Sam/Dean

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Pairing
Pairing: Sam Winchester/Dean Winchester
Alternative name(s): Wincest, Dean/Sam, Samdean, Weecest (if the incest happens while they are underage)
Gender category: M/M, Slash, Incest
Fandom: Supernatural
Canonical?: No
Prevalence: High
Archives:
Other:
Sam and Dean: screenshot from the television series
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Sam/Dean, also known as Wincest, is the slash pairing of Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester in the Supernatural fandom. It is the original OTP of the fandom, and it is still one of the most popular pairings within Supernatural fandom. Fans were initially drawn to the pairing because of the tight focus on the brothers in canon, but even when that focus expanded, many fans were still inspired to create fanworks based on the characters' dynamics. Outside and inside the fandom the pairing has been the source of some controversy and discussion because of its incestuous nature (see Controversies).

It is also correlated with J2, the RPF ship of the actors (Jared and Jensen) who play them.

Fandom

Ship Appeal

"Photo manipulation where Dean is gently kissing a Sam with hand on the side of Sam's face"
wincest themed LJ icon, with manip, design by lostt1
You know Sam and Dean Winchester are psychotically, irrationally, erotically codependent on each other, right?
canon, the angel Zachariah, 5x18 "Point of No Return"
"Photo manipulation where it looks like Sam is pulling Dean closer to him by the shirt"
A popular Wincest photomanip based on a screencap from season 1 episode 21, by an unknown creator, that was widely circulated in the fandom

Many Wincest fans feel that Sam and Dean's love for each other is much more then that of brotherly, platonic or friendship and that their connection and bond is more along the lines of a romantic love.[1] The main appeal of the Sam/Dean pairing in the eyes of its shippers is the incredibly intense, chaotic, all-consuming and emotional connection and indescribable love between Sam and Dean as depicted on the show itself. The relationship between the two brothers is the emotional center of the show; showrunner Sera Gamble has referred to Supernatural as “The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean”.[2] Some fans are drawn to the idea of Sam/Dean as a tragic romance and have even argued that Sam/Dean are the M/M version of Romeo/Juliet.[3]

In response to a 2007 meta post by a non-Wincest shipper, a few fans explained that while the incest was a kink for some Wincest shippers, for others the fact that Sam and Dean were brothers was not a factor in their interest.

There have been many in-canon references to romantic love between the brothers, from outsiders mistaking the two for a gay couple, to the tropes between the two having romantic undertones ("chick flick" moments, emotional bonding, star-gazing together), to being declared as metaphysical soulmates who are bonded for life and also share Heaven together.

Fan Comments

People who bash Wincest shippers and then go off on one trying to explain in this condescending way how a sibling relationship works and why it’s abhorrent to think about a sibling relationship in a romantic sense and I’m here like… literally I KNOW this. I know how a sibling dynamic works. I have siblings. It’s literally having siblings that made me look at Sam and Dean like “wt-actual-f is going on with these two?”

Because I am repulsed by the idea of my siblings having sex! I wouldn’t buy them an exotic dancer and watch!!! I wouldn’t be jazzed to talk to them about what their one night stand was like!!!! I wouldn’t wanna think about it! I wouldn’t park outside the motel room and grin at them as they stripped down to do the dirty and gave me a thumbs up. I wouldn’t feel like they personally betrayed me every time they had a romantic relationship they prioritised over spending time with me.

...This is exactly WHY I think Sam and Dean are weird, it’s so nuts that people will sit there and be like “ I see so much of my relationship with my sibling in Sam and Dean” and then act like shippers are condoning inappropriate relationships. Like you sound like you have an inappropriate sibling relationship in real life if your relationship is comparable to Sam and Dean’s sorry. No healthy sibling dynamic acts like they do and pretending that’s a thing makes you look absolutely insane to me.[4]
So I saw a post a little while ago in which a wincest shipper talked about shipping any and all permutations of Sam & Dean/J2 because it’s not about the incest thing—it’s about the chemistry between the dudes.

And I do totally understand that. There’s an extremely palpable draw between them that’s obvious to anyone who watches them interact on-screen and/or off. BUT. BIG BUT COMING.

For me, the incest aspect is absolutely part of the draw. It’s big capital letters important like their relationship wouldn’t even exist in the way it does without them literally being brothers. It plays into classic horror tropes and codependency and obsession and the psychology of broken men in a broken world trying to eke out whatever happiness they can and damn the expectations of the rest of the world, etc. etc. soul mate shit.[5]]

History

The first episode aired on September 13, 2005,[6] and Sam/Dean slash kicked off immediately. The Supernatural slash community sn_slash (Supernatural Slash - For all your brotherly needs) was founded the very next day and the first story posted was a short 350-word snippet called Reunion by janedavitt.[7] Other stories that implied incest such as Burdens In The Dark by wistful_fever (16th September)[8] soon followed. Two other LiveJournal communities for Sam/Dean slash were created in the next month: sam_dean (13 October 2005) and wincest (23 October 2005).

