Eric Kripke says Supernatural ending is 'the right one': Fans 'would’ve hated my ending!'
Well, Supernatural family, we finally know how Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean's (Jensen Ackles) story ends. In the show's final hour its th episode in total Dean Winchester died. And so did Sam. Let's back up: When a standard vampire hunt went wrong, Dean was impaled on a nail. As a result, he died in his brother's arms. Sam then went on to live a full life with a wife and a son named Dean before he eventually died of old age. Sam and Dean were then reunited in the new heaven, where Jack (Alexander Calvert) made some necessary improvements: No more walls, and you don't have to live solely in memories. The final shot of the series saw the brothers, together, happy.
So what did show creator Eric Kripke think of the ending? First, let's remember where Kripke's story ended. "In my last episode, 'Swan Song,' I probably, in hindsight foolishly, spent maybe like 80 percent of how I wanted that show to end. I didn't know it was going to go 15 years. I probably wouldn't have done that again had I had another chance but I thought maybe there was another year or two! Outside of a few little scenes and a few more moments, that was the meat of where I thought this show should end, which is Sam versus Dean and then ultimately good versus evil but brotherhood wins and sacrifices are made."
When the show didn't end in another year or two, Kripke says, "From that point forward, it's inevitable that over many years, the show is going to spend every idea I had in terms of where it could go or end. By the time they reach this ending, it's not like I had some preconceived notion of how it should end. I was completely open-minded to what the gang was cooking up."
So how did he feel about the final pitch? "I had a long talk with Jensen [Ackles] about it and I had a long talk with [co-showrunners] Andrew [Dabb] and Bob [Singer] about it and I think it's the best possible ending for the show. It was interesting, they pitched it to me and I went off to think about it for a couple days, and admittedly, me being me, I spent some time thinking, 'Okay, is there any other ending I would pitch back that I think is better?' And I spent a couple days trying to chase down a couple avenues and couldn't come up with anything better. So I went back and I was like, 'Guys I think it's the right one.' There's some substance to it but there's something emotional, I think there's a positive energy around it."
"I will say this," continues Kripke. "There's only one scene that I haven't done that I would've done for the end of the show and I'm certainly not going to give it away, maybe one day I will. But I can assure the fans that my ending was so much darker than the ending they're going with, so anyone who's like, 'Kripke should've ended it,' I'm like, 'You would've hated my ending!' Because it was a horror movie and it was going to have a horror movie ending, so I can promise you the ending [they went with] you'll love much more than if you had let me end the show."
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.
Supernatural (season 15)
Season of television series
Season of television series
The fifteenth and final season of Supernatural, an American dark fantasy television series created by Eric Kripke, premiered on The CW on October 10,  The series was initially set to conclude in May , but a hiatus occurred after the March 23, episode owing to production delays caused by the COVID pandemic in the United States. The season resumed airing on October 8, , and the series finale aired on November 19,  The season consisted of 20 episodes and aired on Thursdays at pm (ET), with the exception of two March episodes aired Mondays at pm. This was the fourth season with Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer as showrunners.
Special guest stars
See also: List of Supernatural episodes
On January 31, , The CW renewed the series for a fifteenth season. On March 22, series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins announced that the episode fifteenth season of Supernatural would also be its last, making it the longest-running series on The CW. Ackles, who last directed the episode "The Bad Seed" from the eleventh season, directed the first episode filmed for the season, which aired chronologically as the fourth episode. Other cast members directing episodes for the season include returning director Richard Speight Jr. and young John Winchester actor Matt Cohen. Jake Abel reprises his role as the Winchesters' long-lost half-brother Adam Milligan, who last appeared in the fifth-season finale.
The series finale was originally set to air on May 18, ; however, in March , Warner Bros. Television shut down production on the series due to the COVID pandemic. Later in March, showrunner Andrew Dabb revealed that the season would go on hiatus after the March 23 episode. Dabb clarified that the series had completed production on 18 of the 20 episodes for the season, but the post-production process could not be completed on the episodes because of the shutdown due to the virus outbreak. Dabb also assured that the series' cast and crew, The CW, and Warner Bros. were fully committed to filming and airing the unproduced episodes with its proper finale. In August , The CW announced that the season would resume airing on October 8, , and series finale aired on November 19, which was preceded by a special titled The Long Road Home. Filming resumed on August 18, and concluded on September 10, 
Based on 9 reviews, the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a % approval rating for Supernatural's fifteenth season with an average rating of /
- ^Calvert is only credited for his respective episode appearances.
- ^Collins is only credited for his respective episode appearances.
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The Real Reason Supernatural Is Ending After Season 15
By Jennifer Arbues/July 31, pm EDT/Updated: Oct. 15, am EDT
The year will mark the end of a television era, as the CW's Supernatural wraps its 15th and final season. The show, which premiered in (before the CW ever existed and the WB Network was still a thing), holds the title as the longest-running sci-fi/genre series in the history of American television. And it's easy to see why. For years, Supernatural's success has hinged on its stars, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. According to CW president Mark Pedowitz (via The Hollywood Reporter), "They have created something of these two brothers [Dean and Sam Winchester], we've had these discussions that actually transcends anything."
It's also one of the network's best performing series to date, bringing in more viewers in the demographic than more than half of the CW's entire lineup. So why cancel it now? If Supernatural remains such a hit with both fans and studio execs, what reason is there to pull the plug? Here's everything that's led to the CW's decision to finally put Supernatural out to TV pasture.
