Seven seasons gone and counting to eight, and I still haven’t given up hope on finding interest to recurring characters. There is actually only around five left, but from them, I only have hope left for Charlie Bradbury (due to the character potential) and Kevin Tran (out of relevance to plot).
The show has always been about the two brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, and halfway into the series, about Castiel. While this is in itself, not necessarily a bad thing, it leaves very few chances for other characters to develop, not yet taking into account the gender of the character (which is completely a separate issue on its own).
Because the story must always put the brothers into the limelight, other characters are either delegated into the role of support, or antagonism in all its different shades and levels. Although both of these roles will inevitably fail due to death or permanent separation of ways.
None of the two brothers can permanently die so the horseman will have to offer pizza to the supporting characters. Even well beloved characters like Bobby was not immune, and although he was briefly seen in one episode this season, it was more of a cameo and for the sake of nostalgia rather than continuity (I’m still wondering why it wasn’t Mary Winchester they saved, but that’s probably discussion for another topic).
Antagonistic roles are obviously more prone because these characters are written mostly to create tension. Very seldom are these characters’ back stories well-fleshed out, and even if they were, the success depends on the preference and reception of the majority/the most vocal members of the fanbase (personally, I think it’s usually the latter). Although creating a character as a plot device isn’t always necessarily a bad thing (it could prove effective sometimes when played right), it becomes bad when almost every recurring character are made to serve only as a plot device.
Many recurring characters were written to tear the relationship of the brothers apart and this is what seals them to their doom. It doesn’t help that many fans cannot seem to differentiate hating a villain because the villain is well-written (and that eliciting hate is actually the point of having a villain) and from hating a villain because s/he is badly written.
Regardless, this is why I think Crowley’s days are numbered, whether sooner or later, and potentially Naomi’s as well (depending on how Metatron enters the picture).
Going back to supporting characters, I downplay it a lot but I think Charlie will get the axe this season or probably in the ninth. So far she has been an interesting character and she still has a lot of potential. However, as the episode description says, she might die in the episode. I would like everyone to check the recurring list and see how many are left, or better yet, how few are left. If the writers need another pang to send into the viewers, it most definitely will be from that short list. So Charlie is at high-risk.
Furthermore, I don’t know how this will play out but another character was written to act as a little sister to the Winchesters—Jo. However, as she was ambiguously written as a potential love interest for Dean, her character was met with hate (which in an objective literary sense of the character seriously pisses me off) and exponentially increased the chances of her character being written off. Although Charlie doesn’t meet that criteria, it still makes her an expendable ‘little sister’ or ‘family’ that could be killed for viewer feels.
Kevin Tran, on the other hand, I don’t feel so strongly for partially because we don’t see him much (often the case for many recurring characters, Garth who?), and is mostly shown only due to relevance to plot (and his repeated disappearances/abductions are getting tiring for me). He will most likely not die yet, but once his job is done, consider it done.
Generally, unless the show evolves away from the ‘Brothers-and-sometimes-Castiel’ mentality, and unless the fanbase departs from being grounded on that idea (whatever their reasons are), treat the recurring characters as you would any character from A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones for those who do not know the source novel). In fact, even Castiel, whose fanbase sometimes eclipses the two brothers, is not written on equal terms as the two (partially with good reason as his character easily becomes deus ex machina).
So while I hate to say it, I’m bracing myself for saying goodbye to Charlie Bradbury.