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The Fans & Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters



The Catalyst


Jensen Ackles

Courtesy-Jensen Ackles IG

On October 11, 2022, The CW launched a new series called The Winchesters.  The Winchesters aired 13 episodes and is a prequel to the much-loved Supernatural series, also affectionately known as “the mothership”.

Sadly for its fans, it was announced on May 11, 2023 that the prequel was cancelled after it’s first season.  There have been several articles written trending the news.  This article, however, will focus on the campaign that was immediately launched to save her, and the fandom response which followed.

On May 11, 2023 Jensen Ackles, Danneel Ackles and the principle cast of actors from The Winchesters, launched the “Save The Winchesters” campaign, and the fandom immediately took to Twitter to participate.  The call to action, was for fans to use the #SaveTheWinchesters hashtag to participate in finding the show a new home.

As of May 17/2023, 1 pm EST, the statistical count on the number of times the #SaveTheWinchesters hashtag has been tweeted out in the last seven days, sits at 192,430 times.  Impressive.  But why?  To delve deeper, there had to be more to the story then just a body of fans who like a show and didn’t want it to end.  Frankly, shows are cancelled with such regularity these days, fans have come to expect that eventuality.

So why is this show different?



Some History


Before this article moves on to articulate and report on the fan motivations/efforts to save The Winchesters, it is important to at least place the show squarely in the context of the larger picture about where it came from and the birthplace of the fandom that has answered the call.  Supernatural (the mothership) and the Supernatural Family (the fandom).

In an effort to not dilute focus, you can find all those details in a side bar summary posted at the bottom of this article.


The Artists Behind The Artists


The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


For many people, leisure time includes finding solace from our work-a-day lives, by escaping into the worlds that actors bring to life.  The Winchesters was no exception.  As the prequel to Supernatural, this show took viewers back in time to the ’70’s and introduced them to the epic love story between John Winchester (Drake Rodger) and Mary Campbell (Meg Donnelly) and how they were willing to put it all on the line to save their world.  Along for the ride were characters Carlos Cervantez (Jojo Fleites), Latika Desai (Nida Khurshid), Ada Monroe (Demetria McKinney) and Millie Winchester (Bianca Kajlich) who made up the principle cast.  These were some of the artists who brought The Winchesters to life.

Immediately following the launch of the #SaveTheWinchesters campaign, it began trending far and wide.  Not only did this spark reaction and participation from fans around the globe, within 48 to 72 hours the #SaveTheWinchesters hashtag was trending in the US, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil and the UK.  Fans were stepping up to support the cast and crew of their beloved show in remarkable numbers and with steely determination.  Without them, those numbers would not have risen to what they are now, or continue to be.  But some fans weren’t just tweeting.  Some were putting themselves out there in deeply personal ways.  When I took to twitter to see this phenomenon with my own eyes, what I witnessed was artists, bolstering artists.

Art is a profoundly personal offering.  When an artist produces something, it doesn’t just come from talent and skill, it comes from their heart and soul.  These people were willing to trade those pieces of themselves as offerings for anyone willing to join the campaign.  They did this by tweeting out pictures of their work as prizes open to anyone who retweeted their messages using the hashtag.  All those who did, were eligible to win, by random choosing, whatever was displayed in the picture.

I wanted to interview these artists to find out why.  Why does The Winchesters mean so much to you?  It mattered that the reasons might run deeper then just doing so because Jensen Ackles put out the call to action.  That might be reason enough for any Jensen Ackles fan, and completely legitimate – but there had to be more to it.

I chose a handful of artists and reached out privately asking for their participation.  I posed a series of probing questions.  Their answers were varied, articulate and heartfelt.  I can’t share all the detail or this article will be a novel.  Instead, I will list each question and provide some specific points and/or summaries.  You will also see some scattered pictures of the art that has been shared.  Let’s dive in.


The Questions


(1) To break the ice, I simply asked, how did you find Supernatural and the fandom?


The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


In all the responses I received, many came to be fans of Supernatural from varied points in time.  Some from the very beginning in 2005, while others found the show during the pandemic and enjoyed binge-watching, to escape a difficult time.  Some were drawn to the show because of their love of fan fiction, or particular story arcs.  Others drank from the Supernatural well for the sheer joy of it.  In all cases, they came to know the fandom afterwards and in doing so they found connection, fun, friendship and a sense of community.  Many obtained inspiration for their work as artists.  I heard stories of how fans attended conventions, sometimes fearfully, as they braved attendance alone.  They relished the immediate bonds in a shared-collective where acceptance was instant and unbiased.  Their experiences were cemented in that open-arm welcoming and forever became treasured memories.  Examples included a time when a multitude of fans erupted into an impromptu acapella rendition of “Carry on Wayward Son” in a hotel hallway.  Or the time when thousands of fans affected by Rob Benedict’s stroke, gained a sense of purpose and camaraderie by contributing to the avalanche of messages offering him love and support.  The very same was true when the fans needed to show their love to Jared Padalecki during his struggles and the car accident he was involved in.  And of course, many fans found conventions were a balm, by witnessing the infectious joy and good humor that emanates from Jared and Jensen’s friendship and their shared experiences.  People described the fandom as having a healing quality that none would trade.


(2) One of the things that surprised me was the global response. Where are you from?


As it turns out, all those who agreed to participate in my research were either from Canada or were scattered across the US.  The states that were represented were California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee and Illinois.   I want international members of the fandom to rest assured that when I mention the US and Canada in this question, I am referring to the fact that those were the members who participated in the interviews.  The vast global response to the  #SaveTheWinchesters campaign has been the stuff of fan admiration, generosity and well meaning intent to bolster the show(s) they all love, regardless of geography.


(3) What connects you to The Winchesters that made you want to become vocal about it?


The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


Again, motivations varied along common themes.  The themes that quickly emerged were; the cast; diversity; music; growth; loyalty and healing.  The universal connection was to the young cast of actors that represent The Winchesters hunter-quad; Drake, Meg, Jojo and Nida.  Fans were able to meet them at conventions and described the experience using the following observations:

  • They were so real, approachable, funny and sweet. They have infectious energy and enthusiasm.
  • They openly embraced the fandom, and we were impressed by how much they respected the Supernatural universe and her history.
  • “As soon as I met them, I was immediately hooked.”
  • That Drake Rodger was a masterful piece of casting.  This young actor magically personifies a mixture of personality traits from the beloved Supernatural characters, Sam and Dean Winchester.

When the fans spoke of the actors’ performances in The Winchesters, they described them as brilliant, endearing and compelling.  These young actors were all-in, and they were fully dedicated to good storytelling.

Jensen Ackles


Another theme that fans strongly connected with was diversity.  So prevalent a need in today’s culture, people, especially young people, immediately identify and connect with shows where they feel represented, whether that is through race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, etc., and the fans immediately dialed in.  The fact that Carlos Cervantes is a fan-favorite non-binary, bisexual character played by a non-binary actor Jojo Fleites, was a really big deal in the queer community.

To include some of the other themes that emerged, they included music – fans felt The Winchesters did a good job of showcasing great rock and roll from the ‘70’s era.  Some people are hoping that the connection with The Winchesters will help to grow the fandom and welcome new comers.  And finally, its important to touch on the elements of loyalty and healing.  Everyone I spoke with connected to The Winchesters out of loyalty to Jensen Ackles, Danneel Ackles and/or writer Robbie Thompson.  So many fans were troubled when Supernatural ended.  Their connection to The Winchesters show was a means to find closure, and in some cases, healing from what they felt were unresolved story and character arcs.


(4) How do you think your art will help the campaign?


 In typical fashion, most of the artist-fans I spoke to are incredibly humble and find it difficult to call their work “art.”  Having said that, they were also unanimous in their motivation to lend aid to a cause that was near and dear to them.  Common responses were; to get the word out; to encourage the fans to participate; to get people talking; to give the show a chance; to raise awareness; and uniquely, to enhance the collective action by giving fans a piece of iconography to pair with a cause.


