The 15 Greatest Supernatural Monster-of-the-Week Episodes

Despite the finale being delayed, Supernatural is likely still signing off in 2020. Before we say goodbye to Sam and Dean for good, it's time to look back on a few of the episodes that make the series endlessly rewatchable. As much as I enjoy the show's overarching mythology, Supernatural's monster-of-the-week episodes are the ones that I revisit over and over again. The episodes that focus on the Winchester brothers hitting the road to solve a mystery tend to be the most comforting episodes — even when they make me sleep with the lights on. The inventiveness of season 11's "Baby," season three's surprisingly emotional "Mystery Spot," and the real scares in season one's "Bloody Mary" are just a few examples of just how much fun it is to leave the battles between heaven and hell behind and focus on what the Winchesters do best: save people and hunt things.

With 15 seasons worth of episodes to choose from, a list of the best Supernatural monster-of-the-week episodes could be practically endless, so I've made some hard cuts (I still love you, "Ghostfacers"). But at the end of the day, these 15 Supernatural episodes showcase why this show has endured for 15 years, and earned a legion of devoted fans in the process.

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Season 11, Episode 8: "Just My Imagination"

Early on in its run, Supernatural made it clear that it was going to excel at funny episodes. The fact that the show was still finding new ways to make us laugh and tug at our heartstrings in season 11 is downright impressive. "Just My Imagination" has all of the makings of a silly episode: Sam's childhood imaginary friend Sully visits him in hopes of stopping a killer who is targeting other imaginary friends (or Zână, as they're properly known). Sam gets plenty of ribbing from Dean, and there's also a unicorn and mermaid death that adds a surreal element to the proceedings, but the silliness is grounded by the acknowledgment of Sam's lost innocence.

Sully reminds Sam of the dreams he had as a child, and allows the younger Winchester brother to acknowledge his need for comfort and encouragement. More importantly, he reminds Sam that even heroes are afraid sometimes.

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Season 1, Episode 5: "Bloody Mary"

There are quite a few scary episodes in the first two seasons of the show ("The Benders" and "Playthings" are two more exceptional examples), but "Bloody Mary" is significant because it was the first episode to prove the show had serious horror chops. In the spooky outing, Sam and Dean travel to Ohio where a man's eyeballs explode after his daughter chants "Bloody Mary" in front of a mirror three times. What follows is a haunting hour full of jump scares and an ending straight out of The Ring.

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Season 9, Episode 7: "Bad Boys"

By season nine, Supernatural's focus had shifted to the ongoing war between heaven and hell, leaving less time for small but powerful episodes like "Bad Boys." When Dean gets a call from a man from his past, the boys travel to a reform school in New York where Dean spent a few months when he was younger. The episode combines a spooky monster of the week (a little boy's dead mother is slowly going mad as she tethers herself to Earth to protect her son) with a deep dive into a previously unexplored period of Dean's life.

"Bad Boys" reveals that Dean had a chance to thrive in a life that didn't involve hunting, and knowing that was ripped away from him gives this installment the extra punch it needs to be a standout.

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Season 8, Episode 20: "Pac-Man Fever"

Charlie is easily one of the show's best side characters, and the funny, emotional, and frightening "Pac-Man Fever" illustrates why she was such a great addition to the show. The episode begins with Charlie enlisting help from the guys when a suspected Djinn appears to be killing people in Kansas, but it quickly evolves into a jaunt through Charlie's recurring, video game-themed nightmare. Not only does this outing include excellent bonding moments between Dean and Charlie, it also ends with one of the show's most moving moments — when Charlie says goodbye to her mother.

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Season 6, Episode 4: "Weekend at Bobby's"

Whether or not you love "Weekend at Bobby's" likely depends on how much you like Bobby Singer. This Supernatural fan happens to adore him, so I will freely admit to being biased. But I maintain that this episode is a special one because it takes a break from Sam and Dean to follow Bobby through a typical day in his life. Since he's a hunter, a normal day for him involves burying an okami demon (and then burying it again when it comes back to life), doing research for the Winchesters, and dealing with the FBI when all the poor man really wants to do is eat some cobbler.

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Season 2, Episode 9: "Croatoan"

Grounded in American history and relentlessly claustrophobic, "Croatoan" traps Sam and Dean in a town full of people being infected by a blood-transmitted virus that makes them become violent. The hour is intense and it showcases just how strong the bond between the brothers truly is, as Dean refuses to kill Sam — even if he is infected. Even by Supernatural standards, this is a dark episode that is designed to leave the viewer feeling uneasy long after it ends.

