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Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is the 15th episode of Season 5. It aired on March 25th, 2010.


Dean Purgatory Blade.png.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 Bobby's home town where the dead are rising from the grave but instead of attacking humans, they are happily reuniting with their families. The brothers turn to Bobby (guest star Jim Beaver) for help but he tells them not to worry about it and to leave town. Suspicious, Dean investigates and comes face to face with Bobby's dead wife (guest star Carrie Anne Fleming) who has no memory of what happened to her. Once the zombies start turning evil, the boys tell Bobby he has to kill his wife but he refuses.



On a stormy night, a fist punches up through the soil in front of the gravestone of Clay James Thompson and a man drags himself to the surface. Benny Sutton is in his trailer, reclining with cold one and enjoying a nature program featuring wildebeests. He suddenly hears what sounds like someone trying to open his front door. He gets up to check but sees no one. After he returns to his program, his door is violently flung open, seemingly by the storm. Sufficiently spooked, he secures it, then turns to find a man coated in mud silently staring at him. Benny obviously recognizes him and gasps in horror, then fumbles to grab his shotgun. He aims at the man's face and pulls the trigger but nothing happens. The man seizes Benny by the throat and strangles him. Sam and Dean arrive in Sioux Falls, SD and pull up to Roy's Diner as Sam is on the phone making a repeated attempt to reach Bobby at home. Unsuccessful, they decide to proceed without him and join Digger Wells already seated at a table. Sam asks him to describe what he saw, and he tells them that he saw Clay Thompson climb into the window of Benny Sutton's trailer, saw him walk back out a short time later, and then Benny was dead.

Dean requires verification that the alleged killer is a dead guy.

Dean produces a copy of Clay's driver license to verify, and Digger confirms that although he was covered in mud at the time, it was definitely Clay he saw. The boys exchange looks, and Sam asks if he is aware Clay Thompson died five years ago. "Yup," he replies. Dean, already a little leery of Digger since learning he made up his own nickname, asks again if he's positive. Digger takes offense at his disbelieving tone, so Sam tries to keep the interview moving by quickly asking if he knows why Clay, regardless of his vital signs, would want to kill Benny. "Hell, yeah," says Digger—Benny killed him first, by shooting him in the back in a "so-called hunting accident." He reckons Clay came back to serve up some payback.Sheriff Mills enters the diner while on her cellphone instructing someone named Owen to choose an apple vs. a cupcake. Digger sees her walk in and they make eye contact; he mutters "uh-oh, Fargo" as a heads-up to the boys as she approaches their table to introduce herself.

Agents Willis, Dorfman and Neidermeyer are exposed by Sheriff Mills' "bullcrap" detector.

She inquires about what FBI Agents Dorfman and Neidermeyer are doing with Digger, who chimes "They're doing their job. They believe me." The sheriff is incredulous that the FBI believes a dead man committed murder, but Sam assures her they are simply asking a few questions. When Dean asks her pointedly who did commit the murder, if not the dead man, she is annoyed and asks him to specify their jurisdiction in the case. Dean smugly retorts that their jurisdiction is wherever the U.S. government sends them. She decides a conversation with their supervisor is in order, and Sam produces a business card. She immediately whips out her cellphone and calls. Bobby answers as "Agent Willis" and she recognizes his voice after hearing him say only three words. Sam and Dean sink in their seats slightly upon hearing her call him out. She hangs up and informs them she knows Bobby by way of "an ass-full of 'drunk and disorderlies' and mail fraud" and makes it clear that whatever they're planning is hereby ended. The boys sheepishly acknowledge her authority.

The boys quiz Bobby about the state of things in his hometown.

Sam and Dean finally find Bobby at home and give him an earful for not answering/returning their calls. Dean also catches a whiff of April-freshness as they enter his house and accuses him of having cleaned. Bobby is unapologetic and says he's been busy working on a way to stop Lucifer. The boys think they are alerting him of the case in his own backyard, but he informs them that he has already checked out "the Benny Sutton thing" and found nothing there. They beg to differ, pointing out that a witness saw dead Clay Thompson at the murder scene. Bobby says he knows all about their witness, Digger Wells, and considers him a drunk. Sam tells him they have also tracked lightning storms in the area that could be apocalyptic omens, but Bobby says such stormy weather is not so unusual for South Dakota in February. When they ask for his thoughts on who he thinks killed Benny, he says Benny Sutton was a seasoned S.O.B. whom a significant number of living townspeople in Sioux Falls would've been willing to cap. Bobby's final take on the case is that the boys have wasted a tank of gas in pursuit of it.

