Over the past few years I’ve gotten increasingly annoyed with one of my favorite shows, The CW’s Supernatural. A series about two brothers hunting demons, ghosts, and on the rare occasion, just evil people. It was a great horror show with a little comedy thrown in, which made for some great memorable moments. However, over the last few seasons, maybe since season five, I’ve noticed the showrunners have gotten increasingly lazy with creature designs.
Special effects, or lack there of, is my biggest issue. Now I’m talking real practical effects designed from scratch, something original. The first three seasons featured some pretty great concepts and designs. From the brief appearance of the ghostly “Woman in White” to the Wendigo, there was thought put into every character. There was a unique look, unlike anything on television. It was a shining moment in the series and something to look forward to each week.
Part of the reason fans loved the show was due to it essentially being a mini movie each week. More recently, it’s transitioned from a monster-of-the-week format in favor of huge season-long arcs. This sort of setup has decreased their need to come up with original concepts for creatures.
Although, it’s not just new ghouls who have been seriously lacking style. Old ones have returned and looked completely different than in the past. I’m unsure if it’s because of budget or time constraints, but intriguing characters have been completely watered down.
A great example are Reapers. We are introduced to them in the first season as an elderly looking man, but not fully human. This design was very subtle, but effective. Jump to the next season when Dean meets Tessa, a young woman who turns out to be a reaper. The reason for her humanly appearance was so Dean would talk to her, trust her. However, Reapers have appeared as humans from then on, despite not having the same motive.
We see the same thing happen once again with the Djinn’s, or “evil genies”. Their first appearance is in the dreamy season two episode, “What Is and What Should Never Be”. The Djinn appears as a heavily tattooed creature with blue eyes and a blue effect on his hand to signify his magic. The clothing was also representative of him being a mystical, ancient being.
The next time, Sam and Dean face an entire group of them. Their appearance is extremely subtle, essentially having a single sleeve and/or neck tattoo. That’s it! It’s not like the makeup before was that complex or hard to replicate on different people; there were no special prosthetics or intense costuming at all.
It makes me wonder why they have been made to simply blend in as just another human in the series. For continuity purposes, at the least, concepts should have stayed the same.
Later we were given the Alphas, the main big bad for that entire season. All of whom looked like basic humans. Supposedly the first of every creature the brothers have come across. The most powerful of vampires, shapeshifters, and skinwalkers — and they look like any other person you’d walk by on the street. Later down the season line, we have another big bad called the Leviathan’s, who were all human in appearance, accept for poorly CGI’d mouths when they fed.
Everything for the most part has been consistently human in appearance. A few CGI effects here and there, but no real special effects makeup or design. It’s hard to excuse it when you know they are capable of amazing creature design. I remember how creepy a simple monster of the week was, like the Scarecrow from season 1 (pictured below).
Now we get so-called powerful monsters that look like you and I. Take Eve for example (pictured below), who is the most feared mother-of-all-monsters, at least that’s what they tell us. But truthfully, she looks less than intimidating and completely bland. I know they can do better than what they’re giving us.
Let me know in the comments below how you feel regarding Supernatural and the featured characters.
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I pretty much stopped watching after season 5. I got tired of….pretty much everything. Still like to re-watch the earliest seasons though!
Yes 1-5 are easy to watch over and over again. Season 10 had a few great episodes but overall the seasons are starting to get less memorable.
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I still watch, but I got to say I agree big time with this.
It just seems they’ve gotten lazy in a lot of the writing and designs.
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So so true. I love the show and watched all episodes but this annoys me more and more. I was thinking the exact same thing about reapers not 2 days ago (even through we still saw the old version twice in season 4 and 5). It is the same with shiftshifters, werewolves even Demons lost their spike, all dress with a black suit, can’t make them apart from boring angels. By the way, everything went downhill when they introduced angels.
Nice article. When I watch face off, I always think how great it would be if you could work with supernatural.
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Thanks! Glad to hear other fans notice these things. Sometimes I think I’m overthinking it but I do miss the older seasons. I miss being creeped out.
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