|“||You're just spirits. Twisted, perverted, evil spirits. But, end of the day, you're nothing but ghosts with an ego.||”|
Demons are malevolent spiritual entities created by Lucifer. Created from corrupted human souls after extensive torture in Hell, they're extremely evil. The species as a whole functions as the series' primary antagonists and are the most recurring creatures in the series.
|“||It might take centuries, but sooner or later Hell will burn away your humanity. Every Hell-bound soul, every one turns into something else. Turns you into us.||”|
— Ruby, speaking to Dean
Demons were once humans who were condemned to Hell. Their souls were corrupted and warped after spending hundreds of years in Hell being tortured and having all of their humanity burnt out of them. They are left as large black clouds that generate electromagnetic interference and leave behind a sulfurous residue. The first demon was Lilith. She was created by Lucifer, who resented humans for taking his place as the most beloved of God. Lucifer wanted to show how bad humans were, so he tortured a human into becoming a demonic monster. He proceeded to do the same to any human souls he could trick into joining him. However, Lucifer was locked away by his own brother, the Archangel Michael, and Lilith was imprisoned deep within Hell. Thousands of years later, after much searching, Azazel, Lucifer's demonic "son", was able to find the doorway to Lucifer's prison. Lucifer revealed that only Lilith could break the 66 Seals keeping him imprisoned, and instructed Azazel to find him "a very special child". Azazel spent the following years feeding his own blood to babies—one being Sam Winchester—as they would then grow up developing demonic abilities, including the ability to kill Lilith and hence free him from his prison, and then be powerful enough to serve as his earthly vessel.
Although an ordinary demon is featured as a villain of the week in the fourth episode of the series, "Phantom Traveler", demons do not become actively involved in the show until the introduction of Azazel's "daughter"—possessing a girl named Meg Masters—in the second half of the season. She follows Sam and Dean Winchester, and later unsuccessfully sets a trap for them using their father. Following the release of hundreds of demons from the Devil's Gate at the end of Season 2, demons become the greatest, most common enemies the Winchester Brothers face in the series.
Due to Azazel's death, the demons are initially disorganized and unable to execute their master plan. Some demons want Sam to lead them, while others follow Lilith. By the beginning of Season 4, however, Lilith has taken control of most of the demons and directs them to break the 66 Seals needed to free Lucifer. Under her direction, the Seals are broken, and Lilith allows Sam to kill her, thus breaking the Final Seal and setting Lucifer free. Throughout Season 5, Lucifer has command over nearly all demons. Dozens sacrifice themselves to assist him in raising Death. Others serve the Horsemen Pestilence and Famine, as well as the Whore of Babylon.
|“||They don't want anything, just death and destruction for its own sake.||”|
— Dean, describing demons
Demons are the result of human souls going to Hell and being tortured until no humanity is left in them, thus turning into demons - dark, malicious spirits that revel in pain, chaos, and death. According to Ruby, most demons forget what it means to be human. Some have even forgotten that they were once human. In general, demons engage in torture and destruction because it's fun or to avoid being tortured themselves. Some demons, however, are true believers in Lucifer's agenda to "cleanse" Earth, and actually consider themselves morally superior to humans.
There are many ways of becoming a demon, from making a deal with a Crossroads Demon, to being a witch, and making a deal with another demon. They usually appear in the form of a long, slender cloud of black smoke. Their true form has not been shown onscreen, however Dean has seen their true forms, before he was taken to Hell. He says they look horrible even go as far as calling Ruby "One ugly broad."
Once a soul becomes a demon, it gains the basic demonic powers (possession, super-strength, etc.) and from there, it can work its way up the ladder to positions of greater authority and power within Hell (possibly by torturing other souls). Some demons are sent back to Earth to accomplish certain tasks, such as causing disasters, spreading diseases, assassinating Hunters, or manipulating people into committing crimes that will get them sent to Hell. To do this, they have to take a host or "meat suit".
When they possess humans, they usually enter through their mouths. On one occasion, a demon entered a human via the eyes (as seen in the episode "Phantom Traveler"). Possessed humans often look exactly the same as they did before possession, the only noticeable change being that their eyes will sometimes change color (black, red, white, grey, or yellow depending on the demon possessing them). Whenever they use their powers, they leave a trace of sulfur in the form of yellow dust. Angels and other supernatural beings can see the true faces of demons underneath their vessels.
