We know that the heroes Sam and Dean are in fact criminals. They have no income, steal money, cars, credit cards, impersonate FBI agents and so on. This all can be ignored (by most people's moral standards, I think) to serve a greater good.

But where it becomes a little more brisant in my opinion is when it comes to killing humans. They regularly kill demons or angels together with their hosts, despite (at least in the case of demons) they have the alternative to exorcise the demon and save the human host. While there are cases where the human host can not be saved because their body is injured deadly and only kept alive by the demon, or perhaps the host is possessed for such a long time that nothing of the hosts soul is left, there are many occasions where Sam and Dean had the option to exorcise but choose to kill instead without a second thought. This could be justified with the assumption that a demon that is exorcised will eventually return and kill more people (so trading one life to save many) but this is harder to accept by most people's standards, I think.

An then there are those cases were someone they know and love is possessed. In this case they go to great lengths not to kill the host and to save them. This implies that in their moral conception the life of some people is worth more than others (and justifies that the exorcised demon will kill many people in the future).

This and other moral dilemmas in the show (like Castiel destroying the life of his host and his hosts family) are sometimes discussed by the characters or even plot points (but only once in a while), so we can assume that the writers are aware of this.

So my question is:

Out of Universe: What is the moral message the writers want to deliver to the audience? That the Winchesters are cold blooded killers? Or that all the kills of innocent people are justified somehow? Are there any interviews revealing what the writers intend the moral state of Dean and Sam is and how they manage to justify their kills?

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    After having watched the series from the very first episode until now, I think the message is to keep fighting until the end and never give up, like the brothers have done. Also, they always stress the importance of family. Regarding whether they are cold blooded killers, I think they do what needs to be done, given they live in a world with vampires, demons, monsters etc. It's easy to be a saint in paradise (quote from DS9).
    – Hans Olo
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


Me and my spouse are going through our second watch through of fourteen seasons skipping only season twelve (way too many extended torture scenes for spouse). I think a lot of the moral stories is much like's 24 which is anything for the greater good. Given that they work with Crowley, Rowena, and Lucifer constantly, knowing their "sudden but inevitable betrayal" (again and again). In later seasons, they pretty much accepted that with many of their temporary allies preemptively attacking knowing the Winchesters were going to kill them as soon as the plot was over.

There is also the anything for family even murder and never give up. Those are pretty consistent through the story with Dean getting hurt that Sam didn't look for him when he was in hell, the revelation of Sam not having a soul for a while, and the seasonal Winchester breakup (for 1-3 episodes). No matter what, it comes down to family there.

If I had to choose one person to be on a desert island, I'd pick Sam Winchester because Dean would come for him.

That said, I think there is also a pretty strong compassion to the repentant (let the good ones live), they let a lot of the "good" monsters get away. However that always comes off to me as tones of bigotry ("oh, you are one of the good ones") but that is expected given that most monsters are either lackeys or kill everything. When the British Men of Letters were killing off the ones the Winchesters let go was heartbreaking and frustrating, and it is one reason my spouse dislikes that entire plot, so I'm going to say it is important.

While they were really bad at it in the early seasons, I think there was also a pretty strong trend of women are disposable but after season five or six, that lessened a great deal. I still feel it pops up but I'm glad that has been less prevalent in later seasons.

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