It was only supposed to last five seasons
If you've watched Supernatural from the beginning, there's a clear-cut point in the series that feels like an actual finale, and that's because it really is one. Season five ended with the defeat of Mark Pellegrino's Lucifer and the prevention of the actual apocalypse. According to Syfy Wire, series creator Eric Kripke had always been adamant about ending Supernatural after five years, and its stars were keenly aware of that fact.
During an interview with TVLine prior to the show's tenth season, Misha Collins, who plays angel-turned-sidekick Castiel, said, "I'm stunned that the show is going as long as it is, not because I ever thought that it should be cancelled or wouldn't survive, but I joined in season four and I thought 'Well, this is probably somewhere near the end of the show.'" Collins then added, "Originally, five was going to be the end of it."
Season five was an ending of sorts, at least for Kripke. Following the finale, the showrunner stepped down from his position and took on an advisory role. When Supernatural returned for a sixth season, he told Entertainment Weekly it was a show in which reinvention was "hardwired" into its DNA.
It's told every supernatural story out there
Over the course of the last 14 seasons, Supernatural has tackled pretty much every well supernatural story out there. With the show pulling from various cultures' urban legends and lore, the Winchesters have come up against everything from vampires to apocalyptic horsemen to the wendigo. During a interview with Entertainment Weekly, the series' showrunners explained that they try their hardest not to revisit old stories. According to executive producer Robert Singer, "Obviously we give nods to our past mythology, but we really want to be cognizant that we're not telling the same story over and over again."
Of course, sometimes they're less successful than they'd hope to be, especially when it comes to monster-building from scratch. "When we stub our toe sometimes is when we're trying to create new monsters with new sets of rules," Singer said. "I find that those episodes are not the best." And while the world of mythology is vast, at some point, it reaches an end. Which isn't to say that Supernatural has completely run out of ideas, but it's certainly getting close.
It's a chance to bring back old favorites
As Supernatural's seasons have come and gone, so too have some of its most beloved characters. But we've also seen several of them return to the show, at least temporarily. A time-traveling version of John Winchester was resurrected briefly for season 14, and Mary Winchester became a series regular after having died during the show's pilot. Ending Supernatural once and for all, however, gives showrunners the opportunity to really do whatever they want.
Following the show's season 15 renewal announcement, Jensen Ackles told TV Guide, "The fact that [Chuck's] opened the gates to heaven and hell and said, 'You guys figure it out,' really puts us in a position to go anywhere and to have anybody come back. I'm hoping we take full advantage of that, and I have a feeling that we might." In fact, at least one former actor has been confirmed to return for the final season. During the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel, co-showrunner Andrew Dabb revealed that Jake Abel, who was last seen at the end of season five, will reprise his role as the Winchesters' half-brother, Adam.
Ending in season 15 allows for a better wrap-up
While some might argue that Supernaturalreached its peak long ago, the show's numbers say otherwise. And if it were up to the network, the series would go on forever. CW president Mark Pedowitz said in January (via The Hollywood Reporter), "As long as the ratings hold up and the guys want to do it, we're in." But running a fan-favorite series into the ground isn't exactly the best option out there, which is why it's probably a good idea for Supernatural to go out on top.
In the season 14 digital feature, "The Winchester Mythology: The Choices We Make," Jensen Ackles said of the final season (via Entertainment Weekly), "The world has just opened up, essentially, and all of those things that we have spent so many years fighting, they're going to come knocking now." He then added, "In my opinion, they're teeing up what could possibly be the best season of the show." For its stars, that could possibly mean the literal end of their characters. Misha Collins told TV Guide, "I hate to say this, but I kind of hope that the main characters on the show die at the end. I feel like we need that finality."
They didn't want to fizzle out
For everyone involved with Supernatural, going out while they still had a really good story to tell was their biggest priority (on top of making it to the show's th episode, which happened halfway into season 14). Jared Padalecki told Entertainment Weekly in that he and Jensen Ackles would both "be truly bummed" if they weren't able to reach that milestone.
After news came that Supernatural would finally see its end after 15 seasons, Padalecki and Ackles spoke to the crowd at VegasCon in and gave some background on their reasoning for ending the show. According to Ackles, "It wasn't an easy decision. It was months and months, if not years of discussion. Nobody wanted to see this show fizzle out. It was everyone wanting to do the biggest service to the show that we could by going out strong." Supernatural has always been a series that approaches its future one story at a time. When Eric Kripke stepped down as showrunner in , he told Entertainment Weekly that the end of the series would come down to its ability to keep telling new stories.
Supernatural's spin-off attempts were a bust
In an attempt to piggyback off the success of Supernatural, the CW has tried — and failed — to launch a spin-off series, twice. In , there was Supernatural: Bloodlines, a "mafia-esque" drama about the monster families that rule over the Chicago crime circuit. Then again in , series execs made an attempt with Wayward Sisters, which shifted the focus to Sheriff Jody Mills and a group of young female hunters. Both series were given backdoor pilots, but neither one got the green light for a full season.
At the San Diego Comic-Con, Supernatural's executive producer, Brad Buckner, said (via CinemaBlend), "So this show is really an anomaly for the beauty of its machinery and the chemistry. So every time you pitch a Supernatural spin-off, or you shoot one, it's very difficult to rise to that level." Buckner went on to say that the show's ultimate success was with its stars, saying it "struck gold" with the cast, and trying to recreate that was too much of a challenge.