Often under possession the human begins speaking and acting like the demon would. Upon exorcism the human - if they survived - retains no memory of their time during possession (Unless they have been "awake" during possession, in which case the time of possession is a nightmare for them). The possessed humans also gain the powers of whichever demon is possessing them. Unlike angels, whose possession of a human vessel has to be with the vessel's consent, demons forcibly possess humans without any deal at all. People suffering from stress, fear or panic can be vulnerable to demonic possession. Demons abhor the name of God (which in Latin is Dio or Deus).
Demons have no quarrel with killing or torturing their own kind to achieve their goals. Tom, for example, tested the fake Colt by shooting his demonic "sister" Meg (Salvation). High ranking demons will casually sacrifice their underlings without hesitation. At the same time, though, some demons forge bonds with their siblings. Azazel, for example, referred to Meg and Tom as his "children" and was angered when Sam and Dean exorcized Meg and killed Tom (Devil's Trap).
Powers and Abilities
These abilities are possessed by most demons.
- Demonic Possession - Like angels, demons require a human vessel or "meat suit" to travel on Earth. Unlike angels, they do not need a person's consent. Also, unlike angels, demons can possess corpses. It's easier to take control of people who are in states of heightened emotions or fear. This ability can be thwarted by Anti-possession tattoos. Also under some circumstances, the person being possessed can regain control if his or her will is strong enough.
- Electromagnetic Interference - Demons, like spirits, often disrupt nearby electronics with their presence.
- Flight - Only when in their natural forms.
- Immortality - Demons have an indefinitely long lifespan and an arrested aging process.
- Invulnerability - Injuries that would be fatal to humans, such as broken necks or gunshot wounds, have very little - if any - effect on demons. They can only be killed by special weapons or rituals.
- Super stamina - Demons never tire, and do not require food, water, oxygen, or sleep to sustain themselves.
- Super strength - Demons are capable of physically overpowering humans and most monsters. Once, a demon (the Phantom Traveler demon) ripped open an airplane hatch with over a ton of pressure at over 1,000 feet above the ground.
- Supernatural Perception - Demons are able to see hidden supernatural activity and beings, such as Reapers, ghosts, and Hellhounds.
- Telekinesis - Demons can move objects and other beings with their minds.
Telepathy- In Phantom Traveler, Dean says that demons read minds in order to lie. However, since then, there has been no onscreen evidence to indicate that demons can actually read minds. This ability may have been unique to the Phantom Traveler demon, or it may have been retconned from the show all together.
Used by some, but not all, black-eyed demons.
- Biokinesis - Some demons can manipulate the biology of other beings. Azazel, for example, was able to torture Dean by causing him to hemorrhage. Meg was also able to cause Crowley to cough up blood in a similar manner. Tammi stopped Elizabeth's heart with a wave of her hand.
- Electrokinesis - Displayed by Azazel and Crowley. They could manipulate electronic equipment to their will. Also the demon possessing Isaac's corpse was able to switch on an old radio.
- Invisibility - Some Demons can become invisible to humans.
- Magic - Some Demons can practice witchcraft, much like witches, like altering the range/space they occupy.
- Pyrokinesis - Some Demons can generate and manipulate fire. Azazel and Brady have demonstrated this ability. Crowley can also manipulate fire; he extinguished a Holy Fire circle by snapping his fingers.
- Soul Reading - Some Demons, particularly Crossroad Demons, can assess the condition of one's soul.
- Teleportation - Some Demons can travel from one place to another instantly, without occupying the space in between.
Monocolored, White-Eyed demons, and Azazel are the only ones to use these powers. They also possess all the previous abilities at enhanced levels and are incredibly strong. Lilith, Alastair and (presumably) Azazel are powerful enough to fight and even overpower normal angels. They will still flee when confronted by Archangels, though.
- Access to/from Hell - High ranking demons such as Azazel, Alastair, and Crowley can easily teleport themselves back and forth between Earth and Hell, without the need for any complex summoning ritual or assistance.
- Angel Banishing Spell - Alastair knew a spell that could force Angels out of their vessels and return them to Heaven.
- Dream Walking - Displayed by Azazel only. He could enter and control the dreams of others.
