Actress Danneel Ackles has finally joined the Winchester family business alongside husband Jensen. Mr and Mrs Ackles are far from the first spouses to share the small screen, so in honor of Danneel’s Supernatural debut we’ve compiled some of the best in recent years.
Last week’s Supernatural, “Devil’s Bargain,” was a jam-packed episode notable for a number of reasons: full of exciting twists, it managed to find quite a few important personal beats between Team Free Will amidst a lot of mytharc-shaping plot development, and the surprise return of Richard Speight, Jr. as the archangel Gabriel in the episode’s closing seconds. But before we saw the story play out, the biggest hype of “Devil’s Bargain” was the casting of Jensen Ackles’ wife Danneel.
Danneel Ackles makes ‘Supernatural’ debut
Just to recap: after escaping Asmodeus’s prison, Castiel finally returns to the bunker and reveals the truth about Lucifer to Sam and Dean – that he’s back in this dimension, but very diminished in power. Lucifer himself is wandering around feeling sorry for himself about all his pesky human needs and emotions, intermittently attempting to invoke the audience’s empathy and ruthlessly killing innocent angels to drain their grace. His redemption arc is slipping further and further from his grasp, as a new character sets him on a brand new path of tyranny.
This newcomer is Sister Jo, played by Danneel Ackles. In a genuinely surprising reveal, Jo, who advertises herself as a faith healer, turns out to be another angel, Anael, a very self-serving angel who considers herself to be a lot more powerful on Earth than she ever was in Heaven. Anael bargains with Lucifer for her life, offering her grace on tap, a little at a time, a never-ending rechargeable supply instead of Lucifer’s wasteful slaughter. He goes for it, and although the boys try to help Anael, she keeps her money on the same horse, playing victim to Sam and Dean and then escaping with Lucifer.
Anael organizes a meeting between Lucifer and some of the remaining angels, and facilitates a deal to have Lucifer become the ruler of Heaven. It seems like she’s still somewhat in control, pulling Lucifer’s strings, so they’ll either become even closer allies or it’ll turn out that she’s using and abusing him as a puppet. Either way, Danneel is confirmed to return as a recurring character throughout the season, and we leave her ominously standing over Lucifer upon the throne of Heaven.
Although this role was written with Danneel in mind, it is in no way gimmick-y or meta – the Supernatural writers chose to guide the story in a way that included the need for this very interesting and pivotal character. It’s honestly a relief that she did not appear merely as a love interest for Dean (something she really did not want to do) or the dropped body of the week – instead, Supernatural continues its current victorious run of including vivid, powerful women who have crucial parts to play in a very male-dominated story.
Born Elta Danneel Graul and credited before marriage as Danneel Harris, the actress is best known for One Tree Hill, on which she starred as bad girl Rachel Gatina. She and Jensen were friends for many years before they started dating, fell in love while making the comedy Ten Inch Hero and married in 2010. The couple have two daughters and one son, oldest daughter JJ, 4, and fraternal twins Arrow and Zeppelin, 14 months, and reside in Austin, TX.
Despite never acting on the show in the past, Danneel is heavily involved with the Supernatural community off screen, including a role on the board of directors for Random Acts, the non-profit founded by Supernatural co-star Misha Collins. Alongside her brother, parents and husband, she also recently founded a local craft brewery – aptly named The Family Business Beer Company – where the Ackles family has welcomed many fans since it opened to the public. “Devil’s Bargain” marks her return to acting after the birth of her children.
Her appearance during this particular season is either fated or the world’s greatest long game, as over five years ago, she responded to a fan asking if we’d ever see her on Supernatural with a very tongue-in-cheek “season 13.” Well, here we are at season 13, and here Danneel Ackles is. But of course, she and Jensen are far from the first to participate in Bring Your Partner To Work Day. Here are some of the best from the last decade of television.
Other scene-sharing spouses we’ve loved on TV
Courtney Ford on ‘Legends of Tomorrow’
Given that this is Supernatural-inspired post, it’s only right that we kick this off with Courtney Ford, who fans will of course recognise as Jack’s mother Kelly Kline, who played a major role during Supernatural season 12. In reality, Ford is married to another CW star – the Arrowverse’s Ray Palmer, Brandon Routh. After first appearing on Arrow in 2014, Routh is now one of central characters of Legends of Tomorrow and Ford has joined him onscreen for the show’s third season, portraying the adult version of Nora Darhk, the powerful daughter of villain Damien Darhk.
Ford’s role on Legends is recurring – she’s appeared in three episodes so far and assisted Henry Stein in resurrecting her father. Her story, including the connection to the mysterious entity Mallus, seems far from over. As an actress who clearly has the eye of the CW casting directors – she also guest starred on The Vampire Diaries – her connection to Routh may be a happy coincidence rather that the reason for her appearance, as the character existed well before Ford played her.
Gildart Jackson on ‘The Bold Type’
Not only did The Bold Type cast Gildart Jackson – Melora Hardin’s real husband – to play Ian Carlyle, the kind and patient husband of her character, Scarlet’s editor-in-chief Jacqueline Carlyle, but in a serious “art imitates life” circumstance, the actors celebrated their own twentieth wedding anniversary on set, while filming “Three Girls in a Tub,” an episode that features their characters’ twentieth anniversary.
You can expect to see plenty more of this real life couple when the Freeform series returns in June. In the season 1 finale, viewers learned that Jacqueline is a survivor of sexual assault, and we’ll explore how she got past that trauma – including how Ian helped. “There is a lot of grief and a lot of pain that has to get worked though but you also get to see how her husband supported her,” Hardin told a UK outlet this week.
Susan Walters on ‘Teen Wolf’
One of Teen Wolf’s greatest strengths over its 6 seasons was the involvement of parental figures in the supernatural world the teenage stars get caught up in, a stark contrast to many paranormal teen shows where the kids get in all kind of very dangerous trouble without any real three-dimensional home life. Two of the most important Teen Wolf parents were Sheriff Noah Stilinski, Stiles’ father, and Natalie Martin, Lydia’s mother.
I’m only calling Walters a spousal cameo here because Ashby was so prominently featured as a lead, coming in only behind Tyler Posey and Holland Roden for episode credits – he actually features in more episodes than even Dylan O’Brien. But Natalie Martin has appeared since the show’s first season, as well – Walters and Ashby are something of a two-for-one deal, with over 50 joint appearances in individual TV episodes or movies over the course of their 35 year relationship. Their characters on Teen Wolf associate from time to time, and they even went on one unsuccessful date.
Nick Offerman on ‘Will & Grace’
Televisual comedy legends Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally met while acting in a theater production together, and married in a private ceremony in 2003, at the height of Mullally’s Will & Grace fame. While they were still dating, Offerman appeared as a guest star for Will & Grace in season 4’s Thanksgiving episode “Moveable Feast,” playing a fresh-faced plumber – called Nick – who Mullally’s Karen is overcome with lust for. But now that Will & Grace is back, Offerman returned to the revival just last month as a new character.
‘Friends and Lover’ saw Offerman in a far more substantial role – as sexually fluid celebrity baker Jackson Boudreaux, who marks a huge milestone for the titular heroes. He turns out to be the first man that both Will and Grace (separately) end up sleeping with, something that phases the friends much more than it phases Jackson himself. In fact, he attempts to bring the three of them into a polyamorous relationship together, which does not fly. In his final scene, Jackson encounters Karen and attempts to put the moves on her – and gets rejected!
Megan Mullally on ‘Parks and Recreation’
You can’t have one without the other. After original flavor Will & Grace concluded in 2006, Offerman’s star soon rose at NBC and he took his turn as the star of one of television’s best comedies, Parks and Recreation, cementing Ron Swanson as just as much of a cultural touchstone as Karen Walker. Mullally joined her husband in a recurring role as Tammy II – one of Ron’s ex-wives (both called Tammy.) Tammy II is an utter terror, and the couple must have had such fun together in these scenes.
Tammy works in another branch of local government – Library Services, the Parks Department’s sworn enemy, and she delights in making Ron absolutely miserable – she is, to quote Ron, “a machine created to destroy human happiness”. Mullally and Offerman improvised on many of their most comedic scenes as Ron and Tammy. The pair are still animalistically attracted to one another, so most confrontations result in screaming and screwing, and once, memorably, another wedding – a ploy by Tammy specifically to torment Ron.
Blake Jenner on ‘Supergirl’
Before Melissa Benoist was Supergirl herself, she was little Marley Rose on Glee. It’s there that she met Blake Jenner, winner of Oxygen reality series The Glee Project, who was introduced as new glee-clubber Ryder Lynn. Both Marley and Ryder were part of the “new class,” as the original cast started to graduate from high school, and they were involved in a love triangle situation with fellow newbie Jake Puckerman.
In real life, Benoist and Jenner started dating in 2013 and married in 2015. Due to this connection, Jenner appeared in the first season of Supergirl as Adam Foster, the estranged son of Cat Grant, and a very temporary love interest for Kara as she adapts to being Supergirl. It’s for the best that Adam didn’t stick around, as the couple separated in late 2016 and divorced in 2017.
Amanda Abbington on ‘Sherlock’
There’s probably not a more awkward and potentially difficult spousal co-star situation than that of Amanda Abbington and Martin Freeman on BBC’s Sherlock. Freeman, of course, stars as John Watson, and Abbington has much more than a cameo – she’s in all three 90 minute episodes of both season 3 and season 4, as Mary Morston – the former assassin that would become Watson’s wife. Mary’s secret history is a large part of season 3, and ultimately the couple overcome it and stay together.