The boys confirm Clay Thompson has vacated his eternal resting place.

Dean, not satisfied with the state of the case despite Bobby's offerings, stops at St. Anthony's Cemetery on their way out of town. He convinces Sam they should explore the possibility that Bobby could be wrong. They seek and find the grave of Clay Thompson and agree that it looks freshly overturned, despite being five years occupied. When they excavate and discover Clay's body is not there, they are even more confused. They break into the Thompson residence under cover of darkness to search for clues. Clay appears and tries to take Dean out with a baseball bat, believing he is a burglar. When Dean overpowers him, terrified Clay begs him not to shoot and declares there's money in the safe.

Clay is found (not) alive and well at home with his family.

Aware that Clay Thompson is dead and missing from his grave but confused by his cowering position, Sam asks him who he is, just to verify. Clay is also confused when he asks his name, so then wants to know who they are. After Sam sputters "um... FBI," Clay realizes "Oh, my God... this is about Benny." Dean prompts him to keep talking, and he confesses to killing Benny because he couldn't let him get away with shooting him in the back. Clay is not what they have come to expect in the undead, as he's behaving relatively normally and actually says he is not sure whether he is dead or not. His wife enters and tells him that she's called 9-1-1. Clay assures her he's okay and that the 'agents' have come about Benny. He says he'll go with them to jail, but asks that they go quietly so they don't wake his kids.

The Winchesters are surprised by Sioux Falls' finest.

As they follow Clay out of the house, Dean pulls his gun in preparation of a zombie kill but Sam stops him, uneasy about shooting a "soccer dad" in the head. Dean asks for his suggestions for what they should do with him, but before he can reply they are confronted by Sheriff Mills and her deputy responding to the 9-1-1 call and ordered to put their hands up. Dean seizes the i-told-you-so moment, expecting her to appreciate that they've apprehended the undead murderer she scoffed about earlier. Instead, she says zombie or not, they don't have the right to shoot him, places them under arrest, and tells Clay he's free to go. Clay, apparently offended that federal employees were planning to shoot him, angrily points out that he is a taxpayer.

Sheriff Mills and Bobby discuss what to do about the boys.

Sam and Dean can see Bobby and Sheriff Mills calmly conversing from their jail cell and are confused, as they were under the impression that she hated him. When they question him about it upon their release, he says she did hate him until five days ago, when dead people starting rising.They are shocked that Bobby knew about the zombie situation and miffed that he has no compunction about lying to them about it. Bobby says he didn't lie; he told them there was no case there, because for them, there isn't. Bobby suggests that not all zombies are the same and has them return home with him to meet his wife, Karen. Your new wife?, Dean eventually asks cautiously. "My dead wife," says Bobby.

The boys try to convince Bobby Karen's return is a bad thing, awesome pies notwithstanding.

When Karen is out of earshot, Dean and Sam give Bobby the business about co-habitating with his undead wife. On the defense, Bobby says of course he tested her every way knows of when she first appeared, but she had no reaction to salt, silver or holy water. Karen is also an atypical zombie in that she was cremated. Her ashes were buried in the same cemetery as all of the other returned citizens, Sheriff Mills' little boy, Owen, among them. Sam asks about omens and Bobby admits the aforementioned lightning storms did in fact coincide with the start of the rising of the dead, and weren't simply seasonal as he claimed earlier.


He reads from Revelation 6:8:

And through the fire stood before me a pale horse. And he that sat atop him carried a scythe, and I saw since he had risen, they, too, shall rise, and from him and through him.

The boys then realize they are again dealing with a Horseman, Death, and tell Bobby that leaves no doubt about what they have to do. Bobby protests that Karen doesn't remember anything about being possessed or him having to kill her (revealed in Dream a Little Dream of Me) and has no scars or wounds.

As Bobby recalls, Karen hums while she cooks.

