Wincest is the term commonly used to describe fans of a romantic or sexual (i.e. Slash) relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester. It is one of the most popular pairings in the Supernatural fandom, along with Destiel or Dean/Castiel.
The word is a portmanteau of brothers' last name, Winchester, and the word "incest". The term Wincest is also commonly used as interchangeable with Sam/Dean (or Dean/Sam) when describing a fanfic pairing. Fans of Wincest occasionally refer to themselves as Wincesters.
Wait a second... Just which Winchesters are involved in Wincest?
In the early days of the Supernatural fandom (around late 2005), the term 'Wincest' referred to slash between any of the Winchester men - so John/Dean, John/Sam and John/Dean/Sam as well as Sam/Dean could be termed 'Wincest'.
However, as time went on and the fandom grew, the term 'Wincest' came to be most commonly used with (and recognised as) the Sam/Dean pairing only. Slash involving John was most commonly called Daddycest and occasionally 'Johnslash' or 'Johncest' but mostly just labeled with the particular pairing in individual stories.
There are also stories known as Winsister fic- AU stories involving one or more female Winchester siblings. Sometimes these characters are female versions of Sam and/or Dean - Genderswap - while in other cases they are entirely original characters. These stories may involve Het or Fem Slash.
Very occasionally the boys have been paired with their mother, mainly in AU stories where it is Mary who raises them and trains them as hunters.
When Dean first traveled back in time to 1973 where he encounters his parents as young adults, Dean comments that his mother is very attractive.
Dean: Sammy, wherever you are - Mom is a babe! I'm going to hell. Again.
Also in this episode, when Azazel possesses Samuel Campbell, Mary's father, he kisses her to seal the deal to save John's life, technically providing a canonical example of Wincest (or strictly speaking Campbellcest). In the Season 5 episode 5.13 The Song Remains the Same, Sam also gets to meet both his parents and remarks how beautiful Mary is - "in a platonic, totally not weird way," Dean helpfully clarifies.
Wee!cest refers to Wincest where one or both of the boys are underage.
In Season 5, interest rose in the pairing of Michael and Lucifer - which could be considered an incestuous relationship. The pairing often occurs when the angels are possessing their Vessels Sam and Dean, and so is a form of Wincest.
You do realize they're brothers?
Wincest fic arose the moment the show was aired, supported by the typical ingredients a slasher needs: two extremely hot guys, a dead girlfriend, and a brotherly love that leaves no room for anyone else. Add a bit of spice like daddy issues, betrayal, childhood trauma and emotional dependency and you have your perfect dish to satisfy hordes of Slash fans.
- 2005.09.14: Within hours of the Pilot airing, the first Sam/Dean fic is posted as the first fic at the Livejournal community supernatural_fic (now archived here) and sn_slash. The story is 'Reunion' by janedavitt
- 2005.10.16 First recorded use of the term Wincest as a Fic Warning in Can’t Just Walk Away by joyfulgirl41.
- 2005.10.25 Fic community Wincest opens.
And it wasn't only fangirls who noticed the dynamic. Gay blogger Nathan Exposed wrote in November 2005 "It’s like the Hardy Boys, only gayer. The cheese factor is no surprise. This is the WB, after all. But I love the awkward sexual tension between the brothers."
In December 2006 Sera Gamble admitted to teasing Eric Kripke by referring to the story the writers were telling as The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean, a phrase later used by Eric himself in the Season 5 DVD commentary to 5.04 The End.
Obviously pairing Sam and Dean in a sexual relationship is something does not appeal to all fans, and some are strongly opposed to it. On Livejournal, the centre of the fandom for writing, art and vidding, Wincest and non-Wincest fans have generally co-existed peacefully in the fandom and there has been very little wank. From the start of the fandom, many authors have written across both Gen and Wincest genres, which probably lessened the likelihood of opposing camps arising.
Due to the fact that there are so few recurring characters on the Show available as potential partners for Sam and Dean in fanfiction, slash fans who were uncomfortable with Wincest moved into writing and reading Jsquared fic, many of whom would previously have avoided RPS fandoms. This lead to the phrase "Supernatural fandom - where RPS is the moral high ground"!
Some communities on Livejournal and message board forums ban mentions of Wincest. For example Supernatural.tv states "This community as a whole has nothing against homosexuality, but this is a site about Supernatural--two brothers with no romantic feelings for each other--and changing their relationship changes the characters we tune in to watch every week. As another site states, fans borrow characters when they use them in creative work. If fans change major aspects of characters, they might as well create original characters."
Supernatural is certainly not the first fandom to feature a popular incestuous pairing. There's the Weasleys, Draco and Lucius Malfoy and the Black family from Harry Potter, Simon and River Tam from Firefly, the Eppes brothers in Numb3rs, all the Petrellis in Heroes, and not forgetting Luke and Leia in Star Wars. In RPF Gerard and Mikey Way from My Chemical Romance have been a popular pairing in recent years.
Themes in Wincest
Stories which feature Sam and Dean in a sexual relationship cover a wide range of themes, but many explore how and why Sam and Dean have developed a sexual relationship, and what that relationship is like. Themes in these stories include:
- Incest taboo - "But we're brothers!" - Sam and Dean deal with their desire for each other
- Porn - stories written solely for their erotic content with no concern for why two heterosexual brothers might want to have sex with each other.
- We couldn't help ourselves - aka sex pollen, curses, or mystical forces make them do it, or the brothers have to pretend to be gay for a case and things develop
- And then they had sex - Sex is often used within slash fics in general to allow closure or resolution to conflict. In Wincest, the boys will frequently have sex following an argument or fight. As such, they are often written to codas to episodes where conflict is unresolved.
One of the most important aspects of Wincest fan fiction is the theme of "More than just brothers" - the ultimate trust. Part of the fascination with the relationship between the boys comes from the level of connection they seem to have (they are their only family left, they don't have any other meaningful relationships in their lives, no friends are there to stay, they usually can't reveal their true identity to others). Sam and Dean are portrayed as each others' absolutes in the show, something that calls forward the ultimate, romantic love, the love that would give everything and the love that is everything.
The sexual relationship is just a logical conclusion, or one might say, an extension of that perceived soulful "oneness". Shared physical intimacy is the last step in bringing these characters together as one, not just one mind and soul, but one body.
Some writers take this concept to the point of portraying the brothers as soul mates or soul bonded. This may occur in a way suggesting it is their destiny, or the act of sex actually brings about the soul bonding.
Of course a lot of stories are purely written because Sam and Dean are hot, and fans like to read and write them having every variety of sex you can imagine, and quite a few you probably can't.
In many stories featuring Wincest, the sexual relationship will simply be part of a broader tale which may fit into a variety of genres. There are many fics in which Sam and Dean's relationship is simply part of a story that may cover any range of genres including Case Fic, Bodyswap, Genderswap, AUs, Future Fic, Pre-Series Fic, Crossover, Angst, Deathfic, Crack, Post-Apocalypse, Curtain Fic, Kid Fic, Mpreg, Hurt-Comfort especially involving the Magical Healing Cock, PWP and any other genre one can think of. Oh and Kink. Lots of that.
Given that Sam and Dean have a very close canonical relationship, some writers will note on their fic that there is "Wincest if you squint" e.g. even if a sexual relationship isn't explicit in a story, a reader could easily read the story as if there was.
In the Top/Bottom sexual roles commonly assigned in fanfic, generally Sam is the top, and Dean is the bottom.
Wincest also appears in various types of Fan Art including digital manipulations, drawings and paintings and Fan Vids which may imply a sexual relationship through clever editing or the use of manips. No cross stitch samplers have yet been seen, but are sure to exist.
The icons here represent a range of fannish engagements with Wincest.
Wincest in Canon
Shippers often seek validation of the character pairing they are interested in from canon. Wincest fans haven't had to look too hard. In fact in December 2006 Sera Gamble referred to Supernatural as The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean. On the Season 5 DVD commentary for 5.04 The End, Kripke, speaking about the brothers' relationship dynamics in the season, says: "they're going to come together and then in the second half of the season they're going to start drifting apart... the boys are kind of like The Defiant Ones in that they're kind of chained together and one moves ahead and drags the other one with him and then they reverse and... it's the epic love story of Sam and Dean."
Since Season One, Sam and Dean have been mistaken for a gay couple on several occasions: by a realtor, by Young Michael at the motel who cheekily asks if Dean and Sam want a "King or two queens?" and by the inn owner Susan Thompson  who asks if Sam and Dean if they are in the area antiquing and whether they want a king sized bed. This later encounter causes Dean to ask
Dean: Of course, the most troubling question is why do these people assume we're gay?
Sam: Well, you are kind of butch. They probably think you're overcompensating.
Sam and Dean even play on the misconception in order to get information in 3.08 A Very Supernatural Christmas.
As the show started breaking the fourth wall, Wincest fanfic entered canon.
Dean: There's Sam Girls and Dean Girls and...what's a slash fan?
Sam: As in Sam slash Dean, together.
Dean: Like together, together? They do know we are brothers, right?
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter.
Dean: Well, that's just sick!
There followed much discussion in fandom whether this exchange indicated the Show's support or condemnation of Wincest. It is certainly the first time on a TV show that incestuous gay fanfic has been mentioned by the characters about whom it is written.
