|“||"You have an inflated sense of your importance. 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."||”|
Death, also known as the Pale Horseman, is the eldest and most powerful horseman of the apocalypse. He is so old, he cannot remember when he came into being, and says it is possible that he could be as old, or even older than God Himself. As one of the Horsemen, he is affiliated with his brothers War, Famine, and Pestilence. Death is the most powerful entity yet seen on the show, and is quite possibly the second most powerful entity in existence. Due to the times and technology, Death drives in a pale grey 1959 Cadillac Series 62 which represents his pale steed.
|“||"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."||”|
Because he is a horseman, Death presumably came into being when his affiliation (death) did. He most likely was created the moment that God created the first form of life (not necessarily the Leviathan). Death does not remember how old he is, and suggests that he could be as old, or even older than God. Death mentioned that he was there when God created the first beasts, the Leviathans, and even, as he said, "Personally found them entertaining." He also hinted that God was worried what they could do and locked them in Purgatory, implying that he was possibly acquainted with God.
Death's existence is hinted at by Alastair when he performs a ritual to break one of the 66 Seals. He claims an "old friend" loaned him Death's scythe, and "he doesn't really ride a pale horse, but he does have three amigos." Death does not make a physical appearance in Abandon All Hope..., but his presence is released from its prison in this episode, thanks to Lucifer's ritual. After the ritual is complete, viewers see what is apparently Death's wings as he rises from the ground in front of Lucifer, who responds, "O hello, Death".
Death is considered the father of all reapers. A large number of reapers gathered in the town where Lucifer was going to release Death in order to serve him. Bobby concluded through reading a lore book, that Death served Heaven as a whole, or God , using him as an implement of mass destruction when needed, e.g., the Great Flood, as Bobby said, "Last time they hauled him up here, Noah was building a boat." He served Lucifer in the Apocalypse, though the latter situation is revealed to be merely due to a binding spell Lucifer had cast upon him.
Normally, Death is kept locked and chained in a magical coffin 600 feet under the Earth. The Host of Heaven only released him when God had something major planned such as the Great Flood, or as Bobby Singer put it "The last time they hauled him up, Noah was building a boat!". It is unknown why such precautions were taken; the original belief was that he was too powerful and dangerous to allow to roam free, but as Death has been free for three years with no major catastrophes since he agreed to spare Chicago, the fear appears to be unfounded.
Raising Death is the main focus during Abandon All Hope..., as Lucifer is intent on summoning him. Because of this, numerous Reapers gather, ready to take his orders when he appears. Lucifer claims (while he is releasing Death) that the requirements for the summoning are very demanding, and he also appears to have some degree of respect for the Horseman. It's suggested in later episodes that this is due to Lucifer possibly being less powerful and younger than Death.
In Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Death arrives in Bobby's hometown and proceeds to revive the dead in the local cemetery. While still unseen, his presence is heralded by fierce lightning storms. As revealed by Bobby's wife, he appears before her to tell her to give a message to Bobby: the entire incident was organized to attack Bobby, as he is one of the few remaining elements keeping Sam Winchester from agreeing to be Lucifer's vessel.
Those who are revived by Death appear normal at first, but after five days they devolve into stereotypical zombie behavior, contracting high fevers and developing cravings for human flesh.
Death appears fully in Two Minutes to Midnight, where he is shown to drive what appears to be a pale grey 1959 Cadillac Series 62 coupe with the license plate "BUH*BYE". He arrives in Chicago, Illinois, and walks down a street full of people. A distracted man rudely shoves past him, and Death turns to look at the man while brushing the side of his coat where the man touched him. He then continues walking as the man falls dead to the ground.
