You know, we know what it is, what’s going on. We don’t talk about it. The actors don’t, Jensen and I don’t. But we’re all perfectly aware of how the relationship is, the writers are completely aware of how it’s being written. It may be unspoken but that doesn’t mean it’s not there or not true.
From Castiel's first appearance in 4.01 Lazarus Rising, fandom saw the on-screen intensity between Dean Winchester and Castiel and took it further. It soon became a very popular pairing, with the first Dean/Castiel LiveJournal community appearing on 19th September 2008, the day after "Lazarus Rising" first aired. Its tagline is "Groped By An Angel". In November 2013 the community had 7116 members.
The first fics posted on Livejournal featuring Dean/Castiel were:
Numerous jokes alluding to the bond between Castiel and Dean have been made on the show.
Dean: Don't normally see you off leash. Where's your boss?
Uriel: Castiel? Oh he's, he's not here. You see he has this weakness, he likes you.
Cas, not for nothing, but the last time someone looked at me like that...I got laid.
Sam: So what, you like him better, or something?
Castiel: Dean and I do share a more profound bond. I wasn't going to mention it.
Sorry, you have me confused with the other angel. You know, the one in the dirty trench coat who's in love with you.
Ask him, he was your boyfriend first!
There are many visual moments that are taken as Destiel references. In 8.02 What's Up, Tiger Mommy?, when Dean finds Castiel in Purgatory he hugs him, and then strokes his scruffy beard (Source). Later when Castiel returns to Earth in 8.07 A Little Slice of Kevin, he shaves his beard and restores his suits and tie, and cleans his trenchcoat in the process. Fandom was amused that when he appears freshly scrubbed, Dean appears to shift uncomfortably in his seat, and press his hand over his crotch. Watch the "Boner alert" gif here.
In 9.22 Stairway to Heaven, Sam and Castiel think they have found a door to Heaven. When they enter they find a room decorated with kitsch party decorations and a sign from Metatron saying "Welcome to your own personal heaven, Castiel. Good luck finding the real one." At Jus In Bello Italy 2014, Jared reported that originally the writers had indicated that it was supposed to be "a bunch of pictures of Dean. ...I think the writers thought it was funny." He added "But we were like, ‘it IS funny, but we don’t want to give [the audience] the wrong idea that that’s what’s going on....but the idea was that Metatron was messing with Castiel. So we didn’t want to make the episode seem like it was hinting towards something. Because that would have ruined the show to make it about something it wasn’t about. So they just changed it to like a really kitschy, goofy, kind of thing."
There is a canonical deep friendship between the Winchesters, particularly Dean and Castiel. He has been referred to by the boys as family on numerous occasions, and by Dean as both brother and friend.
Sam: I don't understand.
Dean: Me neither.Sam: (smirks) No, of course it's not my issue. You know... How about Sastiel ? Samstiel ?
Sam: I mean, shouldn't it be... Deastiel ?
Dean: Really ? That's your issue with this ?
In the 200th episode 10.05 Fan Fiction, Destiel was mentioned. The girls playing Dean and Castiel in the musical are actually a couple, and Marie tells Dean that the play does "explore the nature of 'Destiel' in Act Two" and adds "You can't spell subtext without s-e-x." At this point Dean (or is it Jensen?) breaks the fourth wall and gives an annoyed look to the viewer. Sam is rather amused by it all and wonders about different ship names for both Dean and Castiel and himself and Cas. While Dean has said throughout the episode that he doesn't agree with Marie's interpretation of the Supernatural story, in his final rallying speech to the cast he reiterates his difference of opinion, but that the show is Marie's interpretation and that everyone should go out there and "kick it in the ass."
Nuances in ship naming
The first online communities around the pairing carried the pairing name Dean/Castiel, as it took about a season for the ship name Destiel to universally accepted. In the early days, some fans also used Deastiel or Dastiel. Fans of the ship are sometimes called Destielers.
Overtime, as the shipping wars with Bronly fans intensified, pejoratives were used for the fans such as Destihellers. Fans opposed to the Destiel ship would often post hate on the Destiel tag on Tumblr, which lead some fans to post under the tag deancas instead. This lead to an increased uptake in the use of "DeanCas" as a ship name. DeanCas is also sometimes used to denote platonic, or at least non sexual, fanworks. See also brOTP.
Fans who strongly believed the ship should be canonical as a form of queer representation, were often accused of fetishising queer relationships, and in response they sought to emphasize that they were interested in the whole relationship and not only the sexual aspects. Some of these fans use "DeanCas" as a preference. However many fans see this as reinforcing the opposition to Destiel and making it synonymous only with porn.
Castiel is usually written as topping when he’s being a powerful angel, or as a bottom when the fic focuses on his sexual inexperience, especially losing his virginity to Dean. For more on these roles see Top/Bottom.
