‘Supernatural’ fans are angry and heartbroken over a new prequel series and a rift it caused between the stars

'Supernatural' co-stars Jared Padalecki (L) and Jensen Ackles (R) have a long relationship on- and off-screen.
‘Supernatural’ co-stars Jared Padalecki (L) and Jensen Ackles (R) have a long relationship on- and off-screen. Robert Falconer/The CW
  • The CW’s cult horror favorite “Supernatural” ended in November 2020 after 15 years.
  • Co-lead Jensen Ackles announced a prequel series, “The Winchesters,” is in development.
  • It sparked an apparent rift between him and co-star Jared Padalecki, as well as their fans.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Cult favorite “Supernatural,” the CW monster-hunting show that ran for 15 years, ended in November 2020. But like many of the ghouls Sam and Dean Winchester chased down, this dead thing won’t stop kicking.

On Thursday, Jensen Ackles, who played Dean, announced via Deadline that he would executive produce a “Supernatural” prequel series called “The Winchesters.” The show will tell the “epic, untold love story” of John and Mary Winchester – the parents of Sam and Dean.

Ackles and his wife Danneel, who played Rachel on “One Tree Hill” and had a recurring “Supernatural” role, are both at the prequel’s helm with their newly launched production company. A fan favorite behind “Supernatural,” screenwriter Robbie Thompson, will also write and produce “The Winchesters.”

There are only two problems: One, the “Supernatural” fandom hates John Winchester. And two, according to Jared Padalecki, who played Sam, no one thought to tell him about the reboot.

‘The Winchesters’ was met with disappointment

By the end of 'Supernatural,' the Winchester family in present-day age had reunited onscreen.
By the end of ‘Supernatural,’ the Winchester family in present-day age had reunited onscreen. The CW

Scrolling through the replies to Jensen and Danneel’s social media posts about the prequel, you’ll find a lot of very unhappy “Supernatural” fans. The original show became the longest-running American sci-fi/genre series because of its devoted fandom, which includes a lot of women and queer people.

But while Danneel wrote on Instagram that “The Winchesters” would follow “beloved characters,” the overwhelming response in the comments was that the plot premise seems to romanticize the story of John and Mary – despite most of “Supernatural” exploring how dysfunctional their family is.

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“Supernatural” starts with Mary being killed by a demon while Sam is still a baby, which prompts John to raise his young sons as warriors who track and kill monsters out of revenge. John, who is most often played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is portrayed as absent, aggressive, and even abusive throughout flashbacks after his character’s death in season 2.

Even before Mary’s death at the start of the series, “Supernatural” established in season 5 that John and Mary fell in love thanks to Cupid’s interference, in order to fulfill biblical prophecy. And John didn’t know Mary was a hunter before she died; she kept that a secret from him.

Fans are concerned about how the prequel will fit in with the show’s legacy – which was also riddled with plot holes, though perhaps not as egregious as what “The Winchesters” suggests.

Padalecki says he wasn’t included in the series development

There was already drama breaking out in the “Supernatural” fandom thanks to the sudden prequel announcement on Thursday, but the other shoe dropped just hours later when Padalecki started tweeting his apparent surprise that a spinoff was coming.

“Dude. Happy for you. Wish I heard about this some way other than Twitter,” Padalecki wrote. “I’m excited to watch, but bummed that Sam Winchester had no involvement whatsoever.”

When a fan asked if the tweet was a “bad joke,” Padalecki responded, writing “No. It’s not. This is the first I’ve heard about it. I’m gutted.”

Padalecki's tweets the night of the prequel announcement, including one he deleted.
Padalecki’s tweets the night of the prequel announcement, including one he deleted. Twitter/@jarpad

Padalecki also tweeted at co-producer Thompson, writing “Et tu brute??” After the reference to Julius Ceasar’s assassination, Padalecki continued, writing “Wow. What a trully awful thing you’ve done. #Bravo you coward.” This tweet was quickly deleted.

In the morning, fans were disappointed yet again when Padalecki tweeted not to send harassment or threats to anyone involved. He thanked those who sent their love, seemingly confirming that this was a real beef.

The shocking thing about the apparent rift between Padalecki and Ackles is that they aren’t just onscreen brothers. They’re real-life best friends, or at least they were up through the original series’ finale.

Actors Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins attend the Paley Center for Media's 35th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles 'Supernatural' at Dolby Theatre on March 20, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Actors Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins attend the Paley Center for Media’s 35th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles ‘Supernatural’ at Dolby Theatre on March 20, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Padalecki and Ackles, who are referred to as just “J2” by fans, met on the set of “Supernatural” in 2005. They’ve since shared an apartment while filming, been groomsmen in each others’ weddings, and both live near one another in Austin, Texas, with their families.

Padalecki is the eternal wild child of the duo, having been arrested in 2019 for brawling with bar employees and getting dragged in 2017 for publicly identifying and shaming a casino employee on Twitter.

Fans were not happy with either Padalecki, for tweeting instead of reaching out privately, or Ackles, for apparently not even telling his “brother” about “The Winchesters.” But then, the two appeared to reconcile, at least publicly.

“@JensenAckles and I had a great talk, as we do often, and things are good,” Padalecki tweeted. “The show is early in the process with miles to go. We’ve travelled a lot of roads together, and sometimes those damn roads have bumps. Bumps don’t stop us. Once brothers, always brothers.”

Ackles finally chimed in, writing “Love you @jarpad … Miss these talks. I forgot how much face time we always used to get. And I miss that too. I know you’re busy …as am I, but you’re still my brother. I miss you, pal.”