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Supernatural fans were always going to find the series finale bittersweet. After all, that’s what happens when your spirit-chasing road trip earns such a loyal following that it lasts for 15 seasons. But even though Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) did get a proper sendoff (of sorts) to close out history’s longest-running sci-fi series, the COVID-19 pandemic ended up throwing cold water on what was supposed to be a much more ambitious farewell.
Co-showrunner Andrew Dabb recently let slip some of the big ideas that eventually had to fall by the wayside as the pandemic delayed production on the final season’s backend. In addition to getting a long list of former characters back for a series reunion in Heaven, the idea was even to bring in the band Kansas to provide an in-person, afterlife jam of “Carry on Wayward Son,” the series’ signature song.
Cited in an upcoming new photo book from series production designer Jerry Wanek (previewed at Bleeding Cool), Dabb said it’s not so much that the finale’s plot would’ve changed; it’s just that the epic-ness of it all would’ve been, well, a lot more epic.
“Dean was always going to end up in Heaven, and we were always going to see Sam's life in fast-forward, but those final moments were supposed to take place somewhere else,” he wrote. “When Bob Singer and I sat down to talk about Season 15, and our inevitable end, we came up with something that felt like a fitting version of Sam and Dean's Heaven: all the people the boys had met along the way (or, at least, those we could convince to fly to Vancouver) crowded into a re-built Roadhouse, as the band Kansas played our (official unofficial) theme song: 'Carry on Wayward Son.’”
Dabb had previously assured fans that the ending they saw reflected the story ending that he and other series veterans (like departed showrunner Erik Kripke) always had in mind. But with the final few episodes already delayed by the pandemic, the logistics of bringing together long-lost characters from Sam & Dean’s past, not to mention an entire classic rock band, were simply impractical at a time when everyone was closely adhering to public health precautions.
“When we opened back up in August, getting that many people in an enclosed space, much less traveling some of our favorites from L.A. and making them quarantine two weeks for what would be a half day's work, just wasn't realistic,” he explained. “Even Kansas, always game, didn't feel like they could make that trip, which we completely understood. And so that Supernatural ending … ended. I love what we have now, Dean in the car on the open road, but I have to admit that I sometimes think about our original idea — all of Sam and Dean's family and friends, and one of the greatest rock bands ever on a masterpiece of a set, and I miss [it] … even though it never really existed.”
At least the full story’s been told…unless, that is, Ackles and Padalecki — who’ve signaled a “never say never” approach to revisiting their characters — decide to get the gang back together somewhere down the road for a proper Supernatural reunion. In the meantime, you can catch the first 14 seasons of Supernatural at Netflix, while snagging Season 15 via iTunes, Amazon, and other digital on demand platforms.