Chicago was the very first Supernatural convention, way back in 2007. I was there, overcome with anticipation to see both Jared and Jensen together and to be in a room full of my fellow Supernatural fans. Kathy and I, along with our friends Laura and Karen, had stalked the Creation website for weeks to get the best possible seats, and we couldn’t wait to all be together to celebrate the show that was already changing our lives.
It’s 15 years later, and so much has changed. Kathy, my partner in crime who I went to all the early cons with, and to the Supernatural set, and who I wrote the first four books with, passed away unexpectedly several months ago. Going back to Chicago, where this unlikely fifteen years and counting adventure began, without her was emotional. I felt lucky to have so many of my friends there to remind me how much love I have in my life and what incredible friends I have still here with me. I’m so grateful.
Chicago con always seems special because it’s the site of so many memories. Even though this year’s was in the convention center instead of the familiar hotel where so many cons have been held, I still stayed in that hotel so the nostalgia was real. It’s also the con where I met or became closer to some of my best fandom buds, and making new memories with them this year felt extra special.
Also Jared was back and that was something to celebrate for sure – he missed the last convention in New Jersey after his very serious car accident. He’s still on the mend, but it was wonderful to see for ourselves his smiling face and have his banter with Jensen back to normal. It felt healing to all of us, I think.
Chicago had a great line up of guests, and I caught most of their panels since I flew in at a ridiculously early hour. Free shuttle to the hotel, yay!
DJ Qualls was back for the first time in a while – I always enjoy his panels, and he’s incredibly friendly. All weekend long, every time I walked by his autograph table in the vendor room to get to my book table, he was happily chatting and selfie-taking with fans and enjoying it immensely.
DJ: Jensen is good at everything. For the dance number that we did, he had like a 15 minute head start and knew it all.
A fan asked what his craziest dream was, and DJ started to laugh.
DJ: Heh heh, no. I had one after Jared’s accident…I think I was worried about him… and it was like fan fiction…
So no, he didn’t share it!
I enjoy hearing DJ talk openly about things like gender roles and the pressures of masculinity. He said that he got hurt every single time he did some stunt work on Supernatural, but the expectation was that you just “walk it off” so he did.
Next we had what for me was a real treat – a panel with Katie Sarife and Joy Regullano, who played Marie and Maeve in the Supernatural 200th episode, Fan Fiction. It’s one of my favorite episodes and they were brilliant in the parts. I had coffee with Joy in Vancouver years ago and so enjoyed our chat – it’s linked below if you want to get to know her a little.
Joy identifies as a fangirl herself, wanting to represent fans as “smart people with a passion”, and Katie said that her ex-boyfriend was a huge Supernatural fan. He’s the reason she already knew “Carry On”, in fact.
Since they are Vancouver based actors, they knew the show – and Joy had auditioned before.
Joy: The first role I auditioned for was K Tran – which became the character of Kevin!
Both said they loved the episode and the way it ended, except that they would have loved to come back. Understandable.
What was the most fun working on Supernatural?
Joy: Well, Jared is like 6 foot 15, so it was fun being able to boss him around and like, be mean to him. (In the show!)
She also had a scene in which she adlibbed to Jared (Sam): “Look with your eyes and not your mouth” but unfortunately it got cut. I would like to have seen Jared’s response!
Katie: I learned a cool trick from Jensen, of crossing my eyes and the moving just one of them.
(This made me cringe because Jensen has done that to me to tease me and it’s the only time I have ever run away from him lol)
They also enjoyed the comedy in the episode, right down to the “you can’t spell subtext without S-E-X.” Classic Robbie Thompson.
Joy and Katie were asked if Jared and Jensen pranked them, but they said no.
Katie: I think because we were playing teenagers, there were no pranks. Jared and Jensen were really sweet. And not creepy.
I love that everyone who ever worked on the Supernatural set has nothing but praise for the main cast.
Joy: It was like a master class in acting, watching the experienced actors just snap into character like that.
(I’ve witnessed it too, and to a non-actor it is nothing less than amazing!)
Friday also had a great trio panel of Gil McKinney, Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones. They joked that it was the “grumpy old men of letters panel”! It was Pride month, and David had on his Yasssss Queen shirt given to him by a fan and some truly awesome rainbow socks.
