×

‘Supernatural’ Team Talks Doing ‘Justice’ to Show, Characters and #SPNFamily in Final Season

As “Supernatural” prepares to sign off this year, the men behind the show are trying not to let “the weight of what this season is creep into” their daily work on-set, series star Jensen Ackles said at the farewell panel for the CW demon-hunting drama at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Sunday.

Instead, they want to focus on the work, doing what they have done for 14 seasons, rather than try to “reinvent the wheel,” added Ackles.

“I want it to do justice to what we’ve built for the past 14 and a half years, and right now I think the game plan we have is going to do just that. You’re not going to please everybody — you just can’t — but for the majority of the fans that have been with us on this journey, it’s going to feel right and it’s going to feel good. I know that’s how I feel and I’m still excited to tell that story,” he said.

In the show’s earliest days, “Supernatural’s” future was not so certain. Series star Jared Padalecki admitted that he originally thought the show would simply end when they closed the trunk and said, “We have to work to do” in the pilot. The show had not been picked up to series yet, and the pilot process is “such a bizarre thing,” he said.

The show did get picked up, but in its earlier years it was very much a bubble show, filming (and often airing) a finale without knowing if it would see more life. In the later half of the show’s life, that began to shift, with the CW granting the series early renewals.

“One of the blessings, I feel, has been that we’ve known that we’re carrying on so we don’t have to create a false ending every season,” Padalecki said.

Over the seasons, a couple of spinoff ideas were attempted at the network, as well, but they did not go. Earlier in the CW’s TCA tour Sunday, network president Mark Pedowitz admitted he was not looking at other ways to continue the world without Ackles and Padalecki right now.

“There is something very, very humbling about the fact that this show keeps going. We do see a lot of spinoffs on our networks and other networks and in movies, and it’s humbling to think still want us to be a part of it,” Padalecki said.

Added Ackles: “When you have a show that is so anchored, not in a world but around two characters, it makes it difficult to tell the story without those two characters.”

Going into the final season, showrunner Andrew Dabb said the show will pick up “right where we left off, which is our guys surrounded by a bunch of zombies.” In Chuck (Rob Benedict) returning to Earth all of the beings the Winchester Bros. fought and previously vanquished, there were already pops of previous seasons (such as the Woman in White) seeing new life in the Season 14 finale. Dabb said that will continue in the final season, seeing returns to some past characters the audience would not expect. However, one character that the team does not plan to see back again as of this moment is John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who they said had a “pretty perfect” goodbye with his on-screen sons in the penultimate season.

“I’ve got Lucille, and it’s just battling practice,” Ackles told Variety earlier in the day. “We get to a bit of a shelter that’s not real safe, but it’s safe for a moment until we can figure out what to do.”

The boys and Castiel (Misha Collins) are stuck in this temporary shelter, and although “it’s a triage situation first,” Padalecki told Variety to first stay alive, “there are undercurrents of anger, of tension, resentment [that] we’ll get to when we get to.”

Added Collins: “At the outset of the season [Castiel] is working with the boys but also not feeling emotionally integrated, if that makes sense. We have a fight to fight here, but I think there’s a detachment there, too. And that’s hard, and that plays out later in the season.”

The reason for this, he continued, is that “This is an instance in which Jack’s death is so hard on him, but he’s also dealing with Dean being mad at him about Mary’s death, and I think that Cas doesn’t really feel responsible for that: I think he feels he did his best — he was trying — so it’s a rare instance of him not taking the full burden of something.”

Those pieces of the story come in the second episode, although all three men (Ackles, Padalecki and Collins) admitted they hadn’t thought about how much animosity might have been caused by the fact that Chuck aka God answered Castiel’s prayer in the Season 14 finale, after he had failed to answer the brothers’ prayers for so many years.

“I don’t think they’re there yet, to complain about that,” Padalecki said. “I think Sam and Dean, certainly Sam, is more like, ‘Have we been hamsters on a wheel the whole time? Rats in a maze? What have we done?’ I think we then start dealing with questions of, ‘What is free will? Is it all predetermined? Why try hard if it’s all going to turn out the way Chuck decided it’s going to turn out?'”

Added Ackles: “Basically, is everything we’ve done our whole lives now erased — eradicated — because these things are back? All of that work is essentially gone.” This will lead the brothers — and the show — to “tackle” why one should keep fighting if nothing they do matters, to which, Ackles said the ultimate answer is, “This is what they do. Any excuse to give up is not an excuse good enough for them. This is who they are.”

Although Dean and Sam would be willing to spend “years and years and years” fighting all of these things again, as Ackles put it, maybe the bigger question is how to handle Chuck. After all, if they can get rid of the big bad that brought back all of these foes, wouldn’t that ensure the little bads stop coming?

“The season hasn’t been written yet,” Padlecki admitted, “but I feel like we’re after Chuck. We’re trying to get answers. We’re trying to earn our free will, so to speak. So I feel like what’s been really important to Sam and Dean for many, many years was, ‘Hey, we’re making decisions to make the world a better place — to help the people who can’t help themselves.’ And now we’ve been told, ‘You’re just a story I like to watch,’ and now we’re trying to fight for the privilege and responsibility of actually having free will.”

Executive producer Robert Singer noted that in previous seasons, they would always end on a cliffhanger, but in developing the final season, “it’s a different experience.”

“It’s a true ending,” Dabb added. And “in a true ending, people can’t keep coming back over and over again. They’re going to be facing life or death — this time it’s for real.”

Collins was one actor who admitted that he didn’t feel his character needed to survive the series. “It’s funny, but from the very beginning I’ve always imagined that Cas would die right before the end, because I feel like the show somehow needs to end with Sam and Dean alone,” he told Variety. “But I don’t see a lot of people living at the end of ‘Supernatural’ because I think it needs a kind of closure that only definitive death can bring. That’s very morose, but true. I don’t think we want a ‘Game of Thrones’ ending on ‘Supernatural.'”

One thing Collins did say he wanted before the series ended, though, was to see Castiel truly express his loyalty to the Winchesters. “I would love to see him just be able to say, ‘You’re my people. You’re who I care about that.’ I’d love to see him make a sacrifice,” he shared.

The reason they wanted to go out now, Padalecki shared because they didn’t want to be “the last guy at the party.

“This show is going so strong. It’s going so well right now,” he explained. “We’re such a well-oiled machine, we thought it would be almost poetic and indicative of what ‘Supernatural’ is about to say goodbye too soon.”

However, while “Supernatural” as a long-running drama will definitely end in 2020 after the 20-episode 15th season, Ackles said he felt the culture the show has created and the experience of the show is “a long journey that I don’t think is ever going to be over. I just think we’re going to go away for awhile.”

Does this mean the “Supernatural” cast and crew would be open to a limited series revival in a few years or some kind of movie?

“I’m never ever ready to close doors or burn bridges, I think that’s foolish. Am I saying there’s conversations? No. Am I saying I’d be open to conversations in the future? What’s the harm in that?” Ackles said.

The final season of “Supernatural” premieres Oct. 10 on the CW.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content