Vivisecting Supernatural- Lazy Writing

So recently I’ve been loitering round the SPN message boards a little more than usual. And while the majority of people are pretty reasonable, there’s a phrase that keeps cropping up, and that phrase is ‘lazy writing’.

Sometimes it seems that whenever cracks appear in the show, this phrase gets dragged up. Most recently, I heard it applied to the absence of Sam’s Hell trauma plotline for Season Seven episodes three through fourteen, and since then I’ve decided that ‘lazy writing’, along with Leviticus 20:13 and ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, may be one of my least favourite phrases ever.

There is no such thing as lazy writing.


And the Supernatural writers don’t exactly have it easy, either. I find writing hard enough when I have an empty day and no visible deadline. The SPN writers, on the other hand, do work to deadlines- and tight ones, I’d imagine, given how short the hiatuses are and the length of each season.

At any one time, these people have to keep literally dozens of emotional arcs and plot threads in mind. Really it’s amazing that the writing on SPN is as good as it is- which isn’t to say that they don’t slip up occasionally. Most seasons have a clunker, and until Blade Runners I was wondering what they kept Buckner and Leming around for. But when continuity errors are made and balls are dropped, laziness isn’t the reason. Supernatural has ten years of it’s own lore to keep track of, and the SuperWiki isn’t always reliable, as I discovered when I became an editor of it.

So this is me banning that phrase, in that context, from my blog. Because, yeah, there’s bad writing in Supernatural- it’s rare but it’s there. Just watch Bugs. But the term ‘lazy writing’ isn’t even applicable to this show, and I imagine the same goes for most shows, films and books.

I realise this is not my normal style of post, and I may never do another like this again. I just felt the need to address the issue, given some comments I’ve heard recently- not on this blog, but fairly often on LiveJournal, Tumblr, and other such sites.

Anyway, thanks for reading.



19 thoughts on “Vivisecting Supernatural- Lazy Writing

  1. I do believe lazy writing is the mistakenly used term for using the easy way out.
    As you point out are the writers under constant pressure to finish the episodes without forgetting the overall plot line and narrations that came before them and will come after them, they sometimes probably don’t even know what the endgame is and still have to write an episode that will work in context.
    I don’t think they always have the luxury to take the story were it would be more interesting, were it would be something different, were they basically could explore new aspects of the characters and the show itself.
    The constant repetition of certain themes (the ghost hunts, the breaking off of the brothers, the one good-one evil, the saving the world, etc.) feels annoying after a while and can be put down to the writer being lazy, but those themes are also what create the essence of the show in a way and if you’re under said pressure it’s easier to go back to the things that worked than to try something new and possibly fail – and ultimately lose a job through it.
    So they’re not lazy, they’re just too afraid/busy to tread new paths.
    And that is unfortunate.
    For my taste they could cut down the numbers of episodes if the content gets better through it. Season Three is one of my favourite Seasons even though it has the fewest episodes, but due to the writers’ strike they had to focus the story line instead of dangling around – and falling back for the easy choices to fill the episodes.

    In short: Good choice for banning the phrase. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, honestly I’m astonished at how good the show is, considering.
      See, I’m in SPN for the relationships, so repetition of the large-scale sort doesn’t really bother me. And the one-good-one-evil thing I love, because they always find ways to screw with it.
      One person who did try going down a new road was Sera Gamble, and I’m really not a fan of the leviathan. I do love Season Six though.
      On the whole I think Jeremy Carver’s pretty great as showrunner. And like you said, these themes are what the show’s about- which is why I find the whole corporate greed allegory of s7 wildly out of place.
      I’ve never really equated the quality of the seasons to the episode numbers, since I think the show really did pick up with s8, 9 and 10- and that was with 23 episodes (plus my personal favourite seasons are 2, 6 and 10, which were all long ones). But yeah, season 3 was really good- all over the place, but in a good way. I would have liked more Bela stuff, though. (Plus, you know, I came to SPN fresh from the Sherlock fandom, so it’s a huge luxury for me to have long seasons to revel in.)
      Haha, glad you agree about banning it 🙂 it was just making me very angry.


      • Yeah, I’m not sure what to make of the Leviathans either. It already bothers me that there is more than one, so… The premise was great (dragging something really nasty from Purgatory), but the conspiracy and corporate stuff was just…weird…I mean they’ve been down there since the dawn of time and they just so happen to know how to run industries in our day and age? Or did they get the knowledge from the people they copied as well? o.O

        Anyway, the writing definitely picked up again throughout the last Seasons. Season Ten was mostly great – with for me the exceptions we discussed on other posts (Cole, Stynes, Charlie), Eight and Nine had interesting concepts with the tablets, the fall of the angels and all that.