He points out that Revelation just says the dead rise during the Apocalypse, not that it's necessarily a bad thing; it could even turn out to be the one good thing that comes out of it. Dean looks at him earnestly and asks what he would do if he was in their position. He sighs, and admits he would do the same thing they think they have to do. Nevertheless, he tearfully begs them to leave Karen alone.

Later, at Roy's, the boys decide Bobby's living situation is untenable. Dean declares he's going to be there if "the bride of Frankenstein" should attempt to make a meal of Bobby and returns and stakes a position in the salvage yard in full view of the house.

Karen invites Dean inside for pie and a chat.

Karen startles him while he's on watch and requests that he join her in the house and he reluctantly agrees. As Bobby naps in the next room, she offers Dean more pie, which she has been making constantly since she "got back" as she doesn't sleep. She tells Dean she knows he doesn't trust her and that he's trying to protect Bobby. She's aware that he and Sam - and Bobby - are hunters and knows she is one of the things they hunt. Dean says she must also know Bobby is like a father to him and Sam; she acknowledges they would never let anything happen to him. She reveals that she remembers her possession and the things the demon made her do. She knows Bobby had no choice but to kill her, but can see in his eyes that he's still racked with guilt about it. Dean asks why she doesn't just tell him she remembers everything; she suggests if he'd ever been in love, he would understand that as his wife she is trying to protect him too by bringing him peace, not more pain.

With the list of the returned townspeople that Bobby started, Sam goes on a walk about town and spies Sheriff Mills spending quality time with her son and husband. He then visits the Jones residence and sees blood on the front door step.

Sam meets Mrs. Jones.

When no one answers the door, he enters calling out for Ezra Jones and finds a very ill elderly woman lying in bed with a rattling cough, motioning for him to come closer to her. When he's as close as he's willing to get, she suddenly throws him onto his back and he lands near a man's body that appears to have been chewed on. The woman jumps on top of Sam, shrieking and slobbering as she tries to take a bite out of him. After a struggle to pull his gun from underneath him, he finally manages to place a shot through her mouth and into the ceiling.

Sam and Dean return to Bobby's and question him about old lady Jones and he tells them that she was "the first one to come up." When Sam reports that she's now the first to go bad, Bobby nonchalantly replies that "she was always a nutty broad." Dean asks if in life she was the level of nutty exemplified by eating her husband's stomach?

Gun in hand, Bobby orders Sam and Dean off his property.

They try to convince him his judgment is skewed—the undead are starting to turn and they need to stop all of them. With that, Bobby draws his gun, rests it on his lap and tells them to get out. The boys are astonished he's actually threatening to shoot them, but he sternly declares that if Karen turns, he will handle it his way. When they don't leave immediately, he cocks the gun and says they won't get a second warning. They leave in stunned silence, and regroup in the Impala just outside the gate of the salvage yard. Dean can't believe Bobby's gone crazy enough to go "Full Metal Jacket" on them but decides that he still has to go back and take Karen out. Sam reminds him that Karen is his wife, and he will probably take him out if he sees him first. Sam's plan is to go into town and try to convince the sheriff that the zombies will soon start eating their way through town.

At the Mills residence, Jody is trying to comfort her son, who is running an extremely high fever and complaining of being hungry. She takes over her husband Sean's phone call with their doctor and sends him in with food for Owen.

Karen shows the first signs of turning.

At the Singers', Karen collapses in the kitchen. Bobby notes she's burning with fever, but she tries to reassure him that she's just a bit dizzy because she needs something to eat.

Owen's transformation is complete.

As Jody continues with the doctor on the phone, she hears a loud noise from the living room. She runs in to find blood trailing around the sofa to where Owen is devouring her husband. He stops and starts to approach her, but Sam bursts in and forces her out the front door. She refuses to leave until Sam convinces her that Sean is dead, and he needs her help to save the town from the same fate.

Jody finds her family.

She manages to compose herself, and it is decided that they will round-up everyone they can find and get them to firearms and safety at the police station. But first, Sam plaintively readies his gun and returns inside the house. Jody winces when a single gunshot rings out. Bobby is at Karen's bedside and she weakly urges him to admit she is turning. They both look at his gun lying nearby and she begs him to "do it."


