Aha, excellent question anon.
Yes, I do think the writers have been using John (wrongly) as a scapegoat, and I think it ties into larger issues in the writing, namely the wussification and dumbing down of Sam and Dean.
In the earlier seasons, Sam and Dean were guys who had their issues but knew how to either stow their shit and get the job done, or hash things out when they needed to be hashed out. Not that they were models of healthy ways to deal with problems, but they were guys who lived rough lives and knew how to handle their lives. They were tough, they didn’t need to be babied, they didn’t need to cry about everything. It was that rough-and-tumble blue collar working class feel that Kripke was going for.
When John was on the show in season 1, he wasn’t there to coddle Sam and Dean but neither was he there to yell at them and beat them. He was a hardass, but he showed (and outright said) that he was worried for both of them and wanted to keep them safe, etc, etc. Their relationship was not presented as perfect, but neither was it presented as some insidious abusive thing. All three of them were victims of circumstance. All three of them were guys doing what they had to do to survive in these shitty circumstances. John wasn’t portrayed as a villain.
As the show went on, the writers saw that their most vocal fans really really liked the overly emotional stuff. The crying parts. And you see in a lot of fan-stuff that Sam and Dean are treated as ‘precious bbs’. Some people want to coddle them. They want these big tough guys to be hurt and crying so they can go ‘shh shh it’s ok’. And then you have the fans that decided that Sam and Dean’s lives weren’t bad enough. That all the monsters, all the death, that didn’t make them precious enough bbs. So they turned John into an abusive monster to satisfy their need to woobify Sam and Dean.
The writers see this shit that has become inexplicably popular in fandom, and they decide to cater to it. More crying. More ‘emotional’ talks (that just repeat the same shit over and over again), and especially more character assassination for John. Because apparently going to hell, or being tortured by monsters, or whatever - that’s just not enough. Apparently the only way to pull on the heartstrings for some useless overwrought sympathy for Sam and Dean is to turn their dad into an asshole by making him do shit that is ENTIRELY OUT OF CHARACTER WITH THE GUY WE SAW ON SCREEN.
And of course, the writers doing this don’t understand John. They are not Kripke and they never dealt with Kripke. They weren’t there in the beginning when John was an actual character instead of just a name and a presence. These are the writers that spend all their time on twitter listening to people whine about shipping or whatever the fuck. These are the writers that waste their time looking up fandom shit instead of focusing on the show. They have abandoned the rough-and-tumble blue collar working class feel of the show in favour of some tumblr pop therapy session. So they fall victim to this same warped, inaccurate view.
If the Sam and Dean of later seasons ran into the Sam and Dean of earlier seasons, they would get their asses kicked. The writers have spent the last 4 (and I’m assuming this trend will continue, so 5) seasons tearing every character apart and making them shitty - even characters who are no longer on screen, like John.
It is cheap, it is lazy, and it is inconsistent. Sam and Dean don’t need more sympathy at the expense of John. Sam and Dean don’t need to be beaten dogs. Sam and Dean are supposed to be the heroes of the story, but the writers make them look the weakest and dumbest. They haven’t had a legitimate victory since they put Lucifer in the cage. They’ve been too busy crying to win anymore.
Boo friggin’ hoo.
No. No, no, and some more. With a bit of no on the side. I have yet to see a single one of these arguments convince me that the show has turned John abusive somehow. Where, precisely, has that been shown or stated in this show even once? It hasn’t. Not even a little bit. The boys have grown in their views of their dad, but that doesn’t make him abusive by any means.
In the beginning, Sam saw nothing but the bad in John, how much he was screwing their lives over by raising them the way he did. Dean was exactly the opposite, hero-worship to the point where their dad could really do no wrong in Dean’s eyes. Over time, with more maturity and experience on their side, BOTH boys have settled down into more middle-of-the-road views. BOTH have since acknowledged that while, yes, John absolutely made mistakes with them (AS PARENTS DO! If you have a parent that has never made a single bad call, please, do share.) but still did the best he could. He cared about them and made decisions that he thought at the time were the best. I’m sure some of those decisions were the lesser of two evils where he couldn’t have won either way so the boys saw only that it was a bad decision but perhaps didn’t/don’t have all the information to know how much worse it could have been.
