Supernatural (U.S. TV series)
|Created by||Eric Kripke|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||172 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Eric Kripke
Kim Manners (2005–09)
Sera Gamble (2010–12)
|Camera setup||Single-camera setup|
|Running time||38–45 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Wonderland Sound and Vision
Warner Bros. Television
|Original channel||The WB (2005–2006)
The CW (2006 on)
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original airing||September 13, 2005-|
Supernatural is an American supernatural drama television series, created by Eric Kripke, which was first broadcast on September 13, 2005, on The WB, and is now part of The CW's lineup. Starring Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, the series follows these two brothers as they hunt demons, ghosts, monsters and other figures of the supernatural. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television, in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision. The current executive producers are Eric Kripke, McG, and Robert Singer; former executive producer Kim Manners died of lung cancer during production of the fourth season.
This series is filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia and surrounding areas, and was in development for nearly ten years, as creator Kripke spent several years unsuccessfully pitching it. The pilot was viewed by an estimated 5.69 million viewers, and the ratings of the first four episodes prompted The WB to pick up the series for a full season. Originally, Kripke planned the series for three seasons, but later expanded it to five. The fifth season began airing on September 10, 2009, and concluded the series' main storyline; however, The CW officially renewed the show for a sixth season on February 16, 2010. On April 26, 2011, the show was renewed for a seventh season for the 2011–2012 season, which began on September 23, 2011. On May 3, 2012, Supernatural was renewed for an 8th season by The CW with Jeremy Carver replacing Sera Gamble as co-showrunner with Robert Singer. On February 11, 2013, The CW renewed the series for a 9th season.
Conception and creation
Before bringing Supernatural to television, creator Eric Kripke had been developing the series for nearly ten years, having been fascinated with urban legends since he was a child. Although he had envisioned Supernatural as a movie, he spent years unsuccessfully pitching it as a series. The concept went through several phases before becoming the eventual product, shifting from the original idea of an anthology series to one of tabloid reporters driving around the country in a van "fighting the demons in search of the truth". Kripke wanted it to be a road trip series, feeling that it was the "best vehicle to tell these stories because it's pure, stripped down and uniquely American... These stories exist in these small towns all across the country, and it just makes so much sense to drive in and out of these stories." Because he had previously written for The WB series Tarzan, Kripke was offered the chance to pitch show ideas to the network, and used the opportunity for Supernatural. However, the network disliked his tabloid reporter idea, so Kripke successfully pitched his last-minute idea of the characters being brothers. He decided to have the brothers be from Lawrence, Kansas, due to its closeness to Stull Cemetery, a location famous for its urban legends.
When it came time to name the two lead characters, Kripke decided on "Sal" and "Dean" as an homage to Jack Kerouac's road-trip novel On the Road. However, he felt that "Sal" was inappropriate for a main character, and changed the name to "Sam". It was originally intended for the brothers' last name to be "Harrison" as a nod to actor Harrison Ford, as Kripke wanted Dean to have the "devil-may-care swagger of Han Solo". However, there was a Sam Harrison living in Kansas, so the name had to be changed for legal reasons. Combining his interest in the Winchester Mystery House and his desire to give the series the feel of "a modern-day Western", Kripke settled on the surname of "Winchester". However, this also presented a problem. The first name of Sam and Dean's father was originally "Jack", and there was a Jack Winchester residing in Kansas, so Kripke was forced to change the character's name to "John".
|“||We say it's a modern American Western — two gunslingers who ride into town, fight the bad guys, kiss the girl and ride out into the sunset again. And we were always talking from the very beginning that if you're going to have cowboys, they need a trusty horse.||”|
—Eric Kripke on the decision to add the Impala.
Growing up, Kripke connected to television shows that had signature cars, such as The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider. This prompted him to include one in Supernatural. He originally intended for the car to be a '65 Mustang, but his neighbor convinced him to change it to a '67 Impala, since "you can put a body in the trunk" and because "you want a car that, when people stop next to it at the lights, they lock their doors." Kripke has commented, "It's a Rottweiler of a car, and I think it adds authenticity for fans of automobiles because of that, because it's not a pretty ride. It's an aggressive, muscular car, and I think that's what people respond to, and why it fits so well into the tone of our show."
Kripke had previously pitched the series to Fox executive Peter Johnson, and when Johnson moved to Wonderland Sound and Vision as president of TV, he contacted Kripke. Johnson soon signed on as co-executive producer, as did Wonderland owner McG as executive producer, with the production company set to make the pilot episode. Before it could be filmed, however, script issues needed to be dealt with. Originally, the brothers were not raised by their father, but rather by their aunt and uncle. Thus, when Dean comes to Sam for assistance in the pilot episode, he has to convince him that the supernatural exists. However, Kripke realized that this made the backstory too complicated, and reworked it with Peter Johnson so that their father raised them to be hunters. The script went through many additional revisions. One of the original ideas was for Sam's girlfriend Jessica being revealed as a demon, which prompts him to join Dean on the road; however, Kripke felt it was more appropriate for Sam's motivation to be Jessica's death, so he had her killed in the same manner as Sam's mother, making them the "right bookends". Other revised concepts include Sam believing Dean to be a serial killer that murders their father, and their father dying in Jessica's place. Filming for the pilot episode was greenlit after director David Nutter, who previously had worked with Kripke on Tarzan, signed on. When the series was eventually picked up, the studio brought on Robert Singer as executive producer, as it wanted Kripke to work with someone with production experience. Co-executive producer John Shiban was also hired to help design the series mythology due to his previous work on The X-Files. Kripke had the series planned out for three seasons, but later expanded it to five, and hoped to end it there on a high note.
The staff for the first season consisted of Kripke and five other writers, with assistants to help with researching urban legends. Most of the work done in writing the series is very collaborative, with the writers often breaking up into groups. At the beginning of each season, the writers are brought together and pitch out their ideas, which are then assigned to a specific writer to be developed. Each story idea is outlined on a dry-erase board, with Kripke and Bob Singer making necessary changes. Afterward, the script is written, and Kripke goes through it to make sure it has the same tone as other episodes. Kripke found this task very difficult to do in the first season, but he felt it became easier by the third season, as the staff came to "really understand the show's style".
The tone of Supernatural was heavily influenced by films such as Poltergeist—having the horror happen in a family setting rather than remote location—and Evil Dead 2 and An American Werewolf in London—having bits of comedy mixed in. Commenting on the former, Kripke added, "It's the idea that horror can happen in your own backyard. How many viewers have to worry about the vampire in the gothic castle?" Other influences include The Two Sisters and Asian horror films The Eye, Ju-on, and Ring.
|“||It's always been a show about family.||”|
According to creator Eric Kripke, the show originally was intended to focus on the weekly monsters, with Sam and Dean Winchester merely being "an engine to get us in and out of different horror movies every week". His sole desire was to merely "scare the crap out of people". However, a few episodes in, Kripke and executive producer Bob Singer noticed the onscreen chemistry between Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. This revelation caused them to change the series to focus more on the brothers than the monsters, basing the weekly monster around the storyline they wanted for the Winchesters. According to Kripke, "...sometimes we don't even have the monster until way late in the break, once we get all the angst and the drama done first."
