Supernatural's ending announcement may have disappointed some fans, but the decision came at the perfect time. On screens since 2005, it's little surprise that the adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester have attracted hordes of dedicated fans across the world and the Supernatural fandom has become one of the most passionate and integrated followings in modern television, with the series and its audience enjoying a close relationship.
As such, there were plenty of tears shed when Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins announced that Supernatural season 15 would be the show's last. After all, the president of The CW, Supernatural's network home for most of its run, had previously stated that as long as viewership remained stable and both Padalecki and Ackles were on board, the show could continue indefinitely. With such a rare (and probably lucrative) invitation on the table, why would Supernatural bow out now, particularly with popular new characters and fascinating additions to the show's lore still emerging even in the most recent episodes?
It's no secret that Supernatural creator Eric Kripke originally hadn't planned beyond season 5, stepping down as full-time showrunner after this point, and there's a section of the fandom who maintain that the series should have ended here. If this were the case, however, Supernatural would've barely scratched the surface on characters such as Castiel and Crowley, who went on to become firm fan favorites. Others suggest that Supernatural should've concluded around the season 10/11 mark but, again, this would've meant omitting the likes of Jack, "Scoobynatural" and the true formation of the Wayward Sisters. Undoubtedly, Supernatural has experienced highs and lows, but any suggestion of a long-term slide in quality is wide of the mark.
Unfortunately, not even Supernatural can generate an infinite conveyor belt of ideas and this is mainly why season 15 feels like an appropriate end point. Even in its later seasons, Supernatural has come up with some innovative and compelling material but producers are constantly having to expand the show's boundaries in order to do this, whether that be via parallel worlds or ambitious animated crossovers. Having now explored those areas, as well as Earth, Angels, Demons, Purgatory, time travel and the Empty, it's difficult to see where a sixteenth season could go that would feel fresh, while still retaining the essence of Supernatural.
Turning to the real world, the decision also makes sense in terms of Ackles and Padalecki's respective careers. Both men have attempted to take on other roles and advance their acting repertoires, but the demands of Supernatural have kept the boys coming back to the bunker each time. With the duo now both around 40 years of age, those dashing leading man offers aren't going to continue rolling in forever, and if either Ackles or Padalecki are hoping to add some more major roles to their résumés, particularly on the big screen, then now is the time to leave Sam and Dean behind.
Lastly, Supernatural has historically struggled to raise the stakes following the defeat of a major villain. After Lucifer came the Leviathans and after the Darkness came the British Men of Letters, both of which felt like somewhat of a step down. Seasons 13 and 14 dealt with Apocalypse Michael and the nephilim, Jack, and then took the natural step of establishing God as the next big bad. After the Lord himself, however, there's no logical move forward that wouldn't feel like an anti-climax in the wake of a battle against Chuck.
TV writers often hail the importance of knowing when a show has outstayed its welcome. Some would argue that Supernatural has already reached this point, but the series' recent successes make a good case to the contrary. Nevertheless, there is a limit to Supernatural's innovation and it's far better to end on a high than to carry on waywardly and risk tarnishing an otherwise stellar legacy.
Supernatural season 15 premieres October 10th on The CW.