FRIEND. Nobody asks me why I love Sam Winchester so much. Graciously, they just seem to accept it and pat my head and… like… move quietly… to the left.
You have just stepped into the firing range.
I am trying to decide whether to start by quality or season or go on a timeline…. hmmmmm…
I’m going to start here.
Sam Winchester saved the planet.
Sam Winchester jumped in a hole with Satan and Satan’s equally inflexible and unrealistic brother, to save us and our planet from their temper tantrums and their worthless orders and from a destiny we did not choose.
Dean Winchester saved the world, too. He went to the battlefield as a human and stood between literal heaven and literal hell to represent us and tell them to back down. He went because he knew his brother and loved his brother and, if nothing else, it would be worth loving Sam Winchester simply because Dean is a good man and thinks Sam is worth loving with his whole heart.
If you love Dean, by default, you love Sam this much, too.
Dean isn’t who he is without his all-encompassing love of his brother.
They are nearer than that, too. I will always believe that. Dean had to spend his youth acting as Sam’s Mother-Father-Protector because John simply wasn’t around. No matter what resolution they came to at the end of John’s life, it does not excuse the fact that he spent most his time as a parent making Sam think he was lacking in essentials simply because he didn’t follow orders. Dean was “a good son” by virtue of the fact that he followed orders, after all. And the assumed opposite of a good son, Sam thinks, is just a bad one.
But Sam also didn’t let someone so destructive define him in his entirety. He didn’t sit back and take that. This is just the start of where I see parallels in our lives and also the point at which Sam starts becoming the type of person I want to be.
Sam and I, we both have crappy fathers. Different kinds, granted, but pain and hurt aren’t contests. Everyone who has had something destructive run through or slowly grow inside their family is entitled to their pain and must find their own way above it.
Sam spent his youth roaming around wishing he could run away to one solid spot. Done with elephants and clowns, he wanted to run away and join the office. I had more than the usual runaway experiences, too. I wanted to grow up and go to law school, too. But every time someone tells me what I am, my automatic impulse is to show them they have no fucking idea who I am.
Sam may have wanted a solid and stable life, but he has never actually wanted a predictable one. I think the moment someone came around and told him that, in five years, he’d have his JD, be an overworked newbie in a public defender’s office, he’d have a house yellow like his wife’s hair, and he would spend the next five trying to afford to give her the life she deserved— I think in that moment, Sam would have resolved to be something more simply to spite them. Not even particularly to provide Jess and himself with a blissful picket-fence life. But to be better than some asshole predicted.
That is where the differences grow between us again. I change just to spite others opinions of me. But I don’t always change for the better. Sam would change for the better and I should want to always be Sam.
In his professional life, in this job that he’s turned back to and chosen and excelled at, Sam is a fucking scholar. And I don’t think he wants to let go of the job as much as he thinks he wants to. I think he wants to keep the job and make it safer, make it easier to execute. He wants hunters in the future to have the ability to come back home at the end of the day. I think Sam would do well becoming some kind of teacher or even just a full-on scholar. Not just keeping his own journal like the old hunters did, but recounting all these hundreds of hunts as an academic exercise and as a record for the future. To make the lives of others easier.
Because he spends the rest of his time hunting just throwing himself into danger and dragging people out of the fire.
Grant him his mistakes like Ruby, because Ruby was a master at what she did and her whole goal in life was to manipulate Sam into letting Lucifer loose.
He knew the demon blood was wrong and never sought to excuse it. Remember how he spoke about it to Chuck? It was a dull and dirty blade, just another weapon and he thought only he had true access to it to cut down those who would harm. He thought it would be more detrimental to the fight if his demon blood trick wasn’t in play at all. He thought the only consequences of its use would be to the demons and to himself.
Sam’s use of demon blood is no different than Dean’s use of the First Blade.
The intention was never to harm. It was to fight closer to the enemy and take them out before they could hurt other humans.
It was to keep the fight in the dark corners and save. more. people.
But absolutely, the rest of the time, Sam throws himself into the fight to put his body in front of the bullets aimed at the innocent. Even his mistakes have been about that. About feeling something unclean under his skin and wondering if more clean things, or the heavier application of dirt, would actually ever serve to wash it out.
We didn’t see the first time Sam drank Ruby’s blood. But that must have been a long, agonizing decision.
It must have been Sam feeling like shit. Thinking this was how he was to fight fire with fire inside himself. He always felt unclean, saw evil within and applied what he knew to be evil to it. Knowing that, the closer Dean got to finding out, the more Dean would challenge him, it would only drive him to turn the assumed evil into good works. That same personality quirk that never lets you predict his next move.
Sam is our human shield against harm. Sam saved us. He saved our planet. He threw himself down a hole once, and tried to again. Tried to waste himself to close hell. Sam would do this as many times as we ask and we never do ask him. We don’t know to ask him — he only does what he knows to be right. He fights for us to play out our own futures, like he wanted when he was worming his way out from under John’s thumb.
I apply random errors in Sam’s character to bad writing. I am allowed to do this. For example, Edlund gave us that profound moment when Sam said he was starting to recall his childhood, starting to recall always feeling unclean. But Edlund also apologized for the Grand Canyon canon cock-up. He admitted to his own error in writing on Twitter, claimed responsibility for what it did to canon, and apologized for it.
So bad writing does happen. Clearly it takes the best of writers to come around and admit that.
I also might be transcribing my own personality and thought processes onto Sam sometimes, I admit. I think of Sam as childfree since he’s expressed no interest in children and family life until that weird end-of-life nostalgia bullshit thing they forced down his throat in S08. Not even he and Amelia seemed to be inclined to be planning a family together. Compare, for example, his experience and attitude and the resolution in Swap Meat to his washed out and wimpy sudden nostalgia in Freaks and Geeks.
But I do admit that I don’t know that for sure about Sam. We do differ in major ways. Sam used to pray, we don’t know if he still does, other than to Cas when necessary, He holds a belief system and I do not. He sees humanity in really monstrous places where I find myself siding with Dean against him on occasion. Dean has an instinctive recognition for evil and a sense of doubt that I think he doesn’t even quite understand the ultimate clarity of. But due to that, I will side with Dean a lot when he automatically assumes someone isn’t being genuine. I trust Dean’s sense in that when both of us maybe ought to give the benefit of the doubt a little more like Sam does. Because Sam sees humanity everywhere. And it’s beautiful.
Sam is also tall and lovable. He wants to be Cas’s best friend (you can fight me, this is fact not headcanon) wants to see him become human and comfortable and learn how to hug and maybe slap Dean around a little bit because they are both really big Dean fans. They both want to see Dean think more of himself.
I love Sam because Dean and Cas love him. I love Sam because he doesn’t ask to be loved and saved. He wants to do the loving and saving. That makes him worth it over and over.
Sam is funny and smart. Sam has big, calming hands. Sam has lived long enough and hard enough to be wise.
Sam loves us and wants us to be happy.