The Blood Spray
This is a staple on the show nowadays. Whenever there is a "monster of the week" style episode, and even in some episodes related to the main story arc, if someone is killed by that episode's primary villain, rather than show the person dying, it shows blood splattering on a nearby surface. When I began my latest run through season 1, I was excited to see the blood spray in the pilot episode. But you know what? I'm now over half-way through the season and I don't think I've seen it since. Hmm...something I so strongly associate with this show was virtually nonexistent in the early episodes. It doesn't take away from my enjoyment (seasons 1 and 2 are still my favorites) but I do find it interesting.
Carry On My Wayward Son
Another Supernatural staple. If you're a fan, you know this is the song that has been played during the recap of every season finale since the beginning. Or has it? Actually no. The song does appear during a recap in season 1, but not in the finale. It's in the episode before the finale. And I think I know why that song was chosen. A major theme of the first season is Sam's relationship with his dad. In the last few episodes this conflict comes to a head, and the title of the song (if not the rest of the lyrics) fits perfectly with that particular story arc. But it's not in the season finale...sorry. For that you have to wait for season 2.
This was something I noticed about the show when I watched season 1 for the first time. The colors were always muted. I suppose the intent was to add to the creepy atmosphere by stripping the world of everything bright and beautiful (I think I'm quoting church hymns now...). It worked. I loved the look of the show in the early days. I think season 6 was the first season where everything was presented in full color, and I'm not sure why that change was made.
Another recurring theme. It's a long running joke on Supernatural that Dean is obsessed with pie, but when Sam makes a food run he always forgets it. Guess what? Not in season 1. There's only one mention of pie. It's in the episode Scarecrow and, yes, Dean does eat it but only because the creepy little town where he's stopped for lunch is famous for its apples and the local restaurant is famous for its apple pie. You have to wait for season 2 before you actually get to hear Dean say he loves pie.
The Bad Guys
This is huge. This is the main reason the show is so different now, and it took me awhile to figure it out. The way it happened was this: My husband and I were watching an episode of season 1 together recently (I made him watch it with me, saying, "I have to show you how different the show was back then") and he actually found himself enjoying it (he doesn't usually like re-watching television programs. Movies, yes, but TV shows...no). He turned to me and said, "Why was the show so much better in the beginning?" The answer? The bad guys. They were actually scary in the early days whereas now...not so much. But why were they scary? Because they weren't regular characters on the show. They didn't have personalities. They didn't have motives other than causing as much destruction as possible. They were always in the shadows. Unseen. Shrouded in mystery. And that made them frightening. Now demons are presented simply as businessmen vying for position and making their way up the corporate ladder. Vampires are just trying to keep their families fed. The devil is a narcissist, sure, but he's pretty darn funny at the same time. But it didn't used to be that way. It used to be scary, and I liked it when it was scary.
Did I miss anything? I'd love to know about it, so feel free to leave me a comment.