Death has arrived in Chicago to start a large storm chain that will trigger massive weather events and kill around three million people. Death, unlike his brothers, appears to have a habit of wandering off from his assigned tasks, much to the annoyance of Lucifer. It is suggested that Lucifer has only a limited amount of control over Death through his spell, and that Death may actually be more powerful than Lucifer.Dean and Crowley track him to a pizzeria where Dean attempts to sneak up on him with Death's scythe. However, the scythe begins to burn hot in Death's presence, forcing Dean to drop it. Rather than acting hostile like his siblings, the Horseman thanks him for returning the Scythe before asking Dean to join him at the table. Death reveals that he has been waiting for a while to talk with Dean. Dean inquires if Death intends to kill him, causing Death to remark "you have an inflated sense of your own importance" and goes on to compare Dean to a "snarky bacterium". Death claims he has forgotten how old he is, and it is possible that he is as old, or older, than God himself. Death also claims that one day he will reap God, with Dean remarking how in over his head he truly is.
Dean asks what Death wants; Death answers simply "The leash around my neck off" before going on to explain that he never agreed to work for Lucifer and that he - and possibly the other Horsemen as well - are bound to Lucifer by a spell. He goes on to explain that he has power beyond what Dean can ever understand and Lucifer, whom he describes as "a bratty child", is using him like a simple weapon, creating massive disasters and raising the dead. This indicates that Death has some care for the natural order of things and Lucifer's genocide against Humanity is upsetting it. He goes on to explain the binding spell prevents him from going to Dean so he had to wait for Dean to catch up.
Dean then asks what he wants him to do and Death says first to "take the bullets out of Lucifer's gun". He then willingly takes off his ring. He tells Dean he is inclined to give him the ring if certain conditions are met. He tells Dean not to worry about Chicago, as he likes the pizza, he will stop the storm. His conditions are that Dean must do everything in his power to assure that Lucifer is put back in his cell. While Sam will be the one to put Lucifer back in the cage, Dean must allow it - even if it means killing Sam by letting him jump into the cage. Dean reluctantly agrees while Death warns him to hold true to his word by saying he can't cheat Death, he then gives Dean the instructions on how to operate the rings that combine to form a key-like device.
Later, Dean and Bobby discuss the plan 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.
In Appointment In Samarra, Dean seeks out Death, as he figures he is powerful enough to lift Sam's soul from Lucifer's cage. He requests that he bring both Sam and their half-brother Adam out of the cage, but Death limits him to pick only one. When Dean chooses Sam, Death states that he will retrieve Sam's soul and set up a "wall" blocking out the memories in Hell, as he would certainly suffer with the memories. He tells Dean that will be his prize if he agrees to Death's deal: he asks for Dean to find his ring, and put it on to become Death for one day. Before Death can explain why, Dean is revived from his dying state.
Death later approaches Dean after the latter has clearly lost the wager. Dean returns the ring, and Death acknowledges that Dean's learned something out of his experience. He tells him that he got a hard look behind the curtain, being the one to clean up everybody's messes. The horseman hints that this is the reason why he doesn't make exceptions with death, as this could disrupt the natural order and start a chain reaction of disasters. Death then leaves to Hell to fetch Sam's soul out of Lucifer's cage, and returns in Bobby's panic room to restore the soul to Sam's body, despite Sam's pleas for him not to.
In order to find a way to defeat Castiel, Dean summons Crowley, and they ask about the spell that can bind Death. Crowley gives them the spell, and they start preparations for the summoning. After the ritual, Death appears, but isn't too happy since he is bound by Dean. Dean asks Death to kill "God". When Castiel shows up, the two exchange words. Death instantly takes a dislike to Castiel and tells him he isn't God and that he is harbouring something other than souls inside himself. He explains that, prior to creating angels and man, God created the first beasts: the Leviathans. While Death thought they were entertaining, God was concerned that they would "chomp the entire Petri dish" so he sealed them away. Purgatory was made to be their jail and now they are inside Castiel who Death says is just a "thin membrane" separating the Leviathans from Earth.