I definitely could not have anticipated how eventful the NJ Supernatural convention a few weeks ago would be! It’s my “home con”, which means I can drive to it. I hate driving by myself so I was happy to be able to drive with a friend, and we headed out early, full of gleeful anticipation. All went well until we got there and drove around the parking garage – and could not find a single spot. I am not a fabulous driver on my best day, and an unfamiliar garage that was nearly impossible to navigate was not helping. My friend was equally nervous, so I couldn’t convince her to take the wheel either – so we gave up and parked at the hotel entrance. She stayed with the car while I went inside and asked what I should do if there were no spots.
Lovely security guy standing nearby: Ma’am, that’s not possible.
Me: I can’t swear that I didn’t just miss them in my panic, but I did not see any.
Lovely security guy (sighing): Okay, come on.
He rode in the back seat as we drove back into the garage, and patiently navigated our way to the entire wing of the garage that was hidden in the back. Oops.
Anyway, I’m a fan of the con hotel for life thanks to that lovely security guy.
In between being in the vendor room, which still feels like a family reunion after we all missed cons for so long. I caught a little of Kim and Briana’s first panel.
They’ve talked before about how much they loved doing some of their own stunts (and would have done more if Wayward Sisters went to series), but Briana also said that she didn’t really know how to move for some stunts. She did an imitation, laughing at herself the whole time.
Kim said she was inspired by the film Wonder Woman, especially how she looked out for her little sister, which was a very Supernatural thing to say. Similarly, they talked about how important it is to “get back on the horse” when you’re had a setback.
Briana: Just make sure you have your people around you. Fandom is a great example.
Kim and Briana together are always magic. There are so many lifelong friendships that were forged from this show and this fandom. They gave us some examples by reading their most recent text conversation aloud. Complete with emojis.
Kim talked a bit about shooting the scene of vamp Dean biting her, which she didn’t mind one bit – except that Jared and Jensen were busy making all kinds of jokes, including yelling for condiments!
I personally would not have wanted the Supernatural finale to end any other way, but I know some people found it really hard to have Dean die so young. Kim had an alternate ending: Sam and Dean turn out to actually be little kids playing, with a little toy Jody and Donna… then we pan up a tree to Cas… and Lucifer… in real life. Waiting.
Dark, Kim! But adorable too.
They gave us the good news that they’re about to record more of the Wayward Podcast, which I really enjoy. Yay!
If you’d like to hear more from Kim and Briana, they wrote very powerful and frank chapters in Family Don’t End With Blood – which are also very inspiring.
Adam Fergus and David Haydn-Jones also had a panel on Friday.
Adam said that David is more like Sam and he’s more like Dean in real life, though I can’t imagine either Sam or Dean in that velour track suit even if they were in New Jersey!
The Creation Supernatural convention’s return to Las Vegas this month was extra emotional for me. Vegas was the last convention that happened before the pandemic became a pandemic, which means it was the last convention of the Before Times. This year, I was once again with my friends who were there with me at Vegas 2020 as we all started to wonder what the hell was happening and clung to each other bolstering our courage to fly back home after a last round of pina coladas and uncertain goodbyes. I remember hugging my friends that night, not knowing it would be a very long time before I saw them again, and then flying home as the world changed around me.
I don’t think the Before Times will ever return in the same way – the world has changed now, in so many ways – so that Vegas 2020 con will always be a symbol of how the world was pre Covid. Despite the fact that things aren’t the same, though, it felt incredibly good to be BACK. To have Jared and Jensen and Misha and everyone else who made the pilgrimage back to where we left off two years ago on stage once again. It felt healing, even if it wasn’t exactly the same – and it felt hopeful, which I desperately need right now.
I have no choice but to be extremely Covid cautious, and all my friends were incredibly lovely and considerate as we ate in our hotel rooms instead of the restaurants we usually frequent and avoided the actual casino (okay, I do that part every time I’m in Vegas…). Creation has done a great job of making the conventions themselves feel safe enough even for me, and I’m very grateful for that also. In 2020, the new book with chapters by the show’s actors and fans that I had put together to celebrate the legacy of the show, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, was not yet released. In fact, it was at the printing press as Vegas 2020 happened, with me on the phone frantically trying to coordinate some last minute changes (I see you laughing, Alana King…). I was thrilled to be able to bring the book to Vegas con this year and share the inspiring messages the actors put together about why Supernatural and the SPNFamily made such a difference to them – and will always be with us.
Vegas con, like all cons, reminded me of the good in the world – and in the fandom. My friends got there early and set up the vendor table for me, Betty working her magic on setting up those banners and convincing me to finally use Venmo and Sue getting everything so organized that we even had printed signs for the table! The con was a reunion with so many fellow fans who I hadn’t seen in way too long, so the weekend was a constant OMG it’s so good to see you fest too. Like the best shot of endorphins all weekend long – and add to that a reunion of sorts with some of my favorite people who made that little show I love so much.
