|Notable distinctions :||Disembodied dead soul on Earth|
Pale and/or cobwebbed complexion
Flickering and disappearing
|Main weaknesses :|| Salting and burning remains|
|Related to :|| Human|
|Culture(s) of origin :||Worldwide|
|Native range :||Earth (The Veil)|
|First appearance :||Pilot|
Ghosts are restless deceased human spirits that have remained in or returned to the world of the living after death, for whatever reason, and are among the most common paranormal hunts and cases hunters encounter. Older ghosts are often more broken and wild due to their time on Earth after death deteriorating their minds.
The soul of a human becomes a ghost when it either remains in the world of the living after death instead of moving on to Heaven or Hell, (Pilot onwards) or when it is summoned back from the afterlife through the dark arts. (Hollywood Babylon onwards) In the former case, a dead person's spirit may stay behind as a ghost by emotionally holding on too hard to life and the living and refusing to let go, (Roadkill onwards) may have unfinished business and/or have gone through a terrible tragedy in life or at the time of their death that stops them from moving on, (Pilot onwards) may have been trapped by a powerful supernatural force, (Of Grave Importance) or may have simply flat-out turned down or been prevented from going with their reaper. (Death Takes a Holiday, Of Grave Importance)
It is also, in rarer instances, possible for living humans' spirits to leave their bodies and become ghosts. This can happen when a person uses astral projection to leave their bodies and enter the Veil, (Death Takes a Holiday) or it can happen in the form of a near-death, out-of-body experience when the person's body is comatose and almost on the brink of death. (In My Time of Dying) It can also happen when a person's body is trapped in a vegetative state and their spirit grows frustrated that it can't be allowed to just die. (Bedtime Stories)
State of existenceEdit
Spirits that become ghosts after death, when not active enough to more directly influence the physical world, exist in the Veil in an incorporeal, limbo-like state where they can observe but are usually invisible and intangible to living humans and to the physical realm. Due to existing in the Veil, ghosts can see other ghosts and reapers. However, ghosts can learn how to influence the physical world by moving objects and beings in it with their minds, and can even break through the Veil and manifest in the physical world enough to become visible to the living. Ghosts are capable of achieving interaction with the physical world through either deep, calm concentration or intense, blind rage. (Death Takes a Holiday, Of Grave Importance)
One known exception to the rule of ghosts existing in the Veil and only for brief periods manifesting in or affecting the physical world was Molly McNamara, who, when she became active for one entire night on the anniversary of her death, was constantly fully corporeal and conscious as a living human would be. (Roadkill)
Ghosts can produce electromagnetic interference, which can cause interference in electronic devices and be detected by EMF meters. They also cause cold spots and sudden temperature drops in the vicinity when growing active. A ghost can be detected via thermal imaging, as it will show up on infra-red as a concentrated cold spot on the very spot where the ghost is. (Ghostfacers (web series))
Ghosts usually appear identical to how they did when alive, but sometimes they may appear filthy and matted with cobwebs on their clothes, and very pale. As a ghost deteriorates as it spends longer on Earth, its appearance becomes more decomposed and rotted. Ghosts usually wear either the clothes they died in or clothes that they wore most commonly when alive. Sometimes, very important and common objects from spirits' lives they also possess as ghosts, such as objects they carried on them or vehicles such as trucks and ships which they put much of their life or spirit into. (Route 666, Red Sky at Morning)
Ghosts possess several different telekinetic, electrokinetic, thermokinetic abilities among other powers. Some spirit powers are common among all ghosts, while others are rarer and may be unique to a few ghosts; in the latter case, a ghost's unique powers usually relate to circumstances surrounding its death.
Ghosts can telekinetically move corporeal objects and physical beings with their minds, via deep concentration or an immense burst of rage; through practice, ghosts can become stronger telekinetics, going from shifting simple objects to throwing people and manipulating multiple objects, such as doors, which they can use to trap their victims by making them immovable. (Death Takes a Holiday, Of Grave Importance, et al.) Ghosts can also teleport from one location to another instantly, and can sometimes tap into and access superhuman levels of strength and speed, especially when motivated by intense emotion or concentration. Some ghosts can also manipulate and affect elements such as fire, water and electricity.
