Here's how the original five-season plan for Supernatural would have given the show a very different ending. After an impressive run of fifteen seasons, the highly popular fantasy series Supernatural is finally coming to an end on its own terms, following an announcement from the show's central trio of stars earlier this year. The series has, by its own admission, experienced a number of ups and downs but has retained a loyal and passionate fan following and consistently introduced new characters and storylines that have captivated viewers. It also appears that the Winchester brothers are set to go out on a high, as season 15 will see them faced with the amassed contents of hell, as well as a disillusioned and empathy-lacking God.
For a show of Supernatural's kind to achieve a run of fifteen seasons without being cancelled, one might think that the series' producers would've had an organized, iron-cast plan laid out that charted the Winchester brothers' journey from start to finish. And that assumption would be entirely correct but for one detail: Supernatural was originally only designed to run for five seasons. Original Supernatural creator Eric Kripke has confirmed on numerous occasions that both he and co-stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki envisioned a five-year map of the show's story that detailed Sam and Dean's quest to avenge their mother's death at the hands of Yellow-Eyes, their subsequent discovery that Yellow-Eyes was working for Lucifer and, finally, the boys heroically overcoming the devil himself.
Clearly, that didn't quite pan out. While Kripke's vision of the show did indeed come to an end with season 5, Supernatural's network home, The CW, had other ideas. As with any cancellation or renewal dilemma, Supernatural's burgeoning popularity was at the heart of the decision to push the show on into season 6 and, although there had been somewhat of a ratings drop-off between seasons 1 and 5, the numbers were remarkably consistent compared to many other TV shows. Executives clearly sensed more money in the series and as time would later demonstrate, there was much more story and lore for Supernatural to cover.
Interestingly, Kripke did depart the series after the season 5 milestone, but any notion that he was unhappy with Supernatural extending beyond his original vision is wide of the mark, and the creator has since remained attached to the show in a creative consultant capacity, offering his input when required.
However, arguably the most important reason that Supernatural's original five-year plan was scrapped is that Kripke's map wasn't quite as detailed as some would suggest. While it's tempting to paint Supernatural seasons 1-5 as the definitive Winchester story, the truth is far less romantic. Kripke certainly had the bones of those early stories penned out in advance, but has also admitted that many of the details featured during that period were developed season-by-season. The addition of the angels, for instance, is something that Kripke didn't originally intend but that ultimately yielded some of the show's best characters. Ahead of the season 6 premiere, Kripke also spoke in interviews (via Collider) about taking opportunities that were presented, rather than adhering to a strict ready-made plan.
Consequently, although it is tempting to view Supernatural's first five seasons as a tightly-written, meticulously planned tale, the five-year plan was driven by a fear of cancellation and a need to be flexible as much it was by the story Kripke had in mind. The fact that five seasons also typically marked the point of syndication for most shows at that time may have also been a contributing factor. As such, it's perhaps easier to see why, when The CW came calling for Supernatural season 6, Kripke's response wasn't to balk at the idea, storming out of the network's offices while scoffing something about "artistic vision," but to seize the opportunity that was presented, much as he had been all along.
Supernatural season 15 is expected to premiere later this year.