Here are a few highlights from the panels that I caught – work ensured that I missed the entire first day and part of the second, unfortunately. Boo on having to work for a living.
It was wonderful to see Felicia Day again – Charlie is so many fans’ favorite character. In fact, there are multiple chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done written by fans whose lives were touched by the character of Charlie in such a positive and powerful way. I love her sense of humor and her ability to tell a story.
Felicia: When I got the call that Charlie was going to die, I thought OMG my performance was so bad that they wrote me off the show!
She understands that many of us take issue with the way Charlie died, but she also has an enduring appreciation and gratitude for Supernatural and all it brought her.
Felicia: Charlie could have fit through that window, just saying…. But it’s all okay, because even when you’re dead on Supernatural, you’re always part of the family. I would have loved to be on more, but making television is hard and I’m not gonna second guess the people who make this show and loved this show.
She’s excited about the prequel The Winchesters as a fan of Supernatural, especially because Robbie Thompson is showrunner – and of course also created the character of Charlie. She does wish that OG Charlie could have had a story line with Cas though – that would have been fun!
I can’t let March 1 go by without wishing a happy birthday to Jensen Ackles, who has made a significant impact on so many people’s lives, including mine.
I love so much about Supernatural, but I don’t think I would have been as captivated by Dean Winchester as I was 16 years ago if someone other than Jensen had played him. The way he cared about that character, making him nuanced and complicated, imperfect and heroic, and achingly real, made all the difference. Add to that, the way he and Jared Padalecki became brothers on set and off brought the Winchesters to life and created a relationship and a story so unique and powerful that I will literally never get over it.
It’s been a rough few years, and a really rough last month – I recently lost my OG partner in crime Kathy, who fell into Supernatural with me way back in 2006, so I’ve been thinking a lot about those early days that we wrote about in ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’. We were both ‘Dean girls’ which means that Kathy and I spent a lot of time appreciating one Jensen Ackles. We spent whole weekends binge watching Jensen’s earlier shows and movies, rewinding (yes, it was that long ago) favorite scenes from Dark Angel and Dawson’s Creek and Blonde and even Devour (yes, you know the one), sipping cold drinks and occasionally swearing or slapping each other on the knee because DAYUM.
We loved all of his performances, but he drew us in with his brilliant portrayal of Dean Winchester, and that ended up changing both of our lives. Half of our story in ‘Fangasm’ was the two of us propelled by some permutation of “how can we meet Jensen Ackles” into roadtrips and flights and online communities and all kinds of unlikely adventures. How do you thank someone for inspiring something like that??
Over the past 16 years, my appreciation for Jensen has evolved –not that I’m not still a Dean girl, because that is FOREVER, but I also have a lot more genuine appreciation for how hard Jensen works and how much he cares about what he does. Because I care so much about Dean too, I am incredibly grateful for that. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the set and watch him work, and to talk with him about the show and the character many times over the years (and to play an ongoing game of guess-what-was-an-adlib which even he will admit I got frighteningly good at). Dean fascinates me as a psychologist, and I have loved discussing what makes him tick with Jensen – who invariably gets him better than I or anyone else ever could.
I’ve seen how much he puts into a performance, and witnessed firsthand how emotional he is when he’s just gone through something traumatic as Dean. It’s striking, and for me as a non-actor, frightening in how much it clearly takes out of an actor who embodies a character like that. I’ve seen how much he cares, and how much he puts into trying to make a scene ‘right’ – for Dean. I’ll appreciate that always.
I’ll be over here mourning Supernatural forever, which will surprise exactly no one reading this, but as I write this in 2022 I’m also so excited for all the amazing new things Jensen’s doing – if anyone thought all the Supernatural actors wouldn’t be a success after the show ended, they were certainly wrong! I can’t wait to see him bring a new character to life on The Boys, reunited with Eric Kripke on a show I’ve been watching since the start and loving (and enjoying dissecting of course).
There was extra excitement in the air when Creation’s Supernatural convention returned to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville earlier this month – not only was it the last Supernatural con of 2021, but it was a chance for friends to come together to celebrate the holidays in grand style too. The Gaylord is a ridiculous hotel (but I mean that in the kindest way), so gigantic that there’s a freaking river that flows through it and you can take a boat ride down it from one side of the hotel to the other. It is always decorated like it’s Disney World, but for the holidays, they went all out. I am always slightly disoriented when I’m there because it’s a maze of bright lights and indoor jungle pathways, and have been known to get hopelessly lost and call my friend Alana to come find me. I don’t have much of a sense of direction. I also still have an injured knee, and a hotel that’s a boat ride long is not the best place to be when you can’t walk very well, but despite that, I was looking forward to Nashcon 2021. And it didn’t disappoint!
