In honor of the return of Sheriff Donna Hanscum on Supernatural season 11, episode 7, “Plush,” we reflect on our favorite law enforcement officials through 11 seasons.
Sam and Dean have had a mostly adversarial relationship with law enforcement over 11 seasons, considering hunting requires they perform a lot of illegal activities. However, some of those law enforcement officials became allies for the Winchesters.
We look at the five most memorable so far.
Sheriff Jody Mills
Who else could top the list but Sioux Falls’ Sheriff Jody Mills? First appearing in season 5’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” when her son rose from the dead, Jody ended up losing both her recently risen son and her husband, who was murdered by her zombie son. She had a grudgingly respectful relationship that was bordering on romance with Bobby Singer before his death.
Jody has appeared in every season since her first appearance, and she serves as something like a sister-mother hybrid to the Winchesters, as her motherly instincts do arise at times, but on a hunt, she is on equal terms with Sam and Dean. They listen to her when she speaks, and they trust her to look after herself — not something they do with just anyone.
Sheriff Donna Hanscum
Sheriff Donna Hanscum first appeared in season 9’s “The Purge,” when the Winchester brothers arrived in Minnesota to investigate a case at a health club. She returned in season 10’s “Hibbing 911” when, paired up with Jody Mills at a sheriffs’ retreat, she learned about the supernatural world and helped defeat a nest of vampires. She then returned again in season 11’s “Plush,” when she called the Winchesters in for help on a strange case.
Donna’s character brings an innocence and lightness that is mostly missing from Supernatural. Characters who have spent so long shrouded in the shadows of hunting become jaded and cynical, but Donna balances that out. Her pleasure at the Winchesters dubbing her a hunter is infectious, and that is something welcome.
FBI agent Victor Henriksen
First showing up in season 2’s “Nightshifter,” Henriksen was an FBI agent assigned to the Winchester case. He became quite familiar with their background but believed the brothers to be psychotic killers. However, when he was locked up in a sheriff’s station with the brothers in season 3’s “Jus in Bello,” due to a demon attack, he learned that Sam and Dean had been telling the truth after all. He started to bond with Dean and helped the brothers fake their deaths after the attack was over, but he met his untimely end when Lilith blew up the police station.
Henriksen was driven, smart, snarky, and a bit arrogant. But he was also good at this job and believed in the work he was doing. He was also one of the first recurring characters of color on the show, which has received criticism for its lack of diversity at times.
Detective Diana Ballard
Detective Ballard, played by Linda Blair, appeared in season 2’s “The Usual Suspects.” When Sam and Dean were arrested, Ballard and her partner (and lover) were in charge of their case. However, when the ghost the Winchesters were hunting appeared to Ballard, she teamed up with Sam. In learning what goes bump in the night, Ballard let the Winchesters “escape” because she felt better knowing the Winchesters were out there fighting.
With Supernatural being more of a horror show in its early episodes, bringing in Blair was a nod to her role in The Exorcist. Beyond the status of the actor, though, Diana Ballard was a notable character because she was one of the few law enforcement officials to learn the truth. Her morality was on display when she shot her partner and lover when she realized he’d murdered the woman who became the spirit in the episode and was prepared to kill the Winchesters to cover it up.
Deputy Sheriff Kathleen Hudak
Rounding out our top five is Deputy Sheriff Kathleen Hudak, who appeared in season 1’s “The Benders,” an episode that dealt with a family that hunted other humans. When they kidnapped Sam, Dean got involved. However, Hudak offered to help, even after learning Dean was lying about a police officer; it turned out the family who kidnapped Sam had also killed her brother.
Despite being a one-off character, Hudak got to display a wide range of emotions in this episode, culminating in her shooting one of the men who was behind the murder of her brother as well as dozens of others. She also let the Winchesters escape before the state police and FBI arrived. She told Dean after learning about her brother’s fate, “It was really hard not knowing what happened to him. I thought it would be easier once I knew the truth — but it isn’t really.” This was a melancholy takeaway from this episode, as it showed that getting answers doesn’t always make things better — something the show has explored repeatedly since.
An honorable mention goes to Sheriff Jake Miller from season 8’s “LARP and the Real Girl,” for giving us the following gif:
Supernatural airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET on The CW.