Welcome to the End: A Look Back at ‘Supernatural’s Chuck Shurley

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“No doubt endings are hard. But then again, nothing ever really ends, does it?”

In the beginning, there was God. Or, as he prefers to be called, Chuck. Supernatural’s cosmic deity wasn’t who we expected to end up being ‘The Big Bad’ in the show’s final season, but it’s certainly a turn that’s made for a great story.  Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Chuck Shurley ended up playing a much bigger role in the entire series than we could have imagined when we first met him back in season 4.

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“The Monster at the End of This Book” introduced us to the neurotic writer who is known for a series of books that he calls Supernatural. The books tell the tales of Sam and Dean in great detail, leading the boys to track down the writer to find out how he knows so much about them. Even though Chuck almost immediately refers to himself as a “cruel, cruel, capricious God” when confronted by the Winchesters, his ability to see them and write about them in such great detail is explained by Castiel who states that Chuck is actually a prophet who is simply writing the word of God.

Chuck only appears a few more times in the early seasons. He makes a brief appearance in the post-apocalyptic world in “The End” and even helps the Winchesters take out some ghosts at a Supernatural Convention. He seems like a pretty ordinary guy (aside from the whole prophet thing), and the writers of the show certainly led us to believe that Chuck was just another likable side-character who probably wouldn’t have any real major contribution to the story later on.

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That is, until the season 5 finale, “Swan Song” when Chuck greets us by narrating a monologue as he’s writing his “final” book. After explaining the significance of the Impala and narrating the final battle between Lucifer and Michael at Stull Cemetery, the prophet disappears into thin air just as he finishes telling the story. This is the episode that got fans talking and theorizing about who Chuck really was; many people came to the conclusion that he was actually God. However, we don’t see Chuck again for a long time. It’s almost as if we were meant to forget about him.

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Supernatural‘s 200th episode, “Fan Fiction”, would be the episode that made the God-talk intensify. By this time, if you didn’t think that Chuck was God, you were led to believe that Chuck is dead. A new prophet, Kevin, had been introduced, and Castiel had explicitly stated that only one prophet can exist at a time — meaning that Chuck had to be dead. You can imagine our surprise when the writer then made a brief appearance at the very end of the episode, in which high school students are putting on a Supernatural musical based on his book series. When asked what he thought about the play, he simply responds, “Not bad”. The mysterious author’s reappearance was enough to leave the audience with more questions and only furthered the proof that Chuck was more than meets the eye.

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Theories on who or what Chuck really was wouldn’t be confirmed until the end of season 11 when he reappeared again, this time to the angel, Metatron. Chuck quickly reveals that he is and always has been God. While not really a shock to the audience, this was a rather exciting reveal that many had been waiting to be confirmed.  Chuck’s appearance didn’t come without questions — not only from the audience but from Metatron as well. Why play the role of the prophet Chuck at all? What was the point? God says it himself that he donned the Chuck mask because he liked having a front-row seat, which is interesting considering the turn he takes later on. At this point, even though he’s God, he’s still pretty likable. He’s fairly benevolent, open-minded, and has a cat pic blog. It’s easy to still see him as the neurotic writer that we first met so many years ago.

While fans expected the reappearance of God to be a great thing, it didn’t turn out that way at first. At this point, the Winchesters are dealing with The Darkness (Amara), who happens to be God’s sister. Much of the storyline focuses on her accidental release from the cage that Chuck locked her away in for eons and her quest to seek vengeance on him and his creations. Chuck, however, doesn’t even reappear in order to stop Amara from her destruction; rather, he’s writing his memoirs and only needs Metatron as an editor. At first, he has no intention of stepping in and stopping anything or even revealing himself to the Winchesters. He’s ready to sacrifice himself to his sister, even if that means the destruction of everything he’s created. It takes a bit of prodding from Metatron for him to come to his senses, and that prodding gives us a brief glimpse into the vengeful, angry God that was there all along.

