"Supernatural" ran for a whopping 15 seasons, not including the prequel "The Winchesters," which follows a young John and Mary Winchester before the events of the original series. The show, which was actually originally intended to be about two journalists, spans over 300 episodes of brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) saving people, hunting things, and doing the family business, with a flannel shirt, a gruff voice, and a classic rock soundtrack. That's hundreds of hours of monsters, magic, laughter, tears, rage, and brotherly love. How do you even begin to narrow it down to the best episodes?

With such an expansive run, the show was bound to have some low points (let me just take this moment to say … tetanus), but there are dozens of high points to choose from, too. When "Supernatural" is at its worst, it can be a chore to watch, with an endless carousel of deaths and resurrections where the best characters stay dead and no one is ever happy for long. But when the show is good, it is something truly special, ranging from earnest and dark to surprisingly playful. There are episodes that function as character studies, genuinely creepy horror stories, musicals, screwball comedies, and meditations on family, love, and sacrifice. Picking just one favorite episode is about as difficult as snatching someone from perdition and raising them out of Hell, so here are the 15 best episodes of "Supernatural," ranked.

The French Mistake (Season 6, Episode 15)

"Supernatural" loves a good self-aware reference, from the in-universe book series of the same name to the musical episode inspired by the show's thriving fanfiction community, but Season 6's "The French Mistake" takes things to another level. When Balthazar (Sebastian Roché) gets Sam and Dean pulled into shenanigans involving the archangel Raphael, he emergency teleports them to an alternate universe where the two men are actors. On a TV show. Called "Supernatural." Can you see where this is going?

Stranded in a world without angels, demons, or apocalypses, Sam and Dean have to pull off the roles of their lifetimes and pretend to be Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, all while trying to find a way to get back home to the messed-up world they know. The standout of the episode is the duo's attempt at acting, as Dean struggles to remember a single line and Sam is unable to stop looking right down the barrel of the camera. Though the meta in-jokes of this episode can be a bit of a hat on a hat at times (pushing it to the bottom of the best episodes), its sheer commitment to the bit is relentlessly charming enough to win over fans and Jared Padalecki himself alike.

Shut Up, Dr. Phil (Season 7, Episode 5)

Though Season 7 is considered by many fans to be one of the worst seasons of the show, this episode is a perfect example of so many things that "Supernatural" does well. Horror, comedy, monster of the week shenanigans, and a season-long story arc come together in "Shut Up, Dr. Phil."

"Bewitched" meets "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in this standout standalone episode that also serves as an informal "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reunion for James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter, starring as a couple of witches who have been taking out their marital troubles on one another for thousands of years.

What starts as an apparent freak accident involving a salon hairdryer spirals into a deadly back and forth that forces Sam and Dean to play marriage counselor before this tumultuous relationship's body count gets even higher. Highlights of the episode include cupcakes with human hearts inside, melting paintings, and Carpenter and Marsters clearly having a blast chewing the hell out of the scenery together. The overall episode ranks lower on the list as it doesn't quite hold up to the higher-ranking installments, but it has earned its place among the best.

Devil's Trap (Season 1, Episode 22)

"Supernatural" season finales don't pull any punches. You never know what big bad will make an appearance, how many times they'll tug at your heartstrings, which beloved characters will show up for a cameo, and which will suffer horribly. The show hits the ground running with its first-ever season finale in season one's "Devil's Trap."

After Sam and Dean spend all season searching for their father and the yellow-eyed demon who killed their mother and irreparably changed their lives, all the demonic chickens come home to roost. The boys face off against recurring antagonist Meg in their bid to get their father out of danger and find that they need some help to do so. They turn to an old family friend for help, a hunter by the name of Bobby Singer. Bobby's appearance alone makes this episode notable, establishing a character that would go on to serve as a surrogate father figure for Sam and Dean, and a fan favorite for audiences. Throw in the high-octane confrontation with a demon-possessed John, and the episode's shocking cliffhanger, and "Devil's Trap" perfectly sets up some of the best story arcs to come in the next seasons.