Common Tropes in Fanworks

  • Incest: Sam/Dean fic ranges from deeply angsty and intense on the part of one or both brothers about their relationship being incestuous and thus "wrong," to cheerfully accepting with romantic fluff of the incest factor.
  • Pre-Series or Wee!cest: a focus on their relationship pre-canon, often showing them having a romantic relationship, sometimes with them breaking things off when Sam goes to college, these stories, especially if they contain sexual elements, are called wee!cest
  • Raised Apart: A subgenre of Sam/Dean AUs involves the brothers having been separated when Sam was very young, and on meeting as adults without knowing who the other is, are intensely attracted to each other.
  • Amnesia: usually a curse or spell causes the brothers to forget that they're brothers, but they decide (usually based on evidence of their constant proximity and remaining feelings of affection) that they must be involved and act on it, angst follows.
  • Hurt/Comfort: fics seems to be pretty evenly split, with both Sam and Dean being the object of the hurt and receiving comfort
  • Protective Dean Winchester: exploring Dean's protective instincts towards Sam, and the lengths Dean is willing to go to save Sam, often emphasizing the emotional components of Dean's behaviour
  • Codependency: examining the codependent nature of Sam and Dean's relationship, this can be shown in a negative or positive light depending on what the creators wish to explore
  • Jealousy: Dean or Sam being jealous, having them be jealous of their brother's relationship with an unspecified, or original, character is common. However, in early fandom it was not uncommon to have Dean be envious of the relationship Sam had with Jess, and in later fandom, having Sam be jealous of Dean's relationship with Cas was pretty standard
  • Deathfic or Near Death: these experiences are usually used in fic as a way to explore Sam and Dean's deeper feelings for each other. These stories can sometimes be dark, ending in permanent death, while others will find a way for Sam and/or Dean to avoid their fates at the last moment, or they will contain the resurrection trope, where a revelation of feelings occurs after one of them returns
  • Evil!Sam with Dean: Sam becoming evil, as the Boy!King of Hell, or by drinking demon blood. Dean's role in these fics varies, sometimes he is Sam's consort, or he fully embraces becoming evil and is a demon, or he remains human and is lost in the situation, either way he almost always refuses to leave Sam despite what he has become
  • Sam Saves Dean from Hell: after the season 3 finale there was a lot of fanworks created around the idea that Sam would find a way to save Dean from Hell, these fics continued to be written even after the show continued, because some fans were unhappy with Sam's lack of agency in Dean's return. The same issue occurred around seasons 7-8, where fans wrote Sam Saves Dean from Purgatory stories for the same reasons.
  • Smith & Wesson: focusing on the alternative reality in the episode It's a Terrible Life, where the boys were named Smith and Wesson, this universe can be attractive to fans because in it the Winchesters are not brothers, thus avoiding the incest issue
  • Samulet fix-it: before it's return in season 11, there were Samulet fix-it fics, about Dean getting the Samulet back after he threw it in the trash in S5. Either with Dean retrieving it or Sam giving it back to Dean
  • Pretend Couple: Sam and Dean pretending to be in a romantic relationship, usually for a case. This may lead to them realizing that they prefer things that way
  • Gay For You: although it has since fallen out of favor, some early fics featured the trope where Sam and Dean were heterosexually romantic, except when it came to each other
  • Fuck or Die: this is usually along the lines of a curse/magic made them do it, this can be a solid basis for angst, and may lead them to admitting they have deeper feelings for each other
  • Top/Bottom Dynamics: fics seem to be pretty evenly split between Top Sam and Top Dean
  • Alpha/Beta/Omega: the omegaverse originated in the SPN fandom. Having Dean be an omega and Sam an alpha is common, although it is also fairly common to have both Sam and Dean be alphas, and for them to be an unusual all alpha pairing. Fics where Sam is an omega are fairly rare, but those fics are more likely to involve mpreg
  • Finale Fix-it: some fans were unhappy with the series finale, and so they will fix-it in their fanworks. Some common storylines are Dean not dying at all, and the story ending with them still hunting or retired, or Sam and Dean dying together, and ending up in Heaven at the same time
  • Threesome or Poly: the most popular choice for the third partner being Castiel (Wincestiel). However, in the early days of fandom the pairing of Jess/Sam/Dean was not uncommon
  • RPS: Because some Supernatural slash fans don't want to write, draw, or vid incestuous pairings, there is also a J2 or Jared/Jensen fandom within SPN based on the two actors rather than the two characters. J2 is a highly popular pairing within RPS fiction and within the SPN fandom. This is why Supernatural is sometimes called the fandom where RPS has the moral high ground.

Challenges

Controversies

Incest

The ship is subject to the same general controversy that all incest ships are.