Finding reasons to continue was becoming a challenge
It isn't difficult to imagine how 15 seasons on the same set could become monotonous for its stars. While Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have both provided input on their characters to Supernatural's production team over the years, neither of them has ever felt the desire to produce themselves. That leaves them in the position of just being actors (although Ackles has stepped up to direct an episode or two), something that can start to feel stagnant when it's the same role for over a decade.
Speaking with Variety in , Ackles discussed his and Padalecki's creative influence on the show and their collaboration with the showrunners, saying, "It works. And I think that's something where they're like, let's not reinvent the wheel. Whatever we're doing is working. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it." By the end of season 14, however, finding reasons to remain engaged with their characters was becoming a challenge. For Ackles, the ability to play a different character for a bit (he took on the role of the archangel Michael for season 14) renewed his love of coming to set everyday, but unfortunately, that role was only temporary.
Mixed feelings about the show
When a show has been on as long as Supernatural has, it becomes easier to find fault with some aspect of its storytelling. That's exactly what happened for Mark Sheppard, who played the "King of Hell," Crowley, for seven seasons. At a appearance at Fan Expo Canada, the actor spoke about his feelings regarding the direction his character had gone over the course of his final few seasons. "They actually forgot they wrote me into the final scene of season ten," he explained. "They had no idea because there's no dialogue for me at all. For a few seasons, I think I was just treading water to see what they were gonna do."
It wasn't just his character that Sheppard took issue with. The entire series has been up and down, as far as he was concerned. "Seven was the worst season ever made," he said. "Eight was amazing. Nine was fascinating. Ten was good. Eleven started good, got weird. Twelve was just whatever it was. Thirteen was a reboot."
The Supernatural stars have other endeavors
As if working full time on a TV set weren't enough, Supernatural's stars have their own personal projects to look after. For Jensen Ackles, that means running a family brewery in his home state of Texas. Family Business Brewing Co. sits on 15 acres in Dripping Springs, and it's owned and operated by Ackles, his wife Danneel, and her brother Gino. Ackles told Forbes in that it started out as a passion project after the family decided to move to Austin. "We went down to Austin to check out the craft brewing scene," he said, "and it was the right location for starting something since the market was really starting to take off." They keep up to 12 different styles of beer on tap, and they're looking to build a restaurant and overnight accommodations soon.
While Ackles works on beer, Misha Collins focuses his time and energy into charitable work. In , the actor took to Twitter and asked his followers for help in coming up with non-profit initiatives. As a result, Random Acts was born, an organization that works in a multitude of ways, from serving the homeless to building schools.
There was behind-the-scenes drama leading up to season 15
It would be strange to have a series go on for as long as Supernatural has without it experiencing any sort of backstage drama. And while the show's core group of actors have been outspoken with the press about their love for one another (as Jensen Ackles once told E! News about his friendship with co-star Jared Padalecki, "I know a lot of marriages that haven't lasted that long"), others have dealt with a different sort of publicity over the years.
For example, Mark Pellegrino has come under fire for his controversial approach to Twitter. In , the actor spoke with Movie TV Tech Geeks and explained that a list of "incriminating" tweets had been pulled without context from the 50, or so that he'd accumulated. "Sans context these folks attached their own meanings to them and began to spin a narrative of their own about my beliefs," he said.
But Pellegrino isn't the only one with bad blood. Since , series creator Eric Kripke has been battling against Warner Bros. over unpaid profits. While the studio contends that Supernatural has actually created a $23 million deficit over its first eight seasons, Kripke believes otherwise and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is heading into arbitration to prove it.
Everyone felt the end was coming
At the VegasCon, Supernatural stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki told the audience that after lengthy discussions with the show's writers and producers, everyone agreed that it was time to let the series go. "It just seemed like the writing was kind of on the wall as to when that was happening," Ackles said. "I think everybody felt that it was coming soon," adding that they figured someone had made a crossroads deal, because all the signs had pointed to the show ending at season
But although the stars acknowledged that the end was upon them, they were positive about the entire experience. "Let's paint that finish line and hold our heads high," Ackles explained. "Because what we've accomplished is unlike any other." And that's true. On Rotten Tomatoes, Supernatural remains a top scoring TV show, with an overall 88 percent approval rating, as well as having some of its highest scored seasons occur at the end of its run.
Supernatural's stars need a break
For at least one star of Supernatural, the break from filming is long overdue. Jared Padalecki has been outspoken for several years regarding his own struggles with depression, as well as his involvement with the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms. In , the actor told Variety, "I, in the past, have had my own struggles of not [being] so happy with where I am in life," saying that he'd suffered a breakdown during the middle of shooting a season three episode.
In , Padalecki told the audience at MEGACON Orlando that although he'd always known he wanted to be an actor, he no longer had the drive to do so. "All joking aside, I cannot wait to stop acting," he said, explaining that he was excited to put this particular chapter of his life "at least on hold for a while." Jensen Ackles cleared things up slightly, telling Padalecki (and the audience) that, "As an actor, you never have to retire. You just don't take jobs anymore."
It's time to go
Ultimately, ending Supernatural came down to having everyone involved agree that it was just time to do so. When it was announced that the series had been renewed for its 15th season, Jensen Ackles posted a video to his Instagram account in which he and co-stars Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins revealed that it would be their final run. Ackles called the show "an institution," saying that it had changed his and his co-stars' lives. "Though we're excited about next year," he said, "It will be the finale."
