Dean: I saw Hellraiser, I get the gist.
Ruby: Actually, they got it pretty right, except for all the custom leather.
Hell was created sometime after Lucifer's rebellion. It is a place where demons are produced from human souls that go there after centuries of torture. Black-eyed demons are constantly being created, and they occupy positions on Earth using meatsuits, whereas white-eyed demons are scarce in numbers, but are extremely powerful. Time itself is also altered in Hell, as four months on Earth is equivalent to 40 years in Hell.
Hell did consist of endless racks which human souls hang from while being tortured. After taking charge of Hell, Crowley transforms it into a place where torture is exemplified by endless queuing. Though more traditional dungeon like areas still exist, as evidenced when Sam traveled to Hell to perform the second trial to save the soul of Bobby Singer. There also exist a sort of "limbo" in the furthest reaches of Hell, it's this place that Crowley sends unruly souls for "time out." It is an incredibly secure area that is access through a long corridor, whose walls have been built with bones of the damned, once reached the "limbo" is a desolate place where bones litter the ground.
Angels can bypass Hell's defenses, allowing them to enter and retrieve human souls while in groups, as Castiel and other angels laid siege to Hell to save Dean. Death can enter Hell and bring souls back to Earth, as shown when he retrieves Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage. Reapers and anyone else who has access to the secret portal inside of Purgatory can also enter Hell and rescue souls trapped inside.
Crowley also refers to Hell as "Hades" and, after having made numerous changes to it, Castiel didn't recognize it at first.
Hierarchy and Denizens
Alliances and affiliations in Hell exist but they tend not to last for long periods. Hell's hierarchy exists, but is not as rigid and controlled as Heaven's.
Human souls can get sent to Hell after making deals with crossroads demons or other demons. Hellhounds capture then kill the person when their their time is up. See Deals and Pacts for information on characters who have made demonic deals.
Azazel was a very powerful demon who was a devoted zealot of Lucifer. He was described as a "tyrant" by Casey, who kept the demons in Hell in line. After Azazel's death, Lilith was released from her prison and assumed the void in leadership. Tammi was a demonic witch who appeared to be more powerful than average demons. Ruby is another strong demon who eventually proved instrumental in releasing Lucifer by secretly manipulating Sam Winchester so that he would kill Lilith, breaking the last seal. Other more specific positions include King of Hell, King of Crossroads, Knights of Hell, the elite guard of Hell and demons who are well known torturers in Hell like Meg and Alastair, who Ruby described as, "Practically the Grand Inquisitor downstairs. Picasso—with a razor." Lucifer is revered as the creator of demons, though no demons had been able to contact him in his isolation, other than Azazel. Lucifer would direct Azazel in the plans involving the Special Children, and the plot to release him from his prison. Following Azazel's death, Ruby and Lilith took over his plan covertly. When he is freed, the demons serve him, with the exception of Crowley. After Lucifer's re-imprisonment, Crowley declares himself King of Hell with the blessing of Ramiel, a Prince of Hell and sibling of Azazel. Abaddon, a Knight of Hell and one of the most powerful demons in existence eventually started a civil war with him in order to take control herself but was killed by Dean Winchester with the First Blade before she could win the war.
Winchesters in Hell
In my mind, that isn't even necessarily Hell itself. It's the starting place. I like to think of Dean as sitting in the chair in the waiting room to Hell. It's not even what he's going to experience once he gets into the first chamber of Hell. That's just where they stick you before they hand you the sign-in sheet. There's much, much worse to come for him!
Dean Winchester and John Winchester both go to Hell after they make agreements with demons. Dean bargains with a crossroads demon to resurrect Sam, and after much debate agrees to go to Hell after one year. John bargains with Azazel to resurrect Dean in exchange for the Colt, but Azazel only consents when John's soul is added to the bargain.
Dean spends the equivalent of thirty years on Alastair's rack in Hell and ten years torturing other souls, roughly 4 months on Earth (40 years in Hell). John spent almost a century there. Initially, the demons intended for John to break under Alastair's torture so that he would become a torturer himself, which would break the first seal. John never gave into the demon's offer, but Dean eventually does, breaking the first lock on Lucifer's Cage. Eventually, a group of angels, including Castiel, lay siege to Hell to rescue Dean where Dean's soul is ultimately rescued by Castiel.
I enjoyed it, Sam. They took me off the rack and I tortured souls and I liked it. All those years; all that pain. Finally getting to deal some out yourself. I didn't care who they put in front of me, because that pain I felt, it just slipped away. No matter how many people I save, I can't change that. I can't fill this hole. Not ever.
Sam Winchester goes to Hell when he is imprisoned in Lucifer's Cage along with Lucifer, Michael and Michael's vessel, Adam Milligan. He is rescued by Castiel, although his soul remained in the Cage until it was retrieved and restored to him by Death. The damage to Sam's soul was hidden from him by a mental wall erected by Death. When Sam starts to remember events from the time he was soulless, a crack appears in the wall and he passes out for 2-3 minutes, re-experiencing his time in Hell. He tells Dean that those minutes "felt like a week."
Sam later has to sneak into Hell as a part of the trials needed to close the Gates of Hell and banish all demons from the the world, forever. He is able to do this through the help of a rogue reaper named Ajay, Ajay is able to get Sam into Hell by first taking him into Purgatory and telling him of a backdoor into Hell. Once Sam locates the entrance, he is transported to one of Hell's dungeons, it's there he is able to locate and rescue Bobby Singer's soul. Together, they escape into Purgatory and with the help of a recently deceased Benny Lafitte are able to find the portal back to Earth, where Bobby is finally released unto Heaven.
Sam once again harrows a journey into Hell years later, in order to communicate with Lucifer without opening the Cage. Crowley would accompany Sam and his mother, Roweana, to the deepest section of Hell, referred to as "Limbo."
Escape from Hell
Azazel was able to move freely between Hell and Earth, and Alastair appeared to be able too, as well as Crowley. Castiel, and other angels have been able to enter and return, though at a cost as entering Hell for angels can be very dangerous.
The majority of Hell's occupants are trapped and can only escape through portals connecting Hell and Earth known as Devil's Gates.
Samuel Colt built a giant devil's trap and a special lock to keep the Devil's Gate in Wyoming shut. When Jake Talley uses the Colt to open the gate, scores of demons escape, as do souls including John Winchester.
Demons can be released from Hell via a summoning ritual performed by a powerful witch or a foolish novice with access to a grimoire. A specific demon can be summoned, as in the case of Samhain, Azazel and Crowley, or any random demon may arise. When Samhain is summoned, a tear opens in the ground and he emerges as a demonic cloud to possess a dead body.
Demons that are exorcised from their hosts appear to leave the immediate vicinity and are presumably drawn back down to Hell. Those that are exorcised by Sam's powers spill onto the floor and sink through the earth, leaving a burning patch on the ground.
Restriction and Confinement
Escape from Lucifer's Cage
Lucifer's Cage was built to secure the archangel Lucifer. The mouth of the Cage was heavily secured by 600 locks. Only a fraction of these, called the 66 Seals, needed to be broken to release Lucifer. The four individual rings belonging to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, once merged together, can also open the Cage. Once secured, not even archangels can leave the Cage without a door being opened from the outside.
Castiel says that Lucifer's Cage is too well-guarded for even angels to access, but it is revealed that he tried to free Sam, bringing out his body but not his soul. Death, the fourth and most powerful of the Four Horsemen, is able to retrieve Sam's soul from the Cage and return it to him.
As Sam attempted to contact Lucifer without opening the Cage, he harrowed Hell with Crowley and Rowena. Rowena was able to perform a ritual to pulled Lucifer's essence from the Cage without opening it, summoning him into a warded holding cell in Limbo.
In Purgatory, there is a portal that acts as a backdoor to Hell. Anyone with access to this portal, such as rogue reapers, can sneak in and out of Hell and take souls with them. Sam Winchester is able to use this to rescue Bobby Singer's soul.
- 3.09 Malleus Maleficarum
- 4.10 Heaven and Hell
- 2.14 Born Under a Bad Sign
- 3.16 No Rest for the Wicked
- 6.20 The Man Who Would Be King
- 5.22 Swan Song
- 2.22 All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two
- 2.01 In My Time of Dying
- 4.11 Family Remains
- 4.16 On the Head of a Pin
- 6.13 Unforgiven
- 4.07 It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
- 6.07 Family Matters
- 6.11 Appointment in Samarra
- 8.19 Taxi Driver