As Supernatural gears up to air its last seven episodes to finish out an extensive 15 year run of a tremendous journey, we are looking back at another journey, that of Adam Milligan. When Adam was first introduced in Supernatural, it was unclear just how integral he would turn out to be in the Winchester’s story. Adam is the son of Kate Milligan and John Winchester, meaning, as Sam once said, “He’s a Winchester. He’s already cursed.”
Although Adam was first seen in season 4, viewers are graced with flashback footage of Adam and John together. Adam didn’t have contact with his father until he was 12. John would visit and even taught him how to play poker and pool, gave him his first beer at the age of 15, took him to ball games on his birthday, and taught him how to drive the Impala. Years earlier, John had killed a ghoul and the ghoul’s children decided to seek vengeance by killing Adam and his mom while taking their forms to lure John into a trap. Now, clearly, this doesn’t work out the way they had hoped because John had been dead for years, but not knowing this when they call John’s phone in hopes of pulling off the trick, Sam and Dean answer instead and they learn about their half brother’s existence.
Adam isn’t seen again until season five, where he’s seen enjoying his personal heaven (which includes him making out on prom night) when the angels approach him, they offer him a spot to live amongst the living once again. Of course, it wouldn’t be Supernatural if everything didn’t come at a price, and that price, unfortunately, led to Adam letting the archangel Michael use him as a vessel to defeat Lucifer. Adam only accepts on the condition that his mom will also get to live again. After Adam is resurrected and formally meets his brothers, he is soon faced with the reality that his sole purpose was to lure Dean into a trap by the angel Zachariah so that he would be forced to say yes to Michael and be his sole vessel. Though it’s worth noting that this doesn’t go as exactly as planned because Dean kills Zachariah and as Michael descends, Adam gets locked in the room with Michael’s true form, becoming the vessel. Later, in an attempt to trap Michael, Cas banishes Michael with holy fire that only ticks him off more, inadvertently causing Adam and Sam (Lucifer’s vessel) to fall into Lucifer’s cage together, and although Sam is later able to be saved from the cage, Adam is left inside with both Michael and Lucifer for years and seasons to come.
In season 6, Adam is not physically present, but the mention of his name in episode 11 marks the turning point for not only his relationships with his brothers, but also his development as a character. When Dean tries to make a deal with Death to get Sam and Adam’s souls out of Hell as a desperate measure, he tries to return Death’s ring. Death remarks that he loaned the ring to Dean in the first place and that he knows where he’s hidden it, so he has no leverage to use against him. Dean is then trapped between a rock and a hard place, being forced to pick one, to which he picks Sam’s soul due to him being in the cage longer and the fact that it is severely damaged leaving Adam in the dust, still trapped with Lucifer and Michael in the cage.
In season 15 Belphegor, the demon inhabiting Jack’s body, lets the Winchester brothers know all of the doors in Hell were blown open by God, including the cage that housed Lucifer, Michael, and Adam. Though this is only a mention, it is the first time the Winchester’s have heard anything regarding their brother in years. The first time we see actual physical proof of Adam back on Earth is in episode 8, Adam and Michael are seen among the land of the living once again, but this time Michael allows Adam to have control over his body. Adam and Michael are seen communicating with each other, Adam asks if Michael will be returning to Heaven, and Michael tells him that he has no family to go back to. Adam sympathizes and agrees, but when Michael points out that he does in fact have the Winchesters left, Adam bites back with, “Yeah I met them once, they let me rot in Hell.” After being captured by Cas, Sam, and Dean, Michael orders the brothers to explain why they left Adam to rot in the cage, switching back to Adam so he can have it explained to him by them. Adam thinks his brothers’ pleas about God not being who they thought could be true. Although Michael didn’t want to believe that, Cas returns to show Michael all of the memories of what God has been doing, and Michael quickly realizes they were right and provides them with the spell to trap God before once again returning control back to Adam so that Dean can speak to him. In a heartfelt moment between the two, when Dean apologizes and says that Adam is a good man that didn’t deserve what happened to him, Adam responds with the most profound thing we have heard from him thus far, “Since when do we get what we deserve?”
Although Adam’s appearances are sporadic up until this point due to his time being spent mostly in Hell, Adam has shown a significant amount of growth as a character. Damning himself to a world that is not on his side due to the simple fact that he carries the last name Winchester, Adam only ever wanted a family support system. Having lost both of his parents to the very things the family name has sworn to protect others from and fight against, Adam was continuously cast aside, finding solace in the very being that is potentially the least expected of all — Michael. As much as you’d expect Adam to have pent up anger and resentment towards his brothers for abandoning him, he understands why they did it, that no matter what, they try their hardest to do what is right. With Adam back for the final run, when the show takes its final bow, we hope Adam finally uncovers the one thing he’s been searching for all these years in some capacity, and although he may only technically be their half brother, he is damn sure a Winchester.