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Event: Destielgate, Destiel's (it's complicated) canonisation, SPNgate
Participants: Destiel fandom, Supernatural fandom, Supernatural cast and crew
Date(s): 5th November 2020- early 2021; annual on November 5th (ongoing)
Type: Fandom Occurrence, Queerbaiting, Bury Your Gays
Fandom: Supernatural
meme composite of Castiel's love confession and the US presidential election made as a 1-year retrospective on Destielgate
Meme by world-of-athena, 2021
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Destielgate is a name given to a series of events in the Supernatural fandom, beginning on November 5th, 2020 with airing of Season 15, Episode 18 ("Despair"), which canonized Castiel's feelings for Dean. The semi-canonization of the Destiel ship was controversial and received a mixed response from fans; some fans celebrated the ship's canonization, while others renewed complaints of queerbaiting and homophobia. Destielgate extended past Supernatural's controversial final episode, leading to some fans referring to the event as Supernatural Season 16.

Destielgate also marked a period of increased Supernatural fandom engagement. Some fans viewed the explosion of Destiel related posts on November 5th as reminiscent of 2012 tumblr, with many users reporting their dashes were consumed by Supernatural related memes and discourse as news of the canonization spread. For weeks, both the show and Destiel trended regularly on social media and blogging platforms as fans shared updates, theories, memes and shitposts.

There was also noticeable increase in the production of Supernatural and Destiel-centric fanfiction and fanart. Notably, more than 4,000 Destiel fanfics were posted on Archive of Our Own between November 6th, 2020 and January 2021.[note 1]

in case you were wondering as of november 10 you have to go to page 54 of the supernatural tag on ao3 until you see fics that were published before november 5 [1]

Destielgate also became associated with, and occasionally synonymous with, fandom events and non-fannish current events occurring during the first week of November 2020 and beyond, such as the results of the 2020 United States presidential election.

Original airing & response

On November 5th, 2020, Season 15 Episode 18 ("Despair") of Supernatural aired in the United States. This episode includes a scene of the character Castiel proclaiming his love for Dean. Immediately afterwards, Castiel is dragged to The Empty, an underworld-esque extradimensional location.

This scene set off an immense fan reaction on social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter. The excitement quickly spread beyond fans of the show itself as Supernatural and Destiel began to trend on social media and blogging sites around the world. This exposed Destielgate to people outside fandom circles, especially once the memes and discussion connected it to other major events that were going on at the time, such as the US presidential election.

Fanart by Lantaniel on Tumblr joking that canonically queer characters like Charlie and Castiel are sent to the "queer character afterlife".

Many shippers were unhappy with the canonization as the series killed off Castiel immediately after his love confession; Supernatural's problematic history of killing queer characters was referenced in many posts.[2] Many fans also questioned whether this could be considered a true 'canonization' of the ship at all, due to the fact that the scene consists of one character confessing his love and then immediately dying. Plus we never fully get Dean's perspective on the love confession, and Dean does not discuss it with any other characters in the subsequent two episodes.

There was discourse and debate about the narrative, but there were also many memes that highlighted the Bury Your Gays trope by referencing gays going to superhell or turbohell. On November 5th and 6th, Destiel memes proliferated on Tumblr, often referencing current events and other SuperWhoLock fandoms. V for Vendetta was also referenced due to that fandom's connection to November the 5th.

this is the first time in years that tumblr has felt organic. No I will not elaborate
no one had a “memes for if putin resigns during supernatural canon gays during the us presidential election” folder prepped ahead of time[3]
Tumblr really left “I can’t even” back in like, 2013. but if there’s gonna be one night that it’s valid to revive that phrase, it’s tonight.

2020 lacks the vocabulary. It’s a lexical gap in desperate need of filling. We’re bringing it back out of sheer desperation


It should be noted that at this stage, many long time Supernatural fans did not believe Cas's death was final. Supernatural regularly kills main characters only to bring them back. So many fans were gleefully celebrating Cas's confession and awaiting a Destiel reunion in the final episodes.

