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Supernatural's Most Underrated Episodes

We're revisiting the episodes that don't quite get the love they deserve

Kaitlin Thomas, Lindsay MacDonald

With a whopping 300 episodes soon to be under its belt, Supernaturalhas been through it all: the good, the bad, the great, the Leviathan, and all the way back to the good again. We're all familiar with the adventures that make most fans' favorite episodes lists, from "Mystery Spot" to "The French Mistake" and everything in between. And we also know the episodes that Supernatural probably wishes we would forget (lookin' at you, "Bugs"), but there's one area we don't often explore, and those are the episodes that simply aren't appreciated as much as they should be. These are Supernatural's most underrated episodes.

Nicholas Elia and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

Nicholas Elia and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural


"Provenance" (Season 1)
Everybody knows that Season 1 of Supernatural was literally some of the scariest TV that ever made it past Standards and Practices, but not a lot of people pay lip service to a particularly creepy episode called "Provenance." In it, a haunted painting starts slitting people's throats, and while the boys assume the culprit is the spirit of the father in the family portrait (since he went down for murder in real life), it turns out it was the daughter all along! This episode isn't just damn fun to watch, it's also the stuff of Little Girl Ghost nightmares and is responsible for one of Sam Winchester's (Jared Padalecki) best lines of all time: "What kind of house doesn't have salt? Low sodium freaks!" -- Lindsay MacDonald

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"Croatoan" (Season 2)
Maybe you have to be a major history nerd to find this episode amazing, but that doesn't make it any less awesome that Supernatural managed to work the lost colony of Roanoke into its demon mythology. When Sam and Dean (Jensen Ackles) find themselves in a town that loses all power to communicate with the outside world just as a demon-created virus starts infecting (and kind of possessing) the people who live there, a quick trip upstate becomes a journey into a zombie apocalypse as a small group of survivors attempt to escape without getting infected. This episode never gets the recognition it deserves even though it has everything: high stakes, emotional peaks and valleys and a twist ending that will get you every time! -- LM

"What Is and What Should Never Be" (Season 2)

Remember when a world in which Mary (Samantha Smith) was alive and well was only possible because of an encounter with a djinn? Season 2's "What is and What Should Never Be" found Dean in an alternate reality in which his mother had never died and everything was all sunshine and rainbows and delicious sandwiches. That is until Dean realized everyone he'd ever saved was dead and what was happening to him was an illusion. He made the decision to fight the djinn's influence and return to his own life where Mary was dead but the people he and Sam had saved were safe, something that ultimately mattered more. Supernatural has tugged on our heartstrings a lot over the years (and would do so in a major way just a couple episodes later when Sam would die for the first time), but Dean choosing the depressing horrors of his real life over a brief illusion of happiness really highlighted the strength of the show's early run and now serves as a reminder of all the sacrifices the brothers have made over the seasons just so the world is a better place. -- Kaitlin Thomas

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"The Kids Are Alright" (Season 3)
Supernatural might not be all that scary these days, but the early seasons featured a number of great scares, and that's why "The Kids Are Alright" is one of our favorite episodes. Now, not everyone appreciates the One With the Creepy Changelings the way they should, but if you love jump scares or love scaring your friends and coworkers with terrifying imagery when they least expect it, "The Kids Are Alright" is the episode you should definitely consider rewatching and appreciating more. The Season 3 hour is also kind of important because it introduced us to Lisa (Cindy Sampson), a woman Dean had a fling with years ago and who would go on to play a larger role in his life after the apocalypse. But mostly we really love this episode because it features stuff like this:


Feel free to send that GIF to your friends in the middle of the night. -- KT

"Clap Your Hands If You Believe" (Season 6)

Supernatural's sixth season was its first without the show's creator, Eric Kripke, and its first since tackling the big damn apocalypse. It was a major moment for the show, and fans are either quick to point out some of the growing pains of the season or throw heaps of love on the hilarious and brilliant episode "The French Mistake." What gets lost in the mix when discussing Season 6 is the sheer ridiculousness of an episode like "Clap Your Hands If You Believe." At first you think the series is finally going to tackle aliens (something that is still on our wish list for the show, by the way), but then you get fairies and leprechauns instead. Ordinarily this wouldn't be all that exciting, but in the hands of writer Ben Edlund, who's responsible for some of the best and funniest episodes of the entire series, you get an insane hour that features Dean running through a cornfield thinking he's about to be abducted by aliens and Soulless Sam not taking him seriously, even telling him the "fourth kind is a butt thing." Eventually, Dean Pizza Roll-s Tinker Bell and the absurdity of the situation ultimately makes for an episode that is far better than most fans remember. -- KT

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"Shut Up, Dr. Phil" (Season 7)

We're major Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans here at TV Guide, but the fact that Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) and James Marsters (Spike) guest-starred as a witchy couple in crisis isn't even what makes this Season 7 episode so fantastic. OK, we're lying, it's exactly what makes this episode so fantastic. With the exception of Rowena (Ruth Connell), witches on Supernatural have been depicted as villains-of-the-week or vengeful women out of their depth, but this episode revealed them to be forces to be reckoned with who are also still kind of people. Totally off their rockers, nutty people, but we digress. If Supernatural is still in the market for a spin-off, we'd take Sam and Dean as dysfunctional supernatural marriage counselors any day of the week. -- LM

"As Time Goes By" (Season 8)
Season 8's "As Time Goes By" is obviously notable for being the episode of Supernatural that introduced the Men of Letters into the show's already deep and complex mythology, breathing new life into the aging series in the process. Featuring an appearance by Sam and Dean's time-traveling grandfather, whom John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had always said abandoned him when he was young, the episode revealed that the Winchester Brothers were the absolute perfect mix of brains (Winchesters) and brawn (Campbells). A real turning point for the series, the episode opened up a lot of new storytelling avenues and even gave Sam and Dean a real, permanent home for the first time in their lives. We really should appreciate "As Time Goes By" more because it's likely the Supernatural we know and love in 2019 might not even exist without it. -- KT

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"Don't Call Me Shurley" (Season 11)

Supernatural confirmed that fan-favorite character Chuck (Rob Benedict) was not just the Prophet Chuck but actually God in the Season 10 episode "Fan Fiction." However, it wasn't until Season 11's "Don't Call Me Shurley" that we really got to explore God Chuck as a character within Supernatural's extended mythology, and we did this through the writing of Chuck's autobiography. The episode was obviously memorable for this alone, but it also featured a dig at Kripke's show Revolution, Chuck singing and the return of the Samulet. The hour might not be one of those instant classics that you watch over and over and over again because of its comedic genius, but it did answer some lingering questions, and frankly was a really long time coming. And also, any time we get to hang out with Chuck, it's a good time. -- KT

"Lost and Found" (Season 13)
Last but not least, we have to talk about the episode that gave us Jack (Alexander Calvert). Later seasons of Supernatural always seem to get shafted when it comes to "best of" lists, but that's what happens when you've been on the air for nearly 15 years. Nevertheless, Jack's introduction into the Supernatural world was masterfully done so that we cared about him instantly, despite his Satanic roots. This episode also took Dean and Sam back to their own roots, with Dean being the trigger-happy hunter while Sam took the snuggly teddy bear approach. The Season 13 premiere didn't just give us a whole new piece of mythology to work with, it introduced the newest member of the Winchester family that we didn't even know we were missing!




Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)