While the Winchesters have died so many times in Supernatural that it's barely even shocking anymore, there was a time that whenever Sam (Jared Padalecki) or Dean (Jensen Ackles) died our hearts just about stopped too. Though some of the brothers' recent brushes with death (and Death) haven't been as devastating as some of their earlier demises, with The CW drama now gearing up for its final episodes the stakes have reached an all-time high. That's because, for the first time in the show's 15-season run, there's the very real possibility that if Sam or Dean die, they might not come back this time.
Sure, that's a terrifying thought, but it's also a thrilling one, adding an extra layer of suspense to the show's swan song (not to be confused with "Swan Song" -- although Sam did die in that episode, too). Going into the series' final seven episodes, Chuck ( Rob Benedict) is claiming that the Winchesters are destined to die, while Billie (Lisa Berry) says they're actually destined to be the messengers of God's destruction. With production on Season 15 suspended due to the coronavirus, it looks like we'll have to wait a while to see whether Chuck, Billie, or both prove to be correct. But while we brace for more deaths to come, let's look back on the road so far with this timeline of every time Sam and Dean have died on Supernatural.
In Season 2's two-part finale "All Hell Breaks Loose," Sam and Dean get separated when Sam is trapped in a ghost town where the Yellow-Eyed Demon's (Fredric Lehne) special children are pitted against each other to determine who's the strongest. When it comes down to Sam and Jake (Aldis Hodge) as the only survivors, Sam has no intentions of killing Jake but Jake takes advantage of Sam's goodwill and attacks him, stabbing Sam in the back just as Dean and Bobby (Jim Beaver) arrive to help.
Dean is so overcome with grief that he summons a Crossroads Demon ( Ona Grauer) and offers to trade his soul for Sam's life and 10 years of his. But the Crossroads Demon knows Dean will do anything to get his baby brother back and bargains Dean down to one year of life, warning Dean that if he ever tries to get out of the pact, Sam will die again. They seal their deal with a kiss and Sam is resurrected for the first -- but definitely not the last -- time.
The fact that the brothers knew Dean's real death was coming made getting stuck in the "Mystery Spot" time loop that much harder for Sam to bear -- which was precisely the point. You see, the Trickster (Richard Speight Jr.) -- who is later revealed to be the archangel Gabriel, but that's a whole other story -- puts Sam and Dean into a time loop in which Dean is destined to die every single day in order to force Sam to accept the fact that he will never be able to save his brother.
The Trickster has a super messed up sense of humor though. Dean doesn't just die; he dies in the craziest ways -- including (deep breath here) being shot by a man at the Mystery Spot, hit by a car, crushed by a falling desk, choked on a sausage, slipped in the shower, poisoned by tacos, electrocuted by his razor, accidentally killed by Sam with an axe, shot by the waitress with an arrow, and mauled by the cute dog outside the diner.
Sam is forced to watch Dean die over 100 times on that Tuesday before the Trickster allows them to move on to Wednesday -- when Dean is pretty much immediately killed again. Sam then continues living in this Dean-less reality, becoming more and more cold-blooded in his pursuit to get Dean back until the Trickster confronts him once again to explain that nothing good will come from the brothers' continuing to make sacrifices for each other. Sam doesn't give a f--- though and begs for Dean back, so the Trickster ends the fake reality and the Winchesters finally make it to Wednesday together and alive.
Their victory over the Trickster is short-lived, though, since they still don't have a way to get out of Dean's deal with the Crossroads Demon, and in "No Rest for the Wicked" it finally comes time for Dean to pay up. The brothers spend their last 30 hours together tracking down Lilith, who holds Dean's contract, and doing some pretty terrible, but also pretty great car karaoke. But unfortunately, they aren't able to stop the Hellhounds from mauling Dean to death.
Dean is then trapped in Hell and tortured for decades in Hell time (but only months in Earth time) and he eventually gives in to the demon Alastair's offer to become a torturer himself. It is only after Dean does this, thus breaking the First Seal, that the angels send Castiel (Misha Collins) to rescue and resurrect Dean in "Lazarus Rising."
Sam was the next to die in "Wishful Thinking," the episode best remembered for the depressed talking teddy bear and that kid yelling, "KNEEL BEFORE TODD!" In the episode, Sam and Dean are investigating a town where everyone's wishes are coming true because of a magic coin. But before they can reverse the wishes, a woman wishes Sam dead to stop him from making her boyfriend wish away their love... which the boyfriend had wished for with the coin. The guy eventually does the right thing and removes the magic coin from the wishing fountain, reversing everyone's wishes and bringing Sam back to life.
Sam makes it a full season before he's killed again in "The Song Remains the Same." When the brothers travel back to 1978 to stop Anna (Julie McNiven) from killing their parents so that Sam will never be born, Anna stabs Sam to death during a fight. The archangel Michael, using a young John Winchester (Matt Cohen) as his vessel, shows up to resurrect Sam -- but only after telling Dean that he and Sam are destined to face off in a fatal showdown as Michael and Lucifer's (Mark Pellegrino) vessels. Talk about a real good news/bad news situation.
