How Jared Padalecki's Walker, Texas Ranger Reboot Is Updating The Character Chuck Norris Played

jared padalecki walker reboot the cw
(Image credit: the cw press)

One of the more unexpected reboots to make its way to television in recent years is The CW's Walker, in which Supernatural vet Jared Padalecki heads up the cast as the titular Texas Ranger role first popularized by action vet and meme icon Chuck Norris. To everyone familiar with the original Walker, Texas Ranger series on CBS, the new version immediately struck a different cord whenever the first trailer failed to show Padalecki delivering 10-25 punches and kicks to the heads of his enemies. That won't be the only difference between the two versions, either.

Having starred on Supernatural for the past 15 years, the scruffy-faced Jared Padalecki knows that the pressure is on him in revamping this widely popular TV character for modern-day audiences, even in the general sense of just following up on a role that was once held by Chuck Norris. (Not to mention the fact that his family heritage includes a Texas Ranger.) Here's how he explained the differences between the two versions in an interview with Variety:

The original [series] was this lawman who abides by his own rules, and he would just do head-spinning kicks on people, and obviously we can’t do that now; that would be laughably bad. We don’t want the audience to ever know whether Walker is quote conservative or quote liberal, or quote Republican or quote Democrat. This version of Walker, we play with the gray area: This is not a show about a martial artist kicking minorities in the face; this is a show about a legit Texan saying, ‘Hey, I need to hear the whole story before I make a decision.’ So this version is less about what goes through somebody’s fists and feet, and more about what goes through somebody’s head and heart.

It is definitely true that a big reason why people still remember Walker, Texas Ranger involves the head-striking precision that Chuck Norris' Walker delivered on a weekly basis, to the point where Conan O'Brien used to air ridiculous out-of-context Walker clips on NBC's Late Night with the use of his signature Walker, Texas Ranger lever. The character definitely knocked some noggins around, but that won't be the case with the modern-day iteration, which Jared Padalecki initially wanted to see his former co-star Jensen Ackles star in. (Ackles has since signed on for a role in The Boys Season 3, which will presumably be nothing like either version of Walker, Texas Ranger.)

As Jared Padalecki put it, it wouldn't be very wise to deliver a TV show in today's climate that shows a Texas cop beating up criminals before arresting them. Further, the actor was inspired to modernize Walker's storyline to reflect today's law enforcement after seeing a news story about an officer who walked away from his job after being asked to separate migrant children from their parents. To that end, though, Padalecki also made it clear that this new series isn't about showing Cordell Walker to be an overtly liberal Democrat or anything else that plays along party lines.

This take on the Walker character is just looking for justice, though Jared Padalecki knows that some viewers will probably be upset by the update to his values and moral standings. That said, he was in "no way interested" in taking on a storyline that played up toxic masculinity for the sake of it, and he's interested in delivering a show that doesn't play up subject matter that could result in real-world harm.

How will audiences feel about those changes? We'll have to wait and see when Walker premieres on The CW starting on Thursday, January 21, at 8:00 p.m. ET. While waiting for that, head to our Winter and Spring TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.