- "Doesn't take much; hardly a push! Oh, America; all-you-can-eat, all the time. Consume, consume! A swarm of locusts in stretch pants! And yet, you're all still starving, because hunger doesn't just come from the body, it also comes from the soul!"
- ―Famine's view on how humanity constantly hunger in spite of however much they have.[src]
Manifestation of hunger and craving
|Status :||Alive; inactive|
|Appearance(s) :||My Bloody Valentine|
|Actor/Actress :||James Otis|
Famine is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who is responsible for hunger and craving among humanity in the natural order. Famine manifested and was controlled by Lucifer for the Apocalypse, but was rendered powerless before he could grow strong enough.
Famine is a force of nature embodied and a very powerful being. As the horseman who manages and embodies gluttony and hunger, Famine's presence when he manifested in physical form could manipulate and amplify humans' sense of hunger and craving; and the range of Famine's influence and the speed with which his effect took hold over those touched would increase as Famine grew stronger. Being within a couple miles of Famine would cause one to be constantly insatiably plagued by their hunger to an extreme, uncontrollable and self-destructive level, but being within several feet of Famine would cause one's hunger to consume them and completely block out all other conscious thought. Although Famine is hunger and starvation embodied, his gluttony-inducing effect was not limited to a person's natural hunger for food and drink, but affected whatever that person craved the most; sex, attention, drugs, money, alcohol, love, and others.
According to Castiel, once a person's hunger had been touched by Famine's effect, transporting that person away to a safe distance would not remove Famine's influence from them, and the only way to negate Famine's hunger-amplifying touch would be to neutralize Famine himself. Famine's effect, while meant for humans, could also affect angels, by touching their vessels' hungers and causing them to feel and act out on it. Demons appeared to be either completely immune to Famine's effect or filtered out so as to be untouched by his influence. People who felt no need, craving or hunger were unaffected by Famine even when directly in his presence, although a human would have to be completely dead on the inside to be so immune to Famine.
Famine had several other powerful supernatural abilities (and afflictions) besides his hunger-inducing influence. As he was hunger itself, Famine regularly hungered for souls, and was made strong by devouring them; and he could consume either human souls or demonized souls. Famine's powers were able to easily overpower demons; he could telekinetically restrain demons and pull them out of their vessels, and could call demons' smoke forms into his mouth to be devoured. Famine could also look into a person's subconscious and scan their soul and assess their emotional state, just through placing his hand upon that person's chest.
While Famine, as a force of nature embodied, couldn't be killed, he could still be incapacitated and severely crippled by separating him from his ring. He could also be wounded and temporarily incapacitated by manipulating undigested spiritual essences that he'd recently consumed. (My Bloody Valentine)
According to the Book of Revelation and the prophecy of the Apocalypse, Famine would rise with the other horsemen when Lucifer walked the Earth, and would serve as one of Lucifer's primary weapons for his genocide against humanity. As described by Castiel, Famine's influence would manifest in "the land of plenty," directly preceding the horseman's physical arrival. Cass mentioned that once Famine gained enough strength and was at full power, he would "march across the lands." (My Bloody Valentine)
Famine has existed throughout time as a force of nature, and his effects have been felt by humanity throughout history in the form of humans' weakness towards hunger, gluttony, desire and starvation. (Supernatural: The Official Companion - Season 5)
In 2009, when the Apocalypse began after Lucifer was freed from his cage, Famine and the other horsemen manifested on Earth in human form to act as Lucifer's weapons against humanity; having been bound by Lucifer to be where he wanted, when he wanted. (Supernatural: The Official Companion - Season 5)
At around Valentine's Day, Lucifer sent Famine to an unknown town, accompanied by a group of elite demon helpers, to increase Famine's strength and ensure he'd be ready to march across the lands. Famine's effect caused eight suicides and nineteen ODs over a matter of days; then when he and his demons finally rode into town in his Black Horse and set up base at a local Biggerson's, Famine's effect strengthened and spread out to affect the entire town.
Dean Winchester and Castiel tracked Famine down to stop him, but their attempt to cut off Famine's ring was thwarted and they were captured. Sam, having fallen back to his old demon blood addiction due to Famine's effect, arrived shortly afterwards to save Dean and Cass and to challenge Famine, but Famine had in fact wanted this of Sam, and then offered his demons up to Sam as sustenance. Though tempted, Sam ultimately resisted and refused, so Famine devoured the demons instead. Sam then, having himself counted on this, used his reactivated special child powers on the demon souls inside of Famine, causing the demons to become volatile and explode out of Famine, incapacitating him. (My Bloody Valentine) Sam, Dean and Cass then took Famine's ring. (Hammer of the Gods)
According to Brady, after Famine lost his ring, he's reduced to a withered, bony husk, "fetal position on the floor." Brady also indicated that even getting his ring back would not do Famine any good. (The Devil You Know)
Famine was a highly sadistic and cruel being, who took a level of twisted enjoyment in watching his influence bring out people's deepest hungers and overwhelm them with it. Famine was all about hunger; displaying a low opinion of humans as "a swarm of locusts in stretch pants" for how they constantly hungered and consumed in both body and soul, and likewise considering angels "dogs" for their inability to control their own vessels' hunger while under Famine's influence. Famine was also very cruel with his demon carers, going into a childlike but deadly tantrum in which he devoured his own demons when they failed to feed him a human soul on time, and had no problems at all with feeding his demons to Sam's demon blood addiction. Although, Famine was more warm and sweet towards Sam, revering Sam's demon blood addiction because of how it made Sam the sole exception to the rule who would never die from consuming too much.
The horseman upon which Famine is based is described in Revelation, 6:5-6. According to Revelation, it is the third one of the Four Horsemen to be released, riding out when the third of the seven seals is opened by Jesus Christ. The third horseman is described as riding a black horse, and as carrying a pair of balances or weighing scales. The third rider's arrival is also signaled by an unidentified voice saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Though the black rider is widely recognized as representing Famine, other interpretations of him include a divine law-giver or a destructive social class gap.
- Though the show didn't explain why Famine's human form was so weakened and frail, it has been popularly theorized among fans to be because the horseman has been deprived of natural energy due to famine no longer being as major a problem in the world following technological agriculture improvements.