Friends who I hadn’t seen in far too long were at this con, and there were joyful reunions throughout. One group of friends had their whole room decorated like a motel the Winchesters would frequent, free postcards with gorgeous fan art on them hanging on their room door and free for the taking. Another group of friends proclaimed this “Gown Con” and packed their fanciest dresses, then posed for photos all over the hotel – which is just made for photo ops! Other friends wore their own unique versions of Santa hats, which ranged from nice to definitely naughty. I was reunited with my partner in crime, Kim Prior, who of course had her camera and incredible photography talent with her to make the con extra special (as you can see throughout these posts!). And it wasn’t just the fans who were glad to see each other – the actors are also grateful to be reunited, this time with Matt Cohen and Gil McKinney rejoining the fun.
I got in mid day Friday, and managed to catch a little bit of the threesome of Gil, David Haydn Jones and Adam Fergus. Their panels usually go a little off the rails and I always appreciate that. There were sweet moments too though – Gil said that he can’t really facetime with his 5 year old daughter when he’s traveling because she just loses it seeing him when he’s not there. Awww.
Gil was also happy to talk about how it feels to be the Winchesters’ grandfather.
Gil: I mean, Jared and Jensen and Jeffrey Dean, they came out of me…
Gil told some of his ‘yes I was pranked’ stories from Supernatural, including the time there were suddenly filthy pictures on a screen, designed to make him laugh during his coverage.
Adam clarified what’s true about the Supernatural set and the pranks though, after sharing a few pranks he’d experienced too.
Adam: All that and the environment on Supernatural made it more collegial, made us all feel like part of the family.
David came dressed as a cowboy – maybe a guest spot on Walker is in order? He said he knew about Supernatural’s reputation as a great show to work on even before he was cast, because his roommate at the time was a big fan.
A fan asked how it was to play someone so different from himself in Ketch, and David said it was fun simply because he was so different.
David: I’m gonna be brave enough to come out and say I’m anti murder…
The panel did go off the rails eventually, with a fan asking them to play truth or dare and something about if Supernatural was a telenovela.
David: I’d be Sam and Dean’s stepfather….and dominate them… (something about spanking…) …you’re welcome, Ao3!
The Adam and David bromance was in fine form too.
You can read all about Gil’s experience on Supernatural and how the fandom changed him in the chapter he wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, and about David and Adam’s experience in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done.
Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster were next up, equally overflowing with affection for each other and the SPNFamily.
The third Supernatural convention of 2021 kicked off on the one year anniversary of the series finale, which means emotions were running even higher than usual as I was flying to New Orleans. Both Jared and Jensen posted a heartfelt remembrance, Jared including his last call sheet and tape mark from that day that is now in his office along with a panel from the bunker. Jensen sang along to Carry On Wayward Son on the radio as he and the family road tripped down to Nola, as emotional as we all were.
It did help to know that they were as emotional as we all were, as we all converged on New Orleans.
This was a challenging con for me physically because I injured my knee two weeks before, on my way home from Charlotte. How did I do that, you ask? Skiing? Jogging? New exercise routine? Alas, no. I got into a car. Just…. Sat down. That’s it. It’s doubly annoying that I wasn’t even doing anything worthy of an injury, but here we are. That made getting back and forth from hotel to convention center a lot harder than usual, though I was very very thankful that I was at the hotel that was closest to the ballroom!
When I got in on Friday morning, after submitting my Covid test and getting my wristbands, I caught some of David Haydn Jones and Adam Fergus’ panel – they have so much chemistry together and always have a lot fun onstage, which makes their panels a pleasure to watch. They both wrote chapters in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, giving a behind the scenes look at their experience on Supernatural and with the fandom.
A fan asked when Ketch decided not to be with the BMol.
David: When he got shot in the head?
That’ll do it.
Both agreed that they wished they’d had more scenes with each other. And on a less serious note, there was enough innuendo to amuse just about anyone, with the two planning a spa retreat, some wrestling in the snow, wearing chaps on the first date, eggplants (ahem) and a pillow fight, among other things. Similar to Jared and Jensen, Adam and David clearly enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh, which inevitably gets me laughing too.