Abbington, Freeman’s wife of over a decade, was personally offered the role by showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who hoped to see the pair’s chemistry in full force, but the couple split in 2015, a few months before season 4 began filming. It was amicable, but as a divorced couple, parents of two children, acting as brand-new parents of a baby girl, it could not have been easy – and both stars have admitted as much. Fortunately for Abbington but rather unfortunately for John, Mary was killed in the season 4 finale. Despite their split, the actors would consider working together again.
Chris Pratt on ‘Mom’
So, fun fact. Apparently Anna Faris stars in a CBS sitcom called Mom, which follows a mother and daughter both recovering from substance abuse. Another fun fact – it’s in its fifth season. One more fun fact – it co-stars Allison Janney as Faris’s character Christy’s mother, and Janney has recieved an Emmy nomination every single year for the role. The funnest fact of all is that despite all those circumstances, I had literally never heard of this show before doing research for this article? Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure.
The last of our sadly-no-longer-spousal cameos is then-husband Chris Pratt’s January 2017 episode of Mom, marking the now-movie-star’s first return to sitcom territory since the conclusion of Parks and Rec in 2015. Pratt played Nick, the nephew of Christy’s AA sponsor, who seems like a great fling but turns out to have been institutionalized most of his life. According to people who actually watch this show, Nick and Christy’s relationship was left on a cliffhanger and he seemed set to return, but we can assume that in light of the divorce, that ball has been well and truly dropped.
Ryan Michelle Bathe on ‘This Is Us’
This Is Us marks the second time that Ryan Michelle Bathe has been cast in a recurring role on a show that her college sweetheart husband Sterling K. Brown (another Supernatural alum) stars in – the first was Army Wives. Despite their real-life partnership being utter #relationshipgoals, neither appearance saw Bathe and Brown in any sort of on-screen romance. Army Wives saw the couple share screen time, but Bathe’s character Charlie was a lesbian, in a secret relationship with an army captain under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
This Is Us places the pair even further from romance – during season 1, Bathe was featured in the Pearson family’s flashback scenes as Yvette, the mother of Randall’s schoolfriend. She’s initially hostile to Jack and Rebecca as the white parents of a black child, but becomes a friend and ally, incidentally lending support to husband’s character in the most roundabout way!
Alexis Denisof, David Burtka and Taran Killam on ‘How I Met Your Mother’
How I Met Your Mother just packed them spouses in, with the husbands of all three married lead cast members appearing in at least six episodes each over the show’s nine seasons, with Alexis Denisof leading the charge, racking up ten appearances.
Moreover, the HIMYM husbands all did a bit of spouse-swapping, in terms of who they shared stories with – Alyson Hannigan’s husband Denisof, whom she met on set of Buffy, played Sandy Rivers, a news anchor colleague of Robin’s who’s kind of a sex pest, Neil Patrick Harris’ husband David Burtka plays Scooter, Lily’s high school boyfriend who wishes to rekindle their relationship, and Cobie Smulders’ husband Taran Killam plays Gary Blauman, a gay collegue of Marshall’s who is revealed to have had an affair with Barney’s brother. The series’ penultimate episode, entitled “Gary Blauman,’ features all three husbands in various flashbacks.
Burtka’s first appearance in How I Met Your Mother was also extremely notable because, although he and Harris had been in a long term relationship for several years and were engaged as of 2006, Harris wasn’t yet out. Rumors following Burtka’s cameo lead to Harris publicly confirming his sexuality and a few months later, the relationship. The pair legally married in 2014.
Genevieve Padalecki on ‘Supernatural’
And of course, this iconic moment. Only on Supernatural could a star both meet his future wife on set and then have said wife return two years later as another character. Jared Padalecki met Genevieve Cortese when the Supernatural cast returned to set in 2008 to begin filming season 4. Gen became the new vessel – a brain-dead girl about to be taken off life support, slightly less morally decrepit – as the demon Ruby as Ruby’s relationship with Sam blossoms into – well, I hesitate to call it a romance, but a sexual relationship and an allyship, facilitating the use of his psychic powers with demon blood, which turns out to be a major manipulation.
The toxic onscreen couple started dating much more happily off-screen about four months into filming together, got engaged in 2009 and they’ve now been married for eight years, with three kids – sons Tom and Shep and daughter Odette. The Padaleckis live alongside the Ackles family in Austin, where the children all attend school together while the dads are filming Supernatural.
Genevieve’s actual self-referential cameo appearance on the show that facilitated her marriage was the uber-meta season 6 episode “The French Mistake,” in which Sam and Dean are popped into a bubble universe where the show Supernatural and the actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles – albeit insanely comedic versions of them – exist. Genevieve appears as a fake version of herself, “Jared’s” high maintenance wife who thinks Sam Winchester is her equally diva-tastic husband.
Supernatural returns March 1 at 8/7c on the CW
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