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 [Spoilers for Seasons 1-7]

Picking the top ten scariest episodes of a sci-fi/horror genre TV show is no easy feat, especially when you consider that not everyone is afraid of the same things.  For example, if you suffer from Coulrophobia (that is, the fear of clowns) like Sam Winchester, you're probably going to think "Everybody Loves a Clown" and "Plucky Penniwhistle's Magical Menagerie" are the scariest episodes of the series.   On the other hand, if you suffer from Aviatophobia (that is, the fear of flying), you're likely to hate "Phantom Traveler."  Or perhaps you're Entomophobic (afraid of insects), and have to close your eyes through most "Bugs."  And if you're Demonophobic (afraid of demons, devils, witches, evil spirits, and possession),well, I don't even know how you're able to watch the show!

My point being that any one episode of the series could be considered "scary" for one reason or another based on each particular viewer's real-life fears.   Thus, I needed some parameters if I was going to wade through 100-plus episodes and pick ten of the scariest.  

First, I stuck to my strong conviction that "gory" is not the same as "scary" (my sincerest apologies to the squeamish).  I will disclaim this by admitting that I've never seen those Saw movies (and never will).  But while gory may sometimes be scary, it is not always so.  If gory was always scary, then Saving Private Ryan would be listed as a horror movie.  And while watching gratuitous, obviously fake blood, guts, and gore splatter across a scene might make me cringe, it will not keep me up at night with my covers pulled up to my chin.  

Second, I stuck to my second strong conviction that "dark" is not the same as "scary."  By "dark," I mean violent and noiresque. 

Supernatural is great at depicting evil in its many forms, and when it does so well, the results are episodes that are very dark.  "Repo Man" is a good example of a dark episode, as well as "Live Free or Twi-hard."  These episodes are riveting; they make you shudder, but they don't really scare you.  Or maybe they do.  Feel free to disagree. 

Third, "if Dean Winchester thinks it's scary, it's probably so."  That's just logic. 

Finally, I developed a quick n' dirty philosophy about why certain things we watch scare us.  I believe, phobias aside, that the things that frighten us most are those that we have some real-life connection to.  Scary TV is just reality, amplified and out-of-control.  It's imagination run wild.  In real-life, I sit on my couch at night in a dark apartment, and the tapping on my window sounds odd, but it's just the drizzling rain.  On TV, the protagonist in the same situation believes it to be rain, only it turns out to be something else: a monster coming through the window.  

,Okay, I just scared the crap out of myself.  

Time to get on with the list!!

11.  Honorable Mention - No Rest For the Wicked


Dean: "Tell me something, what the hell does a demon do for fun?"

I hate honorable mentions.  I feel like having more than ten in a top ten article is cheating "“ what can I say, I'm anal.  But I felt compelled to do it just this once, for one reason only "“ Lilith.  

"No Rest for the Wicked" is filled with scary concepts "“ Dean can see demons' real faces underneath their human masks, and he suffers from hellish hallucinations and nightmares in which he is being chased by hellhounds.  That final stroke of the grandfather clock rings out its ominous knell, and we see the resigned terror in his eyes as he whispers the name of the last sight he will ever see: "hellhound."  And then at the very end of it all, we get a glimpse of our valiant protagonist in a place he doesn't belong.  Hell looks liked agony, and we watch in horror as stoic Dean Winchester screams out his baby brother's name in terror.  

Pretty scary,but somehow not quite as scary as a demon possessing a little girl and terrorizing her family, just for kicks.  There's something downright spooky about a good thing turning into something evil.  It's unnatural and unexpected.  I know it gives me chills when the old grandpa says, "it's not her anymore,there's something inside her."  Eesh.  And the scene with Lilith making the mother read that horrible children's tale for the 27th time still gives me the heebie-jeebies.  (Does anyone know if that is a real book??)  Kudos to the little actress who played the part so convincingly.  She's the reason this episode makes #11.  

 10.  No Exit

Sam: "Holmes built an apartment building in Chicago.  They called it the "˜murder castle.'  The whole place was a death factory.  They had trap doors, acid vats, quick-line pits,.  He built these secret chambers -  inside the walls."

