Ever since the organization was introduced in Season 8, the Men of Letters and their British counterparts have played an important role in Supernatural. At the minimum, their bunker provided Sam and Dean Winchester with the first home they’ve called their own since they were children.
Now, CBR is here to fill you in on exactly who the Men of Letters are, what happened to them and how their legacy lives on through the Winchesters.
WHO ARE THE MEN OF LETTERS?
The Men of Letters is an organization that observes and chronicles the supernatural and other unexplained phenomenon. They maintained a vast cache of books, artifacts and other items about monsters, magic and everything in between. As their name suggests, they saw their organization as more of a scholarly guild. Yet, while they looked down on hunters like Sam and Dean who get their hands dirty fighting the supernatural, the Men of Letters did at least some fieldwork of their own. They also taught their members about useful magic spells and sigils.
The organization maintained a strict hierarchy, and members had to complete a series of tests to be initiated into higher ranks and learn more of the organization’s secrets. Also, much like hunters, the Men of Letters became a tradition within families. New members were recruited through the paternal side of existing members' families. Despite the organization’s name and the male-heavy membership, the Men of Letters did include at least one known female member.
In 1958, after the Men of Letters were infiltrated by Abaddon, a Knight of Hell, the organization was effectively destroyed.
WHO ARE THE BRITISH MEN OF LETTERS?
The British Men of Letters are an offshoot of the original Men of Letters. However, at some point they split from the larger organization and developed their own set of rules and protocols. So, while they possess vast supernatural knowledge like their American counterparts, they’re also far more active and deadly. In fact, the British Men of Letters had all but eradicated demons and monsters in their country. Through the placement of a vast network of wards and sigils, they ensured that if anything supernatural entered the country it would quickly be discovered and dispatched.
At some point, the British Men of Letters established the Kendricks Academy, a school to train their members from the time they’re children. It’s there that the brutal nature of the organization is established, as one of the tests students must endure is murdering a friend. This serves as a way for a young member to demonstrate their loyalty. The organization adheres to a very black and white code of conduct. Any monsters, no matter how harmless, must be taken out. Once someone is a member, desertion is punishable by death.
The British Men of Letters become a major complication for Sam and Dean in Season 12. The organization offers to fight the supernatural with them, enticing them with their arsenal of weapons combining magic and technology. However, the British Men of Letters are a tightly controlled organization that doesn’t appreciate the undisciplined ways of the American hunters. This ultimately leads to a battle between the American hunters and the British Men of Letters, which ends with the elimination of the British Men of Letters from U.S. soil.
WHERE DO THE WINCHESTERS COME IN?
Sam and Dean’s association with the American Men of Letters is highly personal. In the eighth season of Supernatural, they discover that their paternal grandfather, Henry Winchester, was a member. Henry disappeared before they were born, and his son (their father) John never learned about the Men of Letters. The reason Sam and Dean found out was because, as Abaddon ripped through the organization in 1958, Henry used a spell to time travel to 2013, where he finds Sam and Dean.
Henry isn’t pleased to learn his son and grandsons became hunters. He considers hunters savages. However, given their status as legacies, before his demise at the hands of Abaddon, Henry gives them the key to the Men of Letters' bunker. Although no one had set foot in it in decades, the bunker was very much intact. Since then, it’s become Sam and Dean’s base of operations and a valuable resource as they continue to hunt the supernatural.