Wincest became widely known outside of the Supernatural fandom, being negatively commented upon by the entertainment press,[9] and being acknowledged, and disparaged, within the show itself.[10] In the early part of the fandom some fans were disturbed by this, because they wanted to keep their fandom and real life spheres separate.[10] They were aware of the taboo nature of the pairing, and did not like discussing it outside of their fandom groups,[11] which they may have been obliged to do when it was openly talked about outside fandom circles. Still, other fans were quite open about shipping Wincest and sharing related fanworks, but this could sometimes lead to arguments,[12] or targeting by anti-wincest shippers.[13]

In the 2020s, some fandom-wide events are excluding Wincest to varying degrees. These range from simply forbidding the creation of Wincest content for a challenge,[14] to refusing to acknowledge any content created by Wincest shippers regardless of subject,[15] to extending that restriction to any content deemed "Wincest adjacent."[16] Excluding people who create the content instead of merely excluding the content appears to be part of a larger fannish trend in the 2020s, possibly related to antishipping.

Fan Comments

Critical
Sam and Dean may be brothers but it’s NOT okay to ship them romantically or sexually.

As siblings they have their own bond, but Dean and Cas were MEANT to be together.

Wincest shippers can GLADLY unfollow me.

It’s unsettling how many people ship it in the fandom…and frankly it’s disgusting. Dean’s only job was to protect Sam…ever since they were kids.

It was always about protecting his baby brother. It’s a codependency, not the kind of shit Wincesties read into.[17]
Have incest shippers never heard “I love you” from their siblings? Is that why they think it’s romantic?[18]
funny how wincest shippers consider destiel shippers embarrassing when they literally ship incest and sexualize the hell out of a relationship that was a trauma bound[19]
news flash yall:

wincest shippers are homophobic

i’m telling u rn. no gay man condones incest. the only reason y'all think wincest is okay is because you’re a heterosexual woman who only cares about fetishizing and sexualizing gay relationships . am i wrong? i guarantee y'all do not give a shit about gay rights at all.[20]

I remember seeing a LJ post way back in the day talking about how Sam/Dean wasn’t really gay; they didn’t love each other because they were into dick but because they were brothers who knew each other’s souls or something, you see, which means that their relationship is actually MORE pure and wholesome than it would be if they were unrelated people who wanted to bone each other for shallower reasons!

I think this came before Castiel’s introduction so it was more of a “my ship isn’t problematic!” post than a “my ship is better than yours!” one, but it had the same kind of “incest makes this ship more wholesome than a non-incest one!” weird logic that you mentioned.[21]

Some members of the fandom recall that there was a general antipathy to ships other than Sam/Dean even before Destiel came along - while also acknowledging that this antipathy towards ships with female characters was not limited towards Wincest shippers.

[anonymous]
These kind of arguments actually started well before S4, right? A number of SPN fans were really vocal about how they didn't want the show to focus on anyone other than Sam or Dean or let them form important relationships with anyone other than each other (except for acceptable father figures like John and Bobby, I guess) because it'd compromise the pure integrity of the brothers' relationship or something. They hated on characters like Jo and Bela, who seemed to be poised to become love interests for the boys, so much that Eric Kripke even acknowledged it in interviews! So these kind of arguments didn't actually originate with Wincest vs. Destiel; it's just that Castiel became the most obvious singular target for them after S3 because he actually stuck around for a long time unlike practically every other non-Winchester character.
[anonymous]
Yep, you're right! Castiel sticking around and being the other half of a fast-growing "competing" ship just added a new level of frenzied illogic. (And the shit that went down with Jo and Bela and every other female character who stuck around for more than a couple of episodes wasn't a strictly Wincester phenomenon, of course.)[22]
Supportive
no, for real, delete your ao3 account if you’re anti wincest and don’t want to interact with wincesties ❤️
co-dependent [23]
Okay I came across an anti-wincest post because it was not properly tagged (color me shocked) but it made me laugh. The person was talking about how Cas is the only person whose relationship with Dean has rivaled Sam and Dean’s bond. Like?? Are we even watching the same show? The person also talked about how Cassie and Lisa’s relationships with Dean came close to Sam and Dean’s relationship so yeah. We’re definitely not watching the same show.
sammyintheskywithdeanmonds [24]
[samastrophe]
I mean I don't see why anyone thinks wincest shippers condone IRL incest because the whole point of pairing Sam and Dean is that we can see there's something quite not brotherly about them. It's a little beyond your normal sibling love. Why do you ship two people? When you see that passion. When you see they behave different around each other. When you see love. Well I see that passion and love between Sam and Dean AND I'm aware they're not normal (hello?? the show literally provides that subtext??) so I absolutely hate it when anyone's like "you support incest" like no i don't!! I just see that s&d aren't normal because that's literally not something siblings do....
[nancylou444]
Exactly, we ship wincest because that’s what the SHOW literally presents to us, not only by Sam and Dean’s relationship, but via the other characters: Yes, we don’t support incest, we support SAM/DEAN.

