It's a tear in space and time. (...) It's a doorway to another world. (...) No. No, through there its Earth but different. It's uh... it's an alternate reality.
Castiel explains the rift to Apocalypse World to the Winchesters.
in All Along the Watchtower

A rift is a tear in space and time leading from one universe or dimension to another.

History

In 1925, insane rogue Man of Letters Diego Avila decided to cleanse the Earth and bring a new paradise. To this end, Diego opened a rift into Yokoth and Glythur's World and summoned Yokoth. Yokoth came through the rift in the form of giant tentacles that enabled Yokoth to take Sandy Porter as her vessel. After Yokoth consumed most of the Men of Letters present, the survivors closed the rift before she could summon Glythur through it. Unable to kill Yokoth, the survivors bound her in their chapter house.

On May 18, 2017, the impending birth of the Nephilim Jack caused his immense powers to open a rift in the backyard of Kelly's cabin between the Main Universe and Apocalypse World. Kelly's first contraction caused the rift to initially open and each of her following contractions resulted in it widening each time. A curious Castiel crossed through the rift where he met the alternate reality Bobby Singer who had been drawn to the location when the rift opening set off "all kinds of alarms" at his colony. Recognizing that Castiel was not like the angels of his world, Bobby filled Castiel in on the history of Apocalypse World before Castiel returned to the Main Universe.

Shortly thereafter, the Winchesters found the cabin and the rift. Castiel explained that the rift was a tear in space and time leading to an alternate reality and reluctantly led the Winchesters through the rift to meet with Bobby. Though Sam and Dean expressed worry about the rift being open, Castiel had faith that Jack would be able to close it after he was born. Bobby provided the Winchesters with a weapon to use against Lucifer, but as he would later tell Mary Winchester, refused to join them in returning to the Main Universe.

Returning to the Main Universe, the Winchesters, Castiel and Crowley devised a plan to finally defeat Lucifer by drawing him through the rift to Apocalypse World and sealing it with Lucifer on the other side. Once Lucifer arrived, the Winchesters led Lucifer through the rift to Apocalypse World where Dean distracted Lucifer and Sam and Crowley performed a ritual to seal the rift. In order to complete the ritual which required the sacrifice of a life, Crowley killed himself with an angel blade, causing the rift to immediately begin to close. However, Lucifer followed the Winchesters back through and killed Castiel. Armed with Enochian Brass Knuckles, Mary Winchester attacked Lucifer and caused him to fall back through the rift. As he fell through, Lucifer grabbed Mary's arm and pulled her with him. Immediately afterwards, the rift sealed, trapping Lucifer and Mary in Apocalypse World.

After dying briefly to talk to the ghosts of Doctor Avery Meadows victims, Dean met with Billie, the new Death who was interested in how Dean slipped between worlds. In exchange for Billie having Jessica help the ghosts move on, Dean explained about the rift and how Jack's birth created it.

After capturing Lucifer, Michael learned about the Main Universe and began desiring to travel to it and take the Main Universe over. In order to do so, Michael brought in the Prophet Kevin Tran who was able to find a ritual on the Apocalypse World Angel Tablet that would open a rift, but required archangel grace as the final ingredient. Michael stole some of Lucifer's grace, allowing Kevin to open a rift to the Main Universe within Michael's fortress. The shockwave generated by the rift opening gave Lucifer the chance to break free of his captors and jump through. To Michael's anger, the rift closed once Lucifer went through, the ritual having been only enough to let one person through before the rift closed again. The rift dumped Lucifer on a busy city street in the Main Universe with none of the nearby pedestrians appearing to notice his unexpected arrival.

After leaving the Winchesters, Jack began experimenting with his powers in an effort to open a rift to Apocalypse World and rescue Mary. However, Jack discovered that he needed a dreamwalker to actually see the alternate reality in order to open the rift. Jack approached Derek Swan who painted the worlds he saw, including the Apocalypse World. Jack was able to convince Derek to help him, but Derek proved to not be strong enough to hold the connection long enough for Jack to succeed. Instead, Derek pointed Jack towards fellow dreamwalker Kaia Nieves who was the most powerful dreamwalker Derek had ever met.

