|“||You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... You'd say "It's okay, Dad". [...] You shouldn't have had to say that to me, I should have been saying that to you. You know, I put, I put too much on your shoulders, I made you grow up too fast. You took care of Sammy, you took care of me. You did that, and you didn't complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you.||”|
John Eric Winchester (1954-2006) was the son of Henry and Millie Winchester, the husband of Mary Winchester, and the father of Dean and Sam Winchester and Adam Milligan. Seeking revenge after his wife was killed by the demon Azazel, John became a hunter and raised his two oldest sons to fight the supernatural. When Dean was 26 and Sam was about to get his law education started, John mysteriously disappeared, which caused his sons to go back into hunting in order to find him. Eventually they found John who sought the demon-killing Colt gun to kill Azazel, but the three were caught in a car crash after a brutal encounter with the demon. Soon after John made a deal with Azazel to bring back Dean from death and went to Hell for it, but eventually escaped when the Devil's Gate was opened and, as a spirit, assisted Dean in finally killing Azazel before moving on.
Before becoming a hunter, John was a Vietnam War veteran (USMC) from Lawrence, Kansas, he worked as a mechanic and was eventually co-owner (with Mike Guenther) of a garage in Lawrence. John also served as a temporary vessel for the Archangel Michael and a temporary vessel for the demon Azazel in said demon's first true onscreen appearance.
John was born in 1954, presumably in Normal, Illinois, as this is where we see John Winchester when he was younger at the start of As Time Goes By. At this time, it was unknown to him that his father Henry Winchester belonged to a secret society called the Men of Letters, as had his grandfather and his great-grandfather before him. Henry also states that he bought John a little music box which played "As Time Goes By" from the film "Casablanca" to help him sleep after he took him to see "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" at the drive-in one night, which apparently scared the "beeswax" out of him. In 1958, he went to the club, leaving John home. However, due to the attack by Abaddon, Henry was forced to flee to 2013, where he died at the hands of Abaddon. This led John to believe that his father had abandoned him.
|“||Surviving a lonely childhood, a stinking war... only to get married and have his wife taken by a demon... and later killed by one himself. That man got a bum rap around every turn. But you know what? He kept going. And in the end, he did a hell of a lot more good than he did bad.||”|
He left to fight in Vietnam as a marine, and held the rank of corporal. He later returned to Lawrence, where he worked as a mechanic. On April 30, 1973, John bought a 1967 Chevrolet Impala secondhand at Rainbow Motors, after being convinced by a stranger named Dean Van Halen to choose the vehicle. What John was unaware of, however, was that Dean was actually his future son Dean Winchester.
John had a history with Mary Campbell, although before falling in love (under the influence of a cupid), they couldn't stand each other. John intended to propose to Mary, but later when Mary ran away from her family, he was killed by Azazel as he was possessing Mary's father Samuel, prompting Mary to strike a deal with Azazel to bring John back at the cost of allowing Azazel into her home ten years later.
Five years later, in 1978, John and Mary were visited by yet another future Dean and his brother Sam. They claimed to be Mary's cousins, as she already knew about time travel to an extent but John did not. John was called back to work by his boss unexpectedly, but once he got there he encountered the angel Anna Milton, also from the future. Dean, Sam, and Mary stopped her from harming John, though John learned of the existence of monsters. Later John helped prepare their house for an angel attack where Sam told him of how his father raised them into the hunters life, at which John was disgusted (though unaware that it was in fact John himself that would do this). Much later, when Anna attacked, John was tossed outside the house, and was approached by the archangel Michael, to whom John gave permission to use in order to save Mary from Anna. Afterwards, Michael erased John and Mary's memories of the attack.
Beginning to Hunt
In 1979, John and Mary had their first child, Dean, and in 1983, they had their second child, Sam. On November 2, 1983, Azazel stayed true to his word and visited the house, though Mary tried to intervene. Azazel killed her as a result and destroyed the house, but John, Dean, and Sam escaped with their lives. After Mary's death John went to a psychic named Missouri Moseley. He learned the truth about Mary's past. He left Lawrence with his sons, Sam and Dean. He dedicated the rest of his life to hunting down monsters, particularly Azazel. John began his hunting "career" approximately on November 2, 1983, following the death of his wife. His primary goal, as a hunter, was to kill the Prince of Hell, Azazel, for murdering the mother of his children.
His hunter career led him to investigate the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11 attacks, suspecting demons being involved.
John accumulated a vast knowledge of the supernatural, keeping a journal of the creatures he hunted. He was a well-respected hunter by his peers. John worked with several other hunters, most notably Bobby Singer, William Anthony Harvelle, Caleb, Martin Creaser, Tara, and a pastor named Jim Murphy as well as a psychokinetic Fred Jones. He was described as one of the best hunters, one who hardly ever ended a hunt with the monster still alive. Despite this, Sam tells Dean that his elder brother is a better hunter than John. While working with Tara, John hunted and exorcised a demon protégé of Abaddon who informed them about the existence of the Knights of Hell and the First Blade, though John never believed in the Blade's existence. Nevertheless, he and Tara kept notes of the information they gathered. They also had a brief relationship. Later, John kept a photo of Tara in his locker.