So you're a young female, living alone in a crappy apartment.  You hate it there.  Lights randomly flicker.  Electronics fuzz in and out.  Unexplainable cracks appear in the walls and ceiling.  And worse, you hear strange creaking and scratching coming from inside the walls.  Little do you know that something evil is lurking there.  

Such is the premise of the episode "No Exit."  

First of all, don't watch this episode if you're claustrophobic.  The scenes where Dean and Jo are walking through those dark, tight spaces within the walls give me the creeps.  Not to mention the metal cell Jo gets locked in, with the bloody scratches on the ceiling from a prior victim.  Second of all, ectoplasm?  That stuff is nasty, and creepy, like it has a life of its own.  

But by far the scariest part of this episode has to be the glimpses of the spirit itself.  Peeking through a hole in the wall, an unsuspecting victim sees an eye looking back at her, while another witnesses awful, filthy fingers suddenly reaching through the cracks of a vent.  Not to mention the dirty, bearded mouth of the spirit whispering to Jo from just outside her prison.  

Whether you like her character or not, Alona Tal did an excellent job conveying Jo's bravery and terror in those scenes.  This is not an episode I can watch before going to bed!

9.  Time Is On My Side

Sam:  "Doc Benton.  Real-life doctor, lived in New Hampshire.  Brilliant man obsessed with alchemy, especially how to live forever."
Dean:  "Whatever he was doing, it was working "“ he just kept on ticking.  Parts would wear out; he'd replace "˜em."

Now who doesn't want to live forever?  

This is a classic tale of horror.  It reminds me in some small way of the Edgar Allen Poe story "Telltale Heart," for some reason, though they aren't similar.  In this episode, a doctor discovers the secret to immortality - but at a price.  He kidnaps people in the dark of night, using chloroform to knock them unconscious.  They wake up strapped to table next to a jar of maggots.  Then they're operated on without anesthetic, left awake while an organ is ripped from their body.  But that's not the scariest part.  The scariest part is that Doc Benton is still alive "“ will always be alive - buried with his secrets somewhere six-feet under.  It's scary because there's always the possibility that one day, somehow, he'll get free.  

Gives me the chills.  

8.  Long Distance Call

Sam:  "A crocatta,it's some kind of scavenger.  It mimics loved ones, whispers "˜come to me,' lures you into the dark and swallows your soul."

While this episode only makes #8 on this list, for me, it is the scariest.  Perhaps because it reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode that used to terrify me, called "Night Call."  A stubborn, lonely old lady is tormented by repeated, cryptic phone calls she receives from some man.  She finally yells at him to leave her alone and calls the phone company to find out who was calling.  The call is traced to a broken phone line lying over a grave in the cemetery.  It's the grave of her late fiancée, who died after a car accident she caused years ago.  Once she finds out who it is, she picks up the phone to talk to him.  But he reminds her that she told him to leave her alone, and he always did what she wanted.  Then the line goes dead.  Creepy, creepy, creepy!  

The scene from this episode that gets me the most is the girl on the computer.  Now, who hasn't had a scary IM experience?  This poor girl is chatting via IM with someone who claims, very believably, to be her dead mother.  That's spooky enough.  Then the screen goes black, and she sees a figure reflected there, standing right behind her.  She jumps out of the chair and the computer starts fritzing, displaying the phrase "come to me" over and over again.  And how much more spine-chilling is it when Sam figures it all out and tells her, "Lanie,that's not your mother!"  

I mean come on, this monster even freaked out Dean Winchester!

7.  Of Grave Importance

Bobby: "Suck on that, Swayze."

This one has to make the list, because it's a traditional haunted house tale.  Now, I'm the type of gal who closes her eyes on the haunted house ride.  But if I ever was standing in the quiet, dark hallway of an eerie mansion with my eyes opened, and all of a sudden a large, shadowy figure started running at me yelling, "You shouldn't have come here!"  Well, I think I'd pee my pants.
Now in this episode, the baddie is Mr. Van Ness, an extremely powerful vengeful spirit.  His entire body just radiates anger, do you notice?  He is one scary dude.  And to think of how many spirits have been trapped in that house for so many years,it's downright chilling.  

