|“||This book. This is Dad's single most valuable possession—everything he knows about every evil thing is in here. And he's passed it on to us. I think he wants us to pick up where he left off. You know, saving people, hunting things. The family business.||”|
Along with the laptop that Sam owned, the journal was his and Dean's most valuable asset in finding and killing supernatural entities. The journal was John's "single, most valuable possession". The journal is believed to be extensive and is also believed to hold all of the information needed to defeat Azazel whom he had spent his entire hunting career looking for.
On several occasions, it has been shown that the journal actually lacks information on certain things such as John's shtriga hunt and the ghoul hunt that led to him meeting Kate Milligan. In the latter case, the information had been removed to protect Kate and his son Adam, in the former he kept it out of the journal due to how close the shtriga came to killing Sam.
In First Born, the journal is shown to at least in one case, point at John's Lock-Up holding more information on the case referenced in the journal. A "T" in the margin stood for Tara, the hunter John worked the case with.
In later seasons, particularly after they gain access to the Men of Letters bunker, Sam and Dean stop using the journal for information. The last time it is used for information for years is in Season 9's First Born when Dean and Crowley use the journal to find out about John hunting Abaddon's protégé. The journal is briefly seen in Season 12 when its given to Mary, but isn't used for information until Season 13's The Rising Son when Sam looks up the Hell Gate leading to the Shedim and later on, the Princes of Hell. This is a gap of around three and a half years of the Winchesters not using the journal on a case.
The journal was originally ordered by Henry Winchester in anticipation of his initiation into the Men of Letters. However, the Men of Letters were massacred by the Knight of Hell Abaddon on the night of Henry's initiation and Henry escaped through time to the year 2013. The journal arrived after Henry's disappearance and despite believing his father to have run out on him, his son John hung onto it.
After the murder of his wife, John became a hunter in order to get revenge upon his wife's killer. John turned the journal into his own hunting journal after going to Missouri Moseley for answers, chronicling everything that he knew about various monsters and creatures, his hunt for Azazel and the various hunts he went on.
In Pilot, John leaves the journal in his motel room in Jericho, California. Sam and Dean claim it and use it to research the Woman in White. John leaves the coordinates for Lost Creek on a page with Dean's name.
In Wendigo, after the Colorado Wendigo has taken all of their equipment, Sam takes Dean aside and asks for the journal which he opens to a page that shows John's entry on wendigos that has a drawing that John made along with all of the Anasazi symbols that the wendigo cannot cross. The two ultimately realize that John is not in Lost Creek but instead has left them the coordinates to another hunt.
Later, Dean shows the journal to Sam, telling him that John left it to them and he believes that John wants them to pick up where he left off, "saving people, hunting things, the family business."
In Home, after believing that the thing that killed their mother has returned, the Winchesters attempt to retrace John's steps following the night of the fire. When Sam identifies one of the psychics in the area as Missouri Moseley, Dean remembers the first line in John's journal, "I went to Missouri and I learned the truth" and Sam and Dean realize that it refers to the psychic when they had previously thought that it meant the state of Missouri. There is a glimpse of the front cover of the journal displaying some of John's military history.
In Asylum, the boys find a reference in John’s journal to kids who disappeared from the south wing of the Asylum in 1972.
In The Benders, while investigating disappearances in Hibbing, Minnesota, Sam reads that in the journal, John suggests that the area could be the hunting grounds for a phantom attacker which is what he believes is causing the disappearances.
In Provenance, John's journal records the history of deaths related to the haunted painting. Sam connects John's pattern with the painting's provenance.
In Dead Man's Blood, after learning of the death of Daniel Elkins in Colorado, Dean recognizes the name and finds Elkins' address and phone number in John's journal, causing them to realize that Elkins may be a hunter and a friend of their father and they decide to investigate.
In Croatoan, Sam speculates that what's happening to people could be related to a theory in John's journal, that Croatoan is the name of a demon associated with plague and pestilence, and calls what's going on "demonic germ warfare."
