He shows up in the first episode, a guy in the dark and the first words we hear him utter are ‘easy, tiger!’. It’s not James Bond. The name’s Winchester. Dean Winchester. The Dean.
 
He’s Han Solo, he’s Indiana Jones, he’s Zorro and Jack Sparrow. He’s all the best and coolest heroes I’ve learned to love throughout my life. A scoundrel with a golden heart. I would put my life into his hands in an instant.

I was not prepared for this. When I started watching Supernatural when it came to our screens (and it seems so strange now that there ever was TV-land without this show), I was thinking gore, horror, monsters, ghouls, not beauty. No, folks, I’m not talking about Jensen Ackles’ remarkable good looks (although I don’t mind them, of course), I mean the beauty of this incredible story we’ve discussed countless times. Its depth, its authenticity amidst a fantasy world, its many layers and the melancholy that has been a part of it from the first episode on. It’s the kind of beauty sad poems are built upon, and sometimes I like to think of this show as an epic ballad, the Idylls of the Hunters or something like that (my Lord Tennyson, forgive me this blasphemy).

In its centre we find two brothers, and the older one captured our attention with his nonchalant entrance and has become a sort of icon ever since.

Yes, Dean has a bigger mouth sometimes than he should, he earned some beatings with it, but that is part of his allure. He doesn’t swallow what he thinks (well, he does so with his brother sometimes, and people he doesn’t really care about get targeted by his sharp tongue), and his humour can be hurtful. He knows how to speak daggers and he scores every time.

But many guys do that. That alone wouldn’t make Dean the Dean. Dean won my heart more and more with his vulnerability. The first chinks in his so obvious armour became visible in Phantom Traveller, and a few episodes later in Home he broke my heart. You all know which scene I’m referring to – the phone call to dad. I am way too young to be his mother, but I felt these motherly instincts rise up in me and all I wanted was to envelop him in a tight embrace and make him believe that everything would be well in the end.

Would he have believed it? Knowing the world he was fighting in? I doubt so. Dean has always known how cruel this place is. He has experienced it first-hand. Not only this place, but hell, too. And heaven – not exactly the nicest haven altogether. What hurt me most was the deep sense of loneliness that held him in a harsh knot. Yes, he found his brother and they developed a relationship again, but for a long time he had been lonely – in a way that has nothing to do with not being around people. He learned to hide his pain deep in his bones. He established that wall of sarcasm and aggressive humour to keep others at bay. He rarely confided in anyone or sought comfort. He had not learned he could do that, since – as far as we know – there was not much comfort on planet Winchester, dad was not the cuddling kind. Dean had learned to be a protector, not to seek protection himself.

But he needs it badly sometimes.

He’s strong, he is able to defeat all kinds of monsters, but the ones on the inside eating away at him? Hardly.While his brother had believed in some higher power protecting them, despite all the horrors they’d seen, Dean could not muster up that luxury. His mother who had promised him that angels were watching over them died nevertheless. There was no protection. And Dean had not been able to believe anymore. His faith had been taken away from him at such early an age.

There is so much anger in him he barely ever unleashes, disappointment and lost hope and sometimes he just keeps going, well- just because. Dean’s wounded soul that might never entirely heal moves me beyond words. Or tears for that matter.

He’s always been quick to sacrifice himself to help those he loves. How many times has he laid his life on the line? Basically every time he ventured out on a hunting trip to protect people in need. And there are no limits to what he’ll do for his family – the one that ends with blood and the one that doesn’t.
 
I don’t know if any of us would be capable of doing that – selling our souls for someone we love, knowing that we’d spend eternity, literally eternity, being ripped apart in ways more horrific than we could imagine. But Dean did it. I think he probably wasn’t aware of it, not entirely. But he would have done it anyway. That’s the kind of man he is.

But that is also a sign of that lacking self-esteem. That he thinks so less of himself that he’s willing to make any sacrifice. He just does it and perhaps gains some of that confidence by knowing that his brother will live. There were moments I wanted to slap him for that (because he willingly jumps into pain and because he leaves tremendous pain behind), but I also wanted to shield him.

All his young life he had protected those closest to him. All I want to do at times is to protect him. To give him a moment of peace, to give him time to heal, at least a tiny bit. What he evokes most in me is compassion. He is one of the most handsome men around, I can’t deny what I called ‘Jensen Ackles’ glamour’ in my articles about the convention I visited in March last, and I’m not immune to it.