The Monster At The End Of This Book (Season 4, Episode 18)

This Season 4 episode marks the first time the series gets truly meta with itself (before the self-referential jokes get utterly run into the ground in the later seasons). While investigating a potential haunting case, Sam and Dean come across one of the strangest mysteries they've ever found: a series of underperforming fantasy books about their real lives and adventures. The writer has nailed every detail, from the boys' inner struggles to Dean's beloved Impala. Their investigation of the books and their online fandom leads them to discover such horrors as Sam and Dean slash-fiction and eventually takes them to the source, author Chuck (Rob Benedict).

Not only does this episode introduce Chuck, Prophet of the Lord and an entirely too relatable struggling writer, but it also lays the groundwork for a running series gag surrounding the "Supernatural" books, for better or for worse. In addition to its contributions to the series at large, "The Monster at the End of This Book" is a perfect sample of what the show does best, combining humor with tension and drama of apocalyptic proportions.

Lazarus Rising (Season 4, Episode 1)

Even when they get knocked all the way down into Hell, the Winchester boys don't stay buried for long. Season 4, Episode 1 begins with Dean waking up in a coffin six feet under, and digging his way out of his own grave. Somehow, Dean is back from the dead. But who could have done this? Only one of the most beloved characters in the series, making his first appearance. First, he's nothing but unintelligible, deafening sounds from a television and radio, but finally, Castiel shows up in all of his flesh and blood glory.

Every "Supernatural" fan remembers at least two lines from this Season 4 premiere episode: "I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition," and the follow-up explanation, "I'm an Angel of the Lord." The first three seasons of the show made the existence of demons crystal clear (insert Ruby pun here), but the introduction of Castiel made the existence of their winged counterparts canon to the "Supernatural" universe. Castiel brought Dean back from the depths of Hell and added another layer to the mythology of the show.

Tall Tales (Season 2, Episode 15)

There's just something about a "Rashomon" episode of television, where various characters provide their conflicting versions of the same story as the audience watches the chaos unfold. From "The X-Files" to "Frasier," dozens of shows have tried their hand at it, and "Supernatural" is no exception. Season 2 gives us "Tall Tales," an episode that combines urban legends of dubious veracity with Sam and Dean's own unreliable takes on the story.

As unusual deaths terrorize a college campus, the boys are busy fighting, petty annoyances bubbling to the surface. They call in Bobby (Jim Beaver) to provide some unbiased input on the case, and each gives him their dueling takes on the events so far. As they walk Bobby, and the audience, through the story, their personal biases creep in. In Sam's version of events, Dean is an over-the-top buffoon, stuffing his cheeks with food before talking and generally stomping through the case without an inch of subtlety. In Dean's version, Sam is a blubbering sentimental mess, trapping a witness in an unwanted hug while sobbing, "You're too precious for this world."

In the end, Bobby verbally smacks some sense into the brothers and encourages them to see what's right in front of them: they're dealing with a mythical Trickster (Richard Speight Jr.) who enjoys giving people their "just desserts." With that new clarity, Sam and Dean are able to set aside their bickering and take care of the Trickster … for now.

Weekend At Bobby's (Season 6, Episode 4)

Lovable curmudgeon Bobby Singer is the heart and soul of "Supernatural," so it was pretty distressing to watch him sell that soul to the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), even if it was to help save the world. Thankfully, in Season 6, Episode 4, we get to see him (along with Sam and Dean) working to get it back. This episode is a standout, providing the audience with an intimate look at the ins and outs of Bobby's everyday life for the first time. It's Bobby as he is when the Winchesters aren't looking: helping out other hunters with their investigations and putting out metaphorical fires left and right.

We also get a sense of how thankless the life of a long-time hunter can truly be, with Bobby never getting a moment to himself to just relax and eat some peach cobbler (brought over by an attractive neighbor whose crush is dampened by the aforementioned monster hunting). "Weekend At Bobby's" shines the spotlight on a beloved character, gets him his soul back, and firmly establishes his signature song. It's "The Gambler," by Kenny Rogers, because of course it is.

