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.
The Crypt Scene and a deleted "I love you" are also seen as signs of the writers intent, and possibly Jensen's resistance to the romance.
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."
Castiel's Love Confession
Castiel: I know. I know how you see yourself, Dean. You see yourself the same way our enemies see you. You're destructive and you're angry and you're broken. You're -- You're "Daddy's Blunt Instrument." And you think that hate and anger that's -- that's what drives you. That's who you are. It's not. And everyone who knows you sees it. Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad you have done for love. You raised your little brother for love. You fought for this whole world for love. That is who you are. You're the most caring man on Earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know. You know, ever since we met, ever since I pulled you out of Hell, knowing you has changed me. Because you cared, I cared. I cared about you. I cared about Sam. I cared about Jack. I cared about the whole world because of you. You changed me, Dean.
Dean: Why does this sound like a goodbye?Castiel: Goodbye, Dean.
Castiel: Because it is. I love you.
Dean: Don't do this, Cas. Cas.
In 14.08 Byzantium Jack dies and goes to heaven, but the cosmic entity that inhabits The Empty claims him as he is half-angel. Castiel offers himself up in Jack's stead, agreeing to go with the Entity back to the Empty. The Entity agrees, but tells Castiel it won't be right away. It wants to wait for the day Castiel allows himself to be truly happy, and on that day, the Entity will come and drag him back into the Empty. Castiel accepts the deal and Jack is saved.
Over a year later, Castiel and Dean face off against Death in 15.18 Despair. She gets the upper hand, and they are trapped seemingly with no escape or way of defeating her. Knowing that the entity from the Empty also wants to defeat Death, Castiel then tells Dean of his deal. He reflects that he often thought about what it would be that would make him "truly happy".
- "I always wondered since I took that burden, that curse, what it could be. What my true happiness could even look like. I never found an answer. Because the one thing I want...it's something I know I can't have. But I think I know...I think I know now...Happiness isn't in the having. It's in just being...it's in just saying it."
Castiel goes on to tell Dean that he is a selfless and loving and caring human, and that knowing him has changed Cas, has allowed him to care about people and humanity. He concludes with stating "I love you." At this Death breaks down the door, but a portal opens the Entity is able to take Castiel, and Death along with him.
The reaction of the fandom was immense. On Twitter, even in the midst of the third day of vote counting for the US election of 2020, Supernatural, Destiel and #DestielisCanon trended on Twitter. At the same time The Daily Mail and The NY Post published an unconfirmed story that Vladimir Putin was going to step down and #Putin started trending. Somehow the algorithm linked these two events on the list of trending topics, leading to many people confused about the connection!
As always with fandom, the reaction was also complex. Destiel fans were thrilled at Castiel's declaration of love, and saw it as a vindication of their support of the ship over nearly twelve years, often in the face of both denial and hostile opposition. Misha notably went back and "liked" a tweet he had made in October 2013, when he told fans: You're not crazy. for believing in Destiel. (see below for the full story).
At the same time, some fans were perturbed that Dean did not reciprocate the feelings, as this implied Castiel's love had been unrequited for all these years. Many were also upset that following the declaration, Castiel was pulled into the Empty which is where angels go when they die. The scene was felt to be an example of the "Bury Your Gays" narrative trope, in particular the version known as "Out of the Closet, Into the Fire" where a character who declares their sexuality is soon after harmed or dies.
Of course, there were many fans who had a different interpretation of the scene, and saw it as Castiel declaring his platonic love and being happy he could make this sacrifice for Dean. So fans are kind of freaking out over that. And to complicate matters, he dies right after that.
There were also the fans who had long opposed both the ship and even the character of Castiel, who tweeted comments with tags such as #Deadstiel and #Castielisoverparty, and attacked members of the cast who had tweeted with the #Destiel, such as Ruth Connell who were just happy to see the fandom trending.