Next we meet one of these slash writers - fangirl Becky Rosen. She is a fan of The Supernatural Books by Carver Edlund aka Chuck Shurley and runs a website called morethanbrothers.net. She is first seen writing a Wincest fic which can be read here. The fact that the writers of Supernatural had now themselves written Wincest fanfic caused much delight amongst Wincest fans.
When Becky later invites Sam and Dean to a Supernatural convention the MC announces that there will be a session on "The homoerotic subtext of Supernatural". The two fanboys featured in the episode Demian and Barnes, who are role playing as Sam and Dean at the convention, are revealed at the end of the episode to be lovers.
Over time more references are made in the show to the extreme closeness of Sam and Dean's relationship, not actually suggesting that the characters were involved in a sexual relationship, but acknowledging that it is a relationship of great intimacy. Even Dean finds it hard to capture what it is "Because whatever we have between us -- love, family, whatever it is ..."
The Supernatural writers even hint a close metaphysical connection when they show Sam and Dean share the same "heaven", a situation Ash points out occurs between soulmates. 
Zachariah is less subtle. When trying to make sure a resurrected Adam doesn't side with the Winchesters, he says: "So you know you can't trust them, right? You know Sam and Dean Winchester are psychotically, irrationally, erotically codependent on each other, right?" . Even Lisa says to Dean of his relationship with Sam: "You two have the most unhealthy, tangled up, crazy thing that I've ever seen". 
In 8.04 Bitten, students Michael Wheeler and Brian Wilcox film Sam and Dean who are posing as FBI agents investigating a case. Michael comments to Brian on first seeing them: "Is it just me or are you getting a workplace romance vibe from those two?" Later, after watching Sam and Dean in a cafe, Brian reports back to Michael: "They just sat and talked about how they’ve been apart for a year. You were probably right about that whole office romance thing."
In 10.05 Fan Fiction, dean notices the actors playing Sam and Dean standing near the fake Impala having what Marie dubs a BM (Boy Melodrama) moment. When Dean asks why they are standing so close together, Marie replies "Reasons." Dean responds "You do know they're brothers, right? to which Marie responds "Duh!"". Dean's line harks back to his response in [4.18 The Monster at the End of This Book]] when he and Sam discover the existence of Slash fans on the message boards for the The Supernatural Books.
What do those outside fandom think?
"Some (fans).. want to take a hand in the story, and their fan fiction can explore areas mostly untouched on the show, like the latent homoerotic suggestiveness of the Winchesters’ intense relationship. Asked if he reads any of this material, Mr. Ackles said: “I don’t. I know it’s out there, and I’m, I’m — the people that have asked me about it are well aware that I would rather not know about that.”
– , Secrets to the Long Life of Supernatural by Mike Hale, New York Times, 2014.
Some of them want to take a hand in the story, and their fan fiction can explore areas mostly untouched on the show, like the latent homoerotic suggestiveness of the Winchesters’ intense relationship. Asked if he reads any of this material, Mr. Ackles said: “I don’t. I know it’s out there, and I’m, I’m — the people that have asked me about it are well aware that I would rather not know about that.” Wincest got its first bit of official recognition at the Asylum fan convention in England in the Spring of 2007. When Jensen Ackles was asked what he thought of fan fiction, he replied:
"Some of those fan fictions have some very, very crazy ideas. And sometimes very...disturbing ideas. One of my favorites is, uh, Wincest...I-I only hope that my grandmother never reads those. Jared and I had a good laugh about that one. It was only brought to our attention because Kim Manners posted it. So um... that's that." [Video no longer available]
When asked about Wincest and fanfiction at EyeCon April 2008, Jared proved diplomatic - and eloquent: "With fan fiction and RPGs, it's sort of an aspect of what I was talking about earlier, about how everybody's taking a part in Supernatural, and they're not just watching it... and they're really passionate about the show, and especially for the fans of Supernatural, it's great... it's a great learning tool, and exploring tool to explore this world. So I'm supportive." Video of quote
Some fans have criticized those who bring the world of Wincest or fan fiction to the attention of those involved with the show, claiming it shouldn't be spoken of and should remain only between the fans.
In the March 2009 publication In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural by Benbella Books, Wincest is discussed in the essay "Scary Just Got Sexy" by Emily Turner.
In an article on Supernatural in Entertainment Weekly on 2 April, 2009, Wincest was described as a "unique and creepy type of fanfiction." 
Perhaps because of the mentions in Canon, Wincest is mentioned more often in the media in association with the fandom than other Slash pairings or even fanfiction generally. The reaction is generally one of "ewwww".
