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Yellow Fever is the 6th episode of Season 4. It aired on October 23rd, 2008.


Dean Purgatory Blade.png.png There was something about being there... It felt pure.

This episode summary is an official CW press release. It may contain errors.

Sam and Dean investigate the mysterious deaths of several men who apparently dropped dead of fright. They visit one of the victims in the morgue, and Dean becomes infected with the illness which starts as a general anxiety, then moves on to full-blown terror that eventually stops the heart. Sam and Bobby (guest star Jim Beaver) must find the root of the disease before Dean dies and is sent back to Hell.



The episode begins with Dean running for his life. At first it seems he's being chased by hellhounds, but it is then revealed that he's actually running from a beribboned Yorkie.

The scene cuts to 43 hours earlier, where the boys are examining the body of Frank O'Brien, a healthy 44-year-old marathon runner who died of a heart attack after two days of intense fear and paranoia—the third such death in town. Sam and Dean insist that the somewhat lazy coroner perform an autopsy, and he complies as they observe.

Sam gets a shot of "spleen juice".

He excises the victim's heart (and asks Dean to hold it) but can't find anything that would indicate that a heart attack was imminent. He accidentally squirts "spleen juice" onto Sam's face. They discover a number of scratches along Frank's arm,and a mark on his hand indicating that he wore a wedding ring.

The boys go to visit the eccentric Sheriff Al Britton, a good friend of Frank's. He makes them remove their shoes before they enter his office. After shaking hands with them, he slathers on hand sanitizer.  He confirms that Frank had been acting strangely.  

'Marie' smells fear. She finds Dean very attractive.

Next, the boys visit Mark Hutchins, Frank's reptile-loving neighbor and the last person to see him alive. Dean is noticeably unnerved by Mark's menagerie of pets, a majority of which are live snakes with Mark happen to have one around and on his shoulders as he is interrogated by the Winchesters. He tells them that Frank seemed afraid of everything lately: Al-Qaeda, ferrets, artificial sweetener, Pez dispensers, and witches, especially "that green bitch" from The Wizard of Oz. Mark tells them that Frank had been a bully in high school, but that he "got better," especially after the suicide of his wife Jessie in 1988.

That evening, Dean's strange behavior escalates and he sets off an EMF detector, proving that he's "haunted."  He's also begun to incessantly scratch his left forearm. A call to Bobby diagnoses Ghost sickness, in which a spirit literally infects a person with fear, which intensifies until the victim's heart gives out. The victims had  all used fear as a weapon during their lives, which Sam summarizes as, "they were all dicks." Dean protests as to how the two of them could be like that, to which Sam clarifies that their way of life essentially scares people more than they deserve as well as pointing out that he apparently isn't much of a "dick" like Dean is to not be affected by the ailment. Bobby also theorizes that if the ghost that started the infection is destroyed, the sickness should clear up.

The wood chip is a major clue.

In the hotel room, Dean begins to hallucinate, and unexpectedly coughs up a wood chip. Sam realizes that the symptoms are trying to communicate something about the original ghost. They investigate the abandoned Cassity & Sons Lumber Mill and - after a run in with a stray cat that makes Dean scream like a girl - they find an ID card for Luther Garland, along with a number of drawings of Frank's wife Jessie. When the ghost of a hulking man appears and machinery starts to move on its own, Dean cuts out back to the Impala in terror.

Dean has to rely on liquid courage.

The official police file says that Luther Garland died of "physical trauma." At the Peaceful Pines Assisted Living home, John Garland, Luther's brother, tells a different story. Luther was "the town freak," but Jessie O'Brien was kind to him, and he became infatuated with her. When she vanished, Frank O'Brien came after Luther, chained him to his truck and dragged him up and down the road in front of the mill.

Frank O'Brien punished Luther for his wife's disappearance.

No law enforcement mounted an investigation due to Frank's sway over them and his friendship with Sheriff Al. Sam and Dean realize the victims are experiencing Luther's death in slow motion. The lack of remains - and the impossibility of a simple salt-and-burn - set Dean off more, who rants about the insanity of hunting and Sam getting gassy from eating half a burrito, panics and flees from the Yorkie, which he mistakes for a hellhound.

In Dean's hallucination, Sam wants him back in Hell.

Back at the hotel room, Dean's hallucinations grow worse. He sees Sam's eyes turn yellow, and he imagines Sam telling him that he wants to give in to the influence of his powers, while Dean goes back to Hell.

Bobby meets Sam at the wood mill with two hours to go before Dean's heart is set to give out. Bobby reveals that he is fluent in Japanese, and identifies Luther as a buruburu which can be killed with fear. Sam lures Luther out of hiding by destroying his drawings of Jessie O'Brien.

Sam manages to bind the buruburu with a spellwork-etched iron chain.

He then wraps an iron chain inscribed with a spell word around Luther's neck, while Bobby drags him behind the Impala until he dissipates—a "terrible" plan that both dislike, but which they feel is their only option.