Dean quickly demands that Death kill Castiel, but when he moves to do it, Castiel frees Death. When Castiel leaves, Death remains. He reprimands Dean for another mess and not following on his hint about "souls" he gave Dean last time. Death gives Dean another chance to fix it by telling him he needs to get Castiel to "return it all to Purgatory" (mainly based on his dislike for Castiel and his arrogance). Before he leaves, he tells Dean he will create another eclipse so it is possible to open the door whilst also making a threat to never even attempt to bind him again; "you'll die before you start."I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here, when Sam is in a coma and on the verge of dying, Sam manifests Death in his mind, as his own personal reaper. "Death" explains that he considers it an honor and congratulates Sam, saying "Well done, my boy" though he usually doesn't pass judgment on souls. The two converse with Sam asking that if he agrees to die, can "Death" make it permanent, which Death confirms. However, before Sam can agree, Gadreel enters Sam's mind in Dean's form to convince him to say Yes to possession so he can heal him. "Death" says that it's Sam's decision and doesn't intervene when Sam agrees to "Dean's" plan to save him, not knowing what it is. Why Death doesn't tell Sam that it is Gadreel, not Dean, is unknown.
Physical AppearanceDeath's true form is heard in Abandon All Hope..., when he ascends from his cell, with tremendous wings convulsing. Now, whatever it looks like, only God, the other Horsemen, and the archangels have seen it.
Unlike his reapers, Death is dressed in a dark business suit, as opposed to mortician wear which the reapers (except Tessa) are clothed in. He also carries a steel tipped cane and is indeed very thin like Bobby's wife described. He also appears to have overly large pupils that expand like the sockets of a skull depending upon his mood. His ring is pure silver and has a white stone set in it.
Due to his advanced age, Death is completely detached from the rest of the universe. He even compares Dean to a bacterium. He cares little for major events of the world like the Apocalypse, and despite his coerced involvement by Lucifer, he only pays the events vague interest, resulting in his tendency to wander off from his assigned targets. Unlike the angels or Lucifer, Death considers the Winchesters and their involvement in the Apocalypse highly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, unlike his siblings, Death is shown to have a more civil and calm manner when dealing with the Winchesters; Death tells Dean that most people also talk to him with respect. Instead of attacking Dean during their encounter, he invites the Winchester to join him at the table to discuss the Apocalypse and even goes so far as to share his pizza with him. Death also claims to be an acquaintance of God Himself, claiming that the two both share a similar advanced age to one another and that neither of them can remember which is older anymore or even if they are the same age.
Despite being callous at times, Death has a respect for the natural order of the universe. He explains to Dean that there are times when it is difficult, but in the end, breaking the order in even the smallest way can cause untold chaos.
While he does not hate Dean and Sam, Death feels that the pair are an affront to the natural order due to their constant resurrections. Even though he is capable of it, as a rule, Death himself does not normally resurrect people (most likely because it disrupts the natural order), though he can and might make exceptions or even "an exception once, not twice." He also seems to genuinely like, to a certain degree, Dean as the two share an almost father-son bond; Death even went as far as loaning Dean his Ring so he can become Death for a day, as a way to teach Dean quality of the Human Soul, along with the consequences of disrupting the natural order. He also appears to Dean when he briefly dies to contact him, something he does on his own as Tessa is both unwilling and unable to summon him. While Dean does lose their wager, Death is satisfied enough by the fact that he has learned his lesson to do as Dean asks anyway, though he says it is also so they will keep digging into what is going on with the souls of Purgatory as he presumably doesn't like the idea of souls being used for power. Unlike the other Horsemen, Death has a level of respect for humans, specifically the human soul. Death tells Dean that the soul is stronger than anyone knows, and that it can suffer much and be broken but can't be destroyed, not even by him.
Over time, Death expressed more respect for the Winchesters, and has even indicated that he was honored to be reaping Sam himself.
