily and find Sam and Dean engaging in funnier antics, including an episode where Sam and Dean accidentally become the actors that play them, and another where the characters inadvertently turn up at a Supernatural convention.

Plus there's an undeniable homoerotic subtext

'Shipping', originally formed from the word 'relationship', has recently come to the attention of mainstream media, but fans have been willing characters to get together for decades.

If fan conventions are anything to go by, one of the things that keeps fans watching is the (frankly undeniable) homoerotic subtext that runs throughout the show, most prominently between Dean Winchester and the angel Castiel.

'Destiel' most likely started as a fandom quirk, and a joke among the writers. Over time, though, cast and producers of the show have acknowledged repeatedly that there is an ambiguity surrounding the nature of their relationship. Producers know the show owes some of its success to this phenomenon and will play up to it as much as they can.

Fans can’t stop talking about it on the internet…

It's a running joke on Tumblr that everyone always knows what is happening on Supernatural, even if they have never watched it.

The internet community means that even when a Supernatural season ends, people continue to talk about it. If there are gaps in the show, the fans will fill them with their own creativity – writing stories, making art and speculating about what will happen in the future.

…which means the fans are in control

One of the most notable things about the 'shipping' phenomenon is that it shows, to an extent, that the fans are as much in control of the show as the producers.

In recent years, fans have taken control of what they watch thanks to the internet. Writers now know exactly what their fans want to see, and while they don't always give it to them, it's almost always taken into consideration.

And the actors reward the ‘Supernatural Family’ fanbase

Supernatural has the power to last longer than other shows because it has become more than a show, it's a community.

This community, which the actors call the 'Supernatural Family' creates a tight-knit bond between fans, cast and crew, which means fans are willing to stick with the show no matter what.

Misha Collins has been to fifty seven fan conventions, despite only having been in the show since season four (Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester, comes in at a close second, with fifty four).

The Supernatural season nine finale airs in the US tonight on The CW.

Read more: Supernatural season 9 finale - TV review
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence