Having just completed its lucky 13th season, Supernatural has become less of a TV show and more of a cultural institution by this point. Boasting critical acclaim, ratings success, and a rabid fanbase, the show about two brothers saving people and hunting things has developed into a rock solid fixture on the CW's lineup - not to mention the longest-running North American genre television show of all time.
Following Sam and Dean Winchester, the show began as an excuse for the writers to drop two familiar characters into a different horror movie each week, with a new monster. As it went on, however, Supernatural began to focus more on its characters, specifically the bonds between the Winchester brothers and their non-blood-related family of monster hunters.
Running for 13 seasons means that they've occasionally focused on characters they shouldn't have, with actors that maybe shouldn't have been cast in the first place. This list counts down the worst miscasting in Supernatural's long history, but it also counts down the actors that righted the ship by being perfect for their roles. We had plenty of possible roles to choose from, with characters that ranged from the divine to the infernal, from mundane to just plain weird. Some of these actors didn't hit it off right with fans or the showrunners-- others only saw their character get more screen time because of how good they played them.
These are 10 Supernatural Castings That Hurt The Show (And 10 That Saved It).
Season 13 saw several characters from previous seasons brought back into important roles, thanks largely to the plotline involving alternate universes where their characters were different, but still alive. Ketch returned to the living due to a magic spell, but unlike the others who merely got a guest spot, he looks to be staying for some time. This is somewhat unfortunate, as he definitely wasn't a character many fans were clamoring to see return.
Ketch, played by David Haydn-Jones, is a British Man of Letters, frequently called a psychopath by Dean. He was a passable villain, but now has converted into a Winchester ally, something nobody really cares about because nobody really connected with the character.
The problem with Ketch seems to lie squarely at the feet of Haydn-Jones. The character received a fun introduction, showing up out of nowhere and blowing up a car to save the Winchesters from government agents, and yet fans still don't care much about him.
Haydn-Jones' British accent is frequently labeled as the cause for the apathy, as it doesn't sound authentic to pretty much anyone who hears it. Sounding a bit like a Canadian acting student trying out a British accent for the first time, Haydn-Jones is never able to make the impression stick, which is odd considering he's half British himself.
Season five of the show introduced several long-running recurring characters, with Jody Mills one of the most successful of those. The sheriff of Bobby Singer's hometown of Sioux Falls, she was introduced to the world of hunters through tragedy (just like seemingly every other character in the show). The bodies buried in the town cemetery began to rise up one day, and Jody's husband's life came to an end at the hands of their own deceased son.
Jody has guest starred in every season since her debut, even graduating to a recurring role in a couple, and received a backdoor pilot for her own spinoff show in season 13.
All this success is thanks to fans connecting with the character, making her one of the few female characters to accomplish that feat in the entire show. Actress Kim Rhodes portrays Jody Mills, and lends her a mother's warmth and a sheriff's tough-as-nails attitude. She's also pretty funny and has good chemistry with the rest of the cast, which never hurts.
The best part of Jody's character is her willingness to keep moving forward and keep taking new people into her life despite all her past trauma. This optimism radiates from Rhodes, and it makes her a good candidate to anchor her own show, Wayward Sisters.
Yeah, that's right. You heard us. We aren't playing around on this list: God was miscast.
Initially appearing as a mere writer named Chuck Shurley (pen name Carver Edlund), Rob Benedict seemed well suited to the role of an adventure writer with low-to-middling success. He entered the series as the Winchester brothers' chronicler, writing eerily accurate stories based on the brothers' adventures. Soon, however, it became apparent that Chuck had a much, much bigger role in store, as he was heavily hinted to be God Himself, the absent deity who had abandoned the heavens prior to the series' start.
This ended up being a role Benedict wasn't quite right for.
While Benedict looked the part of a slovenly writer, he just doesn't look like a deity.
Naturally, this helps God stay incognito, but fans expected a bit more charisma from the creator of all life. Benedict is just a bit too ordinary, a bit too flat to make the role work, which is perhaps why after his first episodes in seasons four and five, he has only appeared in a few scattered episodes. God has not made a reappearance since season 11. Whether it was partially the writers' fault or not, God was not an interesting enough character to bring back more than a few times. Think about that.
