- "Hell is like, well, it's like hell. Even for demons. It's a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear."
- ―Meg describing Hell.[src]
|Whereabouts :||Unclear; Purgatory-adjacent|
Referred to as beneath Earth
|Appearance(s) :||See full list below|
|Filming location :||TBA|
Hell - also called Downstairs, the Pit, the Basement or Hades - is a spiritual realm of torture and pain and punishment, said to be very terrible. Hell is where mostly evil human souls and humans who sold their soul in a demonic deal go after death, where they are tortured until they become demons. In this respect, Hell also in this respect serves as a prison and dwelling place for demons.
Hell apparently has multiple different parts and a varying landscape, similar to how Heaven has a vast multitude of personal Heavens. (No Rest for the Wicked) Hell's appearance and landscape can also be altered by its current ruler, as was initially done by Crowley when he took over. (The Man Who Would Be King) It is known as well that time in Hell runs differently to how time does on the earthly plane; Dean Winchester experienced forty years in Hell while only four months passed on Earth, (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Heaven and Hell) and for John, several months on Earth was "close to a century" in Hell time. (On the Head of a Pin)
Though Hell's landscape has been altered a few times in the past, one consistent pattern with all of Hell's different parts and 'designs' is that they are all meant for, in one form or another, constantly torturing and tormenting the human souls condemned to Hell, and depriving them of any hope or positive emotions, until the torture and corruption turns the souls into new demons. Hell has, in this respect, always been infamous as a very horrific place, and damnation to Hell has been feared as one of the worst possible fates one could ever possibly suffer. (Born Under a Bad Sign, Malleus Maleficarum, The Man Who Would Be King et al.) One common and recurring metaphysical feature across Hell's different landscapes is a dank, dark, stormy, cloudy void or sky, across which thunder and lightning regularly flashes. (No Rest for the Wicked, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Devil in the Details)
Hell's original design was "a prison, made of bone and flesh and blood and fear," as described by Meg, (Born Under a Bad Sign) and Alastair likewise described Hell as being very hot and filled with the screams and stench of the damned souls' torture and mutilation. (Heaven and Hell) After Crowley took over Hell in 2010 following the derailment of the Apocalypse, he initially changed Hell into a never-ending queue, (The Man Who Would Be King) although Hell has since been reverted to its more terrifying, savage, 'torture chamber' form. (Taxi Driver, Season 11)
There are several known methods of accessing Hell from other realms such as Earth.
When humans on the mortal plane die, their reaper may take them to Hell. It is unclear what sins and offences a human must commit in life for their soul to go to Hell instead of Heaven after death, but known offences that can condemn a human soul to Hell apparently include murdering innocent people in God's name (99 Problems) and murdering the innocent in significant quantities. (Repo Man) Humans who have sold their soul to a demon in a deal will also go to Hell after death because of their demon contract, unless their end of the contract is relinquished before they die. Although in the latter case, once the person has died and gone to Hell, their debt has been paid and thus their soul will no longer be earmarked for Hell in the unlikely event that they're afterwards resurrected. (Lazarus Rising) Rogue reapers may ferry souls meant for Heaven to Hell for a price. (Taxi Driver)
The majority of demons are trapped in Hell and unable to escape, although there are some means of demons escaping Hell. Some high-level demons can travel between Earth and Hell with ease and send lower-level demons in Hell to Earth, (I Know What You Did Last Summer et al.) but lower-level demons can only escape from Hell through to the Earth with either aid such as summoning rituals or with great strength and effort in it. (Born Under a Bad Sign et al.) It is possible to send a demon back to Hell by meathods such as exorcism; expelling the subject demon from its current vessel and sending it straight back from Earth to Hell. (Phantom Traveller et al.) Hellhounds can also be sent from Hell to Earth by their demon masters or to collect the soul of a human whose demon deal is due. (Crossroad Blues et al.)
Devil's gates, which are doorways from Earth to Hell, are another method of releasing demons from Hell. Though they can be kept sealed, when a devil's gate is open, demons and souls in Hell that are normally unable to escape Hell by themselves will be able to come pouring through out to the earthly plane, until the gate is closed again. (All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2)
Reapers know multiple secret and tricky ways and 'backdoors' into and out of Hell, at least some of which even demons are unaware of and can't find. One reaper, Billie, could open doors from Earth to Hell for humans to pass through; drawing specific sigils on a pair of double-doors, then activating the portal with a touch so that the doors would open into Hell. (The Devil in the Details) The rogue reaper Ajay also knew of a secret backdoor portal to Hell which was hidden in Purgatory. (Taxi Driver) Fairies have claimed to likewise know secret 'backdoors' into and out of even the most secure parts of Hell, such as Lucifer's cage. (Clap Your Hands If You Believe...)
