When all is said and done, who takes the blame for killing Mary Winchester at the beginning of Supernatural? Sam and Dean Winchester are Supernatural‘s sibling hunters extraordinaire, but their path to blood and glory begins with the death of their mother by the yellow-eyed demon, Azazel. With vengeance in their hearts, Sam and Dean, along with their father, hunt down Yellow-Eyes and deliver cold, hard justice in the form of a bullet. But while Azazel was the one who lit the match on Mary, he was acting under orders from a higher power.
Azazel had been given instructions by Lucifer himself to find a suitable vessel that the Devil could inhabit upon his triumphant escape from Hell’s Cage. It was this order that ultimately caused Azazel to be lurking in Sam Winchester’s childhood bedroom when Mary Winchester burst in and tried in vain to protect her son. Lucifer didn’t directly order his yellow-eyed charge to “kill Mary Winchester,” but it was his evil plan to find a worthy host at any cost that led to her demise. The buck stops with the Devil.
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This narrative prevailed for the majority of Supernatural‘s 15-season run. Yellow-Eyes did the deed, but Lucifer was orchestrating events from the shadows, seeking his “perfect vessel,” which could only ever be Sam Winchester. But the circumstances of Mary Winchester’s death are changed entirely in Supernatural season 15. Chuck Shirley, the artist formerly known as God, claims with his trademark flair to have been guiding the Winchesters’ lives all along, throwing in twists, turns and tragedies in a desperate attempt to make Sam and Dean his perfect “story.” Supernatural never explicitly lays out which events in the Winchesters’ lives were the doing of God, and which fall under the category of “free will,” but Chuck’s revelation completely shifts the perspective of Mary Winchester’s death. Azazel might’ve set her alight in the name of Lucifer, but did the entire sorry scenario flow from the twisted pen of Chuck Shirley?
Despite his omnipotence, Chuck does allow his creations a degree of omnipotence, as demonstrated by the Winchesters’ refusal to kill each other. But even taking free will into consideration, Chuck’s fingerprints are all over Mary’s death. The corruption of Lucifer was triggered by the Mark of Cain, which was bestowed upon him by none other than Chuck himself. This makes God indirectly responsible for Lucifer being imprisoned in the first place. Then in Supernatural‘s season 5 finale, Lucifer (in Sam Winchester’s body) implores Michael not to fight him, lamenting how they’d only be fulfilling their father’s design. This scene proves Chuck was aware of Sam’s status as Lucifer’s ideal vessel. It wouldn’t have taken the brain of an all-powerful primordial entity to foresee how a caged Lucifer and Sam Winchester’s suitability to become the Devil’s vessel would result in Mary’s death, but still Chuck continued to meddle.
Their mother’s grilling is the reason Sam and Dean Winchester first become hunters, and as a writer, it makes perfect sense for Chuck to contrive their origin story. God is so obsessed with making the Winchesters play out his intended “ending” in Supernatural‘s final season, it’s inconceivable that he would’ve left the first chapter of their story to chance. Like Bruce Wayne, Harry Potter and the sisters from Frozen, Chuck must’ve decided that his main characters should begin their journey with a parental tragedy, making him the one truly responsible for Mary Winchester’s death by maneuvering Lucifer and Azazel to act out his design.
There is, however, a final wrinkle in the investigation into Mary Winchester’s Supernatural murder, possibly making Mary herself responsible. Years before Sam and Dean were born, Azazel offered Mary a choice – the resurrection of her husband in exchange for access to her child in the future, to which Mary agreed. Although God must’ve predicted her love for John would force Mary to accept (outside of the Apocalypse World, at least), the notion of free will meant the choice itself was entirely hers. Mary could’ve prevented her death by refusing Azazel’s offer, although this would mean Sam and Dean never existing – an eventuality she, Chuck, and Lucifer wouldn’t have wanted.
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