And so it begins…
About a month ago, I was talking with my good friend, Nightsky, commiserating about Supernatural‘s final season, fandom news, and such. I mentioned that The WFB should do some sort of tribute to Supernatural, perhaps a list of the staff’s all-time favorite episodes? Maybe the Top 100 episodes of the series? Nightsky was immediately interested in the idea, but she didn’t have time to pull together that kind of data.
So, of course, I said I’d do it.
You can either insert maniacal laughter here, or some random gif of someone who just understood the insanity of their own words. Your choice. I prefer this one…
So I spent the next 3 or 4 days reviewing every episode of our beloved Show… I said reviewing, not watching, I don’t have that much free time! And by reviewing, I mean making a list of episode titles and adding episode numbers and descriptions. Can I just say that The WFB’s Episode Guide is a wonderful resource? And can I also add that SuperWiki is a damn gift in this fandom?
Several days later, I sent a starter list to Nightsky to share with The WFB staff. Let me be clear: this list was intended as something to help everyone start thinking about their favorites. And that’s a key point here… these are our “favorites,” not to be confused with “technically superb” or “outstanding visual effects” or “award-worthy acting”… no, no, this ranking is based on the purity of “what are your favorite Supernatural episodes of all time?” Nightsky explained those points to everyone, and stressed to the participants to write-in any favorite episodes not included on the initial list.
Nightsky and I also discussed extending an invitation to other Supernatural reviewers/writers, in an effort to make our polling more inclusive, and the final list more representative of a variety of viewpoints. We wanted this list to actually mean something, ya know? Ultimately, this list of Supernatural‘s Top 100 Favorite Episodes was created from the input of administrators and staff writers from The WFB, administrators of the Supernatural-Fan-Wiki website, and admins/staff writers from the FangasmTheBook fansite. Thus, our sampling included a cross-section of Supernatural’s major fansite communities. We also ensured that it was created by fans who represent multiple races, genders and sexual orientations. We reached out to WFB writers living outside of the US, so Canada is represented, too. Staff writers in Europe were unable to participate, and at this time, we don’t have any staff in other parts of the world (We already have plans to expand our polling next year for a final series list if you are as excited about this project as we are!). We also made sure our sample included die-hard Sam!Fans, Dean!Fans, Cas!Fans and shippers. With a fandom as large as ours, it would be an overwhelming task to poll everyone, so we did our best to make this list as fair as possible.
Then, as I waited for everyone to send their rankings back to me, I began to sort through and determine my own rankings. Go ahead and insert another one of those “what-the-hell?” gifs here, because, seriously, this was So. Hard.
I finally finished my own rankings, and then started receiving rankings back from the others, and listen, LISSSSTEN, I had no clue how freakin hard this task was going to become!
But I’m a trooper, folks, I can do this, no worries.
No, really, I wasn’t worried. Not at all. I know that y’all need to have confidence in this ranking; you need to believe that there is some sort of science behind it, that it’s not just some willy-nilly thrown-together piece of fluff. And in order to give you something solid, I knew that I needed to consult an expert, someone who is good at math, someone who is good with computers. So, of course, I talked to my hubs. Now ya’ll need to know that my hubs is a Computer Genius. I mean, he writes code. He designs and builds and programs robots for a living – he literally *speaks* computer. He also speaks fluent sarcasm, but that’s another story for another day. So one evening, hubs and I sat down at my desk, and I began to explain this project to him. He asked me what I was trying to do, and I explained that I have columns to show everyone’s favorite 100 episodes, ranked in order 1 to 100, and that I needed to combine that data to create a consolidated list of Supernatural‘s Number One Episode of all Time, Number Two, and so on, all the way to 100. This is actual footage of hubs and I discussing these details:
Hubs: Yeah, but how are you getting the episodes’ final rankings?
Me: I take an episode, and then I find it in each person’s list, and then I insert their ranking into these columns… and then in this column, I created a formula so it adds up those numbers, and then I use my calculator to divide by…
Hubs: Why are you using a calculator? Write in a formula to weight their various rankings and get a final position in the consolidated list.
Then hubs says, “Can I just do the sorting for you?” So at that point, hubs took over. I’m pretty sure that master spreadsheet is now successfully warded from angels, demons, and everything in between. I think I saw sigils. If only he had actually lit some candles, and added some oils and the tooth of a golden ram into an urn, then I would be sure he was performing magic. Listen, if his eyes ever glow purple or blue or some other crazy-weird color, then I. Will. Know.