Of course, when it comes to the world of television (and of Supernatural in particular), nothing stays dead forever. And Ackles' caption has led some fans to speculate about whether or not this is truly the last time we'll be seeing the Winchesters. "One more round for the Winchester brothers," he wrote. "Though nothing ever really ends in Supernatural does it?"
Supernatural spoilers - including the final episode - follow.
After 15 long years of fighting everything from hillbilly cannibals to God, Sam and Dean Winchester finally hung up their plaid in the highly anticipated Supernatural finale.
When a show that long-lived comes to an end, you can't expect to produce an ending that will please everyone. But it seems that when showrunner Andrew Dabb joked that only 30% of viewers would be happy with the ending, he might have been right.
The finale ended with Dean (Jensen Ackles) dying during a low-stakes vampire fight, leaving Sam (Jared Padalecki) to grow old with a son and an out-of-focus wife, until they were reunited in Heaven.
The two brothers ending up in Heaven – along with Bobby (Jim Beaver) – isn't the part of the finale that fans have taken offence to. Rather, they're furious with the way the show, after making great steps towards being more inclusive and progressive, jettisoned its supporting cast at the last moment, including all the women, the people of colour, and, perhaps most egregiously, the show's deaf female love interest Eileen (Shoshannah Stern) and queer angel Castiel (Misha Collins).
Supernatural started in as a stereotypically 'manly' show. The boys wore a lot of flannel, carried a lot of guns, banged a lot of chicks and drove the sexiest car on TV. Early seasons of the show featured homophobic slurs, very few people of colour and female characters who were either mothers or whores, and who usually died pretty quickly.
But 15 years is a long time, and as the show developed its "family don't end in blood" mission statement, new characters began to stick around, starting with immediate fan-favourite Castiel in season four.
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It was a rocky path for the show, and they made mistakes. They drew justifiable flak for killing off plucky lesbian hacker Charlie (Felicia Day) and lovable prophet Kevin (Osric Chau), both popular characters and both representing minorities. The producers seemed to take the criticism on board and the show steadily built up a roster of excellent female characters, as well as introducing more LGBTQ+ characters. The show also started adding in more and more indications that Dean's relationship with best friend Castiel might not be platonic after all. That, however, was mostly viewed as queerbaiting – something else the show has definitely been guilty of.
Going into the final few episodes of season 15, there was a real sense that the show was poised to fix the mistakes of its past and morph into something that better reflected its own fanbase, and the world it was being made in.
The villain of the season was God himself, or 'Chuck' (Rob Benedict), the author of all of the Winchesters' misfortunes, allowing the writers to directly criticise some of the show's previous failings.
Sam's final love interest being a deaf woman was revolutionary for American network TV, but all eyes were on 'Destiel'. Season 15 was littered with painful break-up scenes and tearful prayers of apology, all while Castiel's feelings, at least, were increasingly plain to see.
Come episode 18, Castiel declared his love in a self-sacrificial gesture to save Dean, before immediately being dragged to the much-mocked super mega hell in an especially blatant example of the 'bury your gays' trope. But that wasn’t the only episode 18 death – they also killed Eileen, alternate-universe Charlie and her new (Black) girlfriend. (And the rest of the planet, but those characters all died explicitly.)
With two episodes to go, fans expected a mass-resurrection, which in some ways is what they got. Jack, the new God (Alexander Calvert), restored the world. But many character fates were left hanging in the balance: Did Charlie return to her original dimension, or is she still in Sam and Dean's, with her girlfriend?
What about Eileen, who had earlier been unlawfully resurrected – did she end up back in Hell? What about Kevin, who was last seen wandering the Earth as an untethered spirit, doomed to go insane? And where the heck was Cas?
The finale answered none of those questions, nor did we get to see any of Sam and Dean's found family, apart from Bobby. Hunter Donna (Briana Buckmaster) was mentioned, and Bobby told Dean that Jack saved Castiel from The Empty. But we didn't see Castiel or Jack, nor do we get to see Dean's response to Castiel's declaration of love.
Dean didn't give Cas an outright no, and in the world of Supernatural that amount of sexual ambiguity is apparently enough to get you impaled on some rebar and unceremoniously buried (or burned, in this case).
The producers were happy to use Castiel's "homosexual declaration of love" (as Collins called it) to generate buzz and boost viewing figures going into the finale, but refused to actually address it in a meaningful way. We're back to queerbaiting at the eleventh hour.
We also don't get an answer on whether or not Sam ended up with Eileen. His blurry background wife could have been Eileen, but Shoshannah Stern wasn't in the episode, so we can't be sure. And anyway, who cares whether Sam's wife is an actual character or not? All that really matters, apparently, is that she gave him a son that he could name after his dead brother. We're back to that old mother/whore dichotomy of Supernatural's early days.
Over the course of 15 years, Supernatural had evolved for the better. The main characters and their supporting cast were richer, and more diverse (although the show never did fix its race problem). But after years of telling us how important found family is, the show doubled-down on the blood bond between the brothers, to the exclusion of all else – from the impressive female ensemble, to the show's third lead character.
Supernatural had the chance to end on a note of celebration, knowing that the ultimate villain of God was defeated. They had the chance to put out a message that the choice to be whoever you are, and surround yourself with the family you choose, and find power in that, was a beautiful thing.
Instead, it reverted back to the early, outdated era of the show, and left us with two unfulfilled and co-dependent brothers.
But, hey, at least they got a dog at the end, right?
Supernatural aired on The CW in the US. In the UK, the show airs on 4Music.
Supernatural: The Complete Series [Seasons , DVD]
Supernatural: Season 15 [DVD]
Supernatural: Dean Pop! Vinyl Figure
Supernatural: Sam Pop! Vinyl Figure
Supernatural: The Official Cookbook by Julie Tremaine
Supernatural: Children of Anubis by Tim Waggoner
Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro
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Why So Many Supernatural Fans Hated The Series Finale
Supernatural recently aired its final ever episode, but fan reaction to the long-awaited ending is fairly negative. Here are the biggest criticisms.
Why has online reaction to the Supernaturalseries finale been predominantly negative so far? Launching in , Supernatural told the story of two sibling monster hunters, Sam and Dean Winchester, who began hunting vampires, werewolves and wendigos, and worked their way up to Lucifer, the archangel Michael, and God himself. Thanks to the chemistry between Supernatural's leading duo, Eric Kripke's epic tale of family and fantasy lasted longer than anybody thought possible, and the Winchesters' journey ultimately spanned a full 15 seasons. Audiences watched Sam and Dean grow from fresh-faced boys to fully-grown men, and Supernatural's fandom became one of the most loyal and passionate in TV.
Unfortunately, Supernatural is feeling the wrong end of that passion following the long-awaited finale episode. In an emotional announcement video, Supernatural season 15 was confirmed to be the Winchesters' final run, and the premiere kicked off proceedings in grand fashion. Sam and Dean were faced with a host of old villains after Chuck opened the gates of hell, and once the satanic orifice was finally closed shut, a cataclysmic battle against the Almighty awaited. Supernatural season 15 was interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but returned in October for a concluding string of episodes.
Related: Supernatural's Future Explained: Spinoffs, Revival, What's Next?
The build to Supernatural's finale had already proved controversial due to the death of a major character and a surprisingly simple battle against Chuck. The closing episode itself, titled "Carry On," would continue walking that divisive path. Generally speaking, fan response to Supernatural's ending has been a mixture of bitter disappointment and lukewarm indifference. There are certainly positives to be found (mostly within the performances of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, predictably), but the criticism of "Carry On" is louder than the acclaim. Here are the biggest points of contention among fans.
A Lackluster Plot
Supernatural boldly chose to forego the usual TV finale format - virtually every plot thread was already tied off in the penultimate episode, leaving one final hour to focus entirely on Sam and Dean Winchester. In theory, this made sense. The brothers were the beating heart of Supernatural, and ending the show with a Winchester-centric episode could have been an appropriate way to bid farewell after 15 years. In reality, however, "Carry On" has been described an anti-climactic finish that didn't come close to matching the hype. Supernatural's finale is predominantly a "monster of the week" story, with a modestly-sized nest of vampires embarking on a killing spree, and the Winchesters picking up the case. Supernatural has become steadily more mythological over the years, and fans expected the finale to be suitably epic. Instead, "Carry On" goes back to Supernatural's season 1 roots, and while some might appreciate this return to simpler times, many viewers were left underwhelmed by the Winchesters' smaller scale, low stakes final hunt.
Fans are also citing the lack of character comebacks in Supernatural's finale as a flaw. With the exception of Jim Beaver's Bobby and a vampire from season 1, "Carry On" is light on familiar faces. Castiel, Jack and Eileen are all conspicuous by their absence, and in a show famous for treating cast members like family, viewers expected more star power for Supernatural's ending. Naturally, COVID would've played a part in this. It's not clear how heavily the Supernatural finale was rewritten to account for the pandemic, but filming restrictions might've prevented the likes of Misha Collins and Alexander Calvert from making more appearances. Would Supernatural's conclusion have enjoyed a better reception if the show had waited until the finale could be filmed as originally intended?
Death Winchester's Death
Undoubtedly the biggest moment in "Carry On" is the death of Dean Winchester, but many fans aren't happy with how the moment played out. Since vanquishing the Woman in White in Supernatural's very first episode, Sam and Dean have developed a legendary reputation among their various enemies, both celestial and monstrous. The brothers have survived primordial entities, biblical warriors, and mythological demons, defeating each on their road to infamy and earning their place at the top of Hell's (and Heaven's) most wanted list. And yet, the one obstacle Dean Winchester couldn't overcome proved to be a rusty spike in a barn, and even the villain who impaled Jensen Ackles was a no-name baddie. As with the episode's plot, "underwhelming" appears to be the overriding sentiment online with regards to Dean's death.
Related: How Supernatural Stopped Caring About Demons (And They Changed For The Worse)
Memes were quick to call out Dean's less-than glorious exit, poking fun at the relatively mundane manner in which the eldest Winchester bowed out. Always the warrior of the two, it's arguably fitting that Dean Winchester die on a mission, rather than as an old man warm in his bed. However, many viewers are arguing that Dean deserved a more dramatic send-off. After 15 years of fighting the good fight, Dean could've at least died saving the Earth, or taking down a major villain befitting of his storied reputation. Instead, Dean's last mission was a hunt he might've completed one-armed, drunk and blindfolded in previous seasons.
Representation of homosexuality has been a problem in Supernatural's final trio of episodes, with plenty of Twitter users complaining about the show's handling of gay characters. The issue first became apparent in "Despair" when Castiel declared his love for Dean shortly before being killed by the Empty. Viewers half-joked, half-bemoaned that as soon as Castiel came out, he died, and this is a common occurrence in film and TV. Known as the "Bury Your Gays" trope, it's often said that TV shows are more liable to write-off homosexual characters than their hetero counterparts, and some Supernatural fans saw Castiel's demise as a disappointing continuation of this very trend. Dean never addresses Castiel's feelings towards him, and was promptly killed off several episodes later in the finale, adding fuel to the stereotype fire.
