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What You Probably Didn't Know About Supernatural

There is no show quite like "Supernatural." Set on the untraveled highways of America, where demons and ghosts lurk around every corner, the series definitely has a unique concept, and the truth is that no show has compared to it since. With 327 episodes, "Supernatural" is one of the longest-running genre shows in the world, and certainly the longest sci-fi/fantasy series in North America. The show primarily starred Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, who kept their Metallicar running for nearly two decades before retiring to the great unknown. We laughed, we cried, and we definitely got scared a few times as the Winchesters shot and slashed their way through various monsters of the week and bigger baddies.

With a new prequel in the works—which is set to chronicle the epic love story of Sam and Dean's parents, John and Mary Winchester—it seems like "Supernatural" might return again to the CW, living on far beyond its original run. Whether it actually happens or ends up like the other failed spin-offs remains to be seen, but until then, it's fun to take a look back at this landmark of a series and learn some interesting tidbits you might not have otherwise known. Our sincerest apologies to all you "Supernatural" super-fans out there who already knew all of this, but hey, we can't all be expert hunters like you.

The show was originally about two journalists

While "Supernatural" stands out today as a series about two brothers hunting monsters and saving the world, that wasn't the idea that series creator Eric Kripke had in mind when he first imagined the series. He originally wanted it to be an anthology, similar to shows like "The Twilight Zone" or "American Horror Story," but with a direct connection to distinctly American urban legends. After recognizing that Hollywood wasn't into that at the time, Kripke decided to change course, hoping to tell the story of two journalists as they "[fought] demons in search of the truth." If that sounds a lot like "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," that's because that series heavily influenced both "Supernatural" and "The X-Files," the two most popular paranormal shows on television.

Eventually, Kripke settled on the idea of "two estranged brothers in their '67 Chevy Impala, navigating the back roads of America," and thus was born the series we know today as "Supernatural." Of course, there were a few other changes that Kripke needed to make before our heroes became Sam and Dean Winchester, such as changing Sam's original name "Sal" into "Sam," their father's name from "Jack" to "John," and the boy's original last name of "Harrison" (in honor of Harrison Ford himself) to "Winchester," which had spookier connotations. But don't worry, Kripke kept most of those names for future use in naming his son Jack Harrison Kripke.

Spooky birthdays

When "Supernatural" began in 2005, we learned that Sam Winchester's birthday was on October 2, 1983. This might not seem like a big deal, and it wasn't at first, but then, two years later, on October 2, 2007, series creator Eric Kripke and his wife Deanna had a son they named Jack Harrison Kripke. As Kripke put it, that's pretty spooky! Of course, Dean Winchester and Sam's long-dead girlfriend Jessica Moore both shared a birthday of January 24, which is actually Kripke's wife's birthday (which is a bit less spooky since it was planned).

But don't worry, Kripke didn't leave himself out, making sure to share his birthday with one of the most important characters on the show. No, we're not talking about the fictionalized version of himself from "The French Mistake"; he was blown away by a renegade angel and hasn't been heard from since. We're talking about the Impala, which "rolled off the lot" on April 24, 1967, according to Kripke's send-off episode "Swan Song." If "Supernatural" knows how to do anything, it's to scare you while at the same time treating you like family. Birthdays are certainly no exception. 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were always Sam and Dean

On the first episode of the recent rewatch podcast, "Supernatural Then and Now," hosts Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr.–who played Chuck Shirley and the Trickster on the show, respectively–interviewed series stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles about their experience of getting the roles of Sam and Dean Winchester. In the episode, they explain how they "read together for the first time" for the parts of Sam and Dean, and that they were the only two chosen to audition in front of network executives for the parts of the Winchester brothers. It didn't take more than a chemistry read for the two of them to get the parts. The rest is history. 

It's hard to imagine anyone else playing Sam and Dean other than Padalecki and Ackles, who had starred in "Gilmore Girls" and "Smallville" respectively before their time on "Supernatural," and apparently Eric Kripke and the others behind the series felt the same. There's no question that playing the same characters for 15 seasons straight could have eventually turned stale, but Padalecki and Ackles remained strong throughout the entire series, with a brotherly chemistry that kept fans invested for years. It's no wonder that they've continued to work together even after the series' run.

Misha Collins originally auditioned for the role of a demon

According to MovieWeb, when series star Misha Collins, who joined the cast in Season 4, first tried out for the role of Castiel on "Supernatural," he was under the impression that he was supposed to be playing a demon. When he auditioned for creator Eric Kripke, Collins "gave him a very nasty and snarky performance" to fit the characteristics of demons on the show (the Yellow-Eyed Demon really stands out in that regard). When Kripke revealed that he'd actually be playing an angel, Collins adjusted his performance (and voice) and got the part. From the moment Castiel walked on screen in the Season 4 premiere, it was clear that this angel was here to stay.

But regardless of his angelic status, Misha Collins is no stranger to playing "nasty" or villainous characters on "Supernatural." In Season 7, Collins played a Leviathan-possessed Castiel, who acted a lot more like a demon than an angel, and in Season 11, the Devil himself took over Cass' body, allowing Collins to play the fallen angel with all the "snark" he could dream of. Still, we love Cass best when he's his normal angelic self, on the brothers' side, and helping save the world. Thankfully, that's the character Collins got to play for just over a decade. 

The show had a revolving door of showrunners

It's no surprise that "Supernatural" went through multiple showrunners during its 15-season tenure on the CW. What is surprising is how often the new showrunners made the show feel different than before–adding new characters and further expanding the mythology as they went–and the frequency with which executive producers would be swapped out. Everyone knows that series creator Eric Kripke had a basic plan for where he wanted the Winchesters' story to go, which fans affectionately call "The Kripke Era," from the hunt for their mother's killer all the way to the Apocalypse. These are some of the best episodes of the series.

After Kripke stepped down as showrunner, writer Sera Gamble took over for Seasons 6 and 7, focusing more on monster lore and introducing the concept of Purgatory. By the time Season 8 came around, writer Jeremy Carver returned to the series to guide the ship alongside longtime producer Robert Singer all the way through Season 11. During this time, they established further mythology surrounding the Men of Letters, the Mark of Cain, and the Darkness that seemed like it would bring the series to its natural close. Still, it kept going. (It's called "Supernatural" for a reason). After Carver's second exit from the show, Robert Singer and longtime writer/producer Andrew Dabb took the reins for the final four seasons, introducing new characters, resurrecting old ones, and sending the boys off in a bittersweet finale.

Mark A. Sheppard wanted a different ending for Crowley

Given the involvement of multiple showrunners over 15 different seasons, there are a few unresolved plotlines throughout "Supernatural." But what about unresolved character arcs? This is where the former King of Hell, Crowley, comes into play. Crowley, played by Mark A. Sheppard in 67 episodes, had been a staple of the series since Season 5, when he tried to help the Winchesters ice the Devil. Although it didn't work, he became the ruler of Hell in subsequent years and varied between "big bad" and "uncomfortable ally" over the course of the next seven seasons. A fan favorite, Crowley is one who every "Supernatural" fan was sad to see go.

At the end of Season 12, Crowley sacrificed himself so that Sam and Dean could trap Lucifer in an alternate world, which, of course, backfires on everyone involved. Since leaving the series, Mark A. Sheppard has been pretty vocal about his displeasure with how he was written off the show. He'd hoped his last line would be something along the lines of, "Even when I lose, I win." Having gone from being one of the most important (and frightening) characters on "Supernatural" to a caricature, it's a real shame that the King of Hell didn't get the send-off he was hoping for, especially given that he was also the king of witty dialogue.

Their milestones often excluded other main cast members

Speaking of excluding Mark A. Sheppard, many of "Supernatural's" best episodes include their anniversary episodes or other special milestones that highlight the show's unique capabilities. Unfortunately, many of these episodes excluded some of the show's most popular main cast members. While the show's 100th episode, "Point of No Return," features the show's entire cast (which makes sense given that it takes place smack-dab in the middle of the Apocalypse story), this isn't true for some of the bigger milestones. Some of the show's "special" episodes, including "Baby," the animated "Scoobynatural," and even the 300th episode "Lebanon," feature Misha Collins' Castiel in a limited capacity.

The 200th episode, on the other hand, entitled "Fan Fiction," features Sam and Dean investigating an all-girls school that's putting on "Supernatural: The Musical," which honors all the years that came before. Although Misha Collins fought for a role in the 200th episode, only Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki appear, with the writers kicking Collins and Sheppard to the curb. But hey, at least the other characters were referenced. This isn't even to mention the series finale "Carry On," which features only vague references to Castiel and Alexander Calvert's Jack by fan-favorite character Bobby Singer.

