You know Jack, our galaxy is all bright and shiny and spinny, but in its center lies this very large black hole. Its the same with me. I'm all bright and shiny, obviously -- Not so much spinny. But inside? Empty. […] I feel... nothing. Losing your soul doesn't make you bad. It doesn't make you anything. It's um... an absence of... of pity, of empathy... of humanity.
Soullessness is a state of being when a human has their soul forcibly removed from their body while still living. When a soul is removed humans lose the the capacity for empathy. The reaction of the human can vary; some may turn violent, being set-off by the most minute incidents, others may show a glib indifference to their surroundings. While losing ones soul does not necessarily lead to amoral behavior or violence, it has shown to be the outcome for most people. One universal symptom of soullessness, however, is that the person no longer requires sleep.
Sam Winchester's soullessness manifested in his near-sociopathic drive to hunt, working off of pure instinct and believing any loss of human life was acceptable for the greater good. The prophet Donatello Redfield was able to work out a method to keep his moral compass after his soul was consumed by Amara, revealing to Sam and Dean that he would think, "What would Mr. Rogers do?" when he came to a moral crossroads, and once he figured that out he would be good about his choices. He later suggests that Jack Kline act based upon what he thinks Sam and Dean would do. In both cases, they would be acting upon what the best men they know would do in a situation. Donatello believes that by following the example of the best person you knew in uncertain situations, a soulless person could learn how to live a relatively normal life.
A soul can be returned to their human host, but only if the soul still remains on the earthly plane. If the soul is released from its confinement, the soul will immediately return to where it came from. Powerful entities can also restore a person's soul, such as when Death was able to retrieve Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage in Hell and return it to him. Additionally, according to all of the known lore, God, the creator of souls, is the only being capable of restoring a soul that has been destroyed. However, Chuck reveals to Castiel that He is incapable of restoring a soul, as they are complicated, even for Him. However, Chuck's claim is proven to be another lie when Jack's brief visit to the Garden of Eden through the Occultum showed the ability to restore his soul.
Methods of soul removal:
- During resurrection. When Castiel resurrected Sam from Lucifer's Cage, his soul was left behind.
- Forcibly removed by an angel, archangel or demon.
- Consumed by a deity such as Amara or creatures like Famine, Grigori or Crocotta.
- Certain types of powerful magic consume the power of the soul, most notable Enochian magic.
Upon reuniting with Dean the year after being pulled from Lucifer's Cage, Sam initially attempts to hide his new colder demeanor from his brother. Despite the act Sam puts on, moments slip past that begin to alert Dean that something is off with Sam, such as remembering seeing Sam smile the moment the vampire Boris turned him. After Veritas is unable to force the truth out of Sam, Dean confronts him about what he is. Sam admits that something is wrong with himself, but that he has become a better hunter and nothing scares him. He tells Dean he thinks he needs help, but is met with a knockout punch by Dean.
After calling Castiel to examine Sam, Dean learns that he was resurrected without his soul, which remained in the Cage with Lucifer and Michael, and is impossible for Castiel to recover. While trying to figure out who resurrected Sam, their search brings them to the Alpha Vampire, who remarks that he can smell that Sam is missing his soul and takes an interest, believing without a soul Sam could become the perfect "animal." Sam eventually reveals to Dean he has been continuing to put on an act, telling him he doesn't really care about him, only insofar as he needs his help. He also admits to the innocent people he has killed in the line of duty, telling Dean he thinks he should go back to being his whole self.
Realizing that Crowley doesn't hold his soul, and that getting it back could kill him, Sam accepts that he will not get his soul back and says he doesn't want it back. Dean, however, goes behind Sam's back to make a deal with Death to retrieve it from the Cage and put up a mental wall to protect him from remembering the trauma. Sam goes on to summon Balthazar in hopes of preventing his soul from being returned, Balthazar reveals that Sam will need to "scar his vessel", making it uninhabitable through the act of patricide. With John Winchester having been dead for years, Sam realizes he will have to kill Bobby Singer. As the two engage in a game of cat and mouse, Sam is able to gain the upper hand and capture Bobby. But before he can deliver the killing blow, Dean intercepts Sam and knocks him unconscious. Tied down in Bobby's panic room, Sam sees Death enter. As he pleads for Death to stop, Death tells him he would be putting up a mental wall to protect him, telling Sam not to "scratch it" before he takes Sam's soul out of his bag and places it back inside a screaming Sam.
