Random SPN musings...
Lowest rated seasons by numbers: 10 (2.02) and 7 (2.03)
Lowest rated seasons by rank: 2 and 6
Highest rated seasons: 1 and 2 & 4 (tied)
Seasons in order by rank (relative ratings): 5, 11, 9, 8, 10, 4, 1, 7, 3, 6, 2
Analysis: The increasing number of shows is illustrated in Supernatural’s changing rank even while its ratings in pure numbers have dropped off. This reflects the incredible loyalty of the Supernatural fandom, who have followed the show not just for going on 12 seasons, but to several different nights/time slots. Notably, there is no visible effect based on whether or not Castiel is in the season - he was a key part of season 6 and it is one of the lower-rated seasons by rank, and was absent much of season 7 but that season was also among the lowest by rank. Looking at rank and numbers, it would seem Season 4 was the ratings peak for Supernatural, but if you look at this from the CW’s point of view (strong show in relation to a possible replacement) Supernatural has given fantastic return in its late seasons (8-11).
Highest rated episode per season: Route 666, In My Time of Dying, Bedtime Stories (just edges out Jus in Bello), Lazarus Rising, Sympathy for the Devil, Exile on Main Street, Meet the New Boss, What’s Up Tiger Mommy, Sharp Teeth, The Things We Left Behind, & Baby
Lowest rated episode per season: Salvation, All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 2), Ghostfacers (first back from strike), Jump the Shark, The Song Remains the Same, Frontierland, How to Win Friends & Influence Monsters tied with Time After Time, Blood Brother, King of the Damned, Dark Dynasty, & Red Meat
Notable ratings (stand outs, good or bad):
Season 1 – aside from Route 666, no episode topped the 5.0 mark after the winter hiatus
Season 2 – Roadkill was very much the highest-rated of the back half of the season
Season 3 – the season opener had lower ratings than did the finale which is unusual
Season 4 – it turns out, the average fans don’t care about Adam either
Season 5 – remarkably steady ratings, not much variance
Season 6 – Clap Your Hands if You Believe is the first ep to dip below the 2.0 mark
Season 7 – no drop after the ‘death’ of Castiel (did not appear between ep 2 and ep 17), nor any increase upon his return
Season 8 – Everybody Hates Hitler reverses Supernatural previous miserable luck with early February ratings and the season opener is one of the lowest-rated episodes in the season (unusual)
Season 9 – Mother’s Little Helper (directed by Misha) is a strongly-rated episode, followed by a weak angel-heavy Meta Fiction but recovers for brothers-heavy subsequent episode. (Crowley-heavy episode is the lowest of season).
Season 10 – angel-heavy and hell-heavy episodes have decent ratings, but the following episode is always weak in the ratings. Could indicate casual viewers (sporadic viewers) are simply not interested in those stories.
Season 11 – “The submarine episode” is a standout for the back-half ratings-wise. The Baby episode, as expected, earned the best ratings and the most plaudits for the season. Runner-up went to the fantastic “She’s got Sparkles on her face” episode directed by Richard Speight, Jr.
Analysis: Angel-heavy or Hell-heavy episodes seem to lead to a drop-off in ratings the next week. It turns out Supernatural fans seem to want to watch stories about Sam & Dean. Still, some great brother episodes struggle in the back-half of a season (see Red Meat) when ratings always drop. Whether or not Misha Collins appears (whether as Castiel, human, or as Casifer) does not seem to affect ratings in any meaningful way. Same with Mark Sheppard. As there has never been an episode without Jared Padalecki and/or Jensen Ackles one cannot compare those ratings. Final conclusion: Shockingly, Supernatural was in the beginning, is now, and always shall be about Sam & Dean Winchester. That’s what the fans want to see, and it’s what the show delivers. The myth arc episodes tend to be weaker, ratings-wise, than the stand-alone episodes that focus on Sam & Dean. This could be why Dabb & Singer have opted to “go smaller” for Season 12.