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Supernatural is an American drama/horror television series starring Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, brothers who hunt demons and other figures of the paranormal. The series, which is filmed in Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, debuted on September 13, 2005 on The WB, and is now part of The CW's lineup. Created by Eric Kripke, it is produced by Warner Bros. Television, in association with Wonderland Sound and Vision. The score is composed in rotation by Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska. The current executive producers are Eric Kripke, McG, and Robert Singer; former executive producer Kim Manners died of lung cancer during production of the fourth season.

The fifth season began airing on September 10, 2009. Featuring 22 episodes, it will conclude the series' main storyline.

Production

Conception and creation

Creator Eric Kripke feels that America's urban legends are "every bit as fleshed out as any world mythologies".
Before bringing Supernatural to television, creator Eric Kripke had been developing the series for nearly ten years, having been fascinated with urban legends since he was a child. Although he had envisioned Supernatural as a movie, he spent years unsuccessfully pitching it as a series. The concept went through several phases before becoming the eventual product, shifting from the original idea of an anthology series to one of tabloid reporters driving around the country in a van "fighting the demons in search of the truth". Kripke wanted it to be a road trip series, feeling that it was the "best vehicle to tell these stories because it's pure, stripped down and uniquely American... These stories exist in these small towns all across the country, and it just makes so much sense to drive in and out of these stories." Because he had previously written for the WB series Tarzan, Kripke was offered the chance to pitch show ideas to the network, and used the opportunity for Supernatural. However, the network disliked his tabloid reporter idea, so Kripke successfully pitched his last-minute idea of the characters being brothers. He decided to have the brothers be from Lawrence, Kansasmarker, due to its closeness to Stull Cemeterymarker, a location famous for its urban legends.

When it came time to name the two lead characters, Kripke decided on "Sal" and "Dean" as an homage to Jack Kerouac's road-trip novel On the Road. However, he felt that "Sal" was inappropriate for the main character, and changed the name to "Sam". It was originally intended for the brothers' last name to be "Harrison" as a nod to actor Harrison Ford, as Kripke wanted Dean to have the "devil-may-care swagger of Han Solo". However, there was a Sam Harrison living in Kansas, so the name had to be changed for legal reasons. Combining his interest in the Winchester Mystery Housemarker and his desire to give the series the feel of "a modern-day Western", Kripke settled on the surname of "Winchester". However, this also presented a problem. The first name of Sam and Dean's father was originally "Jack", and there was a Jack Winchester residing in Kansas, so Kripke was forced to change the character's name to "John".

Growing up, Kripke connected to television shows that had signature cars, such as the The Dukes of Hazzard and Knight Rider. This prompted him to include one in Supernatural. He originally intended for the car to be a '65 Mustang, but his neighbor convinced him to change it to a '67 Impala, since "you can put a body in the trunk" and because "You want a car that, when people stop next to it at the lights, they lock their doors." Kripke has commented, "It’s a Rottweiler of a car, and I think it adds authenticity for fans of automobiles because of that, because it’s not a pretty ride. It’s an aggressive, muscular car, and I think that’s what people respond to, and why it fits so well into the tone of our show."


Kripke had previously pitched the series to Fox executive Peter Johnson, and when Johnson moved to Wonderland Sound and Vision as president of TV, he contacted Kripke. Johnson soon signed on as co-executive producer, as did Wonderland owner McG as executive producer, with the production company set to make the pilot episode. Before it could be filmed, however, script issues needed to be dealt with. Originally, the brothers were not raised by their father, but rather by their aunt and uncle. Thus, when Dean comes to Sam for assistance in the pilot episode, he has to convince him that the supernatural exists. However, Kripke realized that this made the backstory too complicated, and reworked it with Peter Johnson so that their father raised them to be hunters. The script went through many additional revisions. One of the original ideas was for Sam's girlfriend Jessica being revealed as a demon, which prompts him to join Dean on the road; however, Kripke felt it was more appropriate for Sam's motivation to be Jessica's death, so he had her killed in the same manner as Sam's mother, making them the "right bookends". Other revised concepts include Sam believing Dean to be a serial killer that murders their father, and their father dying in Jessica's place. Filming for the pilot episode was greenlit after director David Nutter, who previously had worked with Kripke on Tarzan, signed on. When the series was eventually picked up, the studio brought on Robert Singer as executive producer, as it wanted Kripke to work with someone with production experience. Co-executive producer John Shiban was also hired to help design the series mythology due to his previous work on The X-Files.

Kripke had the series planned out for three seasons, but later expanded it to five, and hopes to end it there on a high note.

Writing

The staff for the first season consisted of Kripke and five other writers, with assistants to help with researching urban legends. Most of the work done in writing the series is very collaborative, with the writers often breaking up into groups. At the beginning of each season, the writers are brought together and pitch out their ideas, which are then assigned to a specific writer to be developed. Each story idea is outlined on a dry-erase board, with Kripke and Bob Singer making necessary changes. Afterward, the script is written, and Kripke goes through it to make sure it has the same tone as other episode. Kripke found this task very difficult to do in the first season, but he felt it became easier by the third season, as the staff came to "really understand the show's style".