Despite claiming to be totally indifferent to the Winchesters and Earth, Death has helped on a number of occasions. He gave his ring to Dean to stop Lucifer, agreed to get Sam's soul back, and even helped after Castiel broke the binding spell the Winchesters and Bobby had cast on him, albeit claiming that he was only doing so because he found "that little angel arrogant." He also sharply criticizes Dean for not following his earlier hint about souls and tells him bluntly that he'll help, but added, "Don't thank me. Clean up your mess." It is implied that he is not so much uncaring as he is above the petty struggles of the world, disliking being called on to fix things that he thinks should have been taken care of without bothering him.
Death also has an appreciation for human food, especially junk food. His liking for Chicago's pizza was so strong he noted it as the reason he spared the city. In the next season, after Dean lost Death's wager, Death showed up at Bobby's house, with bacon dogs, fries, and beer. Later, when Dean summoned and bound him, he brought him pickle chips in an attempt to appease him, which proved fruitless. Nonetheless, after he was unbound, Death ate the food anyways and expressed his enjoyment of them on his way out.
Powers and Abilities
|“||"Hurricanes, floods, raising the dead. I'm more powerful than you can process."||”|
As a primordial being and the oldest and most powerful Horseman, Death is an immensely powerful being, possessing nigh-omnipotent power. He is undoubtedly one of the most powerful being the Winchesters have ever encountered so far. To explain his power level to Dean, he said that a bacterium to a human, is basically the same as a human to Death and his age is such that he compared the Milky Way galaxy as being an infant compared to him. He once said to Dean, "I'm more powerful than you can process", indicating that his powers far exceeds most others, even archangels. Castiel with 40,000,000 souls in Purgatory also didn't want to fight with him directly. The only known being who is able to rival his nigh-omnipotent power is God himself. Below is listed all the powers that Death has demonstrated on the show.
- Immortality - Death is exempt from all forms of pain, fatigue, disease, or death. He claimed to be the only thing to last forever, because his attribute (death) will never cease to exist.
- Invulnerability - As both a Horseman and a fundamental driving force, Death is exempt from physical harm and pain and cannot be physically destroyed in any manner, although Crowley is of the belief that Death's Scythe could kill him. However, this is unlikely due to the fact that the scythe was probably made by Death himself.
- Resurrection - As he is literally the bringer of death, Death can resurrect all forms of life back to any state he so desires. He even retrieved Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage, without being hindered by the supernatural barriers strong enough to keep Michael and Lucifer locked inside. He could even bring multiple people back to life just with his passing. However, as it violates the Natural Order, he almost never does.
- Memory Manipulation - Death was able to suppress Sam's horrific memories of being in Hell, by placing the memories behind a "wall" he created in the back of his unconscious mind. It is notable, however, that this was not permanent, and eventually fell. Castiel was able to break it down, which led to Sam regaining all of his memories of his time in Lucifer's Cage. It should be noted however that the "wall" was extremely weak at that point.
- Teleportation - He can teleport himself anywhere in the universe instantly.
- Weather Manipulation - Death is able to create cataclysmic events so harsh that he can wipe the Earth clean of any and all life, like he did with the Great Flood of Genesis 6. He was going to wipe out an entire state with massive weather anomalies when Dean found him, on Lucifer's orders, but later decided not to do it.
- Necrokinesis - He can instantly kill anything or anyone in this manner. 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. He was also going to kill Castiel, imbued with 30-40 million souls and a large amount of Leviathans by touching his forehead. While not confirmed, he claims that eventually he will be the one who shall reap God.
- Invisibility - Like his brothers, Death can only be seen when he wants to be seen.
- Supernatural Perception - He can tell what something truly is, regardless of how it appeares, or if it is invisible. However, for some reason he did not tell Sam that it wasn't Dean talking to him in his head, but Gadreel.
- Apporting - Death was able to summon his scythe to him.
- Terrakinesis - Death can rumble entire rooms to any magnitude he so desires; he has done this when he was released from his prison, and when he was bound.