During his hunting career, when Dean was around ten, John left him alone with Sam to hunt a shtriga and returned only just in time to drive the shtriga away. John was furious as Dean leaving his brother for a while out of boredom led to the situation and it took a long time for him to trust Dean again. He also never completed the hunt as he had to take Sam and Dean to Pastor Jim's and when he returned, the Shtriga was gone and didn't resurface until 2006.
In 1995, John arrived at the Roadhouse and met the Harvelle Family. He became friends with another hunter named Bill Harvelle. Though both usually hunted alone, John and Bill went on a hunt together. Bill was savagely wounded by the monster that John had been forced to shoot him to put him out of his misery. John cut all ties from the Roadhouse and never forgave himself for the incident.
His life as a hunter led to strain between him and his son Sam, who wanted to quit hunting, leading to an argument where John told Sam if he left he would have to stay away. However, John regretted saying it, as he didn't want Sam to be on his own. John would surreptitiously stop by Stanford every so often just to make sure Sam was all right. John admitted it was never his intention to raise his sons the way he did.
Around August or September 2002, after Sam had left for Stanford University, John received a call from Kate Milligan, a nurse who had treated John several years previously in Windom, Minnesota. She informed him that they had a son named Adam who was twelve at the time. According to Adam, John "dropped everything" and drove all night to Windom. After the initial meeting, John had sporadic contact with Adam. He taught him to play poker, taught him to drive in the Impala, and bought him his first beer when he was fifteen. He also took him to ball games on his birthday. John never mentioned Adam to either Sam or Dean nor did he tell Adam about his other sons. They learned about him around two years after John's death. Dean suspects that John saw Adam as a second chance, a child he could raise outside of hunting and do normal father-son activities with. This may have also been inspired somewhat by Sam's recent leaving.
In Pilot, Dean visits Sam at Stanford, telling him that John has gone missing. Sam reluctantly accompanies Dean to Jericho where John was on a case, but while they find his motel room, and belongings including John's journal, he is not there. While being interrogated by the police, Dean finds coordinates that John has left for him.
In Wendigo, Sam and Dean follow the coordinates left in their father's journal and land in the middle of the woods where they investigate the disappearance of several campers in Black Water Ridge, Colorado. The two eventually realize that John was never in the area and had simply been assigning them a case.
In Phantom Traveler, Jerry Panowski reveals that he got Dean's phone number from John's voicemail, surprising them as John's phone has been inactive until now. When Sam and Dean call John, they receive a voicemail saying that he is unreachable and redirecting people to call Dean if they want help - the first sign the boys have that John is still alive.
In Bugs, Dean reveals to Sam that John would often check up on Sam at Stanford in secret.
In Home, distressed at returning to his home town as they follow one of Sam's visions, Dean calls John but receives no answer. While investigating the haunting at their old home, Sam and Dean visit the garage John once owned with Mike Guenther. He directs them to Missouri Moseley. She helps the boys, but unbeknownst to them John Winchester is in town and in contact with Missouri. He tells her he can't contact them until he knows "the truth".
In Asylum, John sends Sam and Dean on a case in an insane asylum through a text. After the hunt, Dean's cell rings, and Sam answers to hear his father's voice.
In Scarecrow, John, on the phone with Sam, expresses sympathy at the murder of Jessica, and for the first time reveals that he knows that what killed Mary and Jess was a demon. John tells Sam that he must stop looking for him and he starts to give Sam details of a new hunt, but Sam argues that he wants to help John hunt the demon. Dean grabs the phone and takes the details from John about couples who have gone missing near Burkitsville, Indiana.
Later Sam leaves Dean, intending to travel to California and find John. However, after Dean goes missing on the case, he returns saying while he still wants to find John, he and Dean need to stick together.
In Shadow, when Sam and Dean encounter Meg in Chicago and realize she is linked to the demon that killed Mary and Jess, Dean calls John who arrives after the case is apparently over. John's appearance surprises them and Dean embraces him warmly. John reunites for the first time in years with Sam, seemingly putting aside their argument as he is glad to see his son. To Sam and Dean's surprise, John reveals that he intends to kill the demon responsible for Mary and Jess' deaths - not exorcise it, actually kill it though he doesn't yet know how to do it. However, they are attacked by daevas under Meg's control. Sam manages to dispel them and they escape, but are injured. Afterward, Dean supports John when he says it is too dangerous for them all to be together, and they part. John tells them that the fight is far from over and they'll see each other again.
In Something Wicked, after learning that the shtriga he once hunted has reemerged in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, John sends the coordinates to Dean as he knows that killing the shtriga is unfinished business for Dean. Dean ultimately kills the shtriga and finishes John's old hunt.
In Dead Man's Blood, following up on the death of the hunter and old friend Daniel Elkins, Sam and Dean are surprised when John arrives. He tells them about the Colt, a gun that can kill supernatural beings, which he now realizes Elkins had. He is after it as it can kill the demon that killed Mary and Jess and avenge their deaths. Together they fight the vampires that killed Elkins, and retrieve the Colt, although John and Sam clash almost immediately and argue. John orders Sam and Dean to rescue the victims and then leave while he confronts the vampires alone and they realize that afterwards he intends to go off on his own again. Even Dean argues with this, saying they are stronger as a family, but finally they reluctantly agree. Using Kate, John draws the vampires into a meeting to exchange her for the Colt, but Kate breaks free and John is nearly killed. However, Sam and Dean disregard his orders and rescue him, though the vampire leader Luther takes Sam as a hostage to force Dean to surrender. John quickly recovers and kills Luther with the Colt, saving him.