The tone of Supernatural was heavily influenced by films such as Poltergeist—having the horror happen in a family setting rather than remote location—and Evil Dead 2 and An American Werewolf In London—having bits of comedy mixed in. Commenting on the former, Kripke added, "It's the idea that horror can happen in your own backyard. How many viewers have to worry about the vampire in the gothic castle?" Other influences include The Two Sisters and Asian horror films The Eye, Ju-on, and Ring.

According to creator Eric Kripke, the show originally was intended to focus on the weekly monsters, with Sam and Dean Winchester merely being "an engine to get us in and out of different horror movies every week". His sole desire was to merely "scare the crap out of people". However, a few episodes in, Kripke and executive producer Bob Singer noticed the onscreen chemistry between Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. This revelation caused them to change the series to focus more on the brothers than the monsters, basing the weekly monster around the storyline they wanted for the Winchesters. According to Kripke, "...sometimes we don't even have the monster until way late in the break, once we get all the angst and the drama done first."

Unlike shows with "endless mythology" like Lost, Kripke prefers to keep Supernatural's mythology simpler, saying, "It's so hard to go season after season after season with a mystery and then provide an answer that's going to be satisfying." He prefers to have the series' structure like that of the earlier X-Files episodes, having mythology-based episodes spread through many self-enclosed episodes—Supernatural usually having three self-enclosed episodes followed by a mythology episode. With this format, viewers do not have to have previous knowledge of the mythology in order to watch the series, being able to "join the party at any time".

Effects

Though companies were hired for work on the pilot episode—such as Entity FX for the visual effects—effects departments now work exclusively for the series. Ivan Hayden is the visual effects supervisor, and works with many levels of the production staff. During pre-production, Hayden must go through the scripts, looking for possible visual effects. He then has a concept meeting with the writers, and after settling on the effect designs to use, coordinates with the special effects and stunt departments. Hayden is also present during filming to help the director make sure that the scenes are being filmed in the best way for the visual effects, such as by ensuring that the actors are looking at the correct location where an effect will later be added. Afterward, he then meets with the editors. Another aspect of the visual effects department is coming up with rules and physics for each supernatural creature, though the rules are often bent if it benefits the story.

Music

Supernatural features a synthesized orchestral score, although real instruments such as guitars and cellos are used at times. Special instruments have also been used to relate to specific episodes, such as playing "bluesy gospel music" on a broken-down piano in the faith-healing episode "Faith". Unlike other television shows, the series features two composers: Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska. Each composer scores every other episode, giving them extra time to write the scores, which usually end up being around 30 minutes per episode. They write themes for their own episodes and characters, and work with one another if there is overlap between episodes. They try to base the music on the visuals of the episode, such as in the episode "Dead in the Water", in which off-angle shots are accompanied by repetitive and discordant notes, and spoken words such as "water" and "die" are followed by a lower pitch to create a "gurgly" sound. While there are similarities in the scores for situations such as the brothers and their father, about a third of each episode's score is newly written for the supernatural legend.

While original scores are used throughout episodes, another important aspect of the series' music is classic rock, which creator Eric Kripke threatened to quit over when the network would not allow its inclusion. Most of the songs are from Kripke's private collection, although one of his favorite bands—Led Zeppelin—is too expensive to use. The series has featured such bands as Blue Oyster Cult and AC/DC on more than one occasion. Multiple songs are usually used throughout each episode, and accompany "The Road So Far" sequences before select episodes that highlight a montage of past events. Although Kripke prefers to keep a fine line between the score and songs used, sometimes Lennertz and Gruska are required to write short sections of rock-like music to fill fifteen- to twenty-second gaps, as it would be too costly to acquire song rights.

Filming locations

Though the pilot was filmed in Los Angelesmarker, principal filming takes place in Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker. Thus, on-location filming usually takes place in the area. "Dead in the Water" was filmed at Buntzen Lakemarker, and the final scenes of "Simon Said" were filmed at Cleveland Dam. Other locations used on the show are often reused two or three times, with the art department making variations to conceal this. Heritage Park in Burnabymarker, British Columbiamarker, has been used as a cemetery in "Red Sky at Morning", and as the location of the gingerbread-house cottage in "Bedtime Stories". As well, Riverview Hospitalmarker has served many functions for the series, including an asylum in "Asylum", a hospital in "In My Time of Dying", and a prison in "Folsom Prison Blues". Because episodes usually take place in the middle of nowhere, filming often takes place at an old military base. Having been shut down for years, the buildings have been removed, leaving just roads on which sets are erected, such as for crossroads scenes.

Online distribution

Rather than having the series debut on television, The WB instead made the pilot episode available for online streaming through Yahoo! a week before it was set to premiere on the network as part of a promotional scheme. Following the transition to The CW, Supernatural episodes were added to Applemarker's iTunes Store starting in December 2006, being one of the first CW series to be made available for sale online. The following month, the network began streaming episodes of the series on its website with limited commercial interruption, available for up to four weeks after the initial airings. Beginning January 11, 2007, Australia's Network Ten also began offering full episodes for download via their website, through a deal with Warner Bros. Television. To combat piracy, Ten debuted the second season premiere five days before its initial broadcast in the country, making Supernatural the first major network show available for free download in Australia before being aired. Subsequent episodes became available online just hours after being televised. Around the same time, episodes were also made available for download on Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace. In September 2008, Amazon.com launched its new on-demand TV service, with Supernatural being one of the many television shows available for sale.

DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases

The first season of Supernatural was released as a six-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 5, 2006, three weeks before the premiere of the second season. Including all 22 episodes of the first season, the set also featured DVD extras such as commentaries for the episodes "Pilot" and "Phantom Traveler", deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, and a DVD-ROM sneak-peek at the second season. The set was later packaged with the first season of Smallville as a "Season One Starter Pack", which was released on September 18, 2007. For Region 2, the season was split into two parts, being released on May 22, 2006, and August 21, 2006; the complete set was released on October 2, 2006.

The second season was released as a six-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 11, 2007, two weeks before the premiere of the third season. Including all 22 episodes of the second season, the set also featured DVD extras such as episode commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers, Jared Padalecki's original screen test, and a featurette on the making of the season finale. For Region 2, the season was again divided into two parts, being released on May 14, 2007, and September 10, 2007; the complete set was released on October 29, 2007.

The third season was released as a five-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 2, 2008, two weeks before the premiere of the fourth season, and was eventually released on Blu-ray on November 11, 2008. Including all 16 episodes of the third season, the set featured limited DVD extras, having only bloopers and featurettes. Also included was a digital copy of the season. Best Buy carried a limited—only 26,500 available—box set that included a GreenLight Collectibles 1:64 scale replica of a black 1967 Chevy Impala, the car used by the Winchesters throughout the series. For Region 2, the season was released on August 25, 2008, this time only as a complete set, and its Blu-ray counterpart debuted November 10, 2008.

The fourth season was released in Region 1 as both a six-disc DVD box set and as a four-disc Blu-ray box set in the US on September 1, 2009, one week before the premiere of the fifth season. Including all 22 episodes of the fourth season, the set featured commentaries, bloopers, extended and deleted scenes, and a featurette on Supernatural's mythology. Target bundled a bonus DVD of the Supernatural panel at Comic-Con. As with the first two seasons in Region 2, the fourth season was also divided into two parts, being released on April 27, 2009, and September 21, 2009; the complete set and its Blu-ray counterpart were released on November 2, 2009.

Cast and characters

The series initially focuses only on the brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, as they travel throughout the country hunting the supernatural. Padalecki became interested in the role due to his liking of horror series such as The X-Files and Twilight Zone, which he found similar to Supernatural. He was also excited to play "the reluctant hero", comparing Sam to The Matrix's Neo and Luke Skywalker of Star Wars. As well, Padalecki had previous experience with executive producers McG and David Nutter, the former convincing him to audition for the role. Ackles was originally asked by Nutter to audition for the role of Sam, but preferred the character of Dean after reading the script. At the time of his audition, he was already a series regular on fellow WB series Smallville. After landing the part of Dean, his Smallville role was cut short.

While the series does not have many lead characters, there are many recurring characters. Jeffrey Dean Morgan portrays John Winchester, father of Sam and Dean. Making an appearance in the pilot episode, John does not return until nearly halfway through the first season, after which he becomes a recurring character until his eventual death in the second season's premiere episode, though his spirit returns to help his sons in the season finale. According to writer John Shiban, it was decided early on that John would die. The writers found that having the brothers being separated from their father "split the show". Shiban noted, "...the boys were looking for Dad, and they were looking for a monster of the week, whatever that is, whatever case crosses their path. It became difficult, because it was like - 'what is Dad doing? Is he doing more interesting things than the boys are doing, or what?'" Morgan was initially reluctant on returning to Supernatural for the second season due to his recurring role on the series Grey's Anatomy. Future appearances of the character have been hindered due to Morgan's busy schedule.

Also introduced in the first season are the demon Azazel and his unnamed daughter. While Azazel mainly appears merely as shadows or silhouettes in the first season, only taking physical form when he possesses John Winchester, Azazel's daughter uses a girl named Meg Masters—portrayed by Nicki Lynn Aycox—as a host. Aycox was hand selected for the part by executive producer Kim Manners. In the second season premiere, Azazel's host is portrayed by Fredric Lehne; originally brought on only for one episode, Lehne impressed the showrunners so much that he was asked to return for the season's two-part finale. Even after the character's death, Azazel makes appearances in the fourth season, being portrayed by Christopher B. MacCabe and Mitch Pileggi in the time travel episode "In the Beginning" and by Rob LaBelle in a flashback in the season finale. Likewise, after Azazel's daughter is exorcised from Meg towards the end of the first season, the demon and her host continue to appear in the series, although now as two separate characters. The demon returns for an episode in the second season, temporarily taking Sam as a host, and appears once again in the fifth season premiere, her newest host being portrayed by Rachel Miner. As well, Aycox continues her role in the fourth season when the angry spirit of Meg tries to kill the Winchesters.