While it's impossible to say for sure whether the deaths of Dean and Castiel were at all connected to the angel's heartfelt parting speech, it's easy to see why Supernatural fans were left unimpressed by the level of representation on display. A romantic connection between Dean and Castiel is something that has largely played out in the pages of fan fiction rather than the episodes of Supernatural itself, but Misha Collins (Castiel's actor) confirmed his character's final scene was intended as a romantic admission. Whatever motivations Supernatural might've had in killing the duo, a gay relationship was introduced between two main characters, and nothing of substance materialized before both characters bit the dust.
Words Left Unsaid
Just as many viewers seem to feel that Supernatural's finale deserved a grander plot, the episode also left a disappointing amount of details to the imagination. The broad strokes are covered - the deaths of both Winchester brothers, the fate of the world, Heaven getting a makeover, etc. But after 15 years on screen, Supernatural had more bases to cover. One of the most glaring omissions regards the legacy of the Winchester brothers. During their lifetime, the Winchesters inspired countless other hunters and earned the respect of the entire monster-killing community. While the audience are introduced to Sam's son (his "legacy" of sorts), Dean's death passes by without fanfare. Given their deeds over the past 15 seasons, Sam and Dean Winchester should've left a lasting impression upon the Supernatural world, and the finale offered a perfect opportunity to take stock of their impact. Alas, "Carry On" had fans asking "what was it all for?" as Dean died like any other hunter, and Sam's adult life was rapidly glossed over in a montage sequence.
Related: Supernatural Retcons Amara & God's Origin Story
Very few finale episodes manage to cover every unresolved question (just ask Lost), but Supernatural omits some of the basics. What happens to the Bunker, for example? Supernatural could have included an emotional scene where the keys to the Bunker fall to a new generation of hunters in a passing-of-the-torch moment, reassuring viewers that the Earth will be looked after in Sam and Dean's absence. Moreover, there's no confirmation that the mother of Sam's child is Eileen, where even a framed photo on the mantle would've sufficed. And, as referenced above, what happens when Dean and Castiel reunite in the afterlife? Do angel and human come together in a loving embrace, or does Dean awkwardly have to explain that he sees Cass more as a brother?
Sam Winchester's Aging
The most unintentionally hilarious moment in Supernatural's ending is the montage taking Sam Winchester from the present day to his death bed. The first two clips pass without incident, with a pre-school Dean Jr. playing catch with his Dad on the front lawn. Eyebrows begin to raise when Sam is busy helping his teenage son with homework and not looking a day older than when the episode began. And the best is yet to come An aged Sam Winchester scene has Jared Padalecki donning a cardigan, glasses, and terrible gray wig, but still having the face of a youthful year-old. The getup has been compared to everything from Doc Brown to a cartoon professor selling chocolate cereal on TV, and sucks away any gravity the sequence might've had otherwise. The image of Old Man Sam has rapidly become the visual representation of fan opinion after Supernatural's finale - hastily assembled and rough around the edges, but liable to make the audience cry nonetheless.
More: Supernatural: Sam Winchester Gets His Own Captain America Mjolnir Moment
Hawkeye Episodes 1 & 2 Premiere On Disney+ The Same DayAbout The Author
Craig first began contributing to Screen Rant in , several years after graduating college, and has been ranting ever since, mostly to himself in a darkened room. Having previously written for various sports and music outlets, Craig's interest soon turned to TV and film, where a steady upbringing of science fiction and comic books finally came into its own. Craig has previously been published on sites such as Den of Geek, and after many coffee-drenched hours hunched over a laptop, part-time evening work eventually turned into a full-time career covering everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise via the TARDIS. Since joining the Screen Rant fold, Craig has been involved in breaking news stories and mildly controversial ranking lists, but now works predominantly as a features writer. Jim Carrey is Craig’s top acting pick and favorite topics include superheroes, anime and the unrecognized genius of the High School Musical trilogy.
Supernatural Series Finale Explained: How Does the Winchesters Story End?
By Aaron Pruner
We're pretty satisfied with where the 'Supernatural' journey has carried us, and of course, our favorite wayward sons.
It's been 15 years since Supernatural first premiered on The WB (remember that?) and finally, after what feels like an eternity (the series is officially the longest-running genre series to air on network television), the adventures of monster-hunting brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) has finally come to an end. But where exactly is that?
[Editor's note: The following contains spoilers through the series finale of Supernatural, "Carry On."]
Everything built to the big battle that transpired in last week's episode, titled "Inherit the Earth." After Chuck (Rob Benedict) went on his tour of destruction, ending every world he created with a snap of his Thanos-like fingers, Jack (Alexander Calvert) ended up absorbing all his God power, thanks to that scuffle between Michael (Jake Abel) and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). With Jack stepping into the role of God, the world went back to normal — which is something, considering how far from normal we all are in — and each and every person Chuck erased came back to their old selves.
But hoo golly has Season 15 done a good job of tying up loose ends! Chuck became the thing he despised most: a mere mortal; Rowena (Ruth Connell) sacrificed herself over the rift in hell only to become the Queen down there; Castiel (Misha Collins) professed his tearful love to Dean before sacrificing himself into The Empty; Jack vanished majestically into every last piece of existence around them.