- See also: RoboSam
9.17 Mother's Little Helper
In 1958 at St. Bonaventure's convent, the Knight of Hell Abaddon began enacting a plan to create demons only loyal to her, by forcibly removing the souls from people to make her new army. When Sister Mary Catherine has her soul removed, leading to the murder of two people and her suicide, it catches the attention of the Men of Letters, who send initiates Henry Winchester and Josie Sands to investigate. Upon finding ancient pre-Enochian texts scrawled in Sister Mary Catherine's room, they learn that they are dealing with the Knights of Hell. That night, Sister Julia hears a noise and sees Mother Superior dragging a girl to the basement. Following her, she sees a young man tied to a chair and when she attempts to flee is stopped by Sister Agnes. She awakens tied to a chair, where one by one she witnesses the others being dragged into another room where a bright blue light flashes after each person is taken until she is the only one left. Henry and Josie arrive and exorcise the demons. But when they come face-to-face with Abaddon, and are overpowered, Josie offers herself for possession to spare Henry, allowing Abaddon to infiltrate the organization. Abaddon's minion, Sister Agnes, is tasked with keeping the operation going until Abaddon's return.
In 2014, a woman, Karen Young, returns home and violently beats her husband to death with a candle holder after he criticizes her choice of making meatloaf for dinner. When Sam goes off to investigate, he finds her dead in her cell, having used her blood to write "Help" and "Death" on her cell walls before hanging herself. A boy named Billy walking down the road one night is picked up by a man he knows as Mr. Richie. Upon entering the vehicle, Billy begins screaming as a blue light fills the van. Some time later Billy enters a diner where Sam is having dinner, and begins acting confrontational towards the waitress, eventually stabbing her hand to the counter, prompting Sam to intervene and knock him unconscious. At the Sheriff's Department, Sam walks the cell block corridor, where he witness four other people writing on the walls in their blood and banging their heads against the cell door. Reading through the case files, Sam calls Dean with the revelation that people are acting "aggressive, violent, impulsive" almost like he was when he was soulless.
When Sam learns of what Abaddon did in 1958 from Julia Wilkinson, he goes to St. Bonaventure where he finds five jars containing souls on a shelf in the basement. Before he can do anything he is attacked, first by a possessed Mr. Richie, whom he kills, and next by Sister Agnes, who reveals there are more factories out there creating demons for Abaddon's army. Sam attempts an exorcism but is thwarted, until he plays a recording of one off his phone, giving him time to get Ruby's knife and kill Sister Agnes. Sam then gently releases all the souls in the glass jars, allowing them to fly back to the people sitting in the cells, who are shocked and confused about what has happened to them.
10.20 Angel Heart
Under the guise of a faith healer named Peter Holloway, the Grigori Tamiel has been capturing people that wouldn't be missed and placing them in comas where they would experience a dream world and remain trapped in an infinite loop. One of his victims was Amelia Novak, who was shown to see through his illusions and sometimes awaken from her coma, but he always sends her back into her mind. While these people were trapped in their minds, Tamiel cuts into their arms to sample the energy from their souls to feed himself. This plot was uncovered by Castiel, the Winchesters, and Claire Novak who had been searching for her mother. Castiel managed to awaken Amelia, but while Claire tried to help her escape, Tamiel appeared and attacked them with his sword. Amelia sacrificed her life to save her daughter. When Claire managed to kill Tamiel with his own sword to avenge her mother's death, they are able to save everyone else he held captive.
11.02 Form and Void
While looking into Amara's crib, trying to comfort the baby's crying, Jenna's soul is consumed. As Dean and Crowley argue outside the house, Jenna, in her soulless state, confronts her grandmother in the kitchen. Brandishing a butcher knife, she tells her grandmother she "always wanted to try this" before brutally and fatally stabbing her. After hearing her grandmother's screams, Dean and Crowley enter the house to find Jenna in a bedroom smashing angel figurines her grandmother collected. She begins to attack Dean, and as he pleads for her to stop, Crowley telekinetically smashes her into the ceiling, killing her.
While staking out the Lizzie Borden house to try and get a picture of Borden's ghost, Len Fletcher notices a young Amara looking into the house. He approaches her, and the two begin discussing Lizzie Borden. Amara's views on her disturb Len and he is attempting to ditch her when Amara places her hands on his face and consumes Len's soul. Len's soullessness manifests through his lack of eating, sleeping, and dreaming, and realizing that the things that used to make his skin crawl no longer bother him. He also experiences a general indifference to the things he once loved, such as his Lizzie blog and ghost conventions; he goes so far as to put his whole Lizzie Borden collection on eBay. He reveals to Sam and Dean that he has been faking being a "superfan".