Seven members of the SPN cast attended Darklight Online Con 2020 the weekend after 15.18 Despair aired, including Misha Collins. He discussed the confession scene (and its controversy amongst fans) while explaining to the other cast members who may not have seen the episode yet:
- "Castiel tells Dean he loves him and basically makes Destiel canon. So Castiel makes this homosexual declaration of love which is, you know, amazing that that happens, and then he dies right afterwards, which plays into a timeless Hollywood trope of 'kill the gays,' which also then pisses off- Like we give, and then we take away." Mark Sheppard added: "one way or another the election will take of itself, but my god Destiel is forever!
- "I've seen some people complaining about this is playing into the "bury the gays trope" which is an insidious and real trope in film and television, and I don't think that that is what's happening, and I don't think that's what happened with Castiel's ending. First of all he's not dead, he's in Heaven and working to rebuild that Heaven. But also so much good came from that declaration. Because Cas was able to save Dean, by the transitive property, that was essential for saving the world. That declaration ended up literally saving the world. And also it was of Cas' own volition, he wasn't forced to do it, that was his choice and I think that's important too. Maybe I'm naïve but I don't think we're playing into that trope and I'm glad Castiel got to express that. I think that's kind of important. I'm proud that the show did that, frankly." Misha also went on to add that, while he did not wish to speak for Jensen or the character of Dean, he chose to play the scene as if Dean did not share the same feelings."
Jensen would reportedly state at a virtual meet and greet as part of the same event that he did not wish to "over-define" the scene, saying that he was not sure that Castiel as an angel could feel love in the same way as a human, believing the "I love you" could have a multitude of meanings, including "brother in arms".
Misha also said that he knew the confession was coming for more than a year, that Jensen knew about it for three months, and that Jensen had agreed to it. Richard Speight Jr, the director of this episode, said that he, Misha, Jensen, and other crew filmed the confession scene last because of the weight of it. After filming finished Misha, Jensen, Richard and Alex Calvert had boarded a chartered plane to head to Salute to Supernatural Las Vegas 2020. Ten minutes into the flight, one of its engines explode, and they had to turn back to Vancouver. For a few moments they were all afraid they might crash, so it all made for a very emotional night. Misha also told this story, and how he felt filming that last scene, in a CW spot posted to Twitter.
In the Latin American dub of this episode, Castiel uses the specifically romantic version of "I love you," with "Te amo." Fans were shocked to hear Dean respond, "Yo a ti, Cas," which is the romantic version of "Me too, Cas" though the English subtitles remained, "Don't do this, Cas." The episode is also titled "La Verdad" (The Truth), not "Despair." In the fan uproar to this revelation, Tumblr was overloaded and briefly went down while #TheySilencedYou trended #1 on Twitter in the U.S. as fans encouraged each other to boycott The CW for presumed censorship of the English version of the show, while "YO A TI CAS" and "DEANCAS" trended internationally. It was later revealed in a December 2020 interview with Dean's Latin American voice actor, Guillermo Rojas, that the changes were made by the dubs director. During an interview for WonderCon@Home 2021, the LATAM voice actor for Castiel, Alejandro Mayen, stated when asked about Castiel's goodbye to Dean, that he believed that the "I love you" was fraternal, and didn't believe that the show was ever hinting at anything romantic between Dean and Castiel.
On the opposite spectrum, in the official Italian dub 15.18 Despair, Castiel uses the non-romantic form of "I love you" with "ti voglio bene". This goes against the original intention of the writer of the episode, Robert Berens and Misha Collins, according to interviews Misha has given on the subject throughout 2020 and 2021 in which he states that he and Berens fought to have Castiel's romantic love for Dean be included in the final season. After the Italian dub aired, Misha tweeted a video of himself saying "ti amo", the romantic form of "I love you" in Italian, along with the caption, "Love is love in any language."
An anonymous crew member posted photos of the script confirming it read "Dean can't reciprocate." Other sources confirmed that there was never any scripted response from Dean, although Jensen ad-libbed "don't do this" during filming. The people involved with the Latin American dub also confirmed that there was no reciprocation from Dean in the script.
Misha Collins went on to post video to his Twitter to put the record straight that there was never any planned, scripted, or filmed reciprocation from Dean in this episode. Fans continued to propose various conspiracy theories that either the line was in an earlier version of the script, that it was in the filmed version of the script but edited out, or even that it was added later in ADR and then edited out.
