Last week, something big happened on the internet. Well, actually, it happened on TV, but the reason it was big is because of the reaction on the internet. "Supernatural" ended and the car that helped define the show's aesthetic, the '67 Chevy Impala hardtop, went to heaven. Literally. There were angels and everything.

To fully understand why this was such a big deal, though, we have to take a deeper look at "Supernatural," internet fandom, and something called Destiel. And the first answer you'll want is: Yes, that "Supernatural" from 2005. No, it didn't stop and then get rebooted, it's just been on TV for a super long time.

"On April 21st, 1967, the Hundred millionth GM vehicle rolled off the line at the plant in Janesville. Three days later, another car rolled off that same line. No one gave two craps about her, but they should've. Because this 1967 Chevrolet Impala would turn out to be the most important car... no, the most important object in pretty much the whole universe." 

That's a quote from the show referring to the black Impala. The show was wild. According to "Supernatural" lore, it has a 327 engine and four-barrel carbs and, for the first and last time, that's nowhere near as big or wild as the real world. According to, the hero car used for the show is actually powered by a 502 big block and it sits on Hotchkiss performance suspension. It also sounds like "a bowling ball stuck in an industrial dryer," according to that article, which is very good and which you should read. It's from 2014 and even back then the show was already about a decade old. According to Budnik, the show's car wrangler, the sound department hates the big block.

In the world of the show, the Impala belongs to Dean Winchester, Demon Hunter. Along with his brother Sam-who actually isn't that important to this story so just ignore him-they drive around with a trunk full of demon-hunting weapons and kill satan spawn wherever they can. The car, which has been around since episode one, has been a part of the show's aesthetic and plot. It's also a hit with fans. As one fan of the show put it on Tumblr:


Which is kind of cool, right? Getting nerds to appreciate cool cars, widening the fanbase for classics can only be a good thing. The problem is that the show's creators may have overestimated the love for the car. In Supernatural's final episode (SPOILERS) the car is in heaven when Dean dies. To give you the full richness of this show's madness, though, I'll quote directly from the wiki page about Dean: "In 2020, after defeating God himself, Dean is killed for a final time during a vampire hunt." None of that is satire. Anyway, when he gets to heaven he's reunited with a bunch of important characters and, that's right, the car. And while that's not exactly a problem-again this is a wild show and wild things happen all the time-it's what's missing that has stung a lot of fans. And to understand why we're going to have to unpack the term Destiel. (Heads up: lower the volume)

One of the reasons that Supernatural has been on the air for, seemingly, ever is that after the majority of the population lost interest in the show, a reasonably-sized group of superfans remained dedicated to it. There are a lot of reasons why this might be-according to some fans it was an easy show to jump in and out of, the main characters were handsome and charismatic, there was a cool car-but whatever the case, a community of fans built up, mainly on Tumblr. It was one of a trifecta of fandoms that cropped up on site that became known as SuperWhoLock.

SuperWhoLock is kind of big and a little bit hard to define exactly, but the name comes from the shows "Supernatural," "Dr. Who," and "Sherlock," and more specifically the fandoms that grew around them. The term was coined in 2011 and came to describe fans on Tumblr who had been posting memes, comics, images, and gifs.

"If you go back to the early 2010s when 'Superwholock' was a thing, you could not go anywhere on Tumblr without touching a 'Supernatural,' 'Doctor Who,' or 'Sherlock' fan," Amanda Brennan from Tumblr told

Writing, reading, and sharing fan fiction-non-canonical stories about the characters written by fans-grew from there and became a big attraction and many of those stories were written around romantic pairings that fans wanted to see or see more of.

Fan fiction was a big deal for a variety of reasons but for our purposes became a big deal to fans who wanted to see LGBT relationships represented in the media they consumed. The most important such relationship in the show (and still one of the ten biggest romantic pairings on all of Tumblr) came to be known as Destiel. It saw the show's main character Dean and an angel named Castiel falling in love.

This was all part of a wider cultural moment. In some ways, the LGBT fan fiction stories can be seen as a reaction to a lack of representation in media. People from the LGBT community wanted to see their experience reflected in the media they consumed, so they made it. This is simplifying things a lot and does erase some of what's going on, but I don't have a Ph.D., this isn't a dissertation, and I've ignored Sam completely so for simplicity's sake, let's just say that this is a part of what's going on, but not all of it.

And as the fandom grew, the show kept going, supported by a community of people who were interacting with the show in interesting new ways that were facilitated by the internet. Some of the show's contributors were all for it, like Misha Collins, who played Castiel. Incidentally, Castiel's arc was only supposed to last three episodes but fan reaction convinced the showrunners to turn him into a central character. Others were accused of being less into it, like Jensen Ackles, who played Dean. As the show went on, though, it started being accused of *****baiting, or hinting at a romantic relationship that they had no intention of making explicit. To fans, this can start to feel like being strung along with will-they-won't-they tension.

By the final episode, "Supernatural" decided to do more than just hint. They made Castiel's romantic love for Dean canonical. Sort of. And they immediately killed him and sent him to super hell. Okay, officially it's called "The Empty," but to many, it's called super or mega hell. What actually happens in the show is a little more complicated than that-Castiel makes it to heaven off-screen, though he's never seen again-but it plays into a bunch of TV tropes that are actually harmful.

This, again, is complicated and I might not be the perfect person to explain it all, but in many ways, shows like Supernatural are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. By nominally representing a gay relationship, they get to say, hey, we value our audience, but then play into a discourse about homosexuality being wrong by immediately punishing LGBT characters and killing them off for expressing their homosexuality. It's the writer's room equivalent of "I'm not racist, but…" in which you try to find fun new euphemistic ways of expressing familiar narratives that cast people from specific communities as less worthy of love, life, happiness, and humanity while shirking any responsibility for that expressing that view.

In the case of Supernatural, that's a humanity and attention that is extended to a car, so it smacks of injustice when writers get all hand-wavy about Castiel, but give an Impala an on-screen happily ever after.