He questions Sam and Dean about what is wrong with him, believing he may have cancer or had a stroke. He tells them that he has a feeling of something dark with wings inside of him, preparing to hatch. Dean eventually bluntly tells Len he has no soul and that Amara sucked it out. Relieved to finally know what happened, Len joins with the Winchesters as they go to find Sydney, handcuffing him in the Impala.
Sydney meets Amara outside a bar after breaking up with her boyfriend. Amara, feeling pity, gives Sydney a feeling of ultimate bliss. But when Sydney calls Amara an angel, her demeanor changes and she sucks out her soul. Sydney's soullessness makes her feel free, and leaves her believing Amara to be a goddess and thinking her soullessness was a gift. Her soullessness prompts her to kill her ex and his new girlfriend in the Lizzie Borden house, as well as the parents of the boy, Jordy, whom she babysits, believing she could take better care of him than his neglectful parents. As she is about to kill Sam and Dean, they are rescued by Len, who ripped off one of his thumbs (just to see if he could do it) to escape from the Impala, and who kills her with a hatchet. He tells Sam and Dean that while his brain told him to help them, he didn't feel anything. When Sam and Dean refuse his suggestion of killing him, Len declares his intention of turning himself in for all the murders, fearing that the darkness bubbling inside him will lead to him killing more people.
11.06 Our Little World
After turning himself in to the Fall River police, Len is killed while in custody by the demon Marco, who was sent by Crowley to "clean up" all the soulless people Amara has been creating in her wake.
11.06 Our Little World
Goldie comes face to face with a young Amara late one night in a park. When Goldie asks if Amara wants something, Amara tells her that she wants to be like her and proceeds to consume Goldie's soul. Goldie's soullessness causes her to attack and attempt to kill her mother the next morning; failing to do so, she is taken into custody by the police. Goldie is later used as bait by Sam and Dean in order to trap the demon Marco, who had been sent by Crowley to kill all the soulless people Amara had been making.
11.22 We Happy Few
In order for Amara to find the location of Chuck, she pays a visit to Donatello Redfield's home in Lewis, Oklahoma. Donatello remains defiant during Amara's assault, refusing to reveal God's location. His defiance leads to Amara consuming Donatello's soul, during which she obtains the information.
13.02 The Rising Son
With the birth of Jack Kline, Donatello is drawn to Sam and Dean's location in Wyoming. It's there that he reveals to the brothers that Amara took his soul. He explains that he's worked out a method to keep his moral compass, which involves the simple mantra of asking himself, "What would Mr. Rogers do?" He tells the brothers that when he comes to a moral crossroads, as long as he can "nail that" he is usually good.
13.14 Good Intentions
The unforeseen results of Donatello deciphering the demon tablet are revealed after he attempts to kill Sam and send Dean and Castiel to their deaths fighting Gog and Magog. Castiel explains to the Winchesters that the human soul acts as a filter to the dark energies of the demon tablet; without his soul Donatello becomes corrupted by the tablet, believing that he saw "the power of God" when he deciphered the text and that Sam and Dean want to take it away from him. Due to his soulless nature and corruption, Castiel suggests the kindest thing to do would be to end Donatello's suffering, a plan which Sam and Dean vehemently oppose. Instead, Castiel locks himself in the dungeon with Donatello and forcefully extracts the information he gleaned from the demon tablet, leaving him brain-dead and on life support.
14.12 Prophet and Loss
After helping Donatello wake up, Castiel tells Dean that while Donatello is no longer his twisted, corrupted self, Donatello remains soulless. Dean accepts this, commenting that "nobody's perfect."
14.15 Peace of Mind
Worried about Jack Kline's possible soullessness, Dean brings him to Donatello, whom he calls the expert on soullessness due to how long he's been without his own soul. Donatello tells Jack how Amara ripped his soul right out of him, but states that it was neither his best nor his worst day. Donatello describes the emptiness that comes with having no soul to Jack and everything that he lost as a result. Donatello states that whenever he wants to "blend in," he thinks "what would Mr. Rogers do?" calling Mr. Rogers the best man he knows. Donatello suggests that Jack do the same with the Winchesters, who are the best men Jack knows.
15.08 Our Father, Who Aren't in Heaven
When Donatello is asked to decipher the demon tablet to find any weaknesses Chuck may possess, the work comes with the risk that the tablet's dark energy could corrupt him again due to his soullessness, so he asks them to shoot him if he goes crazy again. While Castiel and the Winchesters are watching him, Donatello manages to read the tablet without falling prey to corruption. He finds Metatron's annotations, which give context to God's actions and specify a secret weakness He only shared with His favorite. Castiel deduces that since the demon tablet was dictated after Lucifer's imprisonment, God's favorite at that time was Michael.
12.10 Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets
Since 1901, Lily Sunder has been utilizing Enochian magic to acquire angel powers such as smiting, access to angel radio, and a resistance to angel powers, as well as extending her life. However, this magic comes at a price, as each time she uses one of these spells, a piece of her soul burns away, bringing her closer to soullessness. She tells Sam that she has already begun to lose her ability to dream.
By 2018, Lily Sunder only has a sliver of her soul left. She stops using her Enochian spells, as with some of her soul remaining there is still a chance for her to enter Heaven when she dies so she can be reunited with her daughter May. Ceasing her spells results in her losing her longevity and youth. She agrees to help the Winchesters save Jack if they can get her into Heaven. Lily believes that she will go to Hell when she dies due to killing many angels during her lifetime and this fear is confirmed after summoning Anubis.
Dean accuses Lily of having lost so much of her soul that she's not really human anymore and appeals to her as a parent to not let them go through the loss of a child like she did. Lily agrees to help but dies after resurrecting Jack.
Lily appears before Anubis, where she discovers that she is going to Heaven due to her final selfless act to save Jack.
After losing his grace, Jack falls seriously ill, though he does his best to hide it at first. It is revealed that the loss of his grace has caused Jack's human and angel halves to begin attacking each other, leaving Jack in total systemic failure. Following his death, Jack is reunited with his mother in Heaven but is stalked by a dark force. Lily Sunder uses Enochian magic at the cost of her life to resurrect him. Castiel is able to return Jack's soul to his body from heaven. Lily's magic is powered by Jack's soul, but keeps his body intact. However, Jack also begins using this magic to replicate his original powers in dangerous situations, despite the dangers associated with burning away his soul in the process. In addition, the magic does not appear to fully cure Jack as his condition reoccurs at least once and he has to heal himself again. Jack subsequently regains his powers after killing Michael and absorbing his grace. However, killing Michael burns away a great deal of Jack's soul, leaving him soulless. Though he was resurrected a second time with no soul, Jack's soul was subsequently restored by the Garden of Eden after he journeyed to it through the Occultum.
Lily Sunder agrees to help resurrect Jack using her magic, but tells Sam, Dean, and Castiel that it will use part of his soul in process. They argue over whether this is too high of a price, but in the end agree to proceed as it seems to be their only option. Castiel finds Jack's soul in Heaven. Jack is hesitant about the plan, but is swayed when he finds out that if he remains in Heaven, the Cosmic Entity intends to destroy it to get him. Castiel sends Jack's soul back to his body for a few seconds - long enough for Lily's magic to use the power of his soul to resurrect and heal him.
Lily insists that the loss of a small part of his soul will not have any long-term effects on Jack as long as he only uses her magic to sustain his life.
While Sam is hooking Michael up to Toni's rig, Jack wonders if he could use Lily's magic to help, however the idea is passed over. Later, Jack uses a piece of his soul to kill five of Michael's Monsters invading the bunker. In the kitchen, Castiel explains to Jack about what he saw first-hand when a human has no soul. He says that keeping the soul intact is about Jack staying the way he is just as much as it's about keeping him alive. Jack promises it won't happen again.
Jack continues to tap into his soul to keep himself alive. When Castiel is envenomated by the gorgon Noah Ophis, Jack is forced to uses his soul to heal Castiel as the gorgon anti-venom Rowena devised doesn't work on angels. During a talk with Castiel, Jack is frustrated by being unable to help the people he loves like he could before. When Michael escapes Dean's mind and possesses Rowena, he tries to kill Castiel and the Winchesters, but Jack intervenes. Jack taps into his soul to utilize Enochian magic to force Michael out of Rowena and destroy him, leaving only his grace for Jack to consume, restoring his powers and eliminating the need for him to continue tapping into his soul.
14.15 Peace of Mind
Following the death of Michael, the Winchesters and Castiel are left worried about how much of Jack's soul he burned away. Castiel tells Dean that he doesn't think its all gone, that there's some left, but he's not sure how much. Dean later takes Jack to Donatello Redfield, whom Jack tells that he doesn't feel nothing, but he doesn't feel the same either. However, Jack admits that he also doesn't know what emptiness feels like so he can't be sure if he's feeling that. Jack still shows care for the Winchesters and Castiel, telling Donatello that he doesn't want to worry them, his family. Donatello suggests that whenever Jack's unsure of what to do, he should think to himself "what would the Winchesters do?"
When Dean asks Donatello if Jack still has a soul, all Donatello will say is that "he's been around" but if Jack seems okay, he probably is. After Dean asks if Jack is like Donatello, he tells Dean that Jack definitely isn't, as Donatello is only a prophet while Jack is probably the most powerful being in the universe and they have no way of knowing what's going on in his head.