The surviving two vampires retreat. Afterwards, John confronts his sons for disobeying him, but agrees that they did save his life and thanks them rather than yelling at them for it. The experience causes John to realize that they are right: the three of them are stronger as a family and he asks Sam and Dean to join him in hunting the demon that killed their loved ones and they eagerly agree. During the episode, Sam and John also spend some time alone and seem to come to some form of peace as they realize they are a lot more alike than they care to admit and John tells Sam he never wanted his son to have this life.
|“||This isn't the life I wanted for you [...] You gotta understand something. After your mother passed ... all I saw was evil, everywhere. And all I cared about was keeping you boys alive. I wanted you ... prepared. Ready. Except somewhere along the line, I ... I stopped being your father and I became your drill sergeant. So when you said you wanted to go away to school, all I could think about was, my only thought was that you were gonna be alone. Vulnerable. Sammy, it just ... never occurred to me what you wanted. I just couldn't accept the fact that you and I were just different.||”|
— John explaining his actions to Sam
in Dead Man's Blood
In Salvation, as hunters they know start being killed, the Winchesters start the hunt for the demon in earnest, following signs, that John has learned are associated with its appearance, to Salvation, Iowa. Sam has a vision concerning a young woman and her baby, suggesting she is a target of the demon. John is angry that the boys hadn't told him about Sam's visions, but Dean stands up to him.
When Meg calls she demands the Colt, killing his friend Caleb as John listens having also killed Pastor Jim. John plans a ruse to give her a fake Colt, as Sam and Dean take the real Colt to kill the demon. Both plans go wrong, when John is captured, and the demon eludes the boys. When Sam and Dean try to call John after stopping the demon from hurting the Holt family, Meg answers and reveals that she has captured John.
In Devil's Trap, Sam and Dean turn to Bobby Singer for help. When Meg turns up, they capture her, and manage to find out John's location, exorcising the demon. The boys rescue John, and take him to a remote cabin. It is while he is telling Dean he is proud of him, even though Dean used the gun and wasted a chance on killing the Demon, that Dean gets suspicious and realizes that John is possessed by the Yellow-Eyed Demon. He taunts Dean and Sam and is killing Dean when John manages to wrest control for a moment, and allow Sam to get control of the Colt. Sam however can't shoot to kill and only wounds John in the leg. Regaining control, John orders Sam to kill him to kill the demon. Before Sam can make up his mind, the demon flees John's body in smoke form. As they drive to the hospital, John berates Sam for not sacrificing him to kill the demon, having believed that Sam agreed with him that the demon must die at any cost. However, Sam tells him that family is more important and they can still catch up to the demon again and they still have one bullet left in the Colt to kill it with. However, at this moment, a demon-possessed truck driver crashes into The Impala, leaving John and his sons injured and unconscious.
|“||It scares the hell out of me. You two are all I've got. But I guess we are stronger as a family. So ... let's go after this damn thing. Together.||”|
— John to Sam and Dean
in Dead Man's Blood
In In My Time of Dying, all the Winchesters are in the hospital with Dean dangerously close to death. Sam discovers John is planning to keep on pursuing the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and they argue. John promises to hold off until Dean recovers, but he actually summons the Yellow-Eyed Demon and makes a deal - his life for Dean's. While meeting with Azazel, John reveals that he does in fact know the demon's plans for Sam, though he lies to his sons that he doesn't.
John has a final few moments with his sons. He tries to make some peace with Sam, and then whispers to Dean a secret. Moments later the deal is called in - John dies and Dean recovers.
In Everybody Loves a Clown, Sam and Dean give John a Hunter's Funeral, but Dean avoids telling Sam the truth. On John's cell phone, they find a message from Ellen Harvelle, leading the Winchesters to the Roadhouse for the first time.
In Crossroad Blues, Dean's Crossroad Demon confirms Sam and Dean's suspicions that John traded his life for Dean's and is currently suffering in Hell. The Crossroad Demon offers Dean a deal of ten years in exchange for resurrecting John. Though clearly tempted, Dean instead traps the demon and forces her to break Evan Hudson's deal.
At the end Croatoan, Dean reveals to Sam that John told him something terrible before he died.
In Hunted, Dean finally reveals to Sam that John had told him that he must save Sam and if he can't, Dean must kill him. This revelation has left Dean shaken ever since, but Dean admits that John never expanded upon what he actually met. While visiting the Roadhouse for help with finding more of the Special Children, Sam learns from Ellen that she forgave John for Bill's death a long time ago, but she believes that John never forgave himself for it.
In Born Under a Bad Sign, the demon Meg, while possessing Sam, tells Jo that John didn't just get Bill killed, but John killed Bill himself after he was mortally wounded due to John's mistake. Dean later admits to Jo that demons do sometimes tell the truth, especially if it can mess with a person's head, suggesting that Meg wasn't lying about John killing Bill.
In All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 2, John's ghost unexpectedly appears as Azazel is about to kill Dean, having escaped from Hell when the Devil's Gate was opened by Jake Talley. John pulls Azazel from his vessel and struggles with the Prince of Hell who quickly overpowers John and throws him to the ground before reentering his vessel. John's attack gives Dean enough time to retrieve the Colt and Dean shoots Azazel dead when he rises again, finally getting the Winchester Family's long-sought revenge for the death of Mary. Before the stunned eyes of Ellen and Bobby Singer, John approaches Dean and silently touches him on the shoulder before exchanging a teary nod with Sam. With a smile, John vanishes in a flash of light before the eyes of his sons.