        The length of a Season is usually not an indicator for its quality, but some series do better in a few compressed episodes (e.g. Legend of Korra) than others do with many episodes (e.g. Once Upon A Time) and basically tell the same amount of story.

        Coming from Sherlock you definitely had a lot to watch. 😀 For me it was kind of the other way round. I watched the first few episodes (nearly the complete first Season) of Supernatural back when it first aired on television here in Germany and it took me a long time and many other series to then be able to watch Sherlock in English and then to get back to Supernatural to see how that story went on. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I know- great premise, totally dodgy execution. But maybe The Darkness’ll be something new- they haven’t really dealt with chaos as such yet.
          And yeah- I think the first half of s8 was wonky, but the second half was awesome, and I am in love with s10. Was your issue with Cole the fact that his character existed at all, or the fact that everyone seemed totally fine with his past kidnap and torture of Sam? Cause that was my issue. I will continue to beat this very dead horse until he apologises.
          On the fence about the Stynes, as I’ve only seen those episodes once, and tbh I wasn’t at all surprised about Charlie.
          And yeah- but I guess some series do better with few episodes, some with many episodes.
          I came to SPN to fill the Sherlock hiatus void (s4’s not airing until 2017 now- and have you seen the Christmas Special teaser?) and now I’ve gone over to Hannibal to fill the SPN void… oh, the neverending cycle.
          And wow- I didn’t even know SPN aired in Germany!


          • Hopefully they will be…

            Cole felt kind of useless, though what he did was kind of plot-related in the end: Torturing Sam to show us that Demon-Dean didn’t care any more; facing Demon-Dean to show his ruthlessness (I agree with you on the not killing you mentioned in the other post); showing that Sam might be worse a monster than Dean when he suffered from that parasite and Sam killed the other person while Dean waited.
            But he still felt useless…I can’t really explain it..

            Yeah, we had the discussion about them and Charlie before, so I wont get into details here again.

            Yup, seen the teaser, looks interesting. 🙂
            I kind of started watching a bunch of series only to notice that when I was finished the next episode wouldn’t be too long away. >_<

            Sure most of it was even on free tv, but in awful timeslots, that's why I stopped watching, but it's translated up to Season 9, as far as I know. Don't be surprised, we have quite a lot of American and British shows over here. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

    • God, yeah. I think they used Superwiki a lot for the writing of s10, which explains the lack of continuity errors, for which I was very grateful.
      And oh God, Bugs. While I love the way it looks- it was a Kim Manners-directed episode, all his are beautiful- the script was APPALLING. The bow-hunting line makes me cringe every time.
      That said, the only episode I physically cannot bring myself to rewatch is Bloodlines. I’m pretending that episode happened in a parallel universe that the Winchesters fell into for one episode.


  2. Also, I have a request for a post!! (only if you want to, idk if you’ve previously done a post on it or something). Anyway the request is all the parallels and stuff about Sam/Dean and Lucifer/Micheal- i.e Dean locking Sam in the panic room is parallel to Micheal putting Lucifer in the cage. You don’t have to do this, i don’t even know if it’s a suitable request!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure, that’s a great idea 🙂 I’ve barely touched on that, so I’d be happy to. And I hadn’t even noticed the panic room parallel before you said that! Good call. Also, SUCH a good episode. Though I have no idea how JP had any vocal cords intact after it.


  3. I agree with you about lazy writing, writing is difficult at times.

    Bugs is the only episode I won’t watch. I can’t deal with supernatural/horror and bugs.

    I had been thinking lately of a hole with Sam having powers because of the demon blood. Where did that all go? What are your thoughts on it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, I do think Bugs is worth the watch just for the cinematography- and it really isn’t scary at all. It’s just that the writing is awful.
      Hmm. Well, Ruby said at the end of s4 that Sam didn’t actually need the blood to use his powers- but he’d become dependent upon it. So his powers have been dormant since season five. Unless the trials really did ‘purify’ him (knockout scene), but he didn’t finish them so at a guess I’d say he still has demon blood in him but he just chose not to use his powers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see that he would choose not to use his powers because of the addiction to demon blood and the problems that it caused. However, I doubt he wouldn’t use them to save Dean from the Mark of Cain. So, I’m still not sure unless they just went away because he chose not to use them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t think he’d use them unless he could see a way they’d be useful and there was no other way he could save Dean. Maybe they did go away, if the trials really did burn the demon blood out of him, but I doubt it- I think they’re probably still there, but Sam’d only use them as the very last resort.
          Anyway, the demon blood thing ran its course. I know I wouldn’t really want to see it pop up again.

          Liked by 1 person

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