Warning: contains spoilers for Supernatural season nine.
A few weeks ago, Den of Geek reviewed the backdoor pilot for a potential Supernatural spin-off, Bloodlines. We were, shall we say, unimpressed, and it seems that opinion was shared by – well, everybody. In an astounding and almost unprecedented turn of events, the Supernatural fandom was united in its opinion: the spin-off was utterly lacklustre, mostly because it had very little to do with its parent show. In the days since the review was written, we received an onslaught of comments agreeing with this preliminary evaluation of Bloodlines.
It’s since been announced the CW will not be going ahead with the spin-off, quite possibly causing the fandom to breathe a collective sigh of relief. But, despite the seemingly ubiquitous dislike for this backdoor pilot, that doesn’t mean the fandom doesn’t want to see a Supernatural spin-off at all; rather, it means we’d like to see one that bears a closer relationship to the original show.
One of the most appealing things about Supernatural (and there are a great many of those) is its elaborate mythology and wide cast of characters. The story takes place in an extremely rich and detailed world (even if the details of that world have recently seen too much retconning), peopled by fascinating and beloved secondary characters. Thus, Bloodlines’ biggest weakness was that, instead of making use of this world and these characters, it ploughed ahead into forging new territory rather than developing what the fans already loved.
So what spin-offs would we like to see? There are dozens of possibilities for shows that could further develop the beloved world of Supernatural, so here are a few ideas. Naturally, each of them would have their own pitfalls and difficulties, and yet each could add another interesting side to the Winchesters’ universe. The CW’s president, Mark Pedowitz, also recently announced that the CW might be interested in giving another spin-off a try, so who knows? Maybe some of these ideas will actually see the light of day.
For easier reading, the spin-offs have been classified by the following categories: Historical, Other Dimensions, Hunter and Monster Culture, and Crack Theories.
The CW’s already demonstrated with Frontierland and Time After Time that they can pull off perfectly respectable (even if probably not overly accurate) historical episodes that have all the flavour of the period in question, hence these period spin-off suggestions.
After Bloodlines aired, many fan comments proposed Samuel Colt as the subject of a potential spin-off – an idea with which I wholeheartedly agree. Colt is a fascinating character: he forged a weapon that can kill all but five beings in existence, designed the Devil’s Gate to keep a portal to Hell closed, and was probably pretty damn well-versed in the lore if those things are anything to judge by. We got to meet him in the Western-style episode Frontierland, in which he’s a lonely recluse who’s put hunting behind him. There’s got to be a story there, and one that could be the stuff of a respectable show – one exploring how the great Samuel Colt became a hunter and acquired the knowledge he needed to forge the Colt and seal Hell, and what sacrifices he’s had to make along the way that led to him being a lonely recluse.
The Men Of Letters
Another suggestion received a handful of times was that of a Man of Letters-themed spinoff. The Men of Letters were introduced with Henry Winchester and his rather steadfast prejudice against hunters, and since then we’ve had a few glimpses of them: the flashbacks in Slumber Party, Josie and her struggles and sacrifices, and renegade Man of Letters Magnus in Blade Runners. Though fairly cursory, these flashbacks raise a handful of themes that suggest potential storylines. Most interesting is the alternative approach the Men of Letters take to the supernatural, being more interested in classifying than in killing. Thus, a show themed around this group of intellectual elitists would have both similarities to Supernatural (in the sense of seeking out and killing monsters) and differences (in their intellectual interest in the supernatural that Sam and Dean simply kill) – thus providing an interesting counterpoint to the Winchesters.
Additionally, Supernatural’s mentions of Men of Letters have hinted at a number of other interesting themes that a well-written storyline could explore: the role of women in this clearly prejudiced and mostly male society, the power structures within this intellectual brotherhood, and the potential dissent and renegade rebels such as Magnus. The only danger of this spin-off lies in all the potential mythological retconning – introducing the Men of Letters already contradicted a fair bit of canon (for example, Henry Winchester was canonically alive and well when Dean went back in time, meaning he couldn’t have run off when John was seven), but if the writers can manage to tiptoe the delicate line between exploring the lore and mythology without changing too much of it, this could be another intriguing exploration of the Supernatural world.
Supernatural’s always been in that difficult limbo of being a show that quite literally deals with different planes of existence but not having the budget to actually show any of it. Purgatory’s a forest (because there’s no shortage of those in Vancouver, Canada), Heaven looks like either gardens or suburbs for the same reason, and Hell – well, we’ve barely had glimpses of it. This isn’t to complain: with its limitations, Supernatural has more than outdone itself, choosing to focus on the psychological effects of these realms of existence rather than on poor CGI, and it pays off. Still, if Supernatural were to magically acquire a budget (any of the producers wanna sell their souls?), each of these realms of existence could provide fodder for a fascinating show.
