Wincest vs Destiel

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Ship War
ShipWar: Wincest vs Destiel
Date(s): 2009 - 2020 (?)
Location: LiveJournal, Tumblr, Twitter
Fandom: Supernatural
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Wincest vs Destiel is a ship war in the Supernatural fandom between two Dean Winchester pairings: Sam/Dean (Wincest) and Dean/Cas (Destiel). What makes it noteworthy is its length and how it migrated across platforms.


"Picture of text: “Yeah,” I say as I take a slow drag from my cigarette, “I’ve seen a few ship wars in my day. Been in a few myself, too.” I stare off into the distance, screams echo through my head, bloody battles, blogs left in shambles, fandoms torn apart. I know I’ll never be the same again. Plus response text: #”where did you serve?” they ask me #”the Supernatural front” i say softly. ”they say you ain’t seen a battlefield like it. they’re right.”"
A tumblr post, Archived version about the SPN ship war, that was then copied and circulated online as a visual meme (2013 or before)

During the first three seasons of the show the options for shipping were limited. You could ship Sam/Dean, which was the fandom OTP at the time, but was considered problematic by some because of its incestuous nature; J2, a RPS pairing, a concept not all fans were comfortable with; or rare pairs. This all changed with the introduction of the angel Castiel in season 4, and the rise of the Dean/Cas pairing.

As the show features a predominantly male cast, slash pairings— particularly that of Sam/Dean (known collectively as “Wincest”) and Dean/Castiel (“Destiel”)—are popular with fans.° The two fan groups often have a publicly antagonistic relationship, with fans competing for each pairing’s popularity on Internet polls and for legitimization from producers.... The show’s various nods to Wincest, and the producers’ continual tease on Destiel, led to fans’ constant struggle for their reading of the text to be legitimated by producers and thus recognized as canon.[1]

Wincest vs Destiel used many of the same tactics as other fandom ship wars, including making hateful posts about the other ship and character, advocating for their ship, and spreading hate in tumblr or twitter tags. SPN was a con heavy fandom, so it had the added problem of bringing the ship war offline and into RL spaces.[2]


Bronlies is a pejorative term for fans that focus on Sam and Dean only, and feel that the show should have done the same. Some of the bronlies are Wincest shippers, but not all. The term is a mash up of "Brothers Only" and is a play on the term Bronies, which is used to describe male fans of My Little Pony.

There is also the term Bibro, which initially had a positive connotation, but that changed over time:

Fandom Wank has a lot but basically things that happen: Bibro was a term back in the early days of the show. Fans were a "Sam Girl" a "Dean Girl" or a "Bibro" meaning you had no preference/loved them equally.
The term gradually shifted to mean fans that actively hate Misha's presence (key term being actively, they're taking action on it) and bullying "Destiehellers"/"Destiewers" online, petitioning to get Misha off the show, trying to sabotage Misha's charity's standing (yes that is a thing that happened, it's why I started donating to RA in retaliation), going out of their way to say negative or spiteful things to Misha at conventions (the Misha panel section, I can't remember where but there was more on FDNL about this particular person being rude to Misha/saying something like "I thought I was asking J2 a question, I didn't mean to be in your line" something negative along those lines), attempting to get Destiel fans thrown out/banned from conventions (TL;DR: Emily Rose was a Big Name Fan who organized a lovely gift giving campaign and was targeted by BiBros. She was reported to Creation for allegedly making threats to J2 on Twitter and yanked from ChiCon 2014 unceremoniously despite not being a threat at all), and general ship wars/bullying online.[3]

Another pejorative term sometimes given to wincest shippers is Wincesties, this is is perhaps to help differentiate them from the platonic "brothers only" fans. You will sometimes see this term in DNI statements, for example "Wincesties DNI"[4]

Destihellers (often shortened to Hellers) is a pejorative term for fans that ship exclusively Destiel, and believe that was the only romantic possibility for Dean. The term is a mashup of Destieler, one who ships Destiel as their OTP, and the word Hell. This term was later reclaimed by Destiel shippers as their own.

Destiewers was another pejorative term for Destiel shippers, perhaps created in response to many Dean/Cas shippers claiming the Destiheller term for their own.

Both of these groups tend to be the most extreme members of the ship war, thus earning themselves the derogatory nicknames.