Jack broke Kaia out of a psychiatric facility, but she fled rather than help him moments before Jack was found by the Winchesters. After Jack explained what he had been up to, the Winchesters sought out Kaia, rescuing her from two angels. Kaia, who only saw an alternate reality she called the Bad Place while Dream Walking, refused to help at first due to her fear, but was forced to help by Dean. Jack was later able to convince Kaia to cooperate by showing her the vision of Apocalypse World that he had seen through Derek.

Under attack by more angels, the Winchesters, Jack and Kaia took cover in a derelict cargo ship in the Larsen Bros. Shipyard. Out of options, Kaia suggested traveling to Apocalypse World as an escape plan and combined powers with Jack in an effort to open the rift. Under attack from the angels who began breaking through the angel warding, Kaia suddenly began flashing between the Bad Place and Apocalypse World as she and Jack completed the process. Finally, the two succeeded in opening a rift, disintegrating the attacking angels in the process. When the rift opened, it consumed everyone on the ship with a flash of light that, due to Kaia flashing between Apocalypse World and the Bad Place, transported Kaia to the roadside nearby, Jack to Apocalypse World at Mary's feet and the Winchesters to the Bad Place. The rift itself ended up opened to the Bad Place rather than Apocalypse World as intended.

Over the next few days, the rift between the Main Universe and the Bad Place remained open. During that time, at least one pack of Cloaked Figures made it through to the Main Universe. Worried about the Winchesters disappearance and further concerned by a vision Patience Turner had, Jody Mills, Claire Novak and Alex set out to try to find their missing friends, eventually finding Kaia. After an attack by a Cloaked Figure and Kaia's explanation of the creature's origins, it was realized that the rift must still be open for the creature to have made it to the Main Universe.

Fleeing an attack by more Cloaked Figures, Jody, Patience, Claire and Alex met up with Sheriff Donna Hanscum. With the help of Kaia and Donna, the group was able to determine the location of the rift, further aided by finding the Impala still parked in the shipyard. Jody and Donna located the rift, but an attack by the Cloaked Figures prevented them from going through immediately. By the time they returned, the rift had gotten smaller and they realized that was closing. Under attack and running out of time, Jody, Donna, Patience and Alex held off the pack of Cloaked Figures while Claire and Kaia passed through the rift to the Bad Place where they found and rescued the Winchesters from a hooded figure. Before the group could return through the rift, the hooded figure attacked, killing Kaia with a spear and summoning a Giant. Outmatched and out of time, the Winchesters dragged Claire back through the rift, leaving behind Kaia and the hooded figure. The rift between the Main Universe and the Bad Place sealed itself moments after the return of the Winchesters and Claire.

In the aftermath, Sam warned Jody that the rift had been open for a few days unattended. As a result, more monsters from the Bad Place may have made it through to the Main Universe undetected in that time. Jody promised to take care of anything that had come through while the Winchesters focused on protecting the rest of the world. That night, another rift from the Bad Place was opened by the hooded figure who was actually the alternate reality version of Kaia. The rift brought the alternate Kaia to a park in Sioux Falls.

In late 2017, after learning from Castiel of how the alternate Kevin Tran was able to open a rift using a ritual from the Angel Tablet, the Winchesters enlisted the help of Prophet Donatello Redfield to search the Demon Tablet for a similar ritual since the Main Universe Angel Tablet had been destroyed years before. Donatello was able to find a ritual that required intricate ingredients, but was tricked by the Prince of Hell Asmodeus into telling him about the Winchesters plans. Asmodeus also placed Donatello under his control to spy on the Winchesters progress. Donatello eventually managed to translate the ritual, but due to his lack of a soul, was corrupted by the power of the Demon Tablet. As a result, Castiel forcefully removed the information from Donatello's mind, leaving him brain-dead and the Winchesters and Castiel set out to gather the needed ingredients for the ritual.

At the same time, after capturing Jack, Michael and Zachariah attempt to trick Jack into helping them open a rift to the Main Universe to lead an army through. However, Jack sees through their tricks and manages to escape with Mary.

In 2018, while searching for the Seal of Solomon for the ritual, the Winchesters found and inadvertently released Yokoth, still trapped in the Men of Letters chapter house she had been summoned to in 1925. Using ingredients stored in the chapter house, Yokoth opened a rift into her world and summoned Glythur with the intention that he possess Dean. Before Glythur could do so, Sam arrived with Marco and Ophelia Avila. Dean was able to steal the Seal of Solomon from Yokoth and toss it to Ophelia who cast a reversal spell to seal the rift. As Glythur was pulled back into his own universe, he wrapped his tentacles around Yokoth and pulled her back through the rift with him.

Having gotten all the needed ingredients, the Winchesters used the ritual to open a rift in the Men of Letters bunker to Apocalypse World in order to rescue Mary and Jack. With only twenty-four hours before the rift closed again, Dean passed through with Arthur Ketch, leaving Sam behind in the bunker with Gabriel rather than risking both of them on the rescue mission. The rift the Winchesters opened leads to a snowy forest on Apocalypse World, near where several angels are set to execute several resistance members, including Charlie Bradbury. After rescuing Charlie, Dean and Arthur inform her of their traveling through other worlds before they return to the rift with her which proves their story. With the rift flickering in and out of existence, Dean returns to the Main Universe while Arthur remains behind to continue the search for Mary and Jack and to help the resistance. The rift closes after Dean goes through. However, as Gabriel has left the bunker, the Winchesters no longer have the archangel grace needed to reopen it.

In Apocalypse World, Mary, Jack and a few resistance fighters locate Kevin in Michael's abandoned fortress. The group learns from Kevin that he has perfected the ritual from the Angel Tablet and Michael intends to use it to open a rift from a location where the walls between the worlds are thin to lead an invasion force to the Main Universe. At the same time, the Winchesters locate Gabriel and help him kill Fenrir, Narfi, Sleipnir and Loki in exchange for his help against Michael. After the gods are dead, Gabriel returns to the bunker with the Winchesters who are left only having to wait for Gabriel's grace to recharge to open the rift again. However, Gabriel is only able to extract a small portion of grace and the rift that it opens quickly fizzles out.

With no other option, the Winchesters, Rowena and Gabriel work together to capture Lucifer. With Lucifer's grace constantly draining into the spell and powering the ritual, the rift will remain open for as long as they need. The Winchesters, Castiel and Gabriel pass through, but Lucifer eventually breaks free of his magical bindings and attacks Rowena. In self-defense, Rowena magically repels Lucifer, sending him through the rift. Without Lucifer constantly powering the rift, Rowena realizes that it is danger of closing. After some hesitation, Rowena begins looking through the Black Grimoire for a way to keep the rift open.

Lucifer tells the Winchesters that he left Rowena some grace so they have around thirty-one hours until the rift closes with him no longer there to continuously power it. With Mary unwilling to abandon the people she has grown to care about, Sam and Dean suggest evacuating everyone through the rift to the Main Universe until they can come up with a way to defeat Michael once and for all. After a vote, everyone agrees and the resistance uses a bus to reach the rift as time runs out. Using a spell from the Black Grimoire, Rowena manages to hold the rift open long enough for everyone to pass through except for Gabriel who is killed by Michael and Lucifer who is purposefully stranded by Sam.

The rift closes moments before Michael can reach it, but Lucifer proposes an alliance between the two, part of which he offers up the ritual to reopen the rift between the worlds. Michael and Lucifer are ultimately able to use the ritual to open another rift to the Main Universe and pass through. After their arrival, the Winchesters and Jack are left confused as they had believed the rift to be closed and didn't know that Lucifer supplied Michael with the ritual to open a new one.

