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"Supernatural" and time.  It's always proven to be quite a quandry for the Winchester's and us fans, don't you think?

There's a couple of different issues with time that are being put up for discussion today.  First, how do you think "Supernatural" has handled the whole concept of time travel?  What I find most interesting is that each time jump into the past hasn't really affected the current timeline upon return.  The only time it did is when Balthazar unsunk the Titanic in "My Heart Will Go On."  It did affect things a bit in "The Song Remains The Same" but one memory wipe later and all was back to normal.  "In The Beginning" it was noted by Castiel that no matter what Dean did, all roads would lead to the same destination.  Is it possible Henry's visit changed Sam and Dean's futures too much, or was that all part of the master plan?  It's kind of a brain twister, isn't it? 

Are you hoping that the show is done with time travel, even though they now know on a spell on how to do it?  Do you think it's good or bad that there is such a spell, or does it not matter since they have an angel at their disposal?  What would you like to see Sam and Dean go back and change if they had a chance?
There's also the issue of the timeline itself!  If there have been two big time jumps in the storyline, how are we real time again?  Since I raised the debate recently after "Trial and Error," I got this great analysis from Adriana that I think would make a wonderful "Let's Discuss" bullet point.  After all, we really love to obsess over these things:  

Before I start, I've got to say that I don't think we should be too finicky on this subject.  Trying to synchronize the time in the show (let’s call it fictional time) with reality time (meaning: air dates) is almost impossible and it's useless, I think, considering that the reasons why a show (or an episode) is aired on a period or another are various, different for each country.  For example in Italy "Supernatural" is a summer show, so we don't have Christmas Hellatus, breaks for Thanksgiving day, Easter etc. and a season only lasts 3 months-3 months and a half.

But when I read again and again that the time in "Supernatural" should be two years ahead than in reality I felt the need to prove it wrong. 

I will try to make my point, and believe me, this is just for fun and because I have time to spend today. I don’t mean to pick a fight with anyone, or be disrespectful, because I’m totally enthusiastic about the show.

Let's call fictional time FT and real airing time RT and count only months (though we know that summer breaks is often a few weeks longer than four months). 

Considering only the period of time between two consecutive seasons (both fictional time and real time) and starting from "Lazarus Rising" (we read on the newspaper it's September 18th and this is true in the show and in reality) we have: 

BETWEEN SEASON 4 AND SEASON 5: RT + 4 and FT 0 (Dean and Sam are watching Lucifer rising and suddenly find themselves on a plane – same moment) = in season 5 the show is 4 months back. 

BETWEEN SEASON 5 AND SEASON 6: RT + 4 and FT + 12 (Dean’s year with Liza&Ben covers 4 months of summer hellatus) = 8 months ahead. As in previous season it was 4 months back, in season 6 the show is 4 months ahead. 

BETWEEN SEASON 6 AND SEASON 7: RT + 4 and FT 0 (Dean, Sam and Bobby in front of Castiel/God - same moment) = 4 months back. As in previous season it was 4 months ahead, in season 7 the time in the show and in reality is perfectly synchronized.

BETWEEN SEASON 7 AND SEASON 8: RT + 4 and FT + 12 (one year in Purgatory covering 4 months of summer hellatus) = 8 months ahead. 

So now the show should be 8 months ahead than reality.  Right? 

Wrong again. This is right only if we calculate the difference just on the basis of the time passed between seasons. What about time during the seasons? "Supernatural" generally airs once a week, so we have 7 days between two consecutive eps, but I don't think this is true in the Winchesters' life too. We also have a winter break that lasts 1 or 2 months (more or less) and some weeks without our show sooner or later during the seasons: sometimes in spring, or for Thanksgiving, or for whatever reasons. This doesn't happen in the story. For example, I don't believe that it took 42 days (from December 5th to January 16th) for Dean to drive from Carencro, Louisiana to Kermit, Texas, from the end of "Citizen Fang" to the beginning of "Torn and Frayed."  

For said reasons we can assume that in the Winchesters’ story some facts are closer together in time than episodes air dates, so there is more time left for off-screen stories between the seasons (when needed). I mean, if the story sometimes accelerates and sometimes slows down, at the end the characters can look at the calendar and read the same date as we do, without problems in fitting past events in the previous years of their lives. Usually it takes almost 8 months for the CW to tell the story of an entire season but that doesn’t mean that the story covers 8 months in the characters’ lives.

All that said, I think it's real hard to date exactly every fact in the show and of course we are not always sure that time, stated in terms of day, month, and year, is correctly calculated and shown every time we see a calendar in "Supernatural." But it's believable (if not true) that there isn't too much difference between fictional time and real time and I'm willing to bet that, though sometimes there may be gaps, sooner or later during the seasons everything aligns again (at least approximately).

This I do know: the story is set in the present days (like our lives are) and I’m pretty sure that Dean, being born on 1979, is now 34 and Sam is almost 30. 

Anyway, does it make any sense trying to force a story into reality so meticulously that it could fit the pattern of air dates and do you really think that this is the task of a writer? For me they should just take care of time inside the show, assuring continuity with previous seasons, building character development through the years, giving the characters time to deal with losses, to get over traumas and hard blows, believable periods of recovering after injuries and physical damages, etc.

That’s all.