David told the story of the chupacabra gag reel bit again, which I adore. Just him saying that word makes me giggle at this point.
David: You know it’s a good day on set when the camera is shaking!
The best segment, though, was David overhearing an amorous couple last night in the hotel room next door.
It’s November 19 – a date that will always make my heart ache a little. For most people, it’s just another day, but for me it carries a significance that might seem silly to some, but has real emotional weight for me. It’s the day Supernatural ended. After 15 seasons, the show that changed my life aired its final episode, Carry On, on this date one year ago.
I sobbed my way through the second half of that episode, so violently I came close to making myself ill, and then smiled through my tears as Sam and Dean were finally reunited in Heaven and allowed to live happily ever after. As much as I was on the same page as Jensen Ackles with having a hard time just getting my head around the idea of Dean Winchester dying at all, once I did I was on board, as he was, with how the finale showed us his last moments and gave us an even deeper understanding of him than we’d had in the fifteen years before. I’ve had several conversations with Jensen about Dean’s ending and the finale episode (and one with Eric Kripke) over the past year or so, and my appreciation for Carry On has only grown as a result. None of us wanted to say goodbye to Dean Winchester – I sometimes think they are the only two people who love him more than I do, though I know some of you might quibble with that – but that ending felt true to the show that I love and to Kripke’s vision, and ultimately to Jensen’s understanding of Dean and Jared’s understanding of Sam.
I know some people don’t feel that way. Some of my closest friends don’t feel that way. I know it’s been a tough year for people who didn’t like the finale, or even hated it, and that anger and disappointment has fueled a year of infighting in the fandom that – improbably – sometimes seems worse than the infighting that went on when the show was actually on the air! I am tremendously grateful that it worked for me. I feel fortunate, because I care so much about this show, and if it didn’t it would hurt. A lot. So I have empathy for the people for whom it didn’t work, and I hope that one of these days that sense of loss and disappointment will ease and new passions can help people heal.
For me, the show ended reiterating the themes that came to characterize it over its entire run. The Winchesters finally had free will, thanks to their own determination and intellect (and help from Cas and Jack). We got to see them living what passes for a normal life as a Winchester, long enough that there were well established routines and rituals and time for pie fests and snuggles with Miracle, while also doing what gave their lives purpose and meaning: hunting.
The fact that the inherent danger of their profession caught up to them just made their heroism more powerful, to me. Every time they went out there, saving people and hunting things, they knew they could die. They knew there could be a bullet that found them or a monster that ripped them apart or an exposed rebar that a vampire could use to impale them. Every single time. And they did it anyway. That’s what makes them big fucking heroes. The fact that it stuck this time (forgive that choice of words) makes it glaringly obvious that the stakes were back to where they were when we started this journey. No deals with demons to bring them back, no pleading with Death, no playing with time. They were mortal, as vulnerable as all of us are.
And they went out there and did their jobs anyway.
I could have watched 300 hours of Winchester domestic life – that episode that Robbie Thompson always wanted to write and never got to – but I’m grateful for what we got. And as much as it was agonizing to watch Dean die and to watch Sam lose his brother, the raw genuineness those last minutes allowed felt like a gift. Dean got to say what he wanted to say, right out, defensiveness stripped away. All those times he covered up his feelings or struggled with vulnerability, we got to see how far he’d come, how open he could be. I love everything that Jensen and Jared added on that day, from the ‘yeah, there he is’ to the ‘always keep fighting’ to the callbacks to the pilot when they started this journey together so many years ago, both the characters and the actors. I know how much it meant to them and how proud they are of it.
I was teaching a graduate course in Grief and Loss most of last year, and I used the finale episode so many times, with its realistic depiction of grief and its hopeful message of being able to carry on. I’m also grateful that the show didn’t leave me there in the barn.
It’s a beautiful scene, one of the most emotional I’ve ever experienced, but it still makes me tear up every time I watch. Supernatural could have left us there, or ended with Sam having permission from his son that it’s okay for him to go now too. Instead we got to experience Sam and Dean’s reunion, Sam and Dean and Baby on that bridge, smiling. The scene didn’t need many words and it didn’t give us many. “Hey Sammy.” “Dean.” A call back, along with their close-to-the-pilot wardrobe. Saying each other’s names has always meant a lot more anyway.
