American Nightmare is the 4th episode of Season 12. It aired on November 3rd, 2016.


Dean Purgatory Blade.png There was something about being there... It felt pure.

This episode summary is an official CW press release. It may contain errors.

Sam and Dean investigate a case that leads them to a devout religious family that lives off the grid. The brothers realize that the parents are hiding a huge secret that could destroy them all. Meanwhile, Dean struggles to accept Mary's (guest star Samantha Smith) latest decision.


In Iowa, a woman named Olivia walks into a church bleeding and being whipped by something unseen. She then dies from her wounds. Sam and Dean talk to her coworker Beth at Child Protective Services, a Wiccan who is promoted with Olivia dead. Dean thinks it's obvious Beth killed her with a spell and is moody with Mary gone. A local grocery stock boy then dies the same way. The two victims are connected to a deeply religious husband, wife and son who live off grid while their daughter Magda died of pneumonia. Sam believes Magda's ghost is doing this while Dean goes to kill Beth. Sam discovers Magda is still alive in the basement and is considered the devil by her family, forced by her mother to whip herself.

Sam is captured as Dean realizes Beth is innocent. Sam learns Magda has psychic abilities and she had reached out to the two victims trying to get their help, not intending to kill them. With their secret exposed, her mother intends for them to poison themselves and die as a family, killing her husband. Magda tries to stop her and her mother accidentally kills her brother. Sam talks her out of murdering her mother who is arrested. Magda is sent to live with an aunt in California with Sam promising to be there for her if she needs help, while Dean accepts Mary needing space. However, at a rest stop, Magda is killed by Arthur Ketch of The British Men of Letters to clean up the Winchesters' mess.


Main Cast

Recurring Cast


Featured Supernatural Beings



  • The episode was watched by 1.81 million viewers and got a 0.7 rating.
  • The episode title may refer to:
    • The pun of "American Dreams", national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.
      • There is also a name of a short-lived TV serial, American Dreams that run on 2002 - 2005.
    • The American Nightmare itself refers to various things, ranging from names of a band (former name of Give Up The Ghost), films, songs, to even a title of book that heavily critiques Sarah Palin (Going Rogue: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare).
  • "American Nightmare" is a song by The Misfits. Writer Davy Perez tweeted a link to the song just before this episode aired.
  • Sam is revealed to be a fan of Lucifer's vessel, Vince Vincente.
  • Sam's intervention in Magda's attempt to get revenge on her mother mirrors Sam's intervention in Max Miller's attempt to get revenge on his step-mother. The main difference is that Magda did not commit suicide afterwards, and chose to accept Sam's promise that despite her powers, she would be okay. 
  • Sam and Dean introduce themselves as Fathers Penn and De Niro. This is a reference to the movie We're No Angels (1989) starring Sean Penn and Robert De Niro. 
  • Sam and Dean's fake identities are Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, respectively the singer and keyboard player for The Doors. It is unusual for the Winchesters to provide full names of real people, so this may be a reflection on the "off the grid" nature of the people they are investigating. 
  • This is the first episode of the season to not feature any recurring guest stars. 


  • The autopsy report says the corpse's skull was filled with a gooey substance. The corpse is shown with the skull intact and all the hair in place. In order to make the determination noted, the skull would have had to be opened which would necessitate cutting the scalp.


So, Lucifer. The lord of evil, the angel of light, is now the master of butt rock. He jumped into Vince Vincente.
Dean to Sam
Cass is chumming it up with Crowley. They're hunting Lucifer together. That's right. One's an angel, one's a demon and apparently they solve crimes.
Dean to Sam



Supernatural American Nightmare Trailer The CW

Supernatural American Nightmare Trailer The CW

Supernatural 12x04 Sneak Peek "American Nightmare" (HD)

Supernatural 12x04 Sneak Peek "American Nightmare" (HD)


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