Dean/Castiel

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Pairing
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Alternative name(s): Destiel (common), Dastiel (rare)
Gender category: m/m
Fandom: Supernatural
Canonical?: no (see fandom section)
Prevalence: high; surpassed Sam/Dean on AO3
Archives:
Other:
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Dean/Castiel is one of the main slash pairings of Supernatural. Castiel first appeared in the fourth season as an angel who saved Dean from hell.[1]

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.[2] As of 2016 it was the most popular ship on the multi-fandom Archive of Our Own[3] though it has been losing steam on Tumblr, where it was ranked third in 2015[4] and fourth in 2016[5].

Fandom

Relative popularity of Dean/Castiel vs. Sam/Dean on AO3, 2010-2016

The LiveJournal community DeanCastiel was established right after the first episode featuring Castiel aired.[6]

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.[7] As of August 2015, the Castiel/Dean Winchester tag contains over 44,000 fanworks; it has surpassed Sherlock/John and according to centrumlumina's follow-up July 2015 survey is the single most popular ship on the archive at this moment.[8][9]

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.

In a 2013 blog post, Exorcising Emily discussed why the popularity of Destiel is downplayed by Wincest shippers, despite evidence suggesting it is now the biggest ship in the fandom (or any fandom):

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.[10]

Fanfic Tropes

Common tropes explored in fanfic include wingfic, curse!fic, kid!fic and time travel. Alternate universe fics are also very popular in Dean/Castiel circles.

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".[11] 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.

Communities

Livejournal

Dreamwidth

Tumblr

Archives

Fanworks Examples

Fanfic

Art

Vids

Meta

Unknown Date

2009

2013

2015

References

  1. Super-Wiki's Castiel page has many more details.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. after Larry Stylinson and Dan and Phil. Tumblr 2015 Year in Review: Most Reblogged Ships, archived.
  5. 2016’s Top Ships
  6. The deancastiel profile puts the creation date at 2008-09-19, the episode aired on 2008-09-18.
  7. centrumlumina. A ranked list of the most popular relationship tags on AO3., posted to tumblr 17th August 2013.
  8. 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.
  9. centrumlumina. Summer is here again, so it’s time for the 2015 AO3 Ship Stats!, posted to tumblr 7 July 2015.
  10. 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.
  11. Lazarus Rising at SupernaturalWiki
  12. original link is defunct. archived link
  13. archive link