Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer
|First appearance||"Devil's Trap"|
|Portrayed by||Jim Beaver|
|Spouse(s)||Karen Singer (deceased)|
Robert Steven "Bobby" Singer is a fictional character in The CW Television Network's drama/horror television series Supernatural portrayed by Jim Beaver. Chosen due to his working relationship with executive producer Robert Singer, Beaver made his initial appearance in the first season finale "Devil's Trap". The actor believed the role would merely be a "one-shot deal", but has since become a recurring guest on the series, having appeared in more episodes than anyone besides the two leads. Despite also starring in the series Harper's Island, Beaver was able to maintain his quota for Supernatural's fourth season, with the role expanding even further for the fifth season's apocalyptic storyline. The character, a "rough but warmhearted" working-class man who hunts supernatural creatures, has evolved over time into a father-figure for series protagonists Sam and Dean Winchester.
Salvager and proprietor of Singer Salvage Yard, Bobby Singer was first introduced to the supernatural world when his wife Karen became possessed by a demon. As detailed in the third-season episode "Dream a Little Dream of Me", he was uncertain of how to save her, and instead ended up being forced to kill her. Her death prompted him to dedicate his life to hunting supernatural creatures.
Bobby makes his debut in the first season finale "Devil's Trap", and is revealed to be an old friend of the Winchester family. Sam and Dean Winchester seek his help when their father John is kidnapped by demons. From his extensive collection of supernatural-related literature and resources, Bobby shows the brothers how to create a devil's trap—mystical symbols capable of rendering a demon powerless—and later assists in the exorcism of the demonic Meg Masters. After John's death in the second-season premiere, Bobby allows the brothers to stay at his home to rest up and rebuild the recently-crippled Impala. He continues to assist them when they require additional expertise in their hunts, rescuing a demonically-possessed Sam and dealing with a Trickster. In the second-season finale, Bobby helps Dean to locate a missing Sam, but they both watch in horror as he is fatally stabbed in the back. Bobby begs Dean to bury Sam, and is distraught when he learns that Dean has sold his soul to a demon for Sam's resurrection. When the hunters learn of the demon Azazel's plan to open a Devil's Gate—a gateway to Hell—they rush to stop him. Although they manage to kill the demon, the gateway is temporarily opened, releasing hundreds of other demons into the world.
Dealing with Dean's Deal
Bobby assists the Winchesters throughout the third season in their war against the recently-escaped demons, starting with helping them defeat the Seven Deadly Sins, as well as repairing the Colt so that they can make new bullets for it (Albeit with unspecified help from the apparently renegade demon Ruby). The Winchesters also save Bobby's life when he is put into a coma by a teenager using dreamroot to enter the minds of others, but this results in Bela Talbot- a thief who takes supernatural artifacts that the brothers called for help finding the dreamroot- stealing the Colt while they are unconscious. Bobby helps them track down Lilith—a powerful demon who holds the contract to Dean's deal—the night before his contract runs out. However, they are unable to stop her, and Dean is sent to Hell.
The Breaking of the Seals
When Dean mysteriously returns to life four months later in the fourth season premiere "Lazarus Rising", Bobby at first believes him to be a demon or some other type of supernatural creature. After first attempting to kill Dean and then putting him through numerous tests, Bobby helps him to reunite with his brother. While Sam later sneaks away to secretly hone his new-found demonic abilities, Bobby and Dean perform a ritual to summon whatever creature resurrected him. The being, revealed to be the angel Castiel, incapacitates Bobby and informs Dean that he was saved from Hell because Heaven has work for him to do. The subsequent episode, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester", reveals that Dean must stop Lilith from breaking the 66 mystical seals keeping Lucifer imprisoned.
In "The Rapture", Dean discovers that Sam's abilities have been amplified due to a recent addiction to demon blood; he has Bobby lock Sam inside his ghost- and demon-proof panic room—located in Bobby's basement—to recover from his dependence on demon blood. Sam escapes in the subsequent episode, and, faced with the choice of either shooting him or letting him go, Bobby chooses the latter. In the fourth season finale, "Lucifer Rising", Dean is furious that Sam has chosen to side with the demon Ruby—she has been feeding Sam her blood to make him strong enough to kill Lilith—over him. Despite Dean's declaration that if Sam should leave, he should never come back, Sam chooses to go with Ruby. When Bobby learns of the ultimatum, he compares Dean's actions to those of John Winchester—years prior, John made a similar statement to Sam, which prompted him to abandon hunting and alienated him from his family. Although Dean then tries to reach out to Sam, he is prevented by the angels; they want to start the Apocalypse to bring paradise to the world once Lucifer is defeated, and the death of Lilith is the final seal holding the fallen angel in place. Castiel has a change of heart and sends Dean to stop Sam, but Ruby holds him off long enough for Sam to kill Lilith. As Lucifer's prison begins to open, Sam and Dean angrily kill Ruby, but they are powerless to stop the Devil from rising.
The brothers are teleported to safety by God in the fifth season premiere, and meet up with Bobby to research an angelic sword said to be capable of killing Lucifer. When Sam confesses that he broke the final seal, an angry Bobby tells him to "lose [his] number" once the Apocalypse is over. A hurt Sam departs to conduct research at a nearby church. After Dean later comes across a lead on the weapon's location, Bobby attacks him and is revealed to be demonically possessed. However, Bobby temporarily retakes control, and stabs himself with Ruby's demon-killing knife. Although the demon dies, Bobby is left paralyzed. The brothers attempt to find the sword, which is revealed to have merely been a trap set up by the angels; Sam and Dean are the destined human vessels for Lucifer and Michael, and the angels want Dean to accept Michael before Lucifer can find a makeshift vessel of his own. Castiel—now cut off from Heaven and rapidly losing his angelic powers—rescues them, and they then return to the hospital. Bobby tells Sam that his earlier comments were made by the demon, and that he could never cut Sam out of his life.
With Castiel's now-weakened powers leaving him unable to heal injuries, being in a wheelchair begins to take its toll on Bobby. When the brothers come across a poker-playing witch in "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester", he sees it as a chance to regain his mobility and wagers 25 years of his lifespan. Although he loses and begins to age rapidly, Sam and Dean manage to restore his lost years. In "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", Bobby's wife—and many other people buried in the local cemetery—suddenly rises from her grave and appears to be completely normal. Sam and Dean try to convince him to kill her because she is a zombie, but he refuses and orders them to leave. Over time, the other zombies begin to turn evil, and Bobby is forced to kill his wife again to prevent her from changing, too. After all the zombies are dealt with, Bobby reveals that Death orchestrated the situation; because he is one of the reasons why Sam has not yet agreed to be Lucifer's vessel, the Horseman attempted to break Bobby's spirit. Although Dean tries to comfort him by pointing out that he got to see his wife again, Bobby notes that it only made her death a thousand times worse.
The brothers eventually learn that the rings of the Four Horsemen can be used to reimprison Lucifer, and they manage to collect three by the episode "Two Minutes To Midnight".
Still in need of Death's ring, Bobby sells his soul to Crowley—a powerful demon who also wants to stop Lucifer—in exchange for the knowledge of the final Horseman's location. Crowley promises to return his soul once the Apocalypse has been prevented, keeping it in the meantime to guarantee his safety from the Winchesters. Once the deal has been made, the demon reveals that he added in a secret clause to restore Bobby's mobility. An ecstatic Bobby then joins Sam and Castiel on a mission to stop nation-wide distribution of the Croatoan virus. In the fifth season finale, Sam decides to consent to Lucifer, hoping that he can maintain control long enough to throw himself into Lucifer's prison. However, the fallen angel instantly overwhelms his new vessel, and teleports away with the rings. Bobby and Castiel lose faith in their goal, but Dean convinces them to keep fighting. They learn the location of the destined battleground from the prophet Chuck, and arrive just as Lucifer and Michael prepare to fight. An angry Lucifer kills Bobby and Castiel when they interfere, and then sets his sight onto Dean. Sam is able to reassert control over his body, and uses the rings to imprison himself and Michael. With the Apocalypse over, God resurrects Castiel, who in turn brings Bobby back to life.
After a year's research into Crowley's human life- allowing them to track down his mortal remains, whose destruction would 'kill' Crowley in the same manner as exorcising a ghost-, Bobby eventually regains his soul by threatening to burn Crowley's human remains. Although the restored but soulless Sam attempts to kill Bobby as part of a ritual to prevent his soul returning to him- Sam concerned about reports that the psychological damage his soul will have sustained while being tortured by Lucifer will destroy him-, Bobby easily forgives Sam after his soul is restored, recognizing that Sam was not responsible though he is awkward around him at first due to his actions. Bobby then collaborates with the Winchesters in tracking down Eve, the mother of all monsters, when she is released from Purgatory by a ritual performed by dragons, even after their first attempt results in Bobby being possessed by a brain-controlling slug Eve has created and the death of his old friend and mentor Rufus.
