Farewell to ‘Supernatural’ Day 11: Oral History, Part 3
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 third and final section 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. Pick up a copy of the magazine, on newsstands now!
2010–12: Female Characters to Root For
It’s no secret that fans weren’t crazy about many of the show’s women, from sneaky Bela (Lauren Cohan), who met her demise in Season 3, to mother-daughter hunter duo Ellen (Samantha Ferris) and Jo (Alona Tal), killed off in Season 5. Don’t even get us started on Sam and Dean’s (Padalecki and Ackles) even shorter-lived love interests! But by Season 7, ladies who kicked as much ass as the Winchesters — and who weren’t positioned as romantic partners — started coming into their own.
Eric Kripke: [Early on] the biggest shows on The CW were soaps like Gossip Girl. The network said, “You need more romance,” so we created all these sexy triangles, but our hearts were never in it. The fans didn’t want anyone to get between Sam and Dean. But [Sheriff] Jody Mills [Kim Rhodes], she came in very organically.
Kim Rhodes: I was first hired for a guest role on [Season 5’s] “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” [March 25, 2010]. The writers gave Jody so much humanity. She’s a hero of the Han Solo variety.
Felicia Day: I wasn’t surprised at the reception [for lesbian hacker Charlie Bradbury, in Season 7] because she 100% fits the mold of a Supernatural fan. Charlie provided nonromantic support for the boys when they needed it. Very few people, especially women, are there for them as friends. They took care of her, and she took care of them.
2013: A New Home
In Season 8, the duo reunite after Dean’s stint in Purgatory, and Sam goes through a series of trials to close the gates of Hell, with help from prophet Kevin (Osric Chau). The Winchesters also find a semipermanent residence after years of motel surfing. In “Everybody Hates Hitler” (February 6, 2013), the boys learn their grandfather Henry (Gil McKinney) belonged to a scholarly off-the-books organization known as the Men of Letters. His Kansas-based bunker, packed with supernatural weapons and tomes, became the Winchester Bat Cave for the remainder of the series.
Current Co-Showrunner Andrew Dabb: The Men of Letters was an idea that we’d been playing with for about two years.
Jensen Ackles: [The bunker] was great for story purposes and it also gave the production team a breather — constantly building new motel sets was expensive and time-consuming. The day they were taking [the bunker] apart, it was really hard to watch. … I pulled one of the carpenters aside, and he was almost choked up.
2013–16: More Heavens, More Problems?
Carver took over as showrunner for Seasons 8–11. Theology was the key theme. To wit: Season 9’s angelic civil war fueled by the pot-stirring scribe of God, Metatron (Curtis Armstrong), Dean’s bloodlust due to the Mark of Cain throughout Season 10 and even Castiel (Misha Collins) becoming Lucifer’s vessel in Season 11 — which also introduced reaper Billie (Lisa Berry).
Current Co-Showrunner Robert Singer: I always thought we ran the risk of maybe offending some people with where we took the theology.
Kripke: Once in a while you would find a fringy group that was complaining. But in general, we would hear more often from preachers, priests and pastors, and I think they liked that we were exploring faith and religion on TV.
2017: Here’s Jack!
In Season 12, the series’ current showrunners, Singer and Dabb, stepped up to the plate. The finale, “All Along the Watchtower” (May 18, 2017), depicted the demise of Crowley and established the fourth and final member of “Team Free Will.” Celestial being Jack Kline (Alexander Calvert), a Nephilim (a hybrid angel), was the son of human Kelly Kline (Courtney Ford) and Lucifer. When Kelly dies in childbirth, Cass brings the newborn to the bunker, where he forms a family with the angel and the boys — and grows into a mega-powerful teen in a matter of minutes. But Lucifer’s plans to mold his son in his own image cause trouble for everyone, until Jack stands up to his dad.
Dabb: It became pretty clear that the Men of Letters were a limited threat to Lucifer. The Kelly Kline story gave us Jack, who was all-powerful but a blank slate. It was also an opportunity to give Sam and Dean a kid and see how they rub off on him — for good and for bad. So much of Supernatural is about creating new family dynamics. Then Alex Calvert came in and acted the hell out of it.
Alexander Calvert: When I got the role, I knew that Jack was the Devil’s son, so from the get-go he could either be the sweetest or potentially destroy everything. Maybe he would turn out like Cass — who was the only one who really understood him —o r maybe Lucifer. It was a fun “which way will Jack be pulled” kind of situation.
Mark Pellegrino: With any narcissist, ego always melds with everything, but I think to the extent that Lucifer was capable of having honest feelings of love, he did have those feelings for Jack. That made Jack’s [eventual rejection] so much more intense.
Jack’s birth also opened a rift into a violent alternate universe explored in Seasons 12 and 13. In Apocalypse World, Sam and Dean had never been born and thus couldn’t stop the first apocalypse. Lucifer, Mary (Samantha Smith, resurrected in Season 11’s ender) and alt versions of Bobby (Jim Beaver), Charlie, Kevin and more struggled in the sepia-toned landscape.
Jim Beaver: The transition from “real” Bobby to the alternate-universe Bobby was welcome because it allowed me to continue working on the show. But there was a real loss in that AU Bobby had no history, love or respect for the boys.
Samantha Smith: I loved “Unfinished Business” [April 26, 2018], where I explored Mary [the original Winchester hunter] as a de facto general and built the foundation of a meaningful — and ultimately fatal — surrogate motherhood of Jack.
2018–20: There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done
“No doubt endings are hard. But then again, nothing ever really ends, does it?” (Chuck Shurley, Season 5, “Swan Song”)
The final years saw a moving family reunion with John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in 300th episode “Lebanon” (February 7, 2019) and a ramp-up in the battle with God (Rob Benedict). Once it was decided Season 15 would be the endgame, Dabb and Singer kept God as the big bad and Jack as the weapon who could destroy Him. The last day of filming took place on September 10, 2020.
Ackles: We didn’t want to run out of gas. The conversations we had for years were, “The Winchester boys need to go out swinging.” In the beginning of Season 14, Andrew came up to visit and said, “I need to be able to structure the two seasons in a way that works for us going out on top.” The studio and the network said, “You guys make the call.” That’s when we all decided to aim for that bull’s-eye.
Misha Collins: The last scene I shot was really Castiel’s last scene. It was a goodbye for both the fictional character and for me. It was very intense—a lot of tears.
Calvert: For the most part, [the last day] kind of felt like every other day at work. You are going through the motions, but toward the end, it started hitting me that after I went home, I would not be coming back. For Jack to help steer the ship home was very cool.
Jared Padalecki: The very last scene I ever did on Supernatural felt very much like the first scene. It was a privilege to play Sam Winchester, who Eric Kripke created and was defined over the years by many other brilliant writers.
Ackles: Jared and I were out on the road in this beautiful mountain [area] on our last day of shooting. The sun was setting — keep in mind I’m not saying that that’s the final scene, but that was the final scene that we shot. After we yelled, “Cut! That’s a series wrap on Supernatural,” the crew took a moment, packed up and cleared off. Jared and I stood there a little longer, and I said, “Hey, man, I’m really proud of us. I’m really proud of what we did.”
Supernatural, Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW