|“||And when he touches down, we're talking Four Horsemen, red oceans, fiery skies.||”|
— Zachariah describing the Apocalypse
The Apocalypse is the biblical event referring to, quite literally, a series of events that will eventually lead to the end of the world, shown in the show as a destructive war.
The Apocalypse was foretold thousands of years ago, shortly after Lucifer was imprisoned in The Cage. The prophecy stated that the 66 Seals would be broken and that Lucifer would escape the Cage, bringing about the Apocalypse.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would assist him in destroying humanity. God's eldest Archangel Michael was to then take a human vessel descended from Cain and Abel and lead the "final charge" against Hell and personally kill Lucifer in battle. Lucifer's death would bring about Paradise on Earth (or what was left of it).
According to Gabriel, the Apocalypse isn't a war, but a fight between two brothers "who loved each other, and betrayed each other".
The following were tools Lucifer used, or wanted to use, to implement the apocalypse:
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 use of diseases including 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.
In 1972, after years of searching, the demon Azazel found the entrance to Lucifer's Cage at St. Mary's Convent. He contacted Lucifer, who told him of his plans: Azazel was to free Lilith, the first demon, from Hell so that she could break the 66 Seals. In addition, Azazel was also tasked with finding a special child strong enough to kill Lilith, thereby breaking the Final Seal, as well capable of serving as Lucifer's Vessel for the final battle against Michael. In 2007, Azazel succeeded in both freeing Lilith and finding Lucifer's special child, Sam Winchester, the younger brother of Dean Winchester, Michael's true Vessel.
A year later, Dean Winchester, who had sold his soul to save Sam, was taken to Hell. There he was tortured mercilessly by the demon Alastair. The forces of Heaven laid siege to Hell and eventually broke through their defenses. The angel Castiel personally pulled Dean out of Hell. By then, however, Dean had broke and started torturing souls himself.
|“||This demon, Lilith, is trying to break the 66 seals to free Lucifer from Hell. Lucifer... will bring the Apocalypse. So... smoke 'em if you got 'em.||”|
The Winchesters, Bobby, and Angels fight to stop other seals from breaking, but they steadily lose ground. There are over 600 Seals, and only 66 need to be broken. They discover that the First Seal was broken by Dean in Hell, when he became a torturer. Sam feels compelled to kill Lilith, who he has been told is the only being that can break the Final Seal, while the Angels tell Dean that it is he who must prevent the Apocalypse.
In fact, both brothers are being manipulated by their "allies." Ruby is secretly an agent of Lucifer, working to get Sam to use his special demon powers. The higher ranking angels including Michael, Raphael and Zachariah want the Apocalypse to happen so that they can draw Lucifer out into the open and kill him. The Angels hold Dean in the Green Room while Sam and Ruby track Lilith down to St. Mary's Convent where the Final Seal is to be broken. Castiel frees Dean and sends him after Sam, but Sam uses his powers to kill Lilith, whose death is actually the Final Seal. Lucifer's Cage opens, and the Apocalypse begins.
As Lucifer rises from his Cage, the brothers are teleported out of harm's way by God. Finding themselves on an airplane, they witness Lucifer burst out of his prison in a blast of white light.
Immediately, Sam and Dean hear of earthquakes, tornadoes and disease spreading. Zachariah confronts the brothers, and reveals that the real carnage will not start until Lucifer enters his preordained vessel. Zachariah also reveals that Dean alone cannot possibly kill Lucifer, but he tells Dean that he is Michael's vessel, and once occupied, he can defeat Lucifer and bring paradise to Earth - though half the planet will also be destroyed. Sam learns later, from the Devil himself, that he is Lucifer's true vessel. Neither brother is willing to consent to serve as a vessel, postponing the final battle. Michael remains disembodied, but Lucifer finds a temporary vessel in Nick.
