Although both shows debuted on the WB and later made the jump to the CW when the former ceased operations and merged with UPN, Supernatural and Gilmore Girls don’t actually have a ton of things in common. However, there is one major similarity between the series: They both star Jared Padalecki.
Before the shaggy-haired actor spent 15 years playing Sam Winchester on the long-running series about a pair of brothers who criss-cross the country in a 1967 Chevy Impala on a mission to save people and hunt things that go bump in the night, Padalecki spent five years playing Rory Gilmore’s (Alexis Bledel) on-again, off-again boyfriend Dean Forester on Gilmore Girls.
It took a little bit of time for Gilmore Girls fans to get used to seeing Padalecki play a character not named Dean (the brother to Padalecki’s Sam, portrayed by Jensen Ackles), but the Supernatural writers — who never passed up a chance to go meta — found a way early on in the show to reference the actor’s previous role.
Supernatural season 2 references Gilmore Girls
In the Supernatural season 2 episode “Hollywood Babylon,” Sam and Dean travel to Los Angeles to investigate a series of deaths that have occurred on the set of a horror movie. Dean, as a lover of both horror films and easy access to free food, is practically heaven. Sam is a little less enthused.
When they first arrive in town, the brothers take a tour of a fake Warner Bros. lot (Supernatural filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, not Burbank, California, where the real lot is located). During the studio tour, the tram guide says, “Now to the right, here is Stars Hollow. It’s the setting for the television series Gilmore Girls.” The camera is on Padalecki as the guide says this, and he suddenly seems a bit awkward. He then becomes more nervous when the guide says that if they’re lucky they might be able to catch one of the show’s stars. At this point, Sam hastily gets off the tram.
It’s a great moment that feels completely natural in the world of Supernatural while also paying tribute to Padalecki’s former role. It’s also one of the first examples of the series’ love for meta jokes, which would only grow in size and scope over the years. It’s just a shame the writers never found a way to reference Jensen Ackles’ past lives on shows like Dawson’s Creek and Smallville.