There came a point on Supernatural where just about every season could’ve been its end. The fifth season ended the show’s original story arc, the eighth season was gearing up to banish all demons from the Earth, the 11th season introduced the most powerful big bad, and so on. Well, either worried about the show’s longevity or hoping to expand the universe, the minds behind Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester’s (Jensen Ackles) greatest adventures started thinking a bit more seriously about a potential spin-off.
There had been talks for years about possible expansions of the Supernatural universe. The Ghostfacers got their own single-season web series during the show’s fifth season, and Supernatural: The Anime Series dropped over a year later. But by the show’s ninth season, The CW was primed and ready for more Supernatural, especially after the success of The Vampire Diaries’ spin-off The Originals. As a result, “Bloodlines” premiered on April 19, 2014, at the tail end of Season 9 and serving as a backdoor pilot for a larger story.
What Is ‘Supernatural: Bloodlines’ About?
Taking place in Chicago, Illinois (a place the Winchesters have visited more than once), “Bloodlines” begins with a young cop-to-be named Ennis Ross (Lucien Laviscount — of Emily in Paris fame), who watches his almost-fiancé die in front of him after first being ushered into the underground world of monsters. Every good Supernatural story starts with a tragedy, after all, and it’s not surprising that Ennis’ story begins with the death of a loved one (and a missing father). Along for the ride is David Lassiter (Nathaniel Buzolic), a shapeshifter who lives as a human and wants to solve his brother’s death at the hands of the same creature that killed Ennis’ girlfriend.
Eventually, this unlikely pair meets Sam and Dean, who arrive to share with Ennis that monsters are real and learn from David that Chicago is secretly run by them. As it turns out, David is a part of one of the five monster “Mafia” families that control the city, which also includes vampires, werewolves, and Djinn. Unfortunately for David, his status as a shapeshifter keeps him from being with his true love, a young werewolf named Violet Duval (Melissa Roxburgh). But after Violet is kidnapped by this creature, David, Ennis, and the Winchesters become her only hope.
The episode ends with the discovery that this “creature” is just a man, one who lost his own son to the monsters controlling the Windy City. David and Violet rekindle their romance as the former rejoins his family in hopes of preventing a war, and Ennis decides to become a hunter, hoping to take back Chicago from the monsters. And then the Winchesters leave, never to return to the city again.
‘Supernatural: Bloodlines’s Ennis and David Were a Sharp Duo
An interesting component of “Bloodlines” was the idea of a human and a monster working together. Of course, this has happened before on Supernatural as a good number of the Winchester’s allies either become monsters or ghosts or always were (just the good kind). But the way this backdoor pilot does it is a bit different. Having been newly introduced to this world, Ennis doesn’t trust David as far as he can throw him, while David only uses Ennis to get information, at least at first. It’s clear that this episode was meant to kickstart a friendship between the two, one that the spin-off was meant to continue.
Additionally, these two both have things that the other wishes they had. Ennis lost his father and his girl, two people that David still has in his life. On the other hand, David wants to be independent and out of the “family business,” something Ennis currently embodies. These differences, among others, only make this duo more interesting to follow, and unlike Sam and Dean, they have their own distinct lives. Ennis’ desire to be both a cop and a hunter is a fascinating one that borders on the impossible in a town run by monsters, while David’s desire to live a normal, human life feels improbable given his heritage. In many ways, these two have a lot in common, though we never got to explore this any further.
‘Supernatural: Bloodlines’ Was Ready to Go… Until It Wasn’t
Originally titled Supernatural: Tribes, the series was announced in early February 2014, months ahead of the backdoor pilot’s premiere. The original cast consisted of a mix of human, werewolf, and shapeshifter personalities, with room to expand. The show, which was eventually retooled into Supernatural: Bloodlines, was to be executive produced by future Supernatural showrunning team Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer, with then-showrunner Jeremy Carver, producer McG, and series creator Eric Kripke on board as co-executive producers. No doubt, all the right people were behind Supernatural: Bloodlines from the beginning, so what happened?
Well, for starters, the backdoor pilot wasn’t well received. For a while, “Bloodlines” was the lowest-rated episode of Supernatural, and even now sits at a 5.8/10 on IMDb. As to why “Bloodlines” didn’t sit well with Supernatural fans, there are a plethora of potential reasons. For starters, Sam and Dean were hardly present, nor were the main characters particularly likable. Sure, there was potential, and lots of it, but rather than being introduced to these characters over time, audiences were forced to meet them all at once.