Vladimir Putin resignation rumor

The airing of and subsequent reaction to the episode happened in the same timeframe as a notable spread of a false rumor stating that Russian president Vladimir Putin was resigning from his position as president. Because of this, memes and jokes implying or stating that the two events were linked spread on social media sites. Jokes included that Putin was resigning either because he was a Destiel shipper who disliked the confession scene's handling, or because of homophobia. Many people learned about the rumor through these memes, which in turn led to more memes.

how are people with spn blacklisted ever gonna find out putin resigned[5]

2020 US presidential election

Tongue in cheek meme crediting Wincest for Georgia going blue. Original post included excerpt from interview with voting rights activist and SPN fan, Stacey Abrams, and reblogs explained the alleged connection in more detail.

The initial fan reaction to the episode coincided with the period of time in which the results of the 2020 United States presidential election were still being determined. Significant political and media attention was directed at the state of Georgia, which was notable in the election due to being a swing state (a state in United States presidential elections which may reasonably be won by either presidential candidate of the United States' two major political parties). Due to the similar timeframes of the election and the episode, some fans created memes relating the election to Destiel, often focusing on Georgia. Other states that were close races or slow to report results, such as Nevada and Pennsylvania, also got referenced in memes. Some fans made jokes that combined Destiel, the Putin resignation rumors, and the election. This resulted in the creation of the tag "SuperPutinElection", which was used to share posts and memes related to these events.

My brain’s been an overstuffed mailbox for 3 days and y’all are really trying to jam “Putin resigned because he sensed his Omega Trump was in distress and as a pair-bonded Alpha he had to go to him” against the slot now huh, huh?

ALSO WHAT THE F̴̢̡̤̹͈͍̜̱͖̂̅̊̐͌́̔͂̈̂͋̊̆̓̚̚͜͝ͅŪ̷̧̢̠̩̺̝̟̜̱͇̹͓̬̝̪̤̇̒̿́͛̈́̔͌͊͛͆̕͝ͅC̷͔̟̰̃̂̈̆́̊̐̎̈́́̄̿̕K̴̢̨̼̩͇̺͚͓͙͍̹͇̱̺̼̒̓̈́͊̈́͝͝ ̴̡̻̞̬̰͕̭̦͚͓̓̀̂͐͗̓͋͐̕͠͝ DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH DESTIEL?[4]

i can’t believe castiel went to super hell to turn georgia blue [6]

On November 7th, 2020, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for then-president Donald Trump, held a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small landscaping business in Pennsylvania. The nature of the press conference's location drew ridicule from journalists and became a meme on social media. A joke alternate universe, the Fours Seasons Total Landscaping AU, arose as part of Four Seasons-related memes. The Supernatural fandom was one of the first fandoms to employ the trope in fanfiction.

Other Breaking News

The excitement that accompanied many fans discovering Destiel was canon, alongside rumours that Putin was resigning, encouraged similar memes referencing other current events and fandom related news. This included:

  • Rumors of Sherlock season 5
  • BNHA manga leaks revealed that Dabi is Todoroki Touya, confirming a long-running and popular fan theory[7]
  • New System of a Down album
  • A scandal about a Mo0gs, an artist with a following on Twitter, RPing as Ted Bundy (while perhaps not out of the ordinary for Twitter scandals, it got included in the general pile of "Destielgate news" on Tumblr)[4][8]
  • More Examples: In Case You Missed It, Archived version, tumblr post collecting more examples of stories making rounds as "crazy" events happening all in one week. (Note: some of these were rumors that were later disproven.)