Unlike shows with "endless mythology" like Lost, Kripke prefers to keep Supernatural's mythology simpler, saying, "It's so hard to go season after season after season with a mystery and then provide an answer that's going to be satisfying." He prefers to have the series' structure like that of the earlier X-Files episodes, having mythology-based episodes spread through many self-enclosed episodes—Supernatural usually having three self-enclosed episodes followed by a mythology episode. With this format, viewers do not have to have previous knowledge of the mythology in order to watch the series, being able to "join the party at any time".
Though companies were hired for work on the pilot episode—such as Entity FX for the visual effects—effects departments now work exclusively for the series. Ivan Hayden is the visual effects supervisor, and works with many levels of the production staff. During pre-production, Hayden must go through the scripts, looking for possible visual effects. He then has a concept meeting with the writers, and after settling on the effect designs to use, coordinates with the special effects and stunt departments. Hayden is also present during filming to help the director make sure that the scenes are being filmed in the best way for the visual effects, such as by ensuring that the actors are looking at the correct location where an effect will later be added. Afterward, he then meets with the editors. Another aspect of the visual effects department is coming up with rules and physics for each supernatural creature, though the rules are often bent if it benefits the story. In 2012, it was announced that Hayden will be working at the new Vancouver location of Encore for its VFX division.
Supernatural features a synthesized orchestral score, although real instruments such as guitars and cellos are used at times. Special instruments have also been used in specific episodes, such as playing "bluesy gospel music" on a broken-down piano in the faith-healing episode "Faith". Unlike other television shows, the series features two composers: Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska. Each composer scores every other episode, giving them extra time to write the scores, which usually end up being around 30 minutes per episode. They write themes for their own episodes and characters and work with one another if there is overlap between episodes. They try to base the music on the visuals of the episode, such as in the episode "Dead in the Water", in which off-angle shots are accompanied by repetitive and discordant notes, and spoken words such as "water" and "die" are followed by a lower pitch to create a "gurgly" sound. While there are similarities in the scores for situations such as the brothers and their father, about a third of each episode's score is newly written for the series.
While original scores are used throughout episodes, another important aspect of the series' music is classic rock, over which creator Eric Kripke threatened to quit when the network would not allow its inclusion. Most of the songs are from Kripke's private collection, although one of his favorite bands—Led Zeppelin—is too expensive to use. Some episode titles are references to Led Zeppelin songs. The series has featured such bands as Blue Öyster Cult, Bad Company, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rush, Boston, and AC/DC on more than one occasion. Multiple songs are usually used throughout each episode, and accompany "The Road So Far" sequences before select episodes that highlight a montage of past events. Although Kripke prefers to keep a fine line between the score and songs used, sometimes Lennertz and Gruska are required to write short sections of rock-like music to fill 15-to-20-second gaps, as it would be too costly to acquire song rights. Usually on the last episode of every season, the song "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas is played at the beginning.
Though the pilot was filmed in Los Angeles, principal filming takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Thus, on-location filming usually takes place in the area. "Dead in the Water" was filmed at Buntzen Lake, and the final scenes of "Simon Said" were filmed at Cleveland Dam. Other locations used on the show are often reused two or three times, with the art department making variations to conceal this. Heritage Park in Burnaby has been used as a cemetery in "Red Sky at Morning", and as the location of the gingerbread-house cottage in "Bedtime Stories". Also, Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam has served many functions for the series, including an asylum in "Asylum", a hospital in "In My Time of Dying", and a prison in "Folsom Prison Blues". The episode "Houses of the Holy" was filmed on location in Vancouver at St.Andrew's-Wesley United Church. Because episodes usually take place in the middle of nowhere, filming often takes place at an old military base. Having been shut down for years, the buildings have been removed, leaving just roads on which sets are erected, such as for crossroads scenes.
Rather than having the series debut on television, The WB instead made the pilot episode available for online streaming through Yahoo! a week before it was set to premiere on the network as part of a promotional scheme. Following the transition to The CW, Supernatural episodes were added to Apple's iTunes Store starting in December 2006, being one of the first CW series to be made available for sale online. The following month, the network began streaming episodes of the series on its website with limited commercial interruption, available for up to four weeks after the initial airings. Beginning January 11, 2007, Australia's Network Ten also began offering full episodes for download via their website, through a deal with Warner Bros. Television. To combat piracy, Ten debuted the second season premiere five days before its initial broadcast in the country, making Supernatural the first major network show available for free download in Australia before being aired. Subsequent episodes became available online just hours after being televised. Around the same time, episodes were also made available for download on Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace. In September 2008, Amazon.com launched its new on-demand TV service, with Supernatural being one of the many television shows available for sale.
DVD and Blu-ray disc releases
The first season of Supernatural was released as a six-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 5, 2006, three weeks before the premiere of the second season. Including all 22 episodes of the first season, the set also featured DVD extras such as commentaries for the episodes "Pilot" and "Phantom Traveler", deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, and a DVD-ROM sneak-peek at the second season. The set was later packaged with the first season of Smallville as a "Season One Starter Pack", which was released on September 18, 2007. For Region 2, the season was split into two parts, being released on May 22, 2006, and August 21, 2006; the complete set was released on October 2, 2006.
The second season was released as a six-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 11, 2007, two weeks before the premiere of the third season. Including all 22 episodes of the second season, the set also featured DVD extras such as episode commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers, Jared Padalecki's original screen test, and a featurette on the making of the season finale. For Region 2, the season was again divided into two parts, being released on May 14, 2007, and September 10, 2007; the complete set was released on October 29, 2007.
The third season was released as a five-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 2, 2008, two weeks before the premiere of the fourth season, and was eventually released on Blu-ray on November 11, 2008. Including all 16 episodes of the third season, the set featured limited DVD extras, having only bloopers and featurettes. Also included was a digital copy of the season. Best Buy carried a limited—only 26,500 available—box set that included a GreenLight Collectibles 1:64 scale replica of a black 1967 Chevy Impala, the car used by the Winchesters throughout the series. For Region 2, the season was released on August 25, 2008, this time only as a complete set, and its Blu-ray counterpart debuted November 10, 2008.
The fourth season was released in Region 1 as both a six-disc DVD box set and as a four-disc Blu-ray box set in the US on September 1, 2009, one week before the premiere of the fifth season. Including all 22 episodes of the fourth season, the set featured commentaries, bloopers, extended and deleted scenes, and a featurette on Supernatural's mythology. Target bundled a bonus DVD of the Supernatural panel at Comic-Con. As with the first two seasons in Region 2, the fourth season was also divided into two parts, being released on April 27, 2009, and September 21, 2009; the complete set and its Blu-ray counterpart were released on November 2, 2009.
In Australia, the first 7 seasons have been released on DVD, region 4 (including a season 1–5 box set) and on Blu-ray, region B. On 31st October 2012 a new boxset was released of seasons 1-7 to coincide with the release of the 7th season on DVD and Blu-ray.
Cast and characters
The series focuses primarily on the brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, as they travel throughout the country hunting down evil supernatural creatures, mostly demons. Padalecki became interested in the role due to his liking of horror series such as The X-Files and Twilight Zone, which he found similar to Supernatural. He was also excited to play "the reluctant hero", comparing Sam to The Matrix's Neo and Luke Skywalker of Star Wars. Padalecki had previous experience working with executive producers McG and David Nutter, the former convincing him to audition for the role. Ackles was originally asked by Nutter to audition for the role of Sam, but preferred the character of Dean after reading the script. At the time of his audition, he was already a series regular on fellow WB series Smallville. After landing the part of Dean, his Smallville role was cut short.
|“||When I read the script, Dean just jumped out at me. With that character there was always a bit more comedy, and a bit more recklessness, and it just appealed to me more. So when I asked to read for that, they were like, 'That's what we're looking for.' So it was great. I found a character that I really enjoy playing.||”|
—Jensen Ackles on what drew him to the character of Dean Winchester.