And so here we are. We have Supernatural‘s Top 100 Favorite Episodes, as voted on by our cross-sampling of writers who have dedicated a great deal of their time to studying Supernatural. It was built by an Excel spreadsheet of data sent to me by the participants, data that has been sorted, warded, coded, weighted and ranked according to some complex wizardry of math formulas. (Thanks, Hubs.) And let me tell ya, Math Don’t Lie. It is what it IS.
I’d like to point out that there are over 300 episodes in the Supernatural series so far (307 to be exact in seasons 1 to 14). This Top 100 list is not a 3-way tie at every position, so, sadly, many really fun, noteworthy episodes did not make it into the Top 100. That’s a testament to the exceptionally high quality of this series. There were also a few episodes that weren’t nominated by anyone to be in any position on the list (coughs) (“Bugs”) (coughs) (“Bloodlines”).
Before we look at what was mathematically determined to be our Top 100 favs, let’s look at some of the episodes that just missed making the list.
“Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” (7.14). Sam is fighting clowns. Clowns! And Dean finally gets that giant slinky! And the boys LAUGH. Actually, genuinely laugh.
“Road Trip” (9.10): Dean and Cas and Crowley try to eject Gadreel out of Sam’s body! We’ve got safe words (Poughkeepsie), sarcastic but helpful Crowley, Castiel and his broken wings, Tough!Sam telling Gadreel to “Get. The. Hell. Out!” and then that heart breaking final scene between the boys. Maybe this episode is on your Top 100 List, but the Math Don’t Lie, so this one gets an Honorable Mention.
“The Benders” (1.15) is the next episode on our Honorable Mention list. You know this one – the one when Sam is abducted by creepy hillbilly serial killers. The one where the so-called monster is an actual human. The one that gives us that truth-telling line from Dean: “Demons I get. People are crazy.” How many times do we quote that line? How many times is it spot-on truth when we do?
Another episode that just barely missed the Top 100, thus earning an Honorable Mention, is “Clip Show” (8.22). Crowley is on the loose, killing the people who Sam and Dean had previously saved! And Crowley’s words to the boys – so powerfully, beautifully, chillingly delivered by Mark Sheppard:
“What’s the line? ‘Saving people, hunting things — the family business.’ Well, I think the people you save, they’re how you justify your pathetic little lives. The alcoholism, the collateral damage, the pain you’ve caused — the one thing that allows you to sleep at night, the one thing is knowing that these folks are out there, still out there happy and healthy because of you, you great, big, bloody heroes!”
Oh, and that final scene, watching the boys desperately trying to save Sarah Blake, tearing apart the hotel room in search of a hex bag they cannot find, watching as Sarah chokes and dies right in front of them. Oh. My. Heart. Broken and shattered into a million little pieces Again.
Coming in at #101 – just missing the Top 100 by a few tenths of a point – is “Beat the Devil” (13.21). Sam dying at the hands of the vampires… Dean powerless to save him… Dean overcome with grief.. then Sam’s return to the camp, and the look on his face as he sees Dean, knowing Lucifer is behind him… the acting from Jared and Jensen in that final scene was just heart-breaking. This episode is definitely worthy of an Honorable Mention.
So many episodes are worthy of an honorable mention, but alas, so little time. Instead, I’ll just rattle off a few more that didn’t make the Top 100 (in chronological order), such as “Sex and Violence” (4.14), “Swap Meat” (5.12), “Survival of the Fittest” (7.23), “The Purge” (9.13), “Black” (10.01), “Hibbing 911” (10.08), “All in the Family” (11.21), “Breakdown” (13.11), “Mint Condition” (14.04), and “Absence” (14.18). I am actually a little sad that I can’t mention them ALL.
So start your lists, and follow along with us as we countdown Supernatural‘s Top 100 Favorite Episodes! We will release a portion of the list every Thursday of Hiatus until the start of season 15! You’ll have a chance to share your choices each week as we reveal each portion of our final list!
Ready to get started? Begin at the beginning with Episodes 100-91!
Need a little help compiling your Top 100 Favorite Episodes? Karen and Nightsky are sharing their Top 10 episodes of each season, to coincide with the #SPNSummer2019 Hiatus Rewatch. You can find those lists, and all of WFB’s Top 10 articles in WFB’s Article Archives!