The CW's "Supernatural" has one of the most loyal, avid fanbases of any show currently on air, so it's no surprise that the spooky series returned to Comic-Con's gigantic Hall H to preview its eighth season.
Stars Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver and Mark Sheppard joined returning executive producer Jeremy Carver (who has taken over showrunning duties from Sera Gamble) and consulting producer Ben Edlund to tease what's certain to be another rollercoaster season for the Winchesters, their allies and enemies.
HuffPost TV was in attendance during the packed Comic-Con panel, so check out the liveblog below for real-time updates direct from San Diego. You can also read our interviews with the cast and producers from the press room for more spoilery tidbits, and scroll down to the bottom of the post to watch the full video of the panel.
Shirtless Ackles; lots of Padalecki ruining other people's takes; dancing; fake humping; a "Wayne's World" spoof; the usual. That's a wrap!
"That's because of you guys -- most shows go to Friday nights to die, so thank you for sticking with us," Ackles says.
Carver: This season will actually ... We're gonna pull back from the heavy, heavy mythology, we're going to give a chance for our brothers to come out from the mythology a little bit. We're opening it up to other areas. There will be an overarching mythology that we hope will go on for many more seasons."
Sheppard says Padalecki picks him up and shakes him for minutes at a time. But on screen, Padalecki says he used to hate having to fake being stuck to a wall all the time. "We haven't done that for a while -- luckily we get tied up more these days." Ackles says "it gets tiring to stand there acting like you're stuck against the wall. And all the blood, we complained a lot -- the end of Season 3 with the hellhounds ... When your wardrobe has plumbing, it's not gonna be a good day."
Gabriel and Chuck -- Dick Speight and Rob Benedict are in the audience. Collins says they're happy to give free hugs and autographs to everyone. Speight emailed Ackles last week saying he hoped Ackles was campaigning to bring Gabriel back. "I would love to have them back, I hope there's a way to make that happen," Padalecki says. Jim Beaver says Jeffrey Dean Morgan wanted to sneak in and ask a question but had to catch a plane.
Collins: So we're going to be sleeping with a lot of people in Purgatory?
Ackles: I was always jealous of when Sam drank the demon blood and had all the mind powers -- it was a cool storyline. I wished Dean could have a superpower. Just to have that power would be cool, but we've got to keep these guys human -- if we start matching powers with the creatures around us, we lose the humanity of them.
Beaver would like to finish up with Sheriff Rhodes. Padalecki says there have almost been too many aspects of Sam: "I don't think there's been a lot that has not been explored with Sam, which makes it interesting for Season 8. We've seen these characters through 149 episodes grow and evolve and change, the characters have grown up in front of you, now we get to see who the characters want to be." Collins says "the characters have been through so many journeys now, we're all kind of damaged and worldly -- I'm damaged, so is the character that I play. There's a ton to mine right there. The character has been through so much that ... I don't know what I'm saying." Sheppard says we need to explore his loveliness.
"It's kind of a one-off, they catch wind of something, they go off and save the family. I love the one-offs." Edlund says it's bloody.
Ackles: Yeah, I've lost half the audience. I'm in the midst of directing my third one right now [Jared starts snoring]. I'm trying to cut as much as [Jared's] stuff as possible. Directing TV is very difficult though, you've got time limits, budget limits, it's a challenge.
Edlund: The boys, Crowley, Kevin, they're all involved in a chase for a power source -- it will introduce a game-changing element that we've already seen hints of.
"It's amazing how many times they've falling into a non-antagonistic relationship with the King of Hell, but next season will be more antagonistic -- Crowley thinks ahead more than any other character in our universe. He's going to be an issue, quite a titantic one, I don't know," Edlund says.
Beaver: "The pat answer is it's "Supernatural," anything's possible -- I've said anything's possible about 1000 times this weekend."
"Ben already said that, you misunderstood the question -- when is Cas coming back?" Jared interjects. Collins pleads the fifth.
"And they're kind of emotional shut-ins who have to learn how to relate to other people," Edlund adds. "Relationships are hard to chart, we're trying to get into real human relationships. And machetes also."
"Does Dean ever really get romance? The only real romance in Dean's life is the car," Ackles jokes. "So in that respect, absolutely."
"He is getting some action -- it's been a while," Padalecki confirms. "And Jeremy told me a few years ago that he loves seeing me with my shirt off, so ..." Padalecki also stops to thank the fans for waiting outside in line all night.
"We kind of think he's gonna come back on the show and we don't think that's a huge surprise. His return from Purgatory is going to happen quite quickly. His story is going to play out for a good long time. More of the story of what takes place and how he's brought to the limits in that place is something we examine over the course of the season," Ben Edlund elucidates.
It's wonderful, it's sort of like being a camper and coming back as a councillor.
Introducing the panel: Executive producer Jeremy Carver, back on the show; Mark Sheppard, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki (when Jared is announced, Jensen starts screaming and flailing his arms), Misha Collins, Jim Beaver and Ben Edlund.
The show knows its audience, the video starts off with Felicia Day's Charlie namedropping Comic-Con.
New timeslot next season -- Wednesday, October 3 at 9 p.m. ET. After the also kick-ass "Arrow."
Watch the "Supernatural" Comic-Con panel in its entirety below: