It's inevitable that a series that has lived (and died, and been resurrected) as many times as Supernatural has been will have some growing pains. Reaching 300 episodes is impressive, and many, many of those episodes are full of wonderful, iconic, and memorable moments... but we're going to be hearing enough about those in the days leading up to the big 3-0-0 and Papa Winchester's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) highly anticipated, and tragically temporary, return.
So, I'm here to talk about Supernatural's awkward phases — the zits, the weird haircuts, and the things that seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, you don't get to 14 seasons, 300 episodes, a couple of spin-off attempts, and an anime (more on that later) without some growing pains and cringey moments. So many cringey moments.
Let's take a look at the things Supernatural probably wants us to forget happened.
1. "Bugs," aka "The Racist Native American Episode with the Awful Special Effects"
Look, I will argue that some of, if not most of, Supernatural's finest episodes and best storylines happened in Seasons 1 through 5. Season 1 has its fair share of iconic Supernatural episodes, but for every "Faith" there's a "Bugs." From the played-out-and-super-racially-insensitive "cursed Native American burial ground leads to the gruesome deaths of affluent white people" to the amazingly bad visual effects, at least we can take solace in the fact that everyone got stung by actual real live bees during that final scene in the attic.
2. Supernatural: The Anime
I don't objectively know if the art for the anime series was any good. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki lent their voices to some episodes of this weirdly condensed Season 1 + 2 = WTF series, but the shift between voice actors was jarring. I recall a lot of grunting and screaming, like Dragon Ball Z but way less charming. I love the smell of a total cashgrab in the morning.
Supernatural's first attempt at a spin-off failed to gain any traction and wasn't even particularly great as a Godfather-but-with-monsters case of the week. The backdoor pilot featured a staggering six leads. SIX. And it expected us to somehow invest in and develop loyalty to all of them and their overwhelming star-crossed monster/hunter problems. It didn't work and now we're just stuck with the bitterness that comes from wasting an hour hanging out with Ennis, a less likable Sam Winchester, and the sexy werewolves (because I guess The CW already had a sexy-vampire-show on the books at that time).
4. That Time Becky Date-Raped Sam
It was heavily implied that Sam Winchester was regularly exposed to horrific sexual abuse and assault while in the Cage with Lucifer. This means that "Season 7, Time for a Wedding," which involved Becky drugging Sam, tying him to a bed, and brainwashing him into thinking they were soulmates, was somehow even more uncomfortable and horrifying than we already thought it was.
5. Dean's Amazonian Daughter
On a show that has some serious hang-ups about fatherhood and family and blood to the point that some of the show's most enduring storylines have been born out of the Winchester boys' daddy issues, you'd think that an episode in which Dean Winchester becomes a daddy and Sam has to kill his patricidal niece would have been taken a little more seriously than this goofy romp called "The Slice Girls." Ugh.
6. The Racist Truck Episode
Season 1's "Route 666," was one of Supernatural's early attempts to bring some gravitas to the series. Was this going to be a goofy series? A dark and dreary series? Supernatural has ultimately landed somewhere in between and become quite successful at walking that line, but this clunky Maximum Overdrive meets Mississippi Burning mash-up is the infamously awkward moment that the series will never live down.
7. The Haunted Wi-Fi ("Halt & Catch Fire")
It was supposed to be an homage to the Final Destination series but they lost me at "haunted wi-fi."
8. In Which Supernatural Twies Way Too Hard
Supernatural's complicated history with fangirls didn't get any better with this hour dedicated to mocking Twilight fans. The "Pattinson" password. The BEDROOM. It was just too much. Even the juxtaposition of Twilight's sexy sparkly vampires with the admittedly gross and unromantic ones that have long been the go-to bloodsuckers on Supernatural couldn't save this mess that felt, at times, too mean-spirited to be funny.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)