After the revelation of the fact that the Kaia from the Bad Place is in the Main Universe, Sam asks Jody about any sign of rift activity. Jody tells him that she has set up video surveillance and Claire watches the shipyard in person a lot but neither has turned up any sign of a new rift from the Bad Place. After Dark Kaia is captured, she refuses to explain how she managed to open a rift between the worlds. After being found by Dean and Castiel, Dark Kaia tells them that she opened the rift using magic from her own world, but it doesn't work in the Main Universe so she can't open a rift home. Wanting to go home, Dark Kaia offers up her spear in exchange for Jack's help in opening up a rift home. Dean promises that after they kill Michael, the Winchesters will help Dark Kaia to return home.

In 2019, the Main Universe Michael opens a twelve-hour rift to Purgatory in the Men of Letters bunker due to the need to get a Leviathan Blossom for the spell to trap God. Dean sets a timer on his phone to monitor the time until the rift closes again as he and Castiel go after the Leviathan Blossom. Despite trouble with Leviathans working for Eve, the two are able to get the Leviathan Blossom and return through the rift with only a few minutes left before it closes.

Two years after crossing to the Main Universe, Dark Kaia seeks the help of the Winchesters to return to the Bad Place which is dying as God is ending all of the alternate universes. After Dark Kaia reveals that Kaia is still alive, the Winchesters, Castiel, Jody and a resurrected Jack attempt to find a way to open a rift without using Jack's powers which would draw God's attention. The only spell Jack is able to find proves to be useless as it requires the liver of a type of monster that was rendered extinct by John Winchester years before. With the help of the reaper Merle, the group is able to temporarily block God's ability to sense Jack's powers and Jack opens a rift to the Bad Place in the bunker. Traveling through the rift, the Winchesters and Dark Kaia locate and rescue Kaia before the Bad Place is destroyed. After they return, the rift immediately closes behind them.

As God destroys their world, an alternate Sam and Dean attempt to escape through a rift in their car, ending up in the armory of the bunker in the Main Universe. However, as God destroys their world behind them, the rift malfunctions and sucks them back in, trapping the alternate Winchesters between worlds, leaving them visible as ghostly projections in the bunker. Later, needing to trick God in case he comes to check on them, Dean suggests using a variation of the ritual from the Demon Tablet to open a rift and bring the alternate Sam and Dean to their world. As the two are simply stuck between worlds, they are able to use the ritual with Castiel's grace instead of archangel grace, though Sam expresses worry that it will blast them away to another world instead. The effort succeeds, causing the alternate Sam and Dean to appear in the Main Universe in a flash of light. The two reveal that their father entered the rift with them, though he didn't come through to the Main Universe, leaving it unknown if John survived or was simply transported to another world.

Known Users

Known Destinations

Characteristics

When a rift is open, it has the appearance of a jagged tear in the air. The tear is usually relatively thin, but in one case, the rift that opened was wider due to the beings coming through it. As the rift begins to close, it grows thinner before finally folding in on itself and disappearing completely. In one case, along with getting thin, the rift was seen to flicker a few times as it approached its closing. Anything inside when the rift closes will be pulled back to the universe their trip started from.

A rift between universes is a two-way door. As long as the rift is open, beings from both realities can cross back and forth at will. To do so, they must simply touch the rift and they will be transported through it. Anyone or anything touching the person will get sucked through as well. As seen in one case, a car can be driven through a rift between universes.

While most rifts drop the users right next to where it opens, in one case, presumably due to the chaotic circumstances surrounding the opening of the rift, the users were transported some distance away. In that particular case, when the rift opened, it appeared to automatically suck in everyone nearby with the circumstances of the rift opening scattering everyone across three different realities, one of which was the universe the rift was opened from. However, while the rift opening transported people to two other realities, the rift itself only acted as a door between the universe it was opened in and one of the realities it transported people to. It did not connect to the second reality at all nor did a separate rift open to that world.

When a rift is opened more than one time between the same two worlds, it may not necessarily lead to the same place it did the first time. The first time a rift was opened between the Main Universe and Apocalypse World, the location in Apocalypse World said rift led to was a post - apocalyptic wasteland. However, the second time a rift from the Main Universe to Apocalypse World was opened, the location of Apocalypse World this rift led to was in a snowy forest. Additionally, the first time a rift between the Bad Place and the Main Universe was opened the location of the rift in the Main Universe was in the Sunstar Line cargo ship within the Larsen Bros. Shipyard, due to it being opened from that place, which caused anyone who crossed from the Bad Place to the Main Universe to end up in the cargo ship. However the second time a rift between the Bad Place and the Main Universe was opened, this time from from the Bad Place, the rift did not lead to the Sunstar Line cargo ship, like the original rift did, but instead opened to a park in Sioux Falls.

How long a rift remains open appears to rely on the circumstances surrounding its opening and intervention of outside forces. A rift opened by two individuals combining their powers together remained open for a few days before closing on its own. A rift opened by one ritual only allowed one person through before closing. Its opening also created a shockwave that affected all nearby beings. Another ritual could open a rift for twenty-four hours unless a reversal spell was used to close it. When powered continuously by archangel grace, it could remain open much longer. A spell from the Black Grimoire could be used to keep a rift opened with this ritual open a few minutes longer. In another case, a rift opened by the birth of a Nephilim was closed using a ritual. It is unknown how long it would have remained open on its own otherwise or if it would've needed someone to close it. In this case, the rift was opened by the first contraction of the Nephilim's birth and grew with each time a new contraction hit for at least the next two contractions. Due to the destruction of the HunterCorp World, the rift between that world and the Main Universe malfunctioned and sucked the alternate Sam and Dean back in, but trapped them between worlds until the Winchesters opened a new rift to bring them through fully.

Opening a rift is usually done through a ritual or, if the being in question is powerful enough, using innate power. Both the Demon Tablet of the Main Universe and the Angel Tablet of an alternate reality are known to contain rituals to open rifts from one universe to another, but require intricate ingredients. The Nephilim Jack is powerful enough to open a rift, but requires a dreamwalker to act as his "eyes" so that he can see the world he wishes to open the rift to. Michael and Zachariah expressed a belief that Jack is powerful enough to open a rift big enough for them to lead an army through. In order to reach the Main Universe, the alternate Kaia was able to use magic from her own world to open the rift. However, that same magic did not work in the Main Universe and she could not use it to open a rift between the Main Universe and the Bad Place to return home. After an alternate Sam and Dean become trapped between worlds due to a malfunctioning rift, the Winchesters are able to bring them through fully by using a variation of the ritual from the Demon Tablet that substitutes Castiel's grace for archangel grace. As the alternate Sam and Dean were already halfway there, the rift didn't require as much power to open and complete the journey. Sam suggested that such an attempt could simply blast the travelers to another universe, but this didn't occur.

While Jack initially required a connection with a dreamwalker to open a rift, he was later open a rift to the Bad Place simply by extending his hand and concentrating. However, in this case he had briefly dreamwalked to the Bad Place through Dark Kaia a short time before and so may have not needed the connection to find the right world and open the rift.

Though generally used for travel to alternate realities, a rift can also act as a doorway to another dimension such as Purgatory as seen when Michael opened one for Dean and Castiel. Michael was able to open the rift with his innate archangel powers, requiring no outside help such as a spell to do so.

Appearances

Trivia

  • The opening of the rift in All Along the Watchtower effectively acts as an omen of Jack's birth as the birth of a Nephilim is stated to cause weird occurrences that act as omens.
  • In Bring 'em Back Alive, Dean calls rift travel "a spin-cycle through space and time."
  • The rifts are sometimes referred to as doors by characters, particularly Kaia Nieves and Claire Novak.
  • While not outright stated or shown, the rift that opened at the end of Wayward Sisters from the Bad Place to the Main Universe appears to have closed as the alternate Kaia is seeking a way to open a new rift back home in The Spear and Galaxy Brain. This rift's unconfirmed state is different from the other rifts that have been opened in the show which have either been shown to have been closed or known to be like the one that Michael and Lucifer used as the ritual that they used only opens a rift for twenty-four hours.
  • In Destiny's Child, Castiel refers to the effects of the spell used by the Winchesters to travel to Hell as a rift that must be kept open by feeding the spell bowl. However, no visible rift is ever shown and the Winchesters reappear in a puff of smoke so its unknown if he was talking metaphorically or not.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.