Supernatural Started as “A Terrible Rip-Off” Before Becoming Something Great

Eric Kripke's original vision for Supernatural didn't even include Sam or Dean.

Sam and Dean in Supernatural Season 1
Photo: Warner Bros.

As we get closer to the (deep breath) end of Supernatural, it’s natural to look back to the beginning. In that spirit, series creator Eric Kripke (known these days for Amazon superhero breakout The Boys) has been giving some killer interviews about the origin of Supernatural back in *checks notes* 2004. In a recent chat for the upcoming November 9th issue of TV Guide Magazine (via TV Insider), Kripke recalls his original pitch to The WB (which would eventually merge with UPN to become The CW) and how it led to the show we know and love today.

In 2004, Kripke was fresh off the cancellation of his short-lived Tarzan series when Warner Bros. executive Susan Rovner asked him for a pitch for a new show. “I came up with an idea about a reporter who traveled around in a van writing about urban legends. It was basically a terrible rip-off of [Kolchak: TheNight Stalker,” Kripke told TV Guide Magazine.

Rovner wasn’t into it and asked if Kripke had anything else. Reader, Kripke did not have anything else—but he faked it til he, um, maked it. He recalled, 16 years later: “I said, ‘I have another version about two guys cruising the country, diving in and out of these legends.’ Then, on the spot, I made up ‘…and they’re brothers.’ I told her all my notes were at home and spent a week writing what became the pitch for Supernatural.”

But Supernatural was still not in its perfect form. In its original format, according to an interview Kripke did with EW, the brothers’ backstory was slightly different: while Dean grew up knowing about monsters, Sam did not. In this draft of the pilot, “Dean was always the troubled kid who went out and found and is now bringing Sam back in it,” Kripke told EW. According to Kripke, the script was “stupidly complicated” and “super-dull” and Warner Bros. chose not to take the pilot to The WB… but they gave Kripke a chance to do better. He spent the Christmas holiday writing and, three weeks later, had a second, apparently better draft.

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“To me, the moment when the show locked into place was the notion of, ‘Oh wait, both guys grew up in this world and this is just the world they know,'” Kripke told EW. “The minute that happened, the show snapped into focus because then they have long histories with their father, they have long histories with each other, but most importantly it was this idea that they viewed the supernatural as blue-collar exterminators.”

Kripke continued: “That was a really important difference because they just viewed it as another pain-in-the-ass job they had to do. Because then they could be funny because it was something they had seen their whole lives, they didn’t have to go mad with horror every time they saw a ghost, which is what the old draft was … That to me was like, ‘Oh, now I understand who these guys are and how to balance the humor and the horror.'”

Reader, that script was made into the 2005 premiere of Supernatural and, 15 year later, the Winchester brothers are still making us happy.

The final episodes of Supernatural are airing Thursdays on The CW at 8pm ET.