Actor Jim Beaver never expected his character's longevity, believing his initial guest appearance would be a "one-shot deal".
writers eventually wanted to flesh out the concept of hunters, resulting in the introduction of many new characters. Actor Jim Beaver makes his first appearance as Bobby Singer, an old family friend of the Winchesters, at the end of the first season. Becoming a sort of surrogate father to Sam and Dean after their father's death, the character recurs throughout the rest of the series. Other hunters appear in the second season with the introduction of Harvelle's Roadhouse, a saloon frequented by hunters. It is owned by Ellen Harvelle—portrayed by Samantha Ferris—whose late husband was a friend of John Winchester. Working alongside her mother is Jo Harvelle, who is portrayed by Alona Tal. Also present is the genius Ash; portrayed by Chad Lindberg, he uses his vast computer skills to track the paranormal. Tal was eventually written out of the series, and believes the reason to be that the producers felt she looked like Sam and Dean's "14-year-old sister". Kripke claims the character was incorrectly conceived, and also cites poor fan reaction for her removal. As well, the character of Ash is killed off in the second season finale with the destruction of the Roadhouse. Ellen was meant to return in the third season, but the episode had to be scrapped due to the writer's strike. As well, the writers intended for her to be featured in the third season finale, but Ferris declined because the deal offered to her was not acceptable, as "It could cost [her] money and work". However, both Jo and Ellen later returned in the fifth season.

For the third season, the writers decided to introduce Ruby, a demonic former witch who claims to the Winchesters to be an ally, to the cast. However, the CW requested that another female be added, so the character Bela Talbot, a self-centered thief who sells occult objects wealthy clients and who was already intended to appear in multiple episodes, was upgraded to a series regular. Katie Cassidy and Lauren Cohan were eventually cast as Ruby and Bela, respectively, though they originally auditioned for the others' role. Though only making six appearances each in the third season, both actresses were credited as stars for their episodes. At the end of the season, Bela was killed off due to negative fan response, and Cassidy was let go due to budgetary reasons.Ruby was recast for the fourth season, auditions only describing the character as "a love interest". Genevieve Cortese took over the role until the character's death at the end of the season.

Wanting to bring in Christian mythology to the series, the writers created the angel Castiel to introduce it. With Kripke wanting to keep the introduction of angels a secret, the character was instead described as a demon during auditions. Misha Collins was cast as the character. Making his debut in the fourth season premiere, Castiel resurrects Dean from Hell after his death in the third season, and comes to be an ally of the Winchesters. The character was originally intended for only a six-episode story arc, but the role was later expanded. Collins was promoted to a series regular for the fifth season, something Collins believes to be mainly due to fan support.

Along with Castiel came other angelic characters, with Robert Wisdom portraying the "militant" and "dogmatic" Uriel, who secretly supports Lucifer; Julie McNiven playing the fallen angel Anna Milton, who eventually regains her angelic form but remains an outcast of Heaven; and Kurt Fuller as Castiel's superior Zachariah, who wishes to start the apocalypse in order to bring paradise to Earth. Though Wisdom's character is eventually killed, McNiven and Fuller continue their roles into the fifth season, and are joined by Mark Pellegrino as the recently released Lucifer. Pellegrino had been the second choice for the role of Castiel, and was offered the role of Lucifer without an audition.

Because the show focuses mainly on the two Winchester brothers, the writers realized that viewers would know that the characters are not in danger of being permanently killed. To fix this, the staff often writes in guest characters to give tension to the episode, occasionally having them die.

Synopses

Season One

Season One features 22 episodes that aired in the United States beginning September 13, 2005, and ending May 4, 2006. The first sixteen episodes aired on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, after which the series was rescheduled to Thursdays. Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, team up to find their father, John, who went missing on a hunting trip. However, their father isn't a typical hunter: he hunts supernatural creatures like ghosts, vampires, and various demons and he's trained his sons to do the same. Along the way, Sam and Dean save innocent people, fight creatures and ghosts, and collect clues to their father's whereabouts. Sam begins to mysteriously develop psychic abilities and visions as they travel. They eventually find their father, who reveals that the creature that killed Sam and Dean's mother years earlier is a yellow-eyed demon and the only thing that can kill him is a legendary gun created by Samuel Colt.

Season Two

Season Two features 22 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning September 28, 2006, and ending May 17, 2007. It follows Sam and Dean as they deal with their father's death and continue to hunt the demon with assistance from new allies Ellen, Jo, and Ash. Part of the demon's master plan is eventually revealed as he gathers Sam and others like him to fight to the death.

Season Three

Season Three features 16 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning October 4, 2007, and ending May 15, 2008. Originally 22 episodes were ordered for the third season, but production was halted on December 5, 2007, upon completion of the twelfth episode due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. The season number was shortened down to sixteen episodes, with four new episodes airing in April and May 2008. The plot focuses on trying to save Dean from his deal. Along the way, the brothers meet a demon named Ruby, who has an interest in Sam and claims to be able to help save Dean. Also, they meet Bela Talbot, an "acquirer" and seller of occult objects, who is constantly a thorn in their side. The brothers eventually manage to track down the demon who holds Dean's contract—a being of great power named Lilith—and attempt to kill her.

Season Four

Season Four features 22 episodes that aired on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning September 18, 2008, and ending May 14, 2009. It follows the brothers as they work with angels—Castiel, in particular—to stop Lilith's plan of breaking the 66 seals, which would let Lucifer walk free once again. Sam and Dean's relationship is also strained as Sam starts siding with Ruby over Dean, and gives into his demonic side more and more in order to become strong enough to defeat Lilith.

Season Five

Season Five will feature 22 episodes and currently airs on Thursdays at 9:00 pm in the United States beginning September 10, 2009. Season Five is rumored to be the last season, due to Eric Kripke's statements over the years that he has planned for the show to run for five seasons. Despite this, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have contracts for a sixth season, if the CW chooses to once again pick up the show. The fifth season revolves around the fight to stop Lucifer and save the world from the Apocalypse.

Recurring elements

While the locations and storyline change on a near weekly basis, there are a few things that show up regularly.

Colt

The Colt with thirteen original bullets
The 1836 Colt Paterson, Texas—usually referred to as "The Colt"—was made by Samuel Colt for a paranormal hunter. According to legend, anything shot with it by one of its thirteen original bullets will die, including creatures normally immune to any and all weapons. John Winchester gives it to the demon Azazel in return for Dean's life being spared after an almost-fatal car crash, and at the end of the second season, Azazel uses it as a key to open a gateway to Hell that Samuel Colt had sealed. The last bullet is then used to kill the demon, though it is later repaired to allow the use of more bullets. Towards the end of the third season, Lilith's right-hand demon Crowley acquires the gun and hides it. It is then featured in two time-travel episodes, before Crowley returns it to the Winchesters so that they can kill Lucifer. However, Lucifer later reveals that there are five things in creation that the gun cannot kill, and he is one of them.

The gun used in the series is actually a replica Colt ball and cap gun modified to fire metallic cartridges. On the barrel of the gun is inscribed the Latin phrase "non timebo mala", meaning "I will fear no evil". On the handle is a carving of a pentagram, with much of the finish removed to give it an aged appearance. The props department also has a rubber version of the Colt to be used in fight scenes for pistol-whipping.

The writers have discussed the possibility of a spin-off following Samuel Colt and a group of hunters in the Old West.

Impala

Thought of as the third lead character by the writers is Dean's trademark black 1967 Chevrolet Impala—referred to as the "Metallicar" by fans. Having been passed down to him by his father, it is Dean's most prized possession, with actor Jensen Ackles feeling that it is Dean's "life" and "sanctuary". The brothers travel in it throughout the country as they hunt the supernatural, and the trunk holds various weaponry. In the first two seasons, it has a Kansas license plate with the number KAZ 2Y5, a reference to the Winchesters' home state of Kansas, and the series premiere date of 2005. Towards the end of the second season, the car sports a new Ohiomarker license plate (CNK 80Q3) to aid the brothers in hiding from the FBImarker.

The origins of the Impala were first depicted in the comic mini-series Supernatural: Origins, in which John Winchester takes ownership of the car from Mary's uncle after accidentally getting him killed during a hunt. However, fans responded negatively to this, as John is shown with the Impala in the teaser for the pilot episode, which is chronologically set before the comic series. Due to this, the comic was altered for the trade paperback version, with the Impala's true origins later being depicted in the series' fourth season. Having been sent back to 1973 by the angel Castiel, Dean convinces his father to purchase the Impala over a 1964 VW Van.

All of the cars used in the show are stock 1967 Chevrolet Impalas four-door hardtops. They feature Chevrolet small-block engines, recolored interiors, custom seats, and nonfunctioning radios. Other than the one used in the original, all of the Impalas had to be painted black for the series. One of the Impalas used features a detachable roof and doors for up-close shots, and is capable of being separated in half.

Ruby's knife

Ruby possessed a mysterious and presumably magical demon-killing knife, which Kripke refers to as "a hand-to-hand version of the Colt". Its handle made of elk antlers, the knife has engravings on both sides of the blade, although the symbols are all balderdash. It has been seen and used many times following its introduction in the third season. Upon being stabbed in a vital area, the demon suffers immediate death, usually taking the human host with it. It is unknown if it is effective against other supernatural beings, although it is useless against angels. Furthermore, the demon Alastair is resistant to the knife's power. How the knife functions has yet to be revealed, and creator Eric Kripke doubts it ever will be, stating, "I like to leave some things mysterious. And that’s likely to remain mysterious."

66 seals

Holding Lucifer at bay are over 600 mystical seals, only 66 of which have to be broken for him to be released. The first seal needed to be broken is that of a "righteous man" spilling blood in Hell. The demon Lilith ensures that Dean Winchester gets sent there at the end of the third season. While in Hell, Dean's decision to torture souls breaks the first seal. This allows Lilith to begin breaking the remaining seals, prompting the angel Castiel to resurrect Dean from Hell to stop her in Season Four. The remaining seals are broken over the course of the season, with the final seal being broken by Sam when he succeeds in destroying Lilith in the finale "Lucifer Rising".

Trouble with the law

Because Dean and Sam do not get paid for their hunting, the brothers earn their living and pay for their hunting equipment through credit card fraud, poker winnings, and pool hustling. Furthermore, their investigations often put them on the wrong side of the law, as they have desecrated graves, impersonated various officials, and committed breaking and entering. Framed for murder and bank robbery by shapeshifters, Dean has become a highly wanted man, and the brothers are occasionally pursued by various law enforcement officers, most notably FBI Agent Victor Henricksen. Because of their wanted status, the brothers often use aliases, usually derived from hard rock musicians. However, in the third season episode "Jus in Bello", Sam and Dean are presumed dead in the explosion of the Monument County, Colorado, Sheriff's office and jail, ending the FBI's pursuit of them.