Roadkill (Season 2, Episode 16)

Most of the time when ghosts appear on "Supernatural," particularly in the early episodes, they're vengeful spirits wreaking indiscriminate havoc on the living. In "Roadkill," there is one of those spirits haunting Highway 41, the ghost of a hit-and-run victim who has turned angry and cruel from his pain and selects one victim to kill each year.

At the start of the episode, a woman (Tricia Helfer) and her fiancé see a man suddenly appear in the middle of the road on the cursed highway, causing them to veer off the road and into a ditch. She wakes up unharmed, with no sign of her fiancé anywhere. She is lucky enough to come across Sam and Dean, but unfortunately, the vengeful ghost is after her, and won't stop until he's gotten his yearly kill.

This episode takes a thoughtful, heartfelt look at what it might be like to be a lost soul and at the inherent tragedy of ghost stories. It has the classic "Supernatural" action, but it is also surprisingly meditative, taking a sincere look at grief, loss, and mortality. The central twist of the episode might be a bit predictable for some, but that doesn't take away from its emotional impact.

What Is And What Should Never Be (Season 2, Episode 20)

"Be careful what you wish for" stories are classic. Take the tale of "The Monkey's Paw," for instance, where a cursed artifact grants a series of wishes at a hefty, unexpected cost. This Season 2 episode is the show's take on that narrative, featuring a "Supernatural" interpretation of the wish-granting figure of the Djinn, with a dark "It's a Wonderful Life" sort of twist. The Djinn at the center of the episode has the ability to grant a person's deepest wish by throwing them into a vivid, lifelike dream state as they slowly siphon on the victim's life force.

When an attempt to hunt the Djinn goes work, Dean finds himself trapped in one of these dreams, experiencing a version of his life that he can never have. In it, Sam is in law school, their mother never died, and Dean has found love and safety. The normalcy and stability come at a cost, though. If Sam and Dean never became hunters, then all of the people they helped would have perished. Dean is eventually saved and wakes up in reality with Sam insisting that their pain and loss have been worth it for all the good that they've done. But, in a moment of vulnerability, Dean makes it clear that he is not so sure.

Faith (Season 1, Episode 12)

As much as Sam and Dean save others — from innocent strangers targeted by mysterious forces to, you know, the whole damn world — they are also frequently forced to save each other. The Season 1 episode "Faith" sees Sam attempting to do just that. After Dean sustains significant damage to his heart and is given only a short while to live, Sam brings him to a faith healer in an act of desperation. This early into the series, when Sam and Dean are still on shaky emotional ground and struggling to reconnect, Sam's determination to save his brother's life is revealing and deeply moving.

The healer manages to save Dean, much to his surprise. But sadly, in the world of "Supernatural," things are rarely as they seem and miracles tend to come at a price. "Faith" is show creator Eric Kripke's favorite episode of the first season, and it's easy to see why. It establishes the depths of emotional maturity that the show is capable of, the tough topics it can wrestle with, and foreshadows the kind of show it will be as it grows into itself in the following seasons.

Changing Channels (Season 5, Episode 8)

When the Trickster shows up, you know you're in for a good time, just as surely as Sam and Dean are in for a very bad, but probably hilarious, time. This Season 5 episode begins with a completely inexplicable '80s sitcom-style opening credits sequence and opening scene, complete with an obvious soundstage and a laugh track. Cut to two days earlier, as Sam and Dean investigate the death of a man whose wife claims he was killed by television's "The Incredible Hulk." This is particularly ironic, given the deceased's well-documented history of anger issues. Death with an ironic twist naturally points the brothers in the direction of the Trickster, who stymies their investigation by trapping them in TV Land, where they are forced to play along with their given roles in order to survive.

Standout moments in the episode include Dean geeking out at the sight of his favorite TV physician, Dr. Sexy M.D., a Japanese gameshow with a particularly painful twist, and a battle of the crime scene puns on a "CSI" knockoff. To top it all off, the Winchesters arrive at a shocking revelation about the Trickster's identity, one that puts him a lot closer to the central conflict of the season than anyone expected.