On October 6, 2009, Entertainment Weekly named Supernatural as one of the 25 top cult TV shows of all time. And only the Supernatural fandom was picked out for the fans' creativity:
Why It's Cult: Because some members of the show's small but passionate fanbase have taken to writing fan fiction. And any show that inspires people to want to continue the heroes' adventures on their own time qualifies as cult. (We'll not mention that some of that fan fiction has the Winchester brothers doing things that brothers shouldn't be doing. It's called Wincest. Nuff said, ja?) —Marc Bernardin
On March 2010, tv.com rated the craziest fanbases: "The show's weirdest fans are known for writing tales about a little something called "Wincest". Many of the comments to the blog were by Supernatural fans avowing their own dislike for Wincest.
The gay popculture site After Elton has mentioned Wincest, as well as Dean/Castiel on a number of occasions. (see below for links)
On 6 November 2011, Jim Beaver responded to some Tin Hats on Twitter with this comment: For the record, I think slash fiction is cool, and if Wincest is what you dig, more power to you. But regardez vous: fiction ISN'T real life. source
Even the New York Times noted in a 2011 review of the show "at its most basic it is about sibling devotion: no pair of brothers or sisters on television is more closely bound — not even the siblings on “Brothers and Sisters.” Proving their intimacy each week the Winchesters argue as if they were a married couple ..."
In an article on "Shipping" in the print edition of Entertainment Weekly, (February 17, 2012; p. 26, "Just Do It" by Jeff Jensen), Wincesting was given the nod by Sera Gamble:
- The CW’s Supernatural — which owes its seven season to a fiercely loyal an dynamic fan base — has periodically winked at its “Wincesters,” shippers who write sexually charged fan fiction about bogeyman-hunting brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester. “We have no judgement about that,” say exec producer Sera Gamble. “We’re glad we spark people’s creativity.”
Early in Season 8, TV Guide again bought up Wincest, with its review of the first couple of episodes entitled "Is Wincest Dead?" The article provided a handy definition of Wincest, although it actually focused on the rift between the brothers. It ended with the salutation "So get well soon, Wincest! We miss you already." 
TVGuide continued its Wincest obsession in an article title "The Pros and Cons of Shipping" 
Other Use of Term
On the imageboard 4chan incest is referred to as Wincest although this is not related to the Supernatural fandom. source
- Supernatural Fic Link Archive - delicious tags of over 30,000 Supernatural fics classifed by pairing, rating and author
- SPN J2 Big Bang - an annual fic challenge for fiction over 20,000 words.
- Sam/Dean fics tagged at the Supernatural Fic Link Archive
- Supernatural fic community on LJ
- Wincest fic community on LJ
- Wincest fic on Dreamwidth
- Dean/Adam comm on LJ
- John/Dean stories tagged as part of the Supernatural Fic Link Archive.
- daddycest - A community for John/Dean, John/Sam and John/Dean/Sam fic on Journal fen - inactive since 2007.
- papawinchester - John-centric Livejournal community. Slash is locked for members only.
- Jensen Ackles at Asylum Fan Convention
- Tosenberger, Catherine: "The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean".Supernatural, queer readings, and the romance of incestuous fan fiction, in "Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures", Volume I, 2008
- Hugging & brotherly love: a comparison of the way brothers relate in Supernatural, Heroes & Prison Break by silver_spotted
- Of Alphas, Betas, and omegas: of Winchesters and Alphabet soup by technosage
- Redemption narratives and kissing by missyjack
- Sam and Dean's transformative love story by Catherine Tosenberger
- Sam/Dean Ship manifesto by slytherinblack
- Why I write Sam/Dean even though I've never liked incestfic setissma
- Analysis of Sam's love/devotion for Dean by laurificus
- On Incest and wincest: the right and wrong way to write Sam/Dean by hidingincanada
- A Wincest Manifesto by Sarah
- Sam and Dean and Me: codependence in Supernatural by vichan
- Psychotically, irrationally, erotically co-dependent…the obsessive bromance of Supernatural by pinkwood
- What we write - an analysis of genres and pairings, and changing trends in Supernatural Fanfic from 2005-2009
- Supernatural is the best gay romance on TV that isn't actually gay by io9
- HOYAY! "Supernatural": Coded gays, slashfic bait and Wincest, oh my! on After Elton
- Supernatural recap on Facebook by Michael Jensen on After Elton
- Has Slash made the world better for gay men? on After Elton
- A comprehensive guide to shipping Wincest by brothersintheimapala
- 4.03 In the Beginning
- 4.19 Jump the Shark
- 1.08 Bugs
- 1.18 Something Wicked
- 2.11 Playthings
- 4.18 The Monster at the End of This Book
- 5.01 Sympathy for the Devil
- 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters
- 5.04 The End
- 5.16 Dark Side of the Moon
- 5.18 Point of No Return
- 6.06 You Can't Handle the Truth
- EW April 2009
- EW Oct 2009
- TV.Com 2010
- New York Times 2011
- The Pros and Cons of Shipping