Fans started a number of fundraising campaigns including:
- The Trevor project in honor of Castiel. This raised over $55k which Misha acknowledged in a tweet saying "This was ALL you. Never underestimate your power. Proud of you all."
- The National Association of Mental Illness for Dean
- Together We Rise in honor of Sam
- Random Acts for Jack
- National Association for the Deaf in honor of Eileen
On 25th November 2020, Misha tweeted:
- I’m seeing a lot of commentary on the ending of #SPN & the recent Spanish dub & am disheartened to see there are a lot of misconceptions that are making many in our family feel unheard & unsupported, so I’m calling a #SPNFamily meeting to sort a few things out for the record [https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/# There was no conspiracy within the network, staff, or cast of #SPN to minimize or erase representation from the narrative & there was no alternate ending to 15.18. Dean was always too stunned in the moment to reply. (Apparently a rogue translator penned their own dialogue.)
- Also, in my opinion Cas doesn't play into the "bury your gays" trope. His declaration of love saves Dean, enabling Sam & Dean to save all of humanity. And Cas doesn’t die! He actually goes on to rebuild heaven!
- Was the show perfect? No. Could Cas’ departure have had more resonance in the final episodes? Sure. But I’m confident you guys can sort that part out as your writing, art, and imaginations play the story out past the last frames we filmed.
- I’m proud to have spent more than a decade of my life telling a story where good consistently triumphs over evil...And I’m especially proud that my character’s parting message was, “expressing your true self, letting yourself love who you truly want to love, openly & honestly, can literally save the world… For in the end, good things do happen — & they’re worth fighting for.” I love you all.
Many fans responded forcefully to Misha's tweet, feeling he had not heard their concerns. In response, Misha responded:
- I'm sorry if I spoke defensively. I naively thought Cas in 15.18 was going to feel validating. But this isn't about me. I'm going to shut up and listen for a change. If it's not too much to ask, please tell me what we could have done better.
- I see lots of comments about how tone-deaf my video is. I agree and I feel sick. I want to delete it, but I think that will erase all of your important comments & I feel like I should own my ignorance. I've been wrestling with this all night & day. Don't know what to do. Sorry.
In 2021, Misha did a panel at Momento Con in which he answers fans's questions and discusses, among other things, Castiel's confession and canon Destiel. He says, "I first started talking with Berens, the writer of that episode, more than a year before we shot it: about the substance and content of that last scene. So it was at least a year, when it was very much at the forefront of my mind. But I think interestingly, latently, that it was there for a long time. [...] I think that Cas, like myself, like the producers and writers of the show, like many of the fandom, were in denial. So I think it was a really long time when all of us thought "maybe, and maybe not, we don't know." And we were kind of leaving it open to interpretation. But also, I have to say, I didn't believe the show would ever have the guts to go there. So I was, in my own mind, making allowances for the possibility that we wouldn't quite go there. [...] It's an interesting question because it's not something one person can decide, right? There are 140 people who work on a show, and there are ten important creative voices in the show who really decide the direction of the show, collectively, where these big decisions get made, and I never knew for sure where it was gonna go. So I think it was there but it was latent for a long time, and I think that that's also just fine. Cas was in denial, and so was everyone else."
Misha goes on to say, "I remember eleven years ago, my first convention, getting up on stage and someone asking a question about Destiel, which was a very recent phenomenon at that point. And I remember answering it, and I remember everyone being like, "What is happening?!" Like the whole audience suddenly went into slow motion, "Stop it!" Like I was crossing this line. And it's so interesting to observe now, a decade on, where everyone is like, "So yeah, what's the deal? How long have those guys wanted to fuck each other?" And I do think that that's an interesting evolution of both this little subculture but also the subculture at large, where it just suddenly became, "It's okay. We can talk about these things." They literally used to have at conventions a little list of things that people weren't allowed to talk about, and one of them was that question ["When do you think Castiel first realized his feelings for Dean?"] that you just asked me."
