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Kid Winchesters: The Younger Versions of Dean and Sam

Jared Padalecki, Colin Ford,
Jensen Ackles, Ridge Canipe
(Updated to include season fifteen!)

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki were practically baby actors in their twenties when Supernatural began back in 2005. As good as the show almost immediately became, no one could have predicted it would last as long as it did. Or that the kid actors who played the Winchesters as kids would grow up and be replaced by other kid actors.

Do you know how many actors, other than Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, have played Dean and Sam Winchester? Even if you're a big fan of the show, I bet that you probably couldn't guess. Are you ready? Eighteen. Or okay, fourteen if you want to get technical about it and not count the babies.

It's been awhile since I did a rewatch, and as the sheer immensity of the series has kept getting sheerer and more immense, I kept putting it off. Last May, though, I decided it was time to commit. While rewatching Supernatural over the spring, summer and fall of 2017, I took note of the episodes that included kid Winchesters, and the actors who played them. Voila.

All links below are to either my review of the episode here on Doux Reviews, or to the IMDb pages for the actors. Plus a couple to Wikipedia.

1.1 Pilot (September 13, 2005)

Samantha Smith, Hunter Brochu, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Hunter Brochu as Dean, age 4
Unknown triplets as baby Sam

And it started with the very first scene of the series: Lawrence, Kansas, 22 years ago. IMDb doesn't give a birth date for Hunter Brochu. According to Wikipedia, baby triplets played Sam.

1.18 Something Wicked (April 6, 2006)

Ridge Canipe, Alex Ferris

Ridge Canipe as Dean, age 12-ish
Alex Ferris as Sam, age 8-ish

"Something Wicked" included multiple flashbacks to young Dean and Sam alone in a motel room while John was out hunting. No year was given and I'm guessing the ages of the boys. Ridge Canipe played young Dean twice, but this was Alex Ferris' only outing as young Sam.

3.8 A Very Supernatural Christmas (December 13, 2007)

Ridge Canipe, Colin Ford

Ridge Canipe as Dean, age 13-ish
Colin Ford as Sam, age 9-ish

"A Very Supernatural Christmas" might be the best "kid Winchester" episode, at least from a story standpoint. It gave us the core of the Dean/Sam relationship and the origin of the amulet, and why Dean always wears it.

This was the second and last appearance of Ridge Canipe as young Dean, and he did a good job. But the standout was the excellent performance by Colin Ford, who looked and sounded like Sam. This was the first of Ford's six appearances as young Sam.

4.13 After School Special (January 29, 2009)

Brock Kelly, Colin Ford

Brock Kelly as Dean, age 18-ish
Colin Ford as Sam, age 14-ish

Truman High, Indiana, 1997, and another wonderful outing. Colin Ford as young Sam got top billing and the bigger story, which says a lot for his performance in "A Very Supernatural Christmas." Brock Kelly looked and acted more like Dean than Ridge Canipe, but couldn't quite pull off the sarcasm – plus it felt to me like the actors, who were 23 and 12, were way too far apart in age. Those ages weren't given in the episode, although young Dean was in the twelfth grade and Sam in the ninth, and later in this same season, in "When the Levee Breaks," we're told that young Sam is 14.

Just as a by-the-way, this episode included a couple of noteworthy performances: Dean's girlfriend was played by Candice Accola aka King, who went on to star in The Vampire Diaries (a show we reviewed) and the first credited appearance anywhere by Marie Avgeropoulos, who went on to star as Octavia in The 100, also a show we reviewed.

4.21 When the Levee Breaks (May 7, 2009)

Colin Ford

Colin Ford as Sam, age 14

This one wasn't a flashback. When Sam was imprisoned in Bobby's panic room detoxifying from his addiction to demon blood, he hallucinated a conversation with his fourteen-year-old self. This is Ford's third appearance as young Sam.

