|Alternative name(s):||Destiel (common), Casdean|
|Gender category:||Slash, M/M|
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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.
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).
Archive of Our Own 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 contains 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.
There has 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.
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 has done his part to fan the flames by making unsubstantiated statements at conventions such as "Destiel is canon and the writers know it,"
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. 
Tropes & Fanon
There are some common themes in fic that are specific to this particular pairing:
- Dean introducing Castiel to human things, activities and pop culture.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- "Its like comparing a stallion horse to a piece of shit." Fandom Wank entry (August 2013)
- "Damon Lindelof was right" Fandom Wank entry (October 2013)
- Supernatural Fandom Wank: A Master Post by greeneyedgrasshopper on tumblr (September 2015)
- Destiel is canon by Anloquen (October 2015)
- 9x06 (January 2018)
- Slash and Canon: Do you ever just think about how much slash (and femslash) fandom has changed the last ~10 years?, Archived version (2018)
"Bundle" by Lily-fox (2012)
art made for a Destiel calendar by fiveocock (2013)
a Hogwarts AU by linneart (2015)
- DeanCastiel, the biggest and most active Dean/Castiel community
- Dean/Castiel Big Bang, a Big Bang fic fest
- Rec-hymenated, a Dean/Castiel rec community
- DeanCastielNews, a newsletter
- Dean/Castiel Secret Santa Exchange, a Dean/Castiel secret santa exchange
- 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 Fanfiction, a review blog for Dean/Castiel fics
- Destiel Ebooks, an archive for PDF/ebook versions of Dean/Castiel fics
- Destiel Fanfiction is another tumblr blog that links to several Destiel fanfictions from Archive of Our Own
- Rock Salt And Feathers, a fic archive
- 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.
- Most Reblogged Ships (archived), 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 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
- The deancastiel profile puts the creation date at 2008-09-19, the episode aired on 2008-09-18.
- Dean/Castiel - Super-wiki, Archived version
- centrumlumina. A ranked list of the most popular relationship tags on AO3., 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.
- centrumlumina. Summer is here again, so it’s time for the 2015 AO3 Ship Stats!, posted to tumblr 7 July 2015.
- 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.
- 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.
- Regarding Chad Kennedy at The Fandom Debunker, October 23, 2013.
- 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.
- Lazarus Rising at SupernaturalWiki
- original link is defunct. archived link
- archive link