Later during the same panel, Misha discussed Dean's reaction to Castiel's confession. "I think Dean not rejecting [Castiel's confession] was also huge, and also profound, and also important. [...] Dean never reciprocated, and a lot of the other characters moved on in the last episodes, but I think the fact that... I think Dean showed love in his eyes. And I think the fact that he didn't say, "Fuck off," given the character of that show, was actually really profound. At least it was to me. [...] I was so grateful that we were able to go as far as we did, and I was grateful that Cas was able to express himself like that."
At the gold panel for Jared and Jensen at the first in person Supernatural convention on October 15-17 in Denver, Jensen was asked when he knew Castiel had romantic feeling for Dean. He initially responded that Dean didn't know Castiel's feelings, that he never played Dean that way and that the use of "romantic" was not accurate. After asking Jensen if he could chime in, Jared proceeded to explain that telling someone you love them does not need to equate romance or lust in the individual, comparing that Sam and Dean love each other, but Supernatural was not a show about incest or heterosexuality or non-binary romance, concluding that the point of the scene was that you can love whomever you want. Jensen would then go on to reiterate an earlier statement that Cas as an angel doesn't understand the concept of love on the human emotional level, and that Castiel's love is something that cannot be identified by humans.
At the same convention, Misha was once again asked about the scene, while he told the crowd that he knows how he played the scene, for the viewers it was meant to be open for interpretation.
At Salute to Supernatural Vancouver 2022 Jensen further reiterated that Dean did not have romantic feelings for Castiel, saying that Dean saw Castiel as a family member and losing him was like losing a brother.
- "Great. You mean what would he have responded to in that moment had he had the time? That’s interesting because I have an answer for that, and I had an answer for that in the next setup, camera setup after Castiel was taken and Dean’s on the floor and puts his, I put my head in my hands. In that moment I did that not because I just lost, well because I lost Cass but also because I didn’t say anything, I didn’t give him anything. And what I had in my head was I should have said, ‘I love you, too’ and hugged him. And I know that some, y'know, people out there that might try to sexualize that in a way, and it doesn’t have to be that. There was two … two sentient beings, essentially, and I don’t know if you can consider an angel - but what was in front of me? Was a family member and someone that was a brother in arms and someone that Dean truly loved, much like Sam. And so losing - I mean essentially he lost his brother, in that moment. And that’s how I think - that’s how I played it from Dean’s perspective. So yeah, there you go. Thank you."
Articles on the episode:
- Destiel (Sort Of) Became Canon And "Supernatural" Fans Are Shaking by Buzzfeed News
- Supernatural actually made Destiel canon(ish) by Polygon
- 'Supernatural' fans are making 'Destiel' memes after the latest episode appears to confirm a long-awaited romance by Insider
- Wait, Did Supernatural Just Confirm ‘Destiel’ Is for Real? by Vulture
- "Supernatural" Finally Gave Fans What They Wanted, But at What Cost? by Seventeen
- Exhausted Homosexual responds to Destiel by Rowan Ellis
- Supernatural's Legacy: The Trauma of Silence by Deirdre T
- The Supernatural Finale Aired, And Tumblr Exploded by Sarah Z
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 were sometimes called Destielers. Pejorative terms for the fans included Dessies and Destihellers. Over time the latter was reclaimed and by 2019 "Hellers" was used by many Destiel fans to describe themselves. The colors Blue and Green- references to the characters eye colour, are the official fandom colours, and many fans identify them selves using blue and green hearts for example on Twitter in their handle.
Overtime, as the shipping wars with Bronly fans intensified, and 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 fetishizing 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.
In the end, Destiel remained the most popular name for the ship.
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.
- Dean/Castiel fic on Archive of Our Own.
- Destiel Fanfics A blog dedicated to collecting, reviewing, and organizing destiel fanfiction.
- deancastiel LJ comm for Dean/Castiel fic
- newsletter for Dean/Castiel fanworks on LJ
- Redemption Road - a fanfic/art project creating a virtual Supernatural season focusing on Destiel
- Park Bench Anthology - a Dean/Castiel fic anthology
- Dean-Cas Radio a podbook community
- Secret Angel Fic Exchange held in 2009
- Dean Castiel Secret Santa Fic Exchange
- Dean/Castiel fics tagged through the Supernatural Fic Link Archive
- Collection of quotes by Misha about fanfic by strangepicturesofmishacollins
Destiel outside the Show
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 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 "Diestel."