So far, Supernatural’s portrayals of Heaven have been either cliché garden scenes or the much more psychologically complex rendition from Dark Side Of The Moon (one of the best episodes of Supernatural in its decision to present Heaven as a Matrix where you’re stuck in your memories for all eternity – thus managing not to pull any punches while staying on budget). However, the angels and Heaven have gotten so deeply involved in the storylines of Supernatural lately that they barely fit – and it just might be time for Heaven to get its own show. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve enjoyed the aspects of this season dealing with the angels and Heaven, but there just isn’t enough room in one show to deal with all the complex issues Heaven entails while believably maintaining a focus on hunting and good old weekly monsters. Seasons ago, Supernatural was able to meld some of its seasonal story arcs with excellently-written monster of the week episodes, but with the angel storyline as it is, it’s just too big to adequately be adequately addressed that way while leaving room for the day-to-day hunting, geeky references, and human interactions.
So, perhaps instead of trying to squeeze the angel storyline into a hunting show, Heaven could benefit from its own storyline – one that, based on this season, could essentially focus on the issues surrounding creating a new society. How does a race of beings without free will create their own society? How do they make laws, establish a hierarchy, and forge social structures? What does this society of immortal beings live for? How do they solve conflicts of interest about faith and what angels are supposed to do? Angels can pose dozens of interesting philosophical issues of the kind Supernatural’s really good at addressing, and a spin-off would give it the time and space to do that. Of course, that raises the question of where that would leave fan favourite and series regular Misha Collins – but that issue can be dealt with, possibly by having Cas choose Heaven over Earth, as he’s already tended to do over the seasons.
Purgatory is, according to Supernatural lore, the place where monsters go after they die (though, as Castiel pointed out, there’s the nagging question of where monsters go if they die in Purgatory, which would have to be resolved). It’s unclear whether demons are included in that category of monsters that end up in this monster Heaven, but either way, Supernatural has a long string of fascinating and unfortunately dead monsters. A Purgatory spin-off would provide the perfect way to bring them back and endless possibilities to explore the backstories and motivations of characters from Eve, Ruby, Lilith, Abaddon, Alastair, Meg, and Azazel, to Dick Roman and Gordon Walker. According to Biblical lore, Purgatory is also a place of purification, thus opening up potential storylines about monsters struggling with their monstrosity and attempting to change their nature. That direction, in particular, could bring back a number of beloved and not-so-evil “monsters”: Benny, Madison, Amy Pond….
When I began writing this article, I was all set to point out that since Crowley’s been around so much this season that they might as well give Mark Sheppard his own show and, in the process, get rid of all that uncomfortable moral grey area of the Winchesters constantly working with someone who’s murdered their friends. Since then, Mark Sheppard’s become a season regular on Supernatural and Dean’s become a demon, which means that idea rather ends up down the drain. For all we know, Dean might depose Crowley next season and rule Hell in his own right. However, assuming that Dean becomes human again (which is likely) and that Crowley doesn’t die (which also seems likely), this is a spin-off that could still happen.
I don’t think anybody would say no to a show about Mark Sheppard (even if he were eating crumpets and sassing everybody), and a spin-off about Hell could deal with different factions of demons, loyal to different rulers of Hell and alternatively motivated by faith (like Lucifer’s followers) or self-interest (like the followers of businessman-king Crowley). Also, Hell is pretty much fundamental to the landscape of Supernatural, being the birthplace of demons and whatnot, so maybe it could benefit from a closer look – or perhapsit would be better if it stayed shrouded in mystery.
Hunter and Monster Culture
Supernatural has an almost-unprecedented array of secondary characters that are interesting and well-loved enough to have their own shows. Here are some possibilities for what they may look like.
A Hunter Ensemble Show
Supernatural is special in that, instead of an ensemble cast, it has two leads and very little in the way of a community around them. Castiel is now a season regular, and Bobby used to be around quite a bit, but other than that, Supernatural never truly had a sense of community in the same way a lot of other shows, like Buffy or Castle do. Part of it was always the point: it was the story of the Winchesters against the world, alone and abandoned, outside of family, the law, and any kind of support structures, which is what leads them to many of the actions they take. Although Jensen and Jared and Misha more than carry the show on their own, I often find myself wondering about the hunter community at large, wishing I could find out more about hunter culture and interaction, and explore the way this community passes along information, maintains relationships, and stays under the radar.