Other media

Promotion and tie-ins

The advertisements that The WB chose for the show went beyond just commercials and billboards. Before the series debuted, the network placed signs for the show at gas station pumps, and gave out rubber glow-in-the-dark bracelets at New York and Los Angels movie theaters. As well, coffee cup sleeves that revealed the image of a "terrified woman seemingly pinned to a ceiling" when heated were distributed to 500 cafes throughout New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The same image was used in special mirrors that the network installed in almost 200 nightclubs throughout three cities in order to reach "young, hip horror fans". Additional advertisements were also placed in bars, movie theaters, and video game stores, with hundreds of the bars also receiving Supernatural napkins and coasters.

As well, the series has many real-life tie-ins. The urban legend website Hellhounds Lair that was featured in the Season One episode "Hell House" is a real website set up by the show's producers. As a tie-in to the sequel episode "Ghostfacers", in which the owners of Hellhounds Lair create their own Ghost Hunters-style reality show, The CW set up Ghostfacers.com. The Winchesters later visit this website in the fourth season episode "It's a Terrible Life". Series tie-ins, however, extend beyond the internet. For a time, Dean's cell number—revealed in the first season episode "Phantom Traveler" to be 1–866–907–3235—was a real number, with Jensen Ackles reading the message: "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates." The second season episode "Tall Tales" featured a tie-in to that week's issue of the tabloid newspaper Weekly World News. The February 19 and March 19, 2007, editions of the paper featured exclusive interviews with Sam and Dean, the articles being written by Paul Kupperberg.

Merchandise

Supernatural has a vast amount of merchandise available, including calendars, t-shirts, shot glasses, and posters. CineQuest.com has released sculpted hand-painted resin mini-busts of numerous characters from the series, including Sam, Dean, and John Winchester, the titular villain from the episode "Scarecrow", and the Woman in White from the pilot episode. The company plans also plans on developing 12-inch figures. Inkworks has released trading cards for the show, some cards featuring actors' autographs and swatches from actual costumes used on the series. As well, a Supernatural pen and paper roleplaying game was developed by Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. Originally scheduled for release in the October 2007, it was delayed until August 2009. The game uses material from the series, novels, and comics.

Further information on the series' mythology and production have been detailed through print. Official companion guides for the first three seasons have been released (ISBN 1845765354, ISBN 1845766571, and ISBN 1848561032), all written by Nicholas Knight and published by Titan Books. Two additional guides written by Alex Irvine, The "Supernatural" Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls (ISBN 0061367036) and John Winchester’s Journal (ISBN 0061706620), have been published by It Books. Irvine's books function as resource guides that contain illustrations and detailed descriptions of the supernatural creatures the Winchester family has encountered, giving additional background on creatures and mythology featured on the show. An official anthology entitled In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural (ISBN 1933771631) was also released, featuring essays covering different aspects of both the series and its fanbase. Premiering on November 27, 2007, was the Official Supernatural Magazine. Published by Titan Magazines, it contains series information and exclusive cast and crew interviews.

The series has also developed an expanded universe. Two six-issue comic book mini-series have been published by Wildstorm, a company under the DC Comics umbrella. Supernatural: Origins depicts the early lives of John, Sam, and Dean Winchester, and shows how John became a hunter. Supernatural: Rising Son, a "a dysfunctional family story", details Dean as he begins following in his father's footsteps. While Kripke was heavily involved with the first series, the writer's strike prevented him from doing so with Rising Son. There are currently plans for a third mini-series that would connect the comics to the pilot episode of the series. Several novels based on the series have also been published. HarperEntertainment published Keith R.A. DeCandido's Supernatural: Nevermore (ISBN 0061370908) and Supernatural: Bone Key (ISBN 0061435031), as well as Jeff Mariotte's Supernatural: Witch's Canyon (ISBN 0061370916). Titan Books is set to publish DeCandido's Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon (ISBN 184856600X) on February 16, 2010, followed by Supernatural: The Unholy Cause (ISBN 1848565283) on April 20, 2010 and Supernatural: The War of the Sons (ISBN 1848566018) on June 1, 2010.

Impact

Ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Supernatural on The WB and The CW, including repeats.

Season Network Timeslot Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Viewers In Millions Rating
1 The WB Tuesday 9/8c September 13, 2005 May 4, 2006 2005–2006 #165 3.81 1.4
Thursday 9/8c
2 The CW Thursday 9/8c September 28, 2006 May 17, 2007 2006–2007 #216 3.14 1.1
3 October 4, 2007 May 15, 2008 2007–2008 #187 2.74 1
4 September 18, 2008 May 14, 2009 2008–2009 #161 3.14 1.1
5 September 10, 2009 May, 2010 2009–2010 TBD TBD TBD