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 response 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 colored 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)."
In November 2020, following the airing of 15.18 Despair, Stands launched their holiday range which included "for love" Destiel themed items.
The emergence of Dean/Castiel as a popular 'ship in 2009, resulted in ongoing skirmishes and battles between supporters of Destiel and Wincest over whether the relationships are supported by canon, which is the most popular and which one is the true OTP in a classic example of Shipping wars.
- See also Destihellers
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.
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.
Many fans saw Castiel's declaration of love in 15.18 Despair as confirmation that the show had been queerbaiting fans - assuming the writers viewed the relationship as, at least on Castiel's side, romantic all along.
See Meta Essays for further discussion on characters' sexuality
- Making a Federal Case of Dean's Sexuality by orintwos (February 2013); archive link
- Dear "Slash" Fandom by effingdeixis [thequixoticbedhead] on Fanlore (May 2013)
- Romano, Aja. 2013. How One Question Triggered a Supernatural Meltdown. The Daily Dot, May 6; archive link
- On Queerbaiting and Misha's Comments at NJCon by t-eyla (June 2013)
- Supernatural and Queer Love: Destiel, Queer Baiting, and Homophobia by thescarletwoman (July 2013); archive link
- Veronika K. 2013. "Supernatural -- 9.07 -- Dean and Castiel's Reunion and Queer-Baiting." SpoilerTV, September 20. archive link
- Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia. 2013. Did Supernatural Just Give Fans the Queer Romance They've Been Hoping For? The Daily Dot, October 15; archive link
- Chau, Osric. 2013. Twitlonger, 23 October, http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rqa58i
- Romano, Aja. 2013. WB executive deletes Twitter account after angering 'Supernatural' fans. The Daily Dot, October 24; archive link
- Regarding Chad Kennedy by The Fandom (de)Bunker (October 2013); archive link
- Cruz, Eliel. 2014. Fans take Supernatural to task for "Queer Baiting." Advocate, July 17. archive link
- Destiel: One of the Most Effective Queerbaits in TV History by snuggydeamon (June 2014); archive link
- Gennis, Sadie. 2014. "Supernatural Has a Queerbaiting Problem That Needs to Stop." TV Guide, November 17. archive link
- "Mirror, mirror, on the wall..." by neven-ebrez (January 2015); archive link
- Aparicio, Rachel. 2015. Supernatural Needs to Pull the Trigger on Destiel or Castiel (And They Need to Do It Now). The Daily Fandom, March 20; archive link
- Limiting a character to being one half of a ship is really fucking gross by pathsofpassion, destieldrabblesdaily (March 2015); archive link
- Making Cas the Scapegoat of Destiel is Reductive (Untitled) by anon, bittercasgirl (March 2015); archive link
- Supernatural + Polysemy (Untitled) by rainbofiction, f-ckyeahfutbol, fireintheimpala, impostoradult (March 2015); archive link
- Kelly, Geneva. 2015. Fans vs fiction: Queerbaiting in "Supernatural"? Biscuit, March 6; archive link
- Campbell, Anna. 2016. Queerbaited: Homoeroticism & Homophobia in Supernatural in the Age of the Internet. Medium, February 20; archive link
- Queerbaiting and the blame ping-pong ball by chili-legilimens (March 2019); archive link
- Hale, Lyra. 2020. Queerly Not Straight: We Need to Talk About #Destiel. Fangirlish, January 21; archive link
Meta and Ship Manifestos
- Because God Commanded It: Dean/Castiel by vichan (February 2009); archive link, page 1, archive link, page 2, reposted by k-vichan on her tumblr (April 2017), archive link
- Commentary from July 2016 by mittensmorgul, k-vichan, flyingfish; archive link
- dean/castiel picspam (4x22 lucifer rising) + meta by shrinkingsiren (May 2009); archive link