While the series does not have many lead characters, there are many recurring characters. Jeffrey Dean Morgan portrays John Winchester, father of Sam and Dean. Making an appearance in the pilot episode, John does not return until nearly halfway through the first season, after which he becomes a recurring character until his eventual death in the second season's premiere episode, though his spirit returns to help his sons in the season finale. According to writer John Shiban, it was decided early on that John would die. The writers found that having the brothers being separated from their father "split the show". Shiban noted that "...the boys were looking for Dad, and they were looking for a monster of the week, whatever that is, whatever case crosses their path. It became difficult, because we thought it was like - 'what is Dad doing? Is he doing more interesting things than the boys are doing, or what?'" They believed Morgan was initially reluctant about returning to Supernatural for the second season due to his recurring role on the series Grey's Anatomy. Future appearances of the character have been hindered due to Morgan's busy schedule.
Also introduced in the first season are the demon Azazel and his unnamed daughter. While Azazel mainly appears merely as shadows or silhouettes in the first season, only taking physical form when he possesses John Winchester, Azazel's daughter uses a girl named Meg Masters—portrayed by Nicki Lynn Aycox—as a host. In the second season premiere, Azazel's host is portrayed by Fredric Lehne; originally brought on only for one episode, Lehne impressed the showrunners so much that he was asked to return for the season's two-part finale. Even after the character's death, Azazel makes appearances in the fourth season, being portrayed, respectively, by Christopher B. MacCabe and Mitch Pileggi in the time travel episode "In the Beginning" and by Rob LaBelle in a flashback in the season finale. Likewise, after Azazel's daughter is exorcised from Meg towards the end of the first season, the demon and her host continued to appear in the series, although now as two separate characters. Aycox continued her role in the fourth season when the angry spirit of Meg tries to kill the Winchesters. The demon returns for an episode in the second season, temporarily taking Sam as a host. She appears once again in the fifth season premiere, her newest host being portrayed by Rachel Miner, and returns to play a prominent role in season 7.
The writers eventually wanted to flesh out the concept of hunters, resulting in the introduction of many new characters. Actor Jim Beaver makes his first appearance as Bobby Singer, an old family friend of the Winchesters, at the end of the first season. Becoming a sort of surrogate father to Sam and Dean after their father's death, the character acts as their mentor and foremost point of contact before his departure in the seventh season. Other hunters appear in the second season with the introduction of Harvelle's Roadhouse, a saloon frequented by hunters. It is owned by Ellen Harvelle (played by Samantha Ferris), whose late husband was a friend of John Winchester. Working alongside her mother is Jo Harvelle (played by Alona Tal). Also present is the computer guy Ash (played by Chad Lindberg), who uses his vast computer skills to track the paranormal. Tal was eventually written out of the series, and believes the reason to be that the producers felt she looked like Sam and Dean's "14-year-old sister". Kripke claims the character was incorrectly conceived, and also cites poor fan reaction for her removal. Also, the character of Ash is killed off in the second season finale with the destruction of the Roadhouse. Ellen was meant to return in the third season, but the episode had to be scrapped due to the writer's strike. The writers intended for her to be featured in the third season finale, but Ferris declined because the deal offered to her was not acceptable, as "It could cost [her] money and work". However, both actresses returned as Jo and Ellen in the fifth season.
For the third season, the writers decided to introduce Ruby, a demonic former witch who claims to the Winchesters to be an ally, to the cast. They also added another character, Bea, who was the new 'love interest' for Sam. However, The CW requested that another female be added, so the character Bela Talbot, a self-centered thief who sells occult objects to wealthy clients and who was already intended to appear in multiple episodes, was upgraded to a series regular. Katie Cassidy and Lauren Cohan were eventually cast as Ruby and Bela, respectively, though they originally auditioned for the others' role. Though only making six appearances each in the third season, both actresses were credited as co-stars for their episodes. At the end of the season, Bela was killed off and Cassidy was let go due to budgetary reasons. Ruby was recast for the fourth season, auditions only describing the character as "a love interest". Genevieve Cortese (who later married Padalecki) took over the role until the character's death at the end of the season.
Wanting to bring in Christian mythology to the series, the writers created the angel Castiel to introduce it. With Kripke wanting to keep the introduction of an angel a secret, the character was instead described as a demon during auditions. Misha Collins was cast as the character. Making his debut in the fourth season premiere, Castiel resurrects Dean from Hell after his death in the third season, and comes to be an ally of the Winchesters. The character was originally intended for only a six-episode story arc, but the role was later expanded. Collins was promoted to a series regular for the fifth and sixth season, something Collins believes to be mainly due to fan support.
Along with Castiel came other angelic characters, with Robert Wisdom portraying the "militant" and "dogmatic" Uriel, who secretly supports Lucifer; Julie McNiven playing the fallen angel Anna Milton, who eventually regains her angelic form but remains an outcast of Heaven; and Kurt Fuller as Castiel's boss Zachariah, who wishes to start the Apocalypse in order to bring Paradise to Earth. Though Wisdom's character is eventually killed, McNiven and Fuller continue their roles into the fifth season, and are joined by Mark Pellegrino as the recently released but fallen archangel Lucifer. Pellegrino had been the second choice for the role of Castiel, and was offered the role of Lucifer without an audition. Further on, Fuller and McNiven's characters were also killed along with both Harvelle characters.
Because the show focuses mainly on the two Winchester brothers, the writers realized that viewers would know that the characters are not in danger of being permanently killed. To fix this, the staff often writes in guest characters to give tension to the episode, occasionally having them die.
Season one aired in the United States beginning September 13, 2005, and ending May 4, 2006. The first 16 episodes aired on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, after which the series was rescheduled to Thursdays.
After their mother's death in a suspicious fire that burns down their house, Sam and Dean Winchester live a life on the road with their father as they grow up. Years pass, and the boys team up to find their father, John, who goes missing on a hunting trip. However, their father is not a typical hunter: he hunts supernatural creatures like ghosts, vampires, and spirits, and he's trained his sons to do the same. Along the way, Sam and Dean save innocent people, fight creatures and ghosts, and collect clues to their father's whereabouts. Sam begins to mysteriously develop psychic abilities and visions as they travel. They eventually find and reunite with their father, who reveals that the creature that killed their mother years earlier is the demon Azazel (aka "Yellow Eyes") and the only thing that can kill him is a legendary gun created by Samuel Colt. The season ends with the brothers and their father involved in a car crash when a truck hits the side of the Impala. They lie inside the car, covered in blood and unconscious.
Season two consists of 22 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning September 28, 2006, and ending May 17, 2007.