- Thermokinesis - Death can thermokinetically increase or decrease temperatures to any intensity he so desires. He caused his scythe to burn red-hot in order to make Dean drop it, simply by thinking about it.
Death itself/himself has a few minor weaknesses.
- Death's scythe (possibly) - Crowley claimed that there was a rumor that this scythe is able to kill Death. It is unlikely that it can actually kill him, as a horseman can't be killed unless his attribute ceases to exist. However, he could have meant that the scythe is able to get rid of the conscience form of Death.
- Binding - Death can effectively be bound. God himself kept him imprisoned beneath the Earth surface for thousands of years for unknown reasons. After raising him, Lucifer was able to bind Death to him and control his actions to a moderate degree, to the extent that Death needed the Winchesters' help to free himself. Sam and Dean were also able to temporarily bind Death in an attempt to stop Castiel, although Castiel (with Purgatory's souls) broke the spell easily. Death later threatens that if the Winchesters ever try to bind him again "you'll die before you start." Possibly implying that Death either knew what they were doing and allowed it, or would be watching much more carefully in the future.
- God - While God might not be able to directly kill him, God is able to bind, trap, and overcome Death. Since he is a Horseman, it is implied that he is dependent on his attribute, so if God wiped out all of life, it could be presumed that Death would cease to exist. However, this is unlikely due to the fact that Death has claimed that even he at one point will have to reap God.
- Souls (possibly) - Castiel, while imbued with all of Purgatory's souls and Leviathan, was confident he could bring harm to Death, however this isn't very likely, as Death didn't see him as much of a threat.
|“||The leash around my neck -- off. Lucifer has me bound to him. Some unseemly little spell. He has me where he wants, when he wants. That's why I couldn't go to you. I had to wait for you to catch up. He made me his weapon. Hurricanes, floods, raising the dead. I'm more powerful than you can process, and I'm enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum.||”|
— Death to Dean
|“||As old as God. Maybe older. Neither of us can remember anymore. Life, death, chicken, egg. Regardless -- at the end, I'll reap him too." "God? You'll reap God?" "Oh, yes. God will die, too, Dean.||”|
— Death and Dean
|“||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 to Dean
|“||You know you can't cheat Death.||”|
— Death to Dean
|“||Nothing lasts forever. Well, I do.||”|
— Death to Dean
|“||What are you really? A fly swatter?" "Destined to swat you, I think!" "Unless I take you first!" "Really bought his own press, this one! Please Cas, I know God, and you sir are no God!||”|
— Castiel and Death
|“||I had a tingle I'd be reaping someone very, very soon!||”|
|“||Shut up, Dean! I'm not here to tie your shoes everytime you trip! I warned you about those souls, how long ago? Long enough to stop that fool, and here we are again, with your little planet on the edge of immolation.||”|
— Death to Dean
|“||Try to bind me again, you'll die before you start! Nice Pickle Chips, by the way.||”|
— Death to Dean
|“||What's with you and cheap food?" "I could ask you the same thing.||”|
— Dean to Death
|“||"I suppose it can stay. I like the pizza."||”|
— Death to Dean, after Dean asks if Death will spare Chicago.
- Season 5
- Bobby's books contain a note that labels releasing Death as the seventh seal.
- Death's license plate reads "BUH BYE", an allusion to the Power he wields over life and death.
- It's unknown how Alastair obtained his scythe, although Alastair stated that he borrowed it from Death himself, stating "An old friend lent it to me. You know he doesn't really ride a pale horse?"
- Julian Richings played Death in a short movie for a convention. The short was called "Dave Vs. Death". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8JTcMABM9Q
- Coincidentally, Julian Richings played Charon, ferryman of the River Styx, who transports newly deceased souls to the Greek Underworld in the 2010 film Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
- Julian Richings neither confirmed or denied over whether it really was Death that visited Sam in the Season 9 opener I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here, or it was simply just another mental projection of Sam's mind. However he did make the effort to point out that this time Death was not eating anything, something which is out of character for him.