After the first four episodes of Supernatural aired in 2005, the WB decided to pick up the series for a full season of 22 episodes. During those first episodes, the series was ranked third in males aged 18–34 and 12-34. It also posted an increase of 73% in males aged 18–49 from the year before, although it only gained 4% in total viewers, and retained 91% of viewers from its lead-in, Gilmore Girls. Supernatural had low ratings during its second season, with viewers consisting mainly of teen girls, and the CW trying to attract more male viewers. The show's future was in doubt at the end of the second season. Despite mediocre ratings in the previous year, it was back for a third season. Although its third season's rating were low, it did well with viewers aged 18–49. In this category, it ranked eighth of all returning series broadcast by a major network. The show received an early pickup for its fourth season. The shows ratings increased in its fourth season. The fourth season premiere aired on September 18, 2008, averaging its highest rating ever since its debut on The CW Network with 3.96 million viewers, a 33% surge over the season three premiere and a 1.7/5 in adults 18–49, up 42% from one year earlier. On October 16, 2008, the show was watched by 3.06 million viewers, making the lowest rating for the season. On October 30, 2008, the show climbed to its best performance in adults 18–34 (1.4/4), adults 18–49 (1.5/4) and total viewers (3.6mil) since its season premiere on September 18, 2008. For the fifth season premiere, viewership increased by 6% in women 18-34 (1.7/5) over the fourth season premiere. However, taking DVR viewings into account with new Live-Plus 7 Day data, total viewership for the premiere increased 38%, with women 18-34 increasing by 35% and adults 18-34 by 47%.

Awards

With the exception of writer Raelle Tucker, who received the Constellation Award for "Best Overall 2007 Science Fiction Film or Television Script" for the second season episode "What Is and What Should Never Be", Supernatural has not won any major awards. However, the series, cast, and crew have been nominated numerous times. Work on the pilot episode garnered two Emmy Award nominations in 2006, composer Christopher Lennertz being nominated in the category of "Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Dramatic Underscore)" and the sound editors receiving a nomination for "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series". The sound editors received a nomination for the latter award once again in 2008 for the third season episode "Jus In Bello". The pilot episode also brought in a nomination for a Golden Reel Award in the category of "Best Sound Editing in Television: Short Form – Sound Effects and Foley", with work on the first season episode "Salvation" and the second season episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2" gaining the same nomination in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Additionally, the series has been nominated for a Saturn Award in the category of "Best Network Television Series" in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Several nominations have been through the Teen Choice Awards, the series being nominated for "TV - Choice Breakout Show" and Jensen Ackles for "TV - Choice Breakout Star" in 2006. Jared Padalecki received a nomination for the category of "Choice TV Actor: Drama" in 2007. In 2009, the series was nominated for a People's Choice Award for "Favorite Sci-Fi / Fantasy Show", as well as a GLAAD Media Award in the category of "Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character)" for the fourth season episode "Ghostfacers". The guest cast of the series has also been nominated many times. In 2007, Colby Paul was nominated for a Young Artist Award in the category of "Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Guest Starring Young Actor", followed in 2008 by Nicholas Elia for "Best Performance in a TV Series - Guest Starring Young Actor" for the third season episode "The Kids Are Alright" and Conchita Campbell for "Best Performance in a TV Series - Guest Starring Young Actress" for the second season episode "Playthings". Jessica Harmon gained a nomination in 2008 for a Leo Award in category of "Best Guest Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series" for the second season episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1", as did Mandy Playdon the following year for the fourth season episode "Family Remains".

Reception

Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly gave the first season a B, saying the show "comes off as weekly installments of a horror movie series", but that "Adding to the show's cred are the '67 Chevy Impala the boys rumble around in and their kick-ass soundtrack". Jeff Swindoll of Monsters and Critics "really liked" the first season due to its "horrific content and the brotherly chemistry between its two stars". He also noted that the season finished "with one bang of a cliffhanger". Swindoll enjoyed the second season, too, saying that it "still works thanks to the brotherly chemistry between Padalecki and Ackles" and noted the second season focused more on the show's mythology. According to Special Forces Soldier Master Sergeant Kevin Wise at a 2007 Supernatural convention, the DVDs most requested by armed forces personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan were the first two seasons of the series.

Swindoll also liked the third season, saying "Eric Kripke must've sold his soul to the devil so that the show wouldn’t suffer a third season slump." He also enjoyed the moments featuring Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), likening him to the character Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard. However, Daniel Bettridge of Den of Geek! believed that the writer's strike hindered the season, with many issues being left unresolved and the finale feeling "a little rushed". He also felt that new characters Ruby (Katie Cassidy) and Bela (Lauren Cohan) were "disappointingly unexplored and ineffectively used". While Diana Steenbergen of IGN liked that there was a season-long story arc with Dean's demonic deal, she believed that viewers would know that the pact would not be resolved until the finale, making the self-enclosed episodes feel like they are "treading water, waiting for the main storyline to resume".

Another Monsters and Critics reviewer, June L., gave the fourth season a positive review, saying the show "remains intriguing and entertaining, giving viewers much to ponder in terms of the philosophical analysis of the nature of good and evil." Steenbergen felt that the series made a transition from a "pretty good show to being a pretty great show". She praised Misha Collins for his portrayal of the angel Castiel, and felt that the interactions between Dean and Castiel were "one of the highlights of the season". Before the premiere of the fifth season, Rolling Stone listed the series as one of "The 50 Best Reasons to Watch TV", citing Sam and Dean Winchester as the "Bo and Luke Duke of demon hunting".

Fandom and popular culture

Being a cult series, Supernatural has garnered a dedicated fanbase. They are active online, and many have written fanfiction stories about the show, with a portion of the writers dedicated to stories involving a sexual relationship between Sam and Dean Winchester—known as "Wincest". The writers have jokingly referenced this several times in the series. The first fan convention dedicated to Supernatural took place in London in 2007, and conventions have since expanded through to Germany and throughout the United States. The series' stars and large guest cast make appearances, with fans from the United States, Europe, China, and Australia attending.

