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Death is a recurring character appearing on the television series Supernatural. Death is not an outright villain, as he does not actively seek the end of the world or to spread unnecessary death, although he does harbor a strong indifference to humanity. Instead, he is an upholder of the natural order and the natural end to life. He is only an antagonist due to being enslaved by Lucifer during the Apocalypse. Of all the supernatural beings in the show and for all his callousness, he is generally one of the more helpful and benign.
He is portrayed by Julian Richings.
Horseman of the Apocalypse
Death is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, alongside War, Famine, and Pestilence. In the episode "Abandon All Hope...," he is revealed to be imprisoned deep within the earth, and is also referred to by Bobby Singer as "the Big Daddy Reaper," suggesting that he created the race of Reapers. Later, Lucifer performs a ritual that frees Death from his prison and he greets him.
In "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," Death is revealed to be responsible for causing the dead in Sioux Falls, North Dakota to rise. Bobby's resurrected wife Karen describes Death as a thin, skeletal man.
In "Two Minutes to Midnight," Death comes to Chicago, where a massive storm is about to devastate the city; he is shown driving a white car. After he exits his car and as he makes his way down a sidewalk, a passerby bumps into him and rudely tells him to watch where he's going; this prompts Death to brush the spot the passerby touched him and cause the passerby to drop dead.
Later, Death is sitting in a restaurant eating pizza when Dean Winchester sneaks in, intending to kill the Horseman with his own scythe so he can obtain his ring (one of four needed to open Lucifer's Cage). Unfortunately, Death's scythe burns in Dean's hand, causing him to drop it. Death, however, simply thanks Dean for returning his scythe (which suddenly appears on the table next to Death) and invites him to sit down for some pizza.
Dean complies, and the two engage in a civil conversation in which Death claims to be either as old as God or even older, then states that he'll eventually reap God Himself, much to Dean's shock. He then goes on to explain that Lucifer used a spell to bind him (Death) to his control, using him to cause all matter of disasters, and expresses his displeasure with Lucifer, whom he characterizes as a "bratty child having a tantrum." That said, he then offers Dean his ring on the condition that Dean allows his brother Sam to consent to Lucifer possessing him so he can jump into Lucifer's Cage. After a moment, Dean agrees, and Death hands over his ring, then gives Dean the instructions on using the Horsemen rings.
Powers and Abilities
|“||He made me his weapon. Hurricanes, floods, raising the dead. I'm more powerful than you can process, and I'm enslaved to a bratty child having a tantrum.||„|
|~ Death complaining about being bound to Lucifer and describing his abilities to Dean Winchester.|
Death is the joint second most powerful being within the Supernatural series, being God's equal while being weaker than The Darkness. He has complete omniscience of the entire universe, and has nigh omnipotence. Death's powers range from being able to kill anyone and anything with a simple touch, to outright full cosmic manipulation, being able to move the moon itself. He is capable of casually wiping out all life on planet Earth, can instantly teleport to anywhere in the universe, and his mere presence in physical form when walking the earth can cause catastrophic storms and disasters.
Death returns in the Season 6 episode "Appointment In Samarra." While Dean argues with the Reaper Tessa whilst attempting to summon Death, Death himself appears. Dean then, much to Death's annoyance, briefs him about Sam's soul being left in Lucifer's cage along with Adam Milligan, the Winchesters' half-brother. When asked to retrieve both Sam's soul and Adam from the cage, Death forces Dean to choose between the two; Dean chooses Sam's soul.
Death then agrees to put up a mental barrier in Sam's mind to keep him from remembering his time in Hell, provided that Dean agrees to act as him (Death) for a day by putting on his ring. Although Dean ultimately fails the test, Death nonetheless retrieves Sam's soul from Lucifer's Cage. Before restoring Sam's soul and erecting the barrier in Sam's mind, he warns Sam to not "scratch the wall," stating that he won't like what he will see.
Death next appears in "Meet the New Boss," the Season 7 premiere. After Castiel absorbs all the souls in Purgatory and becomes the new "God," Dean, Sam, and Bobby summon Crowley to ask for a means to bind Death to their control, recalling that Lucifer had done the same thing before. Crowley delivers the spell, which the three hunters cast after collecting the necessary materials. Not long after, Death appears and initially assumes that the Winchesters bound him in the hopes of getting him to fix the broken mental barrier in Sam's mind (the barrier had been broken earlier by Castiel), but is told by Dean that they want him to kill Castiel; Death then states he can't fix the wall.
Castiel suddenly appears, angered at what he perceives as a betrayal on part of the Winchesters and Bobby. Death proceeds to mock Castiel, calling him a "mutated angel," then reveals that Castiel not only absorbed the souls in Purgatory but also the Leviathans, God's earliest creations (whom Death remarks he found "entertaining").
