|Actor|| Julian Richings|
|Dates|| Original Death: Before Creation - 2015 (killed by Dean Winchester)|
2017 (Billie instated as new incarnation of Death)
|Occupation||Horseman of the Apocalypse|
|Episode(s)|| 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight|
6.11 Appointment in Samarra
7.01 Meet the New Boss
9.01 I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here
10.23 Brother's Keeper
13.05 Advanced Thanatology
To a thing like me, a thing like you, well...Think how you'd feel if a bacterium sat at your table and started to get snarky. This is one little planet in one tiny solar system in a galaxy that’s barely out of its diapers. I’m old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.
– Death, 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight
- 1 History
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 Death's Accessories
- 4 Episodes
- 4.1 4.15 Death Takes a Holiday
- 4.2 5.10 Abandon All Hope...
- 4.3 5.15 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
- 4.4 5.20 The Devil You Know
- 4.5 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight
- 4.6 6.11 Appointment in Samarra
- 4.7 7.01 Meet the New Boss
- 4.8 7.10 Death's Door
- 4.9 9.01 I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here
- 4.10 10.23 Brother's Keeper
- 4.11 11.01 Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire
- 4.12 11.02 Form and Void
- 4.13 13.05 Advanced Thanatology
- 4.14 13.19 Funeralia
- 4.15 14.10 Nihilism
- 5 Death in Lore
- 6 Trivia
- 7 See also
- 8 References
This is the angel of death. Big daddy reaper. They keep this guy chained in a box six hundred feet under. Last time they hauled him up, Noah was building a boat.
Death is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, referred to in the Book of Revelation as the Pale Horseman, he appears to be the most powerful and eldest of the four, older than Famine, War and Pestilence. According to him, he is the only being in existence that will persist through the end of time. According to Death neither he nor God can remember which of them is older. Since Amara, God's sister, claims that she doesn't know who Death is, and vice versa, it proves that God is older than the pale horseman. Death also believes at the end of time, God himself will die, and he will then reap God.
At some point in the past Death became imprisoned. He is released by Lucifer during the Apocalypse, and finds himself forced to serve the fallen archangel's wishes. Though he is often unseen, Death's actions and presence have far reaching effects. On Lucifer's orders, he resurrects the dead, causes biblical storms and massive hurricanes. Death is even ordered by Lucifer to destroy Chicago with a massive storm which will kill three million people. Dean encounters him in Chicago, and Death reveals that he does not serve Lucifer by choice, and is willing to give up his ring to see Lucifer re-imprisoned. He agrees not to destroy Chicago, saying he "likes their pizza."
After the defeat of Lucifer, Death returns his attention to maintaining the natural order. In spite of his own reservations about resurrecting the dead, he retrieves Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage and returns it to him so that the Winchesters will continue to investigate a greater threat against the balance of life and death.
As a very-powerful being that existed before time began, he has extensive knowledge of the universe and is aware of the threats and actions regarding Purgatory.
After Castiel takes on the role of God, Dean binds him in hopes he will kill Castiel for them. However, Castiel breaks his binding before he can and leaves. While Death is not happy with their actions, he agrees to help them put the souls back in Purgatory, mostly because he's annoyed with how arrogant Castiel has become.
After the Mark of Cain causes him to get another hunter killed, Dean summons Death in hopes Death can kill him. However, the Mark's power is such that even Death can't do that and he explains about the Darkness and the consequences of removing the Mark. He offers to send Dean somewhere far away where he is no threat, but demands Sam's life in exchange. While Dean initially agrees, he instead turns Death's own scythe on him, killing Death who crumbles to dust.
It’s funny to hear a Winchester talk about the finality of dying. This reality -– it has rules, Dean. So many rules. And one of them? Kill one incarnation of Death, like you did, the next reaper to die takes his place. So... when Castiel stabbed me in the back, turns out, I got a promotion. New job. New gear.
