Katie Cassidy as Ruby (left) and
Genevieve Cortese as Ruby (right)
|First appearance||"The Magnificent Seven"|
|Last appearance||"Lucifer Rising"|
|Created by||Eric Kripke|
|Portrayed by||Katie Cassidy (Season 3)
Genevieve Cortese (Season 4)
|Significant other(s)||Tammi Fenton demon (lover)
Sam Winchester (lover)
Ruby is a fictional character on The CW Television Network's Supernatural portrayed mainly by Katie Cassidy and Genevieve Cortese. Created by the writers to expand on the characterization of demons within the series, she first appears in the third season, rescuing Sam and Dean Winchester, and continues to assist them throughout the season. By the fourth season, she has won Sam's trust and begins training him to kill demons with his powers, though Dean remains fearful of ulterior motives. Due to budgetary reasons, Cassidy was replaced by Cortese after the third season, and the character departs the series at the end of the fourth season. Though the fans at first reacted negatively towards the actor change, Cortese and creator Eric Kripke felt that they became more accepting of her as the fourth season progressed.
Debuting in the third season premiere "The Magnificent Seven", the demon Ruby trails Sam Winchester —a hunter of supernatural creatures—and eventually rescues him from a group of demons. As opposed to using traditional demonic abilities such as telekinesis, she instead relies on conventional martial arts and her demon-killing knife. She reveals her demonic nature to Sam in "The Kids Are Alright", and he decides to let her live and continue to "help" him. Ruby does so in "Sin City", assisting hunter Bobby Singer in restoring power to the Colt—a mystical gun capable of killing anything.
The episode "Malleus Maleficarum" reveals her as a witch during the Plague who, like Sam's brother Dean, sold her soul to a demon. Confiding in Dean that she still remembers what it is like to be human, Ruby claims to not be like other demons, though she wishes she were. Ruby returns in "Jus in Bello", offering to perform a spell which will destroy an attacking horde of demons but at the cost of her own life. However, because the spell requires a human virgin's heart, Sam and Dean do not allow her to perform it.
In the season finale, Dean captures Ruby in a Devil's Trap—a mystical symbol capable of rendering demons powerless—and leaves with Sam to face the demon Lilith, who holds the contract for Dean's soul. During the brothers' campaign, Ruby somehow frees herself and tracks them down, helping them find Lilith. The demon escapes, however, and the trio runs away from the hellhound tracking Dean down. During the mayhem, Lilith takes over Ruby's host, apparently sending Ruby back to Hell. Horrified when her powers have no effect on Sam, Lilith flees her host before Sam can retaliate.
According to Ruby in the later episode "I Know What You Did Last Summer", she eventually convinces Lilith to trust her again, and is set free from Hell with instructions to kill Sam. She apparently betrays this promise to Lilith, however, and sets about helping him instead. To appease Sam, who dislikes her using a human host, Ruby takes possession of a body recently declared to be dead, played by Genevieve Cortese. They sleep together at least once, and she brings him out of his downward spiral towards self-destruction. Consequently, Sam now trusts Ruby implicitly. She then begins training him in using his demonic abilities to exorcise demons, and continues to do so in secret following Dean's resurrection by the angel Castiel. The episode "On the Head of a Pin" explains what has caused Sam's boost in power: he is drinking Ruby's demonic blood. In the fourth season finale, Ruby reveals herself as a double agent working for Lilith; having gained Sam's trust, she tricks him into killing Lilith to break the final seal and release Lucifer. After her true motives are revealed, she is killed by the Winchesters with her own knife.
Actress Katie Cassidy, who portrayed Ruby in the third season, described the character as an ally of Sam and Dean who "also likes to stir up a little trouble." She is also "manipulative" and in control of her situation, being "always 10 steps ahead of everybody else". Actress Genevieve Cortese, who played the character in the fourth season, deemed Cassidy's incarnation as "very tough" and "hard to get close to". Cortese felt "conflicted over where Ruby is now versus where she's come from", and explained that her own portrayal of the character was a "total 180 from [how she was] last season". Finding her version of Ruby as calmer and "more fear-driven", Cortese tried to "bring more of a humanity" to the role. Taking from the third season finale in which Dean is sent to Hell, Cortese portrayed the character as having some guilt over his death. She also wanted the character to seem "as innocent as possible" to make viewers question her true allegiance.
Cortese had auditioned for an unnamed "love interest", and the actress believed Ruby fell in love with Sam throughout the season. However, she questioned whether this was "true love" or her being "in love with what he can do". As Cortese noted, "He has something she can nurture. It's almost like a mother bear and her cub [in terms of] how protective she is... Sam's all I have, so it's almost like giving birth, in a weird, messed-up way." Ruby eventually reveals herself as a traitor, an aspect Kripke intended from the beginning. Nevertheless, Kripke wrote her final scene as "the opposite of evil", showing that Ruby does care about Sam. He explained that, in Ruby's mind, she had to lead Sam down that path because "it was for his own good".
The writers introduced Ruby in the third season to change the perception of demons into more of a grey area, rather than the "black and white", "They're evil, we're good" approach previously used in the series. Writer Sera Gamble commented, "[Ruby] brought the idea that you can't just dismiss demons as things that need to be killed right away. They could be useful, and while fundamentally untrustworthy, there might be cause to trust them in a given situation." Due to "protective and occasionally nervous" fans, series creator Eric Kripke meant to introduce Ruby in "small doses". Wanting fans to know the show would always be about Sam and Dean, and nothing else, he stated, "[Ruby and Bela are] there for important plot elements, but it's not the Ruby and Bela show, nor is it about the four of them cruising around in the Impala together. It's about the guys." Therefore, Ruby was not introduced to be a love interest for Sam or Dean, but rather to be an antagonistic character.
Cassidy originally auditioned for the role of Bela Talbot, but ultimately received the part of Ruby. She trained in kickboxing to be able to perform Ruby's martial arts skills, prompting her to attempt as many of the fight scenes as she could rather than rely on her stunt double. She also prepared by looking to Sharon Stone's performance in the film Basic Instinct for inspiration due to Ruby's manipulative ways. As Cassidy explained, "[Sharon's character] always has the power, and there's this mystery about her." Because of her height difference with the lead actors—Cassidy is 5'7" while Jared Padalecki is 6'4"—she had to wear tall, spiky high heels that at times made her lose balance.
|“||Rather than introduce some entirely new body for Ruby that'll get confusing for the audience and confusing for Sam, why not keep going back to a performance that we're loving?||”|
—Kripke on the decision to keep Cortese.
Kripke cited budgetary reasons for Cassidy's departure after the third season. According to Cassidy, however, Warner Bros.'s uncertainty about what direction to take Ruby in prompted her to leave when the opportunity to star in the series Harper's Island arose. To "make the best out of a bad situation", Kripke and the writers planned for Ruby to take on a new host every few episodes for the fourth season. They believed this would "keep [viewers] guessing", and provide a "cool character that most shows don't have the ability to do". Cortese played the first of what was expected to be many incarnations, but an impressed Kripke ultimately chose to keep her in the role because she "brought a lot of the different colors and vulnerabilities to Ruby that [he] was really looking for". Although Cortese viewed DVDs of Cassidy's portrayal, she tried to make the character her own at the producers' request rather than emulate Cassidy.
BuddyTV staff columnist Don Williams felt the addition of Ruby was a "cheap ploy" to attract teen male viewers, and Cassidy "was cast more for her looks than her acting prowess". He also believed the character distracted viewers from the "brotherly bond that made the show so special in the first place". However, he later admitted she "remains one of the more interesting and ambiguous evildoers on the series". Although IGN's Diana Steenbergen had looked forward to Ruby's introduction, she ultimately found the third-season incarnation a "wasted" character who did little to improve the series. Her main concerns consisted of Ruby's "unlikable and manipulative" qualities and her tendency to make the Winchesters "look stupid". The actress, in Steenbergen's opinion, "never quite [pulled off]" the "tough chick" persona of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Faith or Battlestar Galactica's Six. TV Guide's Tina Charles, however, liked Ruby's action-packed introduction in "The Magnificent Seven". She was "intrigued" by the character in her second appearance, and felt Cassidy was "doing a good job". Ruby made a "plausible addition" to "Malleus Maleficarum", with Charles finding it "cool" to learn Ruby's backstory due to its implications for Dean's storyline. Karla Peterson of the San Diego Union-Tribune, on the other hand, thought Cassidy "wasn't awful" in her first appearance. Though "not great enough for Ackles to really play off of" in "Malleus Maleficarum", the actress was "good enough to make her weaker acting chops kind of work for her". Believing Ruby had met her demise in the season finale, Peterson noted the character "got gone just as [she was] getting interesting" and deemed her a "decent traveling [companion]".
In her debut, Cortese impressed Peterson "even less than the old Ruby". While Peterson was fine with the sexual relationship between Ruby and Sam, she felt the "seduction came out of nowhere" in "I Know What You Did Last Summer". Contributing to this problem was Cortese's inability to "pull it off", making the "whole thing [feel] gratuitous and clumsy". Conversely, Peterson enjoyed the performances of Anna Williams and Michelle Hewitt-Williams as Ruby's temporary hosts in the episode; the former was "great", while she found the latter "sassy" and "[missed] her already". She "loved" Ruby's death in the finale, describing it as "a beautiful thing". Similar to Peterson, Williams considered Cortese's acting skills "a bit distracting", but noted she improved over time. Steenbergen considered Cortese an "acceptable Ruby", but posited she was often "too girlish to connect with the previous incarnations of the character". Cortese also "seemed out of her depth in the acting department" towards the end of the season. Ruby's seeming betrayal of Anna in "Heaven and Hell" would "have added some welcome layers to her character", but her true intentions made the character development "less exciting". Steenbergen deemed Ruby's overall deceit of Sam, however, a "great revelation".
Fans were also very wary at first of bringing in female characters to the male-dominated show. To make matters worse, Kripke wrote a lackluster scene intended solely for the audition process. Fans quickly came across it on casting sites, and developed a feeling the character "really [looks like she sucks]". However, Kripke believed fans would change their minds about Ruby after learning of her demonic side. By the middle of the third season, Kripke felt enough fans were "responding positively to vindicate the character", and that most were "finally embracing her" by the third season finale. When the character returns in Season Four, she is much different than her third season counterpart. Cortese felt that while the drastic change made fans angry, the flashbacks provided in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" shed some light on Ruby's new mindset and made fans more accepting of the character. However, the overall criticisms towards Cortese's performance made her reluctant to return for a cameo appearance in the sixth season, although she eventually accepted when she learned she would be portraying herself.
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