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The Ten Types of Supernatural Episode:  an Illustrated Guide.

1.  The Generic:

This is the kind of episode fandom veterans fondly refer to as “Old School Supernatural.”  Features a 70s rock soundtrack, a classic (yet in hindsight, relatively nonthreatening) ghost or monster, comically bad special effects, and body horror.  Probably from season one. 

Examples:  “Wendigo,” “Bloody Mary,” “Bugs.”    

2.  The Classic:

Not to be confused with the Generic, the Classic is the kind of episode that everybody remembers and everybody loves.  It’s infinitely quotable, carefully toes the line between hilarious and absurd, and is still frequently blogged about even if it came out 7+ years ago.  Almost definitely features Gabriel. 

Examples:  “Tall Tales,” “Mystery Spot,” “Changing Channels.”

3.  The Life Changer:

Once you see this episode, you will never be the same.  Whether it introduces a beloved character, kills them, or raises them from the dead, the Life Changer is the episode that either sends you into a downward spiral of unhealthy obsession, or merely accelerates it.

Examples:  “Lazarus Rising,” “Abandon All Hope,” “Lucifer Rising.”

4.  The Black Comedy:

Though much of Supernatural revolves around a unique cocktail of horror and humor, the Black Comedy is almost impossible to miss.  From famine-induced cannibalism, to a would-be antichrist, to a killer pagan Santa Clause, the humor of these episodes is darker than Batman’s worst nightmares and probably at least twice as depressing, yet manages to be oddly magical all the same.

Examples:  “Yellow Fever,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “A Very Supernatural Christmas.”

5.  The Crack Fic: 

These are the episodes whose only real purpose is to make you wonder if Supernatural is some kind of elaborate fever dream.  Neither advance the plot nor provide much further insight into its characters, but still entertaining in terms of pure absurdity. 

Examples:  “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits,” “It’s a Dog Dean Afternoon,” most of season seven.  

6.  The WELL-WRITTEN Crack Fic:

Despite having the same brand surreal absurdity of the Crack Fic, the WELL-WRITTEN Crack Fic not only serves to further character development, but will also tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh, and very likely make you cry. 

Examples:  “Monster Movie,” “Sam, Interrupted,” “Hunteri Heroici.”

7.  The Meta Fiction: 

Some shows break the fourth wall, but this one comes at it with a sledgehammer.  From directly addressing the fandom and its terminology to the show itself, the Meta Fiction episode is usually surprisingly enjoyable and well-done, if you can get past the sheer mindfuck of it.

Examples:  “Fanfiction,” “The French Mistake,” “Don’t Call me Shurley.” 

8.  The Tearjerker: 

This one specializes in one thing and one thing only, and that is emotionally destroying you.  May disguise itself as other kinds of episodes, like the Crack Fic and the Meta Fiction, before swiftly and efficiently moving in for the kill.

Examples:  “the Rapture,” “After School Special,” “the Man Who Would be King.”   

9.  The Tragedy Porn:

Do you enjoy watching your favorite characters suffer and die horribly for no particular reason?  No?  Well in that case, you picked the wrong show, my friend.  From the heart wrenching pain of Dean being forced to kick a newly-human Cas out of the bunker, to the soul-destroying injustices that were Kevin and Charlie, the Tragedy Porn is an episode that exists for no other reason than to make you want to crawl into a hole and die.

Examples:  “I’m No Angel,” “Dark Dynasty,” “Rock and a Hard Place.”

10.  The Grand Finale: 

The Tearjerker, made ten times worse with the addition of “Carry on my Wayward Son” and a cliffhanger ending.  Specializes in metaphorically ripping your heart out, making you sob like a pre-adolescent girl, and psyching you up for the next season, no matter how emotionally exhausted you may already be.

 Examples:  “No Rest For the Wicked,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “Swan Song.”