He dropped off as the principal show runner after five seasons where he'd created a uniquely detailed three-season plan (expanded to five). Once the extended story was over, he felt it was over.
In his place, executive producer and screenwriter Sera Gamble took the helm. Although known as a hardworking writer who worked her way up from a Season One story editor, some people had doubts. It wasn't because of Gamble per se (once best known as a screenwriter finalist on HBO's Project Greenlight). Fans were concerned with the loss of Kripke.
Why the sixth season almost didn't have the spark.
Questioning the fate of Supernatural didn't end with the opening of Season Six. It only began, with some fans convinced that everyone was just going through the motions of a final season.
Specifically, many complained Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) and his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) lacked the usual character depth and the strained camaraderie between the two brothers was inexplicably lost. The team behind the scenes took the comments seriously, even though all of them hoped that their impassioned viewership would remain patient.
Those who stuck it out for Season Six eventually felt redeemed. The flatness from Padalecki was nothing more than a plot mechanism. The reason he seemed soulless in the first few episodes was only because Sam Winchester lacked a soul.
The story of two reluctant heroes for all humankind.
Although some people have successfully jumped into the series to become hooked midstream, Supernatural is best watched from Season One forward. The first season sets significant groundwork between Dean, the brother who followed in his father's footsteps as a monster hunter, and Sam, the younger brother who tried to escape from it all.
At its core, Supernatural is a buddy series, driven by Ackles as an adventurous family honor-bound, leather jacket-clad loner who appreciates vintage rock and classic cars, notably his 1967 Chevy Impala. And along with him is Padalecki, providing a contrast as Sam, whose naivety and conscience makes him lean more geek cool than classic. He's the nice guy (mostly).
The early years before the never-ending epic arcs.
Most of the early shows are standalone hunts, with one just-below-the-surface story arc: The boys are looking for their father who has gone missing after Sam's girlfriend suffers the same fate as the brothers' mother some years ago.
Other than that, most of the early work is clear cut supernatural fun — introduce a monster and then take it down — presented in a format not all that different than early X-Files. However, the meat and potatoes problem-solution storyline isn't the only reason to start with Season One.
With each successive season, story arcs become increasingly dominant until the show turns into a full-fledged epic struggle between evil and good, with the omnipotent good often cast as corrupt righteousness. It's standard fare for fans, but hardly digestible as an introduction, even if there are some standalone stories dropped in from time to time.
Suffice to say it takes some time to appreciate the story arcs and later gag episodes that gave the producers, creators, writers, and actors an opportunity to flex their comedic muscle. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which even includes sites like Hell Hound's Lair and Ghost Facers for starters. (The latter even became its own 10-episode series.)
Besides, the storytelling as Kripke intended it leaves plenty to look forward to. Later seasons incorporate two accidental regulars. The first was originally created out of a one-time gig for Jim Beaver to play Robert "Bobby" Singer, a rough but warmhearted working class man who assumes a father figure role for the brothers.
The second is the angel Castiel played by Misha Collins as an ultimate fish out of water force, figuratively and literally. Although rumors insist Castiel will not be a regular in Season Seven, it's hard to imagine given his recent acquisition of power. Season Six closed with the age old question: if power corrupts, does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Maybe so.
Supernatural Spooks Up An 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Although a flagship series on The CW, Supernatural remains largely underrated against the backdrop of network series. The binds that keep it firmly in place are passionate fans and an army of digital viewers. While the show occasionally overdoes it on cliches and typecasts, most people appreciate the campy meanderings aren't self-indulgent cleverness as much as poking fun at its own genre.
Overall, Supernatural really is the best sustainable series with a supernatural twist to come along since the X-Files, even when it occasionally gets bogged down by big stories and navel gazing. The best time to give it a try is this summer, with Supernatural, Season One on iTunes. You can also find Supernatural: The Complete First Season on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble has a special Season 1 and 2 set in a widescreen format.
Especially for Supernatural fans, the Supernatural: The Anime Series produced in Japan will be out in July. Padalecki voices Sam but Andrew Farrar takes over for Dean. And if you cannot get enough of Supernatural, there are always comics to explore.