- Enhanced Immunity - As a general rule, the more powerful the demon, the more resistant they are to common anti-demon methods such as salt and Holy Water. High ranking demons like Alastair are immune to the Killing Touch of normal Angels.
- Memory Manipulation - Displayed by Azazel only. He was able to erase Dean's memory of his conversation with Tessa. (In My Time of Dying)
- Mind Control- Displayed by Samhain. He could summon and control monsters, ghosts, zombies and Lesser demons than him. The Seven Deadly Sins also possessed mind control, but to a much lesser level, and could only control a person through the sin they represented.
- Weather Manipulation - Displayed by Azazel only. He caused lightning storms, and sudden gusts of wind with his mere presence.
- White Light - Used by Lilith ("Jus In Bello", "No Rest for the Wicked") and Samhain ("It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester"). High ranking demons can use this to generate massive amounts of destructive energy that can obliterate large areas.
These powers can generally only be accessed in the context of a Faustian Deal, however whichever Demon is the King of Hell, can resurrect and warp reality without these, and very high-ranking demons can, too.
- Healing- In the context of a deal, crossroads demons can heal others of any wound. Azazel and Alastair could also do this.
- Reality Warping - Crossroads demons, and a few other Demons can grant humans a wish in exchange for their souls. It is worth noting that Azazel did not need to take souls, and could grant wishes of his own power, which he did in exchange for permission to enter the homes of special children, on their 6-month birthday.
- Resurrection- One of the wishes demons can grant is the resurrection of a loved one. Crowley claims that, since he is now the king of Hell, he is strong enough to resurrect anybody in his care without a deal. Azazel also displayed resurrecting, the young John Winchester after he killed him, he couldn't however resurrect Dean (possibly because he hadn't crossed over yet)- instead, he possessed a Reaper, who he used to do it for him.
Harming or trapping Demons
- Salt - Demons are unable to cross a line of salt and can do very little to damage the line at all. They can't even open doors lined with salt if opening it would break the line. Salt can also be used to torture demons by making them ingest it or by injecting them with salt-water. It can also be put into shotgun rounds to hurt and knock back demons. Azazel is immune to this weakness.
- Holy Water - Holy Water burns demons that come into contact with it, like acid. It proved ineffective against high-tier demons like Azazel or Lilith, and Ruby practically laughed when Sam was about use it against Alastair because it would barely slow him down.
- Devil's Trap - A Devil's Trap will hold a demon in place and prevent its escape. The Trap will also prevent low-level demons from using their powers, though Castiel's Enochian circle was able to completely bind even Alastair's abilities. It also locks a demon inside its host unless it is exorcized. For some reason, a demon inside a trap is usually unable to do anything to damage the integrity of the circle, which would allow its escape.
- Iron - A demon can't touch iron without its skin burning or cross it if it's used to erect a barrier, much like salt. Samhain is immune to this weakness.
- Palo Santo - Basically a wooden, hybridized version of salt and holy water. When a demon is stabbed with it, it causes the wound to smoke and painfully pins the demon to a single spot, immobilizing them long enough to perform an exorcism. Palo Santo isn't commonly used by many hunters due to the fact that it damages the hosts the demons are possessing. (The Magnificent Seven)
- Flesh Sigil - By carving a particular sigil into a demon's possessed flesh, it's possible to lock the demon within its host and disable its powers, the most important one being teleportation. However, demons with these sigils are not bound to a single place and can roam around freely if not restrained by some other means. (The Devil You Know)
- Holy Fire - Though not fatal to demons as it is to Angels, Holy Fire can cause demons extreme pain, as demonstrated when Castiel threw Meg into Holy Fire. (Abandon All Hope...)
Banishing or destroying Demons
- Angel's Touch - An Angel can kill a demon by touching them on the forehead with their hand. The host is also killed as a result. This power will not work if the demon is too powerful or if the angel is cut off from Heaven.
- Exorcism - Will pull the demon out of its host and send it to Hell. Hosts may not survive.
- Ruby's Knife - The knife originally belonged to Ruby. It will kill a demon that is within a host if the wound dealt is a fatal one. Upper level demons are immune to the killing effects of the knife, the only definitive example being Alastair.
- The Colt - Much like Ruby's Knife, it will kill any demon that is shot while within a host if the shot is a fatal one. It's more powerful, however, as it affects upper level demons as well, even when the Knife does not.