During a temporary change in the timeline caused by angel Balthazar saving the Titanic, Bobby is married to a still-living Ellen Harvelle, but this timeline is undone with only Sam, Dean and the angels remembering it.
After a time-travel mission results in the brothers and Bobby acquiring the phoenix ash needed to kill Eve, they eliminate her, but are shocked to learn that Castiel is collaborating with Crowley to open Purgatory in an attempt to acquire the power of the souls within it to us in the civil war in Heaven. Despite their best efforts, Dean, Sam and Bobby fail to stop Castiel, who uses the Purgatory souls to elevate himself to a god-like level.
Death by Leviathan
Although he initially helps the Winchesters in their struggle against the Leviathans- God's original creations, trapped for millennia in Purgatory until they were unintentionally released by Castiel- despite the destruction of his house, even determining their new foes' vulnerability to the chemical Borax, Bobby is eventually shot in the head by Dick Roman in "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters". He spends the next episode, "Death's Door", in a coma, trying to reawaken to reveal the Leviathan's plot. Despite efforts to save him, Bobby flatlines from his injuries; his last word being "idjits" (sic, idiots) to Sam and Dean after passing on a sequence of numbers. The episode ends with a reaper asking Bobby if he is going to become a ghost or move on to the afterlife. It's indicated that he stayed as a ghost to help the boys as there have been times since his death when the information they need inexplicably makes itself known to them, but they were initially unable to confirm or deny Bobby's possible presence. During "Party On, Garth," Sam reveals that he tried to use a talking board to contact him if he is still around, but received no response. However, Garth registers high readings on an EMF detector around Bobby's old flask, and when Dean needed a sword to slay a demon, it inexplicably slid across the ground to him, leading him to believe that Bobby had helped him. At the end of the episode, Bobby's spirit can be seen in the brother's motel room, and he is annoyed when Dean comes in, looks right at him and does not see him, instead grabbing his flask.
In "Of Grave Importance", the audience is fully aware of Bobby's ghostly existence and the episode revolves around his own parallel investigation with the Winchesters of a haunted house. When Annie Hawkins, a hunter friend of the three, calls for assistance before being killed by the house's ghost, Bobby follows the Winchesters via the flask and discovers Annie dead with a myriad of other ghosts unable to move on from their place of death. Determined to get out information, Bobby learns to manipulate physical objects and points Dean and Sam in the right direction, and they are able to destroy the ghost haunting the house before the ghost could destroy Bobby. At the end of the episode, having accepted Bobby's return, Bobby is now fully visible to the Winchesters and explains to them how he chose to remain behind; a choice Dean finds hard to accept.
Following their reunion, Bobby explains Dick Roman's endgame for humanity; cure humanity of all its diseases before herding them as livestock for the Leviathans to feed on. In the midst of his explanation, the brothers receive an email from a dead Frank Devereaux, who informs them that his hard drive, in Roman's possession at his headquarters, is currently being cybernetically attacked and will lead to their new aliases and safe houses being compromised. While Bobby attempts to convince the Winchesters to send in his flask, the brothers are concerned his hatred for Roman will compromise the operation and leave him out. The hacker responsible of cracking Devereaux's hard drive, Charlene Bradbury, witnesses a Leviathan eating and cloning her boss and is quickly able to be recruited to help the brothers against the Leviathans. While the operation is successful - wiping the hard drive, hacking Roman's email account and intercepting an important package - Charlene is unable to escape the building in time. Bobby, having snuck his flask into her bag, cracks the doors and begins to attack the Leviathans, breaking Charlene's arm in the process, leading to a concerned discussion between the brothers as to Bobby's self-control. Bobby later returns after having to recharge for a while and describes himself as "stronger than ever." Bobby directs Sam and Dean to go after an Alpha and Crowley for the remaining bloods they need, but worried that he's becoming stronger and closer to becoming a vengeful spirit, Sam and Dean leave the flask behind locked in a safe. After learning that a girl they have with them is a vampire and seeing Dick on TV, Bobby becomes angry when he can't open the safe, breaking things in the room. When a maid arrives, Bobby possesses her, having realized the combination is his birthday and heads off to get his revenge on Dick.
