You know at the beginning of “Yellow Fever” when we find Dean running away from a tiny dog, and we wonder how the heck we got to this place? What would make Dean flee, terrified of a purse puppy wearing a tiny pink bow?! How could this be happening?? That is how I felt after the final episode of Supernatural aired. I could not believe that online friends were turning on each other and blaming the writers of the show for ruining any positive feelings fans might have once had for Supernatural. How did we, as a devoted fandom, get to that place? Well, after a ton of research in a little-known field of psychology, I have developed a theory on why it happened…and if you have a few minutes, I will try and make this as painless (and jargon free) as possible.
I dig Supernatural. But I also dig a little-known academic field called Evolutionary Psychology. It’s not especially popular because it’s hard to imagine that things we experienced as people many thousands of years ago would still have an impact on how we live our lives today, but I think each of us has a bit of “cave dweller” in us. Our inner cave dwellers have one job: to keep us safe, and when Supernatural ended I think we felt anything but. From an evolutionary point of view, there are two reasons we freaked out a little after we watched the Supernatural finale, “Carry On:” 1) people we thought we “knew” and trusted did not experience the end the same way we did and 2) at a pre-historic level, it felt like our leaders were abandoning us. Now it’s certainly not the first time fans had differing opinions about what was going on with the plotline of the show, but the bottom line is that the final episode of Supernatural was SCARY - even scarier than a cat jumping out of a locker in our general direction!
We are members of the SPN Family because we feel understood by other members of the fandom. Jensen has talked about a shorthand that exists between himself and Jared when they work together, and that shorthand is something we had when we existed in nomadic, isolated tribes (WAY back when our psychologies were first developing.) As fans of our show, we essentially have to spend less personal energy when we connect with other people in the fandom – and that feels awesome. It feels easy. It feels natural. It’s a feeling our ancient ancestors had when interacting with other members of their prehistoric tribes. Being a member of a tribe or fandom makes us feel protected, and I think we Supernatural fans benefit from not only being part of an organized, supportive group, but from superior leadership in Jared, Jensen and Misha. I think so many of us are obsessed with J2M because they are everything a cave dweller leader would have been for their tribe members: they are relatively accessible, honest, healthy looking (aka HOT) and concerned for our wellbeing. I don’t think we were thinking straight as a fandom after the series ended when we imagined that we might be left alone. (But you are never alone!)
Now there are other ideas about why we turned on each other after the series finale. One is that Jensen was honest with us about his initially negative feelings toward the final episode. Was anyone influenced by the emotional path Jensen took before accepting the end of Dean? Maybe. Copying what successful people do is a good habit to have (and it’s what used to keep us alive!). Another theory is that fans focused on how Supernatural ended instead of facing that it was simply ending. Is it possible that some fans expressed their grief over losing the show as anger instead? Perhaps, but it’s doubtful that they were consciously making that choice “in the moment” - and an individual fan might answer that question differently today than they would have a year and a half ago. Evolutionarily speaking, it’s nearly impossible for people to make logical choices when they are angry, scared, or (subconsciously?) panicked.
Enough of this psycho-babble. We are not “crazy people” like Dean talks about! Watching our leaders get separated and die did not happen in real life -- but it might have felt to our inner cave dwellers like it did. And since our inner cave dwellers are out to protect us, maybe panic was actually a logical reaction. I only bring this up in hopes we can learn to be more patient, not only with each other, but with ourselves. In some ways, we are really modern humans with outdated software. But Supernatural fans are resilient and smart. We searched until we found the best modern-day leaders and fellow tribe members possible! Supernatural fans are both super and natural, and I think it would help us moving forward if we got more comfortable with the natural part.
Thanks for reading! Comment below!
Penny has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN) near Los Angeles, CA. You can read more of her SPN/evolution-based fan articles on her website: https://www.cavedwellerclub.com/blog-3