Supernatural Character Regressions
Part 1: Dean
Character development is not always linear towards growth, especially when characters are as well created and brought to life as Dean Winchester. Sometimes characters regress in their emotional development, retreating within themselves out of fear or embarrassment, or because it’s just too hard to face what they must face.
One of Dean’s character “flaws” has always been his reluctance to share how he is feeling. Though he has gotten better about talking, there is one thing Dean hasn’t done for himself in years. . .
Cry in front of those closest to him.
“I can't talk about this to Sammy. You know, I gotta keep my game face on. But, uh, the truth is I'm not handling it very well.”
- Dean Winchester, 2.03 "Bloodlust"
Even though his father died,
Dean felt he had to be strong for Sam.
Dean let out how he was feeling.
He let out the tears.
2.04 “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”
After he went to Hell,
though it took Sam forever to get it out of him,
Dean finally broke down and cried,
not for what was done to him,
but as a confession for what he had done.
4.10 "Heaven and Hell"
Dean shared his tears of shame with Sam.
due to supernatural interference,
his pain was mocked by the one person he opened up to,
and Dean heard these words…
4.14 "Sex and Violence"
He was called weak.
He was told he wasn’t strong enough.
And when he cried for Sam,
for what was happening to Sam,
what Sam was allowing to happen,
4.21 "When the Levee Breaks"
There were definite reasons for Sam acting the way he did.
And he honestly wasn’t himself.
But, that didn’t matter.
Dean saw that he couldn't allow himself the luxury of tears.
When Bobby, his father figure,
also chastised and embarrassed Dean for showing emotion,
4.22 "Lucifer Rising"
Dean heard loud and clear,
Not about yourself.
Not in front of your family.
So when the Apocalypse was too much,
Dean went away from everyone to cry.
5.14 "My Bloody Valentine"
When he had to remove himself from Lisa and Ben’s life,
he forced himself not to cry in front of Sam.
6.21 "Let It Bleed"
And on and on.
Dean became a master of his tears,
even when he felt he’d lost everything,
even his belief in himself.
13.01 "Lost and Found"
But Dean will cry for others.
He cried for humanity that he felt God had abandoned.
11.21 "All in the Family"
He cried with his family
as it was being torn apart again.
But for himself,
when the pain was personal,
when he’d lost his mom yet again,
Dean didn’t cry in front of his brother (who lost his mom, too.).
Dean went off alone,
Because he learned he can’t show personal weakness.
Not to the ones he loves.
14.19 "Jack in the Box"
Dean used to be able to share his tears
but through the trials of his very hard life,
He lost that.
Now he keeps his game face on.
If it slips, he's mastered putting it back in place.
For as the old saying goes,
“Never let them see you cry.”
It solves nothing.
Narrative by Cat Dean (@Pathryn34 on Twitter)
Read more about Dean Winchester! Alice's "Deeper Look" series, Elle's "Old vs. New" analysis, and SweetonDean's "The Journal of Dean Winchester" are among dozens of articles dedicated to understanding Dean! The entire collection can be found in the category "Dean Winchester".
If you enjoyed this poetic essay, don't miss CatDean's:
"Broments: Supernatural's Epic Story Told in Sam's Hugs" and
"Broments: Supernatural's Epic Story Told in Dean's Hugs"
Did we see more of this side of Dean in 15.03 "The Rupture"? Are there more examples of the "then" and "now" Dean' and his ability to cry in front of others? Do you see things differently than this? Please share your thoughts below!