“I appreciate what you’re saying—that I figured out how to deploy our fans for my own personal gain,” Collins jokes to . “I guess I should take some credit for mobilizing people, but I think I tapped into a fandom that just had a very organic creativity, and enthusiasm, and energy, and devotion.”
The Best Supernatural Episodes From Each Season
All this to say, Sam and Dean Winchester may have entered into last night’s series finale of Supernatural alone after defeating Chuck and losing their angel, Castiel, but they certainly didn’t drive across the finish line by themselves.
No, this journey truly belongs to the fans, writers, cast, and crew who have left their mark on the Supernatural fandom forever. “It’s hard to not draw the parallels,” Collins says. “Sam and Dean are all about fighting the forces of evil in the supernatural universe, and I feel like the Supernatural fandom has been doing that in the real world in these really lovely, meaningful ways.”
So, how do you say goodbye to something so powerful that spans a decade and change? spoke to six invested fans as well as four more actors from the long-running CW series about the fandom’s legacy and what comes next.
Remember, nothing ever really ends, does it?
Kim Rhodes joined the cast of Supernatural back in Season 5 as Sheriff Jody Mills, a one-off character forced to kill her own son—well, the murderous zombie version of him anyway. She then came back for an episode in Season 6…and three in Season 7…and so on and so forth until she became a standout of the series as well as the convention circuit—even starring in the backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff “Wayward Sisters,” which was not picked up by the CW. “Supernatural opened up my brain and my heart,” Rhodes says. “I love the fact that I paid rent and insurance and got to make some good friends, but the Family has also asked me to show up for myself. Knowing that my voice is heard and I can give others a voice as well—it’s magic.”
What’s next? While Rhodes knows there will be conventions, she says it’s important to understand that things may never be the same. “I really want to honor the fact that Supernatural is going away,” she says. “I really want to honor it by acknowledging the fact that it will never be like that again.”
Her advice to fans in mourning? “I’m going to say cry more,” she says. “We cannot get to the other side of loss, without acknowledging the loss has happened.”
Leo moved from Egypt to the United States in 2012, which pretty much lines up with the year he fell in love with Supernatural, and specifically the dynamic between Sam and Dean. “I was working two jobs at the time and barely had time to eat or sleep but I still managed to record the episodes and find time to watch them between my jobs,” he recalls. Now, Leo is a full-time YouTuber, with a channel completely devoted to his favorite series called Wayward Winchester.
“I was devastated, to be honest, like pretty much most fans,” he says of hearing the final season announcement. “The closer we get to the finale, the worse I feel about it because there’s less time left for the show, but I keep my head down, keep doing what I do as far as my work on my channel, and I try not to think too much about it because you can’t do anything if you just keep being sad about it. I still get to work and enjoy whatever is left.”
What’s next? “That’s an easy question for me,” Leo says. “I’m going to keep making content about Supernatural. I’m glad we had this show in our lives and we always have the show to rewatch.” Or maybe even a reboot or movie down the line? “Nothing really dies in Supernatural, as the actors say.”
Jules, who works for a breast cancer screening clinical program in Melbourne, Australia by day, has worked tirelessly since 2006 to bring Supernatural fans together online and in person. On top of running the Supernatural Wiki website—which she says is even used by the crew of the show to keep tabs on 15 years worth of lore, characters, and more—she has published books and hosted events for members of the SPN Family at San Diego Comic-Con.
“[The Supernatural fandom] is a creative greenhouse. It’s allowed me to write both fiction and nonfiction, to run a website, to learn how to manage a community,” she says. “That’s what continually stuns me. For so many people who may not see themselves as an artist or a writer, they get to have somewhere where their work it’s appreciated. In this world, having a space for creativity is a pretty rare and precious thing.”
What’s next? “The fandom’s not going anywhere,” she promises. “Knowing that the fandom doesn’t finish when the finale of Season 15 airs is really important. Those relationships and connections will continue.”