Although it is usually difficult (unless they are actually allowed into Hell by its ruling demons), (The Man Who Would Be King) angels are capable of forcing and fighting their way into Hell in sieges and incursions. (Lazarus Rising et al.) It is also possible for the highest-ranking demons in Hell who possess enough power over the realm to take living humans with them to and from Hell, seemingly unaided. (O Brother Where Art Thou?)
Inhabitants and denizensEdit
Hell is the location and dwelling place of demons, and of some human souls after death. Human souls may be condemned to Hell either due to selling their soul to a demon in a deal, (Crossroad Blues et al.) or due to having committed certain crimes and atrocities when alive. (99 Problems, Repo Man) In Hell, after centuries of torture and mutilation, a human soul will lose its feelings and humanity and become a demon. (Malleus Maleficarum) Hell is also home to other creatures besides demons and condemned human souls; including hellhounds, (Crossroad Blues et al.) and the Whore of Babylon, before her death. (99 Problems)
A hierarchy among the demons and denizens in Hell does exist, but it doesn't appear to be as rigid or controlled as pre-Apocalypse Heaven's. Hell has titles such as Grand Torturer among the demons that torture souls in Hell, (Heaven and Hell) King of the Crossroads for the highest-ranking crossroads demon, (Two Minutes to Midnight) and the King of Hell for the demon that rules over all of Hell and the other demons. (Family Matters et al.)
Originally, before the derailment of the Apocalypse, Hell's order and hierarchy, while very clear and existent, appeared to be somewhat savage and less tightly-structured, with affiliations and alliances tending to be short-lived, and demons in Hell clawing their way to power or to more comfortable positions. However, after Crowley took over Hell, while its hierarchy remains just as brutal and unforgiving, it now seems to be more strict, orderly and tightly-wound, particularly after Abaddon's defeat. (Season 10)
Places, areas and landscapesEdit
Hell consists of multiple different landscapes and parts, and has seen an indeterminate number of 'redesigns.'
An impregnable prison located at the deepest part of Hell, which was created by God to hold and contain Lucifer after Lucifer's rebellions against God. Lucifer's cage is much more difficult to access than other parts of Hell, and even powerful beings such as up to two archangels in the cage cannot escape by themselves. However, while the cage is impregnable from the inside, it does appear to be possible to at least slightly breach it from the outside with great strength and effort. (Family Matters, The Man Who Would Be King)
Occupants can be freed from the cage if a portal is opened, (Swan Song) or if 66 of the cage's seals are broken. (Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester et al.) There was also a very complex ritual which could summon Lucifer from the cage without fully freeing him from it, although if Lucifer managed to possess a vessel while he was in this state, then he would fully break free from the cage. (O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Devil in the Details)
Hell, or at least its original design before Crowley's regime, possessed a 'waiting room' part where newly-arrived human souls in Hell were kept and left hanging by chains and meat hooks until the demon torturers were ready to take them into Hell's torture chambers. It appeared as a dank, stormy green void, containing webs of hanging long chains and meat hooks which the newly-arrived souls were hung on. (No Rest for the Wicked)
Hell's original design had chambers and areas where the souls there were tortured by demons such as Alastair. These torturing parts of Hell were home to torture racks and chambers, where souls there were torn apart in very excruciating and terrible manners only to then be healed so that the torture could restart. In Dean Winchester's case, he would be told at the end of each day of torturing that his daily torture on the rack would stop if he would start torturing other souls on it in his place; although it is unknown whether this offer applied to all souls tortured in Hell, or just to Dean alone due to the demons' efforts to break the first seal at this time. (Heaven and Hell)
After Crowley took over control of Hell in 2010, Hell was initially converted from its original savage and monstrous torture-chamber design into an endless queue. Crowley's "new and improved Hades"-design was visualized as a long, dull-yellow-lighted corridor, where the souls damned to Hell were expected to take a ticket and then take their place at the back of the queue. Once one of the souls in the line reached the front of the queue, they returned to the back, trapping them in an endless loop. (The Man Who Would Be King)
By 2013, Hell seemed to have been reverted to its dark, torturous and terrifying prison form. It was now a dark, stony prison labyrinth, where the damned souls were chained to the walls or locked up in grimy, prison-like cells to be horribly tortured and tormented on both physical and psychological levels. Known forms of torture inflicted on the souls in this Hell included skinning them, leaving them with their eyes gouged out, and having demon imposters take on the souls' friends' forms to pretend to bust them out of Hell and give them false hope and play with their minds. (Taxi Driver)
Limbo was, according to Crowley, the very farthest reaches of Hell, and was where he usually only sent unruly souls for "time-outs." It was also considered a very remote site in Hell. It appeared as a flat, plain, barren land covered with bones and gore, with bleak skies consisting entirely of dark, blackening thunderstorms. It also had a winding stony corridor through part of the landscape, and a few other structures such as a giant metal cage and a crude-looking podium, plus several lit torches in certain places. (O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Devil in the Details)
Early historyEditLittle is known for certain about Hell's past and whether it was originally created by God or Lucifer, but it has apparently existed since Lucifer's first rebellions against God, and God afterwards created Lucifer's cage in Hell to imprison Lucifer. (Season 4, Season 5) After Lucifer's rebellion, Hell became the afterlife destination for mostly evil human souls, where they would be tortured and stripped of their humanity until they became demons. (Malleus Maleficarum onwards) Hell also served as a prison for the demons created there from Hell's souls, although some demons could escape from Hell with enough strength, effort or outside assistance.