But Dean – he’s the kind of brother I never had. I am an only child, and I would have loved to have a brother like that. I am grateful that I was never forced to make decisions these guys were, but I have experienced the odd painful episode in my life, too. And I hope I have mastered those with the same kind of dignity I find in Dean’s handling of those situations. He despairs, yes, he loses hope and sometimes behaves like a cad, with words that hurt his closest ones, but within it all he remains standing, fighting to be the person he believes he should be. He tries to be consistent with his self-image (his brother’s keeper), and that is something not easy to handle.

I admire and love a survivor. I always have. And Dean is one in so many aspects, that it breaks my heart thinking about it (yes, I might be guilty of being way too sentimental sometimes). He never had a childhood of peace or fun as some other lucky kids have.

From the moment his mother died, his training began. Not in weaponry right away, since John had to find out more about the strange world behind the curtains Missouri drew back for him – but in taking care of his family, in enduring pain, in realizing that there actually is something out there in the dark… that those creatures did not only exist in fairytales to scare children into behaving. The poison of the world he was pulled into left its scars inside and out.

For me, Dean Winchester is the kind of man I’d be proud to call my friend, my brother, a man of integrity and honour. Someone who tries to do what he can. Someone who has learned to survive fiends and love, as both are devastating sometimes. A man special and dear to my heart. And, well, how’s that for a fictional character?

I’m sure there is even more to him in the depths of my soul, but that shall remain unspoken for now. Do you want to tell us what the Dean means to you, kind readers?

Comments  

CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2010-08-24 22:06
I enjoyed reading this article. :-)

One thing I liked about the portrayal of most characters in Supernatural (and especially so, in Dean Winchester's case) is that they are not "perfect". They have their moments of strength - and weaknesses.

Despite the many strong qualities Dean Winchester had, he also had serious lapses - including (understandably ) breaking down to torture in Hell, to torture other (innocent?) souls.

But yeah, I agree. To quote Demian in the "Real Ghostbusters" - "But Sam and Dean. To wake up every morning and save the world. To have a brother who would die for you. Well, who wouldn't want that?".

Who wouldn't want to have a big brother like Dean ?
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-08-25 04:59
Heh, Dean is iconic. Love that! And thanks for saying it!

He's the cowboy, the Tramp, the maverick, the bad boy girls want and the little man mothers hug. He's the one anyone would want on their side in a tight spot, but also the one most likely to be chased out of the parlor for having muddy boots.

Dean, Dean, Dean. Just thinkin bout the man brings a grin to my face. I'd love to tell you what he means to me, but the fella doesn't fit into words. He's too big, too full of greatness, flaws, complications and simplicity to allow expression in any language. Except, perhaps, for those two wonderful words.

The Dean.
Randal
# Randal 2010-08-25 10:41
Dean to me means the easiest route to needling a certain English gal, which I'll never do again, of course.

Naw, Dean is on the short list of coolest heroes ever. He really is TV's Han Solo.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-08-25 10:45
Nice tribute Jas. This is the Dean people love, the Dean that is all the 'cool' rolled into one. Hopefully this is the Dean will see in s6.
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-08-25 14:32
A wonderful tribute to Dean Jasminka!

To me, Dean is THE Dean. My hero and dear love. How many times have I just wanted to hug him close and give him comfort. It is his many flaws that make him so endearing to me. His big mouth, as you say, his non PC humour, his sarcasm, his flirting, his hunger. All this alongside his fierce love for his family and his need to protect the innocent as well as his own.

The poor guy had to become an adult at the age of 4! He feels if he isn't protecting and shielding his brother that his life is worthless. What he has given up for Sammy is his own self worth. He doesn't seem to be able to comprehend that and is really devastated and hurt when demons (and Sam at times) have accused him of being worthless and weak and of no use to his family. How that must hurt! And yet he puts on his game face and his defensive humour and soldiers on in what he feels is his duty. What a guy! I never begrudge him his bacon cheeseburgers or his ladies. He deserves to have some comfort in his life. And the ladies are never reluctant. Indeed, why should they be? A chance to be with THE Dean is a once in a lifetime opportunity. :o

I'm not one who likes to see the brothers at odds and in conflict with each other. Season 4 was not my favourite for just the reason that from the first episode, Sam was lying and sneaking around even though he had just got his beloved brother back from hell itself and it took the whole season for them to come together and gank the skank Ruby. Not saying I don't enjoy the spats and disagreements in the Impala and the motels. That is brotherly normality and speaking their true feelings out loud to each other. It's the sneaking and lying that grate and make me empathetic with how Dean must be feeling knowing he is being deceived by the most important person in his life.

No, I don't hate Sam for this, as he did have what he believed were good reasons for what he did and he was terribly afraid to tell Dean what he was really up to. But it seemed that up until "Dark Side of the Moon" he had no idea how much hurt he had caused his brother.

