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The Real Reason These Supernatural Actors Left

For 15 seasons, fans of Supernatural have watched Sam and Dean Winchester battle all manner of monsters. The show's fandom is one of the most dedicated around — and it's no mystery as to why. Supernatural is a thrilling and suspenseful blend of intriguing performances, twisty writing, and an irresistible sense of humor.

Given the show's lengthy run, countless actors have been a part of it. While mainstays Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have always led the show as Sam and Dean, most characters have not stuck around for the show's entire run. Some actors departed because they were dealing with pressing issues in their personal lives. A few decided to pursue other roles. Some felt that their characters were misunderstood. Others only left temporarily, returning when their characters were brought back to life. Have you been missing these familiar faces on Supernatural? Then it's time to find out why they really had to say goodbye to the series.

Mark Sheppard was let down by the writers

Mark Sheppard, who portrayed Crowley from season five through season 12, became an integral part of the show the moment he first appeared on screen. Throughout several seasons, the King of Hell secretly aids and antagonizes the Winchester brothers, proving to be a friend or foe whenever it is most convenient for him. But Sheppard feels that his character deserved better than his final exit from the show, in which he sacrifices himself on an angel's blade.

"Once they decided they needed to do something different [with the direction of the show], they tried to get rid of me without telling me that they were going to get rid of me," Sheppard revealed during a solo panel at 2018's New York Comic Con. Never one to mince words, Sheppard expressed his disappointment with his demise on the show, continuing, "I'd gone from being the smartest character on the show to being the dumbest character on the show in two seasons. They ran out of what to do." Needless to say, he did not leave the show on the best of terms.

Rachel Miner struggled with her health

Rachel Miner, who played Meg Masters, has nothing but positive things to say about her time on Supernatural. But when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010 after struggling with debilitating aches and pains for years, she began preparing to ask the writers to send her off. As it turns out, however, the writers had been planning Meg's death scene since before Miner suggested it.

Because Supernatural's cast members have such a close relationship with the writing team, Miner suspected that they let her character go because they knew her health problems were a major source of frustration for her on set. "I was surprised they kept me around as long as they did," Miner stated in an interview with Hypable. "The fact that they kept me on is a testament to how decent and not superficial they are, and the fact they kept working around it. But, yeah, they knew something was wrong ... it was obviously getting to that point where it was just too difficult." Happily, Miner was eventually healthy enough to return to Supernatural in a new role — she became one of several actors who portrayed the mysterious entity known as the Shadow.

DJ Qualls had a packed schedule

DJ Qualls joined the cast of Supernatural in season seven, as the demon hunter Garth Fitzgerald IV. Although Garth generally prefers working alone, he is occasionally willing to team up with the Winchester brothers. He undergoes an intense transformation when he becomes a werewolf.

Qualls is very appreciative of all the support he's received from fans, and has stated he loved working on Supernatural. But for quite some time, there was simply no room in his schedule to return to the role as Garth. "I'm so busy right now," he told TVGuide in 2017. "I'm on a couple different shows ... and I have two films lined up after this." He regretted that he had to let the Supernatural fandom down, but he reassured them that if he ever got the opportunity to play Garth again, he would rearrange his schedule to make time. True to his word, he did eventually return for guest spots in seasons 14 and 15.

Katie Cassidy was given the option to leave

Katie Cassidy was the first actress on Supernatural to play Ruby, a demon who almost manages to tear the Winchester brothers' relationship apart. Reflecting upon her departure in an interview with TVGuide, Cassidy said that leaving was "heartbreaking." She continued, "I loved that show. I loved the crew, I loved the boys ... Everyone was so welcoming." 

So why did Cassidy make her exit when she was enjoying her time on the show so much? According to series creator Eric Kripke, they could no longer afford to keep her on the payroll. But Cassidy herself has offered a slightly different explanation. "Warner Bros. wasn't exactly sure what they were going to be doing with my character, and I had the option to stay or leave," she said. "When Harper's Island came about, I was really into it, so I asked them to let me go. Luckily, they did." She went on to play Trish Wellington on Harper's Island and landed another recurring role on Melrose Place shortly after.

Genevieve Padalecki became a mother

When Genevieve Cortese joined the cast of Supernatural to take over the role of Ruby in season four, she didn't expect that her time on the show would land her a fiance and a new last name. But her scandalous relationship with Sam Winchester on-screen blossomed into an adorable real-life romance with Jared Padalecki. He has admitted that he waited about four months before asking her on a date, but his patience paid off. Not long after the final episode of season four aired, Jared proposed to Cortese, and only a few months later, she became Genevieve Padalecki.

Since getting married, Padalecki has focused on family. In 2012, Padalecki gave birth to the couple's first child, a son named Thomas. Two more children — a son named Austin and a daughter named Odette — arrived soon after. Padalecki has not taken on any new acting roles since her children were born: Her last role was in 2012's Hated. However, she did eventually return to Supernatural for a guest spot in the final season.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan was too busy

Jeffrey Dean Morgan was one of the original cast members on Supernatural. He portrayed Sam and Dean's father John Winchester, who becomes a demon hunter after his wife is killed by a demon. Since he's the one who sends Sam and Dean down their path in the first place, it is somewhat surprising that he doesn't appear much past season three.