Matt Cohen (Director/Young John Winchester/Michael)
When I asked Jules who amongst the cast is most embedded in the fandom, she immediately mentioned Matt Cohen. Though the actor has only been in three episodes of the series since he first appeared in Season 4 as a younger version of Winchester patriarch John, he’s gone on to attend over 100 Supernatural conventions, where he hosts karaoke events and speaks on panels. Most recently, he was back on set to direct the pivotal Season 15 episode, “Gimme Shelter.”
“I was terrified that nobody was going to know who I was,” he says of his first convention in New Jersey back in 2008. “It was such a supportive environment and it could only nurture you if you allow it. It can only help you grow if you’re willing to let the people in and let them really affect you.”
What’s next? “Supernatural is just so special. It can’t not exist. It’s just impossible,” Cohen insists. “The show created magic amongst all of us ordinary people. And we share that with the fans and the fans share their magic with us. So it can’t go anywhere. It’ll just be here in some way, shape, or form. I feel so lucky and grateful to be part of it. It’s extraordinary.”
Perhaps a young John Winchester prequel? “I can write it and develop it right now and pitch it to you,” Cohen says with a laugh.
Stacie was about to go to her first convention when COVID-19 shut it down. Prior to that, her fandom experience involved blogging and creating the web series The Cleaners, following two Black women within the Supernatural universe who clean up after the Winchester brothers. However, her connection to the SPN family has been tested.
“Our fandom is incredible and I’m still gonna stick with [saying] it’s the best fandom there is…the caveat is for minorities—in particular Black fans,” she says. “When George Floyd happened and Breonna Taylor, it was honestly disheartening. When the hurricane happened in Texas, [the cast and fans] were the first to donate all their money. Where is everybody at for Black people? It’s been quiet.”
That is until the cast began hosting panels on racial inequality, the criminal justice system, and more with Black Lives Matter activists and politicians. “Misha and Jensen and Danneel [Harris-Ackles] redeemed the fandom,” she says. “I was ready to walk away. I was like, ‘why am I devoting all this love and all this energy and time to something that doesn’t love me back?’ It’s kind of like being a Black woman in America.”
Stacie, who trains nurses to use their computer software at hospitals, has still leaned on fandom during the pandemic to a certain extent, attending her first online StageIt panels through Creation Entertainment and participating in Collins’ week-long annual scavenger hunt GISH for the first time ever. “I’ve been more involved in the physical sense which is weird because we’re on lockdown.”
What’s next? “I think I will always be a part of the Supernatural fandom because I love the story. It’s a universal story, it’s a human story, it’s a good vs. evil story,” Stacie says, adding that she’s still committed to going to one in-person convention. “When the dust settles and the smoke clears, [the Winchesters] remind me to get back in the fight. I have this saying, that I have to ‘Winchester up’ against insurmountable odds—because it seems like racism is never gonna end. But I’m gonna Winchester back up and jump in it.”
Lynn is a licensed psychologist and professor who has published six books on Supernatural and fandom and credits the show with multiple aspects of her life and career. “[Without Supernatural], I don’t think I ever would’ve decided to actually try to get a book published,” she says. Throughout her 13-year “obsesson,” Lynn has traveled all over the world for conventions and wrote a new book, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, with chapters contributed by SPN cast members and fans discussing the series’ legacy to cure her final season “denial.
Given her unique perspective on fandom, Lynn has advice for fans struggling with what she describes as “disenfranchised loss”: respect your grief. “If you lose a person from your life or you lose a job that you’ve cared about, everybody is going to support you. Everybody’s going to understand that. But when the kind of loss that you’re experiencing is a television show, people tend to look at that as pretty frivolous,” she explains. “Don’t let anybody tell you that this is not legitimate grieving. It is okay to feel sad and it’s okay to do all the things that we do when we’ve lost something. It’s important for us to find a way to hang on to it, find a way to celebrate it.”