During the mayhem, dashconstaff seemingly returned to Tumblr to announce that Dashcon was returning in March 2021. It took Tumblr users awhile to notice that this was a parody account. The donation link in the announcement post went to a non-profit organization unassociated with Dashcon or any other fannish event.[9]

There was a general expectation of further ridiculous news and rumors, particularly through the lens of earlier notable Tumblr meltdowns:

anything else you want me to manifest before i go to bed? a fifth season of bbc sherlock, perhaps? a lorax sequel? babygate reveal? cole sprouse socal experiment but it’s dylan this time? it’s been a while since our first dashcon, hasn’t it? also wasn’t there also something about an apocalypse that was supposed to wipe us out in 2012…

heritageposts on Tumblr [10]

i just want to take a moment to congratulate the first week of november for somehow being the longest, and most compelling, part of the 500 years that has been 2020. what a ride.

amazonrhinos [11]

Other Memes

A wide variety of memes erupted following November 5th, many mocking the responses and facial expressions present in the confession scene. Both fans and non-fans were quick to point out the contrast between the facial expressions of the two characters in the confession scene. Many memes drew attention to the difference between Castiel's emotional confession and Dean's less outwardly emotional response to it.

Other memes included:

  • A riff on the widely known Tumblr post "Do you love the color of the sky", with the large gradient image interspersed with various images corresponding to the events of November 5th. These include an electoral map of Nevada, photo-shopped pictures of Putin googling Destiel, screenshots of an article seemingly announcing a fifth season of Sherlock, characters from My Hero Academia following the confirmation that Dabi is a Todoroki, and a cropped picture of Castiel's face at the moment of his confession. [12]
  • Fake footage of Castiel apparently going to "superhell", which is really just an edited clip from a Doctor Who episode with Castiel superimposed on top of it. A large number of people who had not actually seen the episode believed this to be real footage, causing widespread confusion.
just had to take a fucking second and close my eyes because i remembered that on the night of november 5th tumblr had convinced me, an outsider, that this was an actual gif of Castiel Supernatural being sent to mega fruit hell [13]

  • The I love you meme is sometimes just called The Destiel Meme, and uses screencaps from Cas' love confession scene. This meme continues to be used to convey news and current events. For good news stories, the response may be "I love that [news story]".

Latin American dub

On November 25, fans discovered that a Latin American Spanish dub of the show included Dean reciprocating in response to Castiel's confession, saying "(Y) Yo a ti, Cas" ("(And) I you, Cas").[note 2] This led to widespread confusion, celebration, and speculation among fans about edited dialogue and cut scenes in the episode, with many fans believing that the dub must have been based on an earlier version of the script or scene, which was later changed. The hashtags #TheySilencedYou and #TheySilencedThem began trending on Twitter, with outraged fans demanding that Dean's canonical bisexual identity (and the reciprocation of his love for Castiel) be acknowledged and not suppressed.[14]

The Spanish dub was seen by some in SPN fandom as evidence of a conspiracy theory which was already gaining traction in fandom. This is a fan theory which asserts that the writers intended to make Destiel a fully canonical and requited pairing, but this decision was overturned with last minute script rewrites and cut scenes.[15] This conspiracy theory is often referred to as Destielgate, and much fannish activity has been focused on finding evidence that Desitel was supposed to be endgame.

Fans also made a number of jokes and memes about the fact that Destiel was "only canon in Spanish", with the Tumblr is-destiel-canon-yet posting:

Is Destiel Canon Yet?

11/25/20: Sí.[16]

Later that day, Misha Collins addressed the commentary on the Spanish dub, saying a "rogue translator" added their own incorrect dialogue, and that there was "no conspiracy within the network, staff, or cast of #SPN to minimize or erase representation from the narrative".[17] This led to more confusion and frustration from many fans who felt as though Collins was minimising the extent to which Castiel's immediate death after confessing to Dean played into the Bury Your Gays trope, regardless of whether the Spanish dub was or wasn't official.[18][19] Fans also expressed their scepticism that a professional dubber would be allowed to "go rogue" on the translation and have it aired with no-one objecting or noticing the discrepancy.[20] Others, however, pointed out that "rogue" translators changing dialogue on their own was possible and has happened in the foreign dubbing of other American television shows.[21][22] German fans of The Simpsons even created a website to document such instances in the German dubbing of their show.

Once again, many memes and jokes have been created in reference to the Spanish dub, both for the Supernatural fandom and for others.