The fact that Bobby Singer appears in the Saved category on this list shouldn't surprise anyone. First introduced near the end of the first season, Bobby was not originally meant to have such an important role. An old friend of the Winchester family, Bobby initially seemed to be just a minor supporting role, forgotten by the next season (or, as is more likely the case with Supernatural supporting roles, bumped off).
Jim Beaver portrayed the gruff veteran hunter, and he didn't expect to appear in more than one episode. However, Beaver's everyman charm and chemistry with the show's leads turned that brief appearance into a much longer engagement, becoming a recurring character from seasons two through seven.
Bobby went on all kinds of adventures with the Winchester boys, usually acting as backup or logistical support.
In a show very much about familial bonds, Bobby was able to serve as a father figure to Sam and Dean, in large part due to Beaver's performance.
Bobby had a tragic backstory involving the loss of his wife that made him a perfect fit to join the Winchesters, but without Beaver's grit, humor, and warmth, he would never have had the same longevity. In fact, Beaver is such a fan favorite that he has been once again appearing as a series regular-- as Bobby's alternate universe counterpart.
The much-maligned seventh season of Supernatural had a tough act to follow. Coming off the fifth and sixth seasons of the show, which showed the Winchester brothers take on Lucifer himself and then deal with the fallout from that, the writers had to come up with an entirely new main villain.
Enter Dick Roman, the leader of the Leviathans. The Leviathans were not the best of antagonists to begin with (demonstrated by how they don't show up much after this season), as they were mostly just invincible. The only way to stop them was to hinder them with decapitation or borax, or to stab them with an extremely specific weapon.
Invincibility is not a particularly compelling thing to see, and it didn't help that the Leviathans structured themselves as a food additive company. With Roman (played by James Patrick Stewart) as the charismatic, psychopathic CEO, they built Sucrocorp. The problem was, none of this was particularly engaging. A food additive company just isn't that spooky, monsters that you can only destroy in one very specific way don't offer a lot of variety, and a villain who is essentially just a toothy businessman isn't that satisfying to beat.
Stewart didn't do much to help, either, serving up fairly bland sadism in place of any real nuance or motivation. There just wasn't enough under the hood here, in the writing or the performance.
After season after season of mostly uninspired female villains, Supernatural fans finally got a fitting actress actress to fulfill that role in season 10. That was when Ruth Connell made her first appearance as Rowena MacLeod, a witch and mother to the demon Crowley's original human self.
Manipulative, self-serving, and extremely resilient, Rowena has proven to be both hard to get rid of and easy to like. She prides herself on her own deviousness, and delights in twisting others to meet her goals. However, like most of the characters on the Saved half of the list, her character has grown and changed over her time on the show.
Connell at first played Rowena like a straight-up campy villain, and that was certainly fun, but it eventually gave way to a fuller, better realized character.
Manipulation is fun, but it can be unsatisfying, so Rowena has developed to become a more complex person, and Connell's portrayal has matched that at every turn. Rowena now demonstrates genuine emotions and affection, even for the Winchesters, as her terrifying experiences at the hands of Lucifer forced her to change and seek redemption. Rowena has been a fixture on the show ever since she arrived. With Connell behind her, don't expect that to change any time soon.
First appearing in the third season, Ruby was a demon who seemed to be more sympathetic than her compatriots. At least, she managed to work her way into Sam's affections, even becoming his love interest in the third and fourth seasons.
A complex character, the demoness at least earned fans' curiosity in her first incarnation played by Katie Cassidy - who would later go on to greater fame in another CW show, Arrow. Unfortunately, fans did not feel the same about her second actress, Genevieve Cortese, now known as Genevieve Padalecki after wedding her Supernatural co-star.
Cassidy herself stated that she left the role because it didn't seem like the writers knew what direction to take the character, while creator Eric Kripke said the decision came down to budgetary limitations. Whatever the reason, fans got a very different interpretation of Ruby from Cortese.
Cortese's Ruby felt more manipulative and dependent on her relationship with Sam, not really working as a character in her own right.
Enthusiasm for the character gradually decreased over the season that Cortese played her, and by the end, not very many fans were sad to see her go. It wasn't all bad from Genevieve's point of view, though--she met her future husband Jared Padalecki on the set of the show!