I feel I am aimlessly rambling on here, but these boys mean a great deal to me and this is the only outlet I have to express my scattered thoughts. :sad:

I'm hoping and hoping that next season will eventually find them back in the closeness that has been missing the last two seasons. Give me the bitch jerk snark and bonding back, at least at the end of the season.

Everything you said about Dean I agree with Jasminka. A great tribute indeed! :-)
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-08-25 16:04
Dean has so many layers, it’s incredible. I guess what I like best about him (on top of everything listed above) is his steadfastness. Apart from a few minor wobbles he has been unyielding in his loyalty to his family. I also love his protectiveness; not only for his family, but everyone. When he says he would die for someone, he means it, literally.

I was doing my annual read of LOTR the other night and I got to the point where Samwise left after taking the ring from Frodo when Frodo ‘died’ and Samwise suddenly realised his place was with Frodo so he legged it back to be with him and I suddenly thought, ‘Samwise is a SPN fan. Awesome!’ And then it hit me, Dean is Samwise. Screw duty. For him, it’s about family and loyalty. Everything else, destiny, higher powers etc that’s secondary. Dean, like Samwise, knows what his priority is. It’s Sam/Frodo.

Throughout his life, Dean guided Sam, raised him and helped make him the man he is. Likewise Samwise spent HIS life taking care of Frodo. (Sigh, I love Sam Gamgee!)

Then I thought, nope, Dean is Aragorn: brave, determined, a nomad, loyal, struggling with his ‘destiny’ and wanting only peace. He protects Sam/Frodo, makes sure nothing will harm him and helps lay the foundation for what Sam/Frodo has to do. (Ok, I’ve just keeled over with the mental image of Dean/Aragorn striding ahead of Sam/Frodo, clearing the way, protecting him from all evils, and behind Sam/Frodo is Dean/Samwise, an ever constant, laying a steadying hand on his shoulder, giving his support and ensuring he doesn’t go astray...)

Course, with his penchant for beer, there’s also a touch of Gimli in Dean ....

What defines Dean? Well, he went to Stull cemetery knowing he would probably die and he choose that if he was going to die, it would be with his brother. This epitomises Dean, and that alone is reason to love him.
Joyful
# Joyful 2010-08-26 04:55
Thankyou Jasminka for eloquently explaining why this character has ingrained itself so deeply in our hearts and minds over the last 5 seasons. Having been a TV addict for more years than I care to admit, in my opinion Dean Winchester is the one character to most often bring out those feelings you mention Jasminka. The number of times every episode I have wished I could just wrap my arms around this fictional person and protect him from this harsh world of supernatural both impresses me and scares me :D Jensen has a lot to do with how well we see the heart and soul of Dean Winchester, and I thank him and the writers for this wonderful gift.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-26 06:44
Hello CitizenKane2, Yvonne, Randal, Sablegreen, Bevie, Tim the Enchanter, and Joyful – thank you for your comments, folks!

CitizenKane2, happy that you enjoyed the article. Indeed, the weaknesses make us strong, and to have a character like that who faces those flaws is just moving beyond words…

Yvonne, yes, he is iconic, isn’t he? Ha! I can continue saying that… I can imagine what he means to you, dear, so – instead of putting all that into words, he’s just gonna be THE DEAN…

Randal, I am just trying to imagine what that certain English gal would have to say, hehehe… And – hell ,yes – he’s as cool as it gets!!!

Sablegreen, let’s hope we will see something of that Dean in the upcoming season.

Bevie, you make it absolutely clear that the Winchesters mean a lot to you, and you do it with love and lovingly… nothing wrong with that, is it? I’m sure we will see their bond renewed again, however, knowing the writers’ knack for torturing the guys, we will have to sit tight, I guess.

Enchanting Tim, you read Lord of the Rings once a year, too? Wow, I thought only I and Christopher Lee were such freaks (but cute ones… muah).

It’s no secret that George Lucas borrowed a lot from Tolkien and Kripke took a lot from Lucas. These are universal themes (I am actually working on an article that will deal with the topic, coming soon). No matter which archetype we use, the way Dean is depicted moves us to the core. I have always admired people who were ready to sacrifice a lot for their dear ones. It’s a face of love (not always the healthiest one, but one I’ve been raised to, and I hope – should my time come – I will be ready to do what’s necessary), and Dean embodies indeed many of those.

Joyful, sweet TV addict, I’m happy I reached you with this. Let’s send The Dean a multimedia hug for the upcoming season. I bet he’ll need it.