14.17 Game Night
While the Winchesters continue to worry about the state of Jack's soul, Castiel attempts to reach out to God with the help of Sister Jo, as the lore states that God is the only one who can restore a soul. Unable to contact God, both Jo and Castiel acknowledge the truth that Castiel has been hiding from the Winchesters: Jack burned up his soul completely when he killed Michael and is now soulless. Castiel decides to stop hiding the truth after coming to terms with the fact that there is nothing he can do to reverse Jack's soulless state.
Castiel reveals to the Winchesters that Jack is completely soulless and admits to having known since Jack killed Felix the snake. After accidentally killing Mary Winchester, Jack begins hallucinating Lucifer, who tells Jack that his remorse is something that is left over from when Jack had a soul and he presses Jack to let go of it. Jack attempts to resurrect Mary and undo his mistake, but fails.
In an attempt to do good, Jack compels everyone in the world to tell the truth and then tries to visit his grandparents. After being confronted with his lies, Jack becomes hostile but stops himself from harming his grandmother. When God shows up, the Winchesters ask Him about restoring Jack's soul, but God claims that it's impossible as souls are too complex, even for Him. However, the veracity of his claim could not be confirmed or denied at the time.
Later, while talking with Castiel, Jack acknowledges for the first time that he truly doesn't feel anything anymore. He tells Castiel he understands Castiel is acting out of love, but while Jack wishes he could return the sentiment, he just can't. However, despite lacking his soul, Jack still retains his morals and recognizes that every time he tries to do something good, he only causes more harm. Believing himself to be a monster, Jack accepts his fate when Dean tries to kill him with the Equalizer, but Dean can't bring himself to do it. After being killed by God, Jack's angelic essence is sent to the Empty where he awakens to find Billie and the Cosmic Entity.
15.12 Galaxy Brain
Despite his resurrection by Billie, Jack is revealed to still be soulless, something that has Sam worried. However, despite his soulessness, Jack appears to have retained his old personality.
15.13 Destiny's Child
While talking with Castiel, Jack explains that while he can remember what it was like to feel and understand emotions, he still can't feel and is clearly bothered by that fact. He is also able to understand the pain he caused by killing Mary Winchester, but feels nothing over it.
While in the Garden of Eden, Jack experiences several of his memories, including some of the harm he caused while soulless, reducing him to tears. As Jack cries with remorse over Mary's death, Castiel reveals that Jack's soul has been restored.
- Practically human: Or, the adventures of Soulless Sam and future!Cas by outpastthemoat (February 2013); archive link
- Soullessness in Supernatural by semirahrose (August 2015); archive link
- The Contradictory Nature of Souls in SPN by semirahrose (August 2015); archive link
- Sam, Soullessness, Sex, Suicide, and Self-Harm by semirahrose (September 2015); archive link
- Soullessness and Gender / Aggression by semirahrose (October 2015); archive link
- Human Enough? (On Soullessness) by semirahrose (November 2015); archive link
- Soulless!Sam had feelings by yaelstiel, semirahrose (November 2015); archive link
- humans can survive without their souls by perfmishka, snowlantern, larinah (November 2015); archive link
- Narrative slant in 6.06 by semirahrose (December 2015); archive link
- Soulless!Sam was a (very sassy) amoral pragmatist who lacked empathy and had a very limited and diluted emotional range, but he consistently tried to do what he thought (or was told) was right. (Untitled) by semirahrose (February 2016); archive link
- Soulless!Sam vs other soulless characters (Untitled) by semirahrose (February 2016); archive link
- Soulless!Sam and demon blood (Untitled) by semirahrose (August 2017); archive link
- Sam, Soulless!Sam, and Hell!Sam (Untitled) by semirahrose (September 2017); archive link
- Soulless!Sam as a separate person (Untitled) by ssiken-deactivated20121017, bangingpatchouli, chainedtocastiel, semirahrose (September 2018); archive link
- 6.11 Appointment in Samarra
- 14.17 Game Night
- 15.13 Destiny's Child
- 6.20 The Man Who Would Be King
- 9.17 Mother's Little Helper
- 3.14 Long-Distance Call
- 5.14 My Bloody Valentine
- 10.20 Angel Heart
- 11.02 Form and Void
- 11.05 Thin Lizzie
- 11.06 Our Little World
- 11.22 We Happy Few
- 12.10 Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets
- 14.03 The Scar
- 14.06 Optimism
- 14.07 Unhuman Nature
- 14.08 Byzantium
- 14.10 Nihilism
- 14.14 Ouroboros
- 14.15 Peace of Mind
- 15.12 Galaxy Brain