One well-known and notable incident in which hundreds of demons escaped from Hell occurred in early May, 2007, when the devil's gate in southern Wyoming was open long enough for hundreds of demons and spirits in Hell to escape through to Earth. (All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2) One year and a calculated three months later, the first of Lucifer's seals was broken in Hell when Dean Winchester, who was being tortured in Hell at the time, broke and took up torturing in Hell and unwittingly broke the first seal. (On the Head of a Pin) A month later, angels led by Castiel besieged and fought through Hell to Dean, and Castiel successfully raised Dean from Hell and resurrected him. (Lazarus Rising)
Following this, when Lilith and her demons on Earth began working to break Lucifer's remaining seals, several other creatures and demons were raised from Hell, including Samhain and other demons. (Season 4) Eventually, 66 of Lucifer's seals were broken and Lucifer was released from his cage and escaped from Hell to Earth. (Lucifer Rising, Sympathy for the Devil) Lucifer's rising and the Apocalypse allowed more new creatures and entities such as the Whore of Babylon to rise from Hell as well. (Sympathy for the Devil, 99 Problems)
In mid-2010, the Apocalypse was stopped when Sam Winchester trapped Lucifer and Michael in Lucifer's cage, (Swan Song) and the rogue crossroads demon Crowley afterwards assumed control and power over Hell as the King of Hell; (Family Matters) but in 2013, Crowley began facing a power struggle with Abaddon over control of Hell after Crowley was captured by the Winchesters. (Sacrifice, Devil May Care, Heaven Can't Wait) Though Abaddon was initially winning, Crowley ultimately remained King of Hell after Abaddon was killed with the First Blade. (King of the Damned, Do You Believe in Miracles?)
Known souls marked for HellEdit
- Amanda Burns
- Bela Talbot
- Bobby Singer (formerly)
- Carl Granville
- Dean Winchester (formerly)
- Ellie - Alive but earmarked for Hell
- Fergus MacLeod
- George Darrow (presumed)
- Jane - Alive but earmarked for Hell
- John Winchester (formerly)
- Margot Cassidy
- Mr. Pendleton - Alive but earmarked for Hell
- Renee Van Allen
- Rob - Alive but earmarked for Hell
- Robert Johnson
- Sean Boyden
- Silvia Pearlman
In many mythological, folklore and religious traditions including Christianity, Hell is a place of torture and punishment in the afterlife for sinners and unbelievers, usually described as being either beneath the Earth's surface or in another dimension. Some traditions and religions such as the Abrahamic religions consider damnation to Hell to be eternal, while others such as Buddhism consider it to be an intermediary period between reincarnations. Some depictions of Hell show it as being populated by demons, and often as being ruled over by a death god such as Lucifer, Hades, Hel, Nerga or Enma.
- No Rest for the Wicked
- Lazarus Rising
- In the Beginning (flashback)
- Unforgiven (Lucifer's cage; flashback)
- The Man Who Would Be King
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (Lucifer's cage; flashback)
- Taxi Driver
- O Brother Where Art Thou?
- The Devil in the Details
- It was revealed in Season 4 that time in Hell runs much faster than on Earth, and as such, four months on Earth is equivalent to forty years in Hell. However, in both Taxi Driver and Season 11, time seemed to pass at the same rate on Earth as in Hell when Sam entered Hell. In the former episode, Sam even had a wristwatch countdown which apparently wasn't at all disrupted or compromised by difference in time flow between Earth and Hell.
- Some fans have suggested that Crowley's redesigning of Hell after he took over as King may have also changed Hell's time flow so time passed at the same rate as on Earth's.