- Dean and Castiel meta and picspam thing, with some stuff about denial by dotfic (September 2009); archive link
- Meta on Castiel in 6x21 and 6x22: you fight and fight for this family by dotfic (May 2011); archive link
- Why Cas is Dean's perfect match by missyjack (May 2011); archive link
- SPN meta: The Lack of Unconditional Love by vasiliki (June 2011); archive link
- Response - Dean is Bisexual: But Does He Know It? (cap heavy) by pinkandsatiny, more by livinghales & pinkandsatiny (June 2011); archive link, archive link
- destiel thesis/dean's sexuality by eroscestlavie (October 2011); archive link
- Destiel and Dean's bisexuality explained by boondocksisters (December 2011); archive link
- The secret relationship theory by pinkandsatiny (April 2012); archive link
- Why are their scenes shot in such a romantic manner? by dirtyovercoats (June 2012); archive link
- making it up as we go: a dean/cas manifesto by dirtyovercoats (August 2012); archive link
- Why I Ship Dean/Castiel–After Swearing to God I Wouldn't by alexanrapelaez (August 2012); archive link
- Castiel and Sexual Desire by vhanstiel, ladyofthesilent (September 2012); archive link OP, archive link w/commentary
- Shipping, Othering, and Heteronormativity by sharbi (October 2012); archive link
- Dean and Cas Purgatory reunion by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- On Dean Winchester’s Bisexuality and Growing Preference for Men by katnisstiel (November 2012); archive link
- Supernatural and Queer(ed) Canon by rootsunknown (November 2012); archive link
- Destiel & pro-canon Destiel shipping meta masterpost by silvenhorror (December 2012); archive link
- 5:04 Future!Dean and Cas are Lovers and the Whole Camp Knows It by lurea (October 2012)
- 5:04 End!Verse Characterization - Dean and Cas (January 2013); archive link
- dean/cas, queerness, and continuity by rootsunknown (January 2013; archive link
- Cognitive Dissonance and Dean Winchester by scottinpanties (January 2013); archive link
- So, “LARP and the real girl”, huh? /Silven!review of 8x11 by silvenhorror (January 2013); archive link
- On the parallels of 8x11 by katnisstiel (January 2013); archive link
- 8.10/8.11: parallels (Gilda & Cas) by pondlifeforme (January 2013); archive link
- I want your sex: the angel edition (2013) by nekosmuse (February 2013); archive link
- I can't get over Dean praying to Cas as the cliffhanger… by butterflydm (February 2013); archive link
- Why’d They Have to Do That to Artemis by scarlettablack (February 2013); archive link
- Artemis: The Perfect Dean/Cas Parallel by twistedsardonic (February 2013); archive link
- Why I think parallels are meaningful in Supernatural (8x16) by butterflydm (March 2013); archive link
- The Supernatural Lover: Fairy Tale Archetypes and Destiel by outpastthemoat (March 2013); archive link
- Let’s Talk About Music: Goodbye Stranger by spn-rants (March 2013); archive link
- 8x18: Dean's "Feelings" Conversation And the Audience Getting Some Explicit Answers by spn-rants (March 2013); archive link
- Dean/Cas and Charlie/Gilda: post-8x17 parallel revamp by silvenhorror (April 2013); archive link
- An Argument in Tropes – A Destiel Meta (Part One) (Part 2) by octoswan (April 2013); archive link 1, archive link 2
- Casual Viewers noticing Destiel by silvenhorror (April 2013)
- The Great Season 7 Rewatch by flutiebear (Sepember 2012 - April 2013)
- (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6) (Part 6.5) (Part 7) (Part 8.1) (Part 8.2) (Part 8.3) (Part 8.4) (Part 8 coda) (Part 9)
- Author's note, April 2014: For many reasons, I am no longer in the Supernatural fandom, and I will never finish this meta series. While I leave the GS7R up for posterity's sake (and because I worked too hard on it to take it down), you probably shouldn't bother following me for more SPN meta, because it won't be coming. Ever.
- Supernatural and the Love Narrative: A Non-Shipper’s Perspective on Destiel by sarasarai (April 2013)
- Season 8 had so many Human/Supernatural relationship parallels for Dean and Cas by mischievous-mouse (May 2013); archive link
- Hey, Cupid by obsessionisaperfume (May 2013); archive link
- Sexualized Saturdays: On Shipping Questions and Questionable Ships by ladygeekgirl (May 2013)
- Dean and Castiel and homophobia by cupidsbow (May 2013); archive link
- Bless SPN for this scene by twistedsardonic (May 2013); archive link
- Will they, won’t they: Fandom, please stop confusing PUBLIC RELATIONS and SHOWRUNNING by silvenhorror (May 2013); archive link
- On the Nature of the Profound Bond by defilerwyrm (June 2013); archive link
- The Romance Narrative v. The Bromance Narrative: When slash ships transcend crack ships by heaven-is-my-hell (June 2013); archive link
- What you gonna do with all that junk, or It's really not all about the gay thing by silvenhorror (September 2013); archive link
- Who Do You Love? Destiel of course! by twistedsardonic (October 2013); archive link
- The Meaning Behind the Laundromat Song by charlie-minion (October 2013); archive link
- The Laundromat Song (Follow-up) by charlie-minion (October 2013); archive link
- Regarding Chad Kennedy by The Fandom (de)Bunker (October 2013); archive link
- Masculinity and the killing of Destiel by supernatural-meta (November 2013); archive link
- Masculinity and the killing of Destiel: Part 2 by supernatural-meta (January 2014); archive link
- fill in the blank by dubiousculturalartifact (January 2014); archive link
- Extended Cain & Dean Parallels by pondlifeforme (January 2014); archive link
- Parallels - Dean/Cain, Sam/Abel & Castiel/Collette by queernatural (January 2014); archive link
- Destiel between Hiatuses, or A Look At What These Four Episodes Have Been Telling Us And Why We Can Be Very Optimistic Right Now by proxy-1 (February 2014); archive link
- Cas-sexual -- On Castiel's Hypothetical Orientation by defilerwyrm (February 2014); archive link
- Bedroom Meta: Setting the Scene for Dean's Romantic Endgame by thevioletcaptain (February 2014); archive link
- Season 9: How it has established that Dean Winchester’s endgame includes a love interest, and what that means for Dean and Cas by crossroadscastiel (March 2014); archive link
- Canon Queer: Deconstructing Destiel Theory by honestbrooklyndirt (March 2014); archive link
- The Weight of the World Is Love by thevioletcaptain (April 2014); archive link; mirror link
- Narrative Negative Space: How What's Not There Says as Much as What Is by s-cornelius (April 2014); archive link
- When Structure Informs Subtext Or, why I think Destiel is going to happen (and it's not just because of actor chemistry) by deathbycoldopen (April 2014); archive link
- The Divine Reviews Collection by neven-ebrez (Oct 2013 - Aug 2014); archive link
- Draped in the Flag of Heaven, All for One Man: Castiel's Creed amagicbeyond (August 2014); archive link
- The Rule of Three in "Heaven Can't Wait" by obsessionisaperfume (September 2014); archive link
- Summary of Destiel + POV by elizabethrobertajones (November 2014); archive link (updated September 2017, archive link)
- "The Charlie Kaufman Of It All": The Relevance for Canon Destiel of Robbie Thompson's References to Kaufman's "Adaptation" by filleretive (December 2014); archive link
- I don't do the whole love and…love: A look into Dean and Cas’ sexualities and how they define love by angelswatchingover (February 2015); archive link
- Queerness, Tropes & Proof Of Love: Why Destiel Is Canon by fozmeadows (April 2015); archive link
- The Three Day Deancasversary by mittensmorgul (September 2015)
- Destiel is canon by Anloquen (December 2015)
- The Chitters and compulsory heterosexuality by deathbycoldopen (April 2016); archive link
- When Reality Mimics Art by messier51 (April 2016); archive link
- Anonymous asked: Hello! 'all the episode did in general was tick yet another (possibly the last) item off of the long list of 'obstacles in the way of actual canon Destiel' can I ask what you meant by that, and what the other boxes are or were? thank you! by destieldrabblesdaily (April 2016); archive link
