Clowns are at another high point in pop culture, and Supernatural is going back in the vault to bring back its killer clowns — more specifically, Sam’s paralyzing fear of clowns. In the trailer for the show’s final season, it’s Sam and Dean Winchester versus every soul in hell. Supernatural beings that they’ve previously defeated, including the woman in white from the pilot episode, are back.
Among those supernatural beings are clowns. Although clowns on their own aren’t monsters, Sam has a fear of them stemming back to his childhood, which we learned about in Season 2.
In the Season 2 episode, “Everybody Loves a Clown,” Sam and Dean have just lost their father. But that doesn’t mean the work stops. In fact, Sam throws himself into a weird case where a local carnival is a connection between the killings. It’s during this episode that Dean pokes fun of Sam’s fear of clowns. The clown in the episode was actually another sort of supernatural being, a rakshasa, that was taking on the appearance of a clown, but it didn’t make a difference to Sam. Since then, Sam’s fear has become part of the show’s own lore, and jokes about how he hates clowns have been sprinkled into several episodes in the show’s history.
Another prominent clown episode was in the show’s seventh season. Once again, Sam has to face his fear at a Chuck E. Cheese's type of children’s entertainment establishment (only with way more clowns), Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie. Whereas in Season 2 the tone of the clown episode was darker, with the brothers mourning their father, the Season 7 episode is much lighter. Sam is covered in glitter at the end of the episode after fighting two clowns sent after him by an angry Plucky employee with access to powerful hoodoo.
The two clown episodes compared to each other can represent the spectrum of Supernatural episodes — some episodes are scarier than others, some are more serious than others — and that’s one of the reasons why fans love the show so much. While we can laugh at the show’s humor, which goes as far as making fun of itself in the show’s meta-episodes, we also cry (more than a single man tear) when we’re reminded of everything the Winchesters have given up for the family business.
It’s in the “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” episode where Sam repeats, “if it bleeds, you can kill it” — words Dean told him to get him in the right headspace for their investigation. It’s a line that can apply to many of the show’s episodes. Oftentimes, the Winchesters get overwhelmed by whatever is they’re fighting. But what happens when everything they’ve bleed for is back, and they’re fighting the literal God?
It’s significant that all of the souls of hell are back in the show’s final season. They, plus a pissed off God, make the season’s stakes the highest they’ve ever been. But including the clown in the monster roster is even more poignant because it represents the roots of the show, going back to the monster of the week episodes of the show’s early seasons.
Additionally, we see the growth of Sam’s character. His fear of clowns was exacerbated by the loss of his father in the second season, and with clowns back again in the final season, it can remind Sam of the losses that he’s suffered since then. There are 14 seasons worth of people the Winchesters loved dying because of their work, including their dad, Bobby, and most recently, Mary, their mother.
Though the clown doesn’t take up that much time in the trailer, it reminds Supernatural fans of everything that the brothers have endured. And it makes us wonder if, or when, it will finally stop.
Returning Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW for its final season, Supernatural stars Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Alexander Calvert.