'Supernatural' stars reflect on CW's series finale and 15-year legacy: 'We gave it everything'

Brian Truitt

After 15 years of CW’s “Supernatural,” Jensen Ackles admits that he and co-star Jared Padalecki aren’t very good at taking compliments or credit for the horror show’s epic run.

On their final day in Vancouver last September filming the series finale (Thursday, 9 ET/PT), when director Robert Singer called it a wrap and everybody else had walked off the set, the actors did something new: They basked in the moment.

“It was like, ‘We did this.’ That was pretty cool,'" Ackles recalls. “I mean, obviously we know that we didn't do it by ourselves, but it was really the first time that he and I looked at each other and (realized) we should be proud of what we've built here. Because it Is something to be proud of.”

'Supernatural':CW show returns for a final round of episodes to 'knock you straight in the teeth'

'The Haunting of Bly Manor':How Netflix series balances love and ghosts as a gothic 'Hill House' followup

Adds Padalecki: “It wasn't like, ‘Hey, look how awesome we are.’ It was like, ‘Hey, man, remember when we cried and we bled and we broke bones – literally? Remember all the alarm clocks when the sun wasn’t up yet?’ However this turns out, however it's received, we gave it everything.”

The last episode of “Supernatural,” which follows a retrospective special (8 EST/PST), finishes the story of monster-hunting brothers Sam (Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Ackles), who began their long, winding, apocalypse-filled quest after tragedy and have since taken on every foe that heaven, hell and everywhere in between has thrown at them, usually set to a rock tune. (The final episode’s title, “Carry On,” is a riff on the 1970s Kansas hit “Carry On Wayward Son,” which became the show’s unofficial theme song.)

Sam (Jared Padalecki, left) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) hit the road in their Impala one last time in the "Supernatural" series finale.

Even without Emmy Awards, "Supernatural" has become a classic show – finding new fans through Netflix binges and TNT reruns – and a survivor, a final holdover from WB (which folded in 2007) that's outlasted many, many shows that have come and gone since its Sept. 13, 2005, premiere. Only a few prime-time network dramas have lasted longer, including "Grey's Anatomy" (which premiered six months earlier), "Law & Order: SVU" (1999) and "NCIS" (2003).

"Not surprisingly, as a 15-year-old show, 'Supernatural' is in some ways a little bit of an artifact of a different age of television," says executive producer Andrew Dabb.

Last week’s penultimate episode wrapped up the larger “Supernatural” mythology of angels and demons, as Sam and Dean outwitted God, aka Chuck (Rob Benedict), and their ally Jack (Alexander Calvert), the son of Lucifer and the new bearer of God’s power, said goodbye to the brothers after the world was saved. 

The finale, in contrast, tells “a very personal story” centered on the Winchesters and is “really devoted to the relationship and the journey these guys have traveled,” says Singer, an executive producer on the show since its inception.

Singer adds that they eliminated certain ideas early: No “enigmatic" final shot a la “The Sopranos,” for example, or nothing out of left field like the 1988 "St. Elsewhere" finale, when the audience found out a boy with autism had imagined the entire series, visualized in a snow globe. 

“We wanted it to feel like the end of a very long novel," Singer says. "It's pretty bold what we did and quite moving.”

Padalecki, 38, finds it “really powerful. And if you're not already crying by the last five or 10 minutes, then you don't have a soul. You don't have a heart.”

Jared Padelecki (left) and Jensen Ackles star in the 2005 pilot episode of "Supernatural," which originally aired on the now-defunct WB network.

The stars have begun to move on – Padalecki to CW’s coming “Walker, Texas Ranger” reboot, and Ackles to Amazon’s “The Boys” – yet they’ve also brought a large piece of “Supernatural” home: Each got a black 1967 Chevy Impala used in the series as Dean’s beloved car, “Baby.” Ackles, 42, figures it was the second episode of the series “when I was like, ‘I’m getting a car. This car is not going to sit in a Warner Bros. lockup and get forgotten about. This car is coming home with somebody who's going to take care of it.’"

Ackles says he was “floored” by the gift: “And it's cool, because now Jared and I can just drag-race around Austin.”

“If we get pulled over, it'd be like, ‘Don't worry. FBI Agent Robert Plant,’" Padalecki adds.

“We've got FBI badges in the glove box,” Ackles confirms.

"Supernatural" star Jared Padalecki (right, with Jensen Ackles) calls the series finale a "really powerful" closer to 15 seasons.

Down the road, Ackles would like people to talk about “Supernatural” the way he does about 1980s favorites like “The Goonies” or “Flight of the Navigator.”

“You show somebody a show or a movie like that now with all of the CGI and they're like, ‘Wow, the effects on this suck.’ And for me, I'm like, ‘That was amazing!’ I'm anxious to meet those people in 20 years when they're like, ‘Man, that show was such an epic part of my childhood’ or ‘I grew up with you guys’ or ‘I can't wait to show my kids that show when they're of age.”’

Padalecki says it might sound strange, but “I hope it's not remembered. I hope ‘Supernatural’ is continuously experienced and enjoyed and appreciated by all ages, all demographics, and so I hope it remains present.”