We didn't really expect to get a shot of youthful energy and enthusiasm from the son of the Devil, but here we are. Jack was born in season 12 of Supernatural, and matured to adulthood in a very short amount of time. This is indicative of the level of his power-- since he is the son of Lucifer and a human, he is the most powerful Nephilim in existence. Because he has only been alive for such a short time, Jack is something of a wild card, so we guess it's lucky for the Winchesters he chose to ally himself with them and Castiel.
Alexander Calvert plays Jack with an earnest, even naïve desire to do good. Despite the character initially appearing to be a threat (there was a lot of debate over whether his mother should have the baby or not), Jack has very quickly established himself as a hero, and he was upgraded to the main cast in season 13. He may have lost his Grace in more recent episodes, stripping him down to a mere human, but Calvert has still turned out to be a positive addition to the cast.
Any show as long as Supernatural always needs to stay mindful of not growing stale, and Calvert's turn as Jack has ended up being a bright spot.
By the time season three rolled around, the Supernatural writers and fandom were getting restless. The lack of female characters with any real agency was becoming more and more apparent, and the fan response and writer treatment of Ellen and Jo Harvelle in season two had ended disastrously. While they wanted the series to stay focused on the Winchester brothers, it was clear some women had to be injected into the show.
Unfortunately, the two main female characters the writers came up with were Ruby the demon and Bela Talbot the thief. We've already discussed how Ruby started out promising before fading from fans' good graces, but Bela was never really beloved to begin with.
The problem was really with the character's core conception, but the casting was a part of that. Lauren Cohan was immediately elevated to the main cast of season three and while she did attract some fans, most grew quickly frustrated with her manipulation. Bela didn't last very long, as her short-sighted decisions eventually caught up to her, and Cohan has gone on to do other, more interesting projects: The Walking Dead and a new starring role in Whiskey Cavalier. Bela is one role she (and the writers) may probably rather forget.
Sometimes a casting works simply because a character just has the right look for the part. While the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse were largely forgettable - better known for their positions than the actual characters holding them - Julian Richings' Horseman made it clear from the first moment he was onscreen that he was cut from a different cloth.
One of season five's main arcs follows the Winchester's taking on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It took an episode each to take care of War and Famine, three for Pestilence, but Death tells Sam and Dean that there just isn't any way for them to incapacitate him like they did the others.
Julian Richings makes a grand entrance into the series, accompanied with great music and a wordless scene that sees him ending the lives of humans without so much as a wayward glance.
Richings sells us on his character's cosmic scale, reminding Dean just how old and powerful he is.
The embodiment of mortality explaining what a big deal he is could be silly, but Richings make it work beautifully, really becoming the character. It's doubtful Supernatural fans can see him in anything else he's in and not think of this role. Plus, after Richings left the show, the writers tried to make other Reapers seem as interesting, and mostly failed, which should tell you just how critical Richings was to the character's success.
Garth Fitzgerald IV is a cautionary tale for TV showrunners, because the thing about Garth isn't that he was a bad character - it was that he was too good.
An incompetent hunter who accompanied Sam and Dean as a guest on four episodes starting in seasonseven, Garth was a natural source of comic relief. Fans loved Garth's awkward, bumbling antics, and given their response, they probably wouldn't have minded if he'd been brought on as a recurring character, rather than just a guest. Unfortunately, DJ Qualls, the actor playing Garth, was just too busy for a bigger time commitment.
Its not that DJ Qualls does a bad job playing Garth - nor is Garth a bad character. The problem here is that Supernatural casted Qualls in the role despite him having acting commitments elsewhere. Qualls is a series regular on two different shows, and while fans love Garth, Qualls has said he just doesn't have room in his schedule for the role.
Garth is still alive in the Supernatural continuity, so the door is open for more appearances, but casting Qualls in the role has limited the character to just four episodes. Sam and Dean may talk about Garth a lot, but it's not the same. We'd rather have more Garth, and that means DJ Qualls was miscast.
Demons are fun. Don't ever let anyone tell you different. Most actors who play the black-eyed monsters on Supernatural look like they're having a good time being bad, but none seemed to relish it quite like Mark Sheppard.
Sheppard played Crowley, the demon who rose to prominence as the King of the Crossroads. Crowley was a salesman, a negotiator who offered humans classic crossroads-style deals for their souls. Though he didn't start as the most powerful demon, Crowley nevertheless managed to parlay his wit and intelligence into becoming nothing less than the King of Hell.
