|Alternative name(s):||Destiel (common), Casdean, Deancas|
|Gender category:||Slash, M/M|
|Canonical?:||Yes (one-sided as of season 15)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Dean Winchester/Castiel is the slash pairing of Dean Winchester and the angel Castiel in Supernatural fandom, it is one of the main slash pairings in the fandom, and has over the years become a fandom juggernaut.
CanonCastiel first appeared in the fourth season as an angel who saved Dean from hell. While originally intended to be a minor character in the show, Castiel (and in particular his interactions and dynamics with Dean) was so immensely popular with fans that he was developed into a core member of the Supernatural cast.
Over the seasons that followed Cas and Dean grew progressively closer, and numerous comments were made about the two's relationship by characters within the show, from Uriel saying that Castiel "likes you" to Dean in season 4, to Castiel telling Sam that he and Dean shared a "profound bond" in season 6, to Meg referring to Castiel as Dean's "boyfriend" in season 7. In true Supernatural fashion, the show also featured a Fourth Wall-breaking episode in season 10 titled "Fan Fiction", which contained a school performance of 'Supernatural: The Musical' in which the women playing Castiel and Dean were a couple in real life. The show also featured many exchanges and moments between the two that seemed, subtextually, to hint at a mutual attraction (at least in the eyes of shippers). However, the show's creators and actors seemed content to feed fans' speculation and interest without actually making the ship textually canon (see Queerbaiting or Canon?)
- Needs info about season 10 through 15.*
In season 15 episode 18, Castiel reveals to Dean of his deal with the Empty, which stipulates that it will be summoned and claim him if he experiences "a moment of true happiness". He then followed this up with a confession of his romantic love for Dean, shortly before a portal to the Empty opens and drags him into it. An explosion of fan reaction followed this event (see Reaction to Season 15 Canonization) with varying opinions: many fans were incensed at the showrunners' decision to kill Cas off immediately after his confession, especially given how it plays into homophobic tropes.
The LiveJournal community DeanCastiel was established hours after the first episode featuring Castiel aired on September 18, 2008. As noted by the Supernatural Wiki, the first two Dean/Castiel fanfics were posted to fans' personal livejournals soon after: Up From Perdition by vain-chan with a timestamp of 11:59 pm that night and Lazarus Falling by rivkat with a timestamp of 2:49 pm the next day (give or take a timezone).
When Dean and Castiel slowly became friends, the pairing gained a lot of fans. The pairing may also have attracted slash writers interested in the canon who had been uncomfortable writing the previous juggernaut pairings in the fandom, an incestuous pairing and an RPF pairing. Before Castiel's addition to the cast, slash options had been limited due to the show's very tight focus on brothers Sam and Dean. Since 2008 - the first time Castiel was shown on screen - Destiel has grown to become the most popular ship in the fandom. In 2014 on Tumblr it was even the most popular ship in any fandom. As of 2016 it was the most popular ship on the multi-fandom Archive of Our Own though it has been losing steam on Tumblr, where it was ranked third in 2015 and fourth in 2016.
Wank and Ship Wars
In the earlier years of SPN fandom after Castiel's introduction, there was been a considerable amount of wank related to Destiel and the addition of Misha Collins (Castiel) to the main cast, possibly reaching a peak in 2013. Destiel fans have pointed to the intense onscreen sexual tension between the two characters, as well as their devotion to one another over time, as evidence that Destiel is, will be, or should be canon. However, officially, Destiel is not canon, and other fans were not impressed by Destiel fan arguments; at the same time that some fans were arguing that Destiel would be canon, others were complaining about queerbaiting on the show. Meanwhile, fans of J2 and Sam/Dean have been involved in a long ship war with Destiel fans.
The systematic dismissal of the Destiel fandom has primarily been led by fans who viewed the introduction of a third lead as a threat to what they believe the core value of the show is: the relationship between brothers Sam and Dean (whether sexual or familial). These same people organized fan campaigns to have Castiel killed, to have Misha Collins fired from the show, and created a false narrative in which they portrayed Destiel shippers as sending hate and threats to actress Shannon Lucio, who was announced as a love interest to Castiel prior to the season beginning.
