Wincest is the term commonly used to describe fanfiction (or other fanworks) that depict or assume a romantic or sexual (i.e. Slash) relationship between Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester. It is the most popular pairing in Supernatural fandom.
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 the start of 2006), 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.
The season four episode 4.03 In The Beginning took Dean back in time to 1973 where he encounters his parents as young people. Dean comments that his mother is very attractive.
Dean: Sammy, wherever you are - Mom is a babe! I'm so going to hell. Again.
Also in this episode, when Azazel possess Samuel Campbell, Mary's father, he kisses her to seal the deal to save John's life, technically providing a canonical example of Wincest. 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.
Adam Milligan who first appears in 4.19 Jump The Shark is also a blood relative of the Winchesters, so Sam/Adam, for example, could also be called Wincest. The LiveJournal community "Wincest" has stated here that pairings involving Adam count in their definition of Wincest.
Wee!cest refers to Wincest where one or both of the boys are teenagers.
In Season 5, interest rose in the pairing of Michael and Lucifer - itself 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.
- 2005.10.25 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 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 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"!
Based on an analysis of nearly 30,000 stories listed in the LJ Supernatural newsletter, approximately 39% of Supernatural fan fiction is Wincest. (December 2009)
Some communities on Livejournal and messsage 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 Peterellis 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, 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 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 aspect 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 the only family left, they don't have any other meaningful relationships in their lives, no friends are there to stay, they can't reveal their true identity to others). Sam and Dean are portrayed as each other's absolutes in the show, something that calls forward the ultimate, romantic love, the love that would give everything and the love that is everything.
It has been argued (see: Woledge, Elisabeth: Intimatopia. Genre Intersections Between Slash and the Mainstream, in: Hellekson, Karen/ Busse, Kristina: Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet, McFarland, 2006, p. 79 - 96) that the social closeness engenders intimacy, a certain kind of "oneness" between two men in a homosocial world. If we take a look at the world of Supernatural, the homosocial surroundings aren't to be missed: the mother died, the boys are brought up by their father, their most important friend and contact is Bobby and so on. In that, 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. In 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon, Sam and Dean share the same "heaven", a situation Ash points out occurs between soulmates.
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 both digital manipulations, drawings and paintings. and Fan Vids which may imply a sexual relationship through clever editing, or 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
Since Season One, Sam and Dean have been mistaken for a gay couple on a couple of occasions: by a Realtor in 1.08 Bugs, by Young Michael in 1.18 Something Wicked, and by the inn owner Susan Thompson in 2.11 Playthings. 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 in Season Four, Wincest fanfic entered canon. In the episode 4.18 The Monster At The End Of This Book specific mention was made of Sam/Dean fanfic.
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 porn has been mentioned by the characters about whom it is written.
In Season Five, the character of Becky Rosen is introduced. 5.01 Sympathy For The Devil She is a fan of the "Supernatural" novels and runs a website called morethanbrothers.net. She is first seen writing a Wincest fic which can be read here.
At the Supernatural Convention featured in 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters , the MC announces that there will be a session on "The homoerotic subtext of Supernatural". The two fanboys featured in the epsiode 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.
In late Season Five, further explicit references were made in the show to the extreme closesness of Sam and Dean's relationship. While not actually suggesting that the characters were involved in a sexual relationship, it was interesting that the writers chose to play up the Wincest interpretation, rather than play it down. While in Heaven, Ash explains to Sam and Dean that most people are alone in their own version of Heaven - whereas Sam and Dean share theirs. This happens only in special cases Ash explains - such as soulmates. 5.16 Dark Side Of The Moon
Zachariah, when trying to make sure a resurrected Adam doesn't side with the Winchesters 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?" 5.18 Point Of No Return
What do those outside fandom think?
"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 of quote
When asked about Wincest and fanfiction at EyeCon April 2008, Jared proved diplomatic - and eloquent: "with fan fiction and RPGs, it's like what I was talking about earlier, that everyone's taking a part and they're not just watching it.. ..and they're really passionate about the show, and especially the fans of Supernatural it's 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". Comments to the blog were generally of Supernatural fans avowing their own dislike for Wincest.
The gay popculture cite After Elton has mentioned Wincest on a number of occasions. (see below for links)
Other Use of Term
"On the imageboard 4chan incest is referred to as Wincest." reference, although this is not directly related to the Supernatural fandom.
- 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
- What we write - an analysis of genres and pairings, and changing trends in Supernatural Fanfic from 2005-2009
- 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