In the aftermath of the battle, Sam and Dean are left stunned both by John's appearance and finally getting revenge upon Azazel. When Sam questions if John really got out of Hell, Dean comments that the door had been open and if anyone could make it out, it would be John. However, Dean and Sam aren't sure of where John went when he disappeared.
In Long-Distance Call, a monster called a crocotta imitates John's voice and tries to lure Dean to his death. Greatly missing his father, Dean believes it is truly John, though Sam is more cautious. Dean nearly kills an innocent man under the crocotta's influence, believing him to be the demon that holds his contract. However, Dean eventually realizes the truth after the man is unaffected by a devil's trap while Sam kills the monster.
In In The Beginning, Dean is sent back in time to 1973 by the angel Castiel where he meets a young John who Dean believes he has been sent back to protect. Dean convinces John to buy the Impala instead of a VW van, but discovers the real threat is to his mother Mary who is in fact a hunter, though she hates the life and wants to leave it. As John prepares to propose, Azazel, possessing Mary's father Samuel Campbell appears and snaps John's neck, killing him. Azazel promises to resurrect John so Mary can have a normal life with him if she gives Azazel permission to enter her house in ten years. Though Dean tries to intervene with the Colt, Mary makes the deal and John is resurrected while Azazel flees Samuel's body before he can wake up with no memories of being dead.
During On The Head Of A Pin, Alastair mentioned to Dean of how he took to torturing John when he was in Hell, in an attempt to break him enough to torture souls himself and break the first seal. However, he revealed John never gave in and always refused, despite the torture he suffered. The demon spoke highly of John for his strong will and stated that he expected the same from his son but voiced his disappointment that Dean wasn't nearly half the man that his father was. His comment left Dean angry.
In Jump the Shark, it is discovered by Sam and Dean that John had another son, Adam Milligan. The two learn that John was hunting a ghoul and met Adam's mother and routinely spent time with him for years. However, the ghoul that John killed had children who wanted revenge and killed Adam and Kate to pose as them and lure him back. Since John was already dead, Sam and Dean had to pay for his sin but the two killed the ghouls, finishing some of their father's work. Sam and Dean, who came to believe that John was trying to protect Adam by keeping him out of the life, give the half-brother they never knew a Hunter's Funeral.
In The Song Remains the Same, when the angel Anna goes back in time to kill a young John and Mary before their sons are born as it would supposedly stop the apocalypse from ever occurring John meets Dean and Sam, who traveled to stop Anna. He becomes aware of his wife's past life as a hunter, and is shocked people could raise their children to kill supernatural beings. However, John accepts the truth fairly quickly and even offers his help to Dean to set up defenses against the angels.
When they are all attacked by Anna and Uriel, John is thrown out a window early in the fight. While on the ground outside, John is approached by the archangel Michael who promises to save John's family if he will say "yes." John consents to possession, allowing Michael to use John as a vessel to kill Anna and banish Uriel. In John's body, Michael finally meets face to face with Dean for the first time and explains that while Dean is his true vessel, he is not his only vessel. Instead, it is a bloodline starting with Cain and Abel and running down through John to Dean. Michael resurrects Sam and promises Dean that John will be left unharmed by the possession and will be "better than new" instead of a drooling mess like most archangel vessels. Michael decides to erase John and Mary's memories of the night, both as a kindness and to keep them from remembering anything about the future.
In My Bloody Valentine, a Cupid is later revealed to have been behind John and Mary's union and that it was ordered by the "higher-ups". However, the angel also added that he can only bring the two lovers together; the love they feel afterwards is completely of their own volition.
In Point of No Return, Adam is resurrected by Zachariah under Michael's orders, supposedly to be Michael's vessel for the fight with Lucifer. As Adam is also John's son and Sam's brother, he is capable of holding the archangel for the fight. Though Sam tries to argue that Adam should hear them out as they are also John's sons, Adam states that to him John is the guy who took him to baseball games once a year and he has no father. Sam later tries to justify that John kept Adam out of the life for his own protection, but Adam bitterly points out that the ghoul that killed him didn't get that memo. Sam tries to tell Adam that the only thing worse than seeing John once a year was seeing him all year, but Adam admits that having grown up with just his mother, Adan would've taken anything John was willing to give him to have his father in his life.
In As Time Goes By, Sam and Dean learn the truth about John's father Henry Winchester's disappearance along with the fact that John tortured a demon who worked for Abaddon and that he learned from the demon that Abaddon is a Knight of Hell. Sam also becomes more accepting of John's way of raising them, knowing that he did the best he could, but the brothers are left wondering how their lives would have been different if Henry had been there to raise John. Dean initially resented Henry in John's stead for not properly being there for his son, despite it not being his fault. Henry was also initially disgusted that John was a hunter rather than one of the Men of Letters, but came to be proud of John after seeing how he raised Sam and Dean. Henry also tried to return to the past and be with his son when reading his journal but Dean stopped him and forgave him once he saw he was wrong to misjudge him. After Henry's was fatally wounded by Abaddon, Henry expressed pride and his son and grandsons regardless of what he was. After bearing Henry Sam and dean realized why Heaven put their father and mother together what also wondering if what John would've been like if his father stayed around.