Other dubs

Rumors of other non-English dubs also having Dean reciprocate Castiel's confession soon surfaced. The most prominent of these was a recording of what was supposedly leaked footage of the Italian dub. The footage was later revealed to be fake and its creator explained in a Tumblr post why and how they created it.[23] The hoax occurred in November 2020, but the eventual release of the Italian dub in September 2021 also caused an upset in fandom. The Italian dub ultimately un-canonized Destiel by using the platonic version of "I love you" rather than the romantic in Cas's confession. Reaction was swift from the fandom and Misha Collins, with the translation accused of homophobia in Italian media.[24]

Supernatural finale

happy last day of schrödinger’s destiel

deancastielnovak, 18 November 2020 [25]

The lead up to the finale ("Carry On", aired 19 November 2020) was full of anticipation. The internet was on the edge of their seats and fans who were not Supernatural fans were eager to see what would happen and how the Supernatural fandom would react. Many fans who had previously stopped watching Supernatural tried to catch up on episodes so they could watch along for the finale. Not all fans were expecting a canon Destiel ending and the show's history of queerbaiting dampened expectations.[26] Still, many fans were expecting Cas to appear in the finale and be reunited with Dean (even if the love confession wasn't specifically addressed).

Ultimately Castiel did not appear in the final episode. The episode was criticised for Castiel having seemingly been forgotten about. Memes about how the car went to heaven, yet Castiel went to superhell arose. One tumblr gifset highlighted the similarities between the finale and Becky's review of Chuck's finale in canon; "the climax is a little stale, no one even mentions Cas, it's awful." The gifset creator castee-yel included the caption, Becky Knew. [27]

Fans were also critical of the narrative choices made in the finale - namely Dean dying on a hunt and Sam giving up hunting to live a suburban life. Many fans pointed out that ending negated all their experiences and character growth in the 15 seasons of SPN, as both brothers would have likely suffered similar fates if Dean had not sought out his brother's help in season 1 episode 1. There was also criticism for the manner in which Dean died, and memes that he died of tetanus subsequently arose.

Fans were also critical of production in the finale episode. Old Sam's wig, and the vampires in clown masks were two points often ridiculed. There was an acknowledgement within fandom that the interruption to production caused by Covid-19 would have to result in changes to ensure all actors and staff were safe on set, but that didn't prevent fans from been disappointed by unresolved storylines and baffling narrative choices.

Supernatural fans responded on social media, with commentary, fanworks and memes. There were also instances of fans who were not in Supernatural fandom expressing their sympathies and commiserating with Supernatural fandom.[28]

Supernatural Season 16

Fannish events taking place in SPN fandom following the finale are often referred to as Season 16 episodes. The Spanish Dub with its rogue translator was possibly the first episode of S16 but there were many others, and there may be more to come. Following the finale, fandom was also regularly reacting to multiple dubs, many scripts revelations and interviews given by actors and creators during online panels. Destiel went canon on multiple occasions, and fans also celebrated the monthly anniversaries of Cas's love confession.

Season 16 Episodes include:

  • Barack Obama and other celebrities identified as possible Hellers
  • Fandom discovered an article Misha Collins wrote about his time interning for Bill Clinton at the White House. The article defends Monica Lewinsky, and describes how all interns were infatuated with Bill Clinton.[29]. Misha confirmed it on Twitter, Aug 30, 2011. There are now Bill Clinton/Misha Collins fanfics on AO3.
  • Mishapocalypse 2.0 occurred on 31st December 2020. [30]
  • Dean and the Cartwright Twins, which fandom discovers are a Canadian minor league baseball team. There is a SPN episode where Dean implies that he had a sexual encounter with the Cartwright Twins, and fandom latched onto the headcanon that Dean was referring to the baseball team. Dean/Cartwright Twins posts and fanfic appear.
  • Destiel Wedding on 14 February 2021
  • Saileen Wedding on 17 March 2021. The theme was St. Patrick's Day.
  • In June 2021, news that a prequel was in the works resulted in prequelgate and the J2 Fallout
  • On 9th August 2021, Destiel reached 100,000 fanfics on Ao3
  • In September 2021, Misha Collins speaks at Momento Con, claiming that Dean did not reject Cas's love confession and Cas saw love in his eyes. Some fans celebrate this and view Desitel as a fully reciprocated canon ship.[31]


There was already a metafandom of Supernatural, arising from the show's widespread reach on platforms like Tumblr and Twitter, but the wide coverage of and viral memes about Destielgate brought a lot more attention to the metafandom.