What’s next? “There’s still going to be a lot of vibrancy to the fandom and I want to stick around to kind of record what happens with this fandom and keep researching its legacy,” Lynn says. “I’m sure I will do another book when we can really make it a backward look. I don’t think I’m going anywhere.”
There is perhaps no actor who quite represents the way fandom and the cast intersect better than Richard Speight Jr., who went from acting on Supernatural as a one-off Trickster demigod before evolving to the archangel Gabriel to directing multiple fan-favorite episodes, including Castiel’s farewell, “Despair.” And that’s on top of being the go-to MC of the Supernatural conventions for the past seven years and creating the web series Kings of Con with his fellow SPN Family member Robert Benedict (aka Chuck, aka God).
“The conventions are the connective tissue between the fandom and the show itself and being the sole frontman of that put me right in the middle of all that madness,” he says. “There’s not a lot of performers who have been where I am right now and getting to see this play out in real-time.”
What’s next? “I was directing Supernatural and Lucifer this past season, but as for what happens after this…I don’t know,” Speight Jr. says. “I’ll never not want to be front and center holding the microphone and doing what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. As long as we can keep the quality high and keep the guest list solid with our talented buddies, and I think it’ll still be something worth doing and, and something worth attending.”
As someone with chronic illnesses and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Cindy has spent the better part of her 30s advocating for positive representation of disability in media by organizing panels and events on disability inclusion with Supernatural actors, including a SDCC panel with Shoshannah Stern (Eileen) and Rachel Miner (Meg).
The Supernatural fandom has come through for Cindy as well, banding together to raise money for a new scooter so she can move more freely, especially at conventions where it can be tough to navigate through the crowd. “It’s proof that when it matters, this fandom comes together,” she says.
What’s next? “We’re just going to keep raising money for good causes and keep doing fan art and finding ways to take these characters and use them to help influence ourselves,” Cindy tells me. “If I’m going through a hard time, I can wear a t-shirt that reminds me of the character who I admire. I wear Supernatural things and my GISH sock monkey hat when I go for an IV or go for shots because then I can look down and think of the characters or think of the fandom and feel like I’m not alone.”
Dean is a 23-year-old actor, filmmaker, and exotic dancer who often cosplays as his favorite Supernatural characters. “People know me as the Portland Castiel or the pole dancing Dean,” he says.
Dean came out as trans around his senior year of high school, and it was his connection to Dean Winchester’s story that helped him find the courage. (Though his name is not actually a direct reference.)
Since then, he’s attended multiple conventions and is a part of Castiel’s Angels, a group of fans who make products and crafts for the various charity campaigns led by Supernatural cast members and Random Acts. Like everyone else on this list, he doesn’t see the SPN Family going away anytime soon.
What’s next? Dean says he is working on an unofficial Supernatural project, which is making the grieving process a bit easier. However, even without that, Dean feels confident that the SPN Family will carry on long after Supernatural ends. “Look towards Firefly! That fandom is still holding on and it only had one season,” he says. “Imagine how long we’re going to last as a fandom.”
The actor behind the biggest bad to ever bad on Supernatural has been a part of the convention circuit for over a decade, but it was having a stroke in the middle of a 2013 convention that really solidified his feelings towards the SPN Family.
“I had a stroke on October 13th, 2013 while I was signing autographs. It was the event that changed my life and it was quite traumatic,” Benedict recalls. “The outreach from the fans was overwhelming. People reached out and sent messages and prayers. And, sure enough, I learned to talk again, my pulse came back on my left side, and I healed. I felt like that forever bonded me with the fandom.”
What’s next? “In terms of the legacy of Supernatural, it feels to me like a chapter is closing and I’m kind of excited about what the next chapter is going to be for me,” he says. “It’s funny ‘cause my character on the show talks a lot about ‘the end’ and how ‘endings are hard,’ but I think that we should all take this time to sort of remember how incredible this experience has been. This phenomenon of Supernatural has changed all of our lives and it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to laugh, but I think we should just give thanks because it’s been such an epic thing to be a part of.”
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