Before the debut of the series' fifth season, in which Lucifer is finally freed from his imprisonment, fans attempted to promote the show through the website Twitter. Enough fans posted the hash tag "#LuciferIsComing" that it made it into "trending topics"—a list depicting words and phrases posted with the highest frequency on the website. However, Twitter users who were unaware of the fans' intentions responded with numerous posts of "#GodIsHere", and all the messages were eventually removed due to complaints. Actor Misha Collins, who portrays Castiel in the series, tried to continue the campaign by requesting that fans post "#PDiddyIsScaredOfHisTV", rapper P. Diddy being the one whom many fans believe to be the instigator of the initial backlash. However, after an hour, these messages were also blocked.

Notes

References

  1. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.8
  2. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.6
  3. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), pp.8-10
  4. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.13
  5. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.14
  6. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.11
  7. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.10
  8. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.21
  9. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.12
  10. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.150
  11. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.144
  12. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.147
  13. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.148
  14. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.28
  15. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.40
  16. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 3 Companion), p.134
  17. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 3 Companion), p.44
  18. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.60
  19. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.101
  20. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 3 Companion), p.133
  21. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.126
  22. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.130
  23. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.140
  24. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.136
  25. http://tvblog.ugo.com/tv/three-questions-with-supernaturals-misha-collins
  26. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 3 Companion), p.137
  27. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.110
  28. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 1 Companion), p.142
  29. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 2 Companion), p.105
  30. Knight, Nicholas, (Season 3 Companion), p.22
  31. http://tveastereggs.com/2009/05/16/supernatural-the-hell-hounds-lair/#more-50
  32. Rank denotes the relative position of the television series with respect to other prime time shows on the CW, FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC.
  33. Rating is the percentage of all households tuned into the program.
  34. Statistics run from September 19, 2005 through May 7, 2006, leaving out the season premiere.
  35. 2009 Ranking Report
  36. Statistics run from September 22, 2008 through May 17, 2009, leaving out the season premiere.
  37. Michael Lawshe (Supervising Sound Editor), Timothy Cleveland (Sound Effects Editor), Paul Diller (Sound Effects Editor), Marc Meyer (Sound Effects Editor), David Lynch (Sound Effects Editor), Jessica Dickson (Dialog Editor), Karyn Foster (Dialog/ADR Editor), Chris McGeary (Music Editor), David Lee Fein (Foley Artist), and Jody Thomas (Foley Artist)
  38. Michael E. Lawshe (Supervising Sound Editor), Norval "Charlie" Crutcher, III (Supervising ADR Editor), Karyn Foster (Dialogue Editor), Marc Meyer (Supervising Sound Effects Editor), Timothy Cleveland (Sound Effects Editor), Paul Diller (Sound Effects Editor), Albert Gomez (Sound Effects Editor), Casey Crabtree (Foley Artist), Michael Crabtree (Foley Artist), and Dino Moriana (Music Editor)
  39. http://www.huntingtonnews.net/entertainment/060707-rutheford-mcg.html
  40. http://www.sfuniverse.com/2008/02/21/the-2008-saturn-awards-are-announced/
  41. http://scifiwire.com/2009/03/the-dark-knight-leads-as.php
  42. http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Teen_Choice_Awards/2006
  43. http://www.duckydoestv.com/2007/08/26/teen-choice-awards-tonight-on-fox/
  44. http://www.hollyscoop.com/tv/award-show/2009-peoples-choice-award-nominees-announced_1375.aspx
  45. http://www.duckydoestv.com/2009/01/27/20th-annual-glaad-media-awards-nominees-list/
  46. http://www.youngartistawards.org/noms28.htm
  47. http://www.youngartistawards.org/noms29.html
  48. http://www.leoawards.com/nominees_2008.html
  49. http://www.leoawards.com/nominees_2009.html
  50. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-stars-presented-w-13869.aspx
  51. http://www.denofgeek.com/Reviews/105198/supernatural_season_3_dvd_review.html
  52. http://tv.ign.com/articles/876/876511p1.html
  53. http://tv.ign.com/articles/985/985366p1.html
  54. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/637/story/934114.html
  55. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20270843_3,00.html
  56. http://www.theinsider.com/news/776792_Jensen_Jared_and_Supernatural_bringing_people_together_since_2005
  57. http://tv.ign.com/articles/781/781304p2.html
  58. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-slash-this-is-wro-31170.aspx
  59. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/jensen-ackles-headed-to-firste-6330.aspx
  60. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-stars-to-attend-c-10199.aspx
  61. http://www.gailoverholt.com/testscifi/2009/03/creation-entertainment-salute-to-supernatural-vancouver-canada/
  62. http://www.gilmoregirlsnews.com/2009/03/30/jared-padalecki-at-supernatural-event/
  63. http://www.rogueevent.co.uk/spn/index.html
  64. http://blog.twitter.com/2009/04/twitter-search-for-everyone.html
  65. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/lucifer-is-coming-how-supernat-31138.aspx
  66. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/misha-collins-supernatural-fan-31194.aspx?pollid=600001057&answer=600003597#poll600001057
  67. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/is-twitter-silencing-supernatu-31275.aspx


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