But by far the most heart-stopping moment of the episode happens when Bobby and Annie are standing at the bar, and all of a sudden this ghost lets out a bloodcurdling scream, flying full-speed, straight into the camera.  It's unexpected, even for Supernatural - a different way of scaring people that the show has rarely used, in my opinion, perhaps because it is so hard to utilize on TV.  I know I jumped in my seat when it happened "“ how about you?

Bottom line: it was frightening, and it was classic.  

6.  Home

Missouri:  "You see, all those years ago, real evil came to you.  It walked this house.  That kind of evil leaves wounds.  And sometimes wounds get infected."

So yeah, okay, maybe I saw bits of "Poltergeist" on TV when I was way too young, because my dad was watching it and I happened to be in the room.  And yeah, maybe those scary images always stayed with me, and "Home" reminds me of a terrifying movie I will never, ever, ever watch again.  But that hasn't influenced the decision to put "Home" on this list at all.  Huh-uh.  Not one bit.  :p

From moving furniture, to a monster in the closet, to strange toys, garbage disposals that turn on when they're unplugged, and Missouri Mosley herself, this episode embodies creepy.  

Did anyone else think that the victim, Jennie, was a way less frightened than she should have been?  If I lived in a house with a Poltergeist, I'd grab up my two kids, get the heck out of there, and never go back.  She was either incredibly brave or incredibly clueless.  

And this is another hunt that scared the formidable Dean Winchester "“ because there are few things more frightening than facing
something you've spent most of your life trying to forget.

5.  Scarecrow

Dean:  "Dude, you fugly."

I will never be able to look at a strawman again!  Kudos to the costume and makeup departments for making such an evil-looking scarecrow and forever ruining "The Wizard of Oz" for me.  :p  

But beyond the monster's ugly mug, this episode is also heavy on the creepy.  Here's another one that reminds me of a chapter from the Twilight Zone.  You're taking a trip with your significant other and stop for gas in small town America.  The people are friendly,too friendly.  They fatten you up like rams before a slaughter, and send you out into the corn fields to your death.  The worst part is "“ the whole town can hear your screams "“ and no one does anything.  

Aside from the legitimately heart-pounding scenes where the scarecrow-god is chasing and nabbing people in the dark, the scariest part for me is when Dean gets up on that ladder right next to the thing's face.  Perhaps it's the wind, but I swear I can see it moving ever so slightly, every single time.  Nothing should look that creepy in the daylight.  

Lessons: 1) be wary of the kindness of strangers, 2) stay away from fugly scarecrows, and 3) don't go into the corn fields at night!

4.  Bugs 

Sam:  "Something... something bad, is happening in Oasis Plains.  We think it might have something to do with some old bones we found down there - Native American bones." 

No joke, I'm writing this and look over my shoulder to see a spider crawling across my kitchen floor.  Not. Cool.  
But hey, I have Raid, so,.

This episode is so worst-nightmare-ever creepy that I can hardly watch it with my eyes open, much less write about it.  It makes my skin crawl.  

It's the shower scene, okay?  With the spiders that explode out of the wall.  And,granted, I'm arachnophobic, so I'm biased.  But even I can admit that the spiders don't even look that real - it's the idea that's so frightening.  I was going to post the screenshot from that scene, but I just can't do it.  Huh-uh.  Can't even think about it.  Heebie-jeebies.  

Enough said.  Moving on.  

3.  Bloody Mary

Sam:  "The Bloody Mary legend.  Dad ever find any evidence that it was a real thing?"
Dean:  "Not that I know of."
Sam:  "I mean, everywhere else, all over the country "“ kids play Bloody Mary, and as far as we know, nobody dies from it."
Dean:  "Well, maybe everywhere it's just a story, but here it's actually happening."

I think a lot of people can identify with this one.  I know I can.  The terror of my junior high days consisted of girls daring each other to go into the school bathroom, shut the lights off, and say "Bloody Mary" into the mirror three times.  Looking back, I think the point of the game was to see who could play the more convincing actress, as each girl would come out with some story about having seen something.  I can't remember specifically participating in such games, probably because I was too superstitious (my personal motto is to not mess with any of that kind of stuff, even in jest).  But I do remember times when I was so freaked out I couldn't walk past a mirror in my parent's house at night.  So "Bloody Mary" is another hard episode to watch with my eyes open.  

