There are plenty of reasons to watch Supernatural. Whether you enjoy watching the Winchester brothers hunt ghosts, monsters, and demons, are intrigued by the ever-expansive mythology, or just love the dynamic between series stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, there’s a lot to love about the long-running CW series.

Even after a controversial series finale, fans were gifted a compelling epilogue via The Winchesters that made us feel a little better about where the original series left off. But for many, their interest in Supernatural started because it was a horror show. The weekly thrills and chills stuck with you, evoking the same feelings of terror that your favorite horror movie might, just on a TV budget. Surprisingly, though, Supernatural’s scariest episode didn’t have anything to do with a monster or demon.

‘Supernatural’s Earliest Seasons Were Scariest
Tragically, as Supernatural drove on, the show got bogged down by the ever-increasing nature of serialized television. What started out as a paranormal procedural with occasional recurring plot threads and iconic monsters-of-the-week (not unlike The X-Files) changed with the times, inserting recurring plot threads into nearly every episode by the show’s final season. No doubt, Supernatural still produced a number of standalone episodes, but all of them seemed to somehow or another tie into whatever angels vs. demons, world-ending plot was happening at the time. And, to be frank, the show was just a lot less scary. Whether you think that Supernatural was at its best as a horror show or preferred its eventual sci-fi/fantasy leanings, there’s no denying that it wasn’t the same show by the end, even if the characters remained consistent.

But when did Supernatural stop being so scary? Well, one could argue that the Apocalypse plotline in Seasons 4-5 had something to do with it, but that doesn’t do the fourth season justice. There are still plenty of spooky episodes that haunt Season 4 of Supernatural, a season that (despite the intensity of the character arcs) manages to perfectly balance the overarching plot with exciting and thoughtful standalone episodes. Occasionally, there’s even unexpected crossover between them, which back then was done tactfully.

‘Supernatural’ Has Many Scary Moments
There are a number of terrifying moments on Supernatural. You don’t have to watch too far into the “Pilot” to see one of the show’s most haunting images, the boy’s mother (Samantha Smith) pinned to the ceiling as fire erupts from behind her, consuming their home. That’s how the show starts, and the episode ends the exact same way, albeit with Sam’s girlfriend Jess (Adrianne Palicki) on the ceiling instead. Needless to say, there are more than enough frightening moments in the show’s early years that would make your skin crawl if you watched them now. But which one is the best?

One could argue for years over the scariest moment on the show, and there are a few runners-up that on the right (or wrong) day could take the cake, err, pie. The eye-less Changelings that steal and replace children in “The Kids Are Alright” come to mind, especially the moment Lisa (Cindy Sampson) looks in the backseat to see not her son, but one of these creatures gazing back at her. Likewise, that scene in “Skin” when the shapeshifter rips off his flesh in the sewers sticks with you as he molds himself into the likeness of Dean. Maybe for others, the climax of “Asylum” makes your heart stop as the brothers (influenced by the evil haunting them) nearly kill each other in this abandoned mental institution. (The Scarecrow from the episode aptly titled “Scarecrow” always makes my skin crawl, even when it’s stuck motionless on its post.)

Of course, many would rightly point out that “No Exit” is probably one of the scariest episodes of Supernatural. Featuring the ghost of one of America’s first reported serial killers, H.H. Holmes (Stephen Aberle), the episode shows the kidnapping and torture of multiple women, including the Winchesters’ ally Jo Harvelle (Alona Tal). What makes this one especially scary is the tiny crawlspaces and tombs that Holmes pursues his victims through, making this claustrophobic horror one of the hardest episodes to get through. Ironically, Holmes wasn’t the only violent spirit of a serial killer introduced on Supernatural, as later seasons saw John Wayne Gacy come back from the dead (complete with clown makeup) to kill again. (Though the show featured fewer jump scares by then.)

This Season 4 ‘Supernatural’ Episode Is Very Disturbing
If you’re looking for a terrifying episode of Supernatural to rewatch, then look no further than the Season 4 episode “Family Remains.” This one takes the ghostly scares a step further into a direction you may not want to go. In truth, this episode — written by Seasons 8-11 showrunner Jeremy Carver — is brilliant. Set in middle-of-nowhere Nebraska (one of Supernatural’s most haunted states), it plays upon all of our darkest and most primal fears while setting the audience (and our heroes) up for failure. That’s right, not everyone makes it out of this episode alive. If you’re expecting the usual ghost story, then be prepared for disappointment.