Archive of Our Own and the Preponderance of Destiel
Destiel's rise in popularity occurred during the early years of Archive of Our Own, so it is perhaps no surprise that AO3 holds most of the popular Destiel fanfiction, such as Twist and Shout and I Cleanse The Mirror. According to a August 2013 survey by centrumlumina, Destiel was second only to BBC Sherlock's Sherlock/John in number of fanworks on the AO3. At that time it had only 15,307 works. As of December 2017, the Castiel/Dean Winchester tag contained over 69,000 fanworks; it has surpassed Sherlock/John and is the single most popular ship on the archive. However, according to centrumlumina, although Destiel still reigns supreme in total archive works, the period August 2016-August 2017 saw more activity in the Yuri Katsuki/Victor Nikiforov tag. According to the 2019 AO3 Ship Stats Destiel still has the most fics on the archive Destiel fans, and Supernatural fans in general, are also prolific in their participation in challenges, such as big bangs and gift exchanges, and AO3's interface makes it easy to make collections, which may also explain some of the reason for the popularity of AO3 over other archives.
Queerbaiting or Canon?
Fans have reacted very badly when any of the characters have romance with women.
Chad Kennedy's Twitter account blew up after he said that the producers had not intended for either Dean or Castiel to be bisexual. He clarified that he did not write the show; that no one had pitched him an episode in which the male leads had romance with one another; but that he would not rule it out if such a script did come to him. Meanwhile, Supernatural's writers engage in a certain amount of references, jokes and teasing about the characters' orientations and relationships. Fans and professional media critics whose goal is to engage in serious dialogue and activism supporting gay rights and visibility identify these jokes or hints as queerbaiting, rather than as lighthearted ship-teasing in recognition of slash fan viewers. 
Misha Collins, who portrays Castiel, has done his part to fan the flames by making unsubstantiated statements at conventions such as "Destiel is canon and the writers know it," However, Collins does not feel that the Ship tease seen on the show is homophobic. In a 2014 interview with members of the Organization for Transformative Works, he clarified
I don’t like the characterization of teasing around Destiel or around any kind of homoerotic subtext that might appear around the brothers or whatever as queer baiting. I think that that’s really unfair. Because I don’t think that – well, first of all that’s sort of a new and strange term to me, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I also don’t think that same kind of aspersion would be cast toward someone who is teasing a heterosexual relationship, like the tension that builds between two male and female series regular characters on any given show that’s never consummated. I understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s a fair characterization either. 
On 2013, fans attending the Supernatural New Jersey Convention reported witnessing Jensen Ackles somewhat rudely dismissing questions about Castiel and Dean's relationship from a woman who identified herself as bisexual. She was also booed by audience members for her inquiry and was later found crying. Aja Romano covered this for the Daily Dot, pointing out that the speculation in question was not solely created by fans, but by the show itself, which along with a hefty amount of queerbaiting seems to convey a lot of contempt for fans who support the idea either of Castiel and Dean, or of Dean and Sam, having romance. (Article was first published on May 6, 2013)
Tropes & Fanon
There are some common themes in fic that are specific to this particular pairing:
- Teaching Cas: Dean introducing Castiel to human things, activities and pop culture.
- Sam: Sam acting as matchmaker for Dean and Castiel.
- Trueform and alternate!vessel fic: Castiel uses a human vessel and has never been seen on-screen as himself (except for shadows of his wings). There are fanworks that explore trueform!Castiel, as well as the possibility of Castiel having alternate vessels.
- Jimmy Novak: The presence of Jimmy in Dean/Castiel fic brings in issues of consent if Dean and Castiel are to have a sexual relationship. Most common options to deal with this in fic are: Jimmy gives his consent, Jimmy deliberately not giving his consent, Jimmy being suppressed and unaware of what Dean and Castiel are doing, or Jimmy being dead and the body belonging entirely to Castiel. The last trope became prevalent in fics set or written after 5.01 Lucifer Rising where Castiel's human body is remade by God after having been exploded by an archangel, and this theory was later confirmed in canon.