- SPN 11x23: They think they’re family by charlie-minion (June 2016); archive link
- Dean. Made Cas. A fucking mixtape. by k-vichan (April 2017); archive link
- I'm throwing something in the pile of "romantic tropes/couples Destiel parallels." by trisscar368 (January 2017); archive link
- Why the SPN mixtape scene from 12x19 is screenwriting gold, and should be taught to the next generations of screenwriters everywhere - analysis by margarittet (May 2017); archive link
- The mixtape and Dean’s love languages by starsinursa (June 2017); archive link
- Deans top 13 Zepp TRA XX by deanandcastrash, neven-ebrez (June 2017, August 2017); archive link
- It’s never too late to start over again by k-vichan (November 2017); archive link
- Singular vs Plural “You” by charlie-minion (January 2018); archive link
- Dean And Cas Are In Love “A hopefully one day conclusive study of these assholes, hopefully told as briefly as I can. Written for the people in the fandom who care but sometimes need a pick me up on this, and not written to prove a point to anyone who doesn’t already care. <3″ by lizbobjones (January 2018 --)
- seeing subtext by elizabethrobertajones (April 2018); archive link
- Meta Monday: Supernatural - Castiel/Dean by fangirlunderground (April 2018); archive link
- This Is the Song That Never Ends by sisabet (July 2018)
- Dean and Cas and their issues... by mittensmorgul, "A collection of as much of my meta on Castiel, Dean, and their relationship as I can possibly cram onto AO3 before tumblr implodes." (December 2018)
- Slash and Canon: Do you ever just think about how much slash (and femslash) fandom has changed the last ~10 years? by comradegrantaire (December 2018); archive link
- An Angel, and Lucifer’s Kid? Queer-Coding and Dean’s "Found Family" in 14x13 Lebanon by drsilverfish (February 2019); archive link
- Destiel - The Intimacy of Touch and Holding Hands by bluestar86 (December 2019); archive link
- Understanding the Closet in Narrative - Healing Hands/ Holding Hands in 15x08 Our Father Who Aren't in Heaven by drsilverfish (December 2019); archive link
- Hale, Lyra. 2020. 'Supernatural' 15×09 Review: "The Trap." Fangirlish. January 17; archive link
- Any time the subject of sex is brought up around Cas, Dean gets very flustered (Untitled) by norahastuff (March 2020); archive link
- Hartinger, Brent. 2009. Ask the Flying Monkey! (Dean and Castiel's chemistry discussed). AfterElton, October 19; archive link
- BuddyTV. 2010. Love Is All Around: Best TV Relationships of 2010; archive link
- The Adam Harris. 2011. TV Romance Competition - The winner announced: Dean and Castiel in Supernatural. SpoilerTV, May 24; archive link
- Zap2it. 2013. Most Crushworthy 'Ship Tumblr Sails: Dean and Castiel, February 27; archive link
- Ayers, Dennis. 2013. And the 2013 Ultimate Slash Madness Winner Is… The Backlot, August 18; archive link
- Igarashi, Hayley. 2014. The ABCs of Destiel, TV's Most Apocalyptic Fandom Romance? Zimbio, March 24; archive link
- Slattery, Jill. 2014. Dean and Castiel win Zimbios Top TV Couple Competition. Zimbio, March 28; archive link
- Tumblr ranked Destiel as the most reblogged ship of 2014
- Romano, Aja. 2014. 'Supernatural' pairing takes the crown as Tumblr's most popular ship. The Daily Dot, December 3; archive link
- Mainstream Media Destiel Exposure 2014-2015 by clusterjam (April 2015, last updated December 2015); archive link
- Murphy, Shaunna. 2015. Here's Why Destiel is Your Best TV Couple of the Year: It's Canon. MTV News, January 8; archive link
- Steiner, Amanda Michelle. 2015. Supernatural: Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins on a boat after Teen Choice Best Chemistry win. Entertainment Weekly, August 17; archive link
- Mainstream Media Destiel Exposure 2016 by clusterjam (January 2016, last updated December 2016); archive link
- Mainstream Media Destiel Exposure 2017 by clusterjam (February 2017, last updated December 2017); archive link
- Tannenbaum, Emily. 2018. The Definitive Ranking of the Best TV Ships of 2018? Cosmopolitan, November 19; archive link
- Stands Destiel Tee and note to #SPNFamily by Shirts (June 2019)