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, speaking to Dean

Death is an ancient primordial entity, having existed since the beginning of time alongside God. He is the eldest and most powerful member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Background

"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 Winchester, Two Minutes to Midnight
Death

And through the fire stood before me a Pale Horse, and he who sat atop him carried a Scythe. And I saw since he had risen, they too shall rise, and from him and through him.

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 them 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 Flood. 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 3 years with no major catastrophes since he agreed to spare Chicago, the fear appears to be unfounded.

Physical Appearance

Death's true Reaper form is heard in Abandon All Hope..., when he ascends from his cell, with tremendous wings convulsing. Now, whatever it looks like, only God and the Horsemen, and 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. He also doesn't get his power from the ring.

Personality

Death's License Plate

Death's license plate on his white 1959 Cadillac.

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. 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 any more.

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's 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. Death himself does not normally resurrect people (most likely because it disrupts the natural order) though he can make exceptions. 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 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. However, Death is mum as to why the souls seem to be so important.

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. 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

As the eldest Horseman, Death is an immensely powerful being, possessing incalculable power and near-omniscience. He is the most powerful being the Winchesters have encountered and faced, far exceeding all others, even archangels, Leviathan and even the Mother Of All Monsters , the only being known to match his immense power is God .

  • Memory Manipulation - Death was able to suppress Sam's horrific memories of being in Hell, behind a "wall" at the back of his unconscious mind. It is notable, however, that this is not permanent, and would eventually fall. Castiel was able to "crumble" it, and Sam regained the memory of his time in Lucifer's Cage.
  • Indestructibility - As a Horseman, and a fundamental, driving force, Death cannot be physically destroyed though Crowley believed Death's Scythe could kill him.
  • Immortality - He's truly immortal and doesn't age. As such, he is not affected by death, disease, pain or fatigue. He claimed to be the only being to last forever.
  • Resurrection - As who he is, Death can resurrect anything and anyone he wants, simultaneously. However, he chooses not to as it bends the Natural Order. 
  • Nigh-Omnipotence - He's called a "fly swatter" by the angel Castiel, inferring that everything he reaps, is a "fly" in comparison. Death can do practically anything, from creating a lunar eclipse, to going to Lucifer's Cage, without its key, in a matter of seconds. He made his own scythe turn burning hot, without even looking at it. He is capable of killing anyone or anything in Creation, ranging from humans to archangels. Death has also claimed he will reap God in the end.
  • Nigh-Omniscience - Having existed alongside God since the before beginning of time and matter, Death has an extensive knowledge and information about the universe, created beings and souls. However, Death is not all knowing as he once admitted that neither he nor God can remember which of them is older.
  • Teleportation - He can teleport himself anywhere in the universe instantly, although he's not Omnipresent like God is.
  • Weather Manipulation- Death is able to conjure, create and muster tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms he even caused the Great Flood. As Lucifer asked him to, he was going to wipe out an entire state with massive weather anomalies, but later decided not to.
  • Killing Touch- He can kill anything in this manner. When brushed by a mortal, the man died. He was also going to kill Castiel, imbued with 30-40 million souls, this way.
  • Invisibility - Like his brothers, Death can only be seen when he wants to be seen.
  • Superhuman Perception - He can tell what something truly was, regardless of how it appeared, or if it is invisible.
  • Apporting - Death was able summon his scythe to him.
  • Terrakinesis - Able to make whole areas violenty shake, for instance when he was released, or when he was bound.
  • Thermokinesis - Caused his scythe to heat up, to make Dean drop it, simply by thinking it.

Weaknesses

Even Death itself/himself has a few minor weaknesses.

  • His own scythe may be able to harm him, according to Crowley. Though, it was never confirmed. 
  • Death can effectively be bound. God himself kept him imprisoned beneath the Earth surface for thousands of years. After raising him, Lucifer was able to bind Death to his presence 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 at the beginning of Season 7.Although Lucifer bound Death to serve him during the apocalypse it does not prove that Lucifer an Archangel can overpower Death, even a mere human can bind Death with the right spell.

Season 5

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 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 behaviour, contracting high fevers and developing cravings for human flesh.

Death's Pale Horse (1959 Cadillac)

Death arrives in Chicago, Illinois driving his "Pale Horse".

Death appears fully in Two Minutes to Midnight, where he is shown to drive what appears to be a white 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.

Death's Ring

Death's ring, made of pure silver and set with a white stone.

Dean and Crowley track him to a pizzeria were 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, which alerts the Horseman to his presence. Rather than act 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 bacteria". Death claims to be as old as God, though Death states "...neither of us can remember anymore." Death also claims that one day he will reap God, with Dean remarking how in over his head he truly is.
Dean Accepts Death's Ring

Dean makes a very costly bargain with Death.

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 the Devil is put back in his cell. While Sam will be the one to put the Devil 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.

Season 6

Appointment-in-Samarra-Episode-Stills-death-supernatural-25773263-1450-966 (1)

Death and Tessa.

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 holds Sams soul3

Death holding Sam´s soul

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.

Season 7

701DeathBound

Death bound by Dean.

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 else inside. 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.

300px-Supernatural Season 7 Episode 1 Meet The New Boss 11-3544-590-700-80

Death talks with Cas.

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."

Quotes

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
Life, death; chicken, egg; regardless, at the end, I'll reap him too." "God? You'll reap God?" "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!
— Death
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

Appearances

Trivia

  • 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.
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