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Supernatural: Why Gabriel Looks So Familiar

Television series often live and die by the popularity of their characters, and for cult sensation "Supernatural," this is probably a little more literal than most. Monster-hunting brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) regularly experience loss as friends and loved ones die by the sword. But while some characters leave or die, never to return, others come back again and again.

The Archangel Gabriel may not have had the most prolific run on "Supernatural," but he did have a delightful character twist in one of the series' best episodes. Though he was introduced in Season 2, Gabriel's true identity isn't uncovered until the Season 5 episode "Changing Channels," where he reveals himself as an angel who superseded Castiel (Misha Collins) in rank. Before that, he was going by the moniker Loki, pretending to be the Asgardian trickster in order to avoid the responsibilities of the upcoming Armageddon.

Thanks in large part to the popularity of actor Richard Speight Jr., Gabriel would return to the show again and again — even after his death. During his time on the show, Speight became fast friends with the "Supernatural" actor who played God, Rob Benedict, and the pair were popular celebrities on the convention circuit. The two even helmed the show "Kings of Con," capitalizing on that popularity. But "Supernatural" was not Speight's first role by a long shot. He has had a long television history, playing memorable roles in many well-known projects.

He was a heartbreaking casualty in Band of Brothers

In the early days of HBO, "Band of Brothers" cemented the network as a platform known for premium programming. Based on the true story of the 101st Airborne Division, the series follows the experiences of legendary leader Richard Winters (Damian Lewis) and the men of Easy Company during World War II. From the opening episode featuring the men jumping into Normandy to the harrowing events of the Battle of the Bulge, "Band of Brothers" paid tribute to the names of men who may have otherwise been lost to history.

On the series, Richard Speight Jr. played Skip Muck, a real soldier who died a tragic hero during a firefight in Bastogne when an explosive landed on top of his foxhole. Decades after Speight's performance paid moving tribute to the real-life war hero, "Band of Brothers" continues to be looked at as one of the pinnacles of quality television and was an experience the actor will always remember.

"I have so much respect for the men and women of the Armed Forces currently, and certainly in the past, and I feel very fortunate to have gotten to pretend to be one of them in what I think is one of the greatest television events ever crafted," the actor told Review Nation. "It's great because of its content. Because of the heart and the importance of the story, which is true of the men who stepped up to do an extraordinary thing in an extraordinary time."

He was an important part of Jericho's ensemble cast

A series that becomes more terrifyingly close to reality every day, "Jericho" flew under the radar of many people. Airing from 2006-2008 on CBS, the series followed the titular town after nuclear bombs fall on United States cities. Far away from the target sites, Jericho survives the blasts and struggles to survive in a post-society world. The town desperately tries to cling to civilization amid attacks by escaped prisoners, rising crime, and the vast and ongoing conspiracy that led to the attack.

Skeet Ulrich leads the series as Jake, a mercenary who happens to return home on the day of the attack. He does his best to hold the town together, but he can't do it alone. Richard Speight Jr. aided Ulrich's Jake as Bill Kohler, a deputy who is one of the few to survive an early assault on the sheriff's department and helps bring some semblance of order to the town. He was also one of the many ensemble characters the audience became extremely attached to. This made it all the more devastating when CBS canceled "Jericho" despite a passionate fan campaign to save the show. "Jericho" set itself apart from other predictable series with its mysterious plotlines and vast conspiracies, but unlike other series of its ilk, such as "Lost," it never quite made it to worldwide phenomenon status.

He struggled to get by in Justified

FX has been a host to a collection of impressive dramatic television series ranging from "Damages" to "The Shield." It was on this network where Richard Speight Jr. found himself in good company with Timothy Olyphant and Margo Martindale in "Justified." Inspired by the works of writer Elmore Leonard, the series follows Miami-based Marshal Raylan Givens, who returns to his home state of Kentucky after a professional mishap.

For four episodes, Speight added flavor to "Justified" as Jed Berwind, a member of the weed-dealing Bennet empire. Just a man looking to provide for his family, Jed finds himself caught up in the anarchy that resident criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) brings to the table. Not the type of criminal to cause mayhem and mass destruction, Jed instead brings an everyman perspective to the series. In Harlan County, there are only so many ways to support your family, and if you don't want to earn a living digging coal, crime may be your next best option.

Unlike the show's other, more opportunistic criminals, Jed has no ulterior motives. He's just a pawn in a wave of criminal activity bigger than him. After his involvement in the death of Raylan's stepmother, Helen (Linda Gehringer), he is sent to prison, where his only concern is his family and getting out alive.

He shines as characters out of their element

In "Supernatural," Gabriel is just one character on a long list of amusing roles that break the series' ever-present tension, poking fun at the Winchesters and putting them in desperate situations for his own enjoyment. Richard Speight Jr. has played this type of character in a number of one-off appearances in multiple popular television shows. For example, he appears in the first season of "Longmire," credited only as "Vacationing Biker." The nameless character gets pulled into a mystery after attending a poker game with a ruthless biker gang. Not a part of the gang himself, Speight spends the episode squirming uncomfortably and looking for any way out, to the audience's delight.

Speight also played a similar-style character in ABC's spy drama, "Alias." Introduced as a smuggler of a biological weapon called Ice 5 in Season 4, Derek Modell dies quickly and hilariously during the episode's cold open when he decides the only way to keep the weapon in question safe is to swallow it. The Ice 5 leaks into his stomach, which effectively turns him into a human icicle. He then explodes all over Sydney (Jennifer Garner) and Vaughn (Michael Vartan) after being shot. Both of these characters showcase one of the things Speight does best — bringing levity to heavy material involving criminal enterprises.

He's been a familiar face on crime procedurals

Like many working actors earning a living in television, Richard Speight Jr. has logged appearances on almost every major crime procedural. Through stints in "JAG," "CSI: Miami," and "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," the actor consistently found ways to supplement his "Supernatural" appearances. One such notable role was in Season 15 of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Well after William Petersen's tenure on the CBS series, during the Ted Danson era, Speight appears as Lloyd, an operator of a weed dispensary. Because of how much cash the shop carries on hand, Lloyd's family gets kidnapped and held for ransom.

In typical "CSI" fashion, there are several twists and turns until Lloyd's kidnapped wife turns out to be the perpetrator. Instead of the high-concept humor the actor is known for, this allowed Speight to flex his serious acting muscles, showing a wide spectrum of human emotion, including fear and heartbreak, before experiencing ultimate betrayal.

As an actor who has made a living off small but memorable parts such as these, Speight's fan following doesn't just stem from "Supernatural," but from the decades he has spent bringing a wide variety of roles to life, endearing himself to fans along the way.