That being said, the scariest scene, hands down, is when "Mary" crawls out of the broken mirror.  The jerky movements and stringy hair make it a truly horrifying moment.  

2.  Family Remains

Dean:  "Boy, three bedrooms, two baths, and one homicide. This place is going to sell like hotcakes."

This episode did a really good job at capturing a sense of panic.  Even Sam and Dean were having trouble keeping their heads in this situation.  It's yet another case of something being in the walls "“ but this time, it's not a spirit.  It's a deranged, homicidal, and very territorial human.  

The spooky starts when a family moves into a new house.  The young girl sees a face staring out the second floor window.  Then the little boy starts playing catch with a figure in the closet.  The house is filled with sour smells and strange rustling noises, and the little boy insists he didn't write "GO" on the wall in crayon.  "The girl in the walls did it!"  But oh my god, the scene with the girl lying in bed, thinking she's petting her dog when she's really not "“ that's nightmarish.  And it's only the beginning.  

Sam and Dean come crashing through the door to warn the family, when suddenly the lights go out.  The girl in the walls kills the dog and uses its blood to write "TOO LATE" on the side of the U-Haul.  The tires on every vehicle are slashed, preventing escape.  Sam and Dean's weapons are stolen.  There's more crawling in tight spaces "“ "pleasenobodygrabmyleg, pleasenobodygrabmyleg," and some other, rather disturbing sh**.  Uncle Ted's death is particularly horrifying.  And the scene with rat?  Tell me you weren't completely freaked by that.  Then we find out, in one final twist, that it's not just the girl "“ she has a brother, and he's more violent than she is!  It's a terrifying romp through a sick and twisted world, another one that probably shouldn't be watched right before bedtime.  

I also think this is one of the most emotionally heavy episodes of the series.  What the characters are feeling individually and collectively, coupled with the traumatic experiences each have endured, is something almost tangible for the viewer.  The nicely woven mixture of horror and drama would take hours to pick apart and analyze, and that's great.  But it's also really hard to watch.  

1.  Something Wicked

Dean:  "I'd give anything not to tell you this, but sometimes nightmares are real."

"Something Wicked" wins out at number one because not only is the monster of the story frightening, but the episode is the only one in the series that uses legitimately creepy music.  

In short, it has the whole package of Scary.  

A Shtriga is a witch that feeds on children, sucking their life force while they sleep.  Not particularly frightening, until you actually see the thing.  It's old-school horror, going back to your childhood, when you cowered under the covers at the sound of a tree branch tapping on your bedroom window and had an irrational fear of elderly people because their skin was wrinkled and gnarled.  And nothing is creepier than seeing those long, spindly fingers reaching to open that window from the outside,.I think I just spooked myself again, lol.  

This is another monster that, for many reasons, unnerved Dean Winchester.  We all know he hates witches, and this was the one that had gotten away.  But the music sealed the deal for me and made this episode worthy of being deemed the scariest of all.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go bed "“ and you can bet I'll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.  ;)

What do you think is the scariest episode of Supernatural?  Did it make the list?  



# nuke333 2012-08-13 00:02
Great list! I love looking back at those old creepy episodes. The scariest one for me, however, will always be the pilot episode. I always close my eyes during the nightmarish last ten minutes.
# Melanie869 2012-08-13 00:05
I wholeheartedly concur. The pilot was the scariest ep for me, then Scarecrow.
# LEAH D 2012-08-13 02:46
All good choices especially Scarecrow, Something Wicked and Pilot. Bugs gave me the heebie jeebies more than actual scares but I get it. I also found Wendigo and The Kids Are Alright very creepy. That tall, fugly cannibal lurking around peoples tents at night, looking for a meal, is my idea of scary. And those sucker-faced changling kids, yikes.
# fanotheboyz 2012-08-14 23:10
Yes, the scene where the mom lets the car go into the lake only to go back home and find the little girl sitting in the kitchen?...BBLE CK! Totally had the hair on the back of my neck bristling!
# saumya 2012-08-13 03:44
i absolutely support you in the point that gory and scary are two different things..!! SAW movies are a perfect example for that.. i don't get scared by watching them (and i saw only the first part that too only half) but i was not scared infact i felt gross..!! and all the above mentions are really appropriate..!! though i was not scared it still gave me the jitters.. when i watched those episodes..!! thanks for the article..!!
# PaintedWolf 2012-08-13 08:36
Good choices Bamboo24!
I totally agree with Bloody Mary. When she crawled out of that mirror, the way she moved was just so freaking...unna tural, it creeped me right out. Same with those feral kids in Family Remains. That scene where the girl thinks it's her dog? Yikes!
Honestly, I'm a bit of a horror junkie, and so is my mom so a lot of the stuff doesn't really bother me that much since I've been watching it since I was old enough to not get sent to bed (and a few times I snuck back too). I think what tends to get me, at least on this show is when it turns out to be humans. I think that's why I was so disturbed by Repo Man, too. It was a person who was actually the messed up one. "Demons I get, people are crazy"
# eilf 2012-08-13 12:31
I agree that gore isn't very scary. And I don't really find Supernatural scary at all (the scares are not the reason why I am addicted to it!) but there are moments...

Creepy is way scarier than gory. Dean being close to the Scarecrow (which IS moving!) is one of those moments. Sam has a similar moment where he is close to the waxwork of Abraham Lincoln. All the Bloody Mary reflections are scary too.

However my scary moment is from 'The Usual Suspects'. It is the scene where the ghost appears to the police woman in the basement and gets really close to the screen very suddenly. I was watching that episode while falling asleep (wearing earphones) the music gets loud suddenly and I opened my eyes just as she runs at the screen - this is not something I recommend doing unless your heart is good and strong :D

Last thing - watch the very opening scene of the first episode. There is a branch shadow crawling along the wall of the house in a way that doesn't appear possible - that's pretty spooky!
# Sylvie 2012-08-13 12:33
Loved all your choices. Bare with me, this is going to get a little winded.

"No Exit" really creeped me out, because I had read "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larsen, about H.H. Holmes during the Chicago World's fair. Pick it up, it's well worth it. Also "Home" scared the bejesus out of me for the same reason as "Poltergeist" did. My whole childhood I was afraid of whatever was in my closet. To this day, I will not sleep with the closet door open and I will always face it before going to sleep. That way, when something jumps out, I'll see it and run (hopefully). In "Bloody Mary", the girl at the end was like the girl coming out of the tv in "The Ring". Sooo scary! But one of the episodes that scares me a whole lot is "The Benders". There's just something about hillbillies getting their jollies off by catching people and chasing them like animals. There was an episode of the X-Files (season 4 I think) called "Home" (I think) about a family that turn out to be inbreds. It's one of the scariest hours of tv I've ever seen and "The Benders" reminds me of that episode. And if I'm not mistaken, Kim Manners was the director.

Thanks for the creepy walk down memory lane.
# Redheadedali 2012-08-13 15:02
Sylvie, I thought of that X-Files episode during "The Benders" and "Family Remains". It was definitely the creepiest X-Files and just generally one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen.
# Sylvie 2012-08-13 15:35
Oh yeah, Dean said it best, "Monsters I get, people are crazy".
# hartbroknagn 2012-08-13 14:51
Great list. I have to say, the two that freak me out the most are "Bloody Mary" and "Bugs". The thing about "Bloody Mary" is I cannot watch people that do not walk in an upright position in a flowing manner. The way she crawled out of the mirror made me feel a little nauseous. As for "Bugs", that is the only episode I have never seen because, well, I hate bugs. I don't want to see my boys in danger from any bugs. Yuck.
# Redheadedali 2012-08-13 14:54
I have never been able to handle horror movies; part of the reason it took me a long time to actually sit down and watch Supernatural was that I was worried it would scare me too much. Once I actually got into the series, I decided it really wasn't so bad - with one exception. The only episode that well and truly freaked me out (like, to the point where I had a hard time going to sleep that night) was "Bloody Mary". Because... just... *shudder* (If there are any Doctor Who fans in the house, I had the same reaction to "Blink", although I think the Weeping Angels get less scary the more we see them.)
# eilf 2012-08-13 15:11
For me the angels on Blink are the best scares I have ever seen on a TV show. They actually have you looking over your shoulder while watching in case they are behind you!
# Sylvie 2012-08-13 15:29
I don't know Doctor Who well enough, but bleeding statues are indeed pretty darn freaky. So let me ask the Buffy fans, what about "Hush" where everybody loses their voice. I had chills with that one, those guys were so creepy. Reminded me of the bad guys in "Dark City".
Moriarty The Demon
# Moriarty The Demon 2015-02-22 14:42
Oh shit, do you mean the Gentlemen? Now those... those were fugly. Fugly and scary. I think one of the scariest Buffy characters was the monster from 'Killed By Death', the hospital episode with that FUGLY creature with the terrifying face that basically sucked the life out of kids? Der Kindestod? That creature gave me nightmares when I was a kid. The Weeping Angels -were- rather creepy, but I was only scared for a bit before I figured that it would be pretty cool to be sent into the past, so eh.
# Bevie 2012-08-13 15:50
I don't watch for the horror either, but sometimes it does register.