Sam and Dean are then both killed in "Dark Side of The Moon" by hunters who want revenge on Sam for kick-starting the apocalypse. The brothers wake up in Heaven, much to their surprise, and set out to track down God to ask for help in stopping the apocalypse, but instead they meet Joshua (Roger Aaron Brown), who shares a message from God to back off and leave him be. Totally dejected, Sam and Dean are sent back to Earth alive with no plan and little faith that they'll be able to save the world.
The brothers do eventually come up with a plan to stop the apocalypse, but this plan leads to Sam dying once again in "Swan Song." With no other option, Sam agrees to be Lucifer's vessel, but only so that he can lock them both inside Lucifer's Cage in Hell. At first, Lucifer is too strong, but thankfully Sam sees a green army man in the Impala and he's reminded of all the happy memories he's shared with Dean and this gives him the strength to regain control of his body and throw himself -- and Michael, who is possessing Adam (Jake Abel) -- into Lucifer's Cage. Castiel is able to rescue Sam from the Cage, but he stupidly forgets to bring Sam's soul back, leading to one of the more lackluster season narratives but also one of the best shirtless pull-up scenes in the entire series.
Sam does return to normal eventually after Dean has himself killed by a doctor for three minutes so that he can talk to Death (Julian Richings). The pair strike a deal, with Dean agreeing to be Death for a day in exchange for his brother's soul. Even though Dean quits before the day is done, because he had learned the lesson that you can't cheat death, Sam is still given his soul back -- including all those traumatic memories of Hell.
Sam and Dean get a few seasons of uninterrupted life until Dean is killed by Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) in "Do You Believe in Miracles?" However, since Dean had acquired the Mark of Cain and the First Blade, he is reborn as a demon, black eyes and all. After Demon Dean gets his fun in for a few episodes (and makes a mockery of everything the Winchesters hold dear), Sam is able to cure his brother and Dean is finally returned to being human in "Soul Survivor."
Even though Sam is the one who is literally shot and smothered in "Red Meat," it's once again Dean's turn to die. In the episode, Dean purposefully overdoses so that he can contact a reaper to resurrect Sam -- only Sam isn't dead. It's a real Romeo and Juliet situation. During his little chat with the reaper Billie, she warns Dean that the brothers' nine lives are finally up. The reaper even tries to bring Dean to the Empty, but the hospital staff are able to revive him just in time.
Dean meets Billie once again in "First Blood" after he and Sam are picked by the feds for attempting to kill the president, aka Lucifer. Dean and Billie decide to strike a deal: she agrees to resurrect the brothers one last time so that they can die in order to escape their cells, but only if she's able to kill one of them for real at midnight. Sam and Dean tell Cas and Mary (Samantha Smith) about this agreement, and the pair are understandably horrified. But Sam and Dean say that being dead is still better than living in a cage. (And yet they left poor Adam in Lucifer's Cage for years. We see how it is.) Mary offers herself in Sam and Dean's place, but before she can take her own life Castiel kills Billie, saying that the world needs every Winchester it can get.
When investigating a case in "Advanced Thanatology," Dean decides to temporarily kill himself to figure out what's behind the town's mysterious hauntings. However, Dean's plan gets derailed when he comes face to face with Billie, who was resurrected and became the new Death since Dean had killed the old one. Dean is fully prepared to accept the fact that this means he'll remain dead since Billie is staunchly against Winchester resurrections, only Billie throws Dean a curveball: She gives Dean his life back because since she became Death, she's come to understand his necessity in the world, even if she doesn't like it.
It's Sam's turn to die next in "Beat the Devil," when the brothers team up with Cas and Gabriel to rescue Mary and Jack (Alexander Calvert) from the Apocalypse World. On this journey, they're attacked by rabid vampires and Sam is killed when one of them rips his throat out. But Sam doesn't stay dead for long. Lucifer, who had escaped from Rowena's (Ruth Connell) captivity, goes into the Apocalypse World and revives Sam so he can use Sam as a pawn in his plan to build a relationship with his son Jack. (Maybe try a game of catch next time?)
The boys manage to avoid any more brushes with death until the final season when Chuck becomes determined to kill them both. But because Sam had shot Chuck with the Equalizer, the two are now connected. That's why in "Atomic Monsters" and "Proverbs 17:3," Sam has dreams detailing the various ways Sam and Dean's stories ended in alternate worlds, including Sam on demon blood snapping Dean's neck, Dean shooting Samifer with the Colt only for Sam to heal himself and burn Dean alive, and Demon Dean stabbing Sam with the First Blade.
After these visions, Chuck kidnaps Sam in "The Trap" and shows him what Sam and Dean's futures look like if they do beat God. These flash-forwards are super bleak, with monsters gaining power and Dean losing all hope, but the real gut-punch comes when we learn that the future versions of Sam and Dean become vampires and are hunted by Bobby and Jody (Kim Rhodes), which is proof enough that this is truly the darkest timeline. Dean kills Jody and Bobby kills Sam, while the present-day Sam is taken out of the vision before we see whether Dean survived this fight as well. (Call us pessimists, but we doubt Dean survived that encounter. But since we didn't technically see his death on screen, we won't add it to our official death count.)
Supernatural Seasons 1-14 are available on Netflix. Season 15 will return to The CW after production is able to resume.