|“||Well, they weren't evil people, you know. A lot of them were good, just something happened to them. Something they couldn't control.||”|
Ghosts, also called Spirits, are souls of deceased humans that did not go with their reaper to Heaven or Hell and are stuck on Earth. The word Ghost is a common term for a soul that did not move on to an afterlife after they perished. They typically reside in The Veil, but they can occasionally appear in the physical plane. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: the mode of manifestation can range from an invisible presence to translucent or wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions.
They are also one of the most recurring "monsters of the week" in the series, appearing in many episodes.
|“||You'll stay here for years, disembodied, scared, and over the decades it'll probably drive you mad. Maybe you'll even get violent. (...) How do you think angry spirits are born? They can't let go, and they can't move on.||”|
Normally, a Ghost will start out confused and disoriented before realizing they are dead. In some cases, the trauma of sudden death can be so great that a Ghost will think that they are still alive and continue in a routine from their lives, oblivious to the fact they are dead.
A reaper explained to Dean Winchester that the longer a ghost remains on earth the more dangerous and violent it becomes. Sam Winchester once explained to the ghost of a woman they helped that ghosts can become like injured animals - they become so angry and upset that all they can do is lash out at anyone who crosses their paths. Ghosts have skewed views of existence as Sam puts it, "ghosts only see what they want to see."
It's also been stated as a fact that ghosts are the most common type of paranormal activity that Hunters encounter and hunt on a daily basis.
Ghosts are often bound to an object or a place, normally the building they died/lived in or the area where they died, as such their movements are restricted, but this isn't universal, and some very powerful ghosts can move over larger distances, but unless they can move what they're bound to, they can never be totally free. They are also sometimes bound to their bodies unless their bodies have been put to rest.
A ghost encountered in Of Grave Importance, who had been active for eighty years, explained to Bobby that a ghost's power to interact with the physical world comes from two places. One is complete calm where the ghost has to "tell" an object what to do and the other from blind rage. The ghost also explained in more detail the degradation of a ghost into a violent spirit saying the longer a ghost remains on earth and depending on the ghost they lose more and more of themselves until they become little more than a wild animal. He also pointed out a worse case, where trapped spirits were little more than listless zombies; a state Bobby called "Ghost Alzheimer's".
An interesting attribute, is often ghosts bring more or other things from their lives, as well as their spirit. An object that is very closely linked to ghost during their life, or linked strongly to their death, are sometimes recreated for their ghosts. This is the reason why ghosts of cars and ships exist. A very minor example of this is, ghosts often wear the clothes they died in.
While it was generally not known where ghosts go after their remains are burned, it was revealed that reapers still indeed take them to their final resting place. However, if a Reaper is influenced by an outside source, they may take the soul to the wrong place as seen in Taxi Driver.
According to the ghost of Kevin Tran, when Metatron enacted his spell Heaven was locked down, forcing all good spirits to remain stuck in the Veil. These ghosts are generally trapped in the places they died unless attached to an object that is taken away from there. This was remedied however when the angels returned to Heaven and Metatron was imprisoned.
Normally ghosts appear in the form of the physical body which they had when they were still alive. These forms will often be pale compared to the bodies of the living. Sometimes the ghost's form will look as it did when they died, and will show physical effects of the way that they died. Ghosts are also able to appear in a smoke form, similar to demons. Their smoke form, however, is more of a transparent grey than black.
On rare occasions, it is possible to summon a spirit back to earth for any reason. However, this is a risky practice considering the unpredictable nature of ghosts. Ghosts summoned through black arts can turn violent if the summoner loses control of them, usually as a result of having their rest disturbed and being forced to do things against their will.
It can be possible to obtain information from a ghost if one has something or is able to do something that will please them. This is shown when Bobby summons Crowley's human son, Gavin McLeod, in order to find information. Upon learning about Bobby's predicament and his father's involvement, the spirit was more than happy to tell Bobby anything in return for someone putting his dad in his place.
