We can hardly believe it, but a year ago today, the CW aired the final episode of Supernatural. The show was a powerhouse: fifteen seasons about two brothers traveling the country in their classic car, listening to rock music, and fighting everything from ghosts and vampires to demons and God himself. And while the fight scenes and chilling creatures were certainly great, one of the things that Supernatural did best was come up with compelling characters – including those who didn’t stick around long enough.
Before we jump into it, let’s talk about what we mean by “minor character.” None of these characters feel minor. They all have recurring roles and a huge place in the fandom’s heart. Some of these characters are my absolute favorites! However, everyone on this list appeared in less than 10 episodes of Supernatural. With 327 episodes total, that means they were each in less than 3% of the show. And when you think about it like that, it’s pretty mind boggling how quickly we fell in love with these characters in the screen time they had.
Benny Lafitte – 9 Episodes
When I sat down to write this article, Benny was the first person I looked up. Your friendly neighborhood vampire, reformed bad boy, oozing that Southern charm. I adore Benny, and life really did him dirty. He was a great guy who was met with tragedy after tragedy, one who was really determined to stay on the straight and narrow. At this point in the show, Sam had circled back around to his “all monsters are monstrous” mentality, which was heartbreaking to watch, because Benny really wanted to prove that he was a good guy. I love his friendship with Dean, and I wish we’d gotten to see a little bit more of him.
Also, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that they did bring Benny back for the final season…for less than a minute before they killed him again. I’m still crying about that.
Abaddon – 8 Episodes
A good girl gone bad! Abaddon was one of my favorite villains on Supernatural because she was actually competent. She was vicious, powerful, and every bit a girlboss. It was one of the things that made her such a great foil to Crowley, because their leadership styles were so different. By that point of the show, demons had become so humanized that they weren’t scary anymore. Crowley was a bored CEO who liked the perks of ruling Hell, but couldn’t be bothered to do the paperwork. Abaddon literally came from a different time. She was ready to burn the structure to the ground and rule by pure force…not a great leadership style, but it was working for her! Abaddon was able to recapture the fear that demons used to invoke back in season one – all while wearing a black leather jacket and having a perpetual great hair day.
Claire Novak – 7 Episodes
There’s a lot of different reasons that I love Claire. The long, deep answer is that I really enjoy any plot point that forces the Winchesters to think about their collateral damage and the lasting effects of their actions. Continuity is so rare, especially on such a long-running show where the rules are being rewritten by God himself. Bringing Claire back into the plot allowed Castiel to deal with the guilt of his past actions, and brought him face-to-face with the reality that he’d come so far and changed so much. He felt compelled to become a father to her, or at least a father figure, and in doing so embraced more of his humanity. I am grateful for every moment that led up to Cas holding up a Grumpy Cat plushy and saying, “I bought it at Hot Topical.”
The short answer is that Claire is a small, angry bean and I think it’s hilarious when she makes fun of Dean.
Donna Hanscum – 7 Episodes
If there’s one good example of Midwestern power, it’s Sheriff Hanscum. You betcha.
Donna is such an interesting character because you can tell that she wasn’t originally built to stick around. Something about her chemistry with the cast, the ease in the writing room, and that click with the audience brought her to life. She stepped off the page and invited herself to stay. (And really, isn’t that what Supernatural was all about?) Donna’s hilarious because of the juxtaposition between her overwhelming kindness, her affinity for powdered donuts, her rolling-with-the-punches attitude, and her barely concealed violent streak. She takes the supernatural world in stride; just decides that she can handle it and gets down to it. And in the end, she winds up being one of the Winchesters’ most relied resources.
Eileen Leahy – 7 Episodes
Okay, we have thoughts about this one. Eileen is a rare breed on Supernatural. This is another character where, against all likelihood, she went from a one-episode guest to a recurring character. She’s a hunter, and the beauty of it is that she’s displayed the same way the Winchesters are. For lack of a better phrase, Eileen isn’t written as a “girl hunter.” Her capability is never brought into question – not because of her gender, not because of her deafness. In fact, there are several instances where she’s shown to be even stronger and more vicious than Sam and Dean. (I love the scene where she threatens Sergei and Cas just sits back to watch her work.) I also love the side she brought out in Sam, who had gone through so many bad relationships at that point that it had become a running joke. With Eileen, he got the chance to be himself – a hunter, a nerd, a mess, and a good person. I know that “officially” they didn’t end up together, but in my heart, Eileen is Sam’s blurry wife.
