10

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Every time Sam and Dean carry out research they use the search engine shown above. I was wondering if a big search engine like Google or Yahoo even exists in the Supernatural universe? Or this this some special hunter's search engine?

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    im going to hazard its a simple, copyright issue. – Himarm Feb 10 '15 at 18:01
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    obviously google hides all the relevant search results because it's run by a wendigo. – KutuluMike Feb 10 '15 at 18:06
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    @Logan545 Google tries very hard to avoid becoming a generic trademark, which I believe is what you're hinting at. Just because everyone refers to "searching" as "googling" doesn't mean that it's not still a trademark – Jason Baker Feb 10 '15 at 18:14
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    Google doesn't bring up fake results, which you need when filming. Other sites, such (I assume) the one they used in the show, will bring up scripted results that have been requested (i.e., the user tells it what to bring up so you get "in universe" results) – Mac Cooper Feb 10 '15 at 18:44
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    @MacCooper More likely it's not a working search system at all, just a series of images or pre-programmed HTML pages made by the production team. There would be no reason to program an actual database of searchable results, when you already know exactly what you want the next page to say. – Nerrolken Feb 10 '15 at 18:49
15

TV Tropes calls this Brand X . As it says on the linked page:

When a script calls for a consumer product, and no one has offered the producers a Product Placement deal, a television program must resort to making up a brand — or, in some cases, obscuring a real brand so that it can't be identified. Another technique is to make a lookalike label that doesn't show the actual brand name — for instance, a bright-red soft drink can inscribed, in white letters, "Cola".

It's a common dodge in all media. At this time, I imagine Google is more concerned with losing the exclusive trademark of their name (as almost happened to Xerox) than they are with trolling for new customers.

  • Probably more to the point: Why would google bother to pay for that product placement? The target market for that show is already well aware of them. – NotMe Feb 10 '15 at 19:26
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    Using a fake brand also allows the writers to speak badly of it. "Man, these Big Belly Burgers are gross!" or "Ugh, these Macrohard laptops are so slow compared the Apricot laptops I'm used to!" Not sure if Sam and Dean have ever gotten frustrated with their search results, but it seems in-character. – Nerrolken Feb 10 '15 at 19:37
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They have

Despite "Search the Web" being the search engine we most often see them using, there are actually a couple of references to the Brothers using Google:

Sam: Um, I Googled "fire," "claws," "flying," "stealing virgins," and "gold," and it all takes me to the same place.

Dean: Where?

Sam: World of Warcraft fansites.

Supernatural Season 6 Episode 12: "Like a Virgin"

Dean: You honor the deceased by driving their truck. Sam, they wrote a whole country song about it. Why don’t you Google it?

Supernatural Season 10 Episode 13: "Halt & Catch Fire"

Dean: I got the basics from Google. The family moves into a long-vacant house. Uh, one week later, three of ‘em dead by their own hands. Whole family wiped out except for the daughter, which the house is still under her name.

Supernatural Season 10 Episode 19: "The Werther Project"

And a couple more references to the company itself, from other characters:

Charlie: I'm gonna die. I should have taken that job at Google.

Supernatural Season 7 Episode 20: "The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo"

Sam: Where's [the old spot where Lucifer's crypt was] now?

Meg: Do I look like Google to you? None of these buildings were here way back in the day.

Supernatural Season 8 Episode 17: "Goodbye Stranger"

Sam: We just want some basic information on Crowley. That's it.

Snooki1: Google him. Are we done?

Supernatural Season 9 Episode 16: "Blade Runners"

So obviously Google exists in the world of Supernatural and, since so many characters use it casually as a verb, it's clearly gained at least some of the same ubiquity as in our world.

So why does everyone use "Search the Web" instead?

Out-of-universe, Joe L. is obviously correct. In-universe, however, this has never been addressed. I can think of a few possible explanations, none of which are wholly satisfying:

  • SearchTheWeb is more anonymous. Let's be honest, Sam and Dean use their laptops to search for some pretty weird stuff. In our universe, there have been reports of "suspicious" Google activity being reported to law enforcement, which is obviously the kind of attention the Brothers really don't want. Perhaps SearchTheWeb is Supernatural's version of DuckDuckGo.

  • SearchTheWeb is more occult-focused. Similar to the above, Sam and Dean are typically searching for pretty specific things: lore on monsters, and how to kill them. Perhaps (as KutululMike facetiously suggested in a comment on the question) Google omits the really relevant results.


1 Possessed by a crossroads demon. It's a weird show, sometimes

2

Going off the details from the screenshot (the desktop shortcut names being Projects, Secure Files, Analysis, Internet, and Connect, neither of them have ever bothered personalizing anything about the laptop. It may just be the in-verse default search engine and/or homepage of their laptop's OS, and they haven't bothered to change their default search engine (and/or homepage), and don't want to go to the effort of typing google.com into the address bar.

0

Jared and Jensen said it is part copyright part the fact that the web sites they go to aren't real.

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    adding an actual citeable quote or video would go a long way here. i'm also not sure what you're trying to do with your hashtag here. – phantom42 Nov 8 '15 at 23:12

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