Supernatural has survived to see the rise and fall of many shows on its network. It even survived the death of a network. When The WB, where Supernatural first premiered in 2005, merged with UPN to become The CW in 2006, Supernatural went with it.
Supernatural holds the record for longest running American scifi/fantasy show and will no doubt hold the record for a while, even after it ends following Season 15 at 327 episodes. It’s only understandable that such a long running show has amassed itself quite the loyal and fervent fanbase. Supernatural has had a real impact on their fans, and the fans on the show itself.
“It has been an amazing fandom and it has coalesced as sort of a community which seems to also have its own ethos and culture,” Misha Collins told us at this summer’s TCAs. “I mean, it’s very interesting to watch something like that evolve and to be a part of it.”
Leading into the final season, executive producer Robert Singer said the fan were energizing at conventions and provided a driving force for the show: “The fans are very energizing for us. When we go to Comic-Con or go to conventions, they really kind of recharge your batteries. You see this passion and you feel like you’re writing for a really passionate audience and that’s been I think something that’s driven all of us.”
Those fans have made a lasting impact of their own. Part of that can be seen with Collins’ GISHWES, or The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, which holds the world record as the largest media scavenger hunt ever.
GISHWES challenges are varied, and might include getting an ice cream parlour to serve an ice cream flavor you invent. One challenge in 2013 asked participants to dress up as The Flash and get their picture taken next to a real particle accelerator. After many emails from GISHWHES participants, the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Fermilab set up special tours for such visitors, who were welcomed as a change to educate more people about the research done at the labs.
The stars of Supernatural have been involved with numerous charitable actions championing mental health awareness and random acts of kindness. The fans did not disappoint and supported these efforts.
Jared Padalecki launched his Always Keep Fighting campaign to benefit the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, which supports people struggling with depression, self-injury and suicide. It was a move inspired by his own struggles. Meanwhile Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins had the You Are Not Alone campaign. T-shirt sales funded the SPNFamily Crisis Support Network — a fan-led community support system where trained fans can help other fans deal with depression, self-injury, and addiction.
“It’s really gratifying because [the Supernatural fandom is] a community that’s done a lot of good,” said Collins. “As a fandom, we have done a tremendous number of really ambitious charitable projects and raised a lot of money. Not only that, the fans seem to really look after one another.”
The fandom truly does support one another and the fundraising efforts of their favorite stars. In fact, the fandom calls itself “Supernatural Family,” a play on the family-oriented themes present in the show and their connection to each other.
Collins founded Random Acts which raises money for causes big and small. The non-profit has built a school in Nicaragua and tackled worldwide childhood hunger.
“I will say that… we have been so fortunate to have a fanbase that is so charitable,” Ackles told us at SDCC. “It’s just an incredible thing to see and I think that, that family is certainly the legacy that we’re going to be proud of. Its those people that have found each other through the show, and I’ve heard more times than I can count, that I met my best friend; you know on a chat site or something about the show.”
Other Supernatural actors have also contributed to charity. Rob Benedict, who plays Chuck/God in the show, raises money for the National Stroke Association. This is another personal connection, as Benedict suffered a stroke in 2013. Richard Speight Jr (The Trickster/Gabriel) and Matt Cohen (Young John Winchester) have raised money for Feeding America and Random Acts.
One subset of the fandom came together initially to support the spinoff idea of Wayward Sisters. When that failed to materialize, the fandom didn’t evaporate. Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster, who play Sheriff’s Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum respectively, still work together even off the screen. They’ve partnered with the non-profit dog training program New Leash on Life that pairs inmates with dogs at risk of euthanasia.
The “Wayward AF” fans support charitable causes of their own. T-shirt and merchandise sold through Stand’s Shop currently benefit RAICES Texas and the Alzheimer’s Association. You can see the shop here. Katherine Ramdeen, one of the stars of the ill-fated Wayward Sisters spinoff, raises money for Trapking, which help maintain feral cat populations.
“No one gave two craps about her. But they should have, because this 1967 Chevrolet Impala would turn out to be the most important car – no, the most important object – in pretty much the whole universe.” – Chuck in “Swan Song.”
A show about monster hunting has had real world effect on car sales. Thanks to Supernatural highlighting the black 1967 Chevy Impala as the unofficial other main character of the show, the ‘67 Impala has gotten more interest in recent years. It was the most searched for car on ClassicCars.com around Season 12 of the show. In October of 2016, that site saw 50,000 searches for the ‘67 Impala.
