Jared Padalecki is a charismatic actor who skyrocketed to stardom thanks to his enduring and memorable role as Sam Winchester in Supernatural. The beloved cult show ran for 15 impressive seasons and followed the monster-fighting brothers Sam and Dean as they fought to keep the world safe from the terrifying creatures that lurked in the shadows. By the time the series took its final bow, it became the longest-running North American sci-fi series in television history.
Outside of fighting things that go bump in the night, Padalecki also famously appeared in the ultimate 2000s comfort show Gilmore Girls as well as spine-tingling movies like House of Wax and Friday the 13th. He currently stars as legendary Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in the action crime drama Walker, a remake of the Chuck Norris-led '90s classic. Let’s check out some of Jared Padalecki’s best performances.
10 New York Minute
Dynamic duo Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen famously shared the screen in the 2004 teen comedy New York Minute, in which the legendary Full House stars portrayed seventeen-year-old polar opposite twin sisters Jane (Ashley) and Roxy Ryan (Mary-Kate) as they find themselves caught up in a series of hilarious misadventures while running through the titular city in pursuit of their own individual dreams.
Jared Padalecki appears as Trey Lipton, the son of a powerful and wealthy senator who catches Roxy's eye and helps her on her mission to give Simple Plan her demo tape. Despite failing to make a splash at the box office and with critics, New York Minute remains a quintessential Olsen twins film that showcased their massive star appeal beyond being child stars.
9 Cry Wolf
Before he was hunting monsters and dangerous foes as the courageous Sam Winchester, Padalecki found himself plagued by a terrifying serial killer in the 2005 slasher flick Cry Wolf, set at an elite prep school where a group of teenagers participates in a parlor game where they create a story about a menacing murderer known as "The Wolf."
After a student's body is discovered in the woods of the campus, the friends start to believe their made-up killer may in fact be real and is terrorizing their fellow pupils. Padalecki shares the screen with Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, and Jon Bon Jovi in the spine-tingling film, which was a massive box office hit against its modest budget but was not well-received by critics.
8 A Ring of Endless Light
In the 2002 Disney Channel Original movie A Ring of Endless Light, 16-year-old Vicky Austin (Mischa Barton) finds comfort from her personal life and family struggles in her research of dolphins alongside marine biology student Adam Eddington (Ryan Merriman) and makes the shocking discovery that she can actually communicate with the dolphins telepathically, as well as Adam.
Jared Padalecki portrays Vicky's friend and potential suitor Zachary Gray, a wealthy but troubled young man who joins Vicky and Adam on their quest to expose the illegal use of drift nets used by his father's ship. Despite a rivalry forming between the two young men, they set aside their differences to help protect the dolphins and expose his parent's wrongdoings.
The endearing picture was based on the Madeleine L'Engle novel of the same name and was a ratings success for the network, while also earning a Director's Guild of America Award nomination.
7 Christmas Cottage
Jared Padalecki starred as popular American painter Thomas Kinkade in the 2008 holiday biopic Christmas Cottage, which follows the young artist as he returns to his home of Placerville, California for the holly jolly festivity, only to discover his mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is experiencing major financial troubles and might lose her beloved home while the rest of the town also struggles to make ends meet.
Kinkade sets out to help breathe new life into his cherished town and turns to his revered mentor (Peter O'Toole) in hopes of attracting tourists to their cozy community. The feel-good flick is a semi-autobiographical story that depicts the creation of Kinkade's most celebrated painting, The Christmas Cottage.
6 House of Wax
A remake of the 1950s Vincent Price-led film of the same name, the 2005 slasher House of Wax is also based on the Charles S. Belden story and focuses on a group of college friends as they find themselves trapped in a ghost town while on their way to a school football game. After seeking refuge in an ominous wax museum, Wade (Padalecki), his girlfriend Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), and their fellow pals are targeted by the unhinged twin brothers who run the business and must fight to stay alive after discovering the creepy exhibits are even more life-like than they first thought.
House of Wax was one of Padalecki's earliest leading roles and was released right before Supernatural took the world by storm and caused massive pandemonium, with the slasher showcasing the actor's diversity after having previously appeared in her more light-hearted projects like Gilmore Girls. While neither a critics' darling nor a knockout with moviegoers, House of Wax nonetheless paved the way for Padalecki's foray into darker and more edgier roles.