Thank you all for your well-thought comments. You do me much honour. Love Jas
Julie
# Julie 2010-08-26 09:47
I think you already know what this article means to me Jas, It is not `fluff` at all either , it is beautiful.
What you ask if a really difficult question to answer and I will try not to ramble on and on as I easily could .
Yes , Dean is undoubtably beautiful but if this were just the case would his appeal be so enduring , I doubt it. I am reminded of the saying `Beauty captures our attention but personality captures our heart `. And this is definitely the case here. And he is flawed but it is these flaws which strangely make him even more `perfect`. How many times here have we pondered how we can care so much about these `fictional characters` but thanks to Jensen, Dean Winchester is so `real`.There have been other fictional characters whose stories I have enjoyed , Yes I loved Han Solo ( go figure ), but none have come close in my opinion.
Some of my reasons are very similar to yours in that I too have no siblings and very few family members, none of which are close enough to me to form the same extraordinary bond these 2 brothers share, something I know you like me would love to have. To have someone who you know is literally willing to do anything for you and someone for who you would do anything is a thing surely anyone would desire in their life .
I am starting to ramble and will stop now but just would like to add --
Randal , Please do not feel you have to use me to justify yourself here. We are aware of your feelings, even Dean himself had his own guilty pleasures and `fangirl` moment about Dr. Sexy. It is Ok, we more than understand. Just remember what I have always told you , I have a very long memory and I always get me own back

:D
Once again Thank you Jas love Ju x
elle
# elle 2010-08-29 03:14
I love Dean and this article made me smile, Jas. Wonderfully written and spot on. Dean is a hero in so many ways and the combination of his caustic wit and self-deprecatio n are impossible to resist. I would love to have The Dean in my real life as a friend - he'd be amusing and very likely tease alot, but you'd never ever question his loyalty. I am not an only child, I endure one younger brother on a daily basis and though I wish I could say we have a relationship like Sam and Dean - we don't. My brother quite the tongue, but none of the wit, heart and self-sacrifice. That's part of why I love the show so much - makes you feel like part of a very special, intimate familial relationship.

Dean draws me in because he feels real - his emotions, his flaws, his reactions, they all feel very natural given his history. Dean also inspires faith because he fights *so hard* to protect the people he loves, and even more globally than that, to protect the *idea* of family when he's not neccessarily feeling that idea as his own reality at the time.

Finally, the other draw? - those big, beautiful eyes. Because let's face it, the boy is pretty yummy!

Thanks Jas - this was a great piece!
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-08-29 20:42
Loved your article, Jas. This is our Dean, THE Dean!

I have a buddy who is just as immature and funny as Dean, another one who is also so incredibly handsome that it should be illegal, and a girlfriend who as well had to struggle to survive since early childhood. I see them all when I watch Dean in action. Wishing he'd be my buddy, too.
Evelyn
# Evelyn 2010-08-30 10:18
I love Dean and I love your take on him Jas, as well as all the other comments. It's hard to think of anything else to say that would be noteworthy that hasn't already been said because it has all mostly been said. But want to just add my two cents.

Dean is a beautiful person and that beauty is more than skin deep. Yes, thanks to Dean's portrayer (the lovely and talented Jensen Ackles), Dean is a very good looking man. But, he is also beautiful on the inside. He has a certain spark or quality deep within his soul that draws you to him. Whether it be his sarcastic wit, his bravado, his determination, his loyalty, his love for his family, his wounded soul that he tries so desperately to hide - it's all these things and so much more (his flaws and strengths) that make him a whole, a person that we all would love to have as a friend and many of us female followers as something more than just friends. But basically, we would love just to have him be a part of our lives, as a brother, friend, acquaintance, or something else. Just to have him be part of our circle would enrich our lives. I love Dean for all that he is, all that he isn't and that he has the potential to become. Stand strong Dean, we are with you all the way!
Karen
# Karen 2010-08-31 08:21
Hi Jasminka
A lovely tribute to Dean.
Ah Dean! The Hero
What does he mean to me? Everything…th ere is so much I love about him.
His wittiness and sarcastic lines, especially during those really intense situations.
The relentless teasing and the joy he had in embarrassing Sam (Bikini Inspector Badge, having a doll collection…)
His bravado, shoot first, ask questions later attitude.
His undying devotion to his family and to the job.
All his flaws and vulnerability.
His Cheshire Smile.
And his signature One Tear.
ebony
# ebony 2012-09-02 13:01
this is why eveyone should love dean cause he is the best! andi love sam too but dean is my hart and soul! and dean will always best great no matter what!