(5) Do you have any hopes for the show?


The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


Common responses to this question included the following;

  • To find a new home that will allow The Winchesters to breath, grow and thrive.
  • To give this team of actors the canvas they need to flex their skills.
  • To break free of restrictive standards and practices that govern network television and open up the possibilities of where this story goes and how it gets told. Creative freedom.
  • To allow Robbie Thompson et al to realize their vision.
  • “I just want the show to continue.”
  • Want to see more iconic characters from Supernatural jump into The Winchesters timeline.

More specifically, here is one quote from a fan that sums up nicely what others touched on in their responses:

“I have many hopes for the show. Now that we know this is an alternate universe and not exactly the world of Supernatural that we know and love, I hope that we get a chance to see how this version of John and Mary plays out. Since they are not bound to “our” canon, will they, somehow inevitably, also go down a darker road?  Or will they be able to both make it out alive and raise their Sam and Dean in a different way?  I hope The Winchesters will get a chance to deepen the characters’ family bonds and develop characters that I can deeply care about like I care about Sam and Dean…”


(6) What do you hope to see in S2?


This question garnered more detailed responses.  All of them are interesting.  Here is a sampling of what fans hope to see in future seasons of The Winchesters:

“Some of what I hoped for in S1 did not come to pass. I had hoped for a return to the darker, more horror roots of Supernatural and, if anything, The Winchesters seemed lighter than the original, so I would like more darkness.  I would also like scarier monsters since… [I didn’t like the use of] an odd alternate universe space-monster – at least that’s what it felt like.  I want something truly fearsome as the “big bad” of S2.  I did not find the Akrida scary enough.  I also hope to see more true-to-the-70’s-era realism.  I would like to see Carlos have to confront rampant homophobia (biphobia?) and see how he deals with it.  I would like the answers and lore to be HARDER to find.  It was far too convenient that Lata always had all of the answers in S1, in an era when it seems it would be MORE difficult to find information.  I’d love some Ash-like genius who could use the technology of that time to connect an underground network of hunters…some kind of secret code you type into a pay phone to put you on an exclusive hunter party line; something like that.  I’d like to see more visceral feelings between John and Mary.  I’d LOVE more Millie as she was one of my favorites.  Millie felt like a very real and genuine character to me.”

The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


Some of this fan’s ideas resulted in lively discussion.  “If the Ash-like genius who finds a way to build an underground network for communication between hunters (so love the payphone vision-its brilliant, because party-lines were a common thing when I was a kid) isn’t possible using the limited technology of the times, perhaps some form of magic can help, but it can’t be easy.  And everyone who engages in the network using magic – it has to cost them something.”

“Mary, Lata, Millie and Ada don’t bump up against the rampant misogyny so prevalent during that time.  I can see some man rolling into the Winchester Garage and laughing in Millie’s face when she shows up in mechanic coveralls.  Women were not taken seriously.  I’d love to see them kick some misogyny ass!”

“I’d love to see Henry Winchester… I’d also love to see some more Angel story lines, maybe a specific Angel that’s best friends with Dean.”

“I’d like to see how Mary & John, etc. differ in this timeline to the one that played out in the Mothership… It’d be fun even to see different timelines with different versions of all of the characters…”

“I hope to see more variation in the plots of the episodes–and I don’t mean that as a critique.  I say this because in every episode of season one, someone is trapped physically and/or mentally, and the key to their freedom is self-reflection (often literally).  This is because season one doubled as meta commentary on Dean and his story, and I absolutely loved that, but I can also tell it determined the plots.  So, I can’t wait to see how they get to branch out and build a new structure for the story and its characters now that it (presumably) won’t be framed by Dean’s narration anymore!  And of course, I hope for more fun side cameos (like Loki and Rowena) using fan favorites from Supernatural’s original cast!”