Good night supernatural metafandom (the fandom where we watch the supernatural fandom lose their minds [without] ever seeing the show ourselves)

stupid-dyke on tumblr [32]

In response to posts about the finale:

nobody explain this episode to me. figuring out what the hell happened from dash osmosis is a fun little guessing game.

birdblogwhichisforbirds [33]

Fan Activism

Charity Fundraisers

In response to the finale groups of fans set up fundraisers in honor of each of the main characters:

Plus fundraisers in honor of some of the supporting characters:

Other Fannish Activities

  • Fan Pilgrimages: During SPN's final season, there is evidence some fans sought out older Desiel fics to experience the beginning of this fandom as the series neared its end. (blink), the first Destiel fic on Ao3, saw renewed fannish engagement following the canonization of Destiel, and again following the series finale. There have also been instances of fans going to the bridge in the final episode and acting out their Dean Cas reunion.[34]
  • Anniversary: Fans created memes and fanworks to celebrate the anniversary on November 5th in 2021 and 2022:
Happy destiel nevada putin elec'tion covid way, don’t forget to leave milk and cookies out for misha collins[note 3]

staffs-secret-blog [35]

  • 2020 Calendars: At the end of 2020, fandom-specific Calendars were everywhere on Tumblr. These calendars were created using gifs from a particular source material to represent the subjective experience of 2020 during Covid-19. Many calendars using gifs from source materials other than SPN included Destiel as a month, occurring between November and December. This reflects how Destielgate permeated all corners of fandom, with the gif chosen to represent Destiel often providing a meta commentary on events. Examples:

Example Fanworks




Gifset AU


Meta and Explainers

Further Reading

Archives & Links


  1. ^ On November 6 2020, there were 86441 Dean/Castiel works archived on Ao3. By January 1 2021, there were 90702 Destiel fanfictions, meaning 4261 new fanfictions were posted in less than 2 months. In the same time period, works in the Supernatural fandom tag on Ao3 increased from 224968 to 230064. An increase of 5096 works; implying increased production of gen and other shipping works in SPN fandom during this time.
  2. ^ There was debate among fans as to whether the dialogue was "Y yo a ti, Cas" - "And I, you, Cas" or simply "Yo a ti".
  3. ^ Destiel, nevada, putin, election -- explained on this page, see § Original airing & response.
    covid -- reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    The meme format (list of names, apostrophe, and ending with "Way") references Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way.
    Leave out milk and cookies -- American Christmas tradition (for Santa Clause)
    Misha Collins -- Destiel's actor, but probably chosen here in reference to Mishapocalypse.


