Supernatural has produced just about every kind of episode over its first eleven seasons, ranging from the darkly dramatic to the crazily comedic. It may be the only show ever to hit the airwaves that can do a black and white episode about monster movies in the same season as the apocalypse. The series somehow hasn't run out of steam, even after more than two hundred episodes of stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki tackling the impossible. Ackles had this to say about when Supernatural is especially great:
I think the show is truly at its best when it doesn't take itself too seriously, then it does take itself seriously, then gets scary as shit. In my opinion, that's when we're in the pocket.
Supernatural is certainly not a show that can be accused of always taking itself seriously. It's a show that has featured an alternate reality of Sam and Dean pretending to be people named Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, introduced an in-universe book series about the Winchesters' adventures, and produced an episode about a Supernatural-based musical put on at an all-girls high school. At the same time, it kills off main characters and takes those who survive to some very dark places.
Jensen Ackles has nailed the One Perfect Tear style of on-screen weeping, and Jared Padalecki is not afraid to go into a full Ugly Cry. Never are those tears more effective than when they were preceded by jokes and gags and innocent brotherly spats. What Supernatural fan can forget the Groundhog Day-esque episode that found new and hilarious ways to kill off Dean before revealing that the whole point was to prepare Sam for Dean's upcoming real death and banishment to hell? Sure, the episode ended in a bro hug, but it got super dark, and it was awesome.
The show has admittedly used resurrections so many times that deaths can be hard to take too seriously. When Sam or Dean or even Castiel or Crowley seem to be killed off, we can pretty much assume that they'll be back among the living in the not-too-distant future. Still, Supernatural still finds ways to pluck at the heartstrings when it takes the boys from big highs to very low lows within forty-two minutes of story. Jensen Ackles' reveal to EW about when he thinks Supernatural is best really isn't a huge surprise; both he and Jared Padalecki turn in some of their most intense performances in episodes that go from funny to scary.
Season 12 of Supernatural kicks off on The CW on Thursday, October 13 at 9 p.m. ET. The show may look very different now that the threat of the Darkness has been taken care of, and the big Season 11 cliffhanger could mean an especially crazy start to Season 12. The new team of showrunners could bring a fresh take to a long-running show in the best way for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see when your other favorite shows return to the airwaves.