The original Death appeared as a very slender, and almost skeleton-like, older man. He would approach any situation in a dry, calm demeanor, never raising his voice or revealing any emotions beyond slight annoyance. Death is initially seen as being catastrophic, but after the re-imprisonment of Lucifer, he returns to his position as the leader of the reapers as a force for balance in the natural order. Death's knowledge and age are immeasurable, and his power is immense, exceeding that of almost any other entity encountered barring God and the Darkness / Amara. Death also had a fondness for junk food; including bacon dogs, pizza, soda and fried pickle chips.
The original Death also appeared to have a relaxed approach to reaping, allowing Sam and Dean to constantly be resurrected despite the consequences to the natural order. As well as allowing various rogue reapers to operate. With the reaper Billie taking the mantle of Death, she has instituted a no direct interference policy to all reapers. However, she has been shown to make very rare exceptions, bringing Dean back when the notebooks in Death's Reading Room stated that it was not his time to die and teleporting Sam, Castiel, Jack and Michael to the Bunker to save their lives.
Chuck Shurley admits to Sam and Dean that he enjoyed the old Death better than Billie, "he was all about fried pickles and tickle porn" - claiming she involves herself too much.
Powers and abilities
Being the eldest and most powerful of the Four Horsemen, and an ancient primordial being of similar age to God, Death is unimaginably powerful and is one of the most powerful beings in existence. To explain his power level to Dean, he tells Dean to imagine a bacterium being snarky to him, stating the Galaxy is "barely out of its diapers" compared to him. Nothing can kill who he wills to live, as stated by Dean, and he can keep someone dead if he wants to without anyone being able to resurrect them.
- Apporting - Death was able to summon his scythe to him.
- Chronokinesis - As Death, Billie froze time around Dean's suicide and Sam's attempts to revive him so that she could speak with him. This appeared to be a localized effect as the time freeze did not affect the reaper Jessica or the ghosts trapped in the same house.
- Immortality - Death is exempt from all forms of pain, fatigue, age, and disease. While an incarnation of Death can be killed, the mantle of Death will move on to the next reaper to be killed, ensuring that Death will eventually be the only thing to last forever.
- Nigh-Omniscience - Death has an almost absolute awareness of the universe that exceeds that of the archangels, and is only rivaled by God.
- Nigh-Omnipotence - As a primordial being and being the eldest and most powerful member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death can do almost anything that it desires, possessing a great deal of near infinite supernatural power. Death is so powerful that it is one of the few beings that can enter Lucifer's Cage without the need of the Rings of the Horsemen. Death is also powerful enough to remove and/or transfer the Mark of Cain. Death even created an eclipse by realigning the Solar System.
- Resurrection - As the bringer of death, Death can resurrect all forms of life back to any state it so desires. Death could bring multiple people back to life just with his passing. However, as it violates the natural order, he almost never does, but under certain situations exceptions can be made. As Death, Billie resurrected Dean following his suicide as it was not his time to die.
- Memory manipulation - Death was able to suppress Sam's horrific memories of being in Hell by placing the memories behind a temporary wall he created in his mind.
- Teleportation - Death can teleport anywhere in the universe instantly. Death could even teleport into and leave Lucifer's Cage without the need of the rings.
- Tactile necrokinesis - Death can instantly kill anything or anyone with a touch. After being bumped into by a man walking in the opposite direction to him, Death brushed his coat with his hand where the man had walked into him, killing him instantly.
- Thermokinesis - Death caused his scythe to burn red-hot in order to make Dean drop it.
- Weather manipulation - Death is able to create cataclysmic events so harsh that can wipe the Earth clean of any and all life, like he did during Noah's flood. Death was going to wipe out an entire state with massive weather anomalies on Lucifer's orders, but later decided not to do it.
Despite rivaling God's power, even Death has a few weaknesses and can even be killed, though only by one method: Death's own scythe.
- Death's Scythe - Death can be killed by its own scythe.
