|“||Every soul here is a monster. This is where they come to prey upon each other for all eternity.||”|
Purgatory was specifically created by God to restrain and hold the leviathans, however, it's also a realm where the souls of monsters go after they die. Here, the monster souls are fated to hunt and prey upon each other for eternity. Since then, it has become home to various other supernatural creatures.
Where Purgatory's located is largely unknown, however Crowley claims that it is adjacent to Hell. Crowley estimates there are 30-40 million souls there. Crowley makes a deal with Castiel that they will locate Purgatory to use the power of the souls housed there.
The Alpha Vampire reveals to Sam and Dean that when monsters die, they don't go to Heaven or Hell. They go to Purgatory instead. The mystery that Samuel (under Crowley's demands) tries to torture him into solving is the location of it. The Alpha seems to hint that he knows, but doesn't clarify if he does. Crowley later appears and admits that Purgatory is "vast, unutilized, and Hell adjacent," and that he wants to develop it.
Before Death leaves to retrieve Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage, he tells Dean that despite how the brothers "cause disruption on a global scale", they are digging into something regarding souls. He encourages Dean to keep digging. He is most likely alluding to Purgatory. In "Like A Virgin", Bobby translates some details of an ancient manuscript that Sam and Dean salvaged from the dragon's sewers, and makes out only a few details based on them. According to Bobby, the dragons are reading an instruction manual to open a door to Purgatory, to let something in (bring something on Earth).
The dragons then perform a ritual that opens the door to Purgatory to bring Eve to Earth. The Latin incantation: "Ego coniuro vos / Insolubiliter ad mei potenciam alligati / Ad me prestolacion venire / Deberiatis aperiat / Hunc sine mora debeas mater". Eve rises from the pit, possessing the young virgin sacrificed as a vessel.
Both Castiel and Crowley are searching for Purgatory. The reason is for the souls. Castiel needs the souls' power for his war againist Raphael. Without the souls, Castiel does not have a chance of defeating the archangel. They find a way to open it from Dr. Visyak, a creature who is from Purgatory. When Crowley allies with Raphael, Cas gives them a fake jar of blood and performs the ceremony by himself. Castiel, like H.P. Lovecraft, has successfully opened Purgatory, and absorbed all souls inside. With this new power, Castiel proclaims himself the new God.
Death reveals the true purpose of Purgatory as the prison for God's earliest creations the Leviathans; monstrosities of unimaginable power and hunger. Realizing the danger they posed to rest of creation, God created Purgatory as their prison and sealed them inside so they could not "chomp the entire petri dish". When Castiel absorbed the Purgatory souls he also absorbed the Leviathans which had begun to eat their way out of Castiel by rotting his vessel. Castiel later released all the souls back into Purgatory, but the Leviathans held on and took over his vessel, enabling them to run rampant across the Earth.
Dean uses the Bone Of Righteous Mortal Washed In the Three Bloods of Fallen to destroy Dick Roman, the leader of the Leviathans. As a result, he and Castiel are transported to Purgatory along with Dick's essence. Dean and Castiel find themselves trapped in a dark, forest-like world surrounded by shadowy red eyed creatures - which Dean later identifies as Gorilla-Wolves.
During his search for Castiel, Dean is being pursued by two monsters, managing to kill the first. The second monster however, is able to overpower him and Dean is only saved by a vampire named Benny, who procceeds to decapitate the other monster. Benny and Dean talk and according to the former, a human-only portal, connected to the Earth, was created by God in case any got trapped in Purgatory. Having made a deal with Benny, claiming that they would first find the lost angel. Eventually, Dean escapes Purgatory, carrying Benny's soul out of Purgatory in his arm and later resurrects the vampire. When Dean re-encounters Sam, he tells him that Castiel didn't survive Purgatory. ("We Need To Talk About Kevin")
In a flashback, Dean and Benny interogate a monster on the location of Castiel and after getting it, Dean kills the monster with Ruby's Knife. The two find Castiel who reveals that he abandoned Dean in Purgatory as he feared that the more powerful monsters there, including the Leviathans that are still in Purgatory, would come after him and he didn't think Dean was safe. They inform him of the escape method Benny knows, though Benny admits that he doesn't know if it will work for an angel and convince him to relucatantly join them in their search for a way out. Later, in another flashback, Castiel is shown reaching out for Dean and the two losing their grip on each other.
In a flashback, Dean, Benny and Castiel come under attack by three monsters and kill them all, wondering where monsters go when killed in Purgatory. They argue about the fact that Castiel's presence is drawing monsters to them and that he may not be able to make it through the way out as he's not human or former human, but are forced to run when Castiel detects Leviathans nearby. Two Leviathans ambush them and Dean decapitates one while the other gets the drop on Castiel and nearly kills him before Benny decapitates her.
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven. This is a theological idea that has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, while the poetic conception of purgatory as a geographically situated place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination.
- Edgar claims that Purgatory (his neighborhood) is worse than Hell.
- Among the numerous supernatural creatures and species, there are several that aren't linked to Purgatory when they die. The confirmed beings that don't go to Purgatory when they die are the following:
- Angels. While they lack a soul, like the Leviathans, they don't go to any known location in death—they simply no longer exist once killed.
- Deities. Where they go in death is not known.
- Demons. Like Ghosts and Vengeful Spirits, demons are just corrupted human souls, and it's not certain where they go in death.
- Creatures directly linked to Hell, such as Hellhounds and Daevas don't go to Purgatory because they are bound to Hell.
- Fairies. They have their own realm and therefore do not go to Purgatory.
- Interestingly, it appears only Leviathans and the creations of Eve are immediately linked to Purgatory as an afterlife if they die or are killed. Also, it appears that other beings can be brought there under certain conditions. Example: Dick Roman brought Dean, as well as Castiel and his vessel, to Purgatory upon his death and return to Purgatory.
- Even though every soul in Purgatory is deceased, they can still be "killed" as seen when Dean and Benny behead two vampires. However, this is disputed as it has been mentioned before that nothing in creation can destroy Souls, only damage them.
- Exactly what happens to monsters that are killed in Purgatory is unknown. In Blood Brother, Castiel actually points out that this brings up a very good metaphysical question.