The devil’s trap is a mystical symbol used to immobilize and control demons. It is similar to a circle of salt but more powerful and persistent as it is usually etched or painted in place, and can't simply be brushed or blown away. If a demon walks inside the outer circle of a devil's trap, it cannot physically leave it, and is trapped. Devil's traps also inhibit the use of some demonic powers. Devil's traps have been used not only to detain a demon, but are also drawn at entrances as a deterrent to prevent access to a building, room, or container. The devil’s traps seen in Supernatural all originate from The Lesser Key of Solomon, which is a grimoire, or magical text, written in the 17th century. It contains rituals and spells for invoking and controlling both demons and angels.
There are two major variations of devil's traps in Supernatural:
1. The Heptagram
2. The Pentagram The pentagram devil's trap is the one most commonly seen, and is a simplification of the Grand Pentacle.
Abilities & Limitations
While demons can enter a devil's trap without being aware of its presence, they cannot exit it as long as the trap remains intact. There appears to be no specific medium required for the trap to work; characters have drawn traps in ink, blood, ash, or carved them into stone, expressing no preference for one over the other and simply using what works in their current circumstances. Traps can be drawn on the ground below the demon or the ceiling above it, but traps on small objects must be in direct contact with the demon to be effective, such as the demon having to sit on a chair with a devil's trap on it to be confined, or a bullet with a devil's trap on it only effective when the demon has actually been shot. Traps can remain intact if an object has fallen over the lines drawn on the ground, or if something is concealing the trap from view, such as a carpet, but they cease to be effective if the trap's lines are broken; methods for doing this vary between scoffing the paint and ash that created the trap to driving a knife into the trap.
However, it would appear that the trap must be drawn in a visible medium for it to be effective, as Crowley was only aware of a devil's trap Bobby had created in ultraviolet ink when Bobby turned on the appropriate lights.
Sam and Dean are initially unaware of the devil's trap concept. They learn about it during the encounter with Meg at Bobby's house. While she is trapped, they interrogate her and later exorcise her. Sam later draws a version of the symbol on the trunk of the Impala to protect the Colt from demons.
Dean paints a devil's trap under the Impala in order to trap a crossroads demon. When that fails, he lures her under a water tower where he has painted another devil's trap. He nearly exorcises her there, but she makes a deal: her freedom in exchange for Evan Hudson being left alone. After the deal is made and a brief hesitation, Dean breaks the trap and sets her free.
When Sam is possessed by the same demon who possessed Meg Masters, he is trapped by Bobby under the same symbol that trapped her. However, the demon casts a spell and breaks the symbol after a failed exorcism attempt.
Samuel Colt built a huge devil's trap 100 miles across in southern Wyoming. There is a church at each point and the sides of the pentacle are made of iron railroad lines. At the center, in an old cowboy cemetery, is a Devil's Gate. The massive devil's trap is broken when the Devil's Gate is opened by Jake Talley.
Season 3 Title Card
In the opening credits in season three, an image of the devil's trap can be seen.
There is a devil's trap drawn inside the entrance to John's secret lock-up.
Dean draws a devil's trap under a rug in Casey's basement in order to trap her. She is released from it when Father Gil uses his demonic power to break it. Later, when Sam kills them both with the Colt, their bodies end up lying in the trap.
While creating a demon-proof perimeter inside the police station, Sam and Dean spray paint devil's traps under the windows and in front of the doors. When Ruby breaks in, she is temporarily caught. She is freed when part of the paint is scraped away, disabling the trap. When they decide to let the demons in to trap and exorcise them, they break all of the devil's traps in front of the doors.
After being tricked into believing an innocent man is the demon holding his contract, Dean spray-paints a devil's trap in his house and fights him into it to perform an exorcism that can supposedly kill demons. However, when the man is easily able to step outside of the devil's trap, Dean realizes the truth and stops trying to kill the man.
When Sam summons Ruby to help with Dean's deal, Dean steals her knife and traps her under a devil's trap. She later somehow escapes it and doesn't answer how, only saying there's a lot they don't know about her.
When Dean and Bobby summon Castiel, they put up many different traps for all kinds of monsters to catch him. Among these traps is at least one devil's trap. However, Castiel is an angel not a demon and is able to walk right through the trap.
Bobby, Dean and Sam take refuge from vengeful spirits in Bobby's panic room. It is protected by three devil's traps: one outside the door, one inside covering the floor, and one made of iron secured over the ventilation fan. The devil's trap on Bobby's trunk lid is also briefly visible when he, Sam and Dean go to investigate why Olivia Lowry isn't returning his calls.
Castiel binds Alastair to a devil's trap which he describes as being old Enochian. The traitor Uriel causes a water leak which drips onto and erases part of the trap, allowing Alastair to escape the trap and attack Dean. When Uriel is killed, his wings are burned across the trap.
Fearing demon attacks, the people of Blue Earth have taken precautions.
To transport Brady, Crowley puts a bag with a devil's trap drawn on it over his head. Brady is later tied to a chair placed over a devil's trap. Crowley also carves a binding link into his chest so he cannot vacate the body. When later fleeing a Hellhound attack, Sam and Dean break the trap so they can take Brady with them.
Bobby makes a devil's trap with black light paint on the floor of his study to trap Crowley. He has to let Crowley go or be attacked by Crowley's hellhound. Later in the same episode, Bobby traps Crowley in another devil's trap. This one is painted in red on the ceiling of his basement. Bobby also traps and interrogates a crossroads demon in a trap drawn in chalk on the basement floor.
Sam paints a devil's trap on the ceiling with his blood to capture two demon minions and escape. Another ceiling trap is used to capture Crowley. He eventually breaks this one by throwing Ruby's knife into an interior line of the trap and escapes after faking his death.
At Bobby's place Dean uses a devil's trap to restrain demons while he tortures them for information on Lisa and Ben's location. When he inadvertently breaks the trap by scraping it with his foot, the demon escapes, attacks and nearly kills him before Castiel shows up and kills the demon.
In order to capture Guy the crossroads demon and force him to cancel his deals, Becky Rosen lures him into a devil's trap made of blueberry vodka which she makes visible by lighting the vodka on fire and burning it into the carpet. However, Guy's minion Jackson arrives and scuffs away some of ash with his foot, breaking the devil's trap and freeing him.
Three devil's traps appear in this episode. The first is in a flashback, where Sam and Dean have a demon possessing a man named Jeffrey trapped in order to interrogate and exorcise it. In the present a woman named Nora Havelock, a woman that helped them on their earlier investigation, has just painted one in red on her shop floor. At the end of the episode, when Sam and Dean confront the demon again, Sam lures it into a devil's trap painted in orange on the ceiling, presumably by Sam or Nora, trapping the demon who is annoyed to be caught in another devil's trap. Despite the demon's best efforts, especially after Dean kills Jeffrey, he is unable to break free of the trap and is exorcised.
After Meg leaves to meet with and kill two demons, she comes back and walks right into a devil's trap painted by Sam and Dean as they feared a betrayal. After Meg convinces them that she is still on their side, Sam breaks the trap by scraping away part of the paint with a knife.
Dick Roman summons Crowley to SucroCorp and traps him, to make a deal and prevent him from giving the Winchesters his blood for the leviathan-killing bone. This devil's trap is actually a light fixture that displays a trap.
When Kevin Tran hides out in a church in Fairfield, Iowa, he paints a devil's trap in the middle of the church for protection, having learned how to make one from the demon tablet. Later, when Crowley and his demons arrive, they cause the floor to split through the devil's trap, breaking it.
In order to defeat Abaddon, Henry Winchester carves a devil's trap into a bullet and shoots it into her head. Having a devil's trap in her head binds Abaddon in her meatsuit and in place, allowing Dean to decapitate her and forever imprison her in one place by cutting her up and burying her in cement.
After capturing a demon possessing Wendy Rice, Castiel places her in a devil's trap beneath her kitchen table and ties her to a chair. Castiel tortures her for information which ultimately leads to Meg and then kills her with an angel sword before she can reveal the truth that the demons are searching for the angel tablet to the Winchesters.
Needing a way to sneak into Hell, Sam and Dean summon a crossroads demon to interrogate him about how to do so, but first paint a giant devil's trap in the crossroads so he is trapped when he arrives. Later, Sam and Dean torture the demon under another devil's trap in a warehouse.
Kevin Tran tricks two demons pretending to be Sam and Dean into traveling to a location where they get trapped in a devil's trap. Realizing that this means that Kevin is on to them, they call Crowley and warn him. Crowley later bursts into the illusion of Garth's houseboat. There is a devil's trap painted in front of the door, but the door crashing down onto it apparently breaks it as Crowley is able to step over it without any trouble.
After learning how to cure a demon, Sam and Dean put Abaddon back together, except for her hands and rely on the devil's trap bullet that is still in her head to bind her powers. Unfortunately, while they are distracted by a call from Crowley, Abaddon is able to will one of her hands to move out of its box and pull the bullet out of the roof of her mouth where it is lodged, freeing her and allowing her to escape.
Pretending to examine the contract of a deal Crowley is making with them, Dean slaps a handcuff around Crowley's wrist connected to one on his own. Crowley is initially amused until Dean reveals that the handcuff on Crowley has a small devil's trap painted on it, binding his powers and trapping him. The Winchesters take him to an abandoned church where they paint a devil's trap and chain Crowley in it. When Abaddon arrives, she breaks the devil's trap on the floor, but Crowley still has on the handcuffs and is helpless against her. After Sam defeats Abaddon, he fixes the devil's trap.
Dean has Crowley trapped in the Impala's trunk under a devil's trap. Sam later leads him into the Bunker bound by the handcuffs with the devil's trap on him and locks him in the Bunker's dungeon where he is bound by the handcuffs and the dungeon's devil's trap.
When going after three demons possessing soldiers and Abaddon, Dean arms himself, Sam, Irv Franklin and Tracy Bell with guns loaded with devil's trap bullets. During the confrontation that follows, Sam shoots at one of the demons, but fails to take him down. Tracy shoots Abaddon with several of the bullets, but she had protected herself with a bullet-proof vest and is unaffected. The hunters also paint a devil's trap in the store where Tracy and Irv were initially held captive, but the demons avoid it when confronting Sam and later Ezekiel there.
Crowley is still trapped by the devil's trap in the Bunker's dungeon. When the Wicked Witch of the West finds Crowley, she is unable to cross over the devil's trap or any of the dungeon's other wards.
Crowley is once again seen imprisoned in the devil's trap in the Bunker dungeon, but Dean lets him out to free Sam from Gadreel's control. However, Dean keeps him in the handcuffs with the devil's trap on them that he used to initially capture Crowley and Cecily is unable to remove them without the key. Dean eventually releases him from the cuffs to allow him to work on Gadreel and as part of their deal, doesn't put them back on afterwards and lets him go.
Visiting the hunter Tara, Crowley discovers that he has walked into a devil's trap hidden by a rug when he can't teleport out after Tara reveals she knows he's a demon. Crowley is trapped for the rest of the conversation until Tara releases him by shooting the trap with a shotgun so he can get the final ingredient for a locator spell to find the First Blade. When a demon arrives to find out where Dean and Crowley went, Tara notices that the trap is still broken, allowing the demon to attack her.
The devil's trap in the Impala's trunk is visible as Dean throws their stuff into the trunk at the end of the episode.
Not wanting Crowley to interfere in her confrontation with the Winchesters, Abaddon shoots him with a bullet engraved with a devil's trap to immobilize him and bind his powers, something she credits Henry Winchester for. After Dean kills Abaddon with the First Blade, Crowley digs the bullet out of his shoulder with a knife and is annoyed when Sam and Dean don't help him.