- Hand Print: In episode 4.01 Lazarus Rising that introduces Castiel, Dean is shown having a handprint on his shoulder that is later explained to be Castiel's hand when he "gripped [Dean] tight and raised [him] from perdition". This handprint is one of the persistent tropes in Dean/Castiel fic, and is sometimes depicted as evidence of a tangible or magical bond between the characters.
- Endverse: Episode 5.04 The End shows a possible apocalyptic future where the world has been overrun by Lucifer's army and humanity is only surviving in small patches. This future sometimes referred to as "End-verse", "2014-verse" or "Croat-verse", features Dean having become the tough-as-nails leader of the resistance and a human Castiel that has changed greatly from present-day Castiel. There are Dean/Castiel fics set in that future that explore this relationship.
- Redemption Road, a fan-generated, large-scale AU project, including fiction and art
- I Cleanse The Mirror, a pre-Dean/Castiel story by takadainmate
- Twist and Shout, an AU Dean/Castiel story by discover and trunkcoats
- Bring It On Home(AO3) by thecouchcarrot. Dean the Sales Rep just moved into the neighborhood, and his neighbor is a definitely crazy shut-in. (December 2011-February 2012)
- Down to Agincourt, an epic (1,000,000+ words) canon-divergent series set after 'The End'.
- The Girlfriend Experience by rageprufrock. A funny, angsty, dialog-rich canon universe fic from 2010.
- Dummy With Rapture by hansbekhart
- Thursday’s Child by strangeandcharm
- Ninety One Whiskey by komodobits
- Come Morning Light by geckoholic
- Castiel is an Angel with a Shotgun is a fanmade video of the Tumblr-famous mishasminions that used the song of The Cab, Angel with a Shotgun, to highlight Castiel's determination of protecting Dean.
- Twist and Shout | As faithful as the sea (Destiel fanfic) is a fic trailer about the well-known story Twist and Shout by gabriel and standbyme.
- The Profound Bond is another fanmade trailer, only it is not based on any fanfiction whatsoever and was created by ablazingwings.
- Castiel & Dean (Crack!vid); homosexual subtext... is a crack!vid made by anaapenas about the unintended homosexual subtext between the two characters.
- As Long As It Takes is a parody of Blank Space, the text is changed so it's about Castiel and Dean's relationship from Castiel's perspective.
- Destiel by Beth Jo is an original song apparently being sung from Castiel's perspective.
- Hey There Dean is a parody of Hey There Delilah, the text is changed so it's about Castiel and Dean's relationship from Sam's perspective.
- Because God Commanded It (2017); archive link (2017), also at archive link, page 1 (2009); archive link, page 2 (2009) (February 2009 at The Shipper's Manifesto, reposted April 2017 on Tumblr)
- Dean and Castiel meta and picspam thing, with some stuff about denial by dotfic (September 2009); archive link
- Meta on Castiel in 6x21 and 6x22: you fight and fight for this family by dotfic (May 2011); archive link
- Why Cas is Dean's perfect match by missyjack (May 2011); archive link
- SPN meta: The Lack of Unconditional Love by vasiliki (June 2011); archive link
- The secret relationship theory by pinkandsatiny (April 2012); archive link
- Why are their scenes shot in such a romantic manner? by dirtyovercoats (June 2012); archive link
- making it up as we go: a dean/cas manifesto by dirtyovercoats (August 2012); archive link
- Why I Ship Dean/Castiel–After Swearing to God I Wouldn't by alexanrapelaez (August 2012); archive link
- Dean and Cas Purgatory reunion by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- Supernatural and Queer(ed) Canon by rootsunknown (November 2012); archive link
- Destiel & pro-canon Destiel shipping meta masterpost by silvenhorror (December 2012); archive link
- 5:04 Future!Dean and Cas are Lovers and the Whole Camp Knows It–part one by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- 5:04 Future!Dean and Cas are Lovers and the Whole Camp Knows It–part two by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- 5:04 Future!Dean and Cas are Lovers and the Whole Camp Knows It–part three by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- 5:04 Loving you, Darling, till The End: Future Dean and Cas–part four by lurea (October 2012); archive link
