Over the course of Supernatural's soon to be 12 seasons on the air, lead brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have just about done it all. They've saved the world countless times, literally traveled to hell and back more than once, somehow killed Death, worked directly alongside God, and slayed just about every type of monster in existence. While the original plan of series creator Eric Kripke was to end Supernatural after season 5's apocalyptic arc, The CW thought otherwise, and it's likely that most fans would agree the network made the right call.
Supernatural's post-almost apocalypse seasons have had their ups and downs, but they've also played host to memorable episodes like 'The French Mistake', 'Fan Fiction', and 'As Time Goes By'. Of course, no show can last forever, and every TV journey will someday end. Naturally, this has led many fans to spend the last few years speculating as to just when Supernatural will finally give up the ghost, and send the Winchester brothers into battle for the final time. CW exec Mark Pedowitz has previously said that he sees no end in sight for the series, provided Ackles and Padalecki agree to keep coming back, and ratings stay consistent.
That said, what the network thinks is one thing. Fans are far more likely to be interested in what those on Supernatural's creative side think about when the series should end, especially Ackles and Padalecki. For their part, the two stars told EW that they would prefer to at least reach the 300 episode milestone before calling it quits:
Padalecki: "If we don’t make it to 300, I think Ackles and I will both be truly bummed. When we get to 300, I think Ackles and I will think it might be time to say bye. There’s a chance that changes, but we certainly do not take it for granted that we’re going to make it to 300. I feel I’ve learned a lot from my friend Sam. I’ve learned a lot from my friend Dean. I want to tell that story as well as long as possible, but I don’t want it to get too long in the tooth."
Ackles: "I feel like if I ever show up to set and I feel like I don’t care, or if I feel like he doesn’t care, then that’s the canary leaving the mine. To this day, I have not really ever sensed that from myself or him… They’re paying us to bring that little bit of magic to what they wrote, and I still feel that magic today. The day that I don’t feel that magic will be a very sad day, and I hope that day never comes. I’d like to get to 300 before that day comes."
As of season 11, Supernatural has aired 241 episodes. Season 12 received a 23-episode order, meaning that the season finale will be episode 264. Presuming season 13 ends up being another 23 episodes, that gets SPN to the 287 episode mark. This would put the series a mere 13 episodes from hitting 300. If producers do indeed select that number as their end point, it would require a shortened 13-episode season 14 order, made with the intention of wrapping things up for good. According to producer Robert Singer, this option is at least being considered:
"We talked about wanting to be able to know when our end was, and if it was to be, let’s say, 300 episodes, we could tell a 13-episode story. I think it would be bad for this show to just ride off in the sunset without a finale. I think we’ve earned that. I don’t know what that finale is, but we’d certainly like to do one."
On that last point, any Supernatural fan is certain to agree. Few TV-related scenarios are more annoying than when a long-running series gets the axe without getting to do a proper finale episode, denying viewers a satisfying conclusion to stories they've been following for years, or possibly even decades. It's far too early to predict whether episode 300 will be the end for Sam and Dean, but if that does end up being the case, here's hoping they at least get to go out in a blaze of glory.
Supernatural season 12 premieres October 13th, 2016 on The CW.