Supernatural is an American fantasy horror television series that originally aired on The WB from September 13, 2005 to May 4, 2006, before moving to The CW, where its fourteen following seasons aired, from September 28, 2006, to November 19, 2020.
- "Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth."
- —CW Synopsis
- Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
- Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester
- Misha Collins as Castiel
- Mark A. Sheppard as Crowley
- Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer
- Alexander Calvert as Jack Kline
- Katie Cassidy as Ruby
|Season||No. of episodes||Originally aired||Time slot||Average ratings||Network|
|First aired||Last aired||Rating
|1||22||September 13, 2005||May 4, 2006||Tuesdays 9/8c||1.9||4.52||The WB|
|2||22||September 28, 2006||May 17, 2007||1.4||3.29||The CW|
|3||16||September 27, 2007||May 15, 2008||1.2||2.92|
|4||22||September 18, 2008||May 14, 2009||1.3||3.19|
|5||22||September 10, 2009||May 13, 2010||1.2||2.67|
|6||22||September 24, 2010||May 20, 2011||Fridays 9/8c||1.0||2.24|
|7||23||September 23, 2011||May 18, 2012||0.7||1.73|
|8||23||October 3, 2012||May 15, 2013||Wednesdays 9/8c||0.9||2.13|
|9||23||October 8, 2013||May 20, 2014||Tuesdays 9/8c||1.0||2.19|
|10||23||October 7, 2014||May 20, 2015||0.8||2.02|
|11||23||October 7, 2015||May 25, 2016||0.7||1.77|
|12||23||October 13, 2016||May 18, 2017||Thursdays 9/8c||0.6||1.68|
|13||23||October 12, 2017||May 17, 2018||Thursdays 8/7c||1.69|
|14||20||October 11, 2018||April 25, 2019||0.4||1.43|
|15||20||October 10, 2019||November 19, 2020||Thursdays 8/7c||0.3||1.09|
Before bringing Supernatural to television, creator Eric Kripke had been developing the series for nearly ten years, having been fascinated with urban legends since he was a child. He had originally envisioned Supernatural as a movie. He later developed it as a TV series and spent a few years pitching it before it was picked up by The WB. The concept went through several phases before becoming the eventual product, shifting from the original idea of an anthology series to one of tabloid reporters driving around the country in a van "fighting the demons in search of the truth". Kripke wanted it to be a road trip series, feeling that it was the "best vehicle to tell these stories because it's pure, stripped down and uniquely American... These stories exist in these small towns all across the country, and it just makes so much sense to drive in and out of these stories."
As he had previously written for The WB series Tarzan, Kripke was offered the chance to pitch show ideas to the network and used the opportunity for Supernatural. However, the network disliked his tabloid reporter idea, so Kripke successfully pitched his last-minute idea of the characters being brothers. He decided to have the brothers be from Lawrence, Kansas, because of its closeness to Stull Cemetery, a location famous for its urban legends.
When it came time to name the two lead characters, Kripke decided on "Sal" and "Dean" as an homage to Jack Kerouac's road-trip novel On the Road. However, he felt that "Sal" was inappropriate for a main character and changed the name to "Sam". It was originally intended for the brothers' last name to be "Harrison" as a nod to actor Harrison Ford, as Kripke wanted Dean to have the "devil-may-care swagger of Han Solo". However, there was a Sam Harrison living in Kansas, so the name had to be changed for legal reasons. Combining his interest in the Winchester Mystery House and his desire to give the series the feel of "a modern-day Western", Kripke settled on the surname of "Winchester". However, this also presented a problem. The first name of Sam and Dean's father was originally "Jack", and there was a Jack Winchester residing in Kansas, so Kripke was forced to change the character's name to "John".
Growing up, Kripke connected to television shows that had signature cars, such as The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider. This prompted him to include one in Supernatural. "We say it's a modern American Western — two gunslingers who ride into town, fight the bad guys, kiss the girl and ride out into the sunset again. And we were always talking from the very beginning that if you're going to have cowboys, they need a trusty horse." He originally intended for the car to be a '65 Mustang, but his neighbor convinced him to change it to a '67 Impala, since "you can put a body in the trunk" and because "you want a car that, when people stop next to it at the lights, they lock their doors." Kripke has commented, "It's a Rottweiler of a car, and I think it adds authenticity for fans of automobiles because of that, because it's not a pretty ride. It's an aggressive, muscular car, and I think that's what people respond to, and why it fits so well into the tone of our show."