In "Survival of the Fittest," Bobby has become a full vengeful spirit. He accidentally exorcises himself from the maid and tries to convince her to help him, but after seeing Dick on a newspaper, he angrily possesses her again. Bobby arrives at Sucrocorp where Sam tries to stop him, but Bobby is no longer in control of himself. However, when Bobby nearly strangles Sam to death, he manages to regain control and leaves the maid. Bobby later appears to Sam and Dean who still have his flask and tells them that he's having a hard time controling himself and that its like "an itch you can't scratch" and knowing there's a danger of him losing control again, asks them to burn his flask. They reluctantly do so and before Bobby is gone, he asks them to kill Dick, not for vengeance, but for the job. Bobby also promises to see them in the afterlife, but asks for them not to come too soon.
Rescue from Hell
In "Taxi Driver," Sam and Dean learn from rogue Reaper Ajay that instead of going to Heaven when his flask was burned, Bobby was taken to Hell on Crowley's orders. Needing to rescue an innocent soul and release it into Heaven to complete the second trial to close the Gates of Hell, Sam travels into Hell and finds Bobby who initially believes he is a demon as he is being tormented by demons pretending to be Sam and Dean all the time, but Sam convinces him with personal information only he and Dean know. The two escape, with Bobby killing a Sam imposter along the way and get into Purgatory, but find the Reaper that is supposed to take them home, Ajay is not there. Under attack by vampires, Sam and Bobby are rescued by Dean's vampire friend Benny who leads them to the portal out. Sam absorbs Bobby's soul into his arm, warning him that once on Earth, he must ascend directly to Heaven and not stay around for another goodbye (Although Bobby notes that goodbyes are pointless as he may find another way back considering their track record with death). On Earth, Sam releases Bobby towards Heaven, but he is trapped by Crowley who wants to take him back to Hell. However, the angel Naomi intervenes, drives off Crowley and frees Bobby, allowing him to ascend to his rightful place in Heaven and completing the second trial.
In Sam's Dream
When Sam is in a coma and dying, his subconscious desire to give up and die manifests in the form of Bobby. "Bobby" takes Sam away from the Impala and talks to him about moving on being a good thing and something he should do before taking him to a house in the woods where he says what Sam needs is. The part of Sam's mind that wants to live promptly manifests as Dean and kills "Bobby" to try to convince Sam one last time to live, but Sam decides to go with "Bobby's" advice.
Actor Jim Beaver described Bobby as a "rough but warmhearted" working-class man with the outlook that "sometimes there are things that need to be done and they're not fun to do, but they gotta be done anyway". When the "usually level-headed" hunter must use a wheelchair in the fifth season, he becomes "frustrated and angry"; instead of being able to join the battles, he is "stuck at home manning the telephones". This feeling of uselessness eventually leads to thoughts of suicide, though he deems himself too much of a coward to go through with it. On the situation, Beaver commented, "Bobby lives in a world where all kinds of strange things are possible. Somewhere along the line, he has a hope that one of these strange, miraculous things might happen to him. I think he is also a realist. He understands that even when you have friends that come back from the dead, not everything that you want to happen is going to happen."
|“||There are fundamental differences between him and John, and as much as the boys clearly love their father in some ways they're more comfortable with Bobby. But everybody has parent baggage, and sometimes your favorite uncle is a more fun parent figure than your real parents. I've always felt that it's a cross between a father figure and an uncle...||”|
—Beaver discussing the dynamics of Bobby's relationship with the Winchesters
Though Bobby is "fairly content, at least on the surface, to be alone in the world", he slowly comes to be a surrogate father for Sam and Dean. On this relationship, Beaver feels that "Bobby's concerned about them both, with Dean's sense of self, but there's a sort of undercurrent of worry about Sam. Sam seems to have more of the heart of darkness about him than Dean does... I just sense that there's this ongoing watchful eye that Bobby's got on Sam." Although he loves each of them "like a son", Bobby is willing to allow the brothers to put themselves in harm's way if it is absolutely necessary. For example, when Dean wants to detoxify Sam from his addiction to demon blood in "When the Levee Breaks", Bobby instead points out that Sam giving in to his demonic abilities could help him to prevent Lucifer's return, even though the amount of blood required to kill Lilith would "change [him] forever". Beaver noted, "Bobby is old enough that he's fairly clear-headed about what the priorities ought to be. Bobby's position is, more or less, 'if you have a family member with a drinking problem and you want to stage an intervention, you might not want to do it in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.'"
Beaver had previously worked with executive producer Robert Singer on the television series Reasonable Doubts, and Singer gave him the part without viewing his audition tape. The character is named after Singer, though how this came to be is uncertain. Singer himself claimed Kripke secretly slipped the name into the script for "Devil's Trap"; contradicting this was Beaver, who claimed that the surname was not in the script but was rather jokingly added onto a salvage-yard sign—"Singer Auto Parts"—by the set designers. The actor thought his initial appearance would be a "one-shot deal", and was surprised when he was asked to return. Beaver feels that his longevity on the show is due to his chemistry with Ackles and Padalecki.