Mark Sheppard has been a fixture on the show since season five, until his character sacrificed himself for the greater good at the end of season 12.
The absence of Crowley and Sheppard was definitely felt in season 13 - not bad for a mere Crossroads Demon.
Like several others in the Saved category, Sheppard didn't expect his character to resonate so strongly, but his humor and antagonistic chemistry with the Winchester brothers inspired the writers to give him bigger and bigger roles to play. This all culminated in season 10, when Sheppard was elevated to the main cast, where he stayed for two years.
Much like Arthur Ketch, Lady Toni Bevell was introduced as part of the British Men of Letters - though she actually made an appearance before him in season 11, while he had to wait till season 12. Much like Arthur Ketch, she was plagued by bland characterization and a dodgy British accent. An Australian actress, Elizabeth Blackmore, played the character, and she never really seemed more than a female version of Ketch. It's not really clear why the show brought back Ketch, but Toni didn't get the same invitation. Her character was bumped off by Ketch himself near the end of season 12.
Toni, like several female villains on Supernatural, fell prey to being the one-note manipulative spy character. Neurotic, ruthless, and arrogant, there just isn't much to her to make her a memorable antagonist. She may be a cut above Ketch, who has been shown to be a psychopath, but that ultimately left without much of a role in the show. Nobody really wants to watch a character who is bad but not as bad as the guy standing next to her.
Ultimately, neither Toni nor Ketch were well-liked characters, but she just wasn't interesting enough to keep around. Perhaps if Blackmore had exhibited any real chemistry with the cast, things might have been different, but she didn't.
Charlie Bradbury was one of the few good things to come out of the Leviathan-dominated season seven. An IT expert who worked for Dick Roman, Felicia Day brought nerd credibility to the role of the dorky character. The world of hunters terrifies her, and after her first adventure with the Winchester brothers, she tells them never to contact her again. Unfortunately for her (but fortunately for fans), she reappears several times until season 10, when she became a recurring character but sadly also met her tragic end.
Charlie could have been a one-shot character, but Felicia Day provided her with a verve and sense of humor unique in the series.
Charlie was a lesbian, and having a visible LGBT character on the show was great. She also had some fun one-liners and good comedic timing, but could bring serious moments when she needed to. More than anything, she added a degree of referential nerdiness that the show relied on to make unforgettable episodes. Stories with Charlie included a Wizard of Oz arc, a LARP episode, and a good self/bad self storyline to go along with all the usual monster hunting she did with the brothers - who really seemed like her brothers too.
Charlie was sorely missed after she departed the series, but Felicia Day returned to portray her alternate universe doppelgänger who went on to go on a road trip with Rowena to make trouble.
A problem that plagues shows that run as long as Supernatural has is that they have trouble keeping things interesting as they have to generate new interesting threats. Once you've used the actual Devil as a villain, how do you top that? Well, it turns out, you kind of don't.
Appearing in season 11, The Darkness was billed as a primordial entity, essentially God's mean older sister. The Darkness manifests as a human girl, rapidly growing in apparent age until she is played by Emily Swallow in her adult form. The Darkness, now going by Amara, voraciously consumes souls until she is powerful enough to take on God Himself.
This is all well and good, but Swallow's Amara just wasn't believably powerful. Even ignoring the simplistic motivation of just wanting to hurt God, Amara was childish and not all that scary, and let's not even talk about her awkward relationship with Dean. She eventually reconciles and leaves with God, but fans were mostly just happy to see them both depart.
Despite being the most powerful beings in the universe in the show's canon, neither of them were particularly interesting to watch. It just goes to show, trying to create the most powerful characters doesn't mean you've created the best characters-- a lesson Swallow could have stood to learn while shooting the role.
You could make a legitimate argument that Supernatural wasn't really Supernatural until Castiel joined the show. A lot of fans consider the introduction of angels into the show's lore to be a turning point, and that largely comes from Misha Collins' performance.
Collins made his first appearance on the show season four, and by the very next season was bumped up to main cast status. Fans instantly connected with his socially oblivious but morally earnest take on angeldom, and it didn't hurt that he had a rumpled noir look to him inspired by comic book character John Constantine.