- 5:04 End!Verse Characterization–Dean and Cas by lurea (January 2013); archive link
- dean/cas, queerness, and continuity by rootsunknown (January 2013; archive link
- Artemis: The Perfect Dean/Cas Parallel by twistedsardonic (February 2013); archive link
- The Supernatural Lover: Fairy Tale Archetypes and Destiel by outpastthemoat (March 2013); archive link
- Let’s Talk About Music: Goodbye Stranger by spn-rants (March 2013); archive link
- 8x18: Dean’s “Feelings” Conversation And the Audience Getting Some Explicit Answers by spn-rants (March 2013); archive link
- An Argument in Tropes – A Destiel Meta by octoswan (April 2013); archive link
- An Argument in Tropes – A Destiel Meta (Part 2) by octoswan (April 2013); archive link
- Casual Viewers noticing Destiel - Part I by silvenhorror (April 2013); archive link
- Casual Viewers noticing Destiel - Part II by silvenhorror (April 2013); archive link
- Casual Viewers noticing Destiel - Part III by silvenhorror (April 2013); archive link
- Casual Viewers noticing Destiel - Part IV by silvenhorror (April 2013); archive link
- Season 8 had so many Human/Supernatural relationship parallels for Dean and Cas by mischievous-mouse (May 2013); archive link
- On the Nature of the Profound Bond by defilerwyrm (June 2013); archive link
- The Romance Narrative v. The Bromance Narrative: When slash ships transcend crack ships by heaven-is-my-hell (June 2013); archive link
- "Its like comparing a stallion horse to a piece of shit." Fandom Wank entry (August 2013)
- The Meaning Behind the Laundromat Song by charlie-minion (October 2013); archive link
- The Laundromat Song (Follow-up) by charlie-minion (October 2013); archive link
- Regarding Chad Kennedy by The Fandom (de)Bunker (October 2013); archive link
- Cain & Dean Parallels by pondlifeforme (January 2014); archive link
- Extended Cain & Dean Parallels by pondlifeforme (January 2014); archive link
- Parallels - Dean/Cain, Sam/Abel & Castiel/Collette by queernatural (January 2014); archive link
- Destiel between Hiatuses, or A Look At What These Four Episodes Have Been Telling Us And Why We Can Be Very Optimistic Right Now by proxy-1 (February 2014); archive link
- Bedroom Meta: Setting the Scene for Dean's Romantic Endgame by thevioletcaptain (February 2014); archive link
- Season 9: How it has established that Dean Winchester’s endgame includes a love interest, and what that means for Dean and Cas by crossroadscastiel (March 2014); archive link
- Canon Queer: Deconstructing Destiel Theory by honestbrooklyndirt (March 2014); archive link
- The Weight of the World Is Love by thevioletcaptain (April 2014); archive link; mirror link
- Narrative Negative Space: How What’s Not There Says as Much as What Is by s-cornelius (April 2014); archive link
- When Structure Informs Subtext Or, why I think Destiel is going to happen (and it's not just because of actor chemistry) by deathbycoldopen (April 2014); archive link
- The Rule of Three in "Heaven Can't Wait" by obsessionisaperfume (September 2014); archive link
- Summary of Destiel + POV by elizabethrobertajones (November 2014); archive link (updated September 2017,archive link)
- “The Charlie Kaufman Of It All”: The Relevance for Canon Destiel of Robbie Thompson’s References to Kaufman’s "Adaptation" by filleretive (December 2014); archive link
- "Mirror, mirror, on the wall...” by neven-ebrez (January 2015; archive link
- Aparicio, Rachel. 2015. Supernatural Needs to Pull the Trigger on Destiel or Castiel (And They Need to Do It Now) The Daily Fandom, March 20; archive link
- Queerness, Tropes & Proof Of Love: Why Destiel Is Canon by fozmeadows (April 2015); archive link
- The Three Day Deancasversary by mittensmorgul (September 2015); archive link
- Destiel is canon by Anloquen (October 2015)
- Anonymous asked: Hello! 'all the episode did in general was tick yet another (possibly the last) item off of the long list of 'obstacles in the way of actual canon Destiel' can I ask what you meant by that, and what the other boxes are or were? thank you! by destieldrabblesdaily (April 2016); archive link
