The Winchesters: 4 Major Ways The Premiere Broke Supernatural Canon (For Now)

john and mary on the winchesters
(Image credit: The CW)

Spoilers ahead for the series premiere of The Winchesters!

Fans of The CW’s long-running hit, Supernatural, had been mourning their beloved show for less than a year when, in June 2021, it was revealed that the series could get a prequel executive produced by Jensen Ackles, Dean Winchester himself. While that announcement caused a bit of trouble for the actor and his former co-star, Jared Padalecki, those issues were soon smoothed over and The Winchesters found itself with a series order for the 2022 fall TV schedule.

Now, the show is the only spinoff of the incredibly popular fantasy series to actually find itself a home on television, but as viewers watched the premiere, it’s likely that they noticed some big differences in just how the story of young John Winchester and Mary Campbell (his eventual wife) started. So, let’s take a look at four major ways that the new show broke Supernatural canon…for now. 

john and mary talking on the winchesters

(Image credit: The CW)

Mary And John Liking Each Other Immediately 

Alright, while some things so far definitely line up with what we’ve heard about John and Mary on the parent show (like him being a Vietnam War vet and her already being a hunter when they met), the first (apparently) ret-conned detail might be one that will be missed by even longtime, diehard SPN Family members.

As was seen in the debut episode, not only did John and Mary bump into each other outside of a movie theater, but both happened to be in the area to look for information about their missing fathers. Even though Mary was trying to keep him from pursuing his dad’s leads, knowing that they would only take the young man into some very dark corners of reality, the two took to each other pretty much immediately.

This is the opposite of what was said on Supernatural. While it was only mentioned a couple of times across the 15 seasons of the series, we were told that the soon-to-be couple had an intense dislike for one another upon meeting. That only changed once a Cupid sent by God made them fall in love, so that they’d marry and have Sam and Dean one day. And, their meeting and liking each other in the premiere led to other big changes…

mary on the winchesters

(Image credit: The CW)

Mary Quickly Telling John About Supernatural Entities Being Real 

Another aspect of the first episode that sticks to series lore is that Mary has to save John from an otherworldly creature. But, in the pilot episode this happens not long after the meet (it’s later the same day, in March 1972), as opposed to how we saw it on the original series. The Winchesters debut sees Mary save John from a demon while he’s looking for the location given to him by his father in a letter. After she does, she tells him that demons and everything else that goes bump in the night which he’s heard about as pure fantasy are actually real.

Previously, we’d been told it took several years for John to find out about the very true existence of a wide variety of spooky stuff. In fact, in an episode where Sam and Dean time travel back to 1978 to warn Mary of coming danger, she has to help save John from the fallen angel, Anna, leading to him finding out about the creatures that surround humanity, as well as Mary’s background as a hunter. 

the men of letters book on the winchesters

(Image credit: The CW)

John Finding Out About His Men Of Letters Background 

The freshman series dealt another apparent blow to established canon over the course of its premiere, when John and Mary were able to locate a Men of Letters hideout, which was the building that his father (Henry) had led him to. And, there was no doubt left that Henry was a member of the centuries old group, as the hideout held his locker with many personal effects inside. Plus, John later confronted his mother about what he found, and she confirmed Henry’s secretive work for the monster-fighting collective.

On the original series, during the Season 14 episode, “Lebanon,” a 2003 version of John is accidentally pulled into 2019 by his sons. They catch John up on everything that’s been going on, including revealing his Men of Letters heritage. This appears to have been the first time that John heard of the group, despite his many years of hunting by that point, as well as his first time hearing that Henry was a dedicated member. 

john and mary on the winchesters

(Image credit: The CW)

John Becoming A Hunter Well Before Mary Dies 

The debut episode goes way further with John’s work as a hunter than a Supernatural fan would likely expect. Seeing as how the tale already included him finding out about dangerous unearthly creatures, hunters, and the Men of Letters, John quickly steps into the fray and kills a loup-garou by the end of the premiere. He also agrees to go with Mary as she continues to follow clues to her dad’s whereabouts, and since we know they’ll come into contact with a number of bad things that need to die while on the case, John is basically a hunter (in training, anyway) when the episode wraps.

This is, of course, quite different from what had been stated prior. Fans will likely recall that Mary was killed in a particularly horrifying fashion by the demon Azazel in early November 1983, when Sam was still a baby. At that point, John had known for only a few years that the supernatural existed, but he was aware that something evil took his wife’s life. As such, it was after Mary’s death that John became a hunter and dedicated himself to ridding the world of monsters, while attempting to locate and kill the demon who murdered Mary.

While these are the big changes made to our already very expansive Supernatural canon, you have probably noted my mention of these alterations being set “for now.” It’s true that we were promised that the new series would take some unexpected routes to give us the John and Mary love story that we already know so much about, but we shouldn’t count any of these new details as being set in stone just yet. When you’re talking about a show with time travel, magic, and mystical entities with all sorts of crazy powers, any of these factors can be reset to fit the original mythology at any point during the show’s run.

You can watch The Winchesters, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.