In the final minutes of the penultimate episode, we watched Sam and Dean ride off into the sunset in Baby, their iconic '67 Impala, which was followed by a montage of the show's best moments. But some big questions remained: Without Chuck writing their story, where exactly would the brothers go now? Is it possible that after all this time, Sam and Dean could retire and finally settle down to have families of their own? Or, could the Winchesters continue the family business of saving people and hunting things until going out in a blaze of glory? Let's break down where the journey has taken us and how things come to an end for our heroes.
What Was Their Last Case?
Leave it to a pie contest to set the right kind of tone for Sam and Dean's final ride. After the heavy-ness of the season, watching the brothers have some light-hearted fun, with Dean getting some pie to the face, was a welcome change. However, after a home invasion featuring a gang of mask-wearing killers left the husband dead, the wife drained with her tongue ripped out, and the two young boys taken, Sam and Dean went right back to doing what they do best — fighting evil.
Turns out, the Winchesters were in for a classic vampire fight, as the group who pulled off this kidnapping ended up being a nest of vamps looking to take a harvest — perhaps the same beasts their dad hunted back in , which felt like a cool old-school detail to give us. As Sam and Dean tracked part of the group down, they were able to interrogate one of them and got to the nitty-gritty of what was going on here. These vamps have been kidnapping kids for decades only to hold onto them, raise them in captivity, and feed them well with the end goal of juicing them. As the dude put it, these vamps "don't do fast food."
As with most battles like these, Sam and Dean ended up facing off against this gaggle of masked murderers in a spooky barn. They were able to rescue the boys before a knife fight commenced. There was even a brief cameo from Season 1's Jenny (Christine Chatelain), the girl who became a vampire in the episode "Dead Man's Blood," but that didn't last long. She was beheaded, along with the rest of the killers, but this Winchester victory came at an unexpected cost.
What Happened to Dean?
It happened quickly, but it definitely happened. As Dean grappled with a big burly vampire, he was thrown up against a wooden beam before Sam came in to save him. Unfortunately, though, he was a few seconds too late. The vamp was dead but Dean was unable to move. Literally.
Impaled on some protruding rebar, Dean pleaded with Sam to stay with him. Time and time again, Dean has been brought back from the dead throughout the show's 15 seasons. But this time, he asked Sam to let him go. An upsetting choice from the writers, for sure, but you've got to at least acknowledge that Dean, not Chuck, chose this moment. This was how he wanted to write his ending.
And thus began the emotional goodbye we suspected could possibly come, but we never actually thought it would get here. The Winchesters shared a final tear-filled goodbye with Dean confiding in Sam that it's always been about him this entire time, confirming once and for all that the younger Winchester brother is the heart of the show. But for Dean to die, Sam had to tell him it was okay, which was his way of giving Dean permission not just to let go, but to finally have Sam step into his own solitary power.
What Did This Mean For Sam?
As the elder Winchester said at the very beginning of the episode, the sacrifices Jack and Castiel made would mean nothing if the boys didn't keep on living. And, of course, having Dean choose to die soon after does feel like a vindictive twist of the narrative knife. But it also acted as a catalyst for Sam to move forward with his life and try to find the happiness he had always dreamed of.
It was tough for Sam to move on — especially early on, still living in the Men of Letters bunker answering the call to fight evil as FBI Agent Bon Jovi — but we were able to watch as Sam finally got that domestic life that always seemed out of reach.
In typical Supernatural fashion, a heartfelt musical montage set to Kansas' hit "Carry On My Wayward Son" played as we watched Sam be a father to his young son Dean. She was barely seen in the background, but as Sam played catch with his boy, we fully believe the woman watching from the back porch was Eileen (Shoshannah Stern).
This is the perfect detail, considering Sam's romantic connection to her and the ongoing journey to being back with her. It also feels like the final punctuation mark in both of their stories, considering the fact that Sam brought her back from the dead a few episodes back, only to have Chuck take her and the rest of the world out of the equation. It's good to see some good come from all this darkness, ya know?
So Did Dean Go To Heaven?
Absolutely, he did. And thanks to the intervention of Jack and Castiel, the place, which was once mired in corporate politics, had been transformed into the ideal vacation home. Now, according to Bobby (Jim Beaver) heaven is just a place where everyone can be happy together. Upon his arrival, Dean was able to share a beer with everyone's favorite curmudgeonly father figure and badass bearded hunter on the porch of Harvelle's Roadhouse — a clear shout-out to the hunter/barkeep Ellen Harvelle (Samantha Ferris), Bobby's alternate timeline wife.
The one thing missing from Dean's full happiness here, aside from the fact that his mom and dad were living just down the street, was his baby brother. But as Bobby explained, time works differently in heaven. And as Dean decided to take Baby for a delightful drive through heaven's beautiful landscape with Kansas playing through the speakers, the years passed by on Earth for Sam.
Visuals of the younger Winchester raising his son, offset by a tearful moment a gray-haired Sam had inside the Impala, led to a much-elderly Sam on his deathbed with his son by his side. As Dean did for his brother all those years ago, Sam's son Dean now gave his father the okay to let go and pass on. And of course, the good cry you thought was over, continued once more as the Winchesters reunited with a joyful embrace, in the afterlife.
Does This Mean the Family Business Has Closed Up Shop for Good?
After 15 years, it's definitely a challenge to say goodbye to the Supernatural family for good. Especially when you consider that time and time again, these heroes have died and come back to life. But given that this final season was about free will and the battle for the boys to break-out from God's control in order to write their own story, the simplistic nature in which the series came to a close feels pretty much perfect. A quintessential Supernatural ending filled with humor, meta-references, and loads of heart.