And as far as the boys’ home ep. Again, sorry, nope. Not abusive. And absolutely not out of character. You want to go on and on about how this is supposed to be blue-collar guys and stories. THAT is blue collar punishment right there. We never get the real, full story of how Dean ended up there, and yet every single fan I’ve read an opinion from has automatically subbed in fanon-best-most-responsible-big-brother-in-the-world-Dean and villainized John. Not the show. Fandom. It has been assumed, for whatever reason, that John screwed up for whatever reason and Dean had to steal to make up the money difference. Why?
From what I remember (if you actual examples from the show, please share. I don’t mind being proven wrong.), the show never said John left the boys wanting. Hell, in the shtriga ep, they had freakin’ LUCKY CHARMS. Lucky Charms, guys. Not the knock-off, store-brand, “Magic Stars” or whatever but actual Lucky Charms. That shit’s expensive, okay. As in, I could only DREAM about name-brand Lucky Charms until I turned 16, got my first job, and bought them for myself. If you’re running short on money, worried about providing enough food for 2 growing boys, you DO NOT BUY LUCKY CHARMS.
Now, in the same exact episode, we see that Dean himself has the tendency to screw up and be irresponsible. He could sometimes be impatient and selfish. Was he/is he protective of Sam? Yes, of course. But, despite how fanfics often portray him, that doesn’t mean that protectiveness was always or even often at the cost of himself. Maybe once they were adults, sure, absolutely, but as kids? Not so much. He hadn’t acquired that habit yet.
So why, based on this evidence, is it so hard to believe that Dean screwed up in the boys’ home ep? That he had the money John left and thought, maybe with the best of intentions, “Hey, I have this much now. Dad’s been teaching me pool hustling and poker. I can totally use this and make even more.” Maybe he wanted to surprise John with the extra money when he got back. Maybe he wanted to get something nice for Sam or his dad. Maybe, as a 16-year-old guy, he just wanted extra pocket money to take a girl (or girls. It is Dean after all… XD) out. Or maybe it wasn’t even that. Maybe he actually, genuinely, just lost the money. Had it in a pocket and it fell out or something. Point is, we don’t know. We have no clue where that money went. But can we please, for one second, suspend the disbelief the Dean is incapable of any wrong-doing, ESPECIALLY as a child/teenager?
And as far John leaving him there? Hell yes. Suppose the above is true, that Dean lost the money through his own fault, not that John didn’t leave enough and it just ran out. Now imagine you’re John. You work your ASS off doing things that are probably generally not entirely legal just to make sure the boys have enough money for food while you’re gone, clothes when necessary (even if they may be second-hand) and a roof over their heads. Now imagine you hear your son has been caught shoplifting because he LOST THAT MONEY. You bet your ass that kid’s gonna do the time. In fact, there are plenty of blue collar parents that would let the kid do the time and then whooped his ass when he got out. Plenty.
And the “let him rot” line that so many people also make a big deal out of? Again, no proof that John said that. Did he likely say that Dean would/should stay in the boys’ home? Sure. But the wording was out of the mouth of a cop that Dean had gotten on the wrong side of who then left Dean in handcuffs. He was obviously looking for ways to get Dean where it would hurt, and he said John would leave Dean there in the absolute harshest way he can think of.
Any other instances of “evidence” that the show turned John abusive in the last few seasons? Please, share them. I would be happy to defend those just as much.
TL;DR - The show hasn’t turned John abusive; the fans have. They’ve created stories in their own heads to absolve Dean and blame John, and then they turn around and point fingers at the writers. Sorry, not buying it. John is flawed both as a human being and a parents, and the writers have been showing more of that versus how hard they had to work at redeeming him from Sam’s p.o.v. in S1. That does now, however, make him “abusive” by any means. The end.