Hell is like, well, it's like hell. Even for demons. It's a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear.
in Born Under a Bad Sign

Hell, also called Downstairs, Hades, The Basement, The Pit, The Hot Box, MotherShip, The Deep Fryer, The Underworld or even Perdition by angels, is the spiritual realm for punishment and pain of the afterlife. Human souls who are sent to Hell are tormented until their humanity is stripped away and they become demons. Hell is said to be so terrible that even the demons, with the exception of Alastair, hate and fear it. 

Appearance and characteristics

Hell is described to be a place so bad that that even its own inhabitants fear and despise it. Only one demon, Alastair, so far has been described to enjoy Hell. Ruby described Hell as not being able to remember who you used to be. Her earthbound life existed during the 14th century and even with the plague erasing lives, she still desired the memory of the human she used to be. While possessing Sam, Meg described it as a prison of "flesh, and bone, and blood, and fear," that one of the reasons demons keep on returning to Earth is because they themselves do not want to suffer the tortures of Hell. [1]

During his time in Hell, Dean is seen connected to "racks," long dark chains that look very similar to meat hooks, which are provided as extra torture, while demons such as Alastair use "razors" to torment souls further. It could be assumed that Hell, much like Heaven, is also a varying landscape. When the demon Crowley became King, he drastically altered Hell changing it into a never-ending queue. In recent times, Crowley seems to have returned Hell to its former more terrifying and savage state. However, there appears to be multiple levels of Hell, each one bearing a different landscape. Time in Hell is about 120 times faster than time on Earth. Despite the time difference, there is cellular reception in Hell's domain, allowing inhabitants to call or text inhabitants on Earth or other dimensions, even from the furthest reaches of Hell. Hell, like Heaven, can allow humans to see Archangels in ways that doesn't burn out their eyes.

Access and location


Hell in No Rest For The Wicked

Hell is a supernatural realm often pictured to be underneath the Earth. Whether this is true has not yet been proven. Rather, it does not seem to be fixed and could be accessed from different locations. One well known passageway between Earth and Hell is the Devil's Gate located in southern Wyoming. It was sealed by Samuel Colt with the use of a heavy door with a devil's trap lock, unlocked only by the Colt, and by placing a massive devil's trap consisting of five frontier churches connected to each other by pure iron railroads. This portal was capable of releasing demons who are normally unable to escape hell unaided, such as Lilith, or the souls of humans who were being tortured in Hell, such as John Winchester.


Lucifer's Cage.

Lucifer's Cage is a special part of Hell designed solely for the purpose to keep the fallen archangel Lucifer incapacitated. The Cage is located in the furthest reaches of Hell, possibly Limbo. It is found beneath St. Mary's Convent in Ilchester, Maryland. Another known way of entering the Cage is through the rings of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Angels are capable of forcing their way into Hell, as evidenced when they laid siege to the gates of Hell to save Dean. Fairies also claim that they know backdoors to Hell that not even angels know. This was never proven, though. Demons, regardless of their location on earth, are forced directly back into Hell once exorcised.

Rogue Reapers are able to secretly access Hell through a portal located in Purgatory that acts as a "backdoor." Any being can use this door both ways as long as they are aware of its location on both ends and have access to Purgatory.


The corridor to the furthest reaches of Hell.

In the furthest reaches of Hell, there is a place called Limbo. Crowley described it as being where he sent unruly souls for timeouts. The realm is completely engulfed with countless thunderstorms in the middle of darkness and void, adorned by countless scattered skeletons that led to an empty cage. In this place, Sam, Crowley, and Rowena performed a ritual to safely summon Lucifer.[2]

Origin and Recent History

Conception and Early History

Hell was created by God as a prison for Lucifer as punishment for twisting the first human soul into a demon, to spite God. God commanded Michael to throw Lucifer into the pit, where he was cut off from the rest of Creation. From then on, wicked humans went to Hell after death, and were tortured into demons. Despite being the leader of Hell, Lucifer was bound to his Cage. Instead, Lucifer selected his elite and loyal servants to act in his place. As a Prince of Hell and heir to the throne, Azazel had ruled Hell in the Lucifer's absence up until his own death.

Its unknown whether Lucifer had reigned as King of Hell prior to being freed by Sam Winchester, as God had created Hell specifically to imprison him in his cage. But the seed had already been planted, and the demons he created started to demonize more souls, which carried out his work in his name. Once in the cage, all communication to him was cut off. "Lucifer's Rising" shows that Azazel was one of few demons who had not given up in his search for Lucifer, and tried to find a way to "spring" him from his cage.

Azazel's plan

Lucifer eventually instructed Azazel with two tasks important in his plan to escape the Cage: Freeing Lilith from Hell, and raising a very special child strong enough to kill Lilith and break the final seal. Azazel succeeded in both tasks, though he was killed by Dean shortly after Lilith and hundreds of other demons escaped. However, Azazel also managed to secure a righteous man in Hell, when Dean sold his soul for the resurrection of Sam. After Azazel's death, Lilith assumed control of Hell.

Breaking the Seals


Dean is tortured in Hell.

Dean Winchester spent four months in Earth time in Hell, but he stated that time passed differently there, and for him it was more like forty years. This made three days on Earth roughly equivalent to a year in Hell. During this time, Dean was tortured mercilessly, being ripped apart and then put back together at the end of each day so that he could be torn apart again. At the end of every day, Alastair would offer Dean freedom from torture if he would start torturing souls himself. After thirty years of refusing this offer, Dean finally broke and started torturing other souls. This resulted in the first of the 66 Seals being broken.

Freeing Lucifer

When the Angels learned of what was happening, they laid siege to Hell to rescue Dean. Castiel personally pulled Dean out of Hell, and in doing this he left his mark on Dean's arm. However, by that time, the first seal had already been broken. This set off a cascade of events that led to the Apocalypse. During this time, new and more powerful creatures were unleashed from Hell, in an attempt to overcome Heaven and its forces.

300px-Sam in the Cage

Sam's flashback of burning in Lucifer's Cage.

Before Lucifer and Michael had a chance to fight, Sam managed to take control of himself and pulled himself, Lucifer (who was possessing Sam), Adam, and Michael (who was within Adam) into the Cage, ending the Apocalypse, though Sam was trapped in Lucifer's cage with two very angry archangels. [3]

Crowley's reign

After the Apocalypse was averted, Crowley fought for and assumed control of Hell and its inhabitants. In a flashback in The Man Who Would Be King, he changed Hell to a never-ending queue, where the souls find themselves sent right back at the end of the line once they reach the front of the queue. It was also revealed that it was Castiel who pulled Sam from the pit, but unintentionally forgot Sam's soul. By the time Death retrieved Sam's soul, it had spent a year in the cage being tortured by Lucifer. As a result, when reunited with his soul, Sam found himself plagued with memories from Hell.


Crowley's "new and improved" Hell.

After absorbing all the souls in Purgatory and declaring himself the new God, Castiel made plans to "downsize" Hell. He let Crowley keep his position as King of Hell, under the condition that he only took souls that Castiel allowed him to take. Castiel said he would have gotten rid of Hell entirely, but he needed it as a threat to use against his enemies, and also because he wanted to keep Michael and Lucifer imprisoned. [4]

In recent times Crowley seems to have returned Hell to its former more terrifying and savage state. People in this version seem to be tortured constantly and are locked in their own room constantly hoping and praying to be saved. Using the backdoor from Purgatory, Sam is able to enter Hell and rescue Bobby Singer's soul from his prison there.

Abaddon ascendant

After traveling to 2013, the Knight of Hell Abaddon was infuriated to find out that a mere 'salesman' was leading Hell. She started to act in the creation of a regime change that would remove Crowley from the position of King of Hell and create an army strong enough to enslave not just humans but the fallen angels as well. Although initially incapacitated by Sam, she managed to restore her vessel and began to amass her army. She gained the most momentum when Crowley was being kept prisoner by the Winchesters. During that period of time, many, if not all, of Hell's deals and contracts were broken, as Abaddon did not believe in using deals to power Hell. She eventually managed to convince the more bloodthirsty and aggressive demons to her side, but many played both sides and waited for Crowley to return.

Upon Crowley's release, the rivalry between the two hit a standstill, with demons taking orders from Abaddon yet disregarding her orders to have Crowley killed. Crowley told Abaddon that their conflict was more than just brute force, it was also about gaining the support of lower demons, who enjoy having their opinions taken into consideration. Abaddon had also begun having demons steal people's souls to create her own army of demons loyal only to her to conquer everything without having to worry about the demons that weren't sure of where their loyalties lie. After Dean Winchester killed Abaddon, Crowley regained full control over Hell.

Lucifer's Return

After taking possession of Castiel's vessel, Lucifer was able to escape the Cage and proceeded with torturing and breaking Crowley, making him into Lucifer's "dog". The demons quickly changed sides and were shown to despise Crowley, taking pleasure in watching him suffer at the hands of his new master.

Lucifer's first command for the demons was to search and find a Hand of God, so he could use it to defeat Amara. A trap set up by the Winchesters eventually rendered Lucifer absent from Hell and the throne, and so Crowley made a move to reclaims his title. However, his tenure as pet and servant and general failure as King caused the demons to abandon him.

After the Battle with the Darkness

After God and the Darkness reconciled and decided to leave, Lucifer felt abandoned once again, for that reason he no longer has an interest to rule Hell neither Heaven thus leaving the throne of Hell empty until he was re-imprisoned (this time in chains made of the same material as his cage and in the repaired and improved body of his old vessel Nick) and Crowley later retaking the throne.

Hierarchy and denizens

Hell has its own hierarchy, but it is not quite as rigid and controlled as Heaven's. There are many demons with various positions and titles, such as "Grand Torturer" (Alastair), "Knights of Hell" (Abaddon, Cain) and "King of the Crossroads" (Crowley).

The most powerful demons often assume control of Hell. Before Lucifer could walk free, high-tiered demons acted in his behalf, such as Azazel and the white-eyed demons Alastair and Lilith. After the death of all three, and Lucifer's subsequent escape, Lucifer assumed direct control of the demons both in Hell and on Earth. Crowley usurped the throne after Lucifer was re-imprisoned, proclaiming himself as the King of Hell. Unlike Lilith and Azazel, Crowley had no intention of helping Lucifer, since he figured that Lucifer would destroy all demons once he destroyed humanity. For a time, Crowley met opposition from loyalists of Lucifer, who were led by Azazel's daughter. Crowley eventually surfaced as the victor and remained the undisputed king of hell.

Recently, Knight of Hell Abaddon began to work to change regimes, recruiting demons to work for her instead of Crowley. However, she had met some resistance from at least one crossroads demon, partly due to her recent emergence, and due to the fear Crowley had imposed and elicited from his subordinates in recent years. A campaign had been introduced for demons to choose the new leader of Hell: Crowley or Abaddon, which basically comes down to who can convince the most demons to side with them. Abaddon began winning the campaign, but Dean Winchester killed her with the First Blade, ending her campaign and restoring Crowley to full rule of Hell.

It is unclear precisely what sort of crimes one has to commit during their life to have their soul damned to Hell. Murdering innocent people in God's name appears to be one such offense, as Castiel stated. [5]. Murder of the innocent in significant quantities seems to also be a worthy offense, as Jeffery's demon stated he would go to Hell, for being a serial killer. [6] Human souls can also be sent to Hell after making deals and selling their souls to Crossroads Demons or other demons, which hellhounds then collect when the person's time is up. In some special cases, the King of Hell can arrange for a rogue Reaper to divert a soul to Hell, as was the case with Bobby Singer.

SPN 0667

A tortured soul of Hell.

Human souls are repeatedly tortured in Hell. Once they reach their breaking point, they find themselves completely healed, only to suffer the torture once more. This goes on until they agree to torture other souls in their stead. After hundreds of years of hellish torture, humans soon forget what they once were and begin to transform into corrupted and twisted versions of themselves. Eventually they become demons.

Hell also contains creatures such as Daevas, and the Whore of Babylon.



  • Sera Gamble, suggested that Dean's location in "No Rest For The Wicked" is more of a waiting room. "In my mind, that isn't even necessarily Hell itself. It's the starting place. I like to think of Dean as sitting in the chair in the waiting room to Hell. It's not even what he's going to experience once he gets into the first chamber of Hell. That's just where they stick you before they hand you the sign-in sheet. There's much, much worse to come for him!" [7]
  • According to the book "Supernatural the Official Companion Season 3", the original vision for the final scene in "No Rest For The Wicked" would have placed Dean in a "really nasty, bloody slaughterhouse, hanging from meat hooks". Here, Dean would start screaming as shadows fall over him. Discussions between Eric Kripke, Kim Manners, and Ivan Hayden led to the decision to present "one epic glimpse" of Hell. Though the scene matched with the many versions of "chains and people being ripped apart", art director John Marcynuk felt they should have made it "a little more mysterious and dark". He commented, "My opinion is, the vaguer the better, because you let the imagination take over. People have different fears, and Hell's such a personal torment.



  1. Born Under A Bad Sign
  2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  3. Swan Song
  4. Meet The New Boss
  5. 99 Problems
  6. Repo Man
  7. Supernatural writer talks season four
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