The season follows Sam and Dean as they deal with their father's death, who, after the car crash, traded Azazel his life for Dean's. Sam and Dean continue to hunt Azazel, who caused the fire that led to the deaths of their mother, and later, Sam's girlfriend, Jessica. They receive assistance from new allies Ellen, Jo, and Ash. Part of Azazel's master plan is eventually revealed as he gathers Sam and others like him to fight each other, leading to the death of Sam. Dean makes a deal with a crossroads demon to bring Sam back in exchange for his soul, which will be collected in one year and taken to Hell. Azazel opens a portal to Hell, and as hundreds of demons and souls escape, has a final confrontation with the Winchesters. With the help of the spirit of John Winchester, who escaped Hell through the portal, Dean finally kills Azazel and the portal is closed. The Winchester brothers and their allies are left to deal with the demon army that has been unleashed and the one-year contract Dean has before he goes to Hell.
Season three consists of 16 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning October 4, 2007, and ending May 15, 2008. Originally 22 episodes were ordered for the third season, but production was halted on December 5, 2007, upon completion of the twelfth episode due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. The season number was shortened to sixteen episodes, with four new episodes airing in April and May 2008.
The season mainly focuses on trying to save Dean from his deal and tracking down the demons that were released from the gate. Along the way, the brothers meet Ruby, a "good" demon, who has an interest in Sam and claims to be able to help save Dean. Also, they meet Bela Talbot, an acquirer and seller of occult objects, who is constantly a thorn in their side. The brothers eventually learn from Bela which demon holds Dean's contract: a powerful demon named Lilith. Lilith takes Bela's soul after her contract expires, but not before she warns Sam and Dean. The brothers, along with Ruby, track Lilith down and attempt to kill her. Lilith is unable to stop Sam due to his mysterious abilities; however, Dean's contract expires and his soul is taken to Hell.
Season four consists of 22 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning September 18, 2008, and ending May 14, 2009.
Dean is rescued from Hell and brought back by an angel of the lord named Castiel, one of several angels who appears throughout the season. The rest of the season follows the brothers as they work with Castiel to stop Lilith's plan of breaking the 66 seals, which would allow the fallen archangel Lucifer to walk the Earth free once again. The relationship between Sam and Dean is strained as Sam starts siding with Ruby over Dean. He begins to give into his demonic side by drinking demon blood to become strong enough to defeat Lilith. He and Dean eventually have a falling out and Sam sides fully with Ruby in his obsessive quest to kill Lilith. Dean makes a deal with the angels to save Sam, and learns that they want the Apocalypse to occur in order to rebuild Paradise on Earth. With aid from Castiel, Dean escapes and tries to stop Sam after learning that Lilith is, in fact, the last seal, but Sam kills her anyway, breaking open Lucifer's prison. Ruby reveals her true colors as a demon loyal to Lucifer and Dean kills her. As the season ends, Lucifer's cage opens and he escapes from Hell.
Season five consists of 22 episodes and was rumored to be the last season, due to Eric Kripke's statements over the years that he had planned for the show to run for only five seasons. Despite this, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles had contracts for a sixth season, and The CW renewed the series on February 16, 2010.
The fifth season revolves around the fight to stop Lucifer and save the world from the Apocalypse. Throughout the season, Sam and Dean battle both angels and demons as they fight their destiny to become the vessels of Lucifer and Michael, respectively. One way they attempt to stop Lucifer is to retrieve the Colt from the demon Crowley and kill Lucifer with it, but this fails as Lucifer can't be killed by the Colt, and they lose fellow hunters and friends Jo and Ellen in the process. Their loss, and the revelation that God will not help stop the Apocalypse, drives Dean to agree to act as the vessel of Michael, but, ultimately, he doesn't go through with it. Instead, Dean kills the angel Zachariah, who has been tormenting the brothers all season. Michael ultimately takes Adam Milligan, the newly resurrected half-brother of Sam and Dean, as a vessel instead. Unable to defeat Lucifer, Sam and Dean, with information from the Trickster, revealed to be the archangel Gabriel, and with help from the demon Crowley, decided to collect the rings of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including Death himself, which act as the key to Lucifer's prison. The idea of destiny versus freedom, choice, and free will plays a large role. Throughout the season, Dean, Sam, Castiel, and Bobby each have a crisis as they near giving up. However, through each other's support, they continue forward until the end. It is also notable that Dean and Castiel have an ongoing friendship during this season, while Dean and Sam initially grow further apart. In the end, Sam allows Lucifer to possess him and he kills Bobby and Castiel, who is now human. Sam then manages to regain control, thanks to his bond with Dean, and throws himself (while possessed by Lucifer) and Adam (while possessed by Michael) into Hell to trap Lucifer once more. Castiel is resurrected, and more powerful than ever, by God, and returns to Heaven to restore order after resurrecting Bobby. Dean returns to his old girlfriend Lisa to live a normal life, but Sam is next shown mysteriously free of the cage and watching his brother's house.
Season six consists of 22 episodes. Creator Eric Kripke originally planned for the show to last only five seasons, but due to increased ratings from the fourth and fifth seasons, The CW Television Network renewed the series for a sixth season. Kripke did not return as showrunner, but still remained as a hands-on executive producer, leaving executive producer Sera Gamble to take over the reins.
The sixth season begins a year after the conclusion of the fifth season, with Dean living a somewhat happy life with Lisa and Ben. When an emotionless Sam returns to Dean, he is forced to leave his new life behind and work with his resurrected grandfather, Samuel, to capture Alpha monsters for the demon Crowley. The brothers are unable to get help from Castiel due to a civil war in heaven against the archangel Raphael, and they cannot trust Samuel. Dean's suspicions are confirmed when he finds Samuel working with demons to discover the location of Purgatory. Dean discovers that Sam's soul is still in Hell, so he implores the help of the Horseman Death in order to retrieve it. To ensure Sam does not remember Hell, Death blocks that part of Sam's memory using a mental wall. The brothers discover that Castiel is behind the events of Sam's return, the hunt for the Alpha monsters, and the search for Purgatory. When the brothers try to stop Castiel, he brings Sam's memory of Hell back and goes ahead with his plan, absorbing all the souls from Purgatory and pronouncing himself God, due to having ascended beyond a mere angel.
On April 26, 2011, CW announced early renewals for five shows for the 2012 season which included a seventh season for Supernatural with 23 episodes. The seventh season aired from September 23, 2011 to May 18, 2012.
After absorbing all the souls from Purgatory and declaring himself God, Castiel goes forth to try and punish all the wrongdoers in the world. Very quickly, though, he discovers that he absorbed the Leviathans, who are breaking free. Sam and Dean manage to return most of the souls to Purgatory, but fail to return the Leviathans, who seemingly kill Castiel before vanishing. The Leviathans inhabit the bodies of many different people around the world. Sam and Dean learn that their weakness is Sodium Borate (aka Borax), though it has minimum effectiveness on the Leviathan leader, Dick Roman. After Roman kills Bobby, Dean becomes obsessed with taking the Leviathans down and learns of a facility they are building, only to discover that it is a facility to cure cancer. As one Leviathan states, "We're only here to help". The spirit of Bobby later confirms that while they are curing disease, they are doing it as part of their grand plan to turn humanity into the perfect food source. With the help of Castiel, the brothers learn that the only way to kill the Leviathans is with the "bone of a righteous mortal washed in the three bloods of the fallen" and set out to find the three bloods. Eventually, Dean and Castiel kill Dick, but are dragged into Purgatory as a result, while Sam is left alone to deal with Crowley who plans to rise to power now that the Leviathans are disorganized.