In First Born, Dean is approached by Crowley to help locate the First Blade which Crowley could only find one demon that knew about it: one that was captured, interrogated and exorcised by John. Checking John's journal and his lock-up, Dean and Crowley learn that John worked a case with a hunter named Tara where they did interrogate and exorcise a demon who knew about the Blade, but find no further information in John's files. Finding Tara, they learn that she and John apparently had a sexual relationship as well as a professional one and that John never believed the demon about the Blade, thinking it was just lying to get out of being exorcised. However, Tara had started searching for the Blade and she is able to give Dean and Crowley their first clue on where to look. She also indicates to Dean that she believes that John would be disgusted with him for working with Crowley despite the necessity of the situation.
In Baby, a being takes on the form of a young John Winchester to speak to Sam in his dreams. While Sam believes it to be God, the being is revealed to in fact be Lucifer in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
In Keep Calm and Carry On, after the resurrection of Mary, Dean uses Mary's history with John to convince her of his identity as her son. As Dean fills Mary in on everything she's missed in the past 33 years, she asks about John. Dean tells Mary that John died trading himself for Dean which Mary tearfully admits sounds like something John would do. She is also shocked to learn that John ended up being a hunter and trained Sam and Dean as one. After being brought to the Impala in the Men of Letters bunker, Mary recognizes it as John's car and stares into the backseat with a smile, clearly remembering fun times she had with John there.
In Mamma Mia, Mary tells Dean she had a lot of dreams about the times she had with John and that he was a good father. Dean later tells Mary that after she died, the hunting life consumed John along with the need to find answers to what happened to her and it changed him.
In There's Something About Mary, Lady Toni Bevell reminds Mary of her deal with Azazel to save John. She also informs Mary of John's actions following her death, something Mary wasn't aware of previously and calls the way John treated his sons "practically child abuse."
In Lebanon, Dean and Sam find the Baozhu, a Chinese treasure, which they hope could expel Michael from Dean's mind. After Dean makes his wish, the brothers are attacked by a figure while the bunker goes on high alert. The figure threatens them before it is revealed to be John who was summoned from the past because of Dean's desire. John believes it is 2003 before he learns he was pulled sixteen years into the future. John has his sons update him on the situation, as they mention the Apocalypse, God, angels, and their men of letters legacy through Henry. John is amused to hear these tales and expressed pride in his sons in their endeavors. John is then reunited with a resurrected Mary Winchester and they share a loving embrace.
Afterwards Sam and Dean tell him of how time is changing, due to John being taken out of the timeline. John accepts that the only way to fix the situation is to send him back. He shares a family meal with his loved ones and is happy at the chance to do so. Once Sam destroys the treasure, John disappears back to 2003 and wakes up in the Impala. He gets a call from the Dean of that year and believed the events were a dream, before telling Dean that he's coming home.
John appears in a flashback during Mary's hunter's funeral to the family dinner the Winchesters shared when John was pulled to 2019.
In Jack in the Box, after Castiel tries to go after Jack, Duma, now the Ruler of Heaven, threatens to end John and Mary's shared Heaven with just a snap of her fingers to force Castiel to capitulate. Enraged, Castiel instantly kills Duma with his angel blade to protect John and Mary.
In Raising Hell, Belphegor reveals that once a soul has been cast to Hell, it cannot enter Heaven. The Winchesters point out that John and Bobby Singer got in after escaping Hell, but Belphegor speculates that God made exceptions those times because he liked the Winchesters.
In Last Call, Lee Webb asks Dean about John. Dean informs Lee that John has been dead for thirteen years but "he was doing what he loved the most -- kicking ass and taking names." Dean is clearly upset by the reminder of the loss of John and Lee offers his condolences which Dean appreciates. Leo comments that he always liked John and the two reminisce about John catching them drunk on a hunt and how John was so mad, it looked like he was going to have an aneurysm. Dean tells Lee that John had always liked Leo and said that he'd never seen anyone better in a fight which was high praise coming from John. The two then raise a toast to John and later do a duet of the Theme from the Dukes of Hazard which John would play for them before they went out on a hunt and state that it was real music.
John was an ordinary child up until his father Henry Winchester's disappearance. What became of John after that moment is never specified, though he likely hardened from the lack of his real father.
As part of the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, John was undoubtedly a capable fighter by that point, strong and fearless though he retained, at least until Mary's death, a gentle, loving heart. He moved to Lawrence seeking a better and more stable life, and he became devoted to Mary, even though her parents were against the match.
John was naive to the supernatural world and despite marrying a hunter, he never learned what lurked in the shadows until Mary's deal with Azazel led Azazel to come into their home one night. Mary was set ablaze on the ceiling of Sam's nursery and John's life was forever changed.
Many of John's friends have described this period as difficult and rough for John, who had two young sons to tend to. Without a home, he relied on old friends for shelter until he picked up the habit of living on the road or in cheap motels. He was regarded as deluded and a little disturbed during this time, as John was beginning to find out about the supernatural.
His years as a soldier helped to prepare John a bit in what he had to face, and he was able to train his sons to become skilled and tactical fighters. However, coupled with the loss of his wife and the stress of dealing with monsters on a regular basis as well as his desire to avenge Mary at all costs made him neglect the boys. He also put high expectations on his elder son, turning Dean into the perfect little soldier who was to protect Sam at all costs.
John was aware of his neglect, and he may have tried to compensate by shielding his sons from most of the things he hunted. Although John expected Sam and Dean to be ready to face a few horrors, Sam and Dean were nevertheless left in the dark about many creatures. John's head strong personality, molded from his years of killing and hiding and searching for Azazel, made it hard for him to form any lasting relationships.
John's two lovers, Tara and Kate, rarely heard from him again after their hook up. Bobby Singer, a close friend and occasional caretaker of Sam and Dean, wanted to shoot John dead with a shotgun over an unspecified offense. Other friends of John also became distant, leading to years of no contact.
Eventually, John found out about Azazel, about a weapon that could kill the demon, and some of the demon's plans. John's wish to foil the demon's plans drove John to want Sam dead should Sam become evil, eventually passing it on as a final order to his good son Dean and putting a wedge in the brothers' relationship.
John was, for most of his life, met with misfortune that could easily have turned John into a self-loathing and self-deprecating man. He had few friends he could share secrets with, and for the most part John lived a rather lonesome life filled with nightmares come to life. His dream of a happy family, which he could not have in his childhood, was never made real for more than a few years and Mary, the love of his life, was forever gone after her demise for the rest of John's life.
During his brief reunion with his family, John was very happy to be with his sons again and expressed pride in them for saving the world when told of their exploits. He was also happy to learn that his father did not truly abandon him and seemed content to learn of his legacy as Men of Letters. However, the thing that really elated him was being with Mary again and he shared a loving embrace with her. As noted by his sons, John was more happy than they ever saw at dinner, most likely because he had his whole family with him. Though he forgot the event after returning to the past, John could not help but crack a smile at the experience and implied he believed it occurred.
Skills and Abilities
As a human
Already having remarkable skills from his experience as a Vietnam Marine Corporal, with him also achieving four medals in his military career, as a hunter, John Winchester would become among the best hunters in history.
- Master Hunting Skills: One of the greatest hunter, John's skills were famous and well-known to the point that a lot of other hunters, including veteran ones like Bobby Singer, all refer to John as an extremely capable hunter, and even after his death, a lot of hunters talk about him; Gordon considers his sons to have "big shoes to fill" in their father's absence. Sam and Dean stated that it was very rare (only happening once for sure) that a monster survived an encounter with John. He was also noted for being able to find ways to kill things that had no apparent weaknesses: when facing a Shtriga, Sam noted that the lore stated that it couldn't be killed by the weapons of "God or man", but John had somehow figured out that it was vulnerable to consecrated iron while feeding. How he determined this is unknown as he never actually killed the creature. Even Azazel noted that he considered John more dangerous than the Colt, stating while he wanted both the Colt and him to die, John was even more important to be killed off than him retrieving the Colt. However, by Trial and Error, while Sam considers John to be still superior to him and Bobby, he also states that Dean has surpassed their father.
- Knowledge of Lore: John had a very impressive command of lore to the point that many times Sam and Dean consult his journal as their first source of information. Although John still had gaps in his knowledge, displayed by his unawareness that his theory about a possible werewolf cure was false, that vetala usually hunt in pairs, and didn't knew about the vampire cure or the cure for djinn poison, his knowledge, contained in his journal, proved to be constantly detailed for his sons to identify a creature and how to kill it. In The Rising Son, John's journal displayed knowledge of the Shedim, extremely obscure monsters that very few were aware even existed. The journal showed that John was aware of the Princes of Hell too despite all of the Princes being believed to be long-dead. As well, John knew enough to list in his journal that there were only four Princes of Hell. John also knew about the First Blade and The Colt but his knowledge of them was limited enough that he believed them to be legends, only learning the Colt was real after Daniel Elkins' death.
- Master Combatant: Already an exceptionally skilled fighter from his intensive training as a Marine Corporal, with him having served for at least 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days deployed, which earned him the Vietnam Service Medal, John retained his skill even after having retired to be able to mold Sam and Dean into formidable fighters even as children, rendering them capable of easily defeating bullies. John only sharpened his skills after becoming a Hunter, having been good enough to overpower and kill almost any monster he encountered, his fighting prowess earning him great fame even among other Hunters, along with also continuing to train Sam and Dean to make them among the best fighters in the entire series. Although Sam has stated that Dean had surpassed their father but acknowledged he was still inferior, when pulled into the future in Lebanon, John proved to be able to overpower both his sons with ease, easily outmaneuvering Sam and kicking down Dean after getting punched once. Although they were caught off-guard, it was still notable that John was able to defeat them both so quickly considering their increased skills, but at the same time John was noticeably younger and was probably at his prime.
- Weaponry Master: From his intensive training as a Marine Corporal and experience over having served many deployments that earned him the Vietnam Service Medal, John was highly well-versed in the use of weapons, especially firearms, which earned him the USMC Expert Rifle Badge (Highest score of qualification for the USMC with his service rifle, which at the time was most likely an M16A1). He kept his knowledge and skill after retiring and was able to successfully teach Sam and Dean how to use and even build firearms. As a hunter, John's skills with weaponry only further increased as he trained his sons into mastering how to use the weapons needed to fight against the supernatural. He was capable of easily decapitating the Vampire Hank with a single blade and shooting Kate and Luther, also vampires, dead simultaneously, without any of them being able to react despite their superhuman speed and reflexes. When he was pulled into the future, John proved able to effectively wield a riffle as an improvised melee weapon, swiftly knocking down Sam and Dean with it.