Sheriff Britton fears he'll be exposed by the Winchesters.

While Sam and Bobby are trying to catch the ghost, Dean is alone in his room and hears hellhounds. Sheriff Britton breaks down the door, and is crazed and convinced that Dean and Sam will turn him in for his complicity in covering up Luther's murder. His heart gives out before Dean can reason with him.

Dean's figment of Lilith taunts him.

As Dean reaches for a bible he finds on the floor, Lilith appears to him in the guise of the little girl from 3.16 "No Rest For The Wicked". She tells him that he does remember his time in Hell—four months was like 40 years. When Dean asks why he was infected, Lilith tells him that he knows, and that he must listen to his heart.

Dean faces an aftershock of his extreme fear.

When Luther is finally dispatched by Sam and Bobby back at the mill, ending the infection, Lilith disappears, as do the scratches on Dean's arms.

Later Sam asks Dean how bad his hallucinations and fears got by the end. Before Dean can tell the truth, he sees Sam's eyes flash yellow. Dean says he saw howler monkeys, thus not revealing the truth.


Main Cast[]

Recurring Cast[]

Guest Stars[]


Featured Supernatural Beings[]


  • This is the first episode to have both a White-eyed Demon and a Prince of Hell, although only as hallucination.
  • In reality, yellow fever is an extremely deadly virus. The episode probably meant yellow as in "yellow belly", which is another term for a coward.
  • "Agent Tyler" and "Agent Perry" is a reference to Aerosmith band members Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
  • Azazel appears as a hallucination to Dean, this is his first appearance (in present time) since All Hell Breaks Loose - Part 2, he is portrayed by Jared Padalecki in this episode.
  • The fictional town in Colorado where this episode takes place, Rock Ridge, is also the name of the town in the film Blazing Saddles.
  • As Dean's time is running out, Bobby arrives and presents Sam with an "Encyclopedia of Spirits" which dates back to the Edo Period. Sam thumbs through the book and is shocked. He asks Bobby, "You speak Japanese?!" Bobby answers "Kimi ga umareru mae kara zutto dayo," which means: "(I've) always(known Japanese) since before you were born."
    • The term Yellow Fever is used when a man perceives only women of Asian descent as erotic.
  • After Sam realizes that Dean is their biggest clue, right after Dean coughs up the wood chip, Dean says "I don't wanna be a clue." This is a possible reference to the TV show Seinfeld, which is again quoted by Dean in Family Matters. The line is a template often used by Jerry Seinfeld's character which is "I don't wanna be a ...", the space being filled by: 'pirate', 'cowboy', and even 'Switzerland'.
  • The Garland brothers and John's re-iteration of their story strongly mirrors the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
  • The scene in which Sam and Dean open up a locker and a cat jumps out frightening Dean may be a reference to the video game Silent Hill, in which inside a room full of lockers a cat jumping out of one of them is used as a jump-scare.
  • At the end of this episode, Jensen Ackles lip-synches the song Eye of the Tiger sitting on the Impala.


  • When Sam was getting attacked by Luther, Jared can clearly be seen smiling at some point.

Message From Eric Kripke[]

"I've never before responded directly to the fandom's comments about an episode, and I don't plan to make a habit of it, but I couldn't resist dropping in a thought about 'Yellow Fever'.

Which is this: Dean is not a dick.

None of the writers, or anyone on the creative team of Supernatural, think Dean's ever been a dick, past, present, or future. He's a hero. Dean did not contract the ghost sickness because he's a dick. Victims contract the illness because they use "fear as a weapon." Dean asks Lilith at the episode's end, "Why did I get infected?" And she cryptically responds, "You know why. Listen to your heart." We, as the writers, probably should have emphasized this mystery more, I take responsibility for that omission. But the point is: the reason he was infected is because of a secret he's keeping. A dark secret that will be revealed in Episode 10. And not at all because of any dickishness, implied or otherwise.

Thanks, gang."

Featured Music[]


[Sam opens a locker and a cat jumps out]


[Sam stares at him]

  • Dean: That was scary!

[Sam just walks off]

[Sam offers Dean a pistol]

  • Dean: Oh, I'm not carrying that. It could go off. I'll man the flashlight.

  • Dean: I mean, who would pretend to be an FBI agent? That's just nutty!

  • Dean: What are we doing?
  • Sam: We are hunting a ghost.
  • Dean: A ghost. Exactly! Who does that?
  • Sam: Us?
  • Dean: Us, right. And that Sam, that's exactly why our lives suck! I mean come on, we hunt monsters! What the hell? I mean normal people, they see a monster and they run but not us. No, no, no. We search out the things that want to kill us. Heh, heh? OR EAT US!! You know who does that? Crazy people! We are insane!


International Titles[]

  • Brazil: Febre Amarela (Yellow Fever)
  • German: Gelbfieber (Yellow Fever)
  • Hungarian: Sárgaláz (Yellow Fever)
  • French: Le mal des fantômes

External Links[]