With eight seasons behind it and an apparent apocalypse on the way, Supernatural opened the final day of Comic-Con International with its stars and creators playing to a full house, as Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, and executive producers Jeremy Carver and Robert Singer answered fan questions about the series' history and what's coming up for Season 9.
The panel began with a highlights reel from Season 8, which included plenty of beheadings and fires before reaching the climax of the angels falling to Earth and fading in to a preview of the ninth season. The first bit of new footage sees Dean walking into Men of Letters headquarters, only to have Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) fire an arrow past his head. Seeing who the intruder is, Kevin remarks, "Dean? You're alive."
"Yeah, 'cuz you're a crappy shot. Katniss," Dean replies.
Soon Sam enters with Crowley, his prisoner. The brothers decide the most effective way to get information from him may be to do nothing. "Being stuck alone, in solitude, no one to talk to? We figure that's petty much your own personal hell," Sam says.
After the preview finished and the actors and producers had taken the stage, Carver told fans, "I think one of the things that going to be really exciting this season is that we're going to learn pretty quickly that a world full of fallen angels is pretty much a free for all.
Carver continued, "It's not one unified body; we've got lots of angels out there with lots of different agendas. It's lending itself to some exciting and wonderful character moments for all of our characters to be dealing with.
"A world of fallen angels is a dirty, bloody, scary, and in some ways very human world."
While the producers made their opening remarks, Collins and Sheppard engaged in a bit of stage business as Collins knocked Sheppard's name card off the table, waited for him to walk all the way around to pick it up, then flicked it off again. Sheppard finally knocked Collins' off as he retrieved his own.
Asked about the Winchester brothers' relationship in Season 9, Carver noted that Sam and Dean's dynamic has evolved over the course of the show. "One of the interesting things about the end of last season, the brothers chose each other and their love for each other over other things," the showrunner said, leaving the gates of Hell open in order to save each other. "The brothers are walking into a world this year where the normal constructs of Heaven and Hell are no longer in place. The King of Hell is no longer in place, and Heaven isn't running as it should."
Padalecki thanked fans for their support through eight seasons, and said that he's looking forward to Season 9 where "we've got the king of hell living in our dungeon and angels all over the place."
Collins said this season marks "a remarkable shift for Castiel" as he becomes human. Whereas he had been a useful tool, "popping in and letting the brothers travel time, for example," these days "he can pop in and basically fold laundry." The actor said he's enjoyed having Castiel "learn what it's like to eat, and what happens to the food after you eat."
Asked whether Crowley's breakdown was sincere, Sheppard said, "Whatever happened to Crowley at the end of Season 8 has profoundly affected him, whether he likes it or not."
As to whether fans will see more of the Men of Letters headquarters, Singer noted it's "the first permanent set we've had, and for Dean it's a home." Sheppard jokingly suggested there's also a disco room.
Carver said that, although it's true Jim Beaver is returning, "I believe we've said that it would be in a way no one is expecting." Singer joked that, "Jim tweets these things before we have any plans to bring him back."
After Singer joked that guest star Felicia Day was more trouble than she's worth -- "I don't think she's given you very much" -- Day joined the other actors on stage. "I think you might have a cosplay Deadpool take you out later in the bathroom," Day joked to Singer. "She knows I love her," Singer said.
Asked why fans love her character Charlie, Day joked that "this show needs a touch of vagina," with Singer retorting, "That's why we have Mark Sheppard."
More directly, Day said Charlie's character went deeper than the superficial "oh, she's a geek character" that has been the case with some similar characters on other shows.
The actors were asked what their characters were thinking in various situations, but, after several had answered, Ackles showed amusement at the question. "We don't just sit around and talk about story lines like you think we do," Ackles joked, saying he enjoyed hearing other actors' responses. "Dean has been through a quite lot," Ackles said, "and I think what keeps him motivated, or pushing on, is his sense of duty to fight the good fight.
"When he got back from Purgatory last season -- and I'm sorry to see Purgatory go, by the way -- I think there was a real sense of clarity to his mission."
Padalecki said Sam's motivation is "a two-part answer," including what the writer's write and how he portrays the role as an actor. "These guys are trying to do the right things, and nobody has all the answers. Sam's trying to do what's right, and sometimes he errs," Padalecki said.
As to whether Castiel will get to drive the Impala, Collins said "Yup," while Singer said, "no." This went back and forth several times, but Singer finally said that, in addition to the Impala being Dean's car, "Ackles has a proprietary interest in this car -- Cas is not going to drive the car, Misha is not going to drive the car."
With fan questions beginning, the first asked where angels and demons go when they die. "Comic-Con," Collins said. Carver said "that is something we could answer."
An early question was directed at "everybody but Jensen." Ackles feigned hurt, but the fan said her question was whether the other actors had "thought about directing," and she had excluded him because Ackles has already directed episodes.
"I've still thought about it," Ackles pouted.
"I don't think it's right for me to do currently. I've thought about it," Padalecki said. With a new family, "Inevitably, I fly back to Vancouver at the last possible second" in order to spend more time at home, Padalecki said. Collins, who will direct episode 17 this season, joked that he also has small children, "and they keep me up at night -- so I'm looking for an opportunity to get away from them, directing and getting some sleep. I apologize in advance for the product."
"I thought you were going to ask what Jensen smells like, because a lot of fans ask me that," Day said. "And I always say 'coriander and leather.'"
A deaf fan asked whether the cast remembered "the bullshit sign," and they did. He then asked about plans for Jesse Turner, the child who may be an antichrist figure. There were some lighthearted moments as he tried to get what he wanted to say through his sign-language interpreter without remembering the character's name. None of the panelists had an answer for him, though. "We need someone up here who knows the show well," Padalecki joked. The producers said that while there are no plans for him at present, he's a character they're thinking about.
Asked whether it's difficult to get into a different mindset as their characters change -- losing their souls, alternate realities, etc. -- Ackles said "Dean is pretty much Dean," even in the episode where the actors played themselves using their real names. Padalecki described the episode as "Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean, playing Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean."
"There's always something new," Collins said, remarking that the changes are part of what make the job fun.
Asked about which guns they've fired on the show are their favorites, Padalecki chose one he hadn't used. "We haven't used the grenade launcher that's in the car," he said.
Ackles picked the 1911 that's always at his side. "There is a handgun that shoots shotgun shells. It is called the Judge. It will probably blow your hand right off your face," Ackles added. "We thought it was a little too much, so we nixed it."
The panel concluded with the gag reel that will be included on the Season 8 DVD.