- Spells - Death can be effectively bound. God kept the original Death imprisoned beneath the Earth for thousands of years for unknown reasons. Dean and Sam were able to use a spell given to them by Crowley to bind him in an attempt to get him to kill Castiel, who had dubbed himself the new "God."
As a Horseman, Death drives a pale 1959 Cadillac Coupe Deville with a California license plate that reads BUH*BYE.
Death wears a ring with a white stone. Combined with the rings of the other Horsemen, it can open Lucifer's Cage. He willingly gives it to Dean to allow the Winchesters to trap Lucifer.
Unlike the other Horsemen, the loss of his ring does not seem to lessen Death's power. However, his ring when worn by a human being grants the wearer the power of killing human beings with a touch. While wearing the ring, Dean ended the lives of the dying so that a reaper could escort their souls to Heaven or Hell.
After successfully retrieving Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage, Death secures it within an old-fashioned black leather doctor's bag. Once on Earth, he removes the soul from the bag and places it back into Sam.
Alastair references Death when he claims that his reaper killing weapon was given to him by an "old buddy from downstairs. Now, between you and me, he doesn't ride a pale horse, but he does have 3 amigos."
Lucifer undertakes a ritual to release Death. He chooses the town of Carthage, Missouri which was the site of a terrible battle during the Civil War known as the Battle of Hellhole. The ritual requires the killing all the women and children in the town, who are then buried in a mass grave. Lucifer then performs an invocation, and commands the demon possessed townsmen to sacrifice themselves "to complete this tribute." They do so, and Death rises, casting a shadow across Lucifer.
Death arrives in Bobby's hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and proceeds to revive some of the dead in the local cemetery, including Bobby's wife Karen. While unseen in this episode, his presence is heralded by fierce lighting storms. Those who are revived by Death appear normal at first, but after five days, the revived devolve into stereotypical zombies, developing a craving for human flesh after a high fever.
Before dying a second time, Karen says that Death told her that the entire incident was organized to attack Bobby, as he is one of the few remaining elements keeping Sam from saying "yes" to act as Lucifer's vessel. Karen describes Death as "so thin - like a skeleton."
Sam, Dean and Bobby are hunting Death and Pestilence.
Bobby is talking on the phone with Rufus Turner discussing possible omens for locating Death when Crowley appears in his home. Crowley tells Bobby he can help them find Death, but he needs to make a deal for Bobby's soul to pull it off. Bobby is resistant to the idea, but Crowley assures him that it will be temporary and that he will give Bobby back his soul after it's done.
Death arrives in Chicago to start a large storm chain that will trigger massive weather events globally, and will result in at least 3 million deaths. A man runs into him on the street and yells at him. Death brushes his shoulder, where he was touched, and the offending man falls to the ground, dead.
Death stops in a pizzeria for lunch, killing everyone inside (this may have been unintentional, with the deaths a consequence of being near him). He is found by Dean, who attempts to sneak up on him with Death's scythe. However, the scythe begins to burn hot in proximity to Death, forcing Dean to drop it and alerting the Horseman to his presence. Rather than act hostile toward Dean like the other Horsemen, Death thanks him for returning the Scythe to him before asking Dean to join him at the table and eat some of the pizza. Death then reveals that he has been waiting for a long time to talk with Dean.
When Dean asks him how old he is, Death admits he can't really remember anymore and guesses he is as old or older than God himself, but neither can remember anymore. He surmises that he has been alive since life itself began and someday he will even reap God. Death states that God is a living being like any other and someday he too will die; its just the way things work. Dean comments that this is "above his pay grade," and Death agrees.
Death explains that Lucifer, whom he describes as "a bratty child having a tantrum," has him bound by a spell and is using him in creating Apocalyptic chaos, and prevented him from going to Dean. Death offers his ring to Dean, on the condition that Dean must do everything in his power to assure that Lucifer is put back in his Cage, even sacrificing Sam. Dean reluctantly agrees, and Death warns him to hold true to his word by saying he can't cheat Death. He then gives Dean instructions on how to operate the rings that combine to form a key that can allow him to open the Cage from anywhere on the planet.
