Despite the very best efforts of Warner Bros., staple The CW series, Supernatural, has never been able to successfully spawn a spinoff series. This unbroken run of ill-fated offspring is more than a little unusual for a mainstream property that has existed for 14 years and built up such a devoted fanbase in that time.
The world -- or, as of later seasons, worlds -- that the monster-hunting Winchester brothers inhabit has grown a rich mythology encompassing just about every god, monster and non-human yet human-shaped creature you can imagine, so it's not like there aren't acres of potential side-quests for non-Winchester heroes to dig into, either.
Or are there? Speaking at the TCA Summer Press Tour, CW President Mark Pedowitz pointed to Sam and Dean as the missing X-Factor of any Supernatural spinoff. "The show's essence and blood are Jared and Jensen."
It seems like stating the obvious to say that the show can't go on without its two main leads, but then again, this seems like a problem that's strangely unique to Supernatural. Elsewhere, pop culture is full to bursting point with spinoffs that function perfectly well without their original protagonists, from Fantastic Beasts to Fear The Walking Dead.
And, clearly, Supernatural's producers don't completely believe that this has to be the case else there wouldn't have been as many failed attempts to branch the show out as there currently are. There's only one thing left to do: grab our fake FBI badges and exhume the remains, one by one, to find out the premature cause of death.
First appearing in the show's third season, amateur, fame-hungry paranormal investigators, "Ghostfacers" quickly became fan-favorites; earning themselves a recurring place in Supernatural and a chance to strike out on their own in a web series.
10 GhostFacers webisodes were produced in total, each no longer than four-minutes long, and released twice weekly across April 2010. It continued the shaky-cam, mockumentary style adopted in the Supernatural episode in which the gang, led by Ed Zeddmore and Harry Spengler, made their debut, and closely tied into Supernatural lore, culminating in a guest appearance by Castiel in the finale.
According to AJ Buckley, who plays Ed, the series was created to "supplement Supernatural's online identity," and while he and co-star Travis Wester were enthusiastic about doing more episodes at the time, they were returned to their guest star positions alongside Sam and Dean instead. It's possible the series was simply a marketing experiment intended to be short-lived.
SUPERNATURAL: THE ANIMATION
With exorcist premises being oddly prevalent in anime -- and Jared and Jensen being perfectly designed to be reconfigured as pouting, bishonen heroes -- Supernatural: The Animation had a decent shot at success. Adding to this was the animation talent of respected Japanese studio, Madhouse, as well as the voice talents of Jared and (mostly) Jensen.
The series created a kind of alternate canon to the live-action incarnation's first season, recycling episodes with a slightly different spin and expanding the roles of smaller characters so that existing fans didn't just find themselves watching a cartoon rehash.
While well-animated, the series lacked the warmth that curtailed the sharper edges of the original. It also must have not gone over well enough with Japanese viewers -- as Americanized anime often doesn't -- to warrant a second season.
Originally billed as "Supernatural: Tribes," Bloodlines was the first backdoor pilot Supernatural attempted, airing as an episode of the same name during the show's ninth season. In the episode, Sam and Dean find themselves caught up in Chicago's seedy, criminal underbelly, which had been secretly overrun by various monster families.
The planned spinoff's star, Ennis Ross (Lucien Laviscount) also guest starred as a wannabe-cop-turned-wannabe-hunter following the murder of his girlfriend. Rather than scattered groups, Bloodlines would have shown monsters and hunters as firmly rooted communities instead.
The CW ultimately didn't move ahead with the project, a decision executive producer, Andrew Dabb, has since pinned on the premise of a city where humans and supernatural beings wage shadowy urban warfare as being too derivative of another CW series, The Originals.
It didn't help, too, that Bloodlines would have betrayed -- in the eyes of Supernatural purists -- the Kerouac-ian road trip theme that helped inspire creator Eric Kripke to develop the show in the first place.
Supernatural has had its fair share of prominent female characters but remains, for the most part, a male-dominated affair. Wayward Sisters, the second backdoor pilot, aimed to put some of these female characters front and center, flipping the brotherhood that binds Supernatural into a sisterhood.
Like GhostFacers, Wayward Sisters plucked two fan-favorite characters, no-nonsense Sheriff Jody Mills and full-of-nonsense Sheriff Donna Hanscum, and would have dropped them into their own story focussed on their blended brood of orphaned young women who'd suffered supernatural-related tragedies. A dysfunctional but loving family? Monster-hunting? Fan-approved characters? Of all the spinoffs, Wayward Sisters had a real fighting chance...
...Until The CW pulled the plug in 2017. Pedowitz explained that the network "didn't feel creatively the show is where we wanted it to be." As was the case with Bloodlines, he added that, "We felt we had a better shot with Legacies." Once again, a Supernatural spinoff was put to bed because The CW had too many variations on the same theme to choose from.
Supernatural executive producer and Wayward Sisters writer, Andrew Dabb, tweeted that he was "heartbroken" by the decision, a sentiment backed up by fans who swiftly mounted an unsuccessful online campaign to save the series before it was completed dead.
One spinoff idea that was never really brought to fruition revolves around Samuel Colt, a real-life industrialist whose passions for arms manufacturing and hunting were remixed by Supernatural to create the finest monster hunter who ever lived. His mythic gun, the Colt, is Sam and Dean's deus ex machina in really tight spots: able to kill almost anything.
Creator Eric Kripke floated the idea of a Supernatural prequel series set in the Wild, Wild West that would have fleshed the enigmatic inventor out some more. As of yet, the closest we've gotten to seeing this concept realized is Season 6's "Frontierland," in which Sam and Dean travel back in time to meet Colt. Syfy has since beaten The CW to the punch, too, with Wynonna Earp capitalizing on the underserved occult cowboys niche. At the very least, it proves Kripke was onto something.