In Heart, Sam finds lore in John's journal that suggests that if the sire of someone who is a werewolf is killed, they will be released from the curse. Sam reads from the journal: “Lycanthropy might have a cure if you kill the werewolf who bit you severing the bloodline.” Sam and Dean's comments in the episode suggest they already knew of the theory and just consulted the journal to double-check exactly what it said. However, killing Glen fails to cure Madison. Later, they learn from Bobby Singer that he already knew that the theory wouldn't work, but it is unclear if John was ignorant of this or just never updated his journal to reflect it.
In In The Beginning, Dean has the journal with him when Castiel sends him back to 1973 and he uses it to track where Azazel will attack next. He shows Samuel Campbell how John had documented all possible signs related to and appearances of Azazel, but claims that his father could see the future to account for some future dates.
In Death Takes a Holiday, Dean reads the journal while he and Sam prepare a ritual in a graveyard to speak to the last person to die in the town of Greybull, Wyoming.
In Jump the Shark, Sam uses the journal to point out to Dean that Adam Milligan might, in fact, be their half-brother. A page that's dated close to the time that Adam would have been conceived has been torn out.
In All Dogs Go To Heaven, after hearing from Sam that they are dealing with a skinwalker, Dean goes to the journal to learn more about it, but Sam tells him all that he needs to know before he can look inside.
In Like A Virgin, while researching lore on dragons, Sam is going through John's journal looking to see if John made any entries on dragons to which Dean says there isn't, and Sam has a deja vu moment when he's sees John's entries on skinwalkers and asks Dean if they hunted one lately to which Dean says no since he doesn't want to prompt any of Sam's memories about what happened when he didn't have his soul.
In Adventures in Babysitting, Sam uses John's journal to find out about vetalas. While there is information on how to kill them, John only encountered a single creature, whereas they usually hunt in pairs. This means that Sam is unprepared when he tracks one of them down.
In Time After Time, while Sam is on their laptop researching, Dean is studying John's journal looking for any monster or spirit that leaves a mummified corpse behind to which he replies, "Nothing that turns a dude into a Cryptkeeper."
In Party On, Garth, looking for what monster has claws and is invisible as one is attacking kids in Junction City, Kansas, Dean looks in the journal for information, but isn't able to find anything.
In Heartache, Dean looks through the journal while trying to find what is causing people's hearts to be ripped out. Later, he finds information on the Mayans and Cacao, leading them to realize that Brick Holmes made a deal with Cacao which is what led to the situation that they are investigating.
In Bitten, while investigating a case, Sam and Dean research in John's journal and discover that "werewolves that are turned up to four generations from pureblood are less feral and can transform before, during, and after the lunar cycle." They also discover that John noted that pureblood werewolves can control themselves and can survive on animal hearts.
In As Time Goes By, looking for information on the demon Abaddon, Sam searches through John's journal and discovers that John tortured a demon that worked for Abaddon and learned that Abaddon is a Knight of Hell. While examining the journal, Henry Winchester discovers that it is the one he ordered to be his own the day before he disappeared. Henry reads through the journal and feels guilty for abandoning John and decides to go back in time to prevent this from ever happening. When he tells Dean that he can't understand how he feels after reading it, Dean says he can because he has read the journal more times than Henry can imagine and he feels pain every time he reads it.
In Pac-Man Fever, looking for information on what could turn a man's insides to jelly and leave behind a blue handprint, Dean checks the journal while Sam and Charlie Bradbury check other sources. Eventually, Dean finds out from the journal that they are dealing with a "bastard off-shoot" of a djinn which can be killed in the same way. Charlie expresses envy about the journal saying that she hates it and wants one.
In First Born, searching for information on a hunt that John conducted where he interrogated a demon working for Abaddon who knew about the First Blade, the only weapon that could kill a Knight of Hell, Crowley approaches Dean for help and he checks the journal. In the journal, John mentions that he tortured the demon, but doesn't leave any specifics besides that it worked for Abaddon and that he exorcised it. He also writes in the margin a group of numbers which refers to his lock-up and a T which refers to Tara, the hunter that he worked the case with.
