As the pilot episode of “Supernatural” begins, all is well in the life of Sam Winchester. On the surface, he has a perfectly normal life as a university student with a bright future ahead. That is, until his brother Dean pays him a visit.
“Dad’s on a hunting trip, and he hasn’t been home in a few days,” Dean tells Sam. An ominous silence punctuates the scene. Viewers can infer that this is not a normal show. You see, Sam and Dean Winchester do not inhabit a normal world. No, instead they live in a completely different reality.
While Sam hesitates to help Dean look for their father, he returns home to find his girlfriend, Jess, hanging from their ceiling engulfed in flames, clearly killed by some otherworldly force. Now motivated, Sam meets Dean by his brother’s beloved Impala, loads up the trunk with weapons and armory and says, “We’ve got work to do.”
Like the name suggests, “Supernatural” deals with brothers Sam and Dean as they hunt monsters, demons and everything else that fills people’s nightmares. Along with numerous allies, the brothers, portrayed by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, also take on some of the supernatural world’s biggest mythological characters.
“Supernatural” premiered all the way back in 2005 and just wrapped up its historic 15th and final season, which saw the Winchesters wage war against the creator himself, God, in one final mission to save Earth. The final episode, titled “Carry On,” sees the brothers reflect on and look toward a more hopeful future as their 15-year-long journey finally comes to an end.
Eric Kripke, the show’s creator, initially envisioned a five-season storyline for the series. Most fans agree that those first five seasons of the show are the best, as the Winchesters go from hunting down the demon that killed Jess and their mother to getting tangled up in a war between heaven and hell, ultimately leading to a final confrontation with Lucifer.
Those first five seasons were a struggle to produce, however, as the series wavered between cancellation and renewal numerous times. The 2007 writers’ strike led to the cancellation of many TV series, but “Supernatural” miraculously survived with only a shortened third season. The series was immensely popular and had a loyal fanbase, which motivated The CW Network to renew “Supernatural” for additional seasons.
While Kripke left after Season 5, the brothers’ story continued. Whether or not the show should have ended at Season 5 has always been up for debate, as reviews for Season 6 and Season 7 ranged from mixed to negative. Many felt that the series was repeating storylines and wandering around in circles. It was clear the show needed a new direction as it tried to redefine its identity after Kripke’s exit.
Fortunately, Season 8 showrunner, Jeremy Carver, breathed new life into the series. With Carver at the helm, new and refreshing storylines emerged. The next few seasons really delved into the mythos of the Winchesters’ world.
The amazing thing about “Supernatural” is that it takes place in a universe where all religions and mythologies are real, so there are always unique threats that the Winchesters can take on. This has helped with the show’s longevity, as there were always more stories the writers could come up with.
Some of the new threats that emerged gave viewers the chance to be excited again, such as the civil war between the angels, the Mark of Cain and the introduction of God’s sister, Amara, also known as the Darkness.
The show got back on track, but many viewers started to question the inevitable: When would the show end, and how?
Season 11’s storyline could have been a stopping point due to the escalating “end of the world”-esque plot that was reminiscent of Season 5, but yet again, the show got renewed. At this point, fans were worried that the Winchesters would go through another few years of endless fighting and character regression.
While the most recent seasons did establish some strange elements, like parallel universes, there were some positives. The introduction of the character Jack, portrayed by Alexander Calvert, as the half-human half-angel son of Lucifer, once again added another loveable addition to the “Supernatural” family. Plus, the decision to have the show’s final villain be God himself was expertly done, bringing about a real finality to the last season.
But at the heart of the show is the beautiful messages surrounding family and love. The Winchesters had their ups and downs, especially after taking on these cosmic entities, but it is their bond and how it affected other characters that kept fans coming back year after year. Take the angel Castiel, played by fan-favorite Misha Collins. The once obedient servant of God grew to learn the value of human life and joined the Winchesters on their long quest to rid the world of these supernatural forces and fight for free will.
Even though their world is filled with fantastical elements, it isn’t too different from ours. Often we look at the news or current events and think that we’ve been transported to some uncanny alternate universe where nothing makes sense anymore. But like the Winchesters, as long as we hold on tight to those around us, we’ll not only survive this world, but also make it better.
Now as we say goodbye to the world of “Supernatural,” the show asks viewers to “carry on,” fearless and ready to jump, while maybe keeping an extra bit of holy water around, just in case any demons come our way.