Like all slash fictions, stories featuring Dean and Castiel in a relationship may cover any genre or kink including Future Fic, Pre-Series Fic, Crossover, Angst, Deathfic, Crack, Post-Apocalypse, Curtain Fic and Kid Fic. Hurt-Comfort especially involving whumped!Castiel and the appearance of the Magical Healing Cock are especially popular, as are and stories where Castiel discovers human emotions and sexual feelings for the first time. In AU fics, Castiel may be human rather than an angel.
Sometimes the union of Dean and Castiel in Fanfiction results in Mpreg or Eggpreg, as it can be seen as an inter-species union too. On Archive Of Our Own the fic tag is Destiel redirects to Castiel/Dean Winchester, however the tag destiel is often also used with a modifier eg kinky Destiel, domestic Destiel, fluffy Destiel.
Destiel outside the Show
But I don’t like the characterization of teasing around Destiel or around any kind of homoerotic subtext that might appear around the brothers or whatever as queer baiting. I think that that’s really unfair. Because I don’t think that – well, first of all that’s sort of a new and strange term to me, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I also don’t think that same kind of aspersion would be cast toward someone who is teasing a heterosexual relationship, like the tension that builds between two male and female series regular characters on any given show that’s never consummated. I understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s a fair characterization either.
Misha Collins mentioned fanfic and Dean/Castiel slash at several conventions. At the Salute to Supernatural Vancouver 2009, he said he'd heard about "Dean/Castiel/Pie fic". At Collectormania London 2009, he said he'd read some slash fanfic but "stopped at the part where Cas choked... on someone's cock."
Salute to Supernatural Toronto 2011: When asked what had happened to Castiel's trench coat, Jared mimed Dean smelling and rubbing it all over himself. Jensen said, "He used it as a pillow — or as kindling. One of the two."
Ben Edlund: That's some weird shit.
Jensen: Is this something that you created, Ben?
Ben: You don't want any part of that.
Jim Beaver: It's... extreme bromance.
Ben: There's a lot of pictures of Dean in an angelic embrace - and that's being kind of gentle with it.
Misha: Oh that, love that. I mean (pointing to Jensen) you've got pictures like that of us, in an embrace, all over your bedroom.
Ben: Oh there's a van with that airbrushed on the side.
Jensen: Oh yeah it's my conversion van. It's just a nice airbrush on a pillow in the back, there's not much room. Oh and a wolf howling at the moon. It's cool, you'll like it.
As with Wincest, this pairing has been recognized in broader fandom — beyond fanfic authors and readers — including discussions on After Elton. In May 2011, Dean and Castiel won "TV's most romantic couple," beating out Kurt and Blaine from Glee in an online poll run by Spoiler TV. In September 2012, After Elton ran the reader-voted Ultimate Slash Madness Tourney, the final contestants were Destiel and Sterek (aka Derek and Stiles from MTV's Teen Wolf) and the competition was fierce. Misha himself even got in on encouraging the voting, tweeting:
- "This homonormative poll makes me sick! No one could seriously think that those Teen Wolf jerks are gayer than us."
At a fan meet and greet at Salute To Supernatural Chicago 2012 Misha said about Dean and Cas' love for each other, "You know, we know what it is, what’s going on. We don’t talk about it. The actors don’t, Jensen and I don’t. But we’re all perfectly aware of how the relationship is, the writers are completely aware of how it’s being written. It may be unspoken but that doesn’t mean it’s not there or not true."
Misha also delights in teasing (or even trolling!) fandom about Destiel. In September 2013, he "posted a video of him "shipping Destiel which consisted of him posting a type of sausage labelled "Diestiel."
In October 2013, WB Exec Chad Kennedy was tweeting with fans, and mentioned that there was no intention of having Dean and Castiel in a relationship, nor had it been pitched to him. Fan outrage in repsonse led Chad to later delete his Twitter. Director Guy Bee added fuel to the fire stating he couldn't see why fans were upset about something that didn't exist. This caused a lot of distress, and a fan tweeted a letter about how they felt to Misha. After getting informed of the context, Misha later simply tweeted: You're not crazy.
At Jus In Bello Italy 2014, Jensen talked about Dean and Castiel's relationship, remarking that he and Misha "don't play it like that" and that fans have been reading too much into the relationship. Watch it here.
At Salute to Supernatural Jacksonville 2017, a fan asked Jensen in the Gold panel, why, if Dean could have a crush "Dr Sexy M.D.", yet Destiel and his (Dean's) bisexuality weren't canon. In response, Jensen said "Destiel doesn't exist." Watch it here.
