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SYFY WIRE Supernatural

Supernatural loves the fans right back at emotional farewell Comic-Con panel

By Benjamin Bullard & Don Kaye
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in Supernatural on The CW

Get that box of tissues ready, because Sam and Dean Winchester conjured some major feels at Sunday's Supernatural event at San Diego Comic-Con. The ageless CW series has enjoyed one of TV's most successful long-term runs, devilishly burrowing its way into fans' devious little hearts so deeply over the course of its 14 seasons that it's hard to imagine the upcoming 15th season will be bringing it all to an end.

So when Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and more of the show’s cast and creative team showed up to meet with fans — likely for the final time — at Comic-Con’s Hall H, there was a definite air of hype for the approaching apocalyptic final season, mixed in with more than a little bit of emotion. SYFY WIRE was there, and we’ve gotta admit: Moments like these, where fans and stars connect over a shared passion ... well, they just don’t come around that often.

Right from the get-go, Ackles acknowledged how much the show — and all its devoted fans — have meant. “I’m trying not to cry,” he said. “Can we all just start crying?

“It's hard to express the takeaway from the experience,” he added. “Fifteen years is a long time. This guy [gesturing to Padalecki] was in his early 20s. We hoofed it up to Vancouver thinking we'd just put our lives on hold for a season, maybe three if we were lucky, and then come back and press ‘play’ again. But we never did, and I'm grateful ... Lifelong friends, experiences of a lifetime — it's hard to put it into words."

To (literally) drive home the show's deep connection with fans, Ackles and Padalecki stuck around at the end of the panel to announce the lucky winner of a fully restored 1967 Chevy Impala — Sam and Dean's signature Supernatural badass ride. Congratulations, Laura Dittrich of Grants Pass, Oregon. Take the Pacific Coast Highway up from San Diego on your trip home — but watch out for roadside demons.

Responding to a fan question, Padalecki said it's hard to imagine his life after the show ends, but that he still feels like the team has created something — dare we say it? — eternal, at least in his imagination. "This is a really weird sensation: I keep having out-of-body experiences, wondering why people are looking at us and thinking, 'We're not gonna be here next year.' I feel like the relationships I've been able to build ... I met some of my best friends, had some kids, got really tired — but for me, the legacy is that my friendships won't go away, and Sam Winchester won't go away. He'll be part of me forever.”

Oof. Before we can't see through the tears, let's step back and see what the panel had to say about what still lies ahead. As for where things will go in Season 15, it’s safe to say that the Winchesters have found themselves more rudderless than ever before, as higher powers swept the rug out from under their entire reason for fighting in last season’s final moments.

Sam and Dean didn’t score any points with God (played by Rob Benedict, who also helped moderate Sunday's panel) in the Season 14 cliffhanger, with Dean telling God to go to hell for manipulating humanity — through all the trials, hunts, and losses of loved ones — simply as a narrative story for his own amusement.

That standoff led to God opening the floodgates for a coming apocalypse, reviving all the demons Sam and Dean have spent the past 14 years destroying, and banishing Jack (Alexander Calvert) to the nether-realm of the Empty. It’s a setup that essentially promises a season-long showdown, complete with new alliances, a new set of rules, and the good guys having to improvise as they go along in a harsh new reality that they never could’ve envisioned.

Executive producers Eugenie Ross Leming and Bob Barens said the question of free will would definitely come into focus over the course of the show's final episodes, as the guys grapple with the possibility that the God they thought they knew doesn’t exactly have humanity’s best interests in mind.

Then again, they could all just say "to hell with the apocalypse" and end up sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere. "We always joked during the last 307 episodes that it would be fun to go to a beach in Maui or something," joked Padelcki. At least we think he's joking — because the cast got genuinely choked up as the panel came to an end (and yes, we spotted real tears in Ackles' eyes, just before the whole panel got a warm standing ovation from a hall full of appreciative fans).

"I hope in the future, this fandom continues to function as a family after the show is over," Misha Collins (Castiel) told the audience. "I hope you guys continue to be a force for good and companionship in the world. You've all been so supportive of each other and us, and I think that won't go away after the show goes off the air."

Funny business or serious stakes: We don't have too long a wait to learn how it'll all shake out. The end begins this fall, when Supernatural returns to The CW for its final-season showdown on Oct. 10.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.