Supernatural Ending Explained: Carry On Wayward Son

Some people move on. But not "Supernatural" fans.

It has been 15 years since Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) began saving people and hunting monsters in their '67 Chevy Impala. They killed vampires and werewolves, confronted Lucifer, and participated in an epic showdown against God himself. After what felt like an eternity, the long-running series finally came to an end in late 2020, offering a conclusion to Sam and Dean's story. I'm not entirely sure if I loved it or hated it, but I do know this: for a show that has been killing its main characters every year, the "Supernatural" finale sure knew how to drown us into a puddle of tears. This time, it truly felt like the end of an era.

So, How Did Supernatural End?

The finale fast forwards five years, where Sam and Dean are seen living normal lives (or adapting to it). Dean also ends up adopting Miracle, the dog he found previously, and they appear to be doing okay. Obviously, though, season 15 couldn't end without the Winchesters being drawn to yet another mysterious case, so that's what happens. A strange murder and kidnapping by masked vampires captures the attention of the Winchester brothers, and they soon realize it is one of their father's cases from the '80s that he was never able to solve.

Dean and Sam find their way to the vampire's nest, thanks to an established pattern by their father John that leads them to it. Upon meeting the vampires, they realize that one of them is Jenny, a vampire the brothers met during their first hunt 19 years earlier. While the Winchesters are able to kill all of the vampires, the mission ends with Dean impaled on a metal spike during the fight. What ensues next is an incredibly emotional goodbye with Sam, where Dean tells his younger brother how proud he is of him.

As Dean finds a new home in a new and improved heaven, Sam lives out the rest of his days, grows old and dies of natural causes. "Carry On Wayward Son" begins to play, and Sam and Dean are seen reuniting in heaven. The brothers' journey began on a bridge and ended on one, bringing the story to a full circle.

Was Dean's Death Necessary?

Most "Supernatural" fans had mixed feelings about the series ending. Dean and Sam fought so many vampires that it seemed too easy for him to die because of one. So it was a little lackluster — you'd think Dean deserved a better way to go. In some ways, it was also poignant because the ending reinforced that despite Dean and Sam's life being anything but normal, they were after all, just mortal men. One accident and it's all over.

Dean loved hunting, he always knew he was destined to die on the job. Since the beginning of the series, Sam was the brother who hoped to escape the business he was born into, so he could lead a normal life. He had his life mapped out — and everything changed when his brother showed up at his door. It's almost as if Sam's life was stolen away from him due to the Winchester family's destiny as hunters, despite him wanting to take control over his own.

Dean's death gave them a sense of closure, and in a way, honored creator Eric Kripe's original ending for the series. "Supernatural," until the season 5 finale, followed the arc set by Kripke. Sam died and Dean retired from the business for a family life. Season 15 pretty much replicated that idea without repeating it verbatim, giving the brothers what they wanted from the beginning: Dean, a hunter's death, and Sam, a life with his own family.

The goodbye between Sam and Dean is emotional, and makes one cry at the thought of it (like I said, "Supernatural" fans do not move on). When Sam gives Dean the permission to go, and years later, Sam's son does the same for him, it's a subtle nod to the brothers and their irreplaceable bond. 

When you see the brothers reunite in heaven, there's a fitting realization that hits: Sam and Dean always knew they would see each other again, it was only a matter of time. So although the "Supernatural" ending might not have been the ending we wanted, it was the ending the Winchester brothers deserved.