Destiel Shippers Feeling Unwelcome

Early on, many Destiel shippers claimed they felt unwelcome in established SPN communities, often with them feeling like the pairing was being treated like a rare pairing, when in fact it was experiencing a fast rising popularity. The SPNNewsletter, which was the main SPN fandom news source on LiveJournal at the time, continued to place Destiel fanworks in the "other" category, a category usually reserved for rare non-Wincest fanworks, long after Destiel became popular. There was also debate about the SPN J2 Big Bang, which was very Wincest and J2 heavy, and some Destiel shippers did not feel supported there. This lead to the creation of Destiel focused newsletters and challenges, like the Dean/Castiel Big Bang which was created in 2010. Some other SPN fans were upset by this at the time, because they felt like it was fracturing the fandom.

So the SPN_J2 Big bang was THE fandom event in SPN fandom. One year, D/C fans (this was before the era of Destiel) decided to start their own Big bang just for D/C fic, the D/C BB. Queue tons of butthurt across the fandom from Wincest/J2 fans who didn't like the fact that D/C fans were segregating themselves or acting like they were too good for the general fandom space. Queue puzzlement from D/C fans, many of whom were new to the fandom and hadn't heard of the SPN_J2 BB or assumed it was an RPF thing. Also, there was lots of anger from D/C fans who generally felt unwelcome in Wincest/J2 spaces, and didn't understand why it was so important they play with people who didn't like them rather than simply finding their own playspace.[5]

Although, even before the introduction of Castiel there was some resistance from Wincest shippers to any other ships:

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.[6]

Behavior of Ship War Participants

Some fans felt that the behavior of those participating in the ship war made the fandom an uncomfortable place to be, and reflected negatively on the fandom overall.

Behavior of Destihellers

Too many Destiel shippers are obnoxious, entitled assholes (i.e. Destihellers). Sorry, but it’s impossible to discuss reasons why someone doesn’t like this ship without bringing up the Hellers, who are a toxic plague upon the entire SPN fandom—they abuse the tags, hijack posts, send rude asks, behave inappropriately at cons, harass cast, crew, and other fans, and in general try to hurt real people over a fictional ship. The Hellers are so pernicious and vile that they’re known and hated even in other fandoms, and they give a bad name not only to Destiel and its shippers but also to SPN fans in general. So like with other groups that have a despicable, unhinged minority, it’s hard to have our view of Destiel not be negatively influenced by the Hellers’ reprehensible behavior.[7]

They cannot differentiate between SPN fandom and Destiel fandom. When a heller speaks about Destiel, especially when harassing SPN execs on SM, they speak for the rest of fandom. They say that “the fans demand a spin-off” and “the fans deserve Destiel to be canon”. And if someone points out to them that not all the fans agree with that statement, they are called a “fake fan”. If you don’t care much for Cas, you are fake fan. If you don’t like Misha, you are a fake fan. If you are not “Destiel positive” you are a homophobe. Hellers are notorious name callers. Their name calling reaches epic proportions when they have to deal with J2 and wincest shippers because these two ships are their primary competition. They seem to hate sastiel and mishalecki too, but no so much. They rationalize their ship shaming by saying that shipping Destiel is the moral high ground. Because “wincest is incest” even though many wincest fans have said they just like J2’s onscreen avatars and chemistry, and that they don’t condone incest. But acknowledging that is too difficult so instead of doing that, hellers go on repeat insisting that wincest fans are liars and perverts. Shipping J2 is also morally wrong because ’‘they are totally like brothers’’. So hellers essentially want to police fandom and how it behaves and what it thinks.[8]

Behavior of Wincest Shippers

Between each point listed below the poster provided screen captures of social media posts:

This is NOT a post trying to claim that Destiel is a better ship than Wincest or vice versa. This is also NOT a post that is condemning Wincest as a ship. This is a post dedicated to showing that Bibros, Antis, and Wincest shippers engage in the SAME behaviors that they subsequently CONDEMN Destiel shippers for. Categories include:

Ignoring/rejecting/twisting canon if they don’t like it/believe in it (dare I say, even SKIPPING SEASONS that they don’t enjoy????)...

Reading into details in canon (i.e. the “you think how a BED is placed or eating CAKE or silent staring makes Dean bisexual/Destiel canon????? Wow you’re delusional” accusation)...

Romanticizing abusive aspects of the relationship...

“Stealing” things from other ships...

And finally, “demanding” or otherwise desiring their ship be canon...[9]

Hate for Cas, Sam, and their Actors

Because this ship war can be seen as a war over who should be with Dean, their was a great deal of hate directed at the characters of Castiel, Sam, and the actors who played them.