In this episode, Sam and Dean stake out a haunted house in which the previous owner died suddenly. As the new Carter family moves into the home, the Winchesters find that their job has gotten all the more challenging. The family, consisting of two parents, two kids, a dog, and their uncle, quickly discovers that the house is a bit creepier than they would’ve hoped. Structured like any classic haunted house movie, objects go missing only to end up elsewhere, strange warnings are written on the walls, and the daughter Kate (Alexa Nikolas) is licked in her bed by a mysterious creature who isn’t the family dog.

It’s not long before the son, Danny (Dylan Minnette), befriends the entity within the house, deeming her as his friend. If that isn’t enough, the Winchesters arrive just as all the tires are slashed and there’s no way to escape. Believing the killer to be the ghost of the previous owner’s daughter, Sam and Dean reveal the existence of the paranormal to the family and draw a salt circle for protection. It’s then that the episode gets especially interesting and all the more terrifying.

‘Supernatural’ Delivers a Terrifying Twist
For a series titled Supernatural, it’s interesting that the most frightening moment on the show has nothing to do with the paranormal. The moment that we believe the Carter family should be safe, as they cower behind the salt circle, turns out to be nothing but a facade. No, the girl in the walls (played masterfully by Mandy Playdon) is not a ghoul or a monster of some kind, she’s simply the inbred daughter/granddaughter of the home’s previous owner. The moment she steps over the salt line is one of the most frightening moments in any horror series, as it marks the first time in the show that the Winchesters were just straight-up wrong about a paranormal case. In fact, it wasn’t paranormal at all.

While this girl is anything but natural, she’s also not supernatural, which is pretty jarring when you’re watching a show titled as such. Nevertheless, her creepy smile and her absent eyes are enough to send shivers down your spine and make you wonder if someone isn’t hiding in your own walls. At this point in the episode, anything goes. All the rules that the Winchesters live by, the fool-proof plans they have for hunting ghosts, monsters, and demons, all go out the window in a single instant, changing the game forever. Dean’s face tells it all, as he instantly recognizes his error and expresses a healthy amount of fear himself. “People, man,” as Dean says in a later episode with a similar twist. “Just frigging people.”

Thankfully, Sam and Dean are able to save most of the Carter family — though sadly, Susan’s (Helen Slater) brother Ted (Bradley Stryker) and the family dog aren’t so lucky — and they dispatch the girl and her inbred twin brother (Mark Wynn), who also lives within the walls and beneath the house. Yes, that’s right, there’s more than one, and he’s even scarier than she is. (Well, her moment upstairs really let her shine, though maybe that was just all the glistening grime.) In many ways, this episode echoes the underground climax of The Conjuring, which came out just a few years later, albeit without the malevolent spirits. It’s certainly just as frightening, maybe even more so, given they’re just people.

‘The X-Files’ Features a Similar Episode
Understandably, this Supernatural episode has also drawn comparisons to the infamous episode of The X-Files titled “Home,” which aired back in 1996, also during the fourth season of its respective series. “Home,” like “Family Remains,” features an inbred family of killers who wish to be left alone. Though, that’s where many of the similarities end. The X-Files episode is arguably more intense, and a few members of the Peacock family escape in the end. A comic book sequel was written by The X-Files: Season 10 scribe Joe Harris years later, continuing the story in an arc aptly titled “Home Again.” Despite the similarities, “Family Remains” stands tall on its own.

Like the aforementioned X-Files, this Supernatural episode is especially frightening because it’s not what we expected. We’re used to the Winchesters decapitating vampires, exorcizing demons, and putting evil spirits to rest, but we’re not used to them fighting against flesh-and-blood human beings. Even the Season 1 episode, “The Benders,” which also featured a group of human killers, was a bit more expected, honoring the iconic slasher movies that came before. But “Family Remains” markets itself (very successfully) as a haunted house story, a ghost story with claws, and yet, it turns out to be anything but. This flipping of the general expectations that fans had for the show is what makes it so powerful, and so genuinely haunting.

While Supernatural is no longer on the air, we can always revisit some of the series’ most iconic episodes and relive the horrors alongside Sam and Dean. Admittedly, “Family Remains” might not be an episode that you’ll often wish to revisit, but when you do, know that the Winchesters will still come out on top in the end. After all, they’re experts at cheating death.


By Damyan Ivanov

My name is Damyan Ivanov and i was born in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria. Graduated high school in 2016 and since then i'm working on wordpress news websites.