The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


(7) In what way to you feel connected to this young cast of actors?


I will get out of the way, and let some of the fan responses I received speak for themselves:

“The cast is quite a bit younger than I am, so I feel connected to them insofar as they fill out the Supernatural universe.  I immediately felt connected to Drake because, first of all, he came to the role as a Supernatural fan.  He was able to give us a few glimpses of Dean and many glimpses of Sam in his portrayal of John and I LOVED seeing that.  I want to see more.  Drake has also been so appreciative of the old guard Supernatural fans.  He always seems flattered by fan support and seems to understand the legacy of the story he now has a part in telling.”

“I feel connected to JoJo as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.  I want to see characters like Carlos depicted regularly on screen.  There’s something that feels familiar and relatable to me in the way he (Carlos) / they (JoJo) are different and blazing their own trail and have to supply their own confidence.  JoJo also has the powerful singing voice of an angel and I love having them on the convention circuit so we can enjoy that amazing voice live.”

“I appreciate the diversity in this cast and while, at first, I was unhappy that this was more of an ensemble cast than Supernatural was, I can see the potential in exploring the motivations and traumas of characters from different backgrounds, as with Lata’s story that touched on class issues.  A diverse group of characters could shine a light on challenges specific to different kinds of people and I like that.”

The Fans and Artists behind #SaveTheWinchesters


“I’m quite a bit older than the cast so my connection is that of wanting to protect them and hoping they continue to be as successful as possible.  I just adore them and think they’re amazing role models for the young fans…”

“They’re a bunch of goofs like the rest of us.  They seem grounded and just excited to be involved.  I hope they get that chance.”

“They made the show their own immediately, and I love them all.  I know a lot of people blame Drake (affectionately) for making them John Winchester fans despite his later, uh, parenting style.  I love how engaged and genuine they seem on social media, and how Meg speaks via SpongeBob memes.”

“I like seeing their excitement – both for the story they are trying to tell, and for the fandom family they have walked into.  They have shown a respect for that history and for the love that we as fans have for the show, which is something I appreciate seeing.  But the energy and fun they bring to it makes it feel new.  It is rejuvenating in a way.”

“I know a lot of people have felt connected to JoJo and Carlos because (and I hope I do this right) they are non-binary and fans are able to feel safe and represented.  The openness and willingness to love and encourage people that JoJo brings to the conventions really is beautiful.  When they speak about things like ‘not being afraid to take up space in this world’ or ‘taking time to tell your story and owning your story’ – I felt that.  I also connected to JoJo because of music.  When they sang on that episode I was blown away.  I had never heard that song before, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.  I walk around the house randomly singing it.  When I met JoJo for the first time, we talked about it – and then again when they sang at the convention Saturday Night Special (SNS) concert.  To see the change in them from the first time to the show they put on in NJ, I am so proud of them.”

“The way that they embraced the fandom has been wonderful.  They have made an effort to be connected to those who are fans of the mothership, while being fans themselves. You don’t see that kind of engagement often.”

“This cast is so much fun it’s unreal.  I love how the characters’ dynamics feels fresh and new, while their found family is made central to their story.  And the cast’s excitement and chaotic energy is exactly how I act and feel when I think about these shows or participate in fandom!  In a non-Para social way, I also feel like I could be friends with them all because we’re not that far apart in age.”



When I first started this article (it has taken some time to sift through the responses), #SaveTheWinchesters was the first “out-of-the-gate” campaign for any of the shows that this fandom supports.  Of course, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins all have their separate responsibilities to advocate and champion the shows, casts and crews for which they are involved and/or responsible for.  But true to form for this group of friends and comrades, they have made it known on social media that they also support each other.  #SaveWalkerIndependence   #RenewGothamKnights


There are so many other fans that I could not interview, especially the international fans and artists who regularly share their work and support for this campaign.  Please post in the comments for this article, any answers to these questions that you would like to share.  