Key plot points presented in the season were Sam struggling with the constant hallucinations of Lucifer and the ghost of Bobby "haunting" Sam and Dean through his alcohol flask. Bobby's rage towards Dick Roman slowly causes him to become a vengeful spirit, and Sam and Dean ultimately deal with this by burning the flask at his request, destroying Bobby.
One year after being dragged to Purgatory, Dean returns to Earth without Castiel, carrying inside his body the soul of a vampire named Benny. During that year, Sam stopped hunting and started a relationship with a veterinarian named Amelia. By the time Dean returns, Sam's relationship had already ended. Dean secretly helps Benny retake his body and reunites with Sam. Together, the brothers discovers that Kevin escaped from Crowley, and the prophet reveals that Crowley discovered another Word Of God tablet that contains spells capable of throwing open all the Gates of Hell and allowing all demons onto the Earth. However, the spell is also capable of doing the opposite, closing all the gates forever and locking the demons inside. Kevin also reveals that he stole this tablet and hid it, causing Crowley to chase them. Eventually, Sam discovers Benny's existence which causes the two brothers to quarrel with each other. Castiel returns from Purgatory, secretly rescued by a garrison of angels under the order of a high-ranked angel named Naomi (portrayed by actress Amanda Tapping), who now seems to control him. Naomi reveals to Castiel that he will not remember any of their encounters and he'll report periodically to her about the Winchesters and their plans. Kevin is again captured by Crowley, who tortures him and makes him reveal the existence of the other tablets and their powers, but the prophet is once again saved by Castiel, and manages to hold half of the demon tablet. Later, the Winchesters and Castiel tries to rescue an angel named Samandriel who, under torture, reveals to Crowley that there is an angel tablet out there that can cause great harm if it falls into the wrong hands. Due to this , Naomi forces Castiel to kill Samandriel against his will and makes him leave the Winchesters.
After their time-traveller grandfather Henry Winchester goes to present time, the Winchesters learn that they are the descendants of a secret society known as the Men of Letters, who cataloged supernatural knowledge, and come into possession of their storehouse of knowledge. A Knight of Hell demon named Abbaddon also follows Henry to present time, killing him in the process but she is stopped by the brothers. Meanwhile, Kevin finally translates half of the demon tablet, revealling that there a series of trials needed to be completed to close the gates. Sam succeeds in doing two of the three, and the trials began to hurting him, since there's demon blood inside him. Crowley manages to turn Kevin paranoid and captures him as the Winchesters reunites with Castiel, who is still under Naomi's influence. They locate the angel tablet with the help of the demon Meg, who is later killed by Crowley. Naomi orders Castiel to kill Dean, but the powers of the angel tablet breaks her connection. Castiel goes on the run with the tablet to protect it from everyone, including the Winchesters. Without Kevin, the brothers locate the angel Metatron (portrayed by actor Curtis Armstrong), who saves Kevin and end up with the second half of the tablet and the third trial, which is to cure a demon. At the same time, Crowley captures Castiel and steal the angel tablet before Castiel can escape. Crowley began to kill everyone that the Winchesters have ever saved, unless they stop the trials and give the demon tablet back. Meanwhile Metatron convices Castiel to do the angel tablet's trials, in order to close the gates of Heaven, so all angels can be reunited, in his word, in "big family" meeting and order on Heaven can be restored once again.
The Winchester tricks Crowley into making a deal, before they capture him and make him the third trial. Castiel succeeds in doing the first two angel trials, but Metatron is captured by Naomi in the process, making Castiel ask for Dean's help. As Sam restores Crowley's humanity, Abbadon returns and promises to Crowley about a "regime change", taking the throne of Hell to her own, before she is stopped once again by Sam. Eventually, Naomi digs deeply into Metatron's head, discovering that Metatron is actually lying and these "trials" that what Castiel is doing are actually parts of a powerfull spell capable of expelling all angels from Heaven to Earth, just like God did with Lucifer. She also reveals that if Sam completes the third trial, he is going to die. Moments before Sam completes the trial, Dean convices him to stop. Castiel returns to Heaven only to find Naomi's dead body. Metatron subdues him and takes his grace - the last ingredient of the spell - making him human. The season ends with the Man of Letter's storehouse identifying numerous supernatural activities throughout the globe, as Castiel, Dean and a badly injured Sam watch as millions of angels fall from the sky.
The season also features two flashback stories in parallel to the episode's main story, one showing Sam's relationship with Amelia and another showing Dean's time in Purgatory. It's revealed that Sam left Amelia due to the return of her presumed to be dead ex-husband. Castiel, who was dragged into Purgatory along with Dean, survived, and recovered from his madness while in Purgatory, however, he chose to stay in Purgatory as penance for his sins before he is rescued by Naomi. Benny's story is also featured, before he and Dean part ways, Benny eventually helps the brothers with the second trial, dying again and returning to Purgatory, which he willingly decides to stay.
At Comic-Con 2012, showrunner Jeremy Carver revealed his overall plan of plotting out a story that will help him at least reach his goal of “the end of season 10.” The CW president, Mark Pedowitz has been quoted saying that Seasons 9 and 10 are looking promising, as well as going on to say that both Jared and Jensen have signed on for both a ninth and tenth season if picked up by The CW. On February 11, 2013, The CW renewed the series for a 9th season. On February 25, Misha Collins was announced to be returning as a series regular in season 9. Supernatural will also switch from Wednesday to Tuesday nights for the new season.
While the locations and storyline change on a near weekly basis, there are a few things that show up regularly.
The 1835 Colt Paterson revolver, usually referred to as "the Colt", was made by Samuel Colt, a paranormal hunter. According to legend, anything shot by this gun, using one of its thirteen original bullets, will die, including creatures normally immune to any and all weapons. John Winchester gives it to the demon Azazel in return for Dean's life being spared after a near-fatal car crash. At the end of the second season, Azazel uses the Colt as the key to open one of the Gate of Hell that Samuel Colt had sealed. The last bullet is then used to kill Azazel, though the gun is later altered to allow the use of more bullets. Towards the end of the third season, Lilith's right-hand demon, Crowley, acquires the gun and hides it. It is then featured in two time-travel episodes – Dean using a past version of it when he is sent back to 1973, and his future self discovering it when Dean is sent five years into the future – before Crowley returns it to the Winchesters so they can kill Lucifer. However, after Dean shoots Lucifer in the head at point-blank range, an unharmed Lucifer boasts there are five things in creation which the gun cannot kill, and he is one of them. It is unknown what happened to the weapon after that point, as its only subsequent appearance on the show was a chronologically earlier version, seen when the Winchesters travel to 1861. Sam gets it from Samuel Colt, and Dean uses it to kill a Phoenix, as they need its ashes. Dean drops the Colt just before being transported back to the present day, where it is presumably retrieved by the saloon owner Elkins, the ancestor of Daniel Elkins, who possessed the weapon at the beginning of the series.
The gun used in the series is actually a replica Paterson modified to fire metallic cartridges. The gun was described as being built in 1835, before Colt made firearms, and fires metallic cartridges which were never made to fire in a Colt revolver until 10 years after Samuel Colt's death. On the barrel of the gun is inscribed the Latin phrase non timebo mala, meaning "I will fear no evil". On the handle is a carving of a pentagram, with much of the finish removed to give it an aged appearance. The props department also has a rubber version of the Colt to be used in fight scenes for pistol-whipping.