Castiel's somber attitude and knowledge of the heavens makes him a great companion for the Winchester, and a fun straight man for comic relief scenarios. Collins never expected the character to resonate so strongly with the fans, but then, it wasn't just the character that the fans liked. They also liked Collins himself, as he was a welcome presence on publicity tours due to his amiable demeanor and charity work in his spare time.
If Collins hadn't played the character, he likely would never have lasted as long, nor been as well received. The producers and writers just got incredibly lucky that they cast the right guy.
Lucifer is one of the Big Bads of Supernatural, which makes sense, given that he is the Devil. He's also one of the fan-favorite villains, as he has all kinds of memorable moments starting from his first appearance in season five. However, much like Ruby, most fans resonated with Lucifer's incarnation, not his second.
While Mark Pellegrino played Lucifer for most of his time on Supernatural, season 12 found the Devil taking possession of the body of an aging musician, Vince Vincente. Played by Rick Springfield, he just never seemed to measure up to the original Lucifer.
Since Vincente was a rockstar, he was a more stereotypical Lucifer, evoking the satanic panic surrounding rock and roll. While the overall style for the character may have stuck around, the actor didn't. Springfield didn't make it out of the season, as Vince was eventually discarded for another vessel for the fallen archangel. Springfield was a little too campy, too obvious to be scary.
Fans loved Pellegrino's turn as the villain, and were overjoyed when he returned to play the character again.
Nobody seemed to mind that Springfield was no longer the Devil, as he seemed to be an experiment that didn't quite pan out.
If you're going to run a television show for 13-plus years, you had better hope you cast some likable leads. Luckily for Supernatural fans (not to mention creator Eric Kripke), the show lucked out in both of its casting choices for the Winchester brothers. Sam Winchester, the younger and taller of the pair, begins the series as a law student at Stanford. The loss of his girlfriend Jessica at the hands of a demon prompts him to join his brother Dean in the Winchester family business: hunting monsters. Sam is a compelling character, but it's actor Jared Padalecki who brings him to life.
A lover of horror, Padalecki took to the role instantly (since the show was originally meant to a new mini horror movie every week), but the producers saw something more. It was Padalecki's onscreen chemistry coupled with fan reaction that prompted the writers to change the direction of the show to focus more on the brotherly relationship than the monsters themselves.
It's a good thing, too-- without Padalecki (and his costar, more on him soon) the show likely could never have become the longest running sci-fi show in North American television history.
You know, Cole could have been a fun character. A former Marine and trained martial artist, Cole Trenton was new to the world of hunters, but the face of Dean Winchester was engraved on his memory. See, Dean had hunted Cole's father years ago because he was a monster, and he ended up offing him right in front of Cole. Naturally, Cole has been bent on revenge ever since, and finally catches up to Dean in sason 10. Things don't go his way because Dean is possessed by a demon at the time, and an amusing subplot ensues where Cole then returns with holy water, only to find out Dean is no longer a demon.
However, Cole has never returned to the show, and many fans seem just fine with it. Rumors have swirled in the Supernatural fandom about Wade for messaging and harassing female fans, badmouthing his fellow cast members and fans, and then blaming these actions on some kind of social media manager. One fan, Emily Rose, detailed her experiences with Wade at length in a blog post. Whether or not the claims against Wade are true, it's an undeniable messy aspect for a show that relies heavily on its dedicated fanbase.
What can we say about Dean Winchester that hasn't already been screamed from online fandoms a thousand times? The brotherly bond between the Winchesters forms the core of Supernatural, but Dean is its heart and soul.
Rarely does a single character embody the spirit of an entire show, but Jensen Ackles' Dean does just that.
The first few seasons focused more on the monsters the two brothers faced, with Sam appearing to be more of a main character than Dean. That shifted once writers understood the fan response to Jensen Ackles' portrayal of the rougher and readier of the two Winchester brothers.
Ackles has said that Dean's comedic potential and recklessness were what drew him to the character, as he requested to switch to Dean after being asked to audition for Sam. The brothers' initial dynamic painted him as the more streetwise foil to Padalecki's bookish Sam, but through Ackles' emotive performance, Dean has morphed and matured into something more.
Some television actors don't enjoy being remembered as just one role, but Padalecki and Ackles seem to take a different viewpoint. They've found their home, and as long as fans want to see the Winchester brothers hunt monsters, the two actors are in till the end of the line.
Who's your favorite actor on Supernatural? Let us know in the comments!