By AL J. Vermette
Like if 2020 wasn’t bad enough, we had to say
goodbye to the best, longest-running horror/ fantasy
series there ever was. After 15 wonderful years on
the air, Supernatural said goodbye to its loyal fan
base when the show gave its last performance this
past November. But how did Supernatural become the longest-running continuous horror genre TV series
in all of American history? Let’s take a good look at how and why this series has lasted the test of time
and why we fans love it so.
The year was 2005 and I remember it well. It was 15 years ago when Blood Moon Rising talked about
it in its Nightmare News department about a group of all-new horror and sci/fi shows that made their debut
that fall in primetime. Among the new series, Surface, The Invasion, Threshold and Night Stalker, all on
big networks, came one little show on a little network called The WB. You know the network that brought
us Buffy, Angel, Charmed, and Smallville for us genre fans. So among these other shows on the big
networks came a little show on WB called Supernatural. A show with such a generic title that one had to
ask is this going to be any good? Is this a show that’s going to last a few episodes or maybe a season or
two much like previous short-lived series Reaper, Special Unit Two, Freaky Links, Tremors The Series,
and The Chronicle.
Now you have to understand that at this point in time, the only horror genre shows to make a decent
series run was Poltergeist: The Legacy (4 seasons), Angel (5 seasons), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (7
seasons), and Charmed (8 seasons), with Charmed being the longest-running horror-themed series at the
time. Okay, so now its 2005 and Charmed is in its 8th and final season when on September 13th, The
WB releases Supernatural.
It was a show about two brothers, Sam Winchester and his
big brother Dean, who hunted and kill monsters. So okay, that
seems basic enough. Well, that little show with the generic title
ended up beating out its competition and by season’s end, the
other TV shows it premiered with were all canceled and never
got a season two. Hell the one I was betting on was Night Stalker,
based on the classic series and it didn’t even make a full season
and was kicked off the air after only 10 episodes and 4 episodes
were not even aired!
Not only did Supernatural flourish, but it continued on for 15 years, and is in fact older than the network
that it was on when WB became The CW in 2006. It blew Charmed out of the water as the longest-running
horror genre series of all time plus it ran longer than both Charmed and Buffy combined! Hell, the only
thing even close to maybe dethroning Supernatural as the longest-running horror genre series of all time is
The Walking Dead. And that still has 5 years to go just to match Supernatural’s longevity.
So what was it that made us tune in every week for so long? Fifteen years is a very long time to stick
with a series and not drift off and watch something else? In part, it was the two brothers that made us join
them each week. Sam and Dean played magnificently by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackes were so
inviting, so engaging, that we had to watch each week. They played their roles to perfection and made
what could have been a short run silly show about monster hunters into something not only lasting, but
made us laugh and cry at their adventures in their battle to fight the creatures of the night that they
encountered each episode. Not since Buffy could a horror series…or any series for that matter be funny
and yet dead serious and be so convincing and make it work. Hell, I don’t think even Buffy could have
pulled off a Scooby-Doo crossover episode and somehow make it work and make it great as the Scooby
Doo Supernatural episode in 2018.
I have said to our editor D.W. Jones on several occasions
as we talked about Supernatural that Sam, Dean, and Castiel
could do an episode of them doing nothing but sitting around a
campfire reciting nursery rhymes, and we the fans would say it
was a great show and want more. Anything this series did was
okay by us and we would love it no matter what they did. Hell,
they could have had Sam and Dean on Dancing with The Stars
and we would have watched.
The thing that set this show apart from most early horror genre shows was the characters. Buffy had
gotten it right back in 1997 when that show first came on the air. Sure the monster of the week was always
important, but we as fans fell in love with the characters. Other related shows prior to Buffy focused on the
plot, the monster, location, and less on the deep development of characters that made up the cast. Now
sure these shows like Friday The 13th The Series, Werewolf The Series, and Poltergeist The Legacy
were good shows and had good storylines but their characters lived mainly in the now and dealt with the
situation….the monster, the evil that they needed to combat for each episode. Little would be said about
the characters plus none of these shows would carry much of a sub-plot about each cast member that
carried over from show to show in a story arc.