Throughout the series, Dean drives a black 1967 Chevrolet Impala. Having been passed down to him by his father (John), it is Dean's most prized possession, with actor Jensen Ackles feeling it is Dean's "life" and "sanctuary". The brothers travel in it throughout the country as they hunt the supernatural, and the trunk holds various weaponry and their fake ID's. In the first two seasons, it has a Kansas license plate with the number KAZ 2Y5, a reference to the Winchesters' home state of Kansas, and the series premiere date of 2005. Towards the end of the second season, the car sports a new Ohio license plate (CNK 80Q3) to aid the brothers in hiding from the FBI.
The origins of the Impala were first depicted in the comic mini-series Supernatural: Origins, in which John Winchester takes ownership of the car from Mary's uncle after accidentally getting him killed during a hunt. However, fans responded negatively to this, as John is shown with the Impala in the teaser for the pilot episode, which is chronologically set before the comic series. Due to this, the comic was altered for the trade paperback version, with the Impala's true origins later being depicted in the series' fourth season. Having been sent back to 1973 by the angel Castiel, Dean convinces his father to purchase the Impala over a 1964 VW Van. The car's origins were further explored during the season five finale, in which a frame story surrounded the plot of the episode tracking the Impala's history from its manufacture, through several previous owners, up until the present day. According to Chuck Shirley, the brothers have "made it their own", and they are shown as kids sticking an army man into an ash tray that remains there (Sam), putting blocks into the heating vents (Dean) and carving their initials into the car. The Impala later proves important when seeing the old army man allows Sam to overpower Lucifer during the final confrontation. According to Chuck, as they have the Impala, the Winchesters never consider themselves truly homeless. In the seventh season, after two Leviathans go on a killing spree in an identical Impala, Sam and Dean are forced to put the car into storage and use various other cars as they are too identifiable with the Impala. Dean later pulls it out of storage to confront Dick and has the demon Meg crash it into Sucrocorp to create a distraction. During season 8, Sam and Dean are once again using the Impala as their car.
All of the cars used in the show are stock 1967 Chevrolet Impala four door hardtops. They feature Chevrolet small-block engines, recolored interiors, custom seats, and nonfunctioning radios. Other than the one used in the original, all of the Impalas had to be painted black for the series. One of the Impalas used features a detachable roof and doors for up-close shots, and is capable of being separated in half.
Ruby possesses a mysterious and presumably magical demon-killing knife, which Kripke refers to as "a hand-to-hand version of the Colt". Its handle is made of elk antlers, and the knife has engravings on both sides of the blade, although the symbols are all nonsensical. It has been seen and used many times following its introduction in the third season. Upon being stabbed in a vital area, the demon is almost immediately killed, usually taking the human host with it. The only known survivor is Bobby Singer who stabbed himself with it while fighting off a possession and was left paralyzed as a result. It is unknown if it is effective against other supernatural beings, although it is useless against angels. Furthermore, the demons Alastair and Abaddon are resistant to the knife's power. Creator Eric Kripke doubted that how the knife functions would ever be revealed, stating, "I like to leave some things mysterious. And that's likely to remain mysterious." However, the eight season reveals it to be "an ancient demon-killing knife of the Kurds".
Trouble with the law
Because Dean and Sam do not get paid for their hunting, the brothers earn their living and pay for their hunting equipment through credit card fraud, poker winnings, and pool hustling. Furthermore, their investigations often put them on the wrong side of the law, as they have desecrated graves, impersonated various officials, and committed breaking and entering. Framed for murder and bank robbery by shapeshifters, Dean has become a highly wanted man, and the brothers are occasionally pursued by various law enforcement officers, most notably FBI Agent Victor Henricksen. Because of their wanted status, the brothers often use aliases, usually derived from hard rock musicians, film references, or a meta-reference. However, in the third season's mid-season finale episode "Jus in Bello", Sam and Dean are presumed dead in the explosion of the Monument, Colorado Sheriff's county jail, effectively ending the FBI's pursuit of them. By the seventh season, however, the FBI are in pursuit of the brothers again, believing them to be mass-murderers (while the murders were actually committed by Leviathans impersonating the Winchesters). However, with the help of a sheriff who learns the truth and the bodies of their doppelgangers, they are able to fake their deaths again, but have to lay low to prevent discovery, abandoning the Impala and taking on new aliases.
Word of God Tablets
A compendium of tablets dictated by God at the beginning of creation and written by the angel Metatron. They cover a variety of subjects and Sam and Dean have so far located the Leviathan, Demon and Angel tablets. The tablets are first introduced when Sam and Dean steal an important object that Leviathan leader Dick Roman had dug up in Iran. The object turns out to contain the Leviathan Word of God tablet and when uncovered, turns Kevin Tran into a Prophet, the only person that can read the tablets. Using the Leviathan tablet, Sam and Dean learn how to defeat the seemingly-unbeatable Leviathans. Later, Crowley somehow gets his hands on the Demon tablet and kidnaps Kevin to read it. Kevin escapes with the tablet, but Crowley recaptures it, leaving the Winchesters without a way to close the Gates of Hell, what Sam refers to as "the Winchester Holy Grail." Eventually they get back half of the tablet and Kevin works on trying to translate it. He eventually succeeds in learning the instructions to close the Gates of Hell, but hides the tablet before he can translate it completely out of fear, leaving Sam and Dean with no clues as Crowley captures Kevin and his notes on the tablet. It is also learned that there is an Angel tablet and Crowley begins a search for it along with a brainwashed Castiel. The Winchesters and Castiel locate the Angel tablet first, and after it breaks the angel Naomi's control over him, Castiel goes on the run with the tablet to protect it from all threats including, for some reason, the Winchesters. After Crowley captures Kevin, he tricks him and gives him the second half of the demon tablet to translate. When Kevin is rescued by Metatron, he brings the second half of the tablet with him, but Crowley gets the angel tablet at the same time. According to Kevin, what's on the demon tablet could apparently grant Crowley great power. Eventually the Winchesters end up with both tablets: Kevin retrieves the first half of the demon tablet and reunites it with the second half. Sam and Dean pretend to trade it for the angel tablet as part of a deal with Crowley, but instead capture him and the angel tablet.
Promotion and tie-ins
The advertisements The WB chose for the show went beyond just commercials and billboards. Before the series debuted, the network placed signs for the show at gas station pumps, and gave out rubber glow-in-the-dark bracelets at New York and Los Angeles movie theaters. Also, coffee cup sleeves revealed the image of a "terrified woman seemingly pinned to a ceiling" when heated were distributed to 500 cafes throughout New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The same image was used in special mirrors the network installed in almost 200 nightclubs throughout three cities in order to reach "young, hip horror fans". Additional advertisements were also placed in bars, movie theaters, and video game stores, with hundreds of the bars also receiving Supernatural napkins and coasters.
The series also has many real-life tie-ins. The urban legend website Hellhounds Lair featured in the season one episode "Hell House" is a real website set up by the show's producers. As a tie-in to the sequel episode "Ghostfacers", in which the owners of Hellhounds Lair create their own Ghost Hunters-style reality show, The CW set up Ghostfacers.com. The Winchesters later visit this website in the fourth season episode "It's a Terrible Life". Series tie-ins, however, extend beyond the internet. For a time, Dean's cell number—revealed in the first season episode "Phantom Traveler" to be 1–866–907–3235—was a real number, with Jensen Ackles reading the message: "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates." The second season episode "Tall Tales" featured a tie-in to that week's issue of the tabloid newspaper Weekly World News. The February 19 and March 19, 2007, editions of the paper featured exclusive interviews with Sam and Dean, the articles being written by Paul Kupperberg.
