Over the course of Supernatural‘s run, there have been many supporting characters that have become fan favorites, from the Wayward Sisters to Charlie to Jo and Ellen (and many more). One character in particular has inspired fans everywhere: Eileen Leahy. Eileen, who was resurrected in season 15 after dying in season 12, was beloved by the fans as soon as she was introduced. A deaf hunter who was excellent at saving people and hunting things, she was compassionate and full of life, often giving the Winchesters a run for their money in the hunting department (and in some cases, saving them). As a tribute to one of the best hunters on the series, we’re looking back at our favorite Eileen moments.
Introduced in the season 11 episode “Into the Mystic,” Eileen Leahy was an all-around badass. She was also Supernatural’s first and only major deaf character, played by the illustrious Shoshannah Stern, who is a Deaf actress. Though being deaf is related to the plot of her introductory episode, Eileen’s story and characterization are never limited to solely being about her disability. She is a legacy Men of Letters member and an experienced hunter who holds her own, even as Sam and Dean show up. The first half of the episode is a classic mix-up – Sam thinks she’s just a witness to the events, and Eileen thinks Sam is the banshee, the Monster of the Week, in disguise. It all comes to a head when Eileen very nearly successfully stabs Sam (good on you, Eileen) until Sam convinces her they’re on the same side.
Over the course of just one episode, writer Robbie Thompson gave Eileen incredible depth. Not only does she have a rich backstory, but we also see her contemplate what revenge would mean for her, and it allows Sam to open up as well. Their chemistry is immediately apparent, not only through their meaningful conversations but also through playful banter we rarely see Sam have.
With Dean fully incapacitated and Sam flung through a door in the final fight, it’s up to Eileen to kill the banshee, which she does with all the skill and force of Sam, Dean, or any other hunter on the show. Being deaf ends up being a superpower in that she is unaffected by the banshee which allows her to save the Winchesters, in a really satisfying turn of events. And the door is left open for Eileen to return – and continue a possible relationship with Sam – which is unusual and pleasantly welcomed for such an amazing character in a Monster of the Week episode.
From the very beginning of her introduction in Supernatural‘s narrative, Eileen was proven to be a strong and capable hunter — arguably one of the best. Her take-no-crap attitude in conjunction with her quick thinking, spunky attitude, and weapons prowess established her as a favorite among characters and fans from the get-go. The Irish woman of letters quickly struck up a rapport with Sam (almost stabbing someone who ends up having feelings for you seems to be a pattern with the brothers), something that eventually became a larger plot point as both hunters danced around the obvious romance between them.
After Eileen is resurrected by Rowena’s spell in season 15, Sam becomes a bit … overprotective, afraid of losing Eileen right after he gets her back. Sam even goes so far as to tail her on a hunt for a werewolf in “Our Father Who Aren’t in Heaven,” something that Eileen promptly, yet politely, shuts down by proving that she can take care of herself and ol’ Sammy boy just fine, thank you very much. In fact, Sam ends up getting in the way of the hunt rather than “protecting her,” leading Eileen to save his hide by ganking the monster right before it manages to attack him. With that, her point is adequately proven.
While the Irish hunter does care about and appreciate the younger Winchester, she makes it very clear that she doesn’t need a protector or a babysitter in a partner, leading her and Sam to establish some important boundaries in “an agreement” (that Dean teases him about later) that she will let Sam know when she needs backup from him — which, let’s be real, is probably not very often. This scene was important in reinforcing the idea that Eileen Leahy was not a damsel in distress for the Winchesters to save, despite all that she had been through. Being a strong, independent hunter was something that she was proud of and something that she excelled at, and it only endeared audiences to her that much more.
While many of Eileen’s shining moments highlight her fierceness as a hunter, this moment in particular shows not only that she is a fierce adversary, but a staunchly loyal ally. When Sergei, Castiel’s mystical contact, tries to manipulate Eileen and the angel into giving him the key to death’s library in exchange for healing Sam’s wound that was inflicted by The Equalizer, Eileen is not happy. Enraged at the demand, the hunter slams the larger man against the wall and in no uncertain terms states “Fix him, or I kill you” (don’t mess with her man). This scene truly gives a deeper look into Eileen’s emotions, as she rarely loses her cool like she does here. The depth of her feelings for the younger Winchester and her loyalty to TFW as a whole is showcased as she threatens to do whatever is necessary in order to keep them alive.
Eileen wasn’t just a great hunter. She was also a kind, funny character whose ability to banter fit right in with the rest of the team. Two moments that illustrate her personality come as Eileen rejoins Sam and Dean in season 15. Dean wakes up one morning to find Eileen and Sam making a delicious breakfast … and is immediately suspicious. A sheepish Eileen confirms that they had a little too much fun with margaritas the night before (and we learn the ASL sign for margaritas, which is very useful). Dean approves, and the moment solidifies her sense of humor and her bright energy.
Later in the same episode, Eileen and Sam are investigating together when Eileen decides to try to take their romance to the next level. Always one to take charge, she suggest taking a break and having some fun … together. Seeing Eileen be clear about her feelings for Sam and asking for what she wants fits with her character’s general ability to take charge, but it also represents a step forward for representation. To be clear, Eileen as a character should not be defined by her relationship with Sam. Fans fell in love with her independent of that relationship. But it is rare to find an example of people with disabilities having well-developed love interests and relationship arcs on television, a point Stern made in discussing the character in interviews. Seeing Eileen and Sam take the next step (well, almost. Thanks, Castiel) was a big moment for the characters but also for audience members who saw themselves in Eileen.
Eileen represented a welcome addition to the series not just because of who she was as a character and Stern’s excellent performance, but because she represented so many communities that weren’t always represented by the show. Her bravery and insistence on not being defined or limited by anyone else made her a character who was easy to root for. Eileen Leahy was a badass hunter with a heart of gold that we loved, and even if we didn’t get to see the end of her story, it’s clear her impact will extend far beyond the end of the series.