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Season 3, Episode 3: "Bad Day at Black Rock"

Building an entire episode around a cursed rabbit's foot turns out to be a genius move in "Bad Day at Black Rock." This season three outing will quite possibly forever be known as the one where poor Sam loses his shoe, but let's not forget there's also a heist element with the wickedly fun Bela (Lauren Cohan) and a guest appearance from future superstar Sterling K. Brown to really make "Bad Day at Black Rock" a treat from start to finish.

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Season 4, Episode 5: "Monster Movie"

The classic horror movies of Hollywood's Golden Age get a chance to shine in season four's black-and-white "Monster Movie." Smartly written and beautifully shot, this episode truly has it all: Dean living his best life at an Oktoberfest, a shapeshifter with a love for the classics, and Dean in lederhosen. It's funny, it's a little bit artsy, and it's the perfect homage to all of the horror movies that paved the way for shows like Supernatural to flourish.

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Season 10, Episode 5: "Fan Fiction"

In the hands of lesser writers, "Fan Fiction" would be too meta, but somehow the 200th episode that finds Sam and Dean investigating the disappearance of a teacher at a school that just so happens to be putting on a musical based on their lives manages to be a moving, cheeky send-up of the show. Simply put, this episode is a love letter to Supernatural and its fans, and it succeeds on every level.

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Season 4, Episode 8: "Wishful Thinking"

Writer Ben Edlund has a gift for finding humanity in even the most absurd places. In "Wishful Thinking" a wishing well actually works, but as with most things in the Supernatural world, there is a downside. You know, just small stuff like a teddy bear having a super dark existential crisis or a kid's newfound superstrength going to his head. There's a lot of wackiness in this season four gem, but it's brilliant wackiness that pays off with a heartbreaking confession from Dean before the hour's over.

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Season 5, Episode 8: "Changing Channels"

Chuck bless the Trickster. The recurring troublemaker is responsible for the sheer joy that is "Changing Channels," an episode that sends the Winchesters on a trip through primetime TV. From a Grey's Anatomy spoof to an ode to Japanese game shows, this hour is full of the unexpected — including the big reveal that the Trickster is actually the angel Gabriel.

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Season 13, Episode 16: "Scoobynatural"

Combining a monster-of-the-week episode with a Scooby Doo crossover is easily the coolest thing Supernatural has ever pulled off. Dean, Sam, and Castiel getting zapped into an episode of the classic cartoon only to discover real ghosts are plaguing the Scooby gang leads to a funny and unforgettable animated hour. Oh, and let's not forget the perfection that is the Velma and Sam pairing, even though poor Sam is thoroughly confused by the whole event.

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Season 3, Episode 11: "Mystery Spot"

At some point or another, nearly every sci-fi/fantasy show does their own version of Groundhog Day. But few shows give the idea of reliving the same day over and over again the level of emotional resonance that "Mystery Spot" possesses. In the beginning, watching Dean die over and over in increasingly ridiculous ways is weirdly funny, but things turn serious as the cycle continues to a point where Sam's desperation to save his brother is palpable.

Like all of the best monster-of-the-week episodes, "Mystery Spot" leans into the Winchester brothers' connection, but this episode shows a more devastating side of their bond: an inability to let go of one another, no matter the cost.

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Season 6, Episode 15: "The French Mistake"

A trip to an alternate dimension leads to the peak meta brilliance that is "The French Mistake." There's not actually a monster in this monster-of-the-week episode, but it still counts because Sam and Dean go where they've never gone before: to a world where Supernatural is just a TV show. Ultimately, this episode is basically just an excuse for the actors to make fun of themselves (Misha Collins is definitely the MVP), but it can't be overstated just how delightful "The French Mistake" is to watch.

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Season 11, Episode 14: "Baby"

"Baby" may even be the best episode in the entire series, and it's told from the point of view of the Impala. This late series episode hearkens back to the show's early years of hitting the road to battle werewolves, ghosts, and vampires. But it does so with the twist of confining all of the action to Dean's beloved car.

From brotherly singalongs to a bloody battle in the backseat, "Baby" exudes the heart and soul of Supernatural by boiling the show back down to its essence: two brothers riding around the country in a classic car, saving people, hunting things, and riding off into the sunset — a little bruised and battered, but still kicking.