- SPN 11x23: They think they’re family by charlie-minion (June 2016); archive link
- Dean. Made Cas. A fucking mixtape. by k-vichan (April 2017); archive link
- I'm throwing something in the pile of "romantic tropes/couples Destiel parallels." by trisscar368 (January 2017); archive link
- Why the SPN mixtape scene from 12x19 is screenwriting gold, and should be taught to the next generations of screenwriters everywhere - analysis by margarittet (May 2017); archive link
- Deans top 13 Zepp TRA XX by deanandcastrash, neven-ebrez (June 2017, August 2017); archive link
- It’s never too late to start over again by k-vichan (November 2017); archive link
- Anonymous asked: hiii so i watched 9x06 again because ugh that episode was SO DESTIEL and killed me. I don't see enough people talking about the Saturday Night Fever thing where Dean calls Cas Tony Manero because omg Annette was Tony's best friend and was basically pining for Tony the whole time ???? so isn't Annette Dean in that scene? by naruhearts (January 2018); archive link
- Singular vs Plural “You” by charlie-minion (January 2018); archive link
- Dean And Cas Are In Love “A hopefully one day conclusive study of these assholes, hopefully told as briefly as I can. Written for the people in the fandom who care but sometimes need a pick me up on this, and not written to prove a point to anyone who doesn’t already care. <3″ by lizbobjones (January 2018 --)
- seeing subtext by elizabethrobertajones (April 2018); archive link
- Meta Monday: Supernatural - Castiel/Dean by fangirlunderground (April 2018); archive link
- This Is the Song That Never Ends by sisabet (July 2018)
- Dean and Cas and their issues... by mittensmorgul, "A collection of as much of my meta on Castiel, Dean, and their relationship as I can possibly cram onto AO3 before tumblr implodes." (December 2018)
- Slash and Canon: Do you ever just think about how much slash (and femslash) fandom has changed the last ~10 years? by comradegrantaire (December 2018); archive link
- Destiel - The Intimacy of Touch and Holding Hands by bluestar86 (December 2019); archive link
- Understanding the Closet in Narrative - Healing Hands/ Holding Hands in 15x08 Our Father Who Aren't in Heaven by drsilverfish (December 2019); archive link
- exhausted homosexual reacts to destiel by Rowan Ellis (November 2020)
- Bottom Cas Big Bang
- DC Dystopia
- Dean/Cas Pinefest
- Dean Cas Mini Bang
- Dean/Cas Reverse Bang
- Dean/Cas Tropefest
- Dean/Castiel Big Bang, a Big Bang fic fest
- Dean/Castiel Ever After
- Dean/Castiel Secret Santa Exchange, a Dean/Castiel secret santa exchange
- Secret Angels Fic Exchange
- DeanCastiel, the biggest and most active Dean/Castiel community
- Rec-hymenated, a Dean/Castiel rec community
- DeanCastielNews, a newsletter
- Dean and Castiel Daily, a daily image community
- D/C & J/M Kink Meme!, a Dean/Castiel and Jensen/Misha kink meme
- Dean/Cas E-books, a community for distributing downloadable e-books of fanworks - deleted
- Let There Be Fluff, a fanworks community for Dean/Castiel and Jensen/Misha fluff
- The Fireplace of Dean/Castiel, an advent community for fanworks, last updated in August 2010
- Dean/Cas stills, an icon challenge community, last updated in June 2010
- Dean/Castiel kink meme, last updated in September 2009
- DeanCastiel, a DW mirror of the LJ community
- Destiel Fanfic a review blog for Dean/Castiel fics
- Destiel Ebooks, an archive for PDF/ebook versions of Dean/Castiel fics
- Destiel Fanfiction, an Archive of Our Own feed on tumblr
- Rock Salt And Feathers, Archived version, a fic archive (defunct)
- Dean/Castiel, part of a larger multifandom archive at chancesarchive.net
- Castiel/Dean Winchester fanworks at Archive of Our Own
- Castiel/Dean Winchester podfics at Audiofic Archive
- Gimme your Dean/Castiel recs! updated February 20, 2009 by tracy on livejournal
- Dean/Castiel: thematic rec lists, updated October 16, 2011 by tracy on livejournal
- Super-Wiki's Castiel page has many more details.
