Farewell to 'Supernatural' Day 4: Oral History, Part 1
Hey there, SPN fans! Join us in our 15-day countdown to the series finale of Supernatural, featuring a look back with the cast (and guest stars!) at 15 seasons of demon-hunting and apocalypse-preventing, as well as exclusive content, sneak peeks, and more.
The below is the first of a three-part oral history with series creator Eric Kripke, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, and more of the cast and crew of Supernatural from TV Guide Magazine's November 9 issue. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 in the weeks to come — and pick up a copy of the magazine, on newsstands now!
Supernatural is the little horror show that beat the odds. It started on The WB in September 2005, successfully moved to The CW after its first season, survived the cancellation bubble more than once, outlasted its original creator, maintained an extremely loyal and active fanbase, and finally wrapped in the middle of a pandemic after an extraordinary lifespan of 327 episodes and 15 seasons.
Brimming with family bonds and metaphysical exploration, the fantasy drama tracks the give-’em-hell exploits of the demon-hunting Winchester brothers — research-minded Sam (Padalecki) and his gruff, cheeseburger-loving older bro, Dean (Ackles)— and their various allies and enemies.
To pay tribute to the record-breaker before the breathlessly awaited series finale on November 19, we asked Supernatural’s cast and crew to offer their memories of the road so far.
2004–05: The Dream
Since the '90s, Supernatural creator Kripke (currently heading up Prime Video’s The Boys) had wanted to do a series about folklore, like the phantom hitchhiker and Bloody Mary. After producing his short-lived 2003 drama Tarzan for The WB, Warner Bros. exec Susan Rovner asked Kripke to pitch a new show. He was ready…mostly.
Eric Kripke: I came up with an idea about a reporter who traveled around in a van writing about urban legends. It was basically a terrible rip-off of [Kolchak: The] Night Stalker. Susan wasn’t interested in the reporter, but liked the area of urban legends and asked if I had anything else. The first rule of pitching: Always say you can ride the horse. I said, “I have another version about two guys cruising the country, diving in and out of these legends.” Then, on the spot, I made up “…and they’re brothers.” I told her all my notes were at home and spent a week writing what became the pitch for Supernatural.
Kripke: Jared and Jensen were both in contention for the role of Sam. [Warner Bros. Television president] Peter Roth didn’t like any of our Deans and asked, “Why don’t you make Jensen Dean?” So, we went and told Jensen that we didn’t know if he was interested, but he could get the part of Dean, and he said, “That’s the part I wanted anyway.”
Jensen Ackles: When I walked into the waiting room to read for Dean, Jared, who was reading for Sam, was the only guy there. As we performed for maybe 30 execs, I [thought], “This could easily work.”
Jared Padalecki: If you had told me 16 years ago that I was auditioning for something that would go for 15 [seasons], I would have been even more nervous than I was. We read through several scenes, and there was no applause or laughter. But after we came back from the waiting room, Peter Roth congratulated us and everyone stood up and started clapping. It was a pretty magical start.
A 1967 Chevy Impala was Sam and Dean’s only home for many years. The iconic car (nine different vehicles were used in the series) even had its own POV episode in Season 11! Baby meant so much to the stars, in fact, that they both now have '67 Impalas parked at their Texas homes.
Kripke: Having a car that was like the third lead of the show was really important to me. When I told my neighbor in Venice [California], who was a mechanic, that I wanted a badass car and was thinking of a '65 Mustang, he said, “Yeah, a Mustang is the perfect car if you’re a p**sy.” And without missing a beat, he said, “You want a '67 Impala because you can put a body in that trunk.” I ran to my computer to look it up, and it was perfect.
Ackles: From the pilot, it was clear the Impala was a vital part of the story. It was the third Winchester!
Padalecki: The first song I listened to when I got in [my] Impala [gifted to him after the series’ wrap] was “Carry On Wayward Son.” [The 1976 Kansas jam is the closest to a theme song the show has.] I see it in my garage and I already feel nostalgic about how many hours of my life I probably spent in that vehicle.
2005: More Than a Monster of the Week
Kripke set up his concept of a weekly beast-based horror flick in the September 13, 2005, pilot with a flashback to the fiery death of Sam and Dean’s mother, Mary (Samantha Smith), at the hands of the yellow-eyed demon Azazel (Frederic Lehne). Twenty-two years later, the widowed John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his older son, Dean, spend their time hunting, yes, demons. When Azazel strikes again, ordering the slaughter of younger son Sam’s girlfriend (Adrianne Palicki), Sam opts to skip law school and join the family business as well.
Ackles: When we moved up to Vancouver [the pilot shot in Los Angeles], Kripke pulled us aside and said, “I could write monsters for days, but this show begins and ends with the relationship these brothers have.”
Kripke: [Future showrunner] Sera Gamble and [writer] Raelle Tucker’s first script, “Dead in the Water” [Episode 3; September 27, 2005], put Jared and Jensen together as “the boys” [their unofficial SPN moniker], and they had an off-the-charts chemical reaction. Concurrently, we overreached on several monsters. It wasn’t working from a production standpoint. “Bugs” [Episode 8; November 8, 2005] was famously terrible. I went to [exec producer] Bob Singer and told him the visuals were coming off like cheesy B movies. He said that we should focus on [Sam and Dean] — and the monsters have to be [more like] characters.
Robert Singer: Eric used to say, “Is it a Google-able monster?” I think within the first order of 13 episodes, we realized that would run out in a hurry.
2006: Daddy Issues
In the Season 1 finale, “Devil’s Trap” (May 4, 2006), viewers meet fellow hunter Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), an ally and father figure while absentee dad John hunted. (We later learn about John’s other son, the boys’ half brother, Adam, played by Jake Abel.) Just in time: Season 2’s “In My Time of Dying” (September 28, 2006) sees John giving his life to save Dean.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan: John Winchester loved his sons. He did the best he could, and he died for them. That was the John I played. After I was off the show [though], I became aware how John could be an a**hole.
Jim Beaver: When I was invited back for a second episode, I learned that Bobby [would act as] their surrogate father while John was off hunting. Sam and Dean are Bobby’s boys, no matter what their birth certificates say.
This was Part 1 of our three-part oral history. Check back for Part 2 on November 11, and stay tuned for more Supernatural fun as TV Insider counts down to the November 19 series finale.
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