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The Untold Truth Of Wynonna Earp

If you happen to love Westerns, science fiction, and spooky, paranormal TV shows, you've probably discovered the SyFy cult favorite series Wynonna Earp. The show is based on the comic book series of the same name, but it's packed with original characters and new storylines.

Wynonna, who happens to be the great-great granddaughter of Old West lawman Wyatt Earp, has finally come back to her hometown of Purgatory, where she must work to break her family's curse. The outlaws that Wyatt killed, also known as revenants, have reincarnated, but Wynonna has been given the power to send them back to Hell using her ancestor's magic gun, "Peacemaker." With the help of Wyatt's ageless friend, Doc Holliday, her sister Waverly, and local sheriff Nicole Haught, Wynonna must purge her hometown of the demons that have plagued her family.

The show's unique premise, the genuine chemistry amongst the cast, and the positive portrayal of strong female and LGBTQ+ characters have drawn in millions of fans. Let's explore how the series differs from the comics, where the series is actually filmed, how fans helped to save Wynonna Earp from cancellation, and other interesting stories from behind the scenes!

(Warning — there are spoilers below.)

The creative pitch behind Wynonna Earp

How did Wynonna Earp find its way to TV? Well, when showrunner Emily Andras read the comics for the first time, she knew that she had to bring Wynonna to life onscreen.

"When I picked up the comic, I really got all tingly. I really was like, oh my god, if I could just cook something up for myself in a magic cauldron, this is everything I would pick," Andras said in an interview with The Mary Sue. She continued, "So I came in with a really strong pitch to [comic book publisher] IDW. ... They just loved it. They totally got it. I was like, 'If Buffy meets Justified meets Frozen.'"

Andras saw the opportunity to combine several genres into a totally unique series. She wanted to bring elements of sci-fi, Westerns, and the supernatural together in one show, and she was definitely the right woman for the job. As a writer and consulting producer on the space drama Killjoys and a showrunner on the supernatural drama Lost Girl, she could easily translate Wynonna Earp from the page to the screen.

Beau Smith's battle to publish the comics

Wynonna Earp's story began back in 1996, when writer Beau Smith published the very first comic featuring the character. But when Smith began working on the comics, he received pushback from nearly everyone involved with the process. He wanted Wynonna to come across as mature, confident, and powerful, but the publisher and artist he was working with wanted him to take things in a different direction.

"My battle 20 years ago with Wynonna Earp was a hard one," Smith admitted in an interview with Uproxx. "I battled with not only the publisher but with the artist to not make her a stripper with a badge. That was the way everyone wanted to portray her because that was the thing going on at the time. That was something I fought."

Andras definitely changed up Wynonna's image for the show and gave her some more modest costumes. But the spirit of Smith's original character definitely comes through in Melanie Scrofano's portrayal of Wynonna.

Introducing new characters to the show and the comic

While Emily Andras lifted many of the characters in Wynonna Earp straight from the original comics, she also brought some new faces to the series. For instance, Wynonna's sister, Waverly, doesn't exist in the source material, and neither does her girlfriend and local sheriff, Nicole Haught. Both became fan favorites, especially when they began dating (the fans affectionately refer to them as "WayHaught"). Now, Beau Smith has incorporated both Waverly and Nicole into the comic series, and he's interested in finding a place for more TV characters in his work.

"It's always been a point for me to bring as many of the cast members and even some of the one-episode characters into the comic as possible," Smith told Uproxx. He continued, "I'm trying to find a place for first-time viewers who have never read the comic. Where they can come and get more of the Wynonna Earp they're familiar with on television. For the core audience that has been around for 20 years, I want to give them something new."

There's a big narrative twist for the Wynonna Earp TV series

Fans of the show who've picked up the Wynonna Earp comics have probably noticed some key differences between the two. In addition to certain characters from the series missing from the pages of earlier issues, the narrative isn't quite the same. In the TV adaptation, the show definitely has a small-town feel. After all, it kicks off with Wynonna's return to her tiny home of Purgatory, and while fighting supernatural forces is certainly a major focus of the series, many of the episodes also center around the relationships and interactions between the characters.

But in the comic book series, Wynonna sets off on an epic, action-packed road trip across America. She travels from New Mexico all the way to New York City, battling with supernatural villains along the way. It wasn't until he'd already published several issues that Smith sent Wynonna to Tombstone, Arizona, where Wyatt Earp famously fought in the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Of course, the comics that have been published since the show began airing have clearly tied in with the series, so today, fans would probably spot more similarities.

Katherine Barrell auditioned for quite a few parts

After four seasons, it seems like every cast member on Wynonna Earp was born to play their character. Melanie Scrofano has earned well-deserved praise for playing Wynonna, Tim Rozon is a natural as Doc Holliday, and as Waverly, Dominique Provost-Chalkley really seems like she could be Scrofano's little sister. So fans might be surprised to hear that at least one actress on the show auditioned for several roles before finding the perfect fit! 

Katherine Barrell knew that she wanted to be part of the series, but it took a couple of auditions until she landed a role. "They did kind of a wide net casting call for Wynonna, and I auditioned for Wynonna," Barrell explained in an interview with SciFi Vision. "And then like a month later, I auditioned for Waverly, and then maybe a month and a half later, I auditioned for Nicole." Now, Barrell is captivating as Purgatory's sheriff, and her chemistry with Provost-Chalkley is undeniable.

The surprising connections between Wynonna Earp's cast members

Wynonna Earp fans will be happy to find out that several of the cast members have connected outside of the show. For instance, Katherine Barrell and Tamara Duarte — who plays Doc's girlfriend, Rosita Bustillos — actually worked together on another film that was released shortly before Wynonna Earp began airing. They both appeared in the 2015 rom-com My Ex-Ex, which was about a woman trying to decide between getting back together with the man who recently broke up with her or reuniting with her college boyfriend. 

Additionally, Greg Bryk, who plays Jack of Knives, is the father of Billy Bryk, who plays Billy Clanton. Greg began acting in 1998, and he's appeared in films like Saw V and shows like The Handmaid's Tale. In 2018, Billy began following in his father's footsteps when he landed his first professional acting job on the series Jett, alongside his brother Dempsey Bryk.

Shooting takes place in the Great White North

Wyatt Earp lived in the American West, but Wynonna Earp is actually set in Canada. Wynonna's hometown, Purgatory, is located near the Canadian Rockies. As it turns out, the Canadian West and the American West look quite similar onscreen, but this region of Canada is a lot colder!

"I actually grew up in the West in Canada, so it was a chance to get back there and do a show that takes place not in the claustrophobia of a spaceship or in an urban landscape," Andras explained in an interview with Sci-Fi Bulletin. "We could bring all these demons running around the mountains and the plains and the Badlands. It felt really fresh to me, the idea of a supernatural Western." The series is shot at various locations around Calgary, Alberta, and the town of Didsbury stands in for Purgatory on the screen.

The episode titles draw inspiration from a very Western source

After watching a few episodes, eagle-eyed Wynonna Earp fans began noticing a curious pattern. All of the episode titles seemed recognizable, and the phrases sounded especially familiar to country music fans. For instance, in June 2017, an episode titled "Gonna Getcha Good" aired, and a fan reached out to Andras on Twitter to ask if the title was a reference to the popular Shania Twain tune "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!" Andras responded, "Yep! All #WynonnaEarp episodes are named after country and western songs!"

This choice is a homage to the Western roots of the story, and once you notice it, looking up the episode titles becomes a fun trivia exercise. Some of the titles are easy to place. For example, the season one episode "I Walk the Line" is named after the famous Johnny Cash song, while the episode "Whiskey Lullaby" gets its title from the modern country hit of the same name by Alison Krauss and Brad Paisley. Others are a bit more obscure and could lead fans to some lesser-known artists.

Melanie Scrofano's pregnancy was written into the show

When Wynonna's pregnancy was revealed at the end of season two, fans were shocked. Originally, the writers hadn't planned for a pregnancy storyline, but when Scrofano found out that she was pregnant in real life, she knew that she had to tell showrunner Emily Andras. However, she didn't think that they would be able to incorporate her pregnancy into the series. Instead, she assumed that she was going to get fired or that the show would be canceled.