The cast is very musically talented

One thing you might not know about the cast of "Supernatural" is that many of them are actually incredibly musically talented. That's right, these guys know how to rock. Both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki play guitar. Ackles even has his own band called Radio Company, known for their breakout hit "Sounds of Someday," which was featured on "Supernatural." Fellow "Supernatural" actors Briana Buckmaster (Sheriff Donna Hanscum), Mark A. Sheppard, Rob Benedict, and Richard Speight, Jr. all play music as well, with the latter two each headlining their respective bands: Louden Swain and Dicky Jr. and the Volunteers

Beyond their own bands, Ackles, Benedict, Speight, and two-time series guest Gil McKinney have collaborated with musician Jason Manns on two different cover albums, even performing The Band song "The Weight" together. The best cover on the albums might be Ackles' version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Outside of the recording studio, the members of the cast have performed live at fan conventions, which are always a huge hit with "Supernatural" enthusiasts. No wonder Jensen Ackles opts to sing on camera as Dean. 

The show often named characters after their crew

With such a large catalog of characters on the series, it makes sense that coming up with names would be really hard. Many characters on the show are thus actually named after members of the crew. And no, we're not talking about the alternate versions of cast and crew members Genevieve Padalecki, Eric Kripke, Robert Singer, Serge Ladouceur, and Sera Gamble that appeared in "The French Mistake." Rather, these are characters specifically named after real people. The obvious one, of course, is the character of Bobby Singer, the boy's official surrogate father, who was named after the series' longtime executive producer and co-showrunner Robert Singer. But he's not the only one. 

The character of Chuck Shurley wrote all the "Supernatural" books on the show under the pseudonym of "Carver Edlund," which was a combination of the names of show writers Jeremy Carver (who would later become showrunner) and Ben Edlund. Even writer Jenny Klein got her own character named after her in Season 7, who was sadly killed by Crowley the following year. The hunter Tara in Season 9's "First Born" is named after the crew member Tara Larsen. Even the unofficial Supernatural Wiki admin Jules Wilkinson had two different characters named after her throughout the show's run.

Many of the stars have directed for the series

With over 300 different episodes, it's no wonder that members of the "Supernatural" cast jumped at the opportunity to direct their own episode or two (or ten) of the series. Actors who have transitioned from their role in front of the camera to standing confidently behind it include Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Richard Speight, Jr., Amanda Tapping (Naomi), and Matt Cohen (young John Winchester). Ackles directed six episodes total, including fan-favorites "Weekend at Bobby's," "Soul Survivor," and the final season's "Atomic Monsters." Collins, on the other hand, only directed the Season 9 episode "Mother's Little Helper."

Other actors, such as Speight, Tapping, and Cohen, all took their place in the director's chair in the final few years of the show. Speight directed 11 different episodes (the same number of episodes he appeared in as Gabriel) from Season 11 through Season 15, all of which were received well by fans. Tapping got to direct four episodes between Seasons 12-14. Cohen's directorial debut came in the show's final season with the episode "Gimme Shelter." While actors don't always transition to the director's chair, it's cool to see many of these "Supernatural" cast members (some of whom hadn't been on the show in years) have the opportunity to stretch their artistic talents further.

The Winchesters spend the most time in Kansas

Throughout the series, the Winchesters travel all across the United States of America, and while they don't make it to all 50 states, they get pretty close. However, between their central Kansas hometown of Lawrence where their mother died to their Men of Letters headquarters (and new home) in the town of Lebanon, it's clear that the Winchesters spend the bulk of their time in Kansas. The final Season 5 showdown between the Winchesters and the Devil even took place in Lawrence's most haunted boneyard, Stull Cemetery. Apparently what Dorothy once said is true, "there's no place like home," and Kansas is the ultimate home for the Winchesters.

It's also fitting that their home state of Kansas would also be the namesake of the popular classic rock band of the same name, especially since their most famous track, "Carry On Wayward Son," is "Supernatural's" unofficial theme song. The band's greatest hit has been featured in every season of the show (occasionally even more than once), and was the signature tune that Dean drove to across Heaven in the series finale. While the band was originally supposed to appear in "Carry On," they've managed to make appearances at various "Supernatural" panels and are set to reunite with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki on Ackles' directorial episode of Padalecki's new series "Walker."