The most angry of ghosts can exhude and produce ectoplasm in the area, although this is beyond the anger range of most spirits. (No Exit) Some ghosts are capable of possessing living humans, which causes the vessel to excrete ectoplasm. The human's consciousness is awake, but the ghost's motives control their actions, if the ghost itself does not directly control their body. (After School Special, Southern Comfort) Some ghosts can also induce sickness and disease in people and spread ghost sickness, and can cause wounds mirroring ones they received at the time of their death to appear in living people. (Yellow Fever) Some ghosts can leave EMVs on electronic recordings such as those of tapes, phones and radios. (Pilot)
Certain circumstances relating to how a ghost died, and/or who they were in life, can affect and determine what kind of ghost the person becomes, in some cases even granting the ghost unique abilities and attributes. A man who died via electrocution from a WiFi tower travelled through the internet and projected himself through computers as a ghost, (Halt & Catch Fire) Mary Winchester possessed a pyrokinetic form after she was killed by Azazel's brutal mother-murdering method, (Home) and Peter Sweeney possessed hydrokinetic control over the waters of the lake he drowned in. (Dead in the Water)
Harming and repellingEdit
There are some means of repelling, trapping and temporarily incapacitating ghosts, one of the most well-known and commonly-used being salt, which has several repelling effects against ghosts. Ghosts cannot cross a line of salt, and blasting ghosts with buck shots of salt can dissipate said ghosts. (Hook Man onwards) Dissipating a ghost will incapacitate it for a short time, although it will quickly reconstitute. Salt can also be used in expelling ghosts possessing living humans, in that causing the possessed person to ingest enough salt can hurt the ghost enough to force the spirit out of the person it is possessing. (After School Special)
Iron can also repel spirits; similarly to with salt, ghosts cannot cross iron, and striking at a ghost with iron will dissipate the spirit. (Provenance onwards) Cat's eye shells can apparently ward spirits off as well. (Pilot) It is known that if and when a ghost overstretches and overuses its abilities, then its power will be left exhausted for a time until it recovers. (Of Grave Importance et al.)Also, magic is capable of controlling ghosts and even summoning spirits back from their rest, forcing them to do the caster's bidding and/or binding or restraining them. (Hollywood Babylon et al.) It is also known that most ghosts are bound to the place where they died or their home in life, or to something else from in their life, which in turn can restrict their movements.
Putting to restEdit
There are some methods of vanquishing ghosts from the mortal realm and putting them to rest. It was assumed by most hunters that after a ghost was vanquished from the physical plane, there was nothing but oblivion for the ghost's soul; (Roadkill, Of Grave Importance) however, the rogue reaper Ajay later revealed that a destroyed ghost's soul can be picked up by a reaper and transported to one of the afterlife realms. (Taxi Driver)
When a dead person's spirit stays on Earth as a ghost, the spirit is bound to and tethered to the physical plane by something which possesses traces from their original body such as DNA. This is usually the ghost's corpse, but if the ghost's body was cremated or otherwise completely burned after death, then the ghost will instead be bound to something else with their DNA, such as a lock of preserved hair or an object they commonly physically used in life such as a flask or key. This is in turn a ghost's Achilles heel, in that as this corpse or object is what tethers the spirit to the mortal realm, salting and then burning it will vanquish the ghost from the world of the living. Depending on a ghost's power, the object it is bound to may (unless the spirit haunts the place where it lived and/or died) limit the ghost's movement and how far the spirit can go from the cursed object - ghosts can overcome this limitation through moving or getting their cursed object moved to their intended destination. (Of Grave Importance)
Another thing capable of vanquishing ghosts is themselves; powerful spirits are capable of destroying weaker ghosts by draining out their energy. (Of Grave Importance) Also, some weaker ghosts cannot cross onto hallowed ground, and will be destroyed if they do so. (Route 666)
Alternatively, instead of having to forcefully destroy a ghost to put the spirit to rest, the ghost can be persuaded to let go of whatever unresolved issues is keeping it from moving on and to rest in peace; although this is much more difficult for ghosts and usually requires a strong emotional connection, due to how wild, angry and damaged ghosts become from their time on Earth after death. (Roadkill, Bad Boys, Halt & Catch Fire)
- "It could be revenge. Could be love. Or hate. Whatever it is, they just hold on too tight. Can't let go. So they're trapped. Caught in the same loops. Replaying the same tragedies over and over. They weren't evil people, you know? A lot of them were good. Just... Something happened to them. Something they couldn't control."
- ―Sam Winchester on how vengeful and violent ghosts devolve from the people they were in life.[src]
Ghosts' behaviour is controlled and decided by who they were in life and how they died. Ghosts also have very skewed views of existence and of others, in that they, as stated by Sam Winchester, "only see what they want to see" and see living people and their actions as "black and white" (innocent or guilty) with no "grey". It is known as well that the longer a ghost stays on the physical plane after death, its time on Earth causes the spirit's mind to deteriorate, until the ghost loses so much of its living self and gives in to anger and vengeance that it becomes little more than a wild animal. (Roadkill, In My Time of Dying et al.)
