Supernatural had an emotional farewell in its final Comic-Con panel in Hall H on Sunday morning, which, for the last 15 years, has become a staple at the annual fan convention in San Diego. Series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Alexander Calvert were joined byexecutive producers Robert Singer, Andrew Dabb, Eugenie Ross-Leming, Bob Berens and Brad Buckner for a bittersweet final bow ahead of the last season.
Right off the bat, Padalecki and Ackles were asked about saying goodbye, with the duo finding it difficult to put together the right words to express their emotions heading into the final year.
"That's so mean to start with us. I'm trying not to cry...," Padalecki said, his voice cracking a bit. Ackles -- sporting a hiatus beard -- admitted for the first time in 15 years coming back to Comic-Con, he was "nervous."
"It really is hard to express the takeaway from the experience. Fourteen years and change is a long time," Ackles tried to encapsulate the Supernatural experience. "This guy was just in his early 20s... you were just born."
"We hooked it up in Vancouver thinking that we'd put our lives on hold for maybe a season or maybe two. And then we would come back and press play and life would go on. It never got unpaused and I'm very thankful that it didn't. It's been quite a ride and it's hard to express what we're going to take from that," he continued. "Life-long friends, experiences of a lifetime. It's hard to put into words."
"For me, Sam Winchester will never go away," Padalecki said, after dabbing his eyes with Kleenex, with it finally hitting him that he and his co-stars won't "be back next year" in San Diego.
"Looking back, I'm really proud of the work this team has done for so long. You see the 42 minutes that we release to the masses, but to get to those 42 minutes is really intense work.That's just the filming of it... There's a lot that goes in to give you guys the best thing we can make," Ackles said. "I'm really proud of that product. After this long on a show and still truly love what we do and hang my hat on at the end of the day, that's the legacy that I'm proud of -- knowing that we put it in the effort. I'm happy that you guys can be appreciative of that."
But the waterworks really started flowing at the end of the panel, when the cast thanked the fans for their support for the past 14 years.
"Thanks for showing up," Ackles said, fighting back his emotions. "Without you, we wouldn't be here. It's an amazing thing to see this many faces who appreciate what we do."
"My cup floweth over. I'm going to miss you guys," Padalecki said through tears.
Collins shared a sweet story about a goal card he had written down the year before he was cast on Supernatural.
"I had written this [on a goal card] to be a series regular on a TV show that is creatively fulfilling and I become life-long friends with my castmates," he reflected. "I just came across them and I can't believe that I wrote that and I can't believe that it comes to pass. I consider these guys life-long friends and you guys life-long friends."
Production on the season has yet to begin, but producers promised that the upcoming year will be satisfying.
"It's the last year. We can take chances that we haven't done before," Ross-Leming teased.
"It's really exciting and scary. The things we have in mind, I guess about 30 percent of poeple will be really happy," Dabb added, half-jokingly. "If you thought Game of Thrones was angry..."
At The CW Upfront red carpet in May, Ackles and Padalecki were candid about the final 20 episodes and the fact that they are not looking forward to seeing Supernatural to its end.
"We don't know [the ending] yet," Padalecki confessed to ET, explaining, "I think, to a certain degree, the fandom won't be happy with any ending. Nor will we, to a certain degree. I don't think any of us want to see this show go."
"I don't think we'll ever say goodbye to these characters," Ackles added. "I mean, really, living with them for 15 years…is only the start… I think it was Stallone that said that 'to the greatest imaginary friend I've ever had' talking about Rocky Balboa and I kinda feel the same way. These guys will live with us forever."
"We just told the crew that though we're very, very excited to be moving into our 15th season, it will be our last. Fifteen years of a show that has certainly changed my life. I know it's changed these two guys' life," Ackles said at the time, referring to Padalecki and Collins. "And we just wanted you to hear from us that though we're excited about next year, it will be the finale. The big, grand finale of a new institution."
"We've cried some tears and we'll cry some more...," Padalecki trailed off, prompting Ackles to pipe in: "But we're going to save the emotion for next season." "We're grateful, but we'll work all the emotion in next season," Padalecki promised.
At the time of the final season announcement, executive producers Singer and Dabb vowed to "give these characters that we love the send-off they deserve.”
Supernatural is the longest-running series on The CW and the longest-running sci-fi/genre TV show on broadcast television. When it wraps its 15-season run next year, it will have aired a total of 327 episodes. Last season, it celebrated its milestone 300th episode, which featured a long-awaited reunion between Papa Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the boys.
The series launched on the now-defunct WB network on Sept. 13, 2005 (it is the only WB show remaining on The CW slate), and catapulted Ackles and Padalecki to stardom.
Supernaturallaunches its 15th and final season Thursday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
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