I’ve been called many things – absentee father, wrathful monster. But, coward … I am not hiding. I am just done watching my experiments’ failures.

Ultimately, Chuck does end up revealing himself to the Winchesters when he steps in to stop Amara’s destruction of a town. Even with the little moments that allude to Chuck being a wrathful God, there are also moments that show us that he can be caring. Whether it’s his insistence that he doesn’t want to kill his sister or the moment when he finally apologizes to Lucifer, we’re still able to view him as a likable character. The eventual reconciliation between Chuck and Amara also furthers this thought, leading us to believe that God is actually good. But, true to form, Chuck leaves yet again and continues to be an absentee father to all.

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It’s during the season 14 finale, “Moriah”, were when our prayers for Chuck to return would be answered — but perhaps we should be careful what we pray for. When Chuck comes back, it’s because the Nephilim, Jack, is out of control with his powers. While Chuck is his usual self on the surface upon his return (making light of a serious situation, pulling out a guitar when the mood to sing a song hits, and zapping the guys from place to place with the wave of a hand) he’s also … different. As he and Castiel discuss lying, Chuck points out that it’s important for people to be able to lie, which is now obvious as the world around them is in chaos since Jack made it so that no one could lie. Chuck explains that he himself is a writer and that “writers lie.” It’s an odd stance for God, as Castiel notes, and it’s only a matter of time before we realize why it’s one of those lines that catches our attention before we really know what’s going on.

Like the rest of us, Team Free Will assumed that Chuck came back to help Jack. We figured he could restore Jack’s soul and lead him in the right direction when it came to using his powers. The guys were just as surprised as we were to learn that this wasn’t Chuck’s intention at all. He wasn’t there to help; he was there to make sure Jack was destroyed. Chuck states that he can’t kill Jack himself, so he shows up with a special gun, “The Equalizer”, that one of the guys will have to use on him. The catch? Whatever happens to the person who is shot also happens to the shooter. Chuck can’t risk himself, right? Balance of the universe and all. Naturally, many of us questioned this, as there’s no way that even a Nephilim could be so powerful that God himself can’t stop him. However, it soon becomes clear that Chuck simply doesn’t want to. It’s during his moment with Sam in the bunker that Chuck’s true colors start to come through. He explains how he’s created countless alternate worlds with other Sams and Deans, essentially stating that he’s a writer and every multiverse is a draft. But, this one right here … it’s his favorite. These guys are interesting and he’s pretty invested, going so far as to describe them as his “favorite show.”

Once Chuck and Sam get to the cemetery where Dean has the gun pointed at Jack, ready to kill him, his intentions become even more clear. It was unsettling to witness Chuck watching that scene with that grin on his face, eager with anticipation. Sam realizes that Chuck is enjoying all of this and that he’s been playing them all along. Dean refusing to kill Jack sets Chuck off completely, and his reaction would set the tone for the next season. The way he mercilessly killed Jack was chilling, but it was perhaps the final line he speaks in the episode after Sam shoots him that really made us realize that Chuck isn’t the God we knew and loved back in season 11:“Fine. That’s the way you want it? Story’s over. Welcome to the end.” And the end is certainly nigh.

By the time season 15 rolls around, Chuck is established as the seasons “big bad.” It’s fitting really, for a show that centers so much around demons and angels, Heaven and Hell. Why wouldn’t you go out with a bang by going toe-to-toe with God himself? Furthermore, it really works. Supernatural has always included meta episodes, breaking the fourth wall on many occasions. Taking a character who was based on the show’s actual creator seems like a clever direction to take the final season. Chuck is the creator of all of this; why wouldn’t he be the one to end it?

