After 8 seasons of Supernatural  being on the air – after Sam and Dean battled angels and demons and even Lucifer himself – there’s still one thing that fans of the show wonder: Will John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the patriarch of the family, ever return? Thanks to Supernatural executive producer Robert Singer, we now have a realistic update on all things John Winchester.

While speaking to press at Comic-Con 2013, we brought up the topic of John Winchester, questioning whether, after all this time, his return could actually occur, and whether or not it’s something they still think about when they plan upcoming seasons.

Here’s what Singer had to say:

You know, Jeff, when he was done with us, his career, thank God, took off. I don’t know if ‘Magic City’ is going to come back next year, but he’s the lead in that. Jeff is sort of way back there in the past. I mean, we talk about, ‘God, it would be great if we could bring Dad back,’ but it’s a hard thing to pull off given Jeff’s schedule and what he’s been up to. But it’s a ball we always keep afloat.

Like Bobby, John Winchester is – or was – an integral part of the series, at least in its first few years on the air. But as Singer said, the tale of John Winchester has essentially run its course, and Sam and Dean have moved well beyond the need for any fatherly input – thanks, in part, to Bobby’s inclusion. But still, could Supernatural bring back John and have it make sense? According to Singer:

Nobody dies in this show, you know; we bring everybody back. So, yeah, we would find a way.

Whether or not it would make sense is one thing, but knowing that they still keep toying around with John’s return is nice to hear. Sure, he hasn’t been a part of the show for the majority of its run, but at least they’re open to his possible return, unlike what happened with Michael Rosenbaum and Smallville.

In Smallville’s final season, fans continuously wondered whether or not Rosenbaum would return to the series as Lex Luthor. For the fans, his return was required; for the studio that produced Smallville (and produces Supernatural), they weren’t as up for it. After the Smallville finale aired, Rosenbaum revealed to GEEEKTIME! with Ralph Cirella that, even though he had wanted to return to the show before the final season, the studio was against his return – this is, until the fans forced the hand of the powers that be, which led him to officially return to the show.

But John Winchester’s return is completely different. After all, Jeffrey Dean Morgan went on to star in Watchmen for Warner Bros. after his stint on Supernatural was over, so one would assume that his relationship with the studio remains intact. Additionally, Morgan has previously said that he’d be willing to come back. So, what’s the hold up? Said Singer:

Without telling tales out of school, Jeff saying he’d be willing to come back and how much Jeff would want to come back are completely two different stories.

Though this probably isn’t the news that fans would like to hear, Jeffrey Dean Morgan shying away from returning to Supernatural makes sense from an actor’s point of view. Sure, he’d like to return, but Supernatural has been on the air for quite some time, much of which has been without him. And even though the show is a staple for CW, it doesn’t provide him with the necessary platform to grow and evolve as an actor in the same way as, say, starring in Magic City on Starz does – despite Supernatural being a higher-rated show.

So if Jeffrey Dean Morgan wants to return, it’ll have to make sense to him career-wise, not simply to appease the fans. And  with Supernatural entering season 9, it seems more and more unlikely that they’ll be able to create a storyline that would include John Winchester as well as progress the overall arc – at least in a way that would appeal to Morgan. Still, if the show ever does receive a final season order, one shouldn’t be too surprised if John Winchester returns in some way, even if it is briefly.

Then again, with Supernatural now looking past season 10, to season 11, 12 and beyond, only God knows when the end of the show may come. And as fans of the show know, God hasn’t been around for quite some time.

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Supernatural season 9 premieres October 15, 2013 on The CW.