- Master Strategist and Leader: Having served as a Marine Corporal, John was an exceptional tactician and leader, known for having led soldiers under him effectively and saved the lives of his men many times, which earned him the Bronze Star Medal. His tactical and leadership skills did not decline over the years he spent retired as a husband and father and once he became a hunter, he was able to effectively lead his sons into numerous successful hunts and once he left Dean, he was able to stay out of his sons attempts to find him until he eventually decided to work together with them again.
- Indomitable Willpower: An exceptionally mentally strong man, John's indomitable willpower was another one of his many noteworthy traits. Despite the many atrocities he likely witnessed in his military career, John was able to remain an optimistic and strong-willed man and maintain this even after losing his wife, as even though John became hardened over the years, he never succumbed to despair, drawing on his desire to take revenge on Azazel and love for his sons, which drove him to sacrifice himself for Dean without hesitation. Even after being sent to Hell and was egregiously tortured by Alastair, the most skilled torturer in Hell, John was able to withstand the torture for a hundred years (of Hell-time), which greatly impressed Alastair, who would later note that John was tremendously stronger than Dean was who only resisted for 30 years. Even despite the torture, John was able to escape Hell itself while the Devil's Gate was open and subsequently overpower Azazel long enough for Dean to finally kill his long-time archnemesis, which Dean noted only John would have the willpower to do so. Another testament to his willpower was how John was able to temporarily take control of his body when he was taken over by Azazel, an impressive feat as few others have been able to retake control from even weak demons, while Azazel was one of the most powerful. The only other people to display similar levels of willpower are Bobby Singer and Sam (with Sam managing to temporarily mentally subdue the archangel Lucifer).
- Archangel Hosting: As a descendant of Cain and Abel, John is able to host the archangel Michael. Unlike Donnie Finnerman and Raphael, Michael was able to use John as his vessel with no permanent damage, instead stating that John would be "better than new" when he was done with him.
As a Spirit
Not much was shown about his abilities after his death and becoming a ghost, but John was certainly an extremely powerful ghost, considering after only having recently been freed from the tortures of Hell, he was strong enough to wrestle Azazel out of his human host and hold him at bay long enough for Dean to retrieve the Colt and use it to kill him.
In order to force Mary Winchester into making a deal with him, Azazel snapped John's neck while possessing Samuel Campbell. As part of his deal with Mary, Azazel resurrected John and erased John's memory of his death.
- John and Dean - John and Dean's relationship.
- John and Sam - John and Sam's relationship.
- John and Mary - John and Mary's relationship.
- John's minor relationships - A list of John's relationships with other characters.
- Season 1
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Season 4
- Season 5
- Season 6
- Exile on Main Street (flashback)
- Season 7
- Season 8
- Season 9
- Season 10
- Season 11
- Season 12
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Season 15
- Supernatural: Nevermore (non-canon; flashback and mentioned only)
- Supernatural: Witch's Canyon
- In the earliest drafts of the episode script for "Pilot", John's original name is Jack and his and Mary's last name is Harrison.They both were first written as being in a car crash caused by a demon, where she doesn't survive, but he does.
- John's name means "Yahweh is gracious".
- According to the novel Nevermore, John had always been a devout Christian. But because of his life as a hunter, never had time to attend church. It is unknown what denomination John belonged to, although in Defending Your Life, Sam mentions that the family is "not Catholic."
- John drove a 1983 GMC Sierra. It had a closed console which had a high-tech box to house his weapons.
- Because of his military life, it can be assumed that he used that same mindset to train his sons in the hunter lifestyle. In Dead Man's Blood, he admits to Sam he "stopped being [the boys'] father, and . . . became [their] drill sergeant."
- According to Dean, the last time Bobby Singer had seen John, Bobby had threatened to shoot him for some offense.
- John never visited Mary's grave site.
- Even though his wife had many family members, John never had relations with them after her death.
- Though John had a much younger son by another relationship, he never told Adam the truth about his family instead preferring to do regular father-and-son activities. Dean believes that John saw this as a second chance to raise a child normally and not as a hunter as he had no choice with Sam and Dean but did with Adam.
- John served as the basis for Season 5's story with Lucifer and God. As Gabriel explains, Sam is reminiscent of Lucifer, as he rarely sees his father and disapproves of him, whereas Dean is loyal to a father he never sees, much like Michael. Sam and John's relationship was reminiscent of Lucifer and God.
- Season 6, Season 7, Season 10 and Season 12 are the only seasons where John has not appeared in some form or another. He was reported to make an appearance in the Season 7 finale, but this turned out to be an April Fool's joke.
- John has been killed twice. Both times he was killed by the demon Azazel. Once in 1973 and the other in 2006.
- Between "In My Time of Dying," and "All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 1," John is in Hell for the whole season. As one year is the usual time that takes place in a season and one month in Hell time is approximately 10 years, John spent roughly 120 years in Hell.
- Had the North American branch of the Men of Letters survived into the present, John would have been ordained as one in the same manner as his father Henry.
- John is the first character on the show to overcome possession.
- In the animated series, John's journal came from Fletcher Gable who also gave it to him in the comics.