The reason for ghosts' deterioration from the people they were in life is because over the years, their disembodiment, loneliness and/or their refusal to let go of an emotional incident involving their death drives them to become so angry, scared and upset that - like an injured animal - the ghost begins to uncontrollably lash out at others who get in its way. (In My Time of Dying)
It is also known that when a ghost is constantly and completely trapped at one place, over the decades, at varying rates between different ghosts, the spirit will deteriorate (in a process dubbed "Ghost Alzheimer's") into a zombie-like state of insanity. (Of Grave Importance)
Types of ghostEdit
The type of ghost seen with Mary Worthington and Janet Meyers is created when a woman is murdered (possibly specifically by a lover or ex-lover) and dies in front of a mirror. These spirits are unique in that while they are still just as harmful and dangerous to the living and to the real world, they can only be seen in mirrors and influence the real world through its reflection. However, these mirror ghosts also rely on mirrors and reflection for their power, and are harmless without any mirrors nearby. (Bloody Mary, Ghostfacers (web series))
This type of ghost is trapped in a loop, reenacting its death over and over, unless and until it is shocked and broken out of the loop through emotional connections. (Ghostfacers)
A technically harmless type of ghost which was murdered, death omens appear to people who are about to be killed by the death omen spirit's killer to try and warn them. (The Usual Suspects)
Spirits which haunt certain roads, roadway locations and/or modes of transportation such as cars, ships or planes and appear at specific locations, associated with the phantom traveller in question's death or a tragedy in their life. (Phantom Traveller, The Benders)
A potentially very violent type of spirit which seeks attention, poltergeists usually uses deadly and violent actions to try and gain attention, and can become very dangerous to reach their attention-seeking goal through this mean. (Home, Swap Meat)
A type of ghost which died with a large grudge towards someone else, spectres, as a result of this, possess living people holding grudges of any length over something and cause that person to extremely violently act out on this grudge. (Southern Comfort)
A very common and dangerous type of spirit, vengeful spirits are ghosts who were greatly wronged in life (a wrong that may be involved with or have even caused their death), and so in death these ghosts they become obsessed over this wrong and are driven by vengeance and anger. (Dead in the Water onwards)
An extremely dangerous type of ghost, violent spirits are driven by cruelty, usually due to them having been evil and caused suffering in life and thus continuing to do this in death. (Hook Man onwards)
The Witnesses are spirits that are forcefully risen from their rest by a powerful spell, and are thus left in a state of rash, vengeful and violent, raging agony. A Witness can be identified by a talisman-shaped spiritual brand. Unlike normal ghosts, the Witnesses seem to be able to move around freely and be wherever they want. There is a reverse-spell which can put the Witnesses back to rest. The Rising of the Witnesses is an early prelude to the Apocalypse. (Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester)
Women in white are a type of ghost who suffered from a certain form of love issues when alive, and are cursed in death as a result to lure any other unfaithful men they find to their deaths. (Pilot)
The type of ghost seen with Molly McNamara is a spirit which awakens on the anniversary of its death in a loop; it is different from other ghosts in that when it is manifest, it is continuously so and fully aware, conscious, corporeal, unaware that it's dead and lacks any ghostly abilities, just like with a living human. (Roadkill)
The concept of ghosts and the spirits of the deceased remaining and surviving beyond death, staying behind in the mortal world and being contacted by the living is highly common in cultures' lore. Ghosts are known in lore as the souls of dead people that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions.
- Ghosts are the most commonly seen creatures in Supernatural, alongside demons.
- Some fans have expressed wonder and curiosity that monsters' souls can become ghosts after death like humans' can; but a few doubt the possibility, due to the fact that no known monster ghosts have ever been encountered, and that monster souls seem to go to Purgatory almost instantly after death and thus may go there automatically rather than making the choice of whether or not to go with a reaper.
- It was originally unknown what happened to ghosts in Supernatural after they were vanquished from the earthly plane, but it was generally believed that there was nothing but oblivion after this for the spirit. However, Taxi Driver revealed that after a ghost has been vanquished, a reaper can pick up the spirit and send the soul to one of the afterlife realms.
- It has been noted that ghosts' abilities, nature and attributes are much more wildly various than those of most other supernatural beings.