Most demons fall in line behind Lucifer, and his plans proceed. He intends to destroy humanity, and essential to his goals are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War is the first encountered by Sam and Dean. He causes an entire town to believe there are demons among them when there are none. Famine, a weakened but still intimidating figure, is cared for by demons at Lucifer's direction. Pestilence, again assisted by demons, devises a scheme to spread the Croatoan Virus as fast as possible. Death, the oldest and most powerful horseman, is freed and Lucifer finds a way to force his obedience. With Death under his control, Lucifer orders still greater disruption. The Whore Of Babylon also serves as an instrument of destruction and misinformation. Jesse Turner, the Anti-Christ, was supposed to play an important role during the destruction of Earth, but he decided to turn away from Lucifer's plans.
Meanwhile, Castiel, having been resurrected by God, goes on a search to find God, believing him to be capable of putting an end to the Apocalypse. His efforts however are futile, as even the Archangels themselves believe God to be dead or having abandoned them.
Sam and Dean follow omens, from forest fires to biblical storms to the dead rising, and combat what they find. Other hunters are hostile toward them because rumor has spread of their involvement in starting the Apocalypse. They are constantly assaulted by both angels and demons who want to force them to serve as vessels so that the last battle may take place; all the entities against them are very concerned with destiny. Even old allies turn against them. Anna Milton, the fallen angel who helped them in the previous season, attempts to stop the Apocalypse on her own by going back in time and preventing Sam's birth. She is stopped by the Winchesters and the Archangel Michael.
The Winchesters find an unlikely ally in the Crossroads Demon Crowley, who gives them the Colt to kill Lucifer. With the aid of Castiel, Ellen, and Jo, the Winchesters launch an attack on Lucifer. Unfortunately, the Colt fails to kill Lucifer, and Ellen and Jo are lost in the process. The Winchesters are then dealt a further blow when they learn that while God has saved them and helped in other ways he no longer cares about the Apocalypse and will not step in to help.
Dean, slowly worn down by the losses and defeats, and afraid that Sam will give in to Lucifer, and that Lucifer will win, decides to say yes to Michael, but the efforts of Sam, Bobby, and Castiel keep him away from the archangel until he decides to keep fighting. After Dean rejects Michael one final time and kills Zachariah, Michael takes Adam, Sam and Dean's half-brother, as his host.
The lost Archangel Gabriel allies himself with the Winchesters and tries to kill Lucifer, but is killed himself. However, he manages to leave the Winchesters a message that tells them how they can re-imprison Lucifer using the rings of the Four Horsemen. Having already acquired Famine and War's rings, Sam, Dean, and their allies do whatever is necessary to acquire the rings from Pestilence and Death. With Crowley's help, they track down Pestilence and steal his ring. Death, seeking to be free from Lucifer, willingly gives Dean his ring.
Sam comes up with a plan to say "yes" to Lucifer, so that the angel will enter him and then Sam will throw himself into the pit. Team Free Will is reluctant to agree, but does so. Sam takes Lucifer in, but cannot control him.
Lucifer later takes Sam to Stull Cemetery to confront Michael, who now has Adam. Dean, Castiel, and Bobby interrupt them, however, and Castiel succeeds in temporarily banishing Michael. Lucifer kills Castiel and Bobby, but Dean manages to reach Sam.
Now in control, Sam opens the Cage and prepares to fall in. Michael tries to stop him, but Sam grabs him by the arm and pulls all four of them into the Cage, ending the Apocalypse. who opens the portal and tips himself, Lucifer, Adam, and Michael, over the edge and into the Cage.
God resurrects Castiel, again, this time as a Seraphim. Castiel heals Dean and resurrects Bobby before taking off to take control of Heaven in Michael's absence. Dean and Bobby later part ways.
The prophet Chuck also disappears and is not seen for a while.
|“||You rebelled - against God, Heaven, and me. Now you will atone. We'll start by freeing Lucifer and Michael from their cage. And then we'll get our show back on the road.||”|
|“||You ran me from my home. Did you really think you could do all of that to me and there'd be no payback?||”|
|“||My brother will dim and fade away into nothing, but not until he sees what comes next. Not until he watches this world, everything he created, everything he loves, turned to ash. Welcome to the end.||”|
|“|| Lucifer: Every time I look at this sad little trash fire of a world, do you know what I keep thinking? I could do so much better.|
Dean: So Apocalypse take two, that's your plan?
