‘Supernatural’: Sam & Dean Winchester Were Based on ‘Star Wars’ Characters

Over 15 seasons, the Supernatural characters became indelible to the genre. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) can now be the reference point for new characters. However, when the show began as an unknown quantity, actors and creators refer to their predecessors. Ackles said Supernatural‘s Sam and Dean openly paid homage to Star Wars characters.

'Star Wars': Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo try to escape the Death Star
L-R: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Ackles was a guest on Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast on Jan. 18, though it was recorded in October 2021. Reflecting on the 15 years of Supernatural, Ackles revealed which Star Wars characters Sam and Dean resembled. 

The ‘Star Wars’ characters that inspired Sam and Dean Winchester on ‘Supernatural’

Sam and Dean were brothers who battled demons, monsters and other evil forces every week on Supernatural. Both were heroes, but had personalities that complemented and contrasted each other, like any siblings might develop different ways to adapt to a family legacy and external crises. They remained earthbound, but the space heroes of Star Wars, and perhaps George Lucas’s historical franchise too, inspired the heroics of the Winchester brothers. 

“I love the character because the two characters, this is no secret, were written very much like a Luke Skywalker and a Han Solo,” Ackles said on Inside of You. “Indiana Jones, Han Solo, those were the characters, even though they’re both played by the same actor.”

Which was Luke Skywalker and which was Han Solo?

Han Solo and Luke Skywalker were not brothers, but they still represented different types of heroes that fit Sam and Dean. Ackles further confirmed that Dean was the Han Solo or Indiana Jones of the pair. Han was the space smuggler who reluctantly helped the rebels in Star Wars. Indiana Jones also fits as he was a fortune hunting archeologist in the 1930s. Lucas happened to cast Harrison Ford in both roles. That makes Sam the more innocent Luke Skywalker type. 


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“Those are the kind of characters I just dreamed of playing and Dean was very much that,” Ackles said. “He was modeled after Han Solo.”

Jensen Ackles knew he wanted to be on ‘Supernatural’ 

When Supernatural began in 2005, it was on The WB. Ackles never would have anticipated 15 seasons, but he did see the potential for limitless storytelling. Plus, he was coming off of Smallville and looking for another job. The WB would later merge with UPN to form The CW, which kept Supernatural on the air. 

“So the character was one but then also this fantastical world that’s dark and not bound by reality and we could get away with doing whatever we wanted,” Ackles said. “I remember going, ‘Man, this is a really great script.’ Then seeing the pilot and then we got picked up, I said, ‘This is some of the best stuff I’ve ever been a part of. We might get three seasons out of this.’”