5 Friday the 13th
Still riding high on the enormous success of his hit show Supernatural, Jared Padalecki continued his takeover of starring in spine-tingling roles when he headlined the 2009 slasher Friday the 13th, a reboot of the original '80s flick that centers on the determined Clay Miller as he sets out to find his missing sister after she disappears while camping at the sinister Crystal Lake.
On his quest to track down his sibling, Clay crosses paths with a group of college students looking to party in the camp's woods, and they must join forces after the hockey-masked murderer Jason Voorhees begins to take them out one by one.
Despite a lackluster response from critics, audiences thoroughly enjoyed the latest installment of the enduring horror franchise and the film went on to earn over $92 million at the box office. On joining the juggernaut slasher series, Padalecki revealed in an interview at Comic-Con, "I read the script and the character and I was like dude, I get to do some rocking stuff...I get to fight Jason. I get to stand there with Jason Voorhees."
4 Phantom Boy
In the English-dubbed version of the 2015 French animated fantasy film Phantom Boy, Padalecki voices savvy New York City detective Lieutenant Alex Tanner, who after being wounded by a mysterious gangster and sent to the hospital to recover meets a bedridden 11-year-old boy named Leo who has the ability to separate his spirit from his body and float through the air in an invisible form.
Alex and Leo team up to help protect the city from the menacing, disfigured crime boss and his diabolical plan, with the lawman utilizing the super-powered child in order to catch the criminal once-and-for-all.
Lauded for its breathtaking animation, intriguing storyline, and dynamite vocal performances, Phantom Boy premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to widespread acclaim. The Washington Post declared in their glowing review, "There's an appealing quaintness to the storytelling that calls to mind the Tintin books of the artist and writer Herg, especially that series's old-world charm."
Hollywood legend Chuck Norris passed the crime-fighting torch to Jared Padalecki when the actor was cast in the hallowed role of Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in the 2021 action crime drama series Walker, centering on the family man and widower as he returns to his hometown of Austin to keep the city safe and reconnect with his children while navigating his new position and partner. Walker becomes more and more suspicious regarding the events of his wife's death (portrayed by Padalecki's real-life partner Genevieve) and begins to explore what really happened to his longtime love.
Walker currently has three seasons under its belt with a fourth in development, and Padalecki's performance as the fierce and resilient Texas Ranger earned rave reviews and appreciation from fans. When describing the difference between Walker and Sam Winchester, Padalecki told Entertainment Weekly, "He's a bit more Han Solo than Luke Skywalker. He's not necessarily the super-pensive, super-research-oriented, read-the-instruction-booklet guy. He's more a shoot-from-the-hip guy. He trusts his instincts. He's also very much a father and a widower."
2 Gilmore Girls
Padalecki landed his first major acting role when he was cast as Stars Hollow resident Dean Forester in the 2000 ultimate feel-good comfort dramedy Gilmore Girls, which famously focuses on iconic mother/daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as they attempt to navigate the many highs and lows of life, love, and family while pursuing their own personal ambitions and dreams.
Boy-next-door Dean was the bright and studious Rory's first official boyfriend, with Padalecki appearing on the show for its first five seasons and for 63 episodes as well as in the subsequent 2016 miniseries. To this day, passionate fans of the wholesome show continue debating who was best for the youngest Gilmore, with Dean facing off against fellow Rory's fellow suitors Jess and Logan in the massively-heated showdown.
Padalecki even gave his thoughts on which team he supports for Rory's love, revealing to People, "I’m so Team Dean! Biased or not, I’m totally Team Dean. I do love Milo [Ventimiglia, who played Jess], though... I always think Dean is a good guy – a little simple around the edges – but he was a kid! I’m not gonna hold it against him."
Hands down Jared Padalecki's most celebrated and famous role in his career so far is Sam Winchester in the beloved 2005 dark fantasy drama series Supernatural, chronicling the many monsters, creatures, and formidable foes Sam and his big brother Dean face as they fight to keep the world safe from things that go bump in the night.
Though it earned a mixed response upon its initial debut, as the show progressed it amassed a passionate fan following and received widespread praise from critics, going on to win numerous accolades, including nine People's Choice Awards and four TV Guide Awards.
Supernatural ran for a whopping 15 seasons from 2005 to 2020 and is the longest-running live-action fantasy TV series in American history. The endearing chemistry between Padalecki and Jensen Ackles was undeniably the greatest asset of the drama, with their camaraderie and playful banter delighting viewers throughout its impressive tenure. Supernatural remains one of the best cult TV shows of all time and a cherished staple for both gifted actors.