Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in "Supernatural"
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in "Supernatural" The CW Television Network

For the first time in “Supernatural” history, Jensen Ackles will play a character other than Dean Winchester or any variation of him. And with only one more episode before the season 13 finale, where the mystery character would be revealed, it’s driving fans into a frenzy guessing who it could be.

Jared Padalecki, Ackles’ co-star, has played quite a few characters beside Sam Winchester. He played the true vessel for Lucifer, an unknowing vessel for the angel Gadreel, and even swapped bodies with a teenage boy. Misha Collins, who plays their angel friend Castiel, has also played the human Jimmy Novak, Lucifer, and the cosmic entity from the Empty. Both Padalecki and Collins have also played variations of their characters.

Ackles, on the other hand, has only played one character in the show, albeit including a few versions of Dean (Demon!Dean, Future!Dean). And 13 seasons in, it’s time that he gets to play another character as well.

“The fun about Apocalypse World and these stories we’re telling is that sometimes the actors embrace other performances that maybe aren’t what they’re used to doing,” show co-runner Andrew Dabb told EW. “Obviously after 13 years, Jensen’s very used to playing Dean and is amazing at it. In terms of who the [new] character is, I will say that it’s a character that will be both unexpected and kind of a long time coming.”

Unexpected and long time coming are quite contradictory. Dabb also previously told TV Line that the mystery persona is someone viewers have seen “many years ago.” Fans already have theories on who the next character will be. Here are some of them:


Matthew Cohen as Michael in "Supernatural"
Matthew Cohen as Michael in "Supernatural" The CW Television Network

The most popular guess so far, the archangel Michael fits the “long time coming” bill, as well as someone fans have seen “many years ago.” However, he isn’t “unexpected” because he is the first one that comes to mind when it was confirmed Ackles would be playing another character.

Michael had been trying to make Dean his vessel since season 5. And for a while, it seemed like he was going to give in, until the last minute switch that made their long-lost brother, Adam, agree instead. With the Apocalypse World Michael (Christian Keyes) out to conquer their world, Sam and Dean and the others need all the help they can get to stop him.

That could mean they would free Michael from the cage. Michael, who was occupying Adam’s vessel when he was thrown in the cage, would probably need a new body. Dean is his true vessel, and therefore he must be the first choice.

Christian Keyes as Apocalypse World Michael in "Supernatural"
Christian Keyes as Apocalypse World Michael in "Supernatural" The CW Television Network

If it’s not Michael, then it’s probably Michael. According to theories, something wrong would happen in the last episode next week that would put Dean in an impossible situation. He might bargain with alternate universe Michael in exchange for becoming his vessel. This theory isn’t any less untenable than the first one because this season is all about the alternate universe. It also fits the “long time coming” and a bit of the “unexpected” clues.

There are also grainy photos of Ackles on set of “Supernatural,” which showed him in somewhat dated suit and tie and hat. His confident stance looked more like AU Michael’s than the real world Michael’s, judging from how Keyes comported himself in the first few episodes of the season.


Julian Richings as Death in "Supernatural"
Julian Richings as Death in "Supernatural" The CW Television Network

After Dean killed Death in season 10, it looked like then that they would be facing something big of a consequence for doing so. But Death became Billie the reaper (Lisa Berry), who was killed by Cas in season 12. Nevertheless, the whole “cosmic consequence” never came into fruition. So it begs the question that when will it come about.

Billie’s ominous “See you again soon” to Dean could mean that Dean will die this season and, because it’s Dean, he won’t die permanently and instead will drive some sort of bargain and become Death.

And again, the photo of Ackles on set is reminiscent of Death’s (Julian Richings) introduction.

Henry Winchester

Henry Winchester seems to be an unlikely option, but according to some theories, it could be that Dean could be sent to another universe or time as his grandfather. Henry, while human, was a member of the elite Men of Letters, and those men could really do a lot of supernatural things on their own. It’s implausible, though, and the only supporting argument for this is the aforementioned on-set photos taken from afar. The out-of-date suit Ackles was seen wearing appears to be in the same era as his grandfather’s.


Misha Collins as Castiel in "Supernatural"
Misha Collins as Castiel in "Supernatural" The CW Television Network

Another unlikely but increasingly popular theory is that Castiel would somehow need Dean as a vessel. Cas’ vessel is his own now after Jimmy Novak was killed. If he somehow made Dean his vessel, what would happen to his body? Cas just died last season, so it’s unlikely he would be killed again. However, there is still this whole “cosmic consequence” that is still unfulfilled, and this might be part of it.

Apocalypse World Castiel

Perhaps it wouldn’t be the Castiel of this Earth, but Castiel of the alternate universe. There is one angel in the apocalypse world who is continuously called “commander” yet continues to be unnamed. Some fans theorise that he could be Castiel’s alternate universe version. He remains alive as of the penultimate episode, and therefore he could somehow use Dean as vessel next episode.

Castiel’s true vessel doesn’t run anywhere in the Winchesters’ lineage, but if Dean’s body is strong enough for the strongest archangel, then it could hold a seraph as well.

Apocalypse World God

Chuck is this Earth’s God, but in the alternate universe, it could probably be someone else. The show hasn’t established the full rules of alternate universes yet, if there is only one God for all or there are multiples as well. If it’s the latter, could it be that AU God would ask Dean to lend him his body as vessel? Perhaps the humans would need someone stronger than AU Michael and all the angels combined, and God is the only omnipotent entity who can stop them.

Chuck didn’t appear to need a vessel because he is, after all, God, and can just create a new vessel any time he needs to. But again, the AU God might think Dean’s participation is necessary somehow.

“Supernatural” airs Friday on The CW in the US. The penultimate episode airs Monday in Australia on Eleven. Next week, season 13 finale will air.