When Supernatural returns in January, the series will attempt to launch a new spin-off called Wayward Sisters, featuring a group of characters that longtime fans will recognize.
The backdoor pilot, titled "Wayward Sisters" and scheduled for Jan. 18, will see Kim Rhodes reprise her role as Jodi Mills, the ass-kicking sheriff we first met back in Season 5. With Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) trapped in an unknown world, she and a ragtag crew that includes a psychic and a teen who can travel between worlds will come to their rescue.
If the potential spin-off moves forward, Rhodes will then team up with Sheriff Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster), who first appeared in Season 9, to train said psychic and dreamwalker along with other young women orphaned by supernatural forces to fight the evil creatures lurking about in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
This marks Supernatural's second attempt at launching a spin-off following the failure of the Chicago-based Supernatural: Bloodlines. Despite being created by Andrew Dabb, who serves as an executive producer on Supernatural, it was not picked up to series after its backdoor pilot aired during Season 9. According to Dabb, several factors contributed to the potential show's quick demise, and those lessons are being applied to Wayward Sisters.
"I think the biggest problem for us was, number one, timing," he told TV Guide. "Our idea in hindsight was probably a little too similar to The Originals." The Vampire Diaries spin-off, which launched the previous year, also centered around the conflict between humans and supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires living in the same city. It didn't help that one of the stars of Bloodlines was Nathaniel Buzolic, who played Kol Mikaelson on both TVD and The Originals.
Similarities aside, there's another reason fans never latched onto the new series: It was too different from Supernatural. "We wanted to do something set in the Supernatural world but very unlike Supernatural," Dabb explained. "At that point, Supernatural [was] going strong. We didn't know when it was ending but it certainly didn't feel like it was on its way out and so we were really worried about taking any elements from the show."
Bloodlines was also anchored by relatively unfamiliar characters who were all introduced in Supernatural's Season 9, and that wasn't enough time for viewers to get attached enough to tune in for the self-titled backdoor pilot, let alone a potential spin-off. Wayward Sisters, on the other hand, looks to walk a different path and will serve up a group of people we've already met.
Alongside Jodi and Donna, other familiar faces set to join Wayward's all-women demon-wrecking crew include Claire (Kathryn Love Newton), the daughter of Castiel's (Misha Collins) human vessel Jimmy Novak, and Patience Turner (Clark Backo), the psychic granddaughter of Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine). Newcomer Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip), the inexperienced dreamwalker Jack (Alexander Calvert) enlists to help find Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith), will also play a key role in putting the pieces together for the potential spin-off in the upcoming backdoor pilot.
And since Supernatural has become more of an ensemble show, Dabb says the timing couldn't be better for him to take these previously introduced characters and send them off on their own adventures. "We have a lot more supporting characters to the point where taking Jodi away from the core Supernatural show gets us a loss but it's not the loss it would have been in Season 9."
While Bloodlines dropped you in the middle of a different show, he says Wayward "feels more like an outgrowth of Supernatural" which, in turn, makes it a more viable series. "It's got not just an episode of history behind it," he added. "In the case of Jodi, it's got almost 10 years of history behind it."
Supernatural returns with the backdoor pilot for Wayward Sisters on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)