A Death Omen is an indicator that the person who is visited by it is going to die. Sometimes the apparition can manifest in several places at once.
While they appear violent and intimidating, they're not dangerous ghosts but rather are trying to warn people who may be murdered by the person who killed them. They are tied to the Earth because they wish to find out who killed them. Some are better able to communicate than others, but they are often mistaken as the actual killers rather than a warning by those who receive their messages and as such, are generally recognized for their true nature too late. Sometimes death omens are ghosts who take on the role due to a circumstance such as Kate Fox trying to warn the people her sister was killing under the control of Jimmy Tomorrow or Dexter O'Connell simply trying to protect teenagers from being murdered by Whitman Van Ness.
Like other ghosts, salting and burning a death omen's bones can put them to rest. In some cases, getting the death omen the justice they seek can be enough to allow them to rest as Sam Winchester believed that avenging Claire Becker's murder and exposing her killer would allow Claire to move on.
The spirit of Isaiah Merchant, by manipulating his likeness within a cursed portrait of the Merchant family, attempted to warn about the evil spirit of his adopted daughter Melanie. He had been convicted by public opinion of killing his entire family and then himself with a straight razor in 1917. When they burned Isaiah's bones and the activity continued, Sam and Dean realized that Melanie was actually the murderous one.
The ghost of Claire Becker was a death omen who was the ghost of a woman killed by crooked Detective Peter Sheridan. She appeared to people he was about to murder. She tried to communicate by generating the letters DANASHULPS through printers and computers. This was an anagram of Ashland Sup (plies), where she was killed. When Diana Ballard killed Sheridan, Claire was put to rest.
The ghost ship Espírito Santo appeared to people who had murdered a member of their family before they were killed by the Vengeful Spirit of the Captain's brother. The ship also appeared to Bela, who did not elaborate on the reason. After the brothers summoned the spirit of the Captain and the two spirits merged, the ship was not seen again.
While originally not a death omen, Cole Griffith, the last person to die before death stopped in his hometown, became one that warned the Winchesters of the threat posed by Alastair to the Reapers. Cole aided the Winchesters in learning how to hone their ghostly powers and gave them the location of Alastair, allowing the Winchesters to rescue Tessa and save one of the 66 Seals. Afterwards, Dean helped Tessa convince Cole to move on to the afterlife with her.
Orphanage caretaker Leticia Gore, according to local lore, had murdered four boys in her charge, one of them her own son, and then committed suicide. The Winchesters salted and burned her bones. When her son's spirit later conveyed to them that his mother did not kill him, they realized that three of the boys had actually killed her son and scalped him. Her spirit had been preventing the evil spirits of the three little killers from wreaking more havoc. By burning her bones, Sam and Dean accidentally released their spirits to do more harm. In this case, the premature burning of Leticia's bones resulted in the death and scalping of a man by the boys' spirits.
Although not called one, Kate Fox, was a death omen, warning people by giving them visions of her sister Margaret's spirit killing them, bound by Jimmy Tomorrow's command. Kate was mistakenly identified as the killer and was as such dispatched by Sam and Dean, who soon learned of their mistake.
When Annie Hawkins investigated the Van Ness House, ghost Victoria Dodd attempted to warn her of the danger with Dexter O'Connell attempting to do the same with Whitman Van Ness' other victims, both without success. In retaliation, Van Ness destroyed both Dexter and Victoria, particularly after Victoria warned the Winchesters of who the true culprit was, enabling them to destroy Van Ness and free his other victims.
After his murder by the ghost of Hugo Moriarty, Lucas Kellinger often acted as a death omen, attempting to warn Hugo's future victims without much success. Lucas's ghost was mistaken by Sam and Dean Winchester as the culprit, but their mother learned the truth from Lucas's mother. Lucas helped the Winchesters defeat Hugo by leading Sam to his bones. After Hugo's spirit was destroyed, Lucas and Hugo's other victims were put to rest.
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- Season 3
- Season 4
- Season 5
- Season 7
- Season 12
- The Espírito Santo is the only Death Omen to not formerly be a human.