I kept crying long after Bob Singer called that final “cut” and Jared and Jensen said goodbye to us, the fans, forever incorporating us into the story. Simply because the ending was an ending, and I don’t think I was ever going to be truly ready to say goodbye to this show. I was so worried, a year ago today, that the fandom would disappear. That everyone would find a new show to love and forget about this one, while I knew damn right well that I’d be sitting here one year later still madly in love with these characters and this show and missing them. I don’t do moving on very well when I’m this passionate about something. I worried that I’d be all alone here, marking the anniversary with a glass of wine and a rewatch and a box of tissues and wondering if I was the only one who remembered the significance of November 19.
Instead it has been a week of shared emotions and memories and beautiful tributes to Supernatural and its ending, social media timelines filled with art and meta and gifs and heartfelt posts about what the show has meant and still means to so many people. I’ve smiled over a million photos of Dean hugging Miracle and Sam kicking the washing machine. I’ve sobbed over every line of dialogue in the barn scene flowing over a screencap that has no right to be as gorgeous as it is. I’ve smiled reading fans’ imaginings of what Heaven is like for the Winchesters and what Sam and Dean are up to now. I’ve tripped down memory lane and all the best times with Sam and Dean and Cas (and Jared and Jensen and Misha) over the years. My timeline has been every bit as vibrant and alive this past week as when the show was on the air and on the covers of EW and TVGuide and everything in between.
I don’t know why I was so worried.
Supernatural has never been ordinary – it has always been extraordinary. It stayed on the air when the network didn’t support it, when viewership was tiny, when the WB went out of existence. It pulled people in from the tiny CW network, and then from Netflix, and TNT, and Hulu, and… It kept pulling people in year after year after year, word of mouth spreading the word organically and the talents of its cast and crew keeping people hooked. For most of the past year, it has remained in the top 10 streaming content despite being off the air. And more than all of that, what’s extraordinary about Supernatural is that the show has made a difference to countless people. When I decided to put together two books about how Supernatural had changed lives with Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, I wasn’t prepared for the powerful stories I’d receive – not only from fans but from the actors themselves. The show has changed us, and it has changed them. And that is extraordinary.
I don’t know what will happen a year from now. I don’t know if this will be the last big hurrah of a fandom that has survived a lot of ups and downs and a level of infighting that would have tanked a less determined group of people for sure. But here we are. Still loving this show and these characters. Still wanting to celebrate what it’s meant to all of us.
In their chapters of There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jared and Jensen both wrote about what they hope Supernatural’s – and the Winchesters’ – legacy will be. I reread both their chapters and a few others to remind me today that there is a legacy, and how proud these actors are of that and the characters they brought to life.
From Jensen’s chapter:
I think that the people who have found Supernatural and become part of the fandom and found each other through the show—the SPNFamily—are probably the legacy that we’re going to be proudest of… The show carries the message to always keep fighting for each other, and that has inspired the fandom to keep fighting too, whatever fight they are facing… We started out thinking we were making a horror show about monsters, but it became clear pretty quickly that’s not what made the show important. So many fans have told me that what is special is that it’s a show about two brothers who will do anything to fight for each other and to fight to save the world. Not in a way that people tell them to or according to what’s written in a book, but by making their own choices about what’s right and wrong and always trying to do what’s right. That’s the legacy of the show and that’s what has made a difference.
From Jared’s chapter:
I’m very proud of what we’ve done and of the story that we got to tell. Sam Winchester has inspired me, just like he’s inspired many fans… I think most of us, like Sam, probably do struggle to forgive ourselves sometimes. But I feel like Sam’s actions have been kind and sacrificial and loyal, and I have always wanted him to keep fighting—for his brother, for his family, to save people. I value that about him. The way the Winchesters have faced insurmountable odds inspires me and hopefully others to keep on working as hard as we can.
Jensen’s chapter had an important ending that will be a comfort to me every November 19th and all the days in between:
And let’s be clear. Supernatural will never end. The show might, but what it has built? This will never end. Besides, nothing ever stays dead on Supernatural.
Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Ackles.
Happy one year anniversary of wrapping up, Supernatural.
My fear was that I’d be the only one to remember this year. That this year, Supernatural Day would feel more sad than joyous, and I’d be sitting here recalling years past when we all took to social media with posts and tweets and photos celebrating the premiere day of the Little Show That Could, together.
I should have known better.
The fandom can feel like a fractured and contentious place sometimes, especially now a year after Supernatural ended, but I woke up today to find my timeline overflowing with beautiful memories and heartfelt sentiments about what the show has meant to people who are still grateful – and still missing it, like I am. One of the best things about fandom has always been that it feels like having a community of like-minded people around you, sharing the joy you find in something, and understanding just how passionate you are about that something. It’s validating, and it makes the experience of being a fan a million times more enjoyable. It’s why so many of us describe joining the fandom for the thing we love as ‘coming home’ or ‘finding my people’. Being able to wake up today and feel all those wonderful things all over again is such a gift.
