In 12 seasons of Supernatural, the CW drama has paid tribute to so many great pieces of cinematic and television history. From old-school shows like Knight Rider to classic films like The Shining, Supernatural has given its take on it all. Most recently, it honored the works of cult-classic director Quentin Tarantino. Let’s take a look back at some of our favorite references to pop culture made by Supernatural.
1. The Work of Quentin Tarantino
In the season 12 episode “Stuck in the Middle (With You),” there are some heavy references to films by Quentin Tarantino, particularly to Reservoir Dogs. The episode title is actually the name of the song that plays in a famous scene from that movie. The episode opens in a diner with the exact camera roll around the table that takes place in the movie. It also uses non-linear storytelling, just like this movie and Tarantino’s other classic, Pulp Fiction. The nods to Tarantino don’t stop here. In addition to famous lines from his movies (at one point, Dean says, “Alright ramblers, let’s get rambling”), they also beautifully recreate some iconic moments. One particularly nice homage was when the mystery artifact behind the painting Mary found gave off a golden glow. Pulp Fiction had a well-known scene in which John Travolta’s character opened a case that gave the same glow.
2. Spoofing Grey’s Anatomy
The episode “Changing Channels” in season 5 is a fan-favorite and full of so many spoofs, tributes and references to popular TV shows. It includes a hilarious impression by Sam and Dean of David Caruso in CSI: Miami, but perhaps the best is their reenactment of Grey’s Anatomy. It spoofs fan nicknames for Grey’s characters like “Dr. McDreamy” by calling the show they visit Dr. Sexy, MD. Additionally, they poke fun at their overuse of the word “seriously.” They take shots at lots of shows in this episode, but do it in a fun way that offers particularly subtle nods to fans of these shows.
3. The Many Nods to The Shining
The Stanley Kubrick film starring Jack Nicholson has got to be a favorite over at Supernatural, or at least some form of inspiration to them. Sam and Dean reference this movie on a regular basis, but the show also plants a few Easter eggs for fans of the film. For instance, in the season 2 premiere “In My Time of Dying,” Dean hears an announcement at the hospital saying, “Dr. Kripke to Room 237.” Supernatural fans know that the “Kripke” of that sentence is a nod to the show’s creator, but room 237 is also the mysterious room that The Shining is known for. This room number is used a few times in Supernatural. A season 10 episode called “Soul Survivor” also recreates a famous scene by having Dean break down the door to the bunker’s electrical room, perfectly matching a moment from the film.
4. A Groundhog Day-Themed Episode
In season 3, an episode called “Mystery Spot” perfectly matches the plot of the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. In the episode and the film, the main character (in Supernatural‘s case, Sam) gets stuck in some sort of time warp which forces him to repeat the same day over and over again. In the Supernatural episode, Sam is forced to watch Dean die over and over again each day. A montage sequence that gets featured in the episode is a great recreation of a famous sequence in the film as well.
5. Back to the Future
If Supernatural isn’t obsessed with The Shining, they’re definitely obsessed with the Back to the Future movies. References are constantly made to these movies throughout the show. The most obvious homage was in the season 4 episode, “In the Beginning,” in which Dean travels back in time and meets his father as a young man (just like in the movie.) A great scene in this episode perfectly recreates the moment in the film when father and son both stroke their hair in unison and turn their heads to someone calling out their last name. This wasn’t the only reference, though.
When they travel “back to the future” in the season 6 episode “Frontierland,” Sam receives a package that has apparently been waiting for him for over 150 years from Samuel Colt, the same way Marty receives something from Doc in Back to the Future III. Also in that episode, Dean uses the alias of “Eastwood” while in the cowboy-era past, just like Marty in the movie. Aside from these big ones, Supernatural also makes more subtle nods to the movie, including significant dates and names.
6. That Famous Star Wars Line
In addition to using Star Wars actor and character names as their FBI aliases on a regular basis, the show has made other references this series of movies. Perhaps the greatest is the couple of times they’ve reused that famous line between Han Solo and Leia, in which Leia says, “I love you,” to which Han replies, “I know.” This same interaction was seen between two “actors” in the season 2 episode “Hollywood Babylon,” but happens three times for fan-favorite character Charlie Bradbury. She plays the part of Han in this interaction between a coworker and later a LARP-er, then plays the part of Leia to Dean’s Han Solo in the season 8 episode, “Pac-Man Fever.”
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(Image courtesy of The CW)