When first discussing the concept for “Supernatural,” series creator Eric Kripke and Wonderland’s McG and Peter Johnson hit upon the notion of making a weekly horror series inspired by movies such as “An American Werewolf in London,” “Evil Dead 2,” “The Grudge” and “The Ring.”
They didn’t want to do an anthology series, so they added central characters Sam and Dean Winchester and set them on an endless road trip.
“We short-handed it as ‘ “Star Wars” in truck-stop America,’ ” explains Kripke. “And now the show’s really developed an identity of its own,” adds McG. “We look into the mythologies of cultures around the world and bring their horror stories to life.”
Due partly to budget and time constraints but mostly creative choice, the “Supernatural” monsters have always resembled real people, so it’s unconventional that Kripke is skeptical about their existence. “When you watch a creature acting scary and then someone calls ‘cut’ and you go to craft services, it kind of detracts from the illusion,” he laughs.
“Supernatural” has reached 100 episodes, which is a long way from being close to cancellation at the end of season two.
“There was a certainty there’d be a season two,” Kripke recalls, “but season three was up in the air.”
According to the creators, a potential misstep made in season two was the addition of a meeting place for “Supernatural” hunters, Harvelle’s Roadhouse.
“It’s very challenging to tell 22 effective relationship stories a year between two characters,” Kripke points out, “so the idea was to have a place where we could see familiar faces. The roadhouse didn’t work because it’s one thing to have two guys drive in and kill a monster and no one sees them do it, but when you have a bar full of ‘Supernatural’ hunters, it stretches believability.”
So they burned down the roadhouse. Then in season three, they added two new recurring characters: Ruby, a seemingly good demon, and Bela, a thief that specialized in “Supernatural” artifacts. But a human villain in the “Supernatural” universe didn’t sit well with the fans, so Bela was sent to hell. Ruby, however, went on to play a pivotal role in the apocalyptic storyline that became most prominent in seasons four and five.
“What co-showrunner Bob Singer and I realized early on was that while the viewers enjoyed the scares, they were tuning in because of how three-dimensional Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were making the Winchester brothers,” says Kripke. “So we focused on what creatures would make the brothers’ inner demons external. And we expanded their mythology into this massive universe of angels and demons and everything in between, where a battle for Armageddon takes place.”
“I think the reason we’ve reached 100 episodes is because the fans are unbelievably supportive,” says Johnson.
“The network is aware of our passionate fan base,” Kripke says, “We’ve been able to thrive because the CW have such a strong focus on their audience, for which I’m very appreciative.”
Almost from the start, Kripke has stated that he had a five-year story arc for the show, and even with a sixth season greenlit, they still chose to wrap up their big battle between the Devil and Archangel Michael at the end of this season.
“This story has taken a natural course,” Singer feels. But how do you top the Apocalypse?
“We’re excited about coming up with something new that will make the audience say, ‘Oh wow, we didn’t see that coming.’?”