So I’m joining the chorus (which is the best feeling ever – to raise your voice and express your emotions along with a whole bunch of other people doing the same).
Happy Supernatural Day!
We came a long long way over the fifteen years this show was on the air.
Thank you, Eric Kripke, for creating these characters and this story that has changed so many people’s lives.
Thank you, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and so many more gifted actors for bringing these characters to life and making them so real – imperfect, complex, struggling, enduring loss and pain and confusion and despair just like the rest of us do.
But never giving up.
I am so grateful for the journey we got to take with Sam and Dean and Cas and all the other memorable characters who were a part of this fifteen year story. Grateful that the story itself was never simple, and rarely easy, just like real life. We watched the characters we loved go through unimaginable pain and loss; watched the actors portray their grief and rage and longing and love so vividly that we could feel it ourselves, in our own hearts.
This is an odd anniversary to commemorate, but it’s an important one. It sounds melodramatic, but two years ago today my life changed significantly when I got the news that Supernatural was ending. If you haven’t ever been a passionate fan of a show or a film or a book series or a band, you may not understand. If you have, you probably do.
Two years ago today, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins told the SPN Family that Supernatural was coming to an end after fifteen seasons, with tears in their eyes and real emotion in their voices. I still have trouble watching that little video message, but I’m forever grateful that they cared enough to tell us themselves.
So on this March 22, two years later, I thought I’d share what I wrote in the Introduction to the book we put together to remember how special Supernatural will always be, with chapters from the actors and the fans about what Supernatural has meant to them, There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done.
I’m just as emotional looking back on that day now as I was when I wrote this…
There are certain experiences that happen in our lives that we will never forget. Psychology even has a term for the memory created by this kind of experience: a flashbulb memory. When something happens that shakes our world especially profoundly, the brain encodes that moment differently, and more vividly, than it does our everyday memories.
Back in the day, a flashbulb was a cube that sat on top of your camera and went off to illuminate a scene you were capturing with a photo, freezing it in time forever (it’s now just a light on your smartphone). Our brain, when it records a flashbulb memory, does something similar: it freezes the important, sometimes upsetting moment in time forever. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the emotions of that moment are all preserved deeply. The memory doesn’t fade like other memories, or lose its emotional intensity. Instead, it remains as clear and vivid as if it happened yesterday. We remember the clothes we were wearing, or exactly what we were doing or thinking, or who we were talking to. We remember our initial shock and then the moment when our emotions kicked in.
Most often, flashbulb memories are about world-changing events like September 11 or shocking personal news. But they can also be things you wouldn’t expect. Sometimes, something is so important to you that the news of its impending loss hits hard enough to freeze the moment in time. I think that’s what happened to me on Friday afternoon, March 22, 2019, the moment I found out that Supernatural would end after its fifteenth season. That might seem like an odd thing to be preserved forever as a flashbulb memory, and it’s certainly not equivalent to world-changing events, but that’s not how our brains work. When something is important, it’s important. And for many people, myself included, this little television show that lasted for fifteen seasons is personally and emotionally important.
When I first heard the show was ending, I was volunteering at the Project Fancare table at Lexington Comic-Con, surrounded by copies of Family Don’t End with Blood and fellow fans. Project Fancare is a nonprofit that gives fans a forum to talk openly about how television and film and books and all sorts of fandoms have helped them get through tough times, and why that’s a good thing. I had just finished talking to a woman who stopped by to tell me what Family Don’t End with Blood and Supernatural have meant to her.
As the woman walked away, my friend Kim leaned over and said softly in my ear, “You need to take a break. Take your phone and go to the bathroom and watch the video that Jensen just posted.”
That’s all she said, but instantly I knew. I knew from the genuine emotion in her voice, and the concern for me that I could hear there. I knew because there’s a part of me that had been waiting for that news and anticipating it and knew it was coming sooner rather than later. My stomach instantly fell and my brain kicked into survival mode, blocking all my emotions and making me feel oddly calm even though intellectually I knew I wasn’t. I can vividly see the table in front of me, the books spread out there, and the woman walking away. She was wearing one of the first Represent “Always Keep Fighting” T-shirts and she had bright red hair and a bag with the protection symbol on it. I can see it like it’s a photo frozen in time—as brightly as if lit by a flashbulb—and I can hear Kim’s voice and her words like she just finished talking, even though it’s now many months later.
