It’s time, SPN fans, to discuss whether or not Supernatural is racist. Last time we discussed the accusations that SPN was sexist, and while I had some pretty harsh criticisms of the show’s treatment of female characters, I think I was pretty easy on the show. That’s not going to be the case so much this time around.
There are very few characters of color of note in Supernatural. When I say of note I mean either named recurring characters or characters that have become a fan favorite, despite the fact that they were in one episode and then disappeared.
Here are Supernatural‘s Characters of Color: Missouri Moseley, Tamara and Isaac, Cassie, Rufus Turner, Uriel, Raphael, Gordon, Jake Talley, Victor Henricksen, Kevin Tran and Mrs. Tran.
That’s it. That’s pretty much all the characters of color on the show. So let’s talk about these characters.
First, let’s just go ahead and point out the obvious: all these characters are either evil, die tragically, or are written off after one episode.
Uriel, Raphael, Jake Talley, and Gordon are all evil characters. Jake kills Sam to help Azazel open a gate to hell, Gordon is a psychotic killer with no mercy who constantly tries to kill Sam until he is turned into a vampire and killed, Uriel was an angel who secretly had defected to Satan’s team and tried to kill Dean and Castiel before Anna killed him, and Raphael in my opinion was the worst. Despite a large majority of these black characters being evil, they all actually have interesting backstories or personalities. But Raphael is not just evil, but boring.
Raphael first appears when he is summoned by Castiel and Dean and is one of the four archangels. All the other archangels (Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer) have depth. They are well rounded characters. Even Michael, who barely shows up in any of the seasons, has more depth than Raphael. The important thing that the Supernatural writers did was humanize the angels, because they knew otherwise no would be able to relate to the characters and the show would fail. Raphael was not humanized. He’s like a robot who just does as God apparently programmed him to do. Michael tries to be like this but at least seems conflicted about it! Raphael is eventually killed when Cas becomes God. Oh, and that’s after Raphael switches from his male vessel to a female one, because a female character of color can’t possibly live in the Supernatural universe.
Missouri Moseley, Tamara and Isaac, and Cassie are characters that were only in one episode and then were written off the show. Well, except for Isaac. Tamara and Isaac are both hunters that have been married for eight years. They became hunters after their daughter was killed by monsters. Sam and Dean meet them in season two, where Isaac is killed by one of the seven deadly sins in what is still probably the scariest and most upsetting death ever on Supernatural. Tamara survives the experience, but we never see or hear from her again on the show.
Missouri Moseley is an awesome psychic character who appeared in season one. Missouri helped John Winchester discover the truth about the supernatural and how his wife died. The first episode that Sam and Dean meet her she helps them get rid of a ghost living in their old family home. She was awesome, sassy, and funny, and before Ellen, one of the first almost mother-figures of Dean and Sam. The last thing she says to the boys is “don’t be a stranger,” but they never see her again. Even in season four when the boys are looking for a psychic to help figure out who pulled Dean from hell the writers introduce a new psychic, but she is white. Why couldn’t we have Missouri back?
Cassie is another black female character introduced in season one. She is introduced as Dean’s one true love. The only girl Dean ever opened up to and revealed everything to her, including that he was a hunter, and the only girl Dean ever stayed with for more than like, a day. She and Dean break it off because Cassie doesn’t believe him about the supernatural, but calls him again when… a racist truck… tries to kill her family. Dean and Cassie rekindle their love and Cassie is not the wilting follower that most of the boys’ girlfriends tend to be. She gives Dean just as much shit as he gives her. They were arguably perfect for each other. She again breaks off their relationship at the end of the episode, because she knows Dean will never settle down and she is not going to wait for him. Perhaps her breaking things off with Dean is why the writers wrote her off and never brought her back, but they just about wrote her existence out of the show. This was the only girl Dean ever loved, but later she is replaced by Lisa who is white. Lisa, in Dean’s words, is a yoga instructor who gave him the bendiest weekend of his life. Not his one true love. Dean wants to see Lisa again in season three, because he wants to have awesome sex before he is sent to hell. Lisa becomes a major part of his life after he discovers that she has a son that, at first, he thinks is his. I never understood how Dean would want to see Lisa before he dies, but not Cassie. Cassie, again as canon tells us, was the only woman he ever loved. You would think even if she broke up with him that he would at least want to see her before he dies! Yes, friends, we could have had an awesome interracial couple on Supernatural, but alas it was not to be.
Victor Henricksen and Rufus Turner are two of the best black characters on Supernatural and are in the most episodes, other than the black characters that are evil. Victor isn’t evil, but he does act as an antagonist on the show. He’s an FBI agent who believes that Sam and Dean are insane killers. Eventually, he learns the truth and helps Sam and Dean defeat a whole town of demons. He was an interesting and complex character, and the show even implied that he might leave the FBI to become a hunter, or at the very least become Dean’s and Sam’s FBI contact, but no. After helping Sam and Dean save the day he is killed seconds later by Lilith, and only returns later as an angry ghost. Rufus was a diversity double whammy, being both black and Jewish (though he was a bad Jew). Rufus is a hunter and one of Bobby’s best friends. He was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting characters on the show, but he was killed by Bobby when Bobby was possessed by the Khan Worm, a monster created by Eve. Rufus was the only remaining black character on the show other than Raphael, but he was killed to provide emotional turmoil for a white character. Really?
Other than maybe Rufus who, as mentioned already, is Jewish, Supernatural also has the problem of thinking that diversity of race means only black people. Every non-white character for the longest time was black, with the occasional Asian thrown in the background as a side character. Other people of color seemingly don’t exist in the Supernatural universe. That is, until the recent introduction of Kevin Tran and his mother!
I’m not going to say much about either of these characters, because for the most part the treatment of these characters is great. When Kevin was first introduced he was written as a stereotype, but in the next season is developed into a well-rounded character. Mrs. Tran being referred to as a “tiger mom” I thought was uncalled for too, but it is a minor slight considering what an awesome character she turned out to be. Now let’s just hope these two characters survive the show.
So is Supernatural racist? I would say yes, but the recent introduction of Kevin and Mrs. Tran is helping and I have high hopes that show will improve its representation of people of color.
Do you think Supernatural is racist? Let me know in the comments.
And while you’re at it check out some of these articles about race in Supernatural: