Supernatural rewatch: The truth behind season one’s scariest episodes


Remember Bloody Mary? The Benders? How about Hell House? It’s time for a look-back at some of the scariest episodes from Supernatural’s very first season.

With Supernatural officially renewed for its 15th season, I figured it was time for me to finally delve into a complete rewatch of the show and chronicle some of the scariest episodes from each season. With 300 episodes (and counting) under its belt, it can be easy to forget about the show’s origins.

You can’t expect a series that has been running for over a decade to remain exactly the same. While current seasons of Supernatural are more about the apocalyptic stakes of heaven versus hell, the older seasons were a little more grounded in terms of finding and hunting monsters in a different town every week.

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Season one in particular, had a focus on urban legends and local folklore. Typically the episodes were self-contained, a myth arc didn’t really kick in until the 11th episode “Scarecrow.” But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of scares to go around.

Bloody Mary

I can’t talk about the scariest episodes of Supernatural without mentioning “Bloody Mary.” Even if I was doing a comprehensive guide to the entire show, I would have to include this one. When you ask your average Supernatural fan what episode kept them up at night, a majority of them will answer this one and for good reason!

We all know the ritual of Bloody Mary, while it may vary from place to place or culture to culture, the essence is the same. If you say her name a certain amount of times in front of a mirror, she will appear and attack the person who summoned her.

Supernatural’s take on the lore is a little different. In this case, if someone summons Mary she will actually scratch out the eyes of whoever is closest with a dark secret, usually relating to someone’s death.

Bloody Mary has long since become the go-to party games for young girls at sleepovers, I remember being terrified of her when I was a kid. This episode hones in on those feelings of paranoia and stark terror of what could happen should Mary be summoned. When she finally does appear, she crawls through a shattered mirror exactly like Samara did through a television set in The Ring. It’s an unnatural positioning of her body and enough to make anyone break out in goosebumps.

David Emery of ThoughtCo had his own analysis of why the legend has taken on a life of its own, in addition to further research into the lore of this particular story: 

"As best anyone can tell, the legend of Bloody Mary and its comparably gory variants emerged in the early 1960s as an adolescent party game. In most versions, there’s no connection drawn between the Bloody Mary whose ghost haunts bathroom mirrors and the British queen of the same name."

It’s funny he mentioned the British queen because I remember when I was first told the story of Bloody Mary, I thought she was meant to be the ghost of said queen. I always found it interesting how legends adapt and change through word-of-mouth.

Hell House

Talking about legends adapting and changing over time is the perfect segue into another fantastically frightening season one episode of Supernatural known as “Hell House.”

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Mordechai Murdoch was the starring ghost of this episode. A group of teens try to prank people into believing a house is haunted by adding creepy symbols to the wall and spreading the story of Mordechai to anyone willing to listen. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, they actually managed to create a Tulpa by drawing Tibetan sigils on the wall of the infamous Hell House.

The story gains traction through online message boards like Hell Hounds Lair and Mordechai grows a life of his own, taking on the traits of the haunted stories people tel and manifesting into the physical realm. In Mordechai’s hideous backstory, he murdered six of his daughters and he attacks anyone who dares enter his home in the present, reliving the murder of the women again and again and trying to claim new victims.

What I found scary about this episode is the idea of monster that was literally brought to life by sheer force of will, spawning from the way people allowed their imaginations and story-telling to burn through the web like wildfire. It’s actually very similar to the creation of the Slender Man legend of today, and I’ll let you stew on that one for a while…

The Benders

Jensen Ackles has gone on record as saying “The Benders” is an episode that still creeps him out even now. If Dean Winchester is freaked out then we all should be!

“The Benders” stands out from the crowd because it is the only episode in season one that doesn’t actually involve any supernatural elements. Instead the antagonists are human. Creepy, hillbilly, potentially cannibalistic humans, but humans nonetheless. They were directly based on the real “Bloody Benders” a family of serial killers from the 1800s.

But that’s not all they reference, in horror, we’ve seen these characters before in films like The Hills Have Eyes. A film inspired by the Sawney Bean Clan, a Scottish urban legend about an incestuous, cannibalistic, group of Scots from the 15th century that lived in a cave and were responsible for a rumored 1,000 deaths.

Sam is abducted by the murderous family in question and kept imprisoned in preparation for their hunting night. That’s right, the Benders enjoy hunting people for sport. This is also an obvious allusion to the famed short story, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.

It just goes to show that sometimes the monsters in the real world are far scarier than the ones hiding under your bed.

New episodes of Supernatural air Thursday nights on the CW.

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What are your favorite season one episodes of Supernatural? Did you find the ones listed above frightening or were there others from the debut season that scared you more? Load up the rock salt and hit the comments with your answers!