Death and Castiel then have a brief but tense verbal exchange in which Death states that Castiel is no god. A fed-up Dean then orders Death to kill Castiel, and Death is about to happily oblige when Castiel frees him from the binding spell. After Castiel disappears, Death states he had a tingle he'd reap someone that day, then sits down and starts to slowly eat a meal of pickled chips and soda.
Once finished eating, Death coldly chastises Dean for not stopping Castiel earlier. Nonetheless, he agrees to help as he found Castiel's attitude annoying and tells them to get Castiel to release the souls back to Purgatory. After Bobby brings up the issue of the lack of an eclipse, Death casually says he'll cause another eclipse so the Winchesters and Bobby can use the spell to open Purgatory again. Before leaving, he threatens to kill the Winchesters and Bobby if they try to bind him again.
In the Season 9 premiere "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here," while Sam is in a coma after collapsing from the Trials to close Hell, Death appears in Sam's mind-scape. When Sam decides to pass on, he asks Death to make sure his death be permanent, meaning no one can undo it, and Death replies he can promise that. The two prepare to leave together until Ezekiel, disguised as Dean, appears and convinces Sam to return to life; however, this is a ploy by Dean to trick Sam into allowing Ezekiel to possess Sam so he can heal Sam from the inside.
Death appears in the Season 10 finale "Brother's Keeper." Dean, having been cursed with the Mark of Cain and increasingly corrupted by it, opts to summon Death to either remove the mark or kill him to prevent him from becoming a demon once again. Death tells Dean that while he could in theory destroy the Mark, doing so would release the Darkness, a primordial force of oblivion that God fought back at the dawn of creation in order to create the universe. Death says he has no intention of releasing the Darkness. Unlike Death's nonchalance for the Leviathans, the Darkness is something he actually considers a serious threat. Death tells Dean that the Mark makes Dean invulnerable, but proposes an alternative: He can send Dean to a place where he can't hurt anyone, space, or some equivalent, a place where he will not be able to hurt himself or anyone else.
Dean calls Sam, who had been using a spell by the witch Rowena to remove the Mark of Cain. Once Sam arrives, Dean tells him that Death was going to send him into some remote corner of space to keep him safe, but there was only one issue: Sam himself. Both Dean and Death knew that Sam would do anything to get Dean back if he vanished, that he would move Heaven and Earth, possibly literally, to find and get back his brother. To ensure Sam doesn't go on a rampage that ended with Dean's release and thus the release of the Darkness, Death tells Dean that Sam has to be killed before Dean is exiled.
After a brief fight with Sam, Dean takes Death's scythe and readies it before his brother, but delays in light of what he's about to do. Sam tries to argue that Dean is good inside and that, regardless of what he does to him, neither he nor Dean is evil and that the world will be a worse place without him. Dean remains stoically nihilistic, but still doesn't look forward to killing his own brother to keep himself from hurting anyone. Death states that all three of them knew that no matter what he did to keep Dean out of trouble, Sam would try to undo it like clockwork, so killing him was the only way to keep Dean under lock and key and if Dean couldn't bring himself to kill Sam, Death would be willing to do it himself. Dean looks at Sam and says he was sorry, then swings the scythe around and strikes Death. Death dies (or appears to) just as the legend says. In a case of serendipity, Rowena completes the spell moments after Death dies and the Mark of Cain is broken, freeing the Darkness. With the death of the only being other than God qualified to turn back the Darkness, Sam and Dean get caught in the fall-out of the Darkness's release from the Mark of Cain.
In the second episode of season 11, "Form and Void", it is revealed that upon Death's destruction his reapers pick up the slack, continuing to enforce mortality on behalf of their fallen leader and preserving his legacy. The reaper Billie comes to Sam and tells him that Death apparently found Sam and Dean's continued deaths and resurrections amusing but that she and her kind were not going to have it anymore. According to Billie, the next time either Sam or Dean die the reapers have every intent of avenging Death by "making a mistake" and tossing the brothers out into "The Empty", a form of oblivion, instead of taking them to an afterlife.
In season 13, Billie, having earlier been killed by Castiel, reappears as the new incarnation of Death. Billie explains that when one incarnation of Death dies, the next Reaper to die takes his place. As a result, Billie inherits Death's job and his library revealing the potential fates of every living thing.
In season 15, while discussing the war with God, Billie explains that Death's library contains a book that depicts even the way God can die. Later, the Darkness reveals to the Winchesters that she and God are actually twins and their separation caused the Big Bang and the creation of life. When Sam reminds her that Death told the Winchesters that the Darkness was the firstborn, the Darkness suggests that Death either lied or simply told them what the Winchesters needed to hear.
- Death, unlike demons, angels and ghosts, does not need to possess a human to appear as one and interact with the world in human form; he shares this trait with his fellow Horsemen.
- One of the few things that seems to irk Death, other than being bound, are those who compare themselves to beings such as him and God.
- Death is the only Horseman that is actually killed in the series, the other three are rendered powerless with the removal of their rings. He is later replaced by his former subordinate Billie.
- Death at the Supernatural Wiki