For the entirety of Supernatural Season 15, the hot debate had been around which Winchester would finally go down, probably during an epic face-off with God himself. But after delivering a penultimate episode which pretty much tied up every loose end without any more sacrifices, it was expected that the final episode would see the brothers "saving people, hunting things". Instead, the finale has delivered a shocking twist, sans the expected celestial clashes and even though fans aren't exactly happy, the end of the Winchester's grand journey couldn't have been more perfect.
The penultimate episode of Supernatural saw Dean and Sam finally defeating God with the help of Jack who was a black hole for divine energy post ingesting Adam's super-charged rib. By sucking in Chuck's powers, Jack became the new God and returned everything to its pre-Chuck-mania phase. With their major enemy nullified, a kinder God in place, and everything else sorted, it was expected that at the most the Winchesters would be seen either leading apple pie lives or continuing their hunting ways. And in a way, "Carry On" does go the expected way until it suddenly does not.
[SPOILERS AHEAD for the finale episode of Supernatural]
With Chuck gone, the boys are back to their hunting ways, but this time without a cruel Almighty navigating their story for his entertainment. They are happy, if not entirely content with life. They soon catch a new case-- a nest of vampires killing families and abducting their kids. And for a second it feels like the Winchesters have it under control only for a juiced-up vamp to push Dean against a post with a rather sharp piece of rebar protruding from it, impaling him. Feeling life ebbing away from his body, Dean gives a moving heart-to-heart with Sam, echoing Iron Man's tragic death in Avengers: Endgame as Sam lets him know that it's okay for him to go.
So, yeah, after more than 300 episodes of facing countless monsters, demons, Hells, corrupt Angels, maniac Archangels, and even a murderous God himself, Dean Winchester dies because of a steel bar. And fans have a lot to say about it and many are not in favour of how Supernatural brought about the death of its key character. As Dean's death takes place halfway through the episode, many were still holding out hope that being buddies with the new God would mean that he is brought back to life. But instead, he hops away to Heaven and Sam, sticking by the promise he made to his brother, gets on with his life.
The reaction of many fans to this unexpected finale, is divided into two factions-- the ones who are emotionally devasted yet satisfied with the ending and the others who are oscillating between downright denial to expressing complete disappointment.
Any zealous Supernatural fan wanting Dean to go out while offing a big bad is an obvious expectation. But in its own way, the finale is both logically sound and heartbreakingly beautiful. Let's tackle the logical part first, shall we?
With Chuck being stripped of his powers and Jack as the new authority who is "hands-off," there is no one directing Sam and Dean's life anymore. They are not part of a scheming God's "story" anymore that he twisted for his fun and only saved the Winchesters to continue his source of entertainment. With him out of the way, the Winchesters lost their "plot armour"-- their immunity against small level monsters as Chuck wanted to see them go against the bigger threats. As Supernatural has established countless times, no full-time hunter gets to live a long life as there is a constant presence of danger in their life and death is literally lurking around every corner, waiting for them to be careless for even a second.
So, in the finale, no matter how badass the Winchesters are, they are just regular hunters who face deadly danger on a daily basis. The Dean who goes up against a superstrong vampire is not the one who is protected by Chuck's need for constant drama-- he is a normal hunter who is overpowered by a monster immensely stronger than him. And while the tragedy was indeed a little abrupt, as Dean himself points out, without the "plot armour" this is what the Winchesters' fate would have been years ago.
What's more is the fact that this is the way Dean always wanted his story to end-- to go out swinging, while saving people and killing monsters. Making it a bittersweet ending is all the nostalgic moments the episode packs-- Dean finally getting to binge eat the elusive apple pie, make that pies, he always wanted to binge on but always got interrupted. And after making it known throughout Supernatural how much he hates even the smell of a dog, Dean probably triggered an avalanche of "Aww"s when he woke up in the morning and cuddled with his new pet dog.
There are also debates as to why it was Dean and not Sam who got killed. Well, we have seen Dean without Sam, he has never been able to get on with life despite the countless promises he made to his brother but the younger Winchester always yearned for family life. Both had different ideas of what their happy ending would be and of the two, Sam saw himself living with a picket fence one day, not Dean, and it's nothing short of a miracle that he does get to live that life. He gets married (though the weird absence of Eileen is never explained), raise a kid and die a happy man. Dean fittingly goes to Heaven which has been updated and upgraded by the new God, allowing him to finally reunite with (almost) everyone he loved but lost.
And in a way, the ending was tougher and more heart-wrenching than it would have been if the brothers had been involved with a mega battle with God. To go on, to continue living for someone who had been, in many ways, the major chunk of your life, is harder than surviving any cosmic clash and Sam does it. And so yes, it is rewarding to see him lead a full life despite that and finally joining Dean in his afterlife in Heaven, while wearing the same clothes they wore in the very first episode of Supernatural back in 2005. It can't get more iconic than that. You can binge on the latest episodes of Supernatural, currently streaming on Netflix in various parts of the world while you can download the finale right now at warnerbros.com.