I stood in the alcove by the bathroom in the giant convention center and pulled out my phone and found the video—and as soon as I saw their faces, before they even started speaking, there was no doubt in my mind. Jared, Jensen, and Misha are extraordinary in how open they have been with their fans, and I could see all the emotion they were struggling to contain before I ever hit play to listen to the message. I am forever grateful that I got to hear it from them.
Things are different in the Supernatural fandom than they were two years ago. I’ve been dismayed at the animosity and bullying toward other fans that sometimes seem worse now than when the show was actually airing, something I have to admit I didn’t expect. But I’ve also been encouraged by the kindness and support that most fans continue to show for each other. And I love that the Supernatural cast have made it clear that their love for the show and for their characters and for the fandom is not going anywhere.
While a global pandemic has made it impossible for most of us to see our fellow fans or the actors, with conventions and concerts all on hold, I’m grateful for all the zoom panels and Instagram lives and interviews and every other piece of content we’ve gotten from the cast that I miss so much. It eases the loss and makes me feel like we’re all in this together. I’m grateful for all the myriad fanworks that this incredibly creative fandom puts out there to share, from the prettiest gifs to the most heartbreaking youtube videos to fanart and fanfic that can make me cry or smile all day. I’m grateful for every playful bit of fun I run across and every supportive bit of conversation. It reminds me what fandom – especially this fandom – is all about.
I’m grateful for everything and everyone that keeps the SPNFamily alive. And I’m still hopeful that we haven’t seen the last of Supernatural.
Next up in our Supernatural Spring Break celebration week, another chat with one of the Supernatural actors who made their way into our hearts – this time while dressed as Dracula. Todd Stashwick is a genre favorite actor from so many of my favorite shows, as well as a bona fide fan himself. We met over a decade ago at an early Supernatural convention, and I was so taken by his understanding of fandom and passion for all things geeky that we included that chat in our first two books. When I put together a book to celebrate the legacy of Supernatural as it was ending, I knew I wanted to ask Todd to write a chapter – and I’m glad he did!
At the end of last year, the online There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done book club for that book invited him to drop in and answer some questions about his chapter and the show, and I’m glad he did that too. Here are some excerpts from that discussion, that I was happy to join in on also.
BC: So glad you could join us. Can you talk a little bit about how you decided on what would be in your chapter?
TS: Kind of you to say (smile). Thinking about the long road you all traveled down, and looking back at the fact that you all found commonality of experience through the show got me thinking about fandom as a whole and what that means to me. So I reflected back to what I believe lit the fuse of being “fan” in myself. How we don’t “become” fans, we notice that we are, we find ourselves innately drawn to certain stories, characters, and franchises because it answers some need inside of us. It connects us to other people. It gives us a tribe.
BC: I adore that you have a long history of being a fan of so many things! My husband is a huge Star Wars fan, but I never experienced that kind of community until SPN.
TS: It’s also not restricted to sci-fi/horror/fantasy. My mother in her 70’s attended Downton Abbey parties. We seek like-minded souls.
BC: When you wrote in your chapter that “We are tribal creatures who use mythology to come together and understand ourselves” – that really resonated. So true!
Lynn: Yes, that is so much what fandom – ANY fandom – is about. We seek like-minded souls, and finding them validates us and feels incredibly satisfying. It’s like a primal need, for belongingness.
TS: Mythology is a way to analyze ourselves, our culture, explain the unexplained, wrestle with death. It gives us a metaphor to understand ourselves. Mythology gives us an escape. It’s really fun. And horror allows us to field-test fear without consequences. Like a roller coaster, we tempt fate, death, and come out okay.
Lynn: Yes – and Supernatural has both mythology and horror. No wonder it’s so compelling. People always ask me, how did you choose who would write chapters in the book? A decade ago, I sat down with Todd in the green room at a convention, and was so taken with how deeply he understood fandom that I never forgot it – something he said, “television is our campfire” resonated with me so much I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I knew I was going to ask him to write a chapter in the last book about Supernatural and its legacy.
TS: It’s (TV is) just an extenuation of our oral traditions.
BC: I also think it’s so wonderful that someone who is such a fan themselves, and who has such an appreciation for fandom itself, played the shapeshifter enamored of classic monster movies, and with such pathos. We very rarely see a villain on SPN, especially those with a humorous bent, evoke such a sympathetic response. I think that moment is one of the reasons it has endured as a fan favorite (for me at least).
TS: It’s what drew me to the role, the high melodrama and the quiet fragility.