Supernatural has a vast amount of merchandise available, including calendars, t-shirts, shot glasses, and posters. CineQuest.com has released sculpted hand-painted resin mini-busts of numerous characters from the series, including Sam, Dean, and John Winchester, the titular villain from the episode "Scarecrow", and the Woman in White from the pilot episode. The company also plans on developing 12-inch figures. Inkworks has released trading cards for the show, some cards featuring actors' autographs and swatches from actual costumes used on the series. Also, a Supernatural pen and paper roleplaying game was developed by Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. Originally scheduled for release in the October 2007, it was delayed until August 2009. The game uses material from the series, novels, and comics. Additionally, on September 7, 2010, Watertower Music released Supernatural: Original Television Soundtrack — Seasons 1-5. It features 18 original tracks by Supernatural series composer's Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska. *Amazon.com
Further information on the series' mythology and production have been detailed through print. Official companion guides for the first six seasons have been released (ISBN 1845765354, ISBN 1-84576-657-1, ISBN 1-84856-103-2, ISBN 1-84856-738-3, ISBN 1-84856-739-1, ISBN 0-85768-289-X), all written by Nicholas Knight and published by Titan Books. Two additional guides written by Alex Irvine, The "Supernatural" Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls (ISBN 0-06-136703-6) and John Winchester's Journal (ISBN 0-06-170662-0), have been published by It Books. Irvine's books function as resource guides that contain illustrations and detailed descriptions of the supernatural creatures the Winchester family has encountered, giving additional background on creatures and mythology featured on the show. Premiering on November 27, 2007, was the Official Supernatural Magazine. Published by Titan Magazines, it contains series information and exclusive cast and crew interviews. It Books published Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting by David Reed on September 6, 2011 (ISBN 0062103377), sharing all the knowledge that the character Bobby Singer had to share about hunting, the Winchesters, and other knowledge he picked up over the years dealing with the elements of the supernatural.
The series has also developed an expanded universe. Three six-issue comic book mini-series have been published by Wildstorm, a company under the DC Comics umbrella. Supernatural: Origins depicts the early lives of John, Sam, and Dean Winchester, and shows how John became a hunter. Supernatural: Rising Son, a "a dysfunctional family story", details Dean as he begins following in his father's footsteps. While Kripke was heavily involved with the first series, the writer's strike prevented him from doing so with Rising Son. Supernatural: Beginning's End deals with "the definitive events that led to Sam leaving his family to attend Stanford". A fourth miniseries, Caledonia, (named Supernatural: The Dogs of Edinburgh, in the UK) by Brian Wood and Grant Bond, will deal with Sam Winchester's trip to the United Kingdom during the Stanford years. The first two miniseries were written by Peter Johnson, one of the series co-executive producer, while the third one is by television series writers Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin.
Several novels based on the series have also been published.
|Nevermore||Keith R.A. DeCandido||July 31, 2007||HarperEntertainment||ISBN 0-06-137090-8|
|Witch's Canyon||Jeff Mariotte||October 30, 2007||HarperEntertainment||ISBN 0-06-137091-6|
|Bone Key||Keith R.A. DeCandido||August 26, 2008||HarperEntertainment||ISBN 0-06-143503-1|
|Heart of the Dragon||Keith R.A. DeCandido||February 16, 2010||Titan Books||ISBN 1-84856-600-X|
|The Unholy Cause||Joe Schreiber||May 4, 2010||Titan Books||ISBN 1-84856-528-3|
|War of the Sons||Rebecca Dessertine and David Reed||August 31, 2010||Titan Books||ISBN 1-84856-601-8|
|One Year Gone||Rebecca Dessertine||May 24, 2011||Titan Books||ISBN 0-85768-099-4|
|Coyote's Kiss||Christa Faust||July 12, 2011||Titan Books||ISBN 0-85768-100-1|
|Night Terror||John Passarella||September 13, 2011||Titan Books||ISBN 0-85768-101-X|
|Rite of Passage||John Passarella||August 14, 2012||Titan Books||ISBN 1781161119|
|Fresh Meat||Alice Henderson||February 19, 2013||Titan Books||ISBN 1781161127|
|Carved in Flesh||Tim Waggoner||April 16, 2013||Titan Books||ISBN 1781161135|
An unofficial anthology entitled In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural (ISBN 1933771631) was released on February 10, 2009 by Smart Pop and featured essays covering different aspects of both the series and its fanbase. The Mythology of Supernatural: The Signs and Symbols Behind the Popular TV Show (ISBN 0425241378), published by Berkley Trade on August 2, 2011, sought to explore the religious and mythological roots of the show. And on October 1, 2011, ECW Press released the book TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural (ISBN 1770410201) which explored topics such as folklore, religion, gender and sexuality, comedy, and music through essays from a number of contributors.
The growing popularity of "amateur spook-hunters" Ed Zeddmore and Harry Spangler prompted Kripke to consider a spin-off series for the characters. He discussed the idea of an online venture with actors A. J. Buckley and Travis Wester, and held a successful meeting with studio and network executives. Though Kripke announced their plans to produce "some new material, either webisodes, potentially cell phone content or basically an off-network Ghostfacers series" at the 2008 Comic-Con, the economic downturn delayed production until 2009.
Buckley and Wester, along with Patrick J. Doody and Chris Valenziano, penned the series. They found the format—ten three-minute segments—difficult to manage because each webisode has to work both individually and as part of the overall storyline. However, Wester noted, "We couldn't get too indulgent, we couldn't delve into long conversations. That helps not only with the storytelling but with the comedy... With drama, it takes time to establish an emotional connection with the characters. With comedy, you can jump right in."
Though an initial idea of Kripke's involved the cast searching real haunted houses, the first season instead features the Ghostfacers investigating a haunted theater. The series also stars Brittany Ishibashi as Maggie and Austin Basis as Spruce. Buckley shares a manager with Kelly Carlson, and she accepted the guest role of the ghostly actress Janet within half an hour of reading the script.
Supernatural: The Anime Series
On June 9, 2010, the official Japanese Warner Bros. website announced an anime version of the series entitled Supernatural: The Animation (スーパーナチュラル・ザ・アニメーション), which debuted in Japan in January 2011 and is produced by famed Japanese anime studio Madhouse. Shigeyuki Miya and Atsuko Ishizuka are co-directors for the series, with Kripke credited as the project creator. Madhouse co-founder Masao Maruyama serves as executive producer, with Naoya Takayama supervising the scripts and Takahiro Yoshimatsu designing the characters. Yūya Uchida and Hiroki Touchi, who voice Sam and Dean for the Japanese dub of the live-action series, reprise their roles.
The anime's first season consists of 22 episodes; while the storyline covers the first two seasons of the live-action series, it also includes original content exploring the Winchesters' childhoods and expanding upon secondary characters. Warner Home Video released the first two episodes on Blu-ray and DVD in Japan on January 12, 2011; episodes 3 through 12 shipped on February 2, and the rest on April 6. Warner Home Video released the Blu-ray and DVD box sets of the anime series on July 26, 2011 in North America.
Jared Padalecki voices Sam in the English language version of the series, while Jensen Ackles voices Dean only in the last two episodes due to scheduling reasons; Andrew Farrar voices Dean in English for the first 20 episodes.