5.7 The Curious Case of Dean Winchester (October 29, 2009)

Jared Padalecki, Jim Beaver, Chad Everett

Chad Everett as Dean, age 80-ish

So it's not a kid Winchester appearance, but another actor did play Dean when he gambled away fifty years of his life in an attempt to save Bobby. The older Dean was played by seventies and eighties TV star Chad Everett, who unfortunately passed away in 2012.

5.16 Dark Side of the Moon (April 1, 2010)

Colin Ford, Jensen Ackles

Colin Ford as Sam, age 14 or 15

This is one of my favorite episodes. Dean and Sam are killed, and Dean's first moments in Heaven are reliving a night when he and Sam shot off fireworks on the Fourth of July, 1996 to the song, "Knock Knock Knocking on Heaven's Door." Even though it was a relatively brief scene, it was powerful and gave me chills. This was Colin Ford's fourth appearance as young Sam.

5.22 Swan Song (May 13, 2010)

Nicolai Guistra, Nathan Smith

Nicolai Guistra as Dean, age 8-ish
Nathan Smith as Sam, age 4-ish

"Swan Song" included a flashback to a very young Dean and Sam in the Impala. The young actors had no lines. This was the first of two appearances by Nicolai Guistra as Dean, and the first and only appearance by Nathan Smith as young Sam.

7.3 The Girl Next Door (October 7, 2011)

Colin Ford, Emma Grabinsky

Colin Ford as Sam, age 15-ish

Colin Ford as young Sam in 1998 Lincoln, Nebraska meets Amy, a kitsune brain sucker (Emma Grabinsky as a teen, Jewel Staite as an adult). This episode, and what happened to Amy, was the source of a great deal of Dean/Sam conflict in season seven. This was Colin Ford's fifth appearance as young Sam.

7.10 Death's Door (December 2, 2011)

Nicolai Guistra, Jim Beaver

Nicolai Guistra as Dean, age 10-ish

In this swan song episode for Bobby Singer, Nicolai Guistra played the young Dean Winchester that Bobby played catch with instead of doing weapons training. Interestingly, this episode also included the only time we saw a young actor (Collin MacKechnie) play Bobby.

9.7 Bad Boys (November 19, 2013)

Dylan Everett, Hunter Dillon

Dylan Everett as Dean, age 16
Hunter Dillon as Sam, age 12

Dylan Everett debuted as young Dean in his first of three outings in the role. Sixteen-year-old Dean was sent to a boys home in Hurleyville, NY after being caught stealing food, and he had a positive experience during the two months he lived there with a terrific mentor named Sonny. This is very much a parallel episode to "After School Special," where young Sam found a special teacher who took an interest and saw his potential.

This episode showed a much shyer and less romantically experienced Dean than Brock Kelly's version in "After School Special," which would technically have taken place a year or two later.

We see Hunter Dillon as a young Sam in the Impala for only a moment. This was Hunter Dillon's only appearance as young Sam.

Fun fact: Dylan Everett was born January 24, 1995. January 24 is Dean Winchester's birthday.

10.12 About a Boy (February 3, 2015)

Dylan Everett as Dean, age 14-ish

Dylan Everett's second outing is even better than the first because they made him look more like Jensen Ackles. (How did they do that?) In Pendleton, Oregon, a people-eating witch changes people into tweens so that they'll be more delicious. This is Dylan Everett's second appearance as young Dean. Everett was 20 at the time, but he's definitely got the baby face thing going on.

11.8 Just My Imagination (December 2, 2015)

Dylan Everett, Dylan Kingwell

Dylan Everett as Dean, age 13
Dylan Kingwell as Sam, age 9

This funny but weirdly creepy episode featured flashbacks to young Sam and his imaginary friend, Sully the Zanna, back in Menomie, Wisconsin, and features Dylan Kingwell's only appearance as young Sam. Kingwell did a reasonably good job; he has a long list of credits for his age. Dylan Everett made a brief appearance as young Dean on the phone. (But I listed him first, because Dean is the oldest and I always list Dean first.)