It is also possible to bind ghosts and control them, to do so, however, is very powerful black magic. Certain powerful beings can also naturally summon and control ghosts, the only known examples are the multicolored demon Samhain, and the Egyptian god of the dead Osiris. The demon Lilith was also able to raise the witnesses, but she could not control them.
It is possible, using a binding spell to bind a ghost to your will to wreak all sorts of havoc including murder. Breaking the spell is as simple as knocking over the altar that is part of it, but the ghost can remain summoned afterwards to do whatever it wants if it so chooses.
Using Howard's fear-based magic, Dean was able to summon the ghost of his brother who came as a vengeful spirit to kill him. However, given the way he was summoned (using Howard's fear of him and drowning), it may have controlled that he was vengeful.
There are many different types of ghosts in the series, as they are created through different kind of deaths and situations they were in when alive. They include:
- Death Echos
- Death Omens
- Pontianaks (tie-in novels only)
- Shadow People (tie-in novels only)
- Women in White
- Vengeful Spirits
- Violent Spirits
Powers and Abilities
Ghosts possess several powers, though it is speculated that some have not been revealed yet. The following is a brief list of powers displayed by ghosts so far. Not all ghosts have the same abilities, but many of them share similar powers. Often a ghost's power will have a link to how they died. These abilities make ghosts one of the most powerful beings in Supernatural.
- Electromagnetic Interference - All ghosts disrupt nearby electronics with their presence.
- Thermokinesis - Nearly all ghosts can lower or drop the surrounding temperature with their presence.
- Invisibility - Ghosts can remain invisible to the living, but they may appear as a blur or faint light. However, when they want, they can appear as they were in life though it takes a while to gain that level of strength. They appear in wispy, distorted, flickering forms.
- Telekinesis - They are able to move virtually anything with their minds if they have enough concentration on the objects. With practice, they can become stronger telekinetics, able to manipulate many simple objects at once. Very powerful ghosts are highly capable telekinetics, able to throw people like demons can.
- Teleportation - Ghosts can teleport (be able to move in the blink of an eye to other locations). They often display a flickering appearance when using this ability. They appear in wispy, distorted, flickering forms that allow them to move at great speed, as when they flicker, can end up either inches away each time they flicker or several feet or miles away. One powerful ghost could teleport while possessing someone but had also been active for over 500 years which may explain this as she had a great level of power.
- Super Strength - They are also much stronger than when they were as humans, being incorporeal and able to generate great amounts of force without discomfort. Many have demonstrated being strong enough to easily beat down, lift, toss, maul or mutilate the strongest humans, as well as overpowering some monsters. Vengeful, angry ghosts, have proven to be strong enough to fight with much higher beings, such as Higher-tier Demons, and even the head Leviathan. Their strength can be considered a manifestation of their will power. Up until Plush, ghosts could not be overpowered by humans, but as of this episode, a team of officers was able to overpower a ghost.
- Super Speed - After Death, many ghosts are able to move at incredible speeds, especially through teleportation. They appear in distorted, flickering forms that allow them to move at great speed, as when they flicker, can end up either inches away each time they flicker or several feet or miles away.
- Astral Perception - After death, ghosts can see beings that are naturally invisible like Reapers, Demons and other Ghosts.
- Intangibility - Without a body, these spirits are able to move without hindrance even if objects are in their way, as they can phase through them with ease. They are naturally intangible, as such they can phase through solid matter unfazed, however it requires them to get angry or alternatively very calm, to become tangible. They can phase their hands through people with intangibility and cause internal injuries or stop the heart.
- Environment Manipulation - Most ghosts have shown to have the ability to manipulate the elements like wind, fire, electricity, water, and dropping temperature. Affinity to fire or water is usually because of the manner of a person's death and the ghost's origin. Manipulating electricity and dropping temperature are the two common signs that indicate a ghost's presence. Ghost usually have a natural affinity to what killed them, such as if they drowned, some, if not all of their victims are drowned by either the ghost pulling them into water with ease and making it impossible or nearly impossible to get the victim out of the water, as seen with Peter Sweeney.
- Material Attachment - Ghosts could latch their essence to objects that have been very close to them in their life. Until these objects are destroyed, the ghost could continue to manifest itself and haunt. Other ghosts could relocate the objects, allowing them to move around and away from their original haunting location.
- Ectoplasm Creation - Very angry ghosts, can create Ectoplasm, but it is generally beyond the anger range of most spirits, even most violent spirits.
- Possession - A rare ability, a ghost can possess humans like demons do, but only a really angry ghost could do it.
- Electrokinesis - A step up from Electronic Manipulation, rather than simply interfering with electronics, some stronger ghosts can generate electricity themselves, control and manipulate machinery, and even use electricity offensively.
- Photokinesis - The only ghost able to produce and manipulate light was Father Thomas, enabling him to produce powerful yet calming light aura from his being similar how angels manifest without their vessels.
- Biokinesis - Some ghosts can inflict wounds like the ones they received on others. Stronger ghosts can create the wounds in the victims, without needing to have received the wounds themselves.
- Pyrokinesis - Some ghosts can manipulate and can control fire. Example of this is Mary Winchester when she was haunting the house she died in and could manifest in the form of fire and aimed her power at the poltergeist that attacked Sam.
- Biokinesis - Some ghost can infect people with sickness and disease. Some, such as the Buruburu, can infect people with a supernatural disease called ghost sickness, which is flu-like and causes extreme fear and anxiety, to the point of hallucinations and fatal heart attacks.
- Mental Influence - Angry, vengeful ghosts or spirits can sometimes manipulate peoples minds and drive them crazy and can then manipulate the people they drove crazy to do their will. This will change the person's personality and turn them violent and suicidal. As shown in the episodes Asylum, Houses of the Holy and Bedtime Stories.
- Hydrokinesis - Some Ghosts (Like ones that drowned, or whose deaths were linked to water) can, to an extent, manipulate or even create water. Such ghosts can cause any victim that goes into or near a body of water, sometimes even bathtubs, can be drowned.
- Reality Manipulation - Some angry, powerful ghosts can bend the rules of reality and affect people, such as giving them enhanced strength, endurance, and speed. Many ghosts are able to use this to always or almost always be able to find and kill their victim despite any preventative measure done by the person, essentially a curse done upon them. This can be countered if a ghost's weaknesses are used.
- Voice Mimicry - Some powerful ghosts can perfectly imitate others' voices.
- EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) - A rare ghost ability, where they can communicate through electronic devices, cassette records, cell phones etc.
- Soul Absorption - A powerful ghost, as seen in Of Grave Importance, can destroy other ghosts, absorbing their essence and thus increasing their own power.
- Shapeshifting - Some ghosts have displayed the ability to alter their form, shifting between what they looked like when they were alive, and a more disturbing and decayed version of themselves. After two years as a ghost, Kevin Tran was shown to have altered his outward appearance in his ghostly form. Fiona Duncan was also capable of changing her appearance from a more decayed one to how she looked in life.
- Flight - Ghosts such as Isabella are able to hover above the ground. After being expelled from the people he possessed, Chester Johnson could fly in the form of an indistinct brown cloud.
- Immunity - Very powerful ghosts such as Jacob Karns and Isabella are immune to holy ground.
- Soul Control - Rarely, ghosts can control the souls of those they have murdered such as Whitman Van Ness and Hugo Moriarty.
- Soul Channeling - Rarely, ghosts can draw power from the souls of those they have murdered such as Hugo Moriarty.
- Empathy - Jo Harvelle could sense the guilt and "all kinds of crap" Dean carried. She reveals that, after death, spirits become empathic.
They are also skilled at whatever they did during their lives.
Repellents - Hunters have only two real methods to repel ghosts:
- Salt - Ghosts can be repelled by salt and can't cross a line made of salt. Some hunters use rock shot rounds to dissipate ghosts by blasting them with it. Salt is also useful whenever a ghost is possessing a human. Feeding salt in the mouth of the person a ghost is possessing, will cause the ghost great pain and force the ghost out and free the human from the ghost's control. Shooting the person with rock salt will also break a ghost's possession.
- Iron - Like salt, iron keeps spirits at bay. Some hunters use an iron crowbar or fire poker. Contact with it will dissipate a ghost for a couple of minutes. Touching iron to the skin of a person possessed by a ghost will break their possession as seen with Bobby Singer and Chester Johnson.
- Magic - Hoodoo has been used to stop ghosts, and keep them under control, as a temporary and preventive measure against poltergeists. A spell has also been used to entrap very large numbers of ghosts inside a crystal.
- Cat's Eye Shells - Only seen in the first episode, John Winchester uses them to ward off ghosts.
Putting a Ghost to Rest - There are generally four ways to permanently defeat a ghost by putting them to rest:
- Salting and Burning the Bones - The best and most common method to put a ghost to rest. Digging up a ghost's remains and salting and burning the bones, will help the spirit to cross over to the next life. When a ghost's bones are successfully salted and burned, it will go up in flames. This method is used for violent and vengeful spirits.
- Destroying the Haunted Object - Salting and burning the object the ghost is using to stay active in the human world, will put a ghost to rest if there are no bones to burn, or if the objects they considered to be extensions or remains of the spirit.
- Resolving the ghost's issues - Helping a ghost to resolve its issues can put a ghost to rest. This method is rare but is used to help benevolent spirits find peace, as in the case of Molly McNamara. Sometimes, if a vengeful spirit is not too far gone, a loved one can reach them through this method as seen with Timmy's mother and Andrew Silver.
- Ghosts - If two ghosts fight each other, they will both destroy each other and will no longer exist. At least one ghost had the ability to destroy other ghosts and make himself stronger through their energy in the process.
- Holy Ground - Much like demons, most ghosts can't walk on holy ground, although unlike demons, rather than literally being unable to walk on it, ghosts can't or it will destroy them. Stronger ghosts, such as Jacob Karns and Father Thomas Gregory, are immune to this limitation though.
- Last Rites -The Last Rites performed by a priest over at least a willing ghost will send that ghost to rest.
- Overstraining - If a ghost is too weak, and/or overstretches its abilities, it can stop them for a while until they recover. Bobby described this like being out cold.
- God - God is capable of sending souls to the afterlife, as he did with Kevin Tran.
- Reapers - Reapers can encourage ghosts to go to the afterlife, as seen with Tessa and Jessica.
- Season 1
- Season 2
- In My Time of Dying (Dean Winchester)
- No Exit (Henry H. Holmes)
- The Usual Suspects (Claire Becker)
- Playthings (Maggie Thompson, Rose Thompson)
- Houses of the Holy (Thomas Gregory)
- Roadkill (Molly McNamara, Jonah Greely)
- Hollywood Babylon (Various ghosts)
- Folsom Prison Blues (Dolores Glockner)
- All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 2 (John Winchester)
- Season 3
- Season 4
- Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester (Victor Henriksen, Meg Masters, Ghost Twins, Ronald Reznick)
- Yellow Fever (Luther Garland)
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester (Various Ghosts)
- After School Special (Dirk MacGregor, Jr.)
- Death Takes A Holiday (Cole Griffith)
- It's A Terrible Life (P.T. Sandover)
- Season 5
- Season 6
- Season 7
- Defending Your Life (Jo Harvelle)
- The Mentalists (Kate Fox, Margaret Fox)
- Death's Door (Lara Coggins)
- The Born-Again Identity (Marin's Brother)
- Party On, Garth (Bobby Singer)
- Of Grave Importance (Bobby Singer, Annie Hawkins, Whitman Van Ness, Dexter O'Connell, Victoria Dodd, Haskel Crane, Various Others)
- The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo (Bobby Singer)
- There Will Be Blood (Bobby Singer)
- Survival of the Fittest (Bobby Singer)
- Season 8
- Season 9
- Season 10
- Season 11
- Season 12
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Season 15
- Supernatural: The Animation (non-canon)
- Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting (non-canon, mentioned only)
- Dean considers rats more terrifying than ghosts.