It’s hard to believe now that Supernatural – the longest-running series in The CW’s history – was originally only meant to run for five seasons.
At the end of season five, creator Eric Kripke stepped down as showrunner having completed his planned five-season arc, but this didn’t spell the end of the show and it is now months away from season 14 premiering in the US, although some fans are worried that it could be the last ride for Sam and Dean.
The concern stems from 2016 quotes from stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki ahead of season 12 where they outlined that they’re only looking at the next milestone with the show. “In a marathon, I keep my sights on that next mile, wherever that might be,” Ackles told EW. “And 300’s a good number to work for.”
Padalecki added: “When we get to 300, I think Ackles and I will think it might be time to say bye. There’s a chance that changes, but we certainly do not take it for granted that we’re going to make it to 300.”
In case you haven’t been keeping track, that milestone will be reached with episode 13 of season 14, which is what has set some fans on edge.
Fortunately for them, co-showrunner Andrew Dabb has been trying to play down fears that the next season will be the show’s last. “I don’t think that’s going to be our end,” he told TVLine. “I think we’re going to keep going. I think there are more stories to tell.
“Three hundred is an awesome, awesome benchmark – very, very few shows get there; it’s like us and Gunsmoke – but I don’t think that’s our ending point.”
And then Padalecki enthused that the “quality is higher than it’s ever been”. “As long as they’re willing to keep picking us up, then count me in,” he confirmed, with Ackles adding: “I will revise that statement and say 300 seems like a nice benchmark.”
But wait, what if The CW isn’t as confident about the future of the show? “That show will go on as long as it keeps going, the boys keep doing it and the ratings keep holding,” The CW president Mark Pedowitz told Deadline in January 2018, ahead of the show’s season 14 renewal.
So everything seems rosy for the show to survive into season 15 and probably beyond, but it was confirmed this week that season 14 would be the show’s shortest run for over a decade at 20 episodes.
Sure, some shows would kill for that kind of season order, yet when every other season – bar season three which was hit by the writers’ strike – has been 22 or 23 episodes, it is a little odd, especially as there’s been no reason for it.
The good news for fans is that it’s a 20-episode order and not 13 episodes, as ending a show on 307 episodes doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But maybe it’s a sign that the writers are building towards an end game with a defined episode limit.
After all, we know that the plan is to have a proper finale to the show, as it’s not like The CW would drop the axe on one of its most successful shows ever.
“I think it would be bad for this show to just ride off in the sunset without a finale. I think we’ve earned that. I don’t know what that finale is, but we’d certainly like to do one,” executive producer Robert Singer said in the same 2016 interview with EW.
And maybe the season 13 finale that saw Dean taken over by the archangel Michael is the start of that end game. It’s long been thought that the final battle of Supernatural will be Michael vs Lucifer, with Michael in Dean’s body and Lucifer in Sam’s body, so unless there’s a quick reset at the start of season 14, it’s certainly set up for the epic battle.
But every Supernatural fan would know that Sam or Dean (usually Sam) being taken over by a higher being is almost as common as them dying on the show, so we don’t think we can read too much into this until we learn more about season 14, potentially at Comic-Con.
What’s more, the latest attempt to expand the Supernatural universe with season 13 backdoor pilot ‘Wayward Sisters’ didn’t pan out with The CW not picking it up for a series. Given the long-running success of Supernatural, we doubt the network would want to finish the show without a way of keeping it alive with a spin-off, guaranteeing a built-in audience for that show too, meaning we could expect a further backdoor pilot in season 14.
So while the shortened episode order is a slight cause for concern, we don’t think season 14 will see Sam and Dean lock up the Impala forever, but Supernatural fans might want to prepare for the worst… just in case.
Supernatural airs on The CW in the US and E4 in the UK.
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