"I just started projecting that they were going to take the show away and be mad at me, and I got really angry," Scrofano told The TV Junkies. Thankfully, Scrofano couldn't have gotten a more positive response from the team behind the show. "I told them, and they were so supportive. Emily right away started having ideas and her brain went into, 'How can we use this for the story?'" The season was even extended by two episodes specifically to focus on Wynonna's pregnancy.

Fans had to fight to save the series

Devoted Wynonna Earp fans (also known as "Earpers") were devastated when they found out that the show was on the chopping block after they'd already been promised future seasons. IDW Publishing, the company that owns the rights to the Wynonna Earp comics and TV series, was on the hook for hefty production costs, and they weren't sure if the expense would be justified. So the fans decided to mobilize. They raised funds to put up #FightForWynonna billboards in New York and Los Angeles to prove that future seasons would have a dedicated audience.

As Bonnie Ferrar, a copywriter who manages a highly popular Wynonna Earp fan account on Twitter, told The Hollywood Reporter, "We know that financial issues are a big part of what makes or breaks the shows we love, but it can't be the only thing." Ferrar was heavily involved in the campaign to save the series. She explained, "We want networks to know that this fandom is loud and mighty and passionate. We will support all of the networks and companies that continue to produce Wynonna Earp. From attending conventions around the world and buying merchandise to buying comics, we are all in as a fandom and we are loyal." The response from enthusiastic fans clearly had a positive influence, and the fourth season began airing in July 2020. It was a huge victory, but sadly, it was short-lived, as the show was once again canceled in February 2021.

Scrofano avoids social media while shooting

When the show began airing, Wynonna Earp fans started connecting on social media, and if you happen to scroll through Twitter when a new episode premieres, you'll notice that this fandom is highly active and super welcoming. Andras and the cast have praised the fandom for creating such an uplifting community around the show and avoiding the negative behavior that often plagues these virtual groups. But no matter how sweet her fans are, Melanie Scrofano makes it a point to stay away from social media when she's shooting new episodes. 

"You have to balance what people would like to see and what is honest to the people who created it. That's why I get off Twitter when we shoot because it's like, Wow, I am being very influenced," Scrofano explained in an interview with Vulture. "I see my own face in the GIF and I am like, I am doing that face! I have to get off Twitter." Basically, Scrofano wants to make sure that her performance isn't influenced by comments from fans on social media — even positive comments! As an actor, she wants to be able to work without distraction.

Wynonna Earp cast members have written their own comics

Beau Smith wants fans of the Wynonna Earp TV series to feel like they can see a whole new side of their favorite show by reading the comics, but he also wants to give them some of the familiar material that got them hooked on the show in the first place. And what better way to do that than by inviting a few of the actors themselves to contribute to the comics? 

Smith collaborated with Melanie Scrofano and Tim Rozon to put together a special collected volume of the series, titled Wynonna Earp: Legends. Scrofano and Rozon each worked with Smith on different issues, and both actors found the experience to be very rewarding.

"As an actor, you tend to just look at the script till you get to your stuff. But then when you're writing, it just really makes you go, 'What does this do for them?'" Scrofano told Entertainment Weekly. "It deepens your appreciation for all the characters, which, in turn, just makes you appreciate the whole of the story that you're telling more. It makes you less selfish, in theory."

Smith also stated that he would love to work on another issue with Scrofano and Rozon and that, ideally, Andras would collaborate on a future issue, as well.

Shamier Anderson asked to be killed off the show

For Wynonna Earp fans, the death of Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls came as a major shock. Dolls, who helped protect Wynonna and her family, was a beloved character, and his feelings for Wynonna ran deep. He was clearly in love with her, and he was willing to do almost anything to keep her safe.

But early in season three, Dolls gave his life to save Wynonna, and fans were devastated to see him go. However, the writers didn't choose to kill him off simply to make room for new supporting characters. Instead, Shamier Anderson, who played Dolls, had negotiated his exit well in advance and had worked with the writers to figure out his death scene. While Anderson loved working on Wynonna Earp, he was receiving offers for other exciting opportunities, and he didn't want to pass them up. However, he wanted to make sure that his death on the show was meaningful and left a memorable impact. As Emily Andras told TV Junkies (via CBR.com), "It was extremely important to Shamier personally that he have Dolls go out as he lived, which is a hero."