So, what do you think?  Is Adriana right?  Or do you think it should really be 2015?  Where would you place the "Supernatural" timeline right now?  What do you think of the show constantly messing with timelines?"  

This is a free form discussion, so any thoughts are welcome.  The above questions and points are just guidelines.  Invent your own questins about "Supernatural" and time if I don't have it covered here.  Just remember to follow our general rules, especially being nice and showing respect, because we're all about that.

Let's discuss!



# percysowner 2013-02-25 18:44
I do think the show should be 2015, but the props, things like newspapers that show date, consistently put the time period in 2013, so I'll go with the flow.
# Grace232 2013-02-25 19:01
Amen! I totally agree with Adrianna. I take the time at face value.
Along the same lines, I expect the characters have many experiences I do not see in one hour a week 23 weeks a year. So, I am cool understanding that they may have had discussions, agreed with each other to do things, made friends, etc. - all away from the eyes of the viewers. I am grateful for the entertainment I get. Besides, if I try to do the time thing, I get a headache. Entertainment without pain (except of course for the anxiety and angst the show intends to inflict on us) - that works for me.
# Arad 2013-02-25 19:06
I think Adriana is right about the timeline of the show vs the real world one. It makes perfect sense to me that we should be in the present day rather than some unspecified future. She is right that sometimes time is moving at one rate on screen and another in rl while ages of rl time might go by while show time has paused. Plus Dean would be pushing 40 and that is just not believable :P

As for the time travel I don't mind it so long as they don't start messing up the timeline. There is a 'real' timeline (the one we've been following since 101) and I hate when that gets torn up and not restored (like in the Star Trek reboot). Actually SPN has been good at keeping away from that sort of thing so far. Other than that I can only say: "Time travel... It all gives me a headache." ;-)
# eilf 2013-02-25 19:20
I can deal with the timeline. To be boringly practical, after the first time the episode airs it really doesn't matter as long as the in-episode dates don't clash too badly.

They are rather firmly dating the show though, which is somewhat of a pity because being Anytown USA, blue collar clothing, classic car (and apart from the phones they destroy every episode) it is quite hard (for a non-American like me at least (and I live here)) to know what year it is in-show.

But at least once per season they tell us what year it is. And they seem to be doing it way more this season. Can't help wondering if they are planning for a showdown in Detroit in 2015?
# winmomwannabe 2013-02-25 20:03
Alice, this explanation works for me. I know there is a lot of analysis on this show, but the timelines isn't that important to me if it is pretty close. What matters to me is where the boys are and what 'they' think the timeline is. It's their life. Ha! And Dean pushing 40. Just NO!
# njspnfan 2013-02-25 20:10
I'm with Adriana on this one; keeping it in the present day makes sense.
# love2boys 2013-02-25 21:17
Present day is good for me too. But the New Year always begins the day the SPN season begins, and therefore both calendar and SPN years may not be exactly a year long. :o
# Sylvie 2013-02-26 13:36
I agree with Adriana 100%, I will park my disbelief at the door when it comes to the date & time on the show, I do the same for time-travel BTW! :-) Although, you gave me a major headache with the math, I felt like I was back in high school working on a problem. :-? As you can guess, I'm not good at math. :o
# Bevie 2013-02-26 14:32
Don't really care if we are two years ahead or behind. Doesn't affect my enjoyment at all. If I think about it at all I figure that the show began two years earlier than I had thought.LOL! :D

I'd love to time travel back and see some episodes we missed with Bobby. Also, I'd watch a spin-off for Bobby and Rufus. How about "Grumpy Old Hunters"? Big mistake to kill off both of them or either of them. :sad:

Interesting article and mind bending to think about.
# jily4 2013-02-26 14:34
I am there with Sylvie, a major headache with the math! I made myself read it until it made sense, because you took the time to figure it out, I could take the time to figure out what you figured out! Whew! After all that, I don't care. As long as it flows within the season, I'm fine. As a fan, we suspend belief all the time. My hubby and I will get into involved discussions, trying to make sense of something, then stop, giggle a little (yes, 60 yr olds giggle) and carry on. Thanks for doing the math, it was fun.
# Daisymae 2013-02-26 21:13
When it comes to all this time stuff, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager, when questioned by a crew member said "just go with it."
# Alice 2013-02-27 11:44
That's awesome! Love it. As an avid watcher of Voyager, we often forget the wisdom of Janeway.
# KELLY 2013-02-26 23:09
I can completely buy Adriana's time analysis. I'll admit if it is one of those things that doesn't effect the story, I can go along with what they tell me.

Of course, one of my favorite book series, the first book was written in the late 70's in present time and the last the mid 90's in present time. So perhaps I've been conditioned to not care.
# debbab 2013-03-14 22:23
Believe the writers use real dates and references to real time people to keep the story in the present day and as the actors mature in age the writers attempt to mature the characters in a proper time line. These references also give the writers access to open a social topic such as gay rights, Dick Cheney(can't believe I used those two in the same sentence) food distribution and obesity in America, etc. As viewers we have to accept that Sam and Dean do other things between hunts thus accounting for lapses of time between episodes. Otherwise we would have a soap opera daily chat-not the nature of the show. Yes, we have seen the brothers doing laundry and other mundane chores, but seriously this is episodic television not Days of Our Lives-sorry for the reference. I choose to suspend my disbelief as I do with solid writing in any medium.