When he refuses, she confesses that she remembers everything about being possessed, and that he killed her. Bobby is crushed that she remembers, and says she then knows why he can't do it again. She has another revelation: When she returned, there was a skeleton-thin man at her gravesite who told her to give Bobby a message. Dean, who has been outside the house looking to get in without being shot by Bobby, hears a gunshot and rushes in. He finds Bobby tearful, holding his gun in one hand and Karen's hand in the other.

Sam and Jody have gathered citizens at the police station and are passing out firearms. Sam instructs them to aim for the head if they see anyone they know to be dead, whether it be friend, neighbor or wife. One of the citizens speaks: "Uh, you mind telling us who the hell you are?" When Sam replies somewhat proudly that he's a friend of Bobby Singer's, he's made aware that Bobby is regarded as the town drunk. Sam sputters that he thought Digger was the town drunk, because Bobby told him so, which results in awkward eye contact with Digger. They all entrench themselves in the station while Sam watches the front door.

Dean and Clay Thompson meet again.

Dean and Bobby are stocking his van with guns and ammo when they hear commotion in the yard. Dean leaves to investigate and is soon rushed by Clay Thompson and knocked to the ground, sending his weapon flying. A struggle ensues, but Dean finally manages to kick Clay backward, recover his gun and deliver a head shot while still lying on the ground.

Dean and Bobby retreat and fire.

Bobby, meanwhile, manages to take out several quickly advancing undead as he sits near the van, but is blindsided and knocked out of his wheelchair by one who is neutralized just in time by Dean as he returns. More zombies quickly start to emerge from the salvage yard and they have to fall back to the house. Once there, they discover that all of their ammunition is in the van. They hear zombie activity upstairs and are forced to retreat to the nearest closet as they start diving through the windows.

Sam and Jody make quick work of the closely clustered zombies.

When Dean's declaration that zombies are too idiotic to know how to pick the closet door lock is proven false, all they can do is try to beat them back with the butts of their shotguns. The zombies are so focused on getting to Dean and Bobby, they fail to notice when Sam and Jody arrive and the two are able to pick them all off, shooting gallery style.

The undead of Sioux Falls are returned to the cemetery.

In the morning, Sam stands near a massive funeral pyre in the cemetery. Dean and Jody arrive and report that there are no more zombies to be found. Jody says the townspeople are traumatized and the few who have tried to alert the media have not been taken seriously. When Sam asks her how she's holding up, she's not able to vocalize a response. In Bobby's salvage yard, Sam and Dean join Bobby in front of the funeral pyre constructed for Karen, and Bobby sheepishly apologizes to them for his behavior. Sam says no apologies are necessary, and Dean offers that at least the ordeal meant he got to spend five more days with Karen. Bobby laments that having to kill the love of his life a second time has only made things a thousand times worse.


He tells them he now knows why Death came to South Dakota: he sent Karen back to deliver a message to him for helping them and being one of the reasons Sam is still refusing to say 'yes' to Lucifer. Bobby's not sure if the intention was to take his life or to take his spirit, only that their goal was to remove him from the fight. Sam asks if he's going to be all right, but Bobby seems unable to answer.


Main Cast[]

Recurring Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Featured Supernatural Beings[]


  • When Dean and Sam are informed by Bobby that the reason for 15 people rising from their graves could be the Horseman Death, Dean said "Great, must be Thursday." It's a joke because Supernatural airs on Thursdays.
  • The name of this episode Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is also the name of a 1982 movie starring Steve Martin. The movie is a spoof of the old detective movies from the 1940s.
  • This episode breaks the fourth wall when, during the gunfight, blood splatters the camera. This was deliberate, as the blood was CGI.
  • The aliases Dean and Sam give the Sheriff, agents "Dorfman and Neidermeyer", are references to the movie Animal House.


  • "Lovin' the Sin I'm In" by Terry Campbell


  • Dean: Mr. Wells, why don't you tell us what you saw in your own words.
  • Digger: Call me Digger.
  • Dean: Digger? Who gave you that name?
  • Digger: I did.
  • Dean: You gave yourself your own nickname? You can't do that.
  • Digger: Who died and made you queen?


International Titles[]

  • German: Tote tragen kein Karo (Dead Men don't wear plaid)
  • Hungarian: Halott ember nem hord zakót (Dead Man don't wear suit jacket)

External Links[]