If you could ask Castiel one question, what would it be?
Misha Collins: What question would I ask the character I play? That's like being in a box of mirrors. With a unicorn. And a pony.
A meta reference, also called a meta-fiction technique or meta-fictive device, in a TV show occurs the show, or a character, demonstrates they are aware of their own fictional nature.
Supernatural is a show about stories. Urban legends, folklore, religion are society’s stories, most particularly America’s stories. There are personal narratives: the tales families and individuals tell about themselves and their relationships. Including the story telling of pop culture – be it movies, TV the internet or fan fiction – fits perfectly into this. Supernatural takes this commentary one step further, by commenting on itself as a story.
The very first subtle meta nods occurred in the 1.01 Pilot when Dean introduces himself and Sam using the aliases Agents Mulder and Scully – a nod to the Show’s TV ancestry in the X-Files.
Dean is established as a horror movie fan, so the Show gets to reference its genre influences. The Shining in particular is oft-quoted, and visually referenced as well in 2.11 Playthings.
1.17 Hell House was the first episode to start playing meta seriously as we meet the Ghostfacers – the TV version of hunters dropping Buffy references, with an internet fan following that can literally bring the tales they read to life.
In Season 2, it was 2.18 Hollywood Babylon that started kicking hard at the Fourth Wall in an episode about movie making by writer Ben Edlund. The episode centres around a stolen script for a horror movie: Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning. The episode incorporated actual notes from the network that Kripke had received for Supernatural, pokes fun at Kripke’s movie Boogeyman, as well as using incorporated images from Supernatural episodes into movie posters. To top it off the movie producer in the episode is McG – and the real McG (Supernatural’s producer) appears in a crowd scene, as do many of the Supernatural crew.
Season 3 was interrupted by the Writers Guild of America Strike which began at the end of 2007 and ran until February 2008. 3.13 Ghostfacers was the first episode written and filmed after the strike ended. Presented as a low budget, unscripted show, it is the type of programming that was predicted to replace scripted dramas like Supernatural if the strike had continued.
4.18 The Monster at the End of This Book marks the episode where Supernatural decided fourth walls were redundant as Sam and Dean discover a series of books - named after episodes of the Show – that are based on their life. The author of the books is Chuck Shurley – an avatar for Eric Kripke. Both the writers, and for the first time the fandom of the TV Show, are sent up. At Comic Con 2009 Kripke said he has a "tempestuous, loving, conflicting" relationship with the online Supernatural fan community, and that the meta episode "The Monster at the End of This Book" gave him a chance to lovingly make fun of them. Source. Supernatural fan – Becky – appears in 5.01 Sympathy for the Devil and later puts on a Convention in 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters.
Becky is surely the first time a Slash writing fan character has appeared in the TV show she is writing about. In 5.01 Sympathy for the Devil, she is writing a Wincest fic (which you can read here). This means that the show's writers composed fanfic about their own show, which then appeared in the show. Very meta! Of course in 7.08 Season Seven, Time for a Wedding! fandom kidnaps canon when she doses Sam with a love potion.
In a more general meta vein Changing Channels threw Sam and Dean into a TV world, where the Show got a chance to poke fun at TV Shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and CSI:Miami.
In 6.15 The French Mistake, the show razed the Fourth Wall and replaced it with a crazy funhouse mirror, when Sam and Dean end up in an alternate reality - the one of the TV show Supernatural, where everyone thinks they are Jared and Jensen.
The following is a list of direct meta references in Supernatural i.e. references to the Show or its fandom.
The location of this episode, Richardson, Texas, is Jensen Ackles' home town.
In the beginning the boys are on a tour of the Warner Brothers lot. The tour guide says that they are passing the place where Gilmore Girls
is filmed, and if they're lucky they might get to see one of the stars. Jared Padalecki had a recurring role on Gilmore Girls, as Dean Forester
. At this point, Sam looks uncomfortable and quickly leaves the tour bus.
Sam's line "Does this feel like swimming weather to you? It's practically Canadian" may be a reference to the fact that while the scene occurs in California, the filming of the episode really took place in Canada.
is the producer of Supernatural
as well as the producer in the episode. The real McG can be seen standing behind Sam and Dean in the scene where the crew is listening to faux McG.
Kripke, who has said that the show and he himself are able to laugh about themselves, throws in a little side blow at a past project of his. When Dean goes to talk to Tara, he says he loved her in Boogeyman
and she says it had a terrible script. Boogeyman was written by Eric Kripke and he admitted at the Paley Festival that the movie wasn't very good because it missed substance and soul, unlike Supernatural, which has it all, thanks to Bob Singer.
Brad is complaining about why the movie is so dark and that it should be lighter and not "so depressing". At Comic Con
Kripke said that all of Brad's complaints and advice about the movie were taken from similar things he'd been told by Network Executives about Supernatural
This was the first episode filmed after the Writers Guild of America Strike
ended. There is a meta
element to the episode, which presents an episode of the low budget unscripted show "Ghostfacers", which is the type of programming that was predicted to replace scripted dramas like Supernatural if the strike had continued.
is an Angel of Thursday in occult lore
. This may be a reference to the fact that Supernatural aired on a Thursday night from 1.17 Hell House
until the end of Season 5.
The title sequence for the episode featured a montage of images from covers of the Supernatural books featured in the episode and ended with a title card "Supernatural by Carver Edlund."
, the pen name used by Chuck Shurley
, is an amalgam of the names of Supernatural
writers Jeremy Carver
and Ben Edlund
The character is an avatar for Eric Kripke. Source - Rob Benedict talks about Chuck as Eric at Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2009.
Chuck is used as a vehicle to make commentary about the Show's writing - and its writers.
Chuck: Well, there's only one explanation. Obviously I'm a god.
Sam: You're not a god.
Chuck: How else do you explain it? I write things and then they come to life. Yeah, no, I'm definitely a god. A cruel, cruel, capricious god. The things I put you through -- The physical beatings alone.
Dean: Yeah, we're still in one piece.
Chuck: I killed your father. I burned your mother alive. And then you had to go through the whole horrific deal again with Jessica.
Chuck: All for what? All for the sake of literary symmetry. I toyed with your lives, your emotions, for...Entertainment.
Chuck referred to his book about the "Bugs" (1.08 Bugs
) and "ghost ship" (3.06 Red Sky at Morning
) as "simply bad writing." Eric Kripke
himself said that the episode in question was one of their weaker episodes of Season 3 in the Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3
Everything is in here, from the racist truck to me having sex. I'm full frontal in here, dude.
The book Dean is reading relates the events of 1.13 Route 666
Many of the references here about The Supernatural Books
- the boys crying a lot, the books having a small readership, and the references to the fan base - are of course referring to the TV series.
At one point Chuck asks Sam and Dean if "Phil put them up to it," possibly referring to co-executive producer and director Philip Sgriccia
The list of book titles matches the list of episode titles: Supernatural, Wendigo, Phantom Traveler, Bloody Mary, Skin, Hookman, Bugs, Home, Asylum, Scarecrow, Faith, Route 666, Nightmare, The Benders, Shadow, Salvation, Bloodlust, Croatoan, Heart, Sin City, Fresh Blood, Mystery Spot, Jus in Bello and No Rest for the Wicked.
Although Simpatico says the demon storylines are trite, cliched and overall craptastic...
Simpatico is the name of a poster on the Television Without Pity
In Chuck Shurley's house there are framed copies of the covers of the real Supernatural Comics Origins 3
and Origins 4
There's Sam Girls and Dean Girls and...What's a slash fan?
Sam: As in Sam slash Dean, together.
Dean: Like together, together? They do know we are brothers, right?
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter.
Dean: Well that's just sick!
Sam Girls and Dean Girls are fans dedicated to one or other of the brothers.
fanfiction is stories written by fans depicting characters in a same-sex romantic and/or sexual relationship. In the Supernatural fandom, Sam/Dean is known as Wincest
Sam and Dean reveal their anti-possession tattoos to the publisher to demonstrate they are real fans, and she reveals her own. In an interview with Firefox News
in March 2008 Sera Gamble
said "I'll be convinced we're truly a cult hit when a fan gets the same tattoo." Many fans already had! For examples see our gallery of Fan Tattoos
The diner was called Kripke's Hollow, possibly a reference to Stars Hollow, the fictional town in Gilmore Girls,
which featured one of Jared's first big roles. The Kripke refers to series creator Eric Kripke
The title of this episode is a reference to the colloquialism, "jumping the shark", refers to the point at which a show resorts to dramatic plot changes, novelty casting or similar devices in a desperate attempt to reinvigorate the show, while ironically signaling that the show has probably passed its use-by-date. The term comes from an episode of "Happy Days" in which The Fonz actually jumped over a tank of sharks on waterskis.
In a TV Guide interview Eric Kripke said of the episode title:
- "When we were breaking the story about the third Winchester brother, we knew the fans would scream that we had jumped the shark. Of course, adding a new sibling or relative to an established series is a classic and cherished shark jump, Cousin Oliver being the patron saint of the practice. Anyway, it became clear that we should beat the fans to the punch and title the episode, 'Jump the Shark.' Though rejected titles included: 'When Leo Joined Growing Pains,' or 'The Raven Symone Episode.'
- "For fans who are worried that we are truly jumping the shark... watch the episode, decide for yourself. Personally, I don't think we're gassing up the motorcycle quite yet, but you tell me. And stay tuned for next season, when the boys take trips to London and Hawaii (haunted Tiki dolls!) and Sam and Ruby get married. And Ted McGinley joins the cast as the thoughtful (but hot!) college professor."
The boys meet Adam Milligan
at a café called Cousin Oliver's. Cousin Oliver was a young kid added to the cast of The Brady Bunch in its last season.
Adding a young kid to a cast is called doing a Cousin Oliver and is often seen as a sign of the show jumping the shark.
On the wall of Cousin Oliver's café are a number of photos of waterskiers, as well as a poster advertising a waterskiing stunt show starring a Fonzerelli. This is another more specific Jumping the Shark reference, namechecking Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzerelli, who 'jumping the shark' was named after.
In a commentary on the cult of celebrity a God known as Leshii
disguises itself as various celebrities in order to have people worship it, so it can sacrifice them. The God disguises itself as Paris Hilton, the role is played by Paris Hilton
in an example of Meta Casting
Dean comments to her "I've never even seen House of Wax", a meta reference to the fact that Jared and Paris co-starred in the 2005 horror flick House of Wax.
"Dr Sexy, M.D." - a hospital show set at Seattle Mercy Hospital - is a send-up of Grey's Anatomy
a medical drama which aired in the US opposite Supernatural on Thursday night, revolving around the love lives of the staff of Seattle Grace Hospital. Dr Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey, is nicknamed "McDreamy"
by other characters on the show. The scenes and melodramatic dialogue mimic that of Grey's Anatomy - as can be seen in these video clips
"Dr Sexy M.D." was first mentioned in 4.18 The Monster At The End Of This Book
by the publisher as one of the reasons the "Supernatural" books went out of print.
The police procedural show is a send-up of CSI
, set in Las Vegas, and the spin-off series CSI: Miami
. Sam and Dean do imitations of one of the CSI:Miami stars David Caruso
and his mannerisms with his sunglasses
. CSI aired in the US in the same time slot as Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy on Thursday nights.
The Show centres around a Supernatural Convention. In reality the first Supernatural Con held was WinchesterCon
in Nashville in October 2006 attended by 200 fans. Asylum 2007
was the first Convention attended by actors. For a list of all Supernatural conventions check the Convention Calendar
One of the fan, dressed as the Hookman
, at the Convention in the episode, asks why, in the books, Sam and Dean keep dropping their guns and suggests they tether them with a bungee cord. In the DVD commentary for 4.03 In the Beginning
, Kripke talks about how Sam and Dean always seem to be dropping their guns, knives etc at crucial moments.
Jared and Jensen always say to us like the joke is they always say to me and Bob, “Why don’t Sam and Dean have bungee cords on their wrists?”
The Hookman fan also says "Yeah, how original. Supernatural bringing in more creepy children. Sigh."
Creepy children, the evil innocents, are a stock character in horror movies. In Supernatural creepy children include Peter Sweeney
in 1.03 Dead in the Water
, Missy Bender
in 1.15 The Benders
, Melanie Merchant
in 1.19 Provenance
, Maggie Thompson
in 2.11 Playthings
, the Changelings
in 3.02 The Kids Are Alright
, the Girl in the Wall
and her brother in 4.11 Family Remains
in 5.06 I Believe the Children Are Our Future
in 3.12 Jus in Bello
, 3.16 No Rest for the Wicked
, and 4.06 Yellow Fever
A fake Supernatural Convention
When Dean gets angry with the fans for not taking the "story" of Sam and Dean seriously, it could be seen as a reference to the phenomenon of Serious Business
, used generally on the internet but in fandom to refer to fans who take matters related to their fandom in a uber serious, humorless manner (aka Fandom is srs bsns). Dean's reaction would in fandom would be termed a "flounce". This behavior is often mocked - see the fan vids Downfall
Just give her the puppy dog thing, okay?
Fans have long referred to Sam's Puppy Dog Eyes
- the pleading look he gives someone, frequently Dean, when he wants something.
Awesome. Another Horseman. Must be Thursday.
This is a reference to the airing day of Supernatural, which was Thursday from 1.17 Hell House
until the end of Season 5.
Fans speculated that Chuck
, who appeared in his final scene in the episode dressed all in white, may literally be God
Since when do you give a crap about vampires?
Crowley: Since... What's today, Friday? Since, let's see... Mind your business.
A reference to the fact Supernatural started airing on Fridays from the beginning of Season 6.
Castiel, haven’t seen you all season. You the cavalry now?
This episode marks the first time since 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight where Castiel
were in the same scene.
The episode title The French Mistake refers to a famous sequence
in Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles
. At the end of the movie, the action from the movie which is set in the Old West, crashes through a wall (literally breaking the Fourth Wall
) onto the set of a musical on the Warner Brothers lot. The song being performed in the musical is called The French Mistake.
In the episode real members of the cast and crew of Supernatural are featured – some played by actors while others play themselves (or Bizarro world versions of themeselves)
"The almost fictional cast and crew of Supernatural"
Well, we can clean up, reset the window; takes about 95 minutes, basically. So we'd have to blow off the scene where they sit on the Impala and talk about their feelings.
Bob: Ha! Right! You answer the hate mail.
When references are made to events in real life like this it is referred to as Lampshade Hanging
. Another example is Sam mentioning that not many people watch the show, and of course Misha's tweeting.
When Misha first meets Sam and Dean, thinking they are Jared and Jensen, he recites lines from his script, in the character of Castiel. The lines he recites describe the plot of the meta episode.
Sam finds a clip of Jensen when he played Eric Brady in Days Of Our Lives.
The clip used in this episode starts at 6.33 in this clip
Bob Singer: Well, at least they're talking to each other.
A running gag during the episode is the fact that in this universe, Jared and Jensen are not on speaking terms. In real life, they are good friends as evidenced by the fact that they were groomsman at each other's weddings in 2010.
The real Clif Kosterman
appears in a cameo as the crew member who is putting mud on the Impala.
The studio in the episode is called "KM Motion Picture Studios." At the Salute to Supernatural San Francisco 2011 in January 2011, Clif Kosterman
reported that the Supernatural Studios in Burnaby Vancouver had officially been named in honour of late director and producer Kim Manners
Dude, we're not even in America.
Supernatural is filmed in Vancouver, Canada. (Except for the Pilot
which was filmed in L.A.)
A tanned Jared with Jeffrey Dean Morgan at the Scream Awards
(pointing to coffin shaped device)What am I? Dracula?
Dean: (opening it to reveal a tanning bed) George Hamilton Dracula!
Actor George Hamilton is renowned for having a very deep, and obviously fake, tan. Jared has been known to appear rather tan on occasion, most famously at the 2008 Scream Awards.
Jared and Genevieve married in real life on February 27, 2010, in Sun Valley, Idaho. The photo on the mantle (next to the alpaca) is an actual wedding photo taken by Kirsten Schultz and featured in an article in Sun Valley magazine
The blue sweater Misha is wearing is also one he wore in his Rhino Puzzle
In Bob Singer
's office, a magazine called "TV Weekly" featuring Jared and Jensen on the cover is on display - a reference to the fan voted Supernatural TV Guide Cover
The two guys rehearsing a fight scene beside the Impala on the green screen stage, who then broke up the fight between Dean, Sam, and Virgil, were Jared and Jensen's real stunt doubles, Mike Carpenter
and Todd Scott
spent a lot of time on Twitter
in the episode, and at one point he tweets "Ola mishamigos! J2 got me good. Really starting to feel like one of the guys." Just to really mess with our mind, the real Misha
actually sent that tweet as the line aired in the US east coast run of the episode (Source
). Misha Collins and Misha also both tweeted "IMHO j&j had a late one last night. Rotflmfao!" (Source
). After both these tweets, Misha then relates, "My phone was stolen and apparently cast into a parallel universe devoid of magic. I've retrieved it. I promise it won't happen again" (Source
). All three tweets were retweeted by over 100 people in a matter of hours and then vanished from Misha's twitter feed. A few hours later, they were reposted, but the direct links to the original tweets still work.
The words: #Misha, #metamadness and #kripke all made it into the top ten Trending Topics as the episode went to air.
Eric's supposed to be off in a cabin somewhere writing his next pilot.
Bob: He sold Octocobra? Mother of God they'll buy anything
A shoutout to the SYFY Channel TV movies that feature monster mashups like Sharktopus
I'd like to think that over these years we've grown closer, that you don't think of me as "director Bob" or executive producer "Bob Singer", but as Uncle Bob.
Sam: You're kidding? So the character in the show - Bobby Singer...
Dean: What kind of a douchebag names a character after himself?
Sam: Oh that's not right!
The character of Bobby
was named after producer Bob Singer
, although the culprit was Kripke
. You can see Bob Singer talk about it here
It got us the front page of Variety,
though. Did you see that?
' is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine.
When Sam and Dean arrive back in Bobby's house in their universe, we see that the window and much of the wall behind them has been obliterated. Like in Blazing Saddles
, which this episode gets its name from, they have literally broken the Fourth Wall
. At the end, Sam checks that the "wall" is solid again - perhaps a reassurance to viewers, as well.
The episode inspired a fan song called Meta Madness
The episode title "Slash Fiction" is a play on three references. First it is a reference to the Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction
. Slash or slasher refers to a sub-genre of horror movies.
Slash fiction is also the name of a genre of fanfiction which pairs two characters of the same gender in a sexual relationship – see Slash for more information. There are references in the episode that compare Sam and Dean to a couple - Honey Bunny and Pumpkin from Pulp Fiction, Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers as well as Mr and Mr(s) Smith.
This video compares scenes from the episode with the original movies
And the final scene was one that Jensen mentioned at Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2011
as one that both he and Jared thought made Sam and Dean sound too much like a married couple, so they rewrote a couple of the lines.
Dick: I like where your head's at, but sometimes less is more. Those boys coming back from the dead would strain credulity, even for the American media.
This line is a meta dig at the fact that Sam and Dean keep coming back from the dead. As Ben Edlund said at Comic Con 2010
"...these creatures, these poor men, cannot die. The cruel universe that will not let them die."
Similar to 4.19 Jump The Shark
, the title references a TV trope where often late in their run the show resorts to dramatic plot changes, novelty casting or things such as weddings to attract ratings.
Becky: The only place people understood me was on the message boards. They were grumpy and overly literal but at least we shared a common passion.
There is an actual Twitter account called @SuperBeckyRosen
which has tweets by the character as posted in the episode. It contains some tweets not seen see on the show, and doesn't have Becky's last tweet. The tweets were all posted on 24 September, which would coincide with when the episode was being written. In the episode, when we get a look at Becky's Twitter, and it's not a screenshot of the actual one but a mockup, which includes the last of Becky's tweets we see on the episode. Also the entries are dated 12th October, which would be when post-production on the episode was being done. Notably the dates are not written in US format but the normal dd/mm/yy format.
Right, right, your flesh is crawling. All you want to do is kill me now. You hate having to wait and come back, and try again...
Dean: Pretty much. I wouldn't leave that head too close to that body for too long.
Alpha Vampire: See you next season.
Dean: Looking forward to it.
- Two versions of the scene were scripted - in the alternate one the Alpha Vampire says "see you again" - because at the time of writing it was not known if the show had been renewed for an eighth season.
Castiel: Do you really think it's wise to be drinking on the job?
Dean: What show you been watching?
: Gadreel, we are writing our own epic story here. Sometimes, to make that work, you have to kill your darlings.
- Author William Faulkner once said "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." Also a possible meta reference to the Supernatural writers killing Kevin.
: You're gonna play hard to get? We have time for a montage? .
- Montages of clips from past episodes are often used as an expository mechanism
: What makes a story work? Is it the plot, the characters, the text? The subtext? And who gives a story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you? Tonight, I thought I would tell you a little story and let you decide.
- Throughput the episode, Metatron monologues about the nature of story, and the relationship between author and audience
What writer doesn’t love a good twist? My job is to set up interesting characters and see where they lead me. The byproduct of having well-drawn characters is they may surprise you. But I know something they don't know - the ending. How I get there doesn't matter as long as everybody plays their part.