- "Surviving a lonely childhood, a stinking war... only to get married and have his wife taken by a demon, and later killed by one himself. That man got a bum rap around every turn. But you know what? He kept going. And in the end, he did a hell of a lot more good than he did bad."
- ―Dean Winchester to Henry on the man John grew up to become.[src]
John Eric Winchester was the father of Sam and Dean Winchester and the widowed husband of Mary Winchester. He was also a Man of Letters by bloodline, though he was never indoctrinated and likely never even knew of the order due to its extinction in the USA. John became a hunter after Mary was murdered by the demon Azazel, raising Sam and Dean in the hunting life in his quest for revenge.
John was born circa 1954 to a father, Henry Winchester, in Normal, Illinois. When John was four, his father Henry disappeared, and John came to believe that Henry had abandoned and run out on him and came to hate his vanished father over it (in actuality, Henry had time travelled to 2013 and died there). (As Time Goes By) At some point later in his life, John moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he worked as a local car mechanic. (The Song Remains the Same) John also served as a Marine in the Vietnam War, and returned to Lawrence after the War.
Life with MaryEdit
John and Mary Campbell initially did not get along, but a cupid secretly brought the two together, and by 1973, John and Mary had fallen in love. (My Bloody Valentine) After buying an Impala car for himself and Mary, John intended to propose to Mary, but was killed by the demon Azazel. Mary made a deal with Azazel to bring John back, and John was resurrected and remained unaware of his brief death or of the supernatural. (In the Beginning)
John learned the truth and about Mary being a hunter when their sons' 2010 selves came back in time to 1978 to protect them from being assassinated by the angel Anna, but John and Mary afterwards completely forgot when Michael wiped their memories. (The Song Remains the Same)
Becoming a hunterEdit
Within the next nine months, on 24 January, 1979, John and Mary had a son, Dean, and then another son - Sam - on 2 May, 1983. John and Mary's marriage also sometimes ran into difficulty. (Dark Side of the Moon) On 2 November, 1983, an unseen supernatural being (actually Azazel) murdered Mary by pinning her to the ceiling above Sam's crib and setting her on fire as John watched in horror, destroying the Winchesters' home in the process. (Pilot)
After Mary died, John went to a local psychic in Lawrence, Missouri Moseley, and learned the truth about the supernatural from her. (Home) John subsequently left Lawrence and took to the road in the Impala with Sam and Dean, becoming a hunter motivated with tracking Azazel and finding a way to kill Azazel to avenge Mary's death, and also raising Sam and Dean in hunting and having Dean be responsible for Sam when John was frequently away on hunts and cases. John accumulated a vast knowledge of the supernatural, recorded in his journal, during his career as a hunter, and was well-respected among hunters and worked with other hunters including Bobby Singer, Bill Harvelle, Caleb, Martin Creaser, Jim Murphy and Fred Jones.
In 1990, John unknowingly fathered a son with Kate Milligan when he briefly met her during a hunt. (Jump the Shark) In Sam and Dean's adult years, John's relationship with Sam became increasingly strained and fractured due to Sam wanting to leave hunting and disapproving of John making them hunters, until eventually, Sam and John had a falling out which led to Sam leaving John and Dean for Stanford University. However, John did still frequently secretly check in on Sam at Palo Alto. (Bugs) When John learned of his and Kate's son while Sam was at Stanford, John would visit their son Adam several times and take Adam on traditional father-son activities such as baseball games, and never told Dean or Sam about Adam. (Jump the Shark)
In late 2005, when John got a lead on his hunt for Azazel and left Dean to go track Azazel on his own, (Pilot) leaving Sam and Dean with several clues and directions through phone messages or in his journal to hunts and cases for the brothers to investigate, and not wanting his sons to become involved in John's hunt for Azazel. (Scarecrow) When Sam and Dean tracked Azazel's demonic servant Meg in Chicago, John came to there and reunited with his sons against the demons, but when Meg attacked the Winchesters with daevas, John left Sam and Dean again to resume his hunt for Azazel without the boys. (Shadow)
John later learned that the hunter Daniel Elkins had the Colt, so when Elkins was killed and the Colt taken by vampires, John teamed up with Sam and Dean again to track the vampire nest and take the Colt (in hopes that the Winchetsers could use the Colt to kill Azazel once they found him). John, Sam and Dean successfully defeated the vampires and obtained the Colt, and the experience brought John to realise that he and his sons were stronger together, and so John stayed with them in their hunt for Azazel. (Dead Man's Blood)
When Meg began attacking and killing hunters associated with John and demanded the Winchesters surrender the Colt, John went to confront and stop her (learning in the process that Sam was one of Azazel's special children) while Sam and Dean stayed in Salvation, Iowa, to confront Azazel. John attempted to fool Meg by handing her a fake Colt, but she and Tom saw through it and captured John. (Salvation)
Azazel subsequently secretly possessed John, and the possessed John was rescued by Sam and Dean, but Azazel then attacked the boys and almost killed Dean until John managed to take back control from Azazel and Azazel left John's body and fled. (Devil's Trap)
Just after the confrontation with Azazel, John, Sam and Dean were injured and landed in hospital when a demon crashed a truck into the Impala. (Devil's Trap, In My Time of Dying) While John and Sam recovered, Dean was left dying in critical condition. To save Dean, John resorted to secretly summoning Azazel and selling his soul and the Colt to the demon for Dean's life. Azazel took up the deal and saved Dean's life, and John subsequently had a few last moments with Sam and Dean. John warned Dean to do everything he could to save Sam and to kill Sam if he failed, and tried to make peace with Sam. John's deal was shortly after called in, and John immediately died and his soul was sent to Hell as part of the deal. (In My Time of Dying)
In Hell, John was tortured by Alastair for what was "close to a century" for John in Hell, (On the Head of a Pin) but was only approximately a year or less on Earth. (Season 2) However, John held out through all of the torture. (On the Head of a Pin) When the devil's gate in southern Wyoming was opened, John was among the souls that managed to escape through the gate from Hell, and John's spirit immediately helped Dean kill Azazel and complete the Winchesters' mission by distracting Azazel long enough for Dean to shoot the demon with the Colt. John's spirit afterwards vanished, and what happened to John is unknown. (All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2)
John was a 'tormented and haunted soul' from all the tragedies (primarily Mary's death at Azazel's hands) that he had gone through in his life, and was motivated by an equal combination of revenge against Azazel and protecting his sons; however, John deeply loved Sam and Dean in spite of all his flaws and mistakes, and would do things even when they were wrong to protect his sons. Initially, John's quest for vengeance against Azazel after Mary's death came before even John's relationship with Sam and Dean, though over the last few weeks - months of John's life, this began to change during John's time with Dean and Sam again.
- Phantom Traveller (voice)
- Faith (voice)
- Dead Man's Blood
- Devil's Trap
- In My Time of Dying
- Everybody Loves a Clown (corpse)
- All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2
- Long Distance Call (voice illusion)
- In the Beginning
- The Song Remains the Same
- Swan Song (flashback)
- As Time Goes By
- Soul Survivor (picture)
- Baby (illusion/projection)
- John is by bloodline a Man of Letters, although he was never initiated due to the order's eradication by Abaddon in 1958 and Henry not being there to raise John as a Man of Letters.
- It is unknown where John's soul went after he escaped from Hell in All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2 when the devil's gate was opened. However, Ash stated in Dark Side of the Moon that he has been unable to find John in Heaven, and it is rumoured that even the Supernatural writers themselves don't know what happened to John's spirit.