11.10 The Devil in the Details (January 20, 2016)

Jared Padalecki, Mark Pellegrino, Colin Ford, Rachelle Gillis

Colin Ford as Sam, age 17-ish

This is Colin Ford's sixth and last appearance as young Sam, when Lucifer takes Sam on a mystery tour through his life, and they watch young Sam romancing a girl.

12.22 Who We Are (May 18, 2017)

Samantha Smith, Jensen Ackles, Anthony Bolognese

Anthony Bolognese as Dean, age 4
Unknown baby actor with chubby thighs as baby Sam

In the penultimate episode of season twelve, Dean tries to reach the brainwashed Mary psychically, and that includes returning to the Winchesters as they were in the pilot episode.

I wonder what the casting director did this time? Try to cast someone who looked like Jensen Ackles, or someone who looked like Hunter Brochu, the kid who played young Dean Winchester in the pilot episode?

15.16 Drag Me Away (From You) (October 22, 2020)

Paxton Singleton, Christian Michael Cooper

Paxton Singleton as Dean, age 13
Christian Michael Cooper as Sam, age 9

This final kid Winchester outing was familiar – the boys again in a motel room solving a crime — and way too sad. Oddly, it was also the fourth episode featuring Dean and Sam at about 13 and 9.

So here we are. Are you as surprised as I am at how many young actors have played Dean and Sam? Did I miss anything? And did you notice the fact that of all the actors playing Dean and Sam, there are two Hunters, two Everetts, and three Dylan/Dillon(s)? Two Hunters. Ha ha.

Which appearance and/or performance is your favorite? I think my favorite "kids" episode will always be "A Very Supernatural Christmas," but my favorite performance episodes are probably Colin Ford's in "After School Special" and Dylan Everett's in "About a Boy."

Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.


  1. Love this article! I'm a big fan of Colin Ford, he's perfect as Sam. No offense to the Dylan who played Sam in Just My Imagination, but that wasn't Sam to me at all. Sometimes this show uses kids that are the wrong ages, like Brock Kelley or the too young Sam in Bad Boys, but whoever cast Colin Ford definitely got it right. I love the flashbacks to when the boys were young. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. By the way, Dylan Kingwell plays the younger brother to the autistic main character in The Good Doctor, and he's better in that role.

  2. Fab article Billie! (I'm only just reading it cause it took me so long to get caught up!). I love taking a trip through Supernatural history - there's so much of it! Some day I'll do a rewatch (at least of seasons 1-5, and highlights of the rest) but there's so little time!

    I would really, really love to see an episode with Colin Ford and Dylan Everitt playing Sam and Dean in their early 20s, i.e. the ages they were when the show started. It would be really weird, but a good chance to get them back and to see young Sam and Dean and realise just how long this show has been going on! Though perhaps Everitt doesn't look quite enough like Jensen Ackles for it to work (Ford looks a lot more like Padalecki).

  3. I love this!! There are two more actors you need to add though, it was in a flashback during episode 12x18!

  4. Maddie, thanks! I'm pretty sure that the 12x18 flashbacks were taken directly from "Swan Song" and weren't new material, though -- am I right?

  5. I love it it's just that their age and their height really didn't work together

  6. I too really loved Colin Ford as young Sam. It's not that he looks exactly like Jared Padalecki it's that he has the same mannerisms and he is so believably Sam when he's younger. Wish he was in even more episodes. I really love the flashback episodes in general but especially with him. He was a great kid actor imo. Now he's 25 n looks older than me!😳😱

  7. Can you tell me who plays the small todder with Sam (his son) in the final episode?

  8. Anonymous, I have no idea. He's not listed on the complete cast and crew page for the final episode on IMDb. Actually, I probably should have added this episode to my article.


  9. I'm not sure they could have chose any better than Dylan Everett. Hereally looks like he could be a young Dean. Same smile Soulful eyes and the cute way he wrinkles his eyebrows...


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