Buffy, Charmed and Angel dealt with the characters as real people with back story, wants, desires, and
motivations. How they felt or who they loved was always front and center and never a sideline behind the
big bad that they had to face that week. Supernatural knew how to take two brothers who at their core
loved each other, would fight each other, disagree with each other but in the end, were brothers and it
made the viewers understand that love drew us in.
Supernatural also had its share of male and female viewers, unlike many “horror” TV shows. It was
never a boy’s only show as the series drew in many female fans who were just as devoted to the series as
the guys were. Okay having two good-looking guys as the protagonists sure brought in the girls to watch,
but it was more than that. But men watched because the show had monsters, a super cool car and maybe
just maybe we saw a little of ourselves in Sam and Dean. It was something everyone could enjoy and
simply understand, two brothers, their friends, and the things they hunted each week. But again it was
never about the hunted creature as it was about the brothers, who they were and how they struggled with
not only the monster of the week, but each other and their selves.
Unlike almost any other show, maybe Bonanza being the only other one, Supernatural had no
permanent female lead characters, meaning a character that was in every episode from week to week.
Yeah, sure there were a lot of female (recurring characters) over the years like Jody, Rowena, Ruby, Jo,
Ellen, Charlie, Bela, Meg, with maybe the brother's mother Mary being the closest thing to a female lead
the show ever had…and she was still not on every show. No this show was about the brother's Sam and
Dean along with their adoptive brother, Castiel, and later Jack.
When it came to fighting the big bad, Sam and Dean took on everything from ghosts, vampires,
werewolves, witches, demons, and even a Wendigo. No monster was too big or too powerful for the
brothers who even battled angels, the devil, and even God himself. Like I said, they took on everything!
Over the 15 years of their crusade, Sam and Dean was joined by an assortment of help from friends
who believed in their battle to save people from the evils of the world. In that quest, the brothers teamed
up with family friend Bobby Singer, Sheriff Jody Mills, friend Charlie Bradbury, wicked witch Rowena, The
Archangel Gabriel, the brother’s resurrected mother Mary Winchester, the crossroads demon Crowley, the
Anti-Christ, God and most of all, their surrogate brother angel Castiel.
Oddly enough, two former Supernatural cast members, Jeffrey Dean Morgan who played the boy’s
father John Winchester and Lauren Cohan who played Bela Talbot went on to play on that other long-lived
horror series I talked about, The Walking Dead as Negan and Maggie respectively.
Okay, so now I have to say something about
the other cast and family member… Baby! From
the very first episode was Baby, Dean’s black 1967
Chevy Impala who took the brothers on their mon-
ster hunting trips. She even had an episode
entirely devoted to her where we saw a day in the
life of the car from her point of view. Again, some-
thing no other show would even touch on but
Supernatural not only did, but pulled it off.
The series itself was created by writer Eric Kripke who saw his vision running only 3 years wanted to
explore urban myths but then expanded the series to a 5-year run. By the end of season 5, Kripke was
ready to have the series end but in a very rare move, the CW Network said “Oh Hell No” and ordered more
episodes to be shot. As a result, Kripke walked away from the series as showrunner and Supernatural
went on without him for another decade.
Because of the Covid pandemic, shooting for the final season ended early so we kinda got an
unofficial 16th season because when The CW was able to resume shooting the last remaining episodes
and airing them. It was already October and that’s when they had their season premiere.
Over the shows lifetime, it was nominated and won 9 People’s Choice Awards including Best Series
TV series, 2 Teen Choice Awards, 4 TV Guide Awards, 2 Young Artist Awards, 4 SFX Awards, and 2
EWwy Awards. In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed Supernatural number 19 in the best 25 cult TV
shows of the last 25 years. It was hailed by the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and
TV Guide….not bad for a show about monsters.
Everyone loved Supernatural and by being on the air for 15 years proves that. Few series get maybe a
5-year lifespan and a few maybe hit 7 to 10 and that’s rare that any do. Not only is Supernatural in the
record books for being the longest-running series of its genre, but also one of the longest-running series in
Although the series is now sadly over, we still have 15 years worth of reruns to catch up on as
Supernatural is still being shown on the TNT network among many others around the world and so our
show is not really going anywhere soon. In fact, Supernatural is even a bigger hit in Russia than it is here in
Ok so it may be gone but for sure will never be forgotten and the adventures of Sam and Dean will live
on in our hearts and our memories for years to come. It was a great 15 guys and we are happy to have
been along for the ride with you!
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