Kripke had previously pitched the series to Fox executive Peter Johnson, and when Johnson moved to Wonderland Sound and Vision as president of TV, he contacted Kripke. Johnson soon signed on as co-executive producer, as did Wonderland owner McG as executive producer, with the production company set to make the pilot episode. Before it could be filmed, however, script issues needed to be dealt with. Originally, the brothers were not raised by their father, but rather by their aunt and uncle. Thus, when Dean comes to Sam for assistance in the pilot episode, he has to convince him that the supernatural exists. However, Kripke realized that this made the backstory too complicated and reworked it with Peter Johnson so that their father raised them to be hunters. The script went through many additional revisions. One of the original ideas was for Sam's girlfriend Jessica to be revealed as a demon, which prompts him to join Dean on the road; however, Kripke felt it was more appropriate for Sam's motivation to be Jessica's death, so he had her killed in the same manner as Sam's mother, making them the "right bookends. Other revised concepts include Sam believing Dean to be a serial killer who murders their father and their father dying in Jessica's place. Filming for the pilot episode was greenlit after director David Nutter, who previously had worked with Kripke on Tarzan, signed on. When the series was eventually picked up, the studio brought in Robert Singer as executive producer, as it wanted Kripke to work with someone with production experience. Due to his previous work on The X-Files, co-executive producer John Shiban was also hired to help design the series mythology. Kripke had the series planned out for three seasons but later expanded it to five and hoped to end it there on a high note.
Early reception to the series was generally mixed, but has grown more favorable reviews from critics as it progressed.
The first season received a Metacritic score of 59 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 69% approval rating for the first season, with an average rating of 6.8/10 based on 13 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Despite some too-hip dialogue and familiar thematic elements, Supernatural's vigilante brothers manage to stir up some legitimate scares." Subsequent seasons have also enjoyed positive reviews on the site. Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly gave the first season a B, saying the show "comes off as weekly installments of a horror movie series", but that "Adding to the show's cred are the '67 Chevy Impala the boys rumble around in and their kick-ass soundtrack". Jeff Swindoll of Monsters and Critics "really liked" the first season for its "horrific content and the brotherly chemistry between its two stars". He also noted that the season finished "with one bang of a cliffhanger". Swindoll enjoyed the second season, too, saying that it "still works thanks to the brotherly chemistry between Padalecki and Ackles" and noted the second season focused more on the show's mythology.
Swindoll also liked the third season, saying "Eric Kripke must've sold his soul to the devil so that the show wouldn't suffer a third season slump." He also enjoyed the moments featuring Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), likening him to the character Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard. However, Daniel Bettridge of Den of Geek believed that the writer's strike hindered the season, with many issues being left unresolved and the finale feeling "a little rushed". He also felt that new characters Ruby (Katie Cassidy) and Bela (Lauren Cohan) were "disappointingly unexplored and ineffectively used". While Diana Steenbergen of IGN liked that there was a season-long story arc with Dean's demonic deal, she believed that viewers would know that the pact would not be resolved until the finale, making the self-enclosed episodes feel like they are "treading water, waiting for the main storyline to resume". In 2008, AOL TV placed the show on its list of TV's Biggest Guilty Pleasures.
Another Monsters and Critics reviewer, June L., gave the fourth season a positive review, saying the show "remains intriguing and entertaining, giving viewers much to ponder in terms of the philosophical analysis of the nature of good and evil." Steenbergen felt that the series made a transition from a "pretty good show to being a pretty great show". She praised Misha Collins for his portrayal of the angel Castiel, and felt that the interactions between Dean and Castiel were "one of the highlights of the season". Before the premiere of the fifth season, Rolling Stone listed the series as one of "The 50 Best Reasons to Watch TV", citing Sam and Dean Winchester as the "Bo and Luke Duke of demon hunting".
The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan named Supernatural among the top ten shows of 2009, stating that the "thoughtfully crafted show got bolder and more creative in 2009, coming up with hilarious and innovative episodes and taking risks with its storytelling." Mike Hale of The New York Times also named the series on his top ten list for the year: "Supernatural is currently among the wildest and most entertaining series in prime time." In 2010, AOL TV ranked Supernatural fourth of the Top 20 Magic/Supernatural Shows of All Time, noting that the show had been compared to The X-Files early in its run before "distinguishing itself as a unique, unpredictable and addictive series that not only features monsters, magic and Lucifer himself, but also boasts a dynamic duo arguably better at the banter than Mulder and Scully -- Sam and Dean Winchester".
In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at #19 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years", saying, "Supernatural began with a pretty straightforward premise – hot guys kill spooky things – but it didn't stay that way for long. The characters have literally been to hell and back, and along the way, they have woven a complicated and compelling mythology filled with friends (angel Castiel), recurring foes (demon Crowley), and inside jokes (Wincest!). Supernatural has also, however, dedicated episodes to mocking the sillier aspects of its own existence, like its hypercritical fandom. This self-referential approach has rewarded longtime viewers and helped build a community so passionate, it's almost scary." The show has a broad demographic base and is more popular in Russia than the US.
- Season 1 (2005-06) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 2 (2006-07) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 3 (2007-08) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 4 (2008-09) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 5 (2009-10) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 6 (2010-11) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 7 (2011-12) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 8 (2012-13) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 9 (2013-14) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 10 (2014-15) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 11 (2015-16) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 12 (2016-17) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 13 (2017-18) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 14 (2018-19) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes
- Season 15 (2019-20) - Ratings - List of Supernatural episodes