During production of Supernatural's third season, Kripke stated that the writers sometimes discussed the possibility of a prequel series. Set in the Old West, the spin-off would follow Samuel Colt and a group of hunters.
|Season||Network||Timeslot||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Rank[note 1]||Viewers in millions||Rating[note 2]|
|1||The WB||Tuesday 9/8c||September 13, 2005||May 4, 2006||2005–2006||#165||3.81||1.4[note 3]|
|2||The CW||Thursday 9/8c||September 28, 2006||May 17, 2007||2006–2007||#216||3.14||1.1|
|3||October 4, 2007||May 15, 2008||2007–2008||#187||2.74||1.0|
|4||September 18, 2008||May 14, 2009||2008–2009||#161||3.14||1.1[note 4]|
|5||September 10, 2009||May 13, 2010||2009–2010||#125||2.64||1.2[note 5]|
|6||Friday 9/8c||September 24, 2010||May 20, 2011||2010–2011||#134||2.47||1.1|
|7||September 23, 2011||May 18, 2012||2011–2012||#176||2.03||0.89|
|8||Wednesday 9/8c||October 3, 2012||May 15, 2013||2012–2013||#152||2.52||1.1|
|9||Tuesday 9/8c||October 1, 2013||2013–2014|
After the first four episodes of Supernatural aired in 2005, the WB decided to pick up the series for a full season of 22 episodes. During those first episodes, the series was ranked third in males aged 18–34 and 12–34. It also posted an increase of 73% in males aged 18–49 from the year before, although it only gained 4% in total viewers, and retained 91% of viewers from its lead-in, Gilmore Girls. Supernatural had low ratings during its second season, with viewers consisting mainly of teen girls, and the CW trying to attract more male viewers. The show's future was in doubt at the end of the second season. Despite mediocre ratings in the previous year, it was back for a third season. Although its third season's rating were low, it did well with viewers aged 18–49. In this category, it ranked eighth of all returning series broadcast by a major network. The show received an early pickup for its fourth season. The shows ratings increased in its fourth season. The fourth season premiere aired on September 18, 2008, averaging its highest rating ever since its debut on The CW Network with 3.96 million viewers, a 33% surge over the season three premiere and a 1.7/5 in adults 18–49, up 42% from one year earlier. On October 16, 2008, the show was watched by 3.06 million viewers, making the lowest rating for the season. On October 30, 2008, the show climbed to its best performance in adults 18–34 (1.4/4), adults 18–49 (1.5/4) and total viewers (3.6mil) since its season premiere on September 18, 2008. For the fifth season premiere, viewership increased by 6% in women 18-34 (1.7/5) over the fourth season premiere. However, taking DVR viewings into account with new Live-Plus 7 Day data, total viewership for the premiere increased 38%, with women 18-34 increasing by 35% and adults 18-34 by 47%.
Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly gave the first season a B, saying the show "comes off as weekly installments of a horror movie series", but that "Adding to the show's cred are the '67 Chevy Impala the boys rumble around in and their kick-ass soundtrack". Jeff Swindoll of Monsters and Critics "really liked" the first season due to its "horrific content and the brotherly chemistry between its two stars". He also noted that the season finished "with one bang of a cliffhanger". Swindoll enjoyed the second season, too, saying that it "still works thanks to the brotherly chemistry between Padalecki and Ackles" and noted the second season focused more on the show's mythology.
Swindoll also liked the third season, saying "Eric Kripke must've sold his soul to the devil so that the show wouldn't suffer a third season slump." He also enjoyed the moments featuring Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), likening him to the character Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard. However, Daniel Bettridge of Den of Geek! believed that the writer's strike hindered the season, with many issues being left unresolved and the finale feeling "a little rushed". He also felt that new characters Ruby (Katie Cassidy) and Bela (Lauren Cohan) were "disappointingly unexplored and ineffectively used". While Diana Steenbergen of IGN liked that there was a season-long story arc with Dean's demonic deal, she believed that viewers would know that the pact would not be resolved until the finale, making the self-enclosed episodes feel like they are "treading water, waiting for the main storyline to resume". In 2008, AOL TV placed the show on its list of TV's Biggest Guilty Pleasures.
Another Monsters and Critics reviewer, June L., gave the fourth season a positive review, saying the show "remains intriguing and entertaining, giving viewers much to ponder in terms of the philosophical analysis of the nature of good and evil." Steenbergen felt that the series made a transition from a "pretty good show to being a pretty great show". She praised Misha Collins for his portrayal of the angel Castiel, and felt that the interactions between Dean and Castiel were "one of the highlights of the season". Before the premiere of the fifth season, Rolling Stone listed the series as one of "The 50 Best Reasons to Watch TV", citing Sam and Dean Winchester as the "Bo and Luke Duke of demon hunting".
The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan named Supernatural among the top ten shows of 2009, stating that the "thoughtfully crafted show got bolder and more creative in 2009, coming up with hilarious and innovative episodes and taking risks with its storytelling." Mike Hale of The New York Times also named the series on his top ten list for the year: "Supernatural is currently among the wildest and most entertaining series in prime time."
In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at #19 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years", saying, "Supernatural began with a pretty straightforward premise - hot guys kill spooky things - but it didn't stay that way for long. The characters have literally been to hell and back, and along the way, they have woven a complicated and compelling mythology filled with friends (angel Castiel), recurring foes (demon Crowley), and inside jokes (Wincest!). Supernatural has also, however, dedicated episodes to mocking the sillier aspects of its own existence, like its hypercritical fandom. This self-referential approach has rewarded longtime viewers and helped build a community so passionate, it's almost scary."
On January 4, 2010, the cable television network TNT began airing reruns of Supernatural. The show is broadcast on weekdays at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m. ET, and began with the pilot episode, which was most recently aired on March 21, 2013.
Fandom and popular culture
Being a cult series, Supernatural has garnered a dedicated fanbase. They are active online, and many have written fanfiction stories about the show, with a portion of the writers dedicated to stories involving a sexual relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester—known as "Wincest". The writers have referenced this several times in the series. Scholarly articles have also been written on the subject.
The first fan conventions dedicated to Supernatural took place in Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2006 and in London in May 2007, and conventions have since expanded through to Germany and throughout the United States. The series' stars and large guest cast make appearances, with fans from the United States, Europe, China, and Australia attending.
Before the debut of the series' fifth season, in which Lucifer is finally freed from his imprisonment, fans attempted to promote the show through the website Twitter. Enough fans posted the hash tag "#LuciferIsComing" that it made it into "trending topics"—a list depicting words and phrases posted with the highest frequency on the website. However, Twitter users who were unaware of the fans' intentions responded with numerous posts of "#GodIsHere", and all the messages were eventually removed due to complaints. Actor Misha Collins, who portrays Castiel in the series, tried to continue the campaign by requesting that fans post "#PDiddyIsScaredOfHisTV", rapper P. Diddy being the one whom many fans believe to be the instigator of the initial backlash. However, after an hour, these messages were also blocked.
- Rank denotes the relative position of the television series with respect to other prime time shows on the CW, FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC.
- Rating is the percentage of all households tuned into the program.
- Statistics run from September 19, 2005 through May 7, 2006, leaving out the season premiere.
- Statistics run from September 22, 2008 through May 17, 2009, leaving out the season premiere.
- Statistics are based on first-run episodes only.
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