Jensen Ackles' Best Movies and TV Shows, Ranked by Metacritic

He may have played Dean Winchester for 15 years, but Jensen Ackles is no one-note actor! Discover his best movies and TV shows, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Jensen Ackles

Randy Shropshire / Getty Images

Jensen Ackles may thus far be best-known as Dean Winchester, the elder of the two demon-hunting brothers on the WB-turned-CW drama Supernatural. That is because it is his longest-running role by far, beginning in 2005 and not wrapping up until 2020. It is also a role he is reprising by serving as the narrator in the upcoming spin-off prequel The Winchesters, which he will also executive produce.

That role gave Ackles the chance to show off more than just his ability to suspend disbelief around ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural entities, as it often pushed its boundaries to play in other sub-genres and formats, and because his character was simultaneously both an action hero and often a source of comedy.

Still, that is far from the only project from which Ackles should be known. The Texas native and former model actually got his break in a sitcom (Mr. Rhodes) and a soap opera (Days of our Lives). He was on the latter for three years before expanding into biopics (Blonde), teen dramas (Dawson's Creek), and sci-fi (Dark Angel). From there, he appeared on Smallville before stepping onto Supernatural, and those genre worlds became a sweet spot for him, on screens both big and smaller: During the course of Supernatural, he also starred in horror features including Devour and My Bloody Valentine 3D, and when Supernatural came to an end, he joined the third season of The Boys. He also lent his voice to video games include Tron: Evolution and Batman: Under the Red Hood.

As Ackles matured in front of the camera, he also wanted to expand his knowledge and skills behind the camera, beginning to direct in 2010 with the emotional "Weekend at Bobby's" episode of Supernatural. All in, he directed six episodes of that series on which he also starred, and recently helmed an episode of Walker, his Supernatural co-star Jared Padalecki's new CW series.

He also formed Chaos Machine Productions with his wife, actor Danneel Ackles, through which they are executive producing The Winchesters.

Additionally, Ackles sings (His first professional recording might be a cover of "I Saw Her Standing There" with Roark Critchlow, from a Beatles cover album released by soap opera stars, but he now releases music with Steve Carlson via Radio Company) and owns the Family Beer Business Co. just outside Austin, Texas.

Clearly he is a man of many talents. Here, Metacritic highlights the best movies and TV shows Ackles has acted in thus far, ranked by Metascore.


Metascore: 79
Best for: Fans of classic literature, anthropomorphic animals, and educational programming
Where to watch: Not currently streaming
Seasons: 2

This mid-1990s two-season kids program aired on PBS and centers on the titular Jack Russell Terrier who lives in a fictional Texas town and dreams about being the star of big stories. This allows him to take young viewers through classic tales in episodes centered on Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Romeo and Juliet, The Odyssey, and more. Each episode theme relates to something emotional the characters are going through, and as Wishbone has big adventures, brought on by his even bigger imagination, he is also helping educate the next generation. Ackles guest-stars in the first season episode titled "¡Viva Wishbone!", which focuses on the theme of jealousy, as told through the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

"An amazingly complicated little show that teaches the classics to young children (all right: ages 6 to 52) through an exuberant, cocky, humorous and highly knowledgeable terrier named Wishbone." — Patricia Holt, San Francisco Chronicle

The Boys

Metascore: 76
Best for: Fans of violent superhero stories and vigilantism, as well as sharp political and social commentary
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 3 (so far)

Based on the graphic novel series of the same title, this Amazon Prime Video drama comes from creator Eric Kripke and follows two distinct sets of crime-fighters: the surprisingly corrupt superheroes and the vigilantes who have personal reasons for wanting to expose those supes. In this world, supes have been artificially created through Compound V, a substance created and controlled by a corporation, and the power and celebrity status has gone to the supes' heads. It has a large ensemble cast that includes Antony Starr, Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Erin Moriarty, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Jessie T. Usher, and more. Ackles joins the show in Season 3 as Soldier Boy, the first superhero, who was created around World War II but has not aged since.

"A sharp, entertaining, eviscerating satire of superhero franchises and the culture that aggrandizes them." — Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times


Metascore: 75 
Best for: Fans of superhero origin stories
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 10

Tom Welling stars as Superman before he really comes into his own as a superhero in this DC Comics-inspired teen drama. In it, his Clark Kent is still a teenager and living in his adoptive fictional hometown, where he juggles young adult life — including romances with both Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and Lois Lane (Erica Durance), a friendship with his future enemy Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), and high school classes-turned-a-burgeoning career as a journalist — with his secret origins and abilities. Ackles starred in the fourth season of the series as Jason Teague, another one of Lana's love interests who works as the school's assistant football coach but is also secretly in town to track Kryptonian stones of knowledge.

"A surprisingly stylish adaptation of a story that would seem to be played out after so many incarnations on the small and big screens." — Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe


Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of sitcoms that send up the entertainment industry
Where to watch: 

, iTunes, , Pluto TV, The Roku ChannelTubi,
Seasons: 4

Cybill Shepherd stars as a fictional version of herself in this family sitcom set in Hollywood. Her character, also aptly named Cybill, is a middle-aged actor who works on everything from B-movies to national commercials while raising a teenage daughter (played by Alicia Witt), juggling two ex-husbands (Alan Rosenberg and Tom Wopat), becoming a grandmother, and still making lots of quality time for her best friend (Christine Baranski). The show comments heavily on the state of the industry for women of a certain age at the time (the mid-1990s), and it also offers colorful takes on divorce, dating, and more. Ackles guest-stars in the third-season episode titled "The Wedding" as a family friend who is getting married, providing a new setting for the regular characters' antics. 

