Over the course of “Supernatural,” many popular side characters emerge to temporarily steal the spotlight, including more than a few villains that fans can’t help but love. Of course, the often road trip-esque style of the horror-drama series meant it was particularly easy to swap in new characters week after week. From Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) to the Archangel Gabriel (Richard Speight Jr.) to Garth Fitzgerald IV (DJ Qualls), the series managed to do this for a whole 15 seasons before concluding in 2020 (via IMDb).
However, few of these highlighted characters are as impactful as Death (Julian Richings). Death first ominously appears in the show’s apocalyptic fifth season, and he’s just the sort of creepy pragmatist you’d expect on a show like “Supernatural,” promising the Winchesters that one day he will reap even God.
Though the atmospheric intensity of his first appearance cannot be overstated, Death plays a significant role in many other parts of the series too. Other highlights of Death’s time on the series include his fixing of Sam’s fractured psyche in Season 6 and the time that he helps the Winchesters with the purgatory crisis in Season 7. Considering his many contributions over the years, viewers might be surprised to learn which Death moment fans seem to love the most.
Death comes to collect Sam Winchester’s soul
On the r/Supernatural subreddit, u/difference suggested the Season 9 premiere as a series highlight, drawing over 800 upvotes. In this part of the series, Sam lies dying in a coma, and Death appears to collect him personally. He tells Sam Winchester that he considers it an honor to collect his soul. “Well played, my boy,” he says as the two speak.
Many fans on the thread pointed out the effectiveness of the scene, with one user even highlighting the camerawork involved. The top-voted comment on the thread came from u/MangoBanana2012, who said: “The one and only Death IMO. Every scene with him was breathtaking.” Of course, this comment references the fact that Death was later recast, leading actress Lisa Berry to take over a slightly different iteration of the role.
Other fans simply took the opportunity to praise actor Julian Richings for his work on the series. “Every time I see him in a different show/movie I’m like, ‘THAT’S MY BOY DEATH,'” chimed in u/Bambola21. Similarly, u/idealzebra agreed, writing, “The absolute best side character.” Commenters also praised the first time Death is ominously introduced in Season 5. For example, u/funky6co6ld6medusa commented, “His song too ‘oh death’ .” This is in reference to the chilling song that plays when the character first emerges, nonchalantly walking through the city streets in a highly stylized sequence.
Though Sam is ultimately saved at the last minute by a metaphysical loophole, often the case in the series, the respect Death shows Sam and the gentlemanly care with which he treats the younger Winchester in his time of dying makes the scene particularly memorable. As such, it’s no surprise it’s so fondly remembered by fans of “Supernatural.”
The little quirk fans love about Death on Supernatural
Part of Death’s charm undoubtedly comes from how Julian Richings carries himself as the character, but Sera Gamble, who wrote his “Supernatural” introduction in Season 5, Episode 21 (“Two Minutes to Midnight”), played a big part in creating the sense of calculated menace that follows the character. In fact, Gamble took to Twitter in 2020 to recount the process of creating Death’s character.
During the run-up to the series finale in 2020, Entertainment Weekly also did a deep dive on the character. The piece covered everything from the creation of Death’s character to Richings’ portrayal. According to this piece, Gamble helped to give this version of Death one of his essential quirks; Death loves junk food. He’s always seen snacking on something he shouldn’t be, but when you’re the one in charge of death, you don’t exactly have to worry about things like high cholesterol or blood pressure.
Funnier still, Richings also revealed to EW that he hadn’t initially auditioned for the role of Death at all. In fact, Richings initially thought he was playing the role of Pestilence and was informed of the change only shortly before filming began on his iconic entrance. “It’s not often that I’ve had to do a montage like that,” Richings said. “It was very painstaking and very specific.”
Though the actor knew the scene was going to be a good one, he was especially impressed with the final product. “Of course, I didn’t have the Jen Titus [song] going through my ears, so that was an added bonus when I saw it afterwards,” Richings said. “But it was pretty clear it was going to be something special.” Fans seem to agree that the scene was indeed something special.