Scarecrow gave me the creeps and still does after many many viewings. Scariest scarecrow ever! Dude, you fugly!

Provenance is one not mentioned here, but it gets to me every time with that weird creepy painting and that menacing little girl with the straight razor and dolly. Yikes!

The cannibal Benders are frightening because they are human and I remembered a news story about a farmer in the country who had people strung up like cattle carcases in his house and books with human skin covers, so it can happen really! Stomach turning human monster stuff! And that X-Files episode "Home" was an absolute creep-fest!

First time I saw Bloody Mary I was chilled spotting her in the mirrors. After seeing it many many times the fright has faded, but I still enjoy it immensely. When I was a kid I heard an episoe of "The Shadow" (yes I'm that old!) in which a guy gets up in the night to visit the john and sees a floating greenish skull in the bathroom mirror which freaks him out obviously. Turned out he had some kind of disease that made his bones glow in the dark, and it was himself he was seeing. After that, for years, at night I would NEVER look in a mirror I walked by. And in the daytime I was always looking for something in them that shouldn't be there. Maybe part of the blame should be on "Alice Through the Looking Glass" which I loved as a kid.

Great article!
# PENNY JAIME 2012-08-13 18:23
The little girl coming out of the painting was a good one. I have watched horror movies all my life, and I think I'm jaded. Not much really scares me. The thing that gets to me the most on the show isn't any specific episode. It's when the ghosts, demons, and even angels take control of people. I make enough stupid mistakes on my own. I don't need any help! But, not being able to contol your own actions. Like the woman described in Children are Our Future. That is just creepy!!
Y vonne
# Y vonne 2012-08-14 20:56
Great list. You hit many of my own "high" points.
But for me, the scariest episode is "My Bloody Valentine" Famine creeped me out like no other Supernatural monster. I STILL hide behind my hands for him! I've even, on occasion, simply fast forwarded through his parts even though I know what the end is!
# Sinead 2012-08-25 00:47
I found Family Remains by far the scariest episode! I have seen all the seasons many many times and it still freaks me out! it might be the only episode I have ever turned off from being creeped out!

I don't find Bugs scary at all though so it wouldn't be on my list, its such a silly episode!

Great list!
Noella Vicci
# Noella Vicci 2012-09-16 19:24
I have to say that the scariest episode for me that I've ever watched has to be Bloody Mary, i mean, that was just downright creepy and I will NEVER say bloody mary in the mirror even on a dare, and in the middle of the night when I have to use the restroom, I avoid the mirrors. She was SCARY. Close seconds as to the scariest eps are probably Something Wicked with the weirdo creep witch and the episode with the cannibal kids living in that house. Also the scarecrow. *shiver*
# Ruth 2012-12-28 00:14
No idea how late to the game I am, but: Family Remains, hands down. Wendigo was pretty creepy at points, too, as was Bloody Mary.
# CanYouSonicMeDean 2013-06-03 17:11
Family Remains, closely followed by The Benders. The ones that scare me are the ones with humans. Not monsters or demons or ghosts that are naturally evil, but human beings that are actually capable of doing such God-awful things... ugh. That moment when the little girl steps over the salt line in Family Remains gave me nightmares for weeks.