The first episode to delve into Bobby's backstory was the third season's "Dream a Little Dream of Me". Because the writers always knew his history would be "grounded in family", the episode's teaser initially depicted the supernatural deaths of his children. However, the writers could not determine where to go from there. Following writer Cathryn Humphris' earlier pitch of Bobby being an expert exorcist because of a previous failed exorcism, the focus changed to Bobby's torment about killing his demonically-possessed wife.
|“||...it's sometimes hard to sit in the chair and fully commit to the unpleasant aspects of it. Wheelchairs weren't invented for people to have fun with, and I try to keep that in mind. As an actor, it's very intriguing. Anything you get to do that's different from your own life is interesting. But I don't take it lightly.||”|
—Beaver discussing the influence of the wheelchair
During production of the fourth season, Beaver joined the limited series Harper's Island. Although he initially feared that it would prevent future appearances of Bobby, he was able to maintain his Supernatural "quota" with seven episodes. The character's role increased for the fifth season, which made sense for the actor due to the apocalyptic storyline. The season also introduced a new story arc for Bobby: his use of a wheelchair. Series creator Eric Kripke explained that it "[made] the Apocalypse matter"; the writers wanted "real stakes and real loss and real obstacles thrown in our heroes' way" to differentiate it from prior seasons. Though he found it to be a challenge, Beaver enjoyed the experience because he could perform tricks on set that his wheelchair-using college roommate had taught him. However, the actor did "[take it] very seriously", and commented, "I can get out of the chair at the end of the day and go home and I recognize that, so many people can't and I have to be considerate to them and respect that."
The character's portrayal has received wide acclaim from critics. John Kubicek of BuddyTV ranked Beaver fourteenth on his list of the best supporting actors in a drama series from the 2009-2010 TV season, believing that the actor "did his best acting work ever" as Bobby. Likewise, Karla Peterson of The San Diego Union-Tribune suggested, "May his trucker cap get its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame."
Tina Charles of TV Guide feels that Bobby "totally rocks", and "wouldn't mind him in every [episode]. OK, every other one". She pointed out Beaver's chemistry with Ackles, and wrote, "I have always loved any scene we get that involves [Bobby and Dean] - they're unexpectedly emotional. When Bobby finally realized he wasn't talking to a Dean shapeshifter or revenant [in 'Lazarus Rising'], that this was the real deal, it was just awesome." Charles was surprised by Bobby's paralysis storyline, but became "really interested" in finding out how it would affect him. However, she posited, "The guy's a spitfire...and it probably won't change him much." IGN's Diana Steenbergen also praised Beaver, calling Bobby "a valuable member of the team" that "broadens [the Winchesters'] tight-knit unit, reminding them that there is more to family than just blood ties". She found the actor to be "fantastic as the broken Bobby" in the fifth season, "despondent over his situation and feeling useless". Steenbergen noted, "Bobby has been through a lot this season, and Jim Beaver has done an outstanding job portraying his journey. Not solely a surrogate father figure and keeper of random supernatural knowledge, this season Bobby has run the gamut of sacrifice, loss, anger, and determination to keep fighting." After watching Bobby confess his suicidal thoughts to Dean in "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester", she felt that "Beaver conveys all of Bobby's vulnerability and also the shame that comes from being reprimanded by Dean for wanting to give up".
Despite universal praise of Bobby by critics, Beaver commented on his blog that a minority of fans dislike the character. Don Williams of BuddyTV, however, defended him—he believes Bobby to be the show's "most important recurring guest star"—and noted that "people will complain about anything". In his response to the criticism—an article entitled "Why We Love Bobby Singer"—Williams wrote, "I think it's a shame when people like Jim Beaver or Eric Kripke have to step forward to address this vocal minority, especially when the minority is just a handful of people gathering at a certain TV website that's known for being snarky and negative about everything. The complaints of these supposed fans aren't even worth addressing, in my opinion."
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- Writer: Sera Gamble, Director: Phil Sgriccia (May 6, 2010). "Two Minutes to Midnight". Supernatural. Season 5. Episode 21. CW.
- Story: Eric Gewitz, Teleplay: Eric Kripke, Director: Steve Boyum (May 13, 2010). "Swan Song". Supernatural. Season 5. Episode 22. CW.
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