But with Sam and Dean gone, will the family business live on? We think so. It was just a glimpse, but as Sam lay in hospice, with photos of his loved ones surrounding him, we saw that hunter tattoo on his son's arm. You know, if this show was about anything — aside from saving people and hunting things — it was about family and legacy. So it seems only fitting that his son Dean is out there continuing that fight.
Maybe in another few years, the brothers will come back down from heaven to assist in another battle against a world-ending threat. But until then, we're pretty satisfied with where the Supernatural journey has carried us, and of course, our favorite wayward sons.
The Supernatural series finale aired on November 19, , and after 15 seasons, the beloved show is finally at rest. If you find yourself with a sudden urge to catch up from the beginning, you can stream it on Netflix. Also, check out our ranking of the 23 scariest Supernatural episodes ever.
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Carry On (Supernatural)
20th episode of the fifteenth season of Supernatural
"Carry On" is the series finale of the American television series Supernatural. It serves as the 20th episode of the fifteenth season, and the th overall. The episode was originally broadcast on The CW on November 19, , and was written by showrunner and executive producer Andrew Dabb and directed by co-showrunner Robert Singer. The show stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers who hunt demons, ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural beings. The episode shows Sam and Dean's final hunt together which ends in tragedy.
In January , the CW renewed the series for a fifteenth season. In March, various cast members revealed that the new season of the show would be its last, with the series finale scheduled to air on May 18, However, production was shut down due to the COVID pandemic with two episodes left to film, which resumed in August, and concluded in September The finale, which was rescheduled to air on November 19, , was preceded by a special titled The Long Road Home. In its initial broadcast, "Carry On" received positive reviews from critics, who deemed the episode a satisfactory conclusion to the show.
After the events of the previous episode, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) resume their regular lives hunting monsters. Sam is still expressing sadness with his allies Castiel (Misha Collins) and Jack Kline (Alexander Calvert) gone but Dean reassures him that they now have a chance to live a "more normal life".
In Akron, Ohio, intruders break into a family's house. The father is killed with his body drained of blood, the mother has her tongue removed and the children are kidnapped. Sam and Dean investigate and use their father's journal to identify the intruders as vampires he had hunted in , predicting that their next target is Canton, Ohio. Following them, they kill one of the intruders and force the other to reveal the location of the children, who are at a barn. Once there, Sam and Dean free the children but they fight the vampires, with Sam being knocked out.
One of the vampires is Jenny (Christine Chatelain), a woman that they had failed to save from being turned into a vampire 14 years prior. Sam wakes up and they kill the vampires but Dean is impaled in the back by a spike. Sam intends to leave to find medical supplies but Dean has him stay, as his wound appears to be fatal. Dean reassures him that this was always how it was going to end for him and thanks Sam for everything, telling him he loves him and is proud of him. After saying goodbye, Dean dies in Sam's arms. The next day, Sam burns Dean's body in a funeral pyre.
Dean finds himself in Heaven and reunites with Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) outside of the Roadhouse bar. Bobby reveals that after becoming God that he, Jack, and Castiel reshaped Heaven to give everyone anything they wanted and tore down all of the walls keeping the souls separated from each other. After being told that his friend Rufus Turner (Steven Williams), and his parents John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) live in the surrounding area, Dean takes the Chevrolet Impala for a ride through Heaven as "Carry On Wayward Son" plays on the radio.
Sam continues with his life, getting married and having a child, whom he names "Dean". As he grows older and his health deteriorates, he is visited by his son, who is revealed to have become a hunter as well. Sam then peacefully dies of natural causes. In the afterlife, he is reunited with Dean on a version of the bridge from the first episode.
In January , The CW renewed Supernatural for a fifteenth season. In March , cast members Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins confirmed that the fifteenth season would be the last. Series creator Eric Kripke commented that "In a show about family, it is amazing, and it is the pride of his life, that it became family. So thank you guys for that." With 15 seasons and episodes, the show holds the title as the longest-running show in The CW's history.
The series finale was originally set to air on May 18,  However, in March , Warner Bros. Television shut down production on the series due to the COVID pandemic with two episodes, including the finale, left to go. Showrunner and executive producer Andrew Dabb revealed that the season would go on hiatus after episode 13 of the season, broadcast on March Dabb clarified that the series had completed production on 18 of the 20 episodes for the season, but the post-production process could not be completed on the episodes because of the shutdown in production. Dabb also assured that the series' cast and crew, The CW, and Warner Bros. were fully committed to filming and airing the unproduced episodes with its proper finale.
In August , The CW announced that the season would resume airing on October 8, , and that the series finale would air on November 19, which was preceded by a special titled The Long Road Home. Filming on the last two episodes began in Vancouver on August 18, and concluded on September 10, 
The episode received million viewers and was the most-watched Supernatural episode since April 
"Carry On" received mainly positive reviews. Emily Tannenbaum of IGN gave the episode an "amazing" 9 out of 10 and wrote in her verdict that "the Supernatural series finale took its time, gracefully balancing reference and nostalgia with a hunt and endgame worthy of its legacy." Alex McLevy of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+ and praised the episode for its story, conclusion of major character arcs, and its ending that gave him an "emotional gut punch" and ended the series as "a damn good one." While Saim Cheeda of Screen Rant lauded the episode for focusing on the Winchesters, Maryann Sleasman of TV Guide wrote, "I may not be thrilled by where we ended up, but the trip has been incredible."
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