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)
Michelle Hewitt-Williams (Season 4)
Anna Williams (Season 4)
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.
In the beginning, not much is known about Ruby, a mysterious blonde first seen in the third season episode "The Magnificent Seven". She trails hunter Sam Winchester throughout the episode, eventually coming to his rescue when he is in danger of being killed by Pride and two other demonic Sins. As opposed to using traditional demonic abilities such as telekinesis, she instead relies on conventional martial arts and her demon-killing knife in the fight. Ruby next appears in "The Kids Are Alright", and reveals herself to be a demon at the episode's conclusion. Sam threatens to shoot her, but then 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.
She reveals in "Malleus Maleficarum" that she used to be a witch who sold her soul to a demon before her death during the Plague. Ruby later tells Dean Winchester she can't save his soul. She adds she still remembers what it's like to be human and says that she isn't the same as the other demons, though she wishes she were. Ruby returns in "Jus in Bello", offering to perform a spell which will destroy the attacking horde of demons, though it will also kill her. However, because the spell requires a human virgin's heart, Sam and Dean don't allow her to perform it.
In the season finale, Dean captures Ruby in a devil's trap painted on the ceiling, steals her knife, 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, sending Ruby back to Hell. Horrified when her powers have no effect on Sam, Lilith flees her host before Sam can retaliate.
As revealed in the later episode "I Know What You Did Last Summer", Ruby 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 Sam. She tracks him down, but he rejects her since she is possessing a human host played by blonde Anna Williams. To solve this, 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." Ruby is "manipulative" and in control of her situation. Claiming to have been sent back to Hell after the third season finale, Ruby seems different after she returns. In the words of Cortese, who played the character in the fourth season, Ruby did not walk in saying, "I'm going to kick everyone's ass and be tough," but was rather a "total 180 from [how she was] last season". Cortese had auditioned for an unnamed "love interest", and the actress felt the character 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". Ruby nevertheless reveals herself as a traitor, an aspect Kripke intended from the beginning.
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.
When Katie Cassidy (who had originally auditioned for the role of Bela Talbot) joined the series, she had to train in kickboxing to be able to perform Ruby's martial arts skills. This prompted 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. 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.
Due to budgetary reasons, Cassidy was let go after the third season. 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". Genevieve Cortese played the first of what was expected to be many incarnations. To prepare for the role, she viewed DVDs of Katie Cassidy's portrayal. Cortese found it at first strange stepping into Cassidy's shoes, stating, "I was conflicted over where Ruby is now versus where she's come from." 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. Impressed by the actress, Kripke 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".
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 feels 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.
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