As Promised, The History Side Bar


The Mothership

  • Supernatural is a road-trip series about two “hunter” brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester, who fire up their jet-black 1967 Chevrolet Impala (Baby) to follow in their father’s footsteps and travel across the country battling the monsters of urban legends.  It’s a show that takes viewers on a journey into the dark world of the unexplained.  Bound by tragedy and blood to a dangerous, otherworldly mission, these brothers encounter creatures most people believe only exist in folklore, superstition and nightmares.
  • Supernatural premiered on The WB Television Network in September of 2005.
  • Supernatural can boast some of the industries’ most prolific creators, writers, directors and producers including the original showrunner and creator, Eric Kripke who is currently at the helm of The Boys on Prime Video.
  • The show ran for 15 years and produced 327 episodes.
  • Its success resided firmly on the shoulders of it’s two lead actors, Padalecki and Ackles, who appeared in all 327 episodes, solidifying their dogged work-ethic, grim persistence, dedication, and enduring love for the show.  Misha Collins joined the monster-hunting duo in season four and became an immediate fan favorite.
  • Part of the ever-winning formula that elevated Supernatural, was their supporting characters, which are too numerous to mention here, but check out the list.
  • It survived the paradigm shift in television as it evolved from linear viewing to the rise and dominance of streaming platforms and the birth of binge-watching.
  • The show still delights viewers with its moving performances, great writing, robust storytelling, awesome music, visual effects, and a kick-ass car.
  • And above all, Supernatural became the longest-running sci-fi/genre series in the history of American broadcast television.

The Fandom

  • When you compare Supernatural to other beginnings; YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), First iPhone (2007), Tumblr (2007), Instagram (2010); you can see that Supernatural has survived evolutionary changes in social media, which is now the mainstay of communication and connection for a fandom that is a Titan among fandoms.
  • Supernatural got so big that it made its mark on San Diego Comic Con when Warner Bros announced a Supernatural panel in the coveted Hall H in 2016. Hall H, Comic-Con’s largest convention room, capable of housing a multitude of fans, is typically reserved for huge movie reveals.
  • The following year, in 2017, Comic Con held it’s Supernatural panel in Hall-H once again, but this time they opened for 7200 fans with a surprise rock show featuring rock legend, Kansas, performing their hit and unofficial Supernatural theme song, “Carry On Wayward Son.”  With an impressive light show and huge screens that span the entire length of the room, the event was more like a rock concert than a panel, marking The CW’s longest-running series, which at the time, was 12 seasons.  Click HERE for a view of that event.
  • Supernatural’s fandom is knowledgeable, dedicated, supportive and fiercely protective of all things “Supernatural” and continuously participates in its own dedicated convention circuit powered by Creation Entertainment.   Yeah, it’s a fandom big enough to warrant its own convention circuit.
  • A fandom that has generated a multitude of writers, artists, photographers, YouTubers, website developers, charitable efforts, business ventures and a sense of family, connection, and inclusivity for its diverse and ever-growing members from around the globe.
  • Paying homage to the mothership and her fans could not be done without landing in the loving arms of all things Supernatural, her very own Wiki.
  • And amongst its most endearing accomplishments, the Supernatural Family, along with the show’s cast and crew, have touched millions of lives in ways that have championed mental health awareness, (Always Keep Fighting, You Are Not Alone), raised an immeasurable sum of resources for the needy (Random Acts, GISHWES) and strive always, to elevate kindness on a daily basis.
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Seasoned observer of life and all its wonders. Doer of good deeds. Fangirl lover of movies, stories, TV and music. Cusp born Boomer & Gen X and all that that implies. Wife and loving Momx2. Freelance writer for Time Warner Entertainment. Mad love of video editing. Always looking for opportunities to sharpen my skills. Business Analyst professional and business owner (GL Consulting Firm Inc.); LSSGB Certified; ITIL Foundation. Personal motto: Be Grateful-Listen-Seek the Light-Never Stop Evolving. She/her.

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