Truthfully, the crew behind Supernatural wasn't quite ready to let Morgan go after season two, but his busy schedule left them with no choice. "We would love to have him back, but he's really busy. He's turned into a huge star over here! We got to use his voice for an episode at the end of last season, so there's always a chance," writer Sera Gamble told Digital Spy. "We would love to bring back the character if our schedules ever lined up, but I don't think anyone should hold their breath." Thankfully, Morgan was able to return for several guest spots throughout later seasons.

Alona Tal felt misunderstood by the new writers

As Jo Harvelle, Alona Tal became part of the Supernatural cast in season two. Her mother, Ellen, was friends with John Winchester, so she links up with Sam and Dean to hunt down demons together. After her death, she returns to the show as a ghost in season seven. But since then, she has not come back to Supernatural.

While Tal would have embraced the opportunity to appear on Supernatural again, she worried that new leadership of the show didn't fully understand what she and Samantha Ferris, who played her mother, Ellen Harvelle, brought to the table. "I think what happened was that when Samantha and I were part of the show, there were different heads of creative. But the people [running things] there have changed and I don't think they know us very well or know our characters," Tal remarked in 2019. Tal went on to state that she had hoped to make an appearance during the final season, but ultimately, things didn't pan out in her favor.

Julian Richings took on a new role

Julian Richings, who played Death himself, did not appear on Supernatural often. But those few times Death does make an appearance? They're pretty much unforgettable. His character is also known as the Grim Reaper and the Pale Horseman, but no matter what you call him, there is no denying his power. His one weakness? His taste for caloric food — he just can't resist a meal at a greasy spoon diner.

Richings made his final appearance on Supernatural in season 10. In the following seasons, Lisa Berry took over the role of Death. Why did Richings have to leave Supernatural? By the time his last episode rolled around, he had already taken on a new recurring role as Benjamin Kertland on the drama Orphan Black. It was the perfect time to step away from Supernatural. Richings always seems to have a full schedule, and since then, he's landed roles on series including 12 Monkeys, Patriot, and Doom Patrol.

Richard Speight Jr. stuck to directing

Richard Speight Jr. had an intriguing role on Supernatural: He played the archangel Gabriel, who disguises himself as the trickster Loki in exchange for protection. He is always quite mischievous, but he eventually comes around to side with the Winchester brothers. He meets his end in season 13 — but Speight hasn't really left Supernatural at all, as it turns out.

If you keep an eye on the credits in later episodes, you just might spot Speight listed as the director! While Speight has not appeared on-screen in an episode of Supernatural for years, he has directed several episodes of the series, including a few in the final season. He was behind the camera for "Proverbs 17:3," "Our Father, Who Aren't in Heaven," and "Galaxy Brain."

In the past, Speight occasionally balanced directing duties with acting on the show, but today, he is solely involved with directing on Supernatural. His character may be gone, but he is still leaving his mark on the series — he's just staying behind the scenes now.

Kurt Fuller wanted to play more positive characters

Kurt Fuller appeared on Supernatural as the angel Zachariah, but his character is certainly no saint. There is rarely a kind word spoken about Zachariah, in fact.  Fuller was determined to lean into all of his character's worst qualities and embrace the chance to play a bad guy. He ended up really enjoying the experience — in fact, he felt a little guilty that he had so much fun playing a villain! Deep down, Fuller had to admit to himself that he wanted a change. Although he enjoyed his time on Supernatural, he was ready to take on a more positive role, so when the opportunity came up to play Joel Putney on the comedy series Better With You, he went for it. 

Fuller has described his work on Better With You as "a welcome relief" after Supernatural. "Making people laugh rather than making people bleed is much more fun," Fuller told Staying In. "And I feel better about it ... This is definitely better for my soul."

Carrie Anne Fleming dealt with depression

Carrie Anne Fleming made her first appearance on Supernatural in season five. She played Karen Singer, who is possessed by a demon and subsequently killed by her husband Bobby, as he doesn't understand the paranormal nature of what happened to his wife.

Fleming's first time on the show was marred by troubles in her personal life. "I was a zombie when I booked that role, so it was such a gift," Fleming told Times Colonist. She explained that she was struggling with post-partum depression at the time, and to make matters worse, she was also getting ready to leave her marriage.

Today, Fleming occasionally jokes about her experience, telling fans that the combination of "white clown makeup and no sleep" was all it took to make her look like a genuine zombie on camera. But at the time, she could barely get through a day on set. "I was having trouble being happy," she said. "I had trouble memorizing dialogue and communicating." She did have the chance to come back to Supernatural in season seven, which hopefully proved to be a better experience.

Rick Worthy wanted a different role

Fans of Supernatural know Rick Worthy for guest-starring as the Alpha Vampire, the original member of the vampire species. But when Worthy originally auditioned for Supernatural, he had been hoping to secure a more long-term role on the show. In fact, he initially wanted to play Crowley!

"I really wanted to be on the show, and I had auditioned probably five or six times before," Worthy revealed in 2012. "I auditioned for the role of Crowley, which I thought was a great role, and was devastated, just devastated [when I didn't get it]." But Worthy said that he has no hard feelings towards Mark Sheppard for getting the role he had been gunning for. "He's a wonderful actor, and I knew he'd do a great job," he continued. "I was happy for him." Unfortunately, because Worthy ultimately was not chosen for a major role, he could not stay on the show for as long as he really wanted to.