  1. ^ Tumblr post by Tumblr user boykvng, currently unavailable. Presumably posted Nov 10. Reblogs posted on Nov 10 and Nov 11.
  2. ^ 'Supernatural' Season 15 Episode 18: Making 'Destiel' canon between Cas and Dean now is homophobic, here's why by Smita M., posted on, 6 Nov 2020.
  3. ^ shepardcommander reblog, November 5 2020
  4. ^ a b c Tumblr really left “I can’t even” back in like, 2013., Archived version. Posted by phantomrose96 on 6 November 2020, accrued over 39,000 notes by 6 August 2022.
  5. ^ "Tumblr post by rockleftistlee copied to Twitter". Archived from the original on 2023-04-19.
  6. ^ Post by bacoose, Archived version. Posted 8 November 2020. Note: red-mercer's response "If you go to the circus for news don’t complain if a clown tells it to you" became a customary response to the "I Love You" Destiel Meme.
  7. ^ DID YOU SEE THE MANGA SPOILERS?!?!, Archived version Posted 5 November 2020, with followup comments on relation to Destielgate on November 6th.
  8. ^ Twitter artist called out for roleplaying as Ted Bundy on Discord (with side helping of racism), Archived version. Posted to r/HobbyDrama by u/ketchupsunshine on 17 November 2020. Archived 23 November 2020.
  9. ^ Dashcon is Back, Archived version, tumblr post by dashconstaff. Posted 6 November 2020, the post accrued over 69,000 notes by 25 November 2021.
  10. ^ Tumblr post by heritageposts, Archived version. Posted 6 November 2020, accrued over 56,000 notes by 3 September 2022.
  11. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by amazonrhinos, posted 7 November 2020.
  12. ^ Tumblr post by, Archived version. Posted 7 November 2020, accrued over 208,000 notes by 9 September 2022. Archive link
  13. ^ Tumblr post by Tumblr user @4x01, Mar 6th, 2021
  14. ^ ‘Supernatural’ Fans Furious Over Season 15 Finale In English, ‘They Silenced Them’ Trends, International Business Times. Published November 25, 2020 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  15. ^ somethingxlittle post on Tumblr, asking "… what is destiel gate?", Nov 25 2020. plaiddoodles replies, referencing only the conspiracy theory and evidence to suggest Destiel was supposed to be canon and calling the Latin dub a smoking gun.
  16. ^ Is Destiel Canon Yet? by is-destiel-canon-yet on Tumblr. Published November 25, 2020 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  17. ^ Mischa Collins' tweet, Archived version
  18. ^ JUST BECAUSE A QUEER CHARACTER’S DEATH WAS USEFUL DOESNT MEAN IT WASNT BURY YOUR GAYS, thebloggerbloggerfun via Tumblr. Published November 25, 2020 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  19. ^ It’s very hard, I know, to hear from Misha like that. He has always seemed like our greatest ally and I know to some this will feel like yet another dismissal, even a betrayal. by dimples-of-discontent via Tumblr. Published November 26, 2020 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  20. ^ As a professional translator who knows how the dub wold works, I just don’t buy the “rogue translator” crap. by MoonyDanny via Tumblr. Published November 26, 2020 (Accessed November 26, 2020).
  21. ^ Tweet by @tofutanXL, Archived version
  22. ^ Warum deutsche Synchronfassungen von Filmen oft so scheiße sind, Archived version
  23. ^ SORRY. AND THANK YOU., Archived version
  24. ^ Supernatural, la traduzione di Rai4 scatena le polemiche: “Misha Collins dice ‘ti amo’ a un uomo, non ‘ti voglio bene’. È censura, l’omofobia è di casa”
  25. ^ Tumblr post by deancastielnovak, Archived version. Posted 18 November 2020.
  26. ^ Simpson's Meme by justteenthingslol, Archived version depicting the entire internet waiting for [Supernatural] to do something stupid. Nov 19 2020.
  27. ^ Gifset by castee-yel, Archived version, 15 x 20 Becky Knew, Nov 20 2020.
  28. ^ I made you guys a card by theburiedgay-moved, Archived version, a sympathies card to SPN fandom with the tag #this isn’t sarcastic I was Klancer up to the Voltron finale I can only imagine a 15 yr queerbaiting letdown, Nov 19 2020.
  29. ^ Did ‘Supernatural’ Star Misha Collins Intern for the Clinton Administration?, published 2021-12-16, retrieved 2021-10-03
  30. ^ Tumblr post by sydneygremlins proposing Mishapocalypse 2.0 for the end of the year. Posted 3 December 2020. With reblogs showing that many fans did indeed participate in Mishapocalypse 2.0 on 31 December 2020.
  31. ^ why is supernatural trending post on Momemto Con
  32. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by stupid-dyke, posted 12 December 2020. The post accrued over 49,000 notes as of September 2022.
  33. ^ Tumblr post, Archived version by eternalgirlscout, reply by birdblogwhichisforbirds. Posted 19 November 2020.
  34. ^ Tumblr post by annballofyarn with screenshots from an instagram post depicting a reenacted bridge scene, Jan 15 2021.
  35. ^ Tumblr post bt staffs-secret-blog, Archived version. Posted 5 November 2022.
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