Lucifer: When in doubt, go with the classics.
When confronting Lucifer in All Along the Watchtower, the Archangel professes his desire to destroy humanity once again, prompting Dean to question "Apocalypse take two", and Lucifer to tell them that he always "goes with the classics".
In the same episode, the Winchesters and Castiel travel to a world where the Apocalypse was never averted and angels and demons are locked in battle with what's left of humanity caught in the middle. The Winchesters, Castiel and Crowley work together to lock Lucifer in this world.
Its revealed that in the Apocalypse World version of the Apocalypse, Michael killed Lucifer in the skies over Abilene, allowing Michael to take over the world. This Michael begins planning to invade the Main Universe to take it over for himself.
While in this world, Mary Winchester and Jack discover that the angels are waging a war of extermination upon the remaining human population. Bobby Singer states that when Lucifer and his demons rose from Hell and the Apocalypse began, the humans thought that the angels were there to save them but the angels turned on them one by one. After talking with Bobby, Mary realizes that the divergence in the universes occurred because her counterpart refused to make a deal with Azazel to resurrect John Winchester. As such, Sam and Dean never existed to stop the Apocalypse in that world.
After Gabriel's rescue from the Prince of Hell Asmodeus by Arthur Ketch, Sam and Castiel learn that Gabriel faked his death during the Apocalypse by tricking Lucifer into stabbing a fake duplicate of himself in order to abscond from his responsibilities and return to a life of personal enjoyment.
Lucifer is eventually killed in battle by Dean Winchester while Dean acts as the vessel for the alternate Michael. However, as a consequence, Michael is let loose upon the Main Universe in his true vessel.
In Damaged Goods, Nick finally tracks down the demon Abraxas who had murdered his family. Abraxas reveals that he murdered Nick's family on Lucifer's orders so that Lucifer could use it to manipulate Nick when the Apocalypse started. Additionally, Nick was chosen for no other reason than the fact that his name was what was landed on when Abraxas threw a dart at the phone book.
In Lebanon, after John Winchester is pulled to 2019 from 2003, his sons inform him of the events that he has missed, including the Apocalypse. The disappearance of John in 2003 creates an alternate timeline where Sam and Dean never started hunting together again and thus the Apocalypse never happened. While investigating the temporal disturbance, the alternate timeline Zachariah comments on how the angels had big plans for the Winchesters before their father disappeared. Zachariah realizes that the Winchesters are responsible and sets the alternate Castiel on Dean while he tries to torture information out of Sam. Sam kills Zachariah and banishes Castiel. Once John is returned to his own time, history is restored back to normal, including the events of the Apocalypse.
- The term 'Armageddon' refers to the climatic duel between Jesus Christ and the Anti-Christ, which, supposedly, is to happen on the mountain of Mageddo, hence the name Ar-mageddo-n (הר מגידו, Hebrew for the The Mountain of Mageddo). The term 'Judgment Day' refers to a time frame when all people stand before God the Father and are judged.
- Incidentally, according to Death, at the End of all things, he'll reap God.
- Gabriel refers to the Apocalypse as "Sunday Dinner", indicating that, while calamitous in human terms, in cosmic terms, although still a special, unusual event, the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse isn't that big of a deal.
- The term "Apocalypse", in Greek, actually means "Revelation" which is why the last book of The Bible is called "Revelation", given that it was John's revelation of the End from God. Many New-Age movements suggest a less cataclysmic event of the "Unveiling" or the "Revelations" and more of an access of hidden knowledge, or humanity gaining a higher power or plane of existence.
- The alternate timeline of The End shows what would have happened if Lucifer won the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse World shows what would have happened if Michael won. Neither is favorable for humanity. However, ironically, the former is better for the Earth as a whole.
- The alternate Charlie Bradbury of Apocalypse World revealed to Sam that when Michael and Lucifer began their war in her world, an EMP type of blast occurred over North America, frying all technology and power plants.