Although SPN Silent Majority’s strategy involved writing to the show’s producers, studio, and network, as well as directly tweeting Supernatural’ executive producers and writers, the campaign was linked to a “I hate Misha Collins Day” movement. Anonymous messages were left on Supernatural fans Tumblr blogs announcing an organized effort to vocalize and share the hate by tweeting the CW, the network's publicist, and the show’s producers, calling for Collins (Castiel) to be removed permanently from the show. In retaliation, the actor's fans organized a “We Love Misha” countermovement and reported a suspected Twitter account for spreading hate speech."’[1]

What I can't for the life of me understand though is why people would hate on Misha as an actor because of his role on the show. I've seen a lot of Misha hatred - and I mean A LOT of it. In fact, I recently went through the anti-misha tag on tumblr and blocked over 200 tumblr accounts that either were dedicated to bashing him or castiel, or posted constantly about it mainly because I don't want to run into these people on tumblr and would prefer to never see those posts rear their ugly heads on my dash.[10]

In theory, I ship Destiel, but I do not mind Wincest (and Wincestiel is a crack fave). BUT, I go to reblog a pretty, pretty Wincest fanwork on Tumblr - I don't ship but DANG those boys are pretty and the artist is talented - but all of a sudden I have to think, WAIT, I hope these people are not THOSE Wincest folks. Did they try to get Misha fired? Did they try to ruin Misha's charity? Did they contribute to that cast gift that omitted Misha in order to hurt his feelings?? And etc.
I'm certain most people who ship Wincest/J2 are just mellow people who enjoy a damn ship, but there's these horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE people just ruining the damn thing!![11]


When destiew was at it’s prime, Sam/Jared was getting vitriolic insatiable hate from 2 sides (destihellers and Ackles Army) who banded together and thought they could successfully marginalize Sam Winchester and even campaigned for Jared to be fired so Supernatural can be turned into the Dean and Cas show.[12]

I swear… the hate this fandom has for Jared Padalecki makes me sick. So much BS started by hellers, cockles shippers and AAs and you believe it - all because a fucking ship wasn’t made canon. Yeah he’s made a few mistakes… who hasnt? But y'all drag him as if he murdered someone.[13]

In my experience Sam fans tend to stay away from imdb, that’s been the case for many years because aggressive fans of other characters have followed and stalked Sam fans onto other non-SPN boards on imbd and harassed them until Sam fans left imdb all together.
It’s a consistent thing I’ve noticed over the last 10 years, Sam/Jared fans generally don’t care enough about the other characters/actors, which only seems to make those fans super mad “how dare you don’t love or hate my fave enough to talk about them!”[14]

An example of hate directed at Sam/Jared by one fan, and a response from another fan:

I think we should translate this hate over to Jared Padalecki.

We might not be able to get rid of Sam but we can try to get rid of Jared. If he knows enough of us dislike his acting and his portrayal of Sam, he’ll be more likely to quit the show.

I’m not saying it’ll work. But hell, at least if he knows he sickens us, he could change. Maybe buy himself some acting lessons. And stop interjecting himself in Jensen and Misha’s friendship.
Hold on, I just want everyone to take pause and read the last couple of paragraphs. This…this is so batshit insane that it’s almost beautiful. This is everything terrible about Supernatural fandom, summed up in one hate-filled, ignorant post. It’s so perfect and completely ass-backwards that I’m shedding tears over it. Well done, unhinged fangirl. You frolic in your land of make believe.[15]

Shipping as Morality

It was often an argument of Destiel shippers that shipping Sam/Dean was morally wrong because of it being incest, and shipping Wincest was a moral failing of those involved. This is sometimes connected to the purity culture movement.

in my experience as soon as castiel was introduced as a character there was tension over shipping that wasn’t there before, particularly tension of a MORAL nature since it seems that some people thought the only reason anyone would ship wincest or J2 was because there was no other option (and once there was, we were #badpeople for not giving up our nasty incest/rpf shipping ways)[16]

Another thought on bad/spam heller tagging: they’re proselytizing like they think it’s their duty to spread the Good Word of Destiel to redeem the souls of everyone that enjoys the brothers/actual canon[17]

OT3 Not an Option

In some other fandoms ship wars can sometimes be avoided by advocating for an OT3, in this case the poly pairing of Wincestiel. However, this is not an option for many participants in the ship war. For the moral shippers who see Wincest as wrong, it would still involve Dean and Sam being romantically involved, just with the addition of Cas, and this is not acceptable to them.

