Supernatural is an American dark fantasy drama created by Eric Kripke, who spent over a decade nurturing the idea of this show before it was picked up by The WB. It stars the famous duo Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester, respectively, who travel the country hunting monsters.
Starting in September 2005 and ending in November 2020, it ran for 15 seasons. Over the course of those 15 years, it has become a fan favorite and a staple of television networks in syndication. Besides being the longest-running fantasy show to have ever been broadcast in the US, Supernatural is also considered one of the greatest fantasy shows of all time. Here is why Supernatural has endured for so long and why it is a fan favorite.
Plot That Kept Evolving
The series starts with two brothers, Sam and Dean, whose mother died in a fire when they were kids, on the road trying to find their father, a ghost/demon hunter who went missing. While on the road, they started saving innocent people by battling ghosts, demons, vampires, and other creatures following a “Monster of the Week” theme.
After they found their father, it was revealed to them that the creature that killed their mother was a demon named Azazel, and they were told how to kill that creature. The boys later go hunting for Azazel, whom they end up killing in the second season. That’s when the plot starts thickening up. Dean makes a deal with a demon to save Sam, and as part of the deal, he has only one year left on Earth before he is sent to Hell. Initially, the series was more about the “Monster of the Week”, but as the series progressed, the storyline expanded by including elements from different mythologies, and the show became more than just about monsters.
The Series Tone Evolved
One of the reasons that Supernatural was able to run for 15 seasons was its ability to evolve. While the series might have started off as a simple horror series, it quickly evolved and found its unique voice by embracing some of the more humorous elements. Supernatural became a meta-series, filled with episodes acknowledging the wider Supernatural fandom. During the course of the series, it turns out that Supernatural is also a book series, being written by a profit of God (and the profit later is revealed to be God himself). These books later come into play in the 200th episode, which sees an all-girl school put on a Supernatural musical. This episode and the entire concept are a loving reference to the series’ fanbase.
The series also isn’t afraid to get comedic. Some of the best episodes involve more comedic spins, like one where Sam and Dean Winchester accidentally end up in the real world and occupy the space of stars, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Another sees the team crossover with Scooby-Doo. On the surface, Supernatural might seem like a horror show, but it quickly revealed itself to also have a lightness to it that made it a good time for viewers.
Production Value Was Consistent
Shot in Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia with a single-camera setup, Supernatural ran for 15 years, and there was not even a single episode where the quality of production felt compromised.
When the series made its debut on screens, the budget per episode was as low as a few thousand dollars, making Supernatural one of the most popular low-budget TV shows, but what we saw on screen were really high-quality produced episodes, with marvelous script-writing and it never appeared to the audience that the show had such a low-budget.
While the series effects might have looked cheap at times, the series often worked that into its narrative and tone. It was a series that looked to bring B-level horror vibes to television screens week after week. The nature of the on the road aspect made each episodes monsters feel like those that would show up in drive-in monster movie.
The Vast Collection of Supernatural Beings
Supernatural is one of the shows that never forgot its ‘supernatural’ ties for any other plot point. Even though there were a lot of personal stories and other developments that made the brothers’ lives more and more complicated, they were still facing a new kind of evil every day. From more common monsters like ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and demons to more obscure ones like demigods, wendigos, shapeshifters, and djinns, the Winchester brothers have faced everything.
Even in the last few seasons, when things took a serious Biblical turn with the involvement of Angels, the Devil, the Antichrist, and God himself, the lore never ended, and new monsters kept springing up. The series was not afraid to play against the more traditional idea of angels and go back to the root of the concept, playing them as more cold and scary creatures. It is amazing how many different types of supernatural beings appeared on this show with their own unique qualities and kept the series interesting for the audience.
Great Characters Shaped the Storyline
When the series started, we saw Dean’s character as being more of a protective elder brother, an obedient son, and a highly reserved man, while Sam was more of an outgoing person who often took things lightly. After Dean returns from Hell, a noticeable change is seen in his character, giving us a clue that his experience there changed his behavior and himself as a person from that point on, until the series ends.
One interesting thing to notice in the series was how the writers tried to make the characters relatable. For instance, Sam’s character was carefully designed to exhibit a forgiving nature, which is often synonymous with an easy-going person, which his brother’s character at certain points did not have. Meanwhile, Dean was shown to have more of a helping nature, portraying him as someone who would be more likely to help someone in need, without them having to ask.
In the earlier episodes, the creatures that were introduced in the series were within the capabilities of Sam and Dean, but later on we see them encountering such creatures that were outside their capabilities and required extra help, which made way for new characters to be introduced, including the iconic characters Castiel, Crowley and Bobby Singer. Castiel, an angel, and Crowley, a powerful demon, who initially appeared in a handful of scenes in the iconic series, were liked so much by the audience that the writers ended up writing them as regulars in the series.
Iconic & Nostalgic Soundtrack
For any show to be truly successful, it needs to have a soundtrack that matches the vibe of the series and is also able to induce the feeling of nostalgia for the listeners. So was the case with Supernatural, “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas was the show’s unofficial theme song, which was notably used in just about every season’s finale. The lyrics of the song included references to heaven and hell, which was largely the theme of the series, making it a perfect match for the show. This would come back into play for the series finale, as they played the classic version and a slow, somber version by Neoni, which matched the tone of the series coming to an end.
The series would have a wide array of classic rock songs, one that it introduced to an entire generation of new fans who may not have listened to them otherwise. Supernatural gave plenty of classic rock artists a new fanbase. Yet Supernatural was also not afraid to feature modern music, as notable in a great Taylor Swift needle drop.
Longevity & Fandom
Supernatural ran on TV for 15 years, releasing 320 episodes, with each having an average runtime of 40-45 minutes. This makes it a perfect binge-worthy show, especially if you haven’t seen it before. An interesting thing about the show, is that no matter which episode you start watching from, it will only take a little while for you to understand what is going on. It was one of the benefits of the classic way of doing television, as they had a serialized story in the background for the season but each episode also had a stand-alone nature to it.
When it comes to any series, fandom plays an important part in its success. Supernatural’s fandom is an extremely active community and has played a really crucial part in the success of the show. This point can easily be understood from the fact that even though the show ended in 2020, Supernatural is still trending regularly on Twitter.
Brothers Like No Other
You can search far and wide, but you are unlikely to come across a better on-screen brother duo than Sam and Dean Winchester. The main reason why Supernatural is so great is the undeniable love between the two brothers. From the very beginning of the show, it has been the two of them against the world. We have seen them prank each other, we have seen them fight and bicker, and we have seen them lay down their lives to save their brother. It is indeed true that there is no better little brother than Sam Winchester, just as there is no better big brother than Dean Winchester. Their stubborn love for each other is what makes this show so emotional and beautiful.
This might be why attempts to do Supernatural spin-offs have often failed. While the lore of the franchise is rich and features an interesting world of stories, at the heart of it has always been the relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester. It is unique and the element that keeps audiences coming back for more. It was not something that could be replicated. For all the elements that the spin-offs and similar series try, they could not replicate Sam and Dean.