I would never sell my soul for one of my sisters, yet again, we live in the REAL world, so demon deals don’t exist. Sam and Dean can’t be viewed as ‘normal’ siblings, because they don’t live 'normal’ lives.

You would think that Supernatural was the first instance of incest, by the way THEY carry on about it.

I would love to do a survey of hellers and see how many of them would admit to reading Flowers in the Attic or Game of Thrones. Or any of these books.

Hellers accusing us of supporting incest in real life means that they would be ok with an angel inhabiting their body and having sex with a person.

Now suppose the heller is a lesbian and the angel wants to screw a MAN, according to their logic, THAT would be acceptable to them.

I think I got off topic. 😁[25]
Well but when we're talking about the question of "which ship is better," as someone who likes fictional incest (and as someone who tried to ship Destiel but couldn't get into them), "Dean will never care about anyone as much as he does Sam" is a reason that Wincest is better than Destiel for me. It doesn't mean that "Dean loves him more, therefore incest makes sense," it means that the ship dynamic is a lot more interesting to me than Dean/Cas. That said, I realize that that doesn't really apply if you're not someone who enjoys fictional incest. [26]

Ship War

There was a long standing ship war between fans of Sam/Dean and fans of Dean/Cas. For more information, please refer to Wincest vs Destiel.

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanart

See also Category:Supernatural Art

Vids

Doujinshi

See also Category: Supernatural Doujinshi

Zines

See also Category:Supernatural Zines

Example Art Gallery

Meta and Ship Manifestos

Further Reading

Archives and Links

References

  1. ^ Anon comment on fail_fandomanon, January 28, 2021
  2. ^ Super Women: Supernatural's Executive Story Editor Sera Gamble at Sequential Tart, 01 December 2006.
  3. ^ For example, the TV Tropes page on Dean contains several references to Romeo & Juliet. His relationship with Sam is basically Romeo and Juliet on steroids. When it comes to Dean's devotion to Sam, love doesn't just make him crazy, it makes Dean extremely co-dependent, depressed, self-destructive, and suicidal.
  4. ^ Tumblr post by autumnsamdean, January 5, 2022
  5. ^ Tumblr post by venhedish, January 10, 2022
  6. ^ epguides.com/Supernatural
  7. ^ janedavitt. Reunion, 14 September 2005. (Accessed 02 March 2010)
  8. ^ wistful_fever. Burdens In The Dark, 16 September 2005. (Accessed 02 March 2010)
  9. ^ "'Supernatural': Sexy. Scary. Over?, April 9, 2009 Entertain weekly article". Archived from the original on 2016-08-03.
  10. ^ a b From canon to fanon and back again: The epic journey of Supernatural and its fans, Transformative Works and Cultures, March 15, 2010
  11. ^ Loving Fanfiction: Exploring the Role of Emotion in Online Fandoms by Brit Kelley
  12. ^ Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherin Larsen and Lynn S. Zuberris
  13. ^ Anon comment on fail_fandomanon, April 16, 2016
  14. ^ "SPN Pride Week Announcement, where the rules state that Wincest is not allowed". Archived from the original on 2022-01-30., tumblr post, 1 June 2021.
  15. ^ "SPN POC Week FAQ". Archived from the original on 2022-02-01.. Tumblr account created March 2021.
  16. ^ "Transnatural Zine FAQ". Archived from the original on 2022-02-01.. Tumblr account created in May 2021.
  17. ^ Tumblr post by disaster-ace-energy, January 18, 2021
  18. ^ Tumblr post by autisticdadcastiel, November 30, 2020
  19. ^ Tumblr post by deansdoves, June 11, 2021
  20. ^ Tumblr post by screamingfrenchfries, November 29, 2020]
  21. ^ Re: Dumbest Justifications for "My Ship Is Better Than Yours!", fail-fandomanon, February 13, 2022 (Accessed March 29, 2022).
  22. ^ Re: Dumbest Justifications for "My Ship Is Better Than Yours!", fail-fandomanon, February 13, 2022 (Accessed March 29, 2022).
  23. ^ no, for real, delete your ao3 account, Tumblr. Mar 4, 2021 (Accessed 5/12/2022)
  24. ^ Okay I came across an anti-wincest post, Tumblr. Nov 13, 2018 (Accessed 5/12/2022)
  25. ^ Exactly, we ship wincest because that’s what the SHOW literally presents to us, Tumblr. Mar 13, 2022 (Accessed 5/12/2022)
  26. ^ Re: Dumbest Justifications for "My Ship Is Better Than Yours!", fail-fandomanon, February 13, 2022 (Accessed March 29, 2022).
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