For such an iconic car, it’s hard to believe show creator Eric Kripke almost didn’t choose it. He originally had his eye on a ‘65 Ford Mustang, but was convinced by his neighbor that a 67 Impala was the way to go. “My neighbor said it has to be a ’67 Impala, because you can put a body in the trunk,” Kripke told the Daily Telegraph in 2007. ‘You want a car that, when people stop next to it at the lights, they lock their doors.’”
One way Supernatural has nodded to the fans has been through several meta episodes. In “The Monster at the End of This Book,” for example, Sam and Dean are introduced to Chuck Shurley as the author of a series of books about them. The Winchesters are introduced to the fandom, including Sam Girls, Dean Girls and Slash fans. It was a good natured way to poke fun at the fandom.
The next Chuck-centric episode was “The Real Ghostbusters” when Sam and Dean are invited to a Supernatural convention. The annoying questions the fans ask could only have been influenced by real conventions.
The show went extra meta in “The French Mistake” when Sam and Dean were transported to a universe like our own; Supernatural is a TV show and Sam is married to Genevieve Padalecki. They also called out how the character Bobby Singer was named after producer Robert Singer. It was a cartoonish representation of reality, making fun of the show’s production and supposedly low ratings despite making it to six seasons at the time.
In Season 10, Supernatural had its “musical” episode. “Fan Fiction” showed an all girls school putting on a production of Supernatural. The episode poked fun at Destiel, the term shippers use to refer to the Dean and Castiel relationship. The musical episode even addressed real fan concerns by including a cameo of Adam. When Sam asks who it is, a girl says, “Oh that’s Adam, John Winchester’s other son. He’s still trapped in the Cage. In Hell. With Lucifer.” This was a full five seasons before Adam’s return was officially announced this year.
Only on a show like Supernatural would they find funny ways to reference the fandom in character.
Fanart and Homage
With any great fandom comes great fanart of many mediums. One needs only to do a simple Google search to see bushels of Supernatural fan art: illustrations, comics, memes, alternate movie posters, genderswapped scenarios… the list goes on.
A notable example is The Hillywood Show’s Supernatural parodies on YouTube. The sister Youtubers Hilly and Hannah Hindi not only made high quality musical parodies, but also got the cast from Supernatural to help out. In the first one, Osric Chau (who plays Kevin) played Sam Winchester, and they got plenty of star cameos in a dance montage at the end. In their second parody, set to the Ghostbusters theme, they got so many actors from the show that you’d need to watch it four times to find them all. They ironically brought Jake Abel’s Adam out of Hell a full year before the Supernatural team revealed they’d bring back Adam.
Supernatural has found itself referenced and homaged in numerous comics. In Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #23, Deadpool himself is standing in front of a ‘67 Impala, describing the plot of the series. Also in the Spider Family Silk contained an homage to Supernatural. In Batman Vol. 2, Issue 18 a character gives a hard drive of favorite Supernatural episodes to her brother. In X-Factor: Scar Tissue, a character references their knowledge of the occult being due to working on the set of Supernatural for six months.
Impact on Television and Culture
At Season 12, Supernatural surpassed Smallville as the longest running American sci-fi/fantasy series… and then just kept going.
“How does this impact television as a whole?” Collins posed. “I mean, it’s a long running show with a really ardent fan base and it’s gotta somehow shift how things are done on a global scale.”
Supernatural has benefitted from a worldwide audience, with big numbers in Brazil, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A deal with Netflix in 2011 put the first six seasons up on the streaming service and further influenced their worldwide reach. That influx of new eyes brought up the viewership almost 20 percent for Season 8’s premiere, a gain of 1.86 million viewers.
Supernatural got so big, it also made its mark on San Diego Comic Con when Warner Bros announced a Supernatural panel in the coveted Hall H in 2016. Hall H, Comic-Con’s largest convention room that holds 6500 people, is typically reserved for huge movie reveals. Prior to 2016, the only TV panels to reside in Hall H were Lost, Heroes and when Kevin Smith got Reaper in on his panel. Supernatural just held its last Comic-Con panel this past July.
“We never felt like we had to tailor the show for something, some trend that seemed to be happening. We just wanted to keep our nose to the grindstone and do our show the best we could,” said Singer. “We just want to tell the best stories we can and fifteen years I guess that’s a pretty good way of going about business.”
Supernatural’s creator Eric Kripke could never have foreseen what his story about two brothers on a hunting road trip would become. Supernatural proved to have the right formula to not only attract a loyal fanbase, but inspire those fans to contribute immensely to charitable efforts, be inspired to create their own art, and hold a worldwide appeal.
Supernatural Season 15 will premiere on The CW on Thursday, October 10 at 8 p.m. Read more about the final season here.
Read and download the Den of Geek SDCC 2019 Special Edition Magazine right here!