No Guest Found in this category
Supernatural had no shortage of break-out characters during its fifteen-year run. From Castiel and Bobby to Jody and Charlie, there were countless characters who just had that special spark that took them from being one-offs, to long-running fan favourites. More than that, they became part of the “SPN Family” and in doing so, endeared themselves to the hearts of fans the world over.
One of the biggest examples of this, perhaps only fourth behind Castiel and the Winchesters in terms of popularity, was Crowley. Brought to life with devilish aplomb by Supa-Star Mark Sheppard, Crowley was a Crossroads Demon, turned King of Hell, who regularly flip-flopped between frenemy and all-out enemy to the Winchesters. Despite his ever-shifting agendas and allegiances however, fans still can’t get enough of the red-eyed rogue. But what is it about this suave, Scottish cloud of smoke that fans can’t help but love?
Crowley first appeared towards the end of Season 5, as the King of the Crossroads Demons and Lilith’s second-in-command, where he allied himself with Sam and Dean in their fight against Lucifer. Here, he was immediately depicted as dapper and charming, every bit the gentleman devil one would expect from a crossroads demon. It quickly became obvious that he had a natural rapport with the Winchesters and it wasn’t long before he was affectionately insulting them with nicknames like ‘Moose’ and ‘Squirrel’. It’s this chemistry which would really build Crowley up, as his relationship with the boys continued to develop over the years.
However, once Lucifer was sealed away and the Apocalypse was averted, Crowley was quick to take the throne of Hell for himself. This led to him taking on the role of antagonist on more than one occasion, serving as a Big Bad for both Seasons 6 and 8, but somehow managing to maintain a mutual respect and even grudging friendship with the Winchesters. It was also during this time that the depths of Crowley’s cruelty and depravity truly became apparent. He would happily kill humans, angels and even demons with thoughtless abandon.
The only creature in existence that Crowley truly cared about was himself and every move he made was either in service of gaining power or his own self-preservation. At times he even made it clear that he didn’t even particularly care about Hell, he was just an opportunist who knew how to make any situation work for himself.
But even when Crowley tortured Kevin Tran into reading the Demon Tablet, or held Sam’s soul hostage to force the boys into doing his bidding, fans still loved the guy. Maybe it’s because we all secretly (or not so secretly) love a bad guy, and Crowley is just so good at being bad. After all, there’s nothing more fun to watch than a good villain; one who just oozes charisma and manages to win people over despite their vile deeds. It’s why characters like Loki and Harley Quinn are so popular.
Obviously, in Crowley’s case, most of the credit has to go to Mark Sheppard, who is effortlessly charming as the sadistic demon, even when he’s at his most sinister. No, especially then. His screen presence, wit and effortless chemistry with his co-stars make it impossible not to be taken in by his performance. It extends beyond the screen too, as Sheppard has had a long and loving relationship with the Supernatural fandom. If you’ve ever been to one of his Q&A panels, you’ll know that it’s an experience unlike any other, full of unfiltered banter and good-natured insults.
On a character level though, maybe what attracts people to Crowley is that he’s a self-made, hard-working underdog. Remember, Crowley was once Fergus MacLeod, a Scottish tailor from the 16th Century before his soul went to Hell and he eventually became a demon. From such humble, some might even say pitiful beginnings, he managed to work his way up to becoming the King of the Crossroads Demons and the right-hand man to Lilith – the ruler of Hell in Lucifer’s absence.
Then from there, he filled the power vacuum left by Lilith and Lucifer to take the throne of Hell himself. His ambition, cunningness and drive are remarkable, and it’s hard not to cheer every time he successfully outmaneuvers his enemies or climbs back out of a pit to reclaim his former glory.
Lastly, Crowley may simply be a pretty literal case of “better the devil you know”. With how often he’s sided with the Winchesters, it helps carry fans through those moments where he’s an out-and-out monster. Sure, he might be torturing an innocent person right now, but just a moment ago he was making witty banter with Castiel, so it’s all good. And let’s not forget that he did have some character development over the years, with ongoing hints that he could change for the better. After all, in the end, he seemed to have lost his passion for ruling Hell and made the ultimate sacrifice to aid the Winchesters in their fight against Lucifer.
The truth is though, that there may not be any singular reason for what made Crowley so popular. He may just be one of those examples of a perfect mix of elements, blended in just the right way at the right time. Whatever the case, he certainly left his mark (no pun intended) on the Supernatural fandom and it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Mark Sheppard acting as his meat suit.