AtJus in Bello Italy 2019 Misha noted a fan wearing a "Destiel is real" t-shirt. As the crowd applauded, Jensen encouraged them and said "Destiel is real" followed by "It's real? Where is it real?" while Misha interjected "Don't get in a fight with them!" This exchange was variously taken as Jensen a) supporting Destiel and b) denouncing Destiel.
In June 2019, Stands launched a collection for Pride which included a rainbow design saying love, a bracelet charm for the character Charlie, a rainbow pride charm and a Destiel t-shirt. The Destiel shirt showed a cannon (aka canon) with rainbow coloured feathers shooting out of it. The accompanying text read "You’ve been patient and subtle about your desires for years, so we’re taking this matter into our own hands and making Destiel cannon! We’re not sure why you’re so into civil war re-enactments, but we have a feeling the Destiel Cannon shirt will be your OTP (one tee, perfect). It’s emblazoned with a cannon designed in the bluest blue to ever blue and sparkling green, so it’s sure to be right up your alley...The fabulous rainbow feathers are proof that the cannon will go off (but never prematurely)."
Many Destiel fans have been passionate in wanting the relationship to become canon. Some argue that the Show's failure to have a same-sex relationship between Dean and Castiel is indicative of the paucity of representation of non-heterosexual relationships on television, and accuse the Show of queer-baiting. This term refers to the concept that a TV show may intentionally imply a homo-erotic tension between two characters with no intention of thematically being queer, purely to attract or satisfy viewers, particularly queer ones.
See Meta Essays for further discussion on characters' sexuality
- Definition and history of Queer Baiting on Fanlore
- Supernatural Has a Queer Baiting Problem and it Needs to Stop on TV Guide
- MTV website Geek News re-posts a survey done by x-cetera on Tumblr about whether fans think Destiel will become canon.
- Dean and Castiel's Reunion and Queer-baiting on Spoiler TV.
- Supernatural fans take Show to task for queer baiting on The Advocate
- Interview: Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls, Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis on Sequential Tart
- Supernatural Needs to Admit Dean is Bisexual on Policy Mic
- Queerbaited: Homoeroticism & Homophobia in Supernatural in the Age of the Internet by Anna Campbell
- ‘Supernatural’: The Slowest Burn Or Biggest Queerbaiting? Time To Decide by Emma Dailey Mitchell
- Destiel Fanfic.com
- Profound Bond - website focusing on Dean/Castiel
- Best of Dean Winchester Quotes - collection of certainly funny and amazingly inspiring quotes
- Destiel Fanfics A blog dedicated to collecting, reviewing, and organising destiel fanfiction.
- A guide to Destiel blogs on Tumblr by mishas-assbutts
- DestielFanfic Fanfic Review and Organization Blog
- deancastiel LJ comm for Dean/Castiel fic
- newsletter for Dean/Castiel fanworks on LJ
- Redemption Road - a fanfic/art project creatign a cirtual Supernatural season focussing on Destiel
- Park Bench Anthology - a Dean/Castiel fic anthology
- Because God commanded it:a Dean/Castiel ship manifesto
- Dean/Castiel fic rec list
- Dean-Cas Radio a podbook community
- Secret Angel Fic Exchange held in 2009
- Dean Castiel Secret Santa Fic Exchange
- Rock Salt And Feathers Fan fiction archive for the pairing Dean/Castiel
- Destiel Ebooks archive for PDF/ebook versions of Dean/Castiel fics
- Dean/Castiel fics tagged through the Supernatural Fic Link Archive
- Dean and Castiel's chemistry discussed on AfterElton
- More Dean and Castiel appreciation on AfterElton
- Collection of quotes by Misha about fanfic by strangepicturesofmishacollins
- Swing_set13's Epic Dean/Castiel AU Fic List a listing of all the Dean/Castiel AU fics, including genderswap and Croatoan universes
- Dean/Cas fic review blog
- Best Relationship Involving a Heavenly Being: Dean and Castiel in Supernatural
- TV Romance Competition - The winner announced: Dean and Castiel in Supernatural
- Most Crushworthy 'Ship Tumblr Sails: Dean and Castiel by Zap2it
- The ABCs of Destiel by By Hayley Igarashi
- Dean and Castiel win Zimbios Top TV Couple Competition
- Interview: Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls, Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis on Sequential Tart
- Tumblr ranked Destiel as the most reblogged ship of 2014
- Destiel - a documentary exploring the appeal and power of the Destiel ship.
- Supernatural and BiSexual Erasure by BiTch Flicks
- Did ‘Supernatural’ just give fans the queer romance they’ve been hoping for? by the Daily Dot
- On Queerbaiting and Misha’s Comments at NJCon by Fanlore
- Destiel is canon meta
- Best TV Ships of 2018 in Cosmopolitan