"Ignore several adolescent sexual references and you have a sitcom willing to poke fun at the trauma of growing old in a culture that reveres youth." — Barry Garron, Kansas City Star

Dawson's Creek

Metascore: 62
Best for: Fans of coming-of-age dramas that don't shy away from complicated topics but are more sweet than they are out to shock you
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 6

Kevin Williamson's coming-of-age drama centers on the titular Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) who is an aspiring filmmaker with a tight-knit couple of friends: Joey (Katie Holmes) and Pacey (Joshua Jackson). They grew up together but inevitably get involved in a love triangle, and the dynamics of their relationship shift more complexly when Jen (Michelle Williams) moves to their small town. The show tackles everything teenagers of every generation go through, including first love, loss, parental divorce, differences of wealth and social status, mental health struggles, and discovering one's sexuality. Ackles recurs in the sixth season as C.J., who has an alcoholic past and dates Jen for a short time.

"Attractive as well as articulate, all these high schoolers qualify for some sort of advanced placement. They're easy to watch, just a little hard to believe." — Terry Kelleher, People


Metascore: 60 
Best for: Fans of emotional sibling dynamics, classic horror creatures, and complicated mytharcs that play with religion
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix,
Seasons: 15

Ackles' Dean Winchester is responsible for pulling his little brother Sam (Padalecki) back into the hunting world in Kripke's pilot for this long-running drama. The show starts deceptively simply, following a monster-of-the-week format, but it infuses seeds of deeper mythology around demons and the Winchester family's place in an overarching mythology right from the start. While the brothers fight everything from vampires to wendigos, they eventually also have to face corrupt angels, Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), and God himself (Rob Benedict). Along the way they work with other hunters (such as Jim Beaver's Bobby) and some special supernatural beings (namely Castiel, played by Misha Collins), keeping the family business of saving people and hunting things going, while also building a legacy that that family doesn't have to end in blood.

"It is a well-made little show of horrors that's likely to scare and thrill its target audience." — Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Big Sky (2020)

Metascore: 54
Best for: Fans of tense crime dramas that are not afraid to take on police corruption
Where to watch: 

, fuboTV, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 2 (so far)

David E. Kelley's adaptation of The Highway book series is set in Montana and follows a private detective (played by Kylie Bunbury) who teams up with an ex-cop (and the woman whose husband she had an affair with, played by Katheryn Winnick) to hunt down a serial predator (played by Brian Geraghty). In the first season, the case is primarily centered on finding the girls that predator kidnapped, but as they uncover ties between a string of kidnappings and their own local law enforcement, the chase bleeds into the second season because the predator is still on the loose. Ackles guest-stars in the second season finale as Beau Arlen, a new sheriff who is going to end up sticking around because the actor was promoted to a series regular for the forthcoming third season.

"For all its crisp, immersive cinematography and timely themes, it still feels more like a network potboiler than a groundbreaking work of art." — Judy Berman, Time

Blonde (2001)

Metascore: 51
Best for: Fans of biopics that take liberties with relationships and events
Where to watch: The Roku Channel
Seasons: 1

This two-part miniseries is sometimes referred to as one long made-for-television movie. Either way, it is an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' 2000 novel of the same title, starring Poppy Montgomery as Marilyn Monroe. The project fictionalizes real events from the Hollywood icon's life from her childhood (Skye McCole Bartusiak plays her in her younger years), through her teenage marriage and subsequent high-profile marriages to Joe DiMaggio (Titus Welliver) and Arthur Miller (Griffin Dunne), to her film career. Her relationships are at the center of the story, focusing on her mother (played by Patricia Richardson), her husbands, and important Hollywood friends and colleagues, including actor Edward G. Robinson Jr., a.k.a "Eddie G.," played by Ackles.

"The miniseries...tries to shatter Hollywood glamour by examining how Norma Jean Baker suffered in becoming the icon Monroe. But the heavy-handed approach will send viewers fleeing in droves from this relentlessly dark psychological portrait." — Hal Bodeker, Orlando Sentinel

My Bloody Valentine 3D

Metascore: 51
Best for: Fans of slasher films
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,
Runtime: 101 minutes

This 2009 remake of the 1981 horror film of the same name follows Ackles' Tom Hanniger, the son of a mines' owner, who is blamed for an explosion that kills six and puts one in a coma in a small community on Valentine's Day in the late 1990s. A year after that, the man who was in a coma wakes up and begins killing people and traumatizing Tom and his friends. The story then flashes to a decade later, when Tom returns to his small town to sell the mine. Once back, he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery as new attacks begin. But this slasher film comes with a psychological twist.

"Save for a giddily gratuitous sequence involving full-frontal nudity, a little person, and a French bulldog, the film is strictly by-the-numbers slasher boilerplate." — Scott Tobias, The A.V. Club

Mr. Rhodes

Metascore: 44
Best for: Fans of stand-up comedians who get their own sitcoms and tales of school days
Where to watch: Not currently streaming
Seasons: 1

Comedian Tom Rhodes plays the titular character in this short-lived sitcom set at a small-town prep school. His character really wants to be a novelist, but after his book fails, he follows his high school crush (played by Farrah Forke) into education. The show follows his life adjusting to teaching and eventually getting into a relationship with his crush, as well as the lives of his students, including Ackles as Malcolm, who has his own big high-school crush (played by Lindsay Sloane), that provides ample opportunity for cringe comedy as it goes unrequited.

"At times the pop-culture references threaten to turn into a Dennis Miller routine, grabbing everything from the Rolling Stones to the Menendez brothers." — John J. O'Connor, The New York Times