There are several Supernatural characters that could form the cast of such a show; unfortunately, most of them are dead, but that’s never been a problem for Supernatural, which means that putting together a well-loved ensemble cast isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility. It could be made up by Jo and Ellen (maintaining the roadhouse and a sort of hunter “base”), Victor Henriksen (who is the hunters’ FBI-liaison and helps them avoid the law), Missouri Mosely (who doesn’t like her sass?) and Pamela Barnes as psychics, Ash and Charlie as the resident hackers/lore database managers, Bela Talbot as a liaison with whom the hunter community grudgingly works because she can get them what they need, and Jody Mills (because she’s badass and everyone loves her). Possibly throw some Campbells into the mix, and maybe some monsters who carve out a place in the hunter community for themselves by striving to be human and perhaps going undercover to provide intel (this would, for example, be a chance to bring back the fan-beloved Benny).
A Monster Ensemble Show
One of the more interesting aspects of the otherwise lacklustre Bloodlines is that it tried to tell a story from the monsters’ point of view – even if those monsters had very little to do with Supernatural’s monsters. In particular, shapeshifter David Lassiter was one of the highlights of the episode, a supernatural creature who struggled to be good and human, even going so far as to abandon his monster family in the attempt to lead a normal life. Sound like someone we know? A monster-themed spinoff of Supernatural could still work if it got the monsters right – portraying them as actually deadly creatures, struggling with alternative ways of surviving and clinging to (or putting aside) their humanity in a world plagued with prejudiced hunters. That kind of storyline would form an interesting mirror for the Winchesters, showing the desire for humanity and normalcy from the point of view of monsters rather than hunters. There’s no shortage of characters on Supernatural that could fit this bill and which fans would love to see make a comeback: Benny, Garth and his family, Kate from Bitten in season eight, vampire Lenore from season two, werewolf Madison from season two… Furthermore, the story could be fleshed out by a few darker human-turned-monster characters, such as hunter-turned-vampire Gordon and Benny’s girlfriend Andrea.
The Jody Mills Show
Though I mentioned Jody above as part of an ensemble cast, there’s a great deal of feedback from the Supernatural fandom lately about how they’d love to see a show starring Jody. Whether that enthusiasm is enough to garner sufficient ratings and get a show on the air is a bit unclear, but the fact remains that Jody’s one of the most interesting, complex, strong, and well-loved secondary characters on Supernatural.
Who doesn’t love Felicia Day? First introduced in an otherwise uninspiring season seven, she’s a geeky, savvy, witty hacker, full of clever comebacks and nerdy references. She has her own brand of hunting – using cleverness and technology rather than good old brawn. A show with her would combine an awesome geek hero, a queer protagonist, and a version of hunting that’s more than just pointing and shooting. Plus, maybe this show, unlike The Big Bang Theory, would get it right about what it means to be a geek.
Krissy Chambers and the Freaks and Geeks
Remember Krissy Chambers and all the other teenage hunters-in-training? They showed up around the end of season eight, and served as a sort of parallel for the Winchesters- young and naïve and yet strangely deadly, making their way into hunting without quite knowing what they’re getting into. A spin-off focusing on this group would possibly draw in a younger audience; I could see a Buffy-style show, with these hunters in training navigating adolescence, coming of age, high school and college, and relationships – all while balancing that with saving people and hunting things.
The Crack Theories
I couldn’t write this article without adding this section: the spinoffs that no network would actually make, but which are a hell of a laugh to think about.
Gavin McLeod in the future
If “King of the Damned” is anything to go by, Gavin McLeod attempting to deal with the future, getting drunk and going on about being the Prince of Hell, and arguing with Crowley would make from a great comedy.
I have no idea what this show would entail, but apparently everyone in this fandom (except me) loves Gabriel enough to sell their soul to bring him back, so I could definitely imagine a show that was all-Gabriel, all the time. There would be shenanigans, each new episode would have a different genre/style/aesthetic, and none of the plots would make sense. Every once in a while, the Winchesters would show up to do their trademark “annoyed” faces.
And, to save the best for last….sometimes the Supernatural fandom goes a little crazy during the hellatuses (hellish summer hiatuses), which means that the following ideas (sources here and here) ensue:
(Thank Metatron that the Supernatural cast takes ridiculous promotional photos)
Which Supernatural spin-offs would you love to see? Tell us in the comments!
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