Scott D. Pierce: Nobody thought ‘Supernatural’ would run for 15 years. Nobody.
(Photo courtesy of Robert Falconer/The CW) Jared Padalecki as Sam and Jensen Ackles as Dean in the final episode of "Supernatural," titled "Carry On."
If, way back in 2005, you had asked me which of that fall’s 31 new TV series would still be around 15 years later, I would NOT have guessed that it would be “Supernatural.”
To be fair, I wouldn’t have guessed that ANY of them would still be around in 2020. But “Supernatural”? A show about brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), who traveled around the country in a 1967 Chevy Impala killing monsters? No way!
And I’m not the only one. Both Padalecki and Ackles said they “never expected” the show would get on the air, let alone produce 327 episodes.
It’s not that I don’t like the show. I’ve watched it since the beginning. In a review 15 years ago, I wrote that it was a “pleasant surprise … highly entertaining, often quite scary” and that it had “a sense of humor.”
But I wouldn’t have bet a nickel on it lasting this long.
With a bit of a delay because of the pandemic, “Supernatural” is finally coming to an end. There’s an hourlong retrospective on Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW/Ch. 30, followed by the final episode at 9 p.m.)
The show has been around longer than the network it’s on. “Supernatural” is the last survivor of The WB, which went out of business/merged with UPN to form The CW in 2006. Padalecki and Ackles, who were just 23 and 27, respectively, when the show began, are now the “old men” of the network at 38 and 42 — a fact they’ve been reminded of at The CW’s annual upfront presentations to advertisers, when the stars of new shows “come up and say, I’ve grown up watching you,” Ackles said.
“It sucks,” Padalecki said.
“It really sucks,” Ackles added. “Makes you feel old.”
“Supernatural” is ending a decade later than the show’s creator and original executive producer, Eric Kripke, intended. He had a five-year plan, and he left after Season 5, but the show continued on … seemingly indefinitely.
There’s too much plot to recap here. Too many monsters and demons and threats to all of existence. Too many seemingly can’t-top-this showdowns, up to and including a battle with Lucifer himself. And the series is going to end with a final showdown with Chuck/God, who — it turned out — wasn’t the good guy we thought he was.
A lot of characters have died over the years, and a lot of them haven’t remained in the grave. Including Sam and Dean, who have both returned from death multiple times.
“There’s a running joke on the set that this is ‘Supernatural,’ and nothing ever stays dead,” Ackles agreed.
But, according to executive producer Andrew Dabb, Thursday’s finale will be final.
“We’re looking at this as a true ending,” he said. “And in a true ending, people can’t keep coming back over and over again. … This time it’s for real.”
And, while Ackles acknowledges that the finale is “not going to please everyone,” he’s confident that “for the majority of fans … this is certainly going to feel right.”
He’s also unwilling to say that the final episode will be The End.
“It’s a long journey that I don’t think is ever going to be over,” Ackles said. “I think we’re just going to go away for a while.”
“And then 15 more seasons,” Padalecki interjected.
He was joking … I think … but even before “Supernatural” ends, Ackles is holding out the possibility that it could return at some point.
“Look, I’m not ever ready to close doors or burn bridges,” Ackles said. “I think that’s foolish. Am I saying there’s something in the works? No. Am I saying I would be open to having a conversation about this in the future? What is the harm in that?”
Of the 31 shows that premiered in the fall of 2005, 16 didn’t even last a full season. Five more were one and done; two exited after their second seasons.
There were a few familiar titles, and three series (in addition to “Supernatural”) that ran for a long time, including “How I Met Your Mother” and “Bones.” Coincidentally, “Criminal Minds” — which premiered nine days after “Supernatural” — also ran for 15 seasons, albeit for three fewer episodes.
Less than one season • “Commander in Chief,” “Head Cases,” “Hot Properties,” “Inconceivable,” “Just Legal,” “Killer Instinct,” “Kitchen Confidential,” “Night Stalker,” “Out of Practice,” “Related,” “Reunion,” “Sex, Love & Secrets,” “Surface,” “Threshold,” “Three Wishes,” “Twins.”
One season • “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “E-Ring,” “Freddie,” “Invasion,” “Love, Inc.”
Two seasons • “Close to Home,” “The War at Home.”
Four seasons • “Everybody Hates Chris,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Prison Break” (which returned for a nine-episode run eight years later).
Five seasons • “Ghost Whisperer.”
Nine seasons • “How I Met Your Mother.”'
Twelve seasons • “Bones.”
Fifteen seasons • “Criminal Minds,” “Supernatural.”