- The deancastiel profile puts the creation date at 2008-09-19, the episode aired on 2008-09-18.
- Dean/Castiel - Super-wiki, Archived version
- "Most Reblogged Ships". Archived from the original on 2015-08-20. post in Tumblr Year In Review 2 December 2014. Sam/Dean was not even listed in the top 20, though it's possible that "wincest" was not one of the ships searched on; the process for determining "most reblogged" was not disclosed.
- On 23 March 2017, AO3's works search function returned 13560 works for Destiel vs. only 3871 posted for Sam/Dean in 2016. Tumblr user marmolita's programmatic method showed Destiel was the most popular AO3 ship with 11,548 works. The discrepancy might be caused by the date posted vs. the date last updated (what the works search query actually return?). "some AO3 fandom stats for 2016". Archived from the original on 2017-04-24. by marmolita, 22 March 2017.
- after Larry Stylinson and Dan and Phil. Tumblr 2015 Year in Review: Most Reblogged Ships, archived.
- "2016's Top Ships". Archived from the original on 2017-02-16.
- exorcisingemily. Debunking Myth and Correcting Fandom Misconceptions: Destiel in SPN Family, blog post October 26, 2013. In a follow-up post, the blogger noted that one anti-Destiel fan had commented on the original post under 26 names to create the illusion that their opinion was widespread.
- centrumlumina. "A ranked list of the most popular relationship tags on AO3". Archived from the original on 2015-08-08., posted to tumblr 17th August 2013.
- Fanwork counts taken from the AO3 tag pages on August 8, 2015: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson as 41,080 works vs. 44,812 Castiel/Dean Winchester works. Note that due to metatag structure on the archive, the Sherlock/John tag actually includes all Sherlock Holmes canons, including Elementary's Joan/Sherlock. AO3 also skews toward recently active fandoms, as well as Western media and live-action fandoms, and some of the largest fandoms on the archive actually have ensemble casts, so none of their ships can match the dominance of the few Supernatural ships.
- "Summer is here again, so it's time for the 2015 AO3 Ship Stats". Archived from the original on 2015-07-11.
- AO3 Ship Stats 2017: Overall Top 100, Archived version, tumblr post by centrumlumina, 3rd August 2017.
- AO3 Ship Stats 2017: This Year's Top 100, Archived version, tumblr post by centrumlumina, 3rd August 2017.
- "AO3 Ship Stats 2019". Archived from the original on 2019-07-27.
- "Regarding Chad Kennedy at The Fandom Debunker, October 23, 2013". Archived from the original on 2013-10-27.
- Supernatural Has a Queerbaiting Problem That Needs to Stop. TV Guide, November 17, 2014.
- See tenoko1, Per Misha Collins: Destiel is Canon. October 29, 2012. Collins made these statements at the Supernatural convention in Chicago on that date. Among Collins' statements: "misha confirmed jeremy carver was gonna resolve cas and dean’s relationship later in the season." He didn't.
- Fandom, Passion and Supernatural: A Chat With Misha Collins. Fangasm, April 7, 2014.
- Aja Romano, How 1 question triggered a "Supernatural" fandom meltdown. Daily Dot, March 2, 2020.
- Lazarus Rising at SupernaturalWiki
- archive link