Garth Fitzgerald IV – 6 Episodes
No list would complete without Garth. It’s safe to say that Garth is the outlier on Supernatural, a show full of badass people who cope with their vast trauma with sarcasm, violence, and varying degrees of alcohol. Garth’s positivity and optimism is played as a joke most of the time – he’s painfully friendly and honest, to the point of second-hand embarassment – but most of the time, those are exactly the reasons that he’s such a good hunter. He comes at problems from a completely different perspective from the Winchesters, and acts as a breath of fresh air. For the most part, I think a lot of Supernatural fans identify with aspects of Sam and Dean’s struggles: not knowing how to cope with their troubles, feeling overwhelmed, being insecure in whatever way. Garth, on the other hand, is confident, happy, and open. He’s just as much a reminder to the audience as the Winchesters: you’re great, and everything is gonna be okay.
Jo Harvelle – 6 Episodes
A lot of the fandom is split in their opinions of Jo. That’s because Jo isn’t written in the same way as Eileen; she’s every bit the “girl hunter.” She flirts with people when she needs information. She catches feelings for the burly guys she works with. She’s pretty, but an “outcast” because of her violent streak and affinity for knives. She’s got a boatload of daddy issues and everything to prove. Jo is bullheaded and trying o grow up too fast, which is why so many fans don’t like her, but that’s precisely why I do. I was younger than Jo when I started watching Supernatural and it was so incredibly easy to identify with her. It sucks to know you’re capable, but feel like no one takes you seriously. When you’re misunderstood and underestimated by everyone around you, of course you want to secure your freedom and prove them all wrong. It would have been incredible to watch Jo grow out of that complex and really come into herself. (Don’t mind me, still crying about “Abandon All Hope.”)
Death – 5 Episodes
I could not believe that Death was only in 5 episodes of this show. He is such a commanding presence, such an important character, that I felt certain he would have been in way more than that. It’s pretty much universally acknowledged that Death’s debut scene is one of the greatest character introductions in the history of the show. The cinematography, the music, the slow motion – all of it is the payoff of a long awaited arrival, one that demonstrates that Death is both imposing, impartial, and cosmically powerful. You have this harrowing actor, Julian Richings, who so believably portrays this ancient creature that is too old and wise to care about petty things like the end of the earth. And at the same time, you watch him fascinated with Chicago pizza and pickle chips. It really drives home the message that the most important things in life are the little things, the simple pleasures that get us through the day.
Jessica Moore – 4 Episodes
I have a feeling that this one is going to be an unpopular opinion, and I understand why. Jess fell prey to one of the oldest tricks in the writing manual: fridge your women. AKA, kill the girl so that your hero has nothing to keep him at home, and a ton of trauma to overcome. Jess died tragically in the pilot episode, but found a way to crop up again a few times later on: as a vision, in a parallel universe, and on the face of the Devil himself. For the half episode we got to see her as herself, I loved Jess wholeheartedly. She was witty and confident, completely capable of handling Sam and all his weirdness. She had so much potential as a recurring character, especially on a show where death is anything but permanent. Bringing her back really would have grounded the show in its roots and brought things full circle. Like I said before, there’s nothing quite like continuity and characters coming face-to-face with their own personal growth.
Cain – 3 Episodes
Cain was in a measly three episodes of Supernatural, but it’s safe to say he made an impression. That’s inevitable when you cast an actor like Timothy Omundson, of Psych fame. Supernatural’s version of Cain went through two phases: retired demon who likes to keep bees and unhinged killer who has decided that he cannot fight fate. Like Death, you can tell that Cain is a powerful being, even when he’s just putting his groceries away. I also loved what his storyline added to Supernatural’s plot, especially the parallels to Dean and the philosophy about overcoming your true nature and changing for the people that you love. Cain ended up being a failed version of that story, a rough draft as it were, but that’s precisely why the Winchesters are able to succeed. They were always the end game, and that’s why they were able to defeat Chuck in the end.