LARP And The Real Girl (Season 8, Episode 11)

Over the course of its run, "Supernatural" served up some truly delightful monster of the week episodes, and this Season 8 story is no exception. Following the mysterious death of a man in his apartment, Sam and Dean investigate threatening messages and a mysterious tattoo. Their quest leads them to the unlikely potential crime scene of a local live-action role-playing event, where they must assume new fantasy identities in order to get the inside scoop on potential motives, monsters, and murderers. There, they find recurring character Charlie Bradbury (played by nerd queen Felicia Day), playing an in-game monarch.

The episode is a refreshing genre blend as high fantasy meets the grittier, more grounded world of "Supernatural." No demons or angels in this episode; instead we get fairies, curses, Sam in a ponytail, and Dean giving the speech from "Braveheart" while dressed in chainmail. What more could you want?

Mystery Spot (Season 3, Episode 11)

Hear me out: an episode where Sam watches Dean die over and over again, but it's also one of the funniest episodes in the entire series. Season 3, Episode 11 gives us "Mystery Spot," the "Supernatural" answer to the time loop romantic comedy classic "Groundhog Day." When Sam and Dean attempt to investigate the disappearance of a man who went missing at a mysterious local tourist attraction, Dean is shot and killed during an altercation. Oh no! But then, Sam wakes up, and the same day replays all over again. Sam relives over a hundred Tuesdays, listening to the same Asia song every morning and slowly losing his mind as Dean continues to die in a variety of increasingly ridiculous ways. Only when he finds out the root cause of the anomaly and keeps Dean alive, will he finally get to see Wednesday.

There are some truly laugh-out-loud moments in "Mystery Spot," all related to Dean's repeated demise. Standout causes of death include having a desk dropped on him and splatting, Looney Tunes style, being electrocuted by his razor, petting an unfriendly dog, and asking the ominous question, "Do these tacos taste funny to you?" Don't get too comfortable though, the episode still manages to stick a knife through the audience's heart and twist it for good measure, as Sam is forced to reckon with what the loss of his brother might do to his life.

Two Minutes To Midnight (Season 5, Episode 21)

As the action of Season 5's central story arc reaches its climax, and higher powers both heavenly and hellish prepare for the end of the world, the brothers encounter the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. The other three make their appearances earlier in the season, but Death waits until this penultimate episode to finally reveal himself. Truly, the writers were saving the best for last. There's a lot to love about "Two Minutes to Midnight," including Crowley and Bobby making a deal to trade a soul for information, but Julian Richings as Death truly stands out.

Death's first scene, a slow-motion walk down the street set to a haunting cover of the song "O, Death," is absolutely goosebumps-inducing, and one of the best character introductions in the entire run of the show. That sequence, combined with Dean's meeting with Death over Chicago-style pizza, is more than enough to secure this episode's place on this list.

Swan Song (Season 5, Episode 22)

There is a reason that "Swan Song" is considered by many fans to be the true ending of the show, rather than the show's actual ending 10 seasons later. Originally intended to serve as the show's finale, this episode is the perfect culmination of the first five seasons of storytelling, wrapping it up with an almost perfect bow. It's brother against brother in this sweeping conclusion to the Lucifer vs. Michael story arc as the two finally come face to face for an epic battle, with Sam and Dean caught in the crossfire. "Swan Song" leaves it all on the floor: the tragedy, the heart, the humor, and the brotherly love strong enough to defeat the devil himself.

From the episode's opening narration about the brothers' childhood growing up in the same Impala they've driven from mystery to mystery, to Chuck's pensive final words about the nature of endings and how difficult it can be to close the book on a story once and for all, to Castiel's iconic battle cry of "Hey, Assbutt!" this episode holds a special place in the show's history, encapsulating everything it sets out to do and is capable of being when everything falls into place. This is "Supernatural" at its very best.

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