There was a weird period where lots of wincest shippers wrote wincestiel fics that were controversial in destiel circles because of incest element, and any attempts we had to interact with these fans were violently opposed and it created a lot of friction.[16]

Another fan talked about how hard it sometimes was to get entrenched fans to write Wincestiel:

But you’re right, it’s very very hard to find anyone who’s interested. I mean, most people are either firm on wincest or destiel, and of those people it feels like most of them are very annoyingly rigid and downright hostile to other possibilities. I mean, a lot of destiel people truly are in their own universe, so I get why they just shed Sam as an inconvenience – and they are allowed, so… may they have fun with it I guess – and a lot of wincest people seem like they’ve been fandom poisoned so even the idea of Cas/Dean or even Dean being queer in any way outside of Sam-sexual is a 5-alarm threat.[18]

Banning Wincest Shippers From Fandom Wide Events

There has been a recent trend in the 2020s to exclude wincest shippers from fandom wide events, this may range from an unwillingness to acknowledge their creations[19] to outright bans[20]. Some events are a little more vague and say they don't accept works that contain incest[21], which would naturally exclude wincest. This is perhaps connected to purity culture and antishipping, or perhaps just because the moderators just don't like the ship. If this is connected to destiel shippers is sometimes unclear.

Fandom Distress

Examples of SPN fans feeling caught in the middle of the two warring sides:

The thing about the SPN fandom is that, when we get into ship wars, even a lot of fans whose OTP is a sizable ship get completely trampled because they’re wedged between two MASSIVE ships. Everything ultimately seems to come down to Wincest vs. Destiel and overwhelmingly ignores the rest of us while they fight each other.[22]

Whenever I step out of my friend circle in the SPN Fandom, it irritates me and makes me sad at the moment. That's not overly specific to SPN fandom but I'm noticing it there right now. Everything feels like warring factions where you have to agree with the company line or else. Wincest shippers using the ship war to be homophobic and deny the logical meaning of Cas's confession, Destiel shippers calling Wincest shippers psychopaths and pedophiles, both hating on other ships, both denying canon moments that don't fit their ship agenda, both sides making up totally true!11!! stories about actors hating each other based on con photo ops, both sides fighting over shipping scraps fed to them by actors, serious tinhatting... it makes me tired. I only really feel at home in multishipping circles or at least multishipping-friendly circles with the way things are.[23]

While Destiel is my main ship, I'm just a Cas-lover at heart. I wish I could go into the tags on Tumblr for Crowstiel, Sastiel, Megstiel, etc without being bombarded by Dean & Destiel-hate. I just want to look at pretty pictures and read fic for all my shipping cravings without feeling annoyed by ship (& ship-supporter) bashing. I wish I could include Wincestiel fics on my rec posts without being ostracized by vehement Hellers. Heck, I wish even some of the spaces that are supposed to be "pro-any-ship" didn't make me feel unwelcome because they feel more like "any ship BUT Destiel".[24]


  1. ^ a b Anti-Fandom: Dislike and Hate in the Digital Age edited by Melissa Click
  2. ^ "June 9, 2018 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-03-22.
  3. ^ Comment by badwolfgoddess on the post Let's talk about Bibros and the toxic side of Wincest shipping, posted to r/fandomnatural on Feb 15, 2017
  4. ^ I feel this fandom needs to have a serious discussion on how not okay it is to publicly bully people
  5. ^ Anon comment on fail_fandomanon, August 17, 2018
  6. ^ Anon comment at fail_fandomanon, Feb 13, 2022
  7. ^ "Response to the post Why don't you like destiel? Just the ship itself, not the actual shippers". Archived from the original on 2023-05-02.
  8. ^ "Are people not allowed to ship destiel?". Archived from the original on 2023-05-02.
  9. ^ "Shipping Hypocrisy - Wincest vs. Destiel". Archived from the original on 2023-05-02.
  10. ^ Comment by fan on Let's talk about Bibros and the toxic side of Wincest shipping, posted to r/fandomnatural, Feb 15, 2017
  11. ^ Comment by tikistitch on Is there a 'great divide' in opinion and/or behavior between active wincest and J2 shippers on social media?, posted to r/fandomnatural, Feb 7, 2016
  12. ^ "Jan 25, 2016 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-03-22.
  13. ^ "June 30, 2021 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-04-05.
  14. ^ "June 9, 2016 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-04-05.
  15. ^ "Nov 2, 2011 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-03-22.
  16. ^ a b "December 23, 2020, Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-01-31.
  17. ^ "January 22, 2022 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-04-05.
  18. ^ "would you ever consider writing wincestiel again?". Archived from the original on 2023-05-02.
  19. ^ "SPN POC Week FAQ". Archived from the original on 2022-02-01.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ Suptober Rules post
  22. ^ "May 2, 2020, Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2022-01-31.
  23. ^ Anon comment on fail_fandomanon, November 8, 2021
  24. ^ Anon comment on fail_fandomanon, Nov 8. 2021