- John was originally going to buy a VW campervan until Dean persuaded him to buy the Impala instead calling it "the car of a lifetime" and promising that it would be still be "badass when it's 40".
- After giving Dean the Impala, John began driving a black pickup truck with a case for his weapons in the truck bed. This case had an electronic opening mechanism.
- John's weapons collection was apparently less diverse than Sam and Dean's, consist of various firearms and a few blades and shurikens. However, he also carried more religious objects than Sam and Dean did, his weapons' box containing two rosaries, two bottles of Holy Water, two different crosses, and two small containers bearing the Chi Rho. This may reflect John's specific hunt for The Yellow-Eyed Demon as opposed to Sam and Dean's custom of investigating every potentially supernatural incident they come across.
- John had met both his older sons before their births. He meets Dean for the first time in episode In The Beginning, and then meets Dean again along with Sam in episode The Song Remains the Same. John would have no recollection of this ever happening as his and Mary's memories were wiped by Michael. It is also debatable that John did not realize that Sam and Dean were in fact his and Mary's sons as he was not present in the room during Dean and Mary's heart to heart.
- It is unknown as to when John moved to Lawrence, Kansas. He may have lived there before he was deployed to Vietnam, or simply moved there after returning from the conflict.
- John was close friends with fellow hunters Pastor Jim Murphy and Caleb. They are referenced several times through the first season while also being mentioned in various flashbacks. In Something Wicked, John instructs Dean to call Pastor Jim in case of an emergency. Dean then states that after the Shtriga attacked Sam, John dropped them both off at Pastor Jim's. Jim Murphy and Caleb were both killed by Meg in Salvation, and John is noticeably hurt by their deaths.
- In the pilot, Sam implied John was an alcoholic to both Dean and Jess. This was never shown in the series.
- Apparently John's idea of thanksgiving was a bowl of chicken and passing out on the couch.
- John is the first known character to escape Hell, climbing out when Jake Talley opened the Devil's Gate on Azazel's orders. Second is Dean when Castiel raises Dean from Hell, third is Sam after Castiel raises him (without his soul) from Lucifer's Cage, and fourth being Bobby when Sam helped him escape.
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan has expressed interest in returning to the series, indicating that John may return in the future.
- Many characters on the show and fans alike consider John as one of the greatest hunters in the world during his life, Meg even commending him. Dean worshiped his father and considers John as one of the best hunters to have ever lived, especially by his number of hunts and almost no creature having survived their encounter with John except the Shtriga for certain. However, by Trial and Error, Sam considers Dean the best saying he's even better than John, himself or Bobby.
- Before his death he confirmed he knew the truth about Sam to Azazel, with Eric Kripke confirming he figured out what the whole picture was including the coming of the apocalypse and his son's destinies to an extent.
- This is further confirmed in Lebanon, where he mentioned this in his talk with Sam and Dean.
- John Winchester's blood type is AB (It is unknown whether he is AB+ or AB-, but statistically there's a higher chance of him being AB+ according to redcrossblood.org)
- John Winchester was awarded four medals from his military career
- USMC Expert Rifle Badge (Highest score of qualification for the USMC with his service rifle, which at the time was most likely an M16A1)
- The Bronze Star (Acts of heroism, merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone)
- The Purple Heart (Wounded in action)
- Vietnam Service Medal. (Served for, or more than, 30 consecutive/60 non-consecutive days deployed during the Vietnam War)
- John once worked with a hunter named Tara who it was indicated he had a sexual relationship with. Apparently he promised to call her but never did. She didn't seem to harbor any or at least much resentment about this and when Dean told her he was one of John's sons, she asked if he was Sam or Dean, showing that John had apparently talked to her about them.
- John apparently kept files on at least some of his cases in his lock-up. How many case files there are is unknown, but he at least has one filing cabinet full of them.
- While working with Tara, they captured, interrogated and exorcised a demon who had knowledge of the First Blade. While it started an obsession in Tara looking for the First Blade, John didn't believe in it and never recorded any information on the hunt besides the basics that he interrogated and exorcised the demon with Tara's help and that it mentioned the First Blade. He didn't include the information the demon gave on the Knights of Hell either, possibly as they were all believed to be dead. However, unknown to him, the Blade was real and would later become an object that Dean would later search for with the help of Crowley and Tara, using the information John gathered as a starting point. When enlisting Dean's help on this case, Crowley claimed that the demon John exorcised was the only one he could find with knowledge of the First Blade and John got to it before he did.
- In Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, Dean uses a barbwire-wrapped baseball ball and comments "man, Dad loved this thing." The bat resembles Lucille from the Walking Dead, the signature weapon of Negan. Both John and Negan are played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
- John was used by a vessel on two occasions and they were by Azazel and the other by an archangel.
- He is chronologically the first Winchester to give consent to an archangel.
- He is the third Winchester to be pulled into the future as Dean Winchester and Henry Winchester were sent to the future like him.
- John is the only member of the immediate Winchester family to have never killed a demon or angel though he acted as a vessel to Michael when he killed Anna Milton. Sam, Dean and Mary have all killed both demons and angels.
- The fact that John and Mary share a Heaven suggests that they are in fact soulmates since only soulmates share a Heaven.
- John is the only member of his family not to meet Castiel who was on a hunt when John was brought forward to 2019 and didn't return until after John was gone.