After 13 years on the air, Supernatural will do something it’s never done before when the CW series returns this fall: have episodes without Dean Winchester in them, while his portrayer Jensen Ackles takes on the role of archangel Michael.
“The show’s built upon two pillars, and those two pillars are Sam and Dean,” co-showrunner Andrew Dabb tells TVLine as part of our Fall Preview Q&A. “We’ve taken Sam away for little chunks of time here and there, but never in a huge way. He’s been soulless and things like that, but he’s still kind of present. Demon Dean was kind of a one-episode thing, and largely, the action happened off-screen.”
But with the Apocalypse World transplant taking control of Dean’s body heading into Season 14, “one of the pillars of the show is gone, basically,” Dabb continues, “and that, in some ways, makes things very difficult, because the show is Sam and Dean, and their interplay.”
It’s not surprising then that Dabb says, “It’s challenging to write episodes without Dean Winchester in them, because he is such a fundamental part of the show. But it’s also exciting [for] Jensen and us [to have] the opportunity to play around with this new character.”
The twist has also benefited the growing ensemble’s beloved fan faves. “It gives some other characters a bit of breathing room in terms of Castiel and Jack, and Mary and Bobby…,” Dabb notes. Plus, the series now has a villain played by one of its original leading men.
“The hardest thing about a show like this, sometimes, is every year, you have to create the new Big Bad,” Dabb explains. “You have to build that character. You have to build that actor to find a comfort level with the show and everything else. With Jensen playing Michael, there’s none of that. This is an actor who everyone loves, who knows exactly what the show is, who knows exactly who he is, who knows exactly [and] very smartly how to approach this character. So it’s really given us, like instantly, a great bad guy, which is kind of obvious, but it’s something where you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s really, really cool.'”
And, Dabb adds: “Jensen’s doing an amazing job of bringing a lot to it.”
Supernatural Season 14 premieres Thursday, Oct. 11 at 8/7c on The CW.