- Bones - If the bones belonging to the demon are burned, the demon will be killed much like a vengeful spirit. This can also be used to torture demons. This until recently was believed to be merely a rumor, however Bobby tested this method against a Crossroads Demon resulting in her death. Crowley may have been aware of this method as he tried to convince Bobby it was "A myth". This tack is very difficult to use because it requires knowing the demon's human name from before it died and where they were buried, and many demons themselves can no longer remember they were ever human at all, let alone what their names were.
- Death's Scythe - Death's Scythe can presumably kill Demons, as it's capable of reaping just about anything. (Two Minutes to Midnight)
- Ingestion of Salt - Under some circumstances, the ingestion of large quantities of salt can force a demon to vacate its host. (I Believe The Children Are Our Future)
- Unknown Virgin Sacrifice Spell - Ruby claimed to know a spell that would destroy any demon within a one mile radius. Not much is known about the ritual except that it requires cutting the heart out of a virgin. (Jus In Bello)
- Special Children - Sam Winchester developed special abilities almost especially tailored to hurt or kill demons. Due to training from Ruby and ingestion of demon blood, he first developed the power to pull demons out of humans. Later the powers advanced to killing demons outright, much like the knife or the colt. Although unknown, it is assumed the other special children would have also been able to do this as well, had they survived, trained, and ingested demon blood.
- Hellhounds - Hellhounds can overpower and kill demons as easily as they can kill humans.
- Leviathan - Leviathan find demonkind to be a "mutation" and in once instance, called a demon "unimpressive". Furthermore, as they can kill Angels (beings who are undoubtedly stronger), they can almost certainly overpower and kill demons too. Dick Roman claimed that if the Leviathan weren't so busy with other things, they'd wipe out the entire demon species in an instant.
- Hallowed Ground - Some demons (lower-level ones) are unable to enter hallowed ground. It's unclear if this includes cemeteries as well as churches. (Salvation)
- Hexbags - Hexbags can be used to hide people from demons as well as angels.
- Physical damage - Though demons themselves cannot be harmed by conventional means, severe damage to their meat suits (such as severed limbs) will slow them down. If a vessel accumulates too much damage (which they commonly do), the demon will be forced to abandon its meat suit and search for a new one.
"Christo"- In Phantom Traveler, Sam explained that simply saying Jesus's name—Christo (pronounced "KREE-stow")—would cause a demon to flinch, turning its eyes black and revealing its nature. This particular aspect of demon lore was dropped for the rest of the series with the intent of making it more difficult to discover if a character was possessed, thus upping the surprises and scares.
Types of Demons
The most common class of demons on the show, black-eyed demons possess only basic powers, such as super-strength and telekinesis. Effective defenses against these demons include Holy Water, salt, iron, a Devil's Trap, etc. Stronger black-eyed demons, such as Meg Masters, are not barred in entering hallowed ground and one demon, Tammi, is shown to have the ability of causing internal bleeding and extensive magical knowledge, such as when she recites a ritual to exorcise Ruby from her body.
- Main article: Crossroad Demon
Crossroad demons have red eyes. Unlike normal demons that serve the King of Hell, Crossroad Demons tend to be more self-serving, often bargaining with desperate people, making deals in exchange for their souls after a certain amount of time (usually ten years). They can grant wishes, collect souls, teleport and be summoned by digging a hole in the center of a crossroads and burying a box with a picture of the summoner, some graveyard dirt, and a bone from a black cat. Gifted with immense power, these demons usually possess attractive women to lure men into making deals, although there are exceptions.
An extremely powerful class of demons, white-eyed demons possess numerous powers, the most deadly of which being white light emanation. They are highly dangerous and they rank very highly in the hierarchy of Hell, just under Lucifer himself. They inspire fear in their subordinates as all other demons seem to be terrified of them. So far, the only known demons of this type are Lilith and Alastair.
- Main article: Azazel
Azazel is the only yellow-eyed demon in existence (thus far) and is incredibly powerful. Besides having a unique durability threshold, advanced telekinesis, he can manipulate fire, control dreams, make electrical devices go haywire, and can even possess Reapers. The leader of the demon army, Azazel is the designer of the master plan to free Lucifer from Hell. He is impervious to Holy Water and most other conventional defenses against demons.
Throughout the course of Supernatural, the Winchester brothers have battled demons that are unique in some way. Examples of these demons include:
- Monocolor-Eyed Demons, such as Samhain, the origin of Halloween who is summoned through three blood sacrifices;
- The Seven Deadly Sins, the physical embodiments of the Seven Cardinal Vices;
- The Daeva, Zoroastrian shadow demons, who are sometimes used by other demons to attack targets, but are difficult to control, and can turn on the demon controlling them.
- The demons that cause disasters, as on the episode Phantom Traveler (causing airplane crashes).
- And the Acheri, demons from Indian mythology that can spread disease, appearing as young girls with felinistic features
- Two Elite Demons accompanied Lucifer in "Swan Song". These two demons were extremely strong, however, Sam used his powers to kill them both after they had taken him to Lucifer.
- Hellhounds - Demonic pitbulls that serve as pets, trackers, and assassins.
During the course of the fifth season, though not really demons, numerous tools/instruments in service of Lucifer have been introduced:
In his quest to destroy Humanity, Lucifer called upon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War was used to turn humanity against itself, Famine was sent to exploit their needs, and Pestilence was employed to ultimately exterminate them through the Croatoan Virus. The Winchesters, assisted by various allies, managed to foil these Horsemen's plans and steal their rings of power.
Jesse Turner, a boy born from a woman possessed by a demon, was meant to become the Anti-Christ, destined to help Lucifer not only destroy humanity but also destroy the Host of Heaven. Lucifer's presence on Earth increased his powers tremendously. Even though he was still a child, he was powerful enough to turn Castiel into a toy figure. However, thanks to Sam and Dean's encouragement, Jesse rejected his destiny and went into hiding.
The Whore of Babylon rose sometime after Lucifer and assumed the guise of a Pastor's daughter Leah. As Leah, she pretended to be a Prophet of God. Her purpose was to damn all she could to Hell by manipulating people into shedding innocent blood in God's name. She was stopped when Sam, Dean, and Castiel discovered her true identity, and Dean stabbed her with a Stake made from a Cypress tree.
Death, the oldest and most powerful Horseman, also served Lucifer, but did so unwillingly and resented being bound to a "bratty child throwing a temper tantrum." Death eventually met with Dean and gave him his ring which the Winchesters needed to re-imprison Lucifer.
- "Pilot" (as a silhouette (later revealed to be Azazel) )
- "Phantom Traveler" (Introduced)
- "Scarecrow" (Meg)
- "Devil's Trap"
- "In My Time of Dying"
- "Crossroad Blues"
- "Hunted" (offscreen)
- "Born Under A Bad Sign" (Meg)
- "All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 1"
- "All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 2"
- "The Magnificent Seven"
- "The Kids Are Alright" (Ruby)
- "Sin City"
- "Bedtime Stories"
- "Malleus Maleficarum"
- "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" (in one of Dean's dreams)
- "Jus In Bello"
- "Time Is On My Side"
- "No Rest For The Wicked"
- "Lazarus Rising"
- "Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester" (Ruby)
- "In The Beginning" (Azazel and Ruby)
- "Yellow Fever" (as Dean's hallucination)
- "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester"
- "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
- "Heaven and Hell"
- "Criss Angel Is A Douchebag" (Ruby)
- "Sex and Violence" (Ruby's Voice)
- "Death Takes A Holiday"
- "On The Head Of A Pin" (Alastair and Ruby)
- "The Monster at the End of This Book" (Lilith)
- "The Rapture"
- "When the Levee Breaks"
- "Lucifer Rising"
- "Sympathy for the Devil"
- "Good God, Y'all" (as hallucinations created by War)
- "Free To Be You and Me" (offscreen)
- "I Believe The Children Are Our Future"
- "Abandon All Hope..."
- "Swap Meat"
- "My Bloody Valentine"
- "99 Problems"
- "The Devil You Know"
- "Two Minutes to Midnight"
- "Swan Song"
- "Exile On Main Street" (as a hallucination created by the Djinn poison)
- "Weekend At Bobby's"
- "Family Matters"
- "All Dogs Go To Heaven" (Crowley)
- "Caged Heat"
- "Mommy Dearest" (Crowley)
- "The Man Who Would Be King"
- "Let It Bleed"
- "The Man Who Knew Too Much"