Additionally, the show felt extremely different from Supernatural. When looking at other spin-offs of popular genre shows, such as Angel with Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with Xena: Warrior Princess, it’s important to distinguish one show from another. But it still needs to feel like the same world. “Bloodlines” felt maybe too different (and too much like other CW shows), which didn’t exactly work in its favor. It’s no wonder then that, less than a month after “Bloodlines” aired, the network passed on Bloodlines entirely, leaving Supernatural all alone heading into Season 10.
Why Was ‘Supernatural: Bloodlines’ Cancelled?
It wasn’t until years later that Supernatural: Bloodlines creator Andrew Dabb had something to say about the failed spin-off and its cancellation. “Our idea in hindsight was probably a little too similar to The Originals,” he explained to TV Guide in 2018. He’s right, of course, the basic premise of both stories is the same, and with Nathaniel Buzolic as a cast member on both projects, there’s no doubt that The CW decided to cut their losses and continue on with the show already on air. After all, The Vampire Diaries universe has always been an easy sell.
“We wanted to do something set in the Supernatural world but very unlike Supernatural,” the showrunner continued, validating fan’s fears of how Supernatural: Bloodlines may have failed to fit into the greater Winchester story. “At that point, Supernatural [was] going strong. We didn’t know when it was ending, but it certainly didn’t feel like it was on its way out and so we were really worried about taking any elements from the show.” As it turned out, failing to take more from the flagship series may have been Bloodlines’ undoing. It’s too bad too, it’s a great idea on paper, one that the show never continued to explore.
‘Supernatural: Bloodlines’ Created a Massive Plot Hole on ‘Supernatural’
When “Bloodlines” ends, Sam and Dean promise to call some other hunters to help Ennis take care of the monster problem in Chicago. Since they were too busy with Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) at the time – and then later the Mark of Cain, and then the Darkness, and then the British Men of Letters, and so on – they didn’t have time to handle it. Unfortunately, this is a massive plot hole that was never actually corrected, and, presumably, to this day, the Windy City is run by the most bloodthirsty monster families alive.
The City of Chicago is mentioned only once more on Supernatural (not including the one in the Apocalypse World), and even then it’s years later and in passing. We never learn what happened to Ennis, David, Violet, or the gang, and even more surprisingly, Sam and Dean never follow up on arguably the biggest collection of monsters in the entire country. Not only is this a massive oversight, but there are multiple times throughout the remaining seasons where they could have easily followed up on this a bit more, including Season 12 where the British Men of Letters attempt to cleanse America of all monsters, or in Season 14 where the Alternate Archangel Michael experiments on monsters using his own angelic grace.
‘Supernatural’ Had a Tough History With Spin-Offs
Perhaps surprisingly, Supernatural never got another spin-off off the ground. With his next attempts to expand the Winchester world, Andrew Dabb developed fan-favorite recurring characters to take over their own show, something that had been 10 years in the making. Dabb partnered with Robert Berens to pen “Wayward Sisters,” a backdoor pilot in Supernatural’s 13th season set to follow Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes), Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster), Claire Novak (Kathryn Love Newton), Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen), and other girls who were going to protect Sioux Falls, South Dakota from an invasion of monsters.
Despite the fan support behind Supernatural: Wayward Sisters, this spin-off was axed by The CW also. Though unlike Bloodlines, which was never mentioned again, many of the Wayward Sisters cast members returned to Supernatural to close out their respective story arcs. It’s hard to say why Supernatural failed to generate any more material outside of Sam and Dean in the back half of the series. Ironically, CW president Mark Pedowitz revealed to Deadline that the network chose The Originals spin-off Legacies over Wayward Sisters, revealing that twice now Supernatural has been usurped by the Mikaelson family.
Eventually, Supernatural did get a spin-off going — a prequel that followed Sam and Dean’s parents back in the 1970s. Though it only ran for one season, the series proved to be much more than a prequel. In fact, it was more like an epilogue for Dean’s arc on the original series, and an alternate universe take on what might have happened to their family if their history had been different. It was certainly an interesting idea, and even if The Winchesters ended too soon, the series was likely greenlit because it kept Supernatural in the Winchester family (both on and off camera).