Dean's favorite band was never played on the show

Kansas aside, plenty of classic rock bands made their mark on "Supernatural," especially in the earlier seasons of the show. From Bob Seger and AC/DC to Foreigner and Styx, just about all the classics have made their mark on the Winchesters' forever road trip. While these all might be some of Dean's favorite bands, none compare to his all-time favorite: Led Zeppelin. Of course, Dean's favorite song is actually a tie between two Zeppelin songs, "Ramble On" and "Traveling Riverside Blue," according to "The Monster at the End of This Book," and who could blame him? They're pretty great. 

Although the series couldn't afford to use any of Zeppelin's iconic songs in any of their episodes, there are plenty of references to the band throughout. From the brother's different aliases to references to the band's music (Dean even gives Castiel a mixtape of his favorites), "Supernatural" makes sure that Dean's favorite tunes are at least mentioned. In fact, some of the best episodes of the series were named after Zeppelin songs, including "In My Time of Dying," "Houses of the Holy," "What Is and What Should Never Be," "The Song Remains the Same," "Swan Song," and "Stairway to Heaven."

The show is truly a family business

"The family business" line has been a "Supernatural" staple ever since Dean first uttered the words to Sam in the second episode. It would end up being a more accurate description than either brother (or actor) then realized. Of course, Jared Padalecki met his wife Genevieve (Ruby) on the set of the show during its fourth season. The two eventually married and began a family (parodied in "The French Mistake"). Jensen Ackles' wife Danneel also appeared in five episodes of the show as an angel named Anael. She even shared a flashback scene with Genevieve Padalecki's Ruby in Season 15's "Destiny's Child."

But Ackles and Padalecki's wives weren't the only family members who joined up as the show went on. Jensen Ackles' father, Alan Ackles, secured two roles on the show, and both in episodes directed by his son. He played the Minneapolis Detective Pike in "Heartache" and voiced a newscaster in "Weekend at Bobby's." Ackles' mother, sister, and in-laws all had smaller roles in the series as well. With how often the cast and crew of the show have referred to the series as a family, there's no question that "Supernatural" is a family affair. 

The cast appeared in two YouTube parodies

Some might remember an Internet trend called the "Harlem Shake" that occurred in the early 2010s, and that the "Supernatural" cast and crew did their own "Supernatural Shake," but did you know that there have been multiple YouTube parodies involving the "Supernatural" cast? A YouTube channel called The Hillywood Show, known for its musical parodies of shows and movies like "Sherlock," "Twilight," and "The Lord of the Rings," put together not just one, but two different "Supernatural" parodies (which are by far their most popular videos). The first, set to the tune of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," recreates a bunch of scenes from the series, while the second is also a parody of the original "Ghostbusters" film, just with "Supernatural" cast members and characters standing in.

"Supernatural" cast members Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver (Bobby), Alexander Calvert, Richard Speight, Jr., Rob Benedict, Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills), Craig Armstrong (Metatron), Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer), and Samantha Smith (Mary Winchester), among others, all joined in on the fun. Osric Chau (Kevin Tran) even parodied the role of Sam Winchester. If you haven't seen them, they're well worth your time, and chock-full of paranormal references and inside jokes relating to the show. Plus, the production value of each parody is off-the-charts, with most of the shots looking like something right out of the show itself. 

It originally had a much different ending

After 15 seasons, "Supernatural" officially ended in November 2020 with its series finale "Carry On." Although the show had been wrapped up in the previous episode, the series finale was the boy's final send-off as they officially closed their family business. Many fans were disappointed with the series' final bow, though series creator Eric Kripke (who served as an executive consultant on the series post-Season 5) has said that "it's the best possible ending for the show." It's good to know that the show's architect believed that to be true, though it's still up for debate, with many believing that the Season 5 finale should've actually been the Winchester's goodbye. 

Of course, the original ending for the series was pretty different. Kripke has stated that the Season 5 finale (and his send-off episode) "Swan Song" was about "80%" of what his ideal ending would have been. Apparently, from what he told Entertainment Weekly, the way he would've ended the series would've been a lot darker. "...It was a horror movie and it was going to have a horror movie ending," Kripke said. Given the show's horror roots, what more could we expect from the man who created Sam and Dean Winchester in the first place?