Later, Dean is seen following Death's instructions, using the Horsemen Rings to reconstruct the key to the Cage. Dean and Bobby discuss Sam's plan to re-imprison Lucifer and while Dean is skeptical, Bobby says that Death probably has a larger view of things than they do and they should have more faith in Sam. They all understand that he can defeat Lucifer, or die trying.
Dean locates Dr. Robert, a doctor who knew John, and who currently operates unauthorized. He and his medical assistant Eva stop Dean's heart, killing him, and allowing for an out-of-body experience. After his soul departs from his body, Dean summons Tessa, and requests that she call Death. She refuses to disturb her superior, but Death appears nonetheless, and greets Dean. Dean asks Death to retrieve Sam's soul and their brother Adam from the Cage. Death instructs him to pick only one of his brothers, and Dean chooses Sam. Death tells Dean that he will raise Sam's soul if Dean acts as Death using his ring for twenty-four hours. Dean accepts, but fails, taking the ring off before the end of the day. Death reappears to Dean, eating a bacon dog, and offers another to Dean. Dean returns the ring, and speculates that Death knew he would not be able to complete the deal. Death is pleased when he sees Dean has learned something about the natural order, and the consequences of changing it. In spite of Dean's failure, Death prepares to return Sam's soul, telling Dean to continue his research on Purgatory and souls. Death disappears, collects Sam's soul, and returns it to Sam, inserting a mental barrier in his mind to hold back the memories and consequences of the constant torture which his soul endured. He warns Sam not to scratch at the wall.
Crowley provides Sam and Dean with a spell to bind Death to them. It is successful, and Death appears, bound. He thinks that he has been summoned regarding Sam's hallucinations, but Death won't help Sam. Dean offers him pickle chips and tells him that they want him to kill Castiel. Before they can convince him, though, Castiel appears. He threatens to kill them all, but Dean reminds him that Death is under their control which means that he can't kill them.
During their stand-off, Death confronts Castiel about his deteriorating state and comparing his current celestial form to a "mutated angel." Death tells him that it is because he absorbed other creatures from Purgatory, creatures older than souls, that he can't contain. Death then explains that long before God created angels and man, he created the first beasts; the Leviathans. Death stated that he personally found them entertaining, but God locked them away in Purgatory because they threatened to tear apart the world, and now these Leviathans are within Castiel. Death warns that Castiel is just a thin membrane between the old ones and their world.
Castiel scoffs at Death's warnings and threatens to kill him, and Death ignores his threats, telling him that he isn't a God. Dean orders Death to kill Castiel, but Castiel breaks the bonds tying Death to their will and then flees. Instead of turning on them, Death goes on to eat he pickle chips and declares that Castiel's arrogance is annoying and decides to help them yet again. He tells Dean that the Leviathans Castiel absorbed can be returned to Purgatory: they just have to return to the place where they first confronted Castiel as a "God," open another door to Purgatory, and convince him to give up his new power.
In order to open the door to Purgatory, Death agrees to create another lunar eclipse at 3:59 AM on Sunday just before dawn. Death threatens them by stating that if they try to bind him again, they would die before they start. He compliments them on the pickle chips before he leaves.
After Bobby has been shot by Dick Roman, he has slipped into a coma and is slowly dying. A reaper enters his mind to carry his soul over to the afterlife. Bobby travels further into his own mind to escape him. When talking to a mental projection of Rufus, he mentions that the only thing that could permanently stop the reaper from claiming him is Death, the reaper's boss. Bobby says however that they wouldn't want him to get involved, presumably since Death would most likely see Bobby's impending death as a part of the natural order to be maintained and would therefore claim him immediately.
When Sam is near death from the damage he took from the trials, Death himself comes to reap him, appearing to him in his coma dream and saying that he considers it an honor to take Sam's soul personally and that while he usually doesn't pass judgment, he tells Sam "well played, my boy," hinting his knowledge of Sam undertaking the trials to close the Gates of Hell. Sam is ready to come with him and asks if Death can make it so that he dies permanently this time and can't be brought back which Death confirms. However, before Sam can go with Death, Ezekiel shows up in Dean's form to try to convince Sam to not give up and say "Yes" to him which will allow him to possess him and heal him from the inside. Death doesn't interfere saying that it's Sam's decision and he ultimately says yes after which Death disappears from Sam's mind. Ezekiel later erases Sam's memories of the encounter with Death to prevent Sam from ejecting him.
Deciding that he can't fight the influence of the Mark of Cain anymore, Dean sets-up shop in an empty bar where he proceeds to summon Death, believing he's the only thing powerful enough to kill him. When Death arrives, Dean offers him some Mexican food that he prepared himself, which Death gladly dines on. As Dean makes his case to Death to kill him, Death tells him that the Mark won't allow for that, but tells him he can remove the Mark, but Dean must first give it to someone else before he will. Death explains that the Mark was created by God to bind the Darkness, an ancient evil that existed before life or even the Earth. If the Mark is removed without being passed on, the Darkness will be released. The Mark initially belonged to Lucifer who was corrupted by it, which led to his fall and it being passed it onto Cain who passed it onto Dean. When Dean refuses to pass the Mark on, Death offers him another option: Death can transport him so far away he's no longer a threat to anyone, but he demands Dean kill Sam in exchange so Sam won't try to get him back.
Dean calls Sam and gives him his location, when he arrives, Death waits idly as the two brothers confront and fight each other, until Sam finally acquiesces and allows Dean to kill him for the greater good. A defeated Sam remains kneeling at his brother's feet, when Death approaches and hands Dean his scythe. As Dean is hesitating delivering the death blow to Sam, Death tells him to do it, or he will. As Dean tells Sam he is sorry, he takes the scythe and swings it over Sam's head, turning around and driving the blade into the side of Death, killing him. Death and his scythe crumble to ashes. However, Death's warning comes to pass when Rowena removes the Mark and the Darkness is released.
When Dean tells Amara that Death told him everything he needed to know about her, Amara simply responds that she doesn't "know this Death" and that he most certainly doesn't know her. After seeing the Darkness' effects on people, Dean says that since he killed Death a couple of hours before, he's open to suggestions about what's happening.
The reaper Billie mentions to Sam that Death found his and Dean's constant resurrections humorous, but with his demise there is now only one rule in the universe -- "What lives, dies." And that for their part in his death, whichever reaper comes to claim their souls when they die, Sam and Dean won't be going to Heaven or Hell, but be thrown into the Empty, where they can never return from.
After Dean has Sam temporarily induce death on him, his reaper Jessica realizes who he is and reports that Dean Winchester is in the Veil. When Sam's attempt to revive Dean fails, Dean is surprised by the sight of Billie, who reveals that after Castiel killed her, she became the new Death, explaining that when Death dies, the first reaper to be killed after him will take up his mantle. Telling Dean they need to talk, Billie teleports herself and Dean to a place she refers to as her "reading room." She tells Dean that she has heard that he and Sam have been jumping universes and questions him how that is possible. Dean tells her that as Death she should know, but Billie replies that this information eludes her, much to her annoyance. Realizing Dean has the upper hand, he strikes a deal: in exchange for the information, Billie must release the souls trapped in Meadows' home. Billie agrees to the terms and has Jessica usher the souls out of the Veil. Curious as to why he didn't ask her to revive him, Dean tells her he figured it was a moot point and was prepared to die. Billie tells him he has changed and no longer has the same bravado of a man that has died multiple times. Dean explains that after his recent failings, he is prepared to die if it is his time. Billie, however, shows Dean a shelf with notebooks dedicated to him, and the various ways that he may die based on his choices in life. she tells Dean that now is not his time, and that with her taking on the mantle of Death, she sees the big picture, and much to her chagrin, she finds that he and Sam are important and that they have work to do and that's all he needs to know. When Dean attempts to ask her about Mary, Billie sends him away, resurrecting him.
After sending Dean away, Billie begins reading from one of the many notebooks on Dean's shelf. Dean tells Sam about his encounter with Death. Sam is confused as Dean killed Death leading Dean to explain that Billie is now the replacement of the Death that Dean had killed.
In attempt to gain audience with Death to resurrect Crowley, Rowena begins killing people before their time along with their reapers. When she learns that Sam is destined to kill her, she attempts to summon Death to her by killing Sam. To her surprise, Billie arrives, revealing herself as Death to Rowena. When Billie denies Rowena's request to bring back her son, telling her she does not do blackmail and encourages her to go ahead and kill Sam, telling her she is curious to see what will happen. When Rowena can't bring herself to kill Sam, Billie attempts to comfort her by telling her "some things just are… and everyone has to live with that" before departing and telling Dean she will see him soon.
In a desperate attempt to escape Michael's Monsters, Sam calls upon the reaper Jessica who Billie had following the Winchesters around. However, the Reaper Violet appears instead and reveals that Billie now has her Reapers following them around in shifts. Sam attempts to convince Violet to teleport the group to safety, but she refuses due to Billie's rules. Despite this, Sam, Castiel, Jack and Michael are suddenly teleported to the Bunker.
Later, as Dean recuperates in his room, Billie appears to him. Having heard the story of the others' inexplicable escape, Dean realizes that it was in fact Billie who was responsible despite it being against the rules. Billie admits to rescuing Sam and the others, stating that she "took a calculated risk" and asks Dean not to tell anyone. Billie chides Dean for ignoring her warnings about crossing universes which Dean feels was worth it to rescue Jack and their mother. Billie reminds Dean of his visit to Death's Reading Room and all of the notebooks showing the various ways he could die. Billie warns Dean that all of those notebooks have now changed: all but one fate has Michael escaping his prison in Dean's mind and using Dean's body to destroy the world. Billie hands Dean the notebook containing the one fate where Michael loses, shocking Dean at what it reveals must be done. Billie tells Dean that its up to him what he will do with the information and departs, leaving Dean with the notebook.
Death in Lore
Death as an entity is found in widely separated cultures, both as a male and as a female. Often, Death is portrayed either as a skeleton or robed figure with a scythe. He or she also appears frequently in writing, including the Book of Revelation, Paradise Lost, the Discworld series, and the works of Neil Gaiman, such as The Sandman and Good Omens. On film, the most well-known version of Death may be that appearing in The Seventh Seal, which shows Death playing a chess game against a knight who is trying to get home.
- For more info concerning the invocation which released him see William Jasper's Farm.
- The song "O Death" sung by Jen Titus was used to herald Death's arrival in 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight.
- The fact that Death is always eating when he is making a deal can be a reference to the death drive, from Freudian psychoanalytic theory about the two conflicting central desires which guide humans. While eating, although there is the life drive since the point of feeding is to keep alive, there is also the death drive, because it is necessary to destroy the food before ingesting, an aggressive element.
- In Supernatural: Carved in Flesh, Hel, the Norse goddess of Death and primary antagonist, calls herself "Death's little sister." Whether this is true or not remains unknown. Though, as creator Eric Kripke has stated, tie-in novels/comics should not be considered canon.
- Julian Richings played Death again in the 2011 short film Dave vs. Death. This Death uses the prototypical "robe and scythe" appearance at first, before he switches to a black suit much like the Supernatural version, since he considers it "less theatrical." A man named David Kane, recently deceased, bargains for his life by playing a game of chess against Death, and one of his loved ones will die for every chess piece he loses. The end reveals that Kane tricked Death into killing people who were all plotting against him behind his back. Death is annoyed that David cheated, so he starts the game over again, but doesn't resurrect the people he already claimed in Kane's stead. It can be seen on the short films website BravoFact.com.