In Mamma Mia, Sam brings a resurrected Mary Winchester John's journal, suggesting that she read it as it could fill in some of the blanks for her. Sam admits that reading John's journal filled in some blanks for him that he didn't even know he had. After Sam leaves, Mary opens the journal and begins to cry looking at its contents.
In The Foundry, late at night, Mary is seen by Castiel reading John's journal in the Bunker's library. Later, when Mary tells Sam and Dean that she needs to leave them for some time, she walks out with John's journal in hand.
In Celebrating The Life Of Asa Fox, after meeting up with her sons again at Asa Fox's wake in Canada, Mary tells them that after returning to Lawrence briefly, she retracted a few of the things in the journal in her efforts to better understand the world that she has been resurrected into.
In The Rising Son, after discovering that Jack Kline is in Jasper, Wyoming, Sam looks through the journal and discovers that Jasper has a Hell Gate that leads to "a place where unimaginable evil emanates from creatures too wicked for the Pit to hold."
In Jack in the Box, John's journal can be seen on the map table at Mary's funeral service.
In Galaxy Brain, Jack suggests using the World Bender spell in order to open a rift to the Bad Place. However, after Jack reveals that the spell requires the liver of a Mandragora, Sam and Dean reveal that the species is extinct, stating that in John's journal he documents "A Hunt in Fargo" where John hunted down and killed the Last Mandragora.
In Last Holiday, the journal is seen amongst the various books that Sam is going through while researching.
In Carry On, after learning that vampires kidnapped a couple's children and were wearing masks, Dean recognizes the wife's drawing of the mask from John's journal. Looking through the journal on the hood of the Impala, Dean finds the entry on the case in 1986 when John was working a series of kidnappings along Route 77 in Akron, Canton and East Sparta, Ohio. Although John hadn't found much, the witness drew the vampires' masks which is also included in the journal entry. The journal states that the kids were taken and the adults that weren't killed had their tongues ripped out.
Sam deduces that if it is the same nest and the pattern holds, the vampires will target Canton next. Dean reads from the journal that the nest targets families living outside of town that are isolated and with kids usually between the ages of five and ten. By determining who in Canton matches the MO John noted in his journal, Sam and Dean are able to ambush the vampires at their next target and force one to lead them to the nest where they take out the remaining vampires and rescue the kids.
In Supernatural: Nevermore, it's stated that at the back of the journal, John lists information on various subjects that he's discovered to be fake. Sam and Dean learn from this that the spell that Ross Vincent is using to try and resurrect Edgar Allen Poe is actually a fake.
In Supernatural: Witch's Canyon, Dean uses the journal to find out information on witch Elizabeth Claire Marbrough from her time in Darrien Center, New York before she moved to Arizona and cast the Forty Year revenge spell. Dean later performs a counterspell from John's journal to end the Forty Year combined with the salting and burning of Elizabeth's bones.
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Season 4
- Season 5
- Season 6
- Season 7
- Season 8
- Season 9
- Season 12
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Season 15
- It should be noted that in the published version John states it was given to him by another hunter who told him to write everything down. However, in the show it was originally meant for his father, and John inherited it when Henry disappeared.
- John pinned his Marine service medals on the inside cover.
- Following Dean using the journal to find out about Abaddon's protégé in season 9's First Born, the journal did not appear again until it was given to Mary Winchester in season 12's Mamma Mia. However, it was still not used for a case from First Born until season 13's The Rising Son when Sam found information on a Hell Gate Asmodeus was trying to open and later information on the Princes of Hell.
- Prior to Season 10, the journal was used at least once a season to help on a case. There ended up being a gap of three whole seasons when the journal was not used to help on cases though it did make cameos in one of those seasons. In the other two, it did not appear at all.
- The seated skeletal figure that appears in the journal with crossed arms is actually the Aztec god Mictlantecuhtli, it is unknown however if John had actually met Mictlantecuhtli in the past.
Alex Irvine, in association with Harper-Collins Books, wrote and published the official Supernatural: John Winchester's Journal, also available in E-book format. However it only loosely follows canon.