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Perhaps the most interesting part of Chuck’s story at this point centers around the wounds that he and Sam share as a result of Sam shooting him with “The Equalizer”. The wounds connect them, and this causes a lot of trouble for Chuck. Even Amara knows that Chuck is weak and stuck on earth as a result; it comes as quite the shock to Chuck when she refuses to help him. Even when he then seeks out Becky Rosen (ex-flame and ultimate Supernatural fan) in an attempt to find someone who will stroke his ego, he’s feeling defeated. It’s fun to watch the way Chuck switches so easily between wrathful God and self-loathing author. In the moments when he’s especially down, you can’t help but feel sort of bad for the guy. There are even moments when you wonder if he’s questioning his choices and having second thoughts. However, in his interaction with Becky, it becomes clear that he’s really just manipulative.

While Becky does give him the push he needs to write again, he’s unfortunately writing that ending he wants so badly: the ending that upsets Becky so much that she begs him not to go there. While we’ve seen what God is capable of, this particular interaction is especially unsettling. Whether it’s the way he snaps Becky and her family out of existence or the sadistic expressions he gives throughout, the utterance of the line “I can do anything. I’m a writer” is the true indicator that Chuck has gone off the deep end.

The unfortunate connection that Chuck shares with Sam plays out through a number of episodes, and he’s hell-bent on breaking it. His attempt at breaking free from Sam not only keeps the audience intrigued, but also shows just how involved he really is as God. He reveals that he had a direct hand in getting Eileen resurrected, solely for her to be used as a pawn to trap Sam so that he could break the connection they shared. Unsurprisingly, even as a villain he’s not great at actually getting his hands dirty. Chuck’s a watcher, not a doer, and in a cruel, twisted turn, he can’t bring himself to cut out of Sam whatever it is that’s keeping them connected — so he forces Eileen to do it.

When this doesn’t work and Chuck realizes that Sam is holding onto hope, he instead shows Sam the future so that he can see what would happen if they actually defeated God. It’s enough to eventually break Sam and ruin Team Free Will’s chance at trapping him, which in turn leaves Chuck free again, the boys desperate to find a way to stop him.

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Throughout his significant arc in season 15, Chuck gets angrier and more deranged. At one point, he strolls into an alternate universe and realizes that it’s time to really focus. He gives a chilling monologue about his work and how he ultimately created all of these other worlds with other endings, his “other toys”, but feels like he screwed up somewhere. He doesn’t care about the other endings or the other Sams and Deans. They just don’t spark joy in him the way the real ones do. After all, the real Sam and Dean challenge him, disappoint him, surprise him … and isn’t that what matters in a good story? He decides that he needs less distractions, so he begins his work on wiping out the stories that just don’t matter. He does so after saying, “it’s time to start canceling shows,” and oh, how I love how meta this season is.

That’s where we leave off with God. He’s angry and now solely focused on the real Sam and Dean. These creations, his favorite characters on his favorite show, aren’t cooperating, and he seems to have some tricks up his sleeve to wear them down. However, he also has a lot against him at this point. It’s not just the Winchesters either; Jack is back and more powerful than he originally was (potentially being the key to stopping God), and Death herself is even in the picture now. We also can’t forget how the old Death once said that even God would die and he would eventually reap him.

While many fans question Chuck’s sudden turn this season, there were always moments that alluded to the angry and manipulative God that we were blindsided by this season. With his involvement in the story now more clear, looking back at the character  — even in early seasons — makes you pick up on the little nuances and moments that help make this turn make sense.

It will be interesting to see just how much control the creator of, well, everything, really has over his own story. We’re close to seeing if Chuck gets his ending, but with characters who are so used to fighting against the odds and rewriting fate, it’s not looking great for him. He probably should have rethought that whole “free will” thing when he started writing this particular story.

I can see it now… ‘Supernatural: The End’. And the cover is just a gravestone that says “Winchester”. The fans are gonna love it.

Natasha

Written by

Natasha is a preschool teacher and single mother of an equally geeky little boy. In her spare time; she is pursuing her English degree, writing (fanfic mostly), and creating art. She dabbles in photography and can be found traveling for shows and cons. Natasha loves all things Supernatural, Kings Of Con, Louden Swain, and The Station Breaks. Really, that’s literally all she ever talks about. Find her on Twitter @NatashaCole or Instagram @natashacole_art.

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