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SYFY WIRE New York Comic Con 2022

NYCC: 'The Winchesters' reveals 'Smallville' vet Tom Welling as Mary's father, Samuel Campbell

Narrated by Jensen Ackles, the spinoff explores how John and Mary first met in the early 1970s.

By Josh Weiss
(L-R): Tom Welling; Meg Donnelly as Mary and Drake Rodger as John in The Winchesters

Jensen Ackles surprised fans at New York Comic Con Sunday afternoon with the announcement that Smallville veteran Tom Welling has been cast in The Winchesters as Mary's demon-hunting father, Samuel Campbell (future grandfather to Sam and Dean). Welling promptly took the stage and naturally, the audience went nuts. "This is all Jensen's fault," joked Welling. "I lost a bet." 

"We're really, really excited to have Tom," said Ackles, who co-created the new series with his wife and producing partner, Danneel Ackles. "We knew we were gonna need somebody to come in and somebody with the power and the strength and the history."

The Supernatural prequel — which premieres on The CW this week — screened its pilot episode, which kicks off with an Indiana Jones-inspired prologue. Ackles' opening voiceover narration as Dean Winchester (piecing together the story of how his parents first met in the early '70s) also drew a ton of cheers from the gathered crowd. Drake Rodger (The In Between) and Meg Donnelly (High School Musical: The Musical - The Series) headline the show as John and Mary, respectively.

"We just started talking about what the expansion of Supernatural and its universe would ever look like," Ackles said of the project's origin, which started to take root during the COVID lockdown of spring 2020 when the network had yet to wrap on the final two episodes of the mothership series. "We know there have been some attempts before and I was like, 'I'd really like to see the throwback to how mom and dad got together.'" He later described the show as "a Supernatural version of How I Met Your Mother."

Showrunner and executive producer Robbie Thompson explained that the most important thing was not to mess with established canon, comparing this creed to the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals. "We will not be doing any revisionism," he promised. "Nothing is being rebooted. We are not gonna have, as Jensen likes to say, the Sam and Dean Polaroid from Back to the Future fading. It was actually very freeing because it gave us the opportunity to do something different. Now, what exactly we're doing will be revealed in Episode 13."

What longtime fans can expect is plenty of Easter eggs, both subtle and overt. "I'm like the Easter bunny, I like to put them all in," Thompson admitted. "But now we have this incredible crew down in New Orleans, who either have watched it or have started to watch it and are like, 'Oh, can you do this? Can you do that?' So, we're finding other little things that [can deliver] little winks at the audience."

Given the fact that the Supernatural mythos is rife with immortal beings who transcend the mortal boundaries of space and time, panel moderator Damian Holbrook (of TV Guide) asked the creatives if viewers might see the return of fan favorite characters like Misha Collins' Castiel.

"Danneel and Jensen, at the beginning, were like, 'Hey, let's establish a foundation for these kids and then let's slowly bring some people in,'" Thompson said. "We will bringing a lot of familiar faces [back]. I'm low-key excited about the next one, but whether or not we see Mr. Misha Collins...I would love to see everybody back in some way, shape, or form. I think we'll have an opportunity to do that, hopefully sooner rather than later."

The Winchesters premieres on The CW this coming Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 8 p.m. ET.

Click here for all of SYFY WIRE's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022.

Looking for more supernatural thrills and chills? Check out SYFY's original SurrealEstate. The first season is streaming now on the SYFY app, and Season 2 is coming soon.