| Reapers mimicking human form|
Reaper's true form
|Notable distinctions :||Exist to reap dying humans|
Mortician-wear human form
Usually only exist in the Veil
|Main weaknesses :|| Angel blade|
|Related to :||Death|
|Native range :||Earth/The Veil|
|First appearance :||Faith|
Reapers are deathly spirits and servants of Death, who are tasked with reaping and collecting the souls of humans who are dying and sending them to their afterlife destinations. Reapers are normally completely neutral beings, aligned with neither Heaven nor Hell nor humans nor Purgatory, and loyal to the natural order.
Role in the natural orderEdit
Reapers are required on Earth for death to occur, in a process called reaping; when a human reaches the end of their life (i.e. their body has been mortally damaged) then a reaper in the local area will be tasked with causing the human's body to die with a touch.
The reaper will then will escort the now-deceased human's soul to their afterlife destination in either Heaven or Hell. Though reapers can coerce a human soul into coming with them to its resting place, they can't force them to come. If a reaper is unable to get a deceased soul to come with it, then the soul will remain behind on the mortal plane as a ghost. If a reaper is not present to reap those whose time is up, then these people will survive any fatal injuries unharmed until the reaping starts again.
After the effects of Metatron's spell during the Fall closed the majority of the ways into Heaven, while humans still died as normal when fatally wounded or afflicted, their reapers could no longer take them to Heaven, forcing them to leave them waiting in the Veil as ghosts. (Captives, Stairway to Heaven) However, this has presumably been fixed after the angels retook Heaven.
Reapers usually exist in incorporeal astral form in the Veil, where they are naturally invisible and intangible to humans and the physical world and phase through solid matter unaffected; (Faith onwards) although ghosts, angels and demons can see and physically interact with reapers, (Death Takes a Holiday, Appointment in Samarra) as can humans whose time before being reaped is up. (Faith, In My Time of Dying)
In the Veil, reapers are shown to have an astral true form. A reaper's true form is a wispy, levitating, translucent greenish humanoid, with blurred features and long strips of cloth covering them from the head down. However, when conversing with human souls such as those they are assigned to reap, reapers often opt to instead appear to them in human appearances instead of their true form. (In My Time of Dying) The human forms that reapers mimic are commonly elderly men in mortician's wear, (Faith, Death Takes a Holiday, Abandon All Hope...) although this is not always the case as they can use different human appearances such as beautiful women. (In My Time of Dying)
Though reapers are normally invisible and incorporeal to the physical world, rogue reapers have been shown to be able to manifest in corporeal human forms that can physically interact with the physical world. One rogue reaper revealed that she'd become corporeal like this by possessing a human as a vessel. (Taxi Driver, I'm No Angel, Stairway to Heaven)
Reapers possess several deathly and supernatural powers, mostly as part of their role in the natural order of reaping souls. For example, to allow death to occur, a reaper can cause a person whose body is mortally damaged to die from the damage with a touch. (Faith, Death Takes a Holiday) Also, although they do not usually willingly do this, reapers can transfer a fatally damaged person's mortal ailment (such as a disease or internal damage or cancer) from them onto another human, but the other human who now has the ailment must then die in the cured mortal's place to maintain the natural order. (Faith) Reapers' presence can also cause electromagnetic interference such as lights flickering and gusts of wind, and reapers can apparently manipulate humans memories to erase certain memories and restore them. (In My Time of Dying, Death Takes a Holiday)
Reapers can appear virtually anywhere on Earth and teleport between spots. They can also easily cross the dimensional border from Earth or the Veil to other realms - including Purgatory, Hell, Heaven and probably others - and can transport souls and even living humans across the border to other realms with them. (Taxi Driver) Though reapers are normally incorporeal, they have been known to be able to enter and possess humans' bodies and use them as vessels with which to physically interact with the corporeal world, similarly to with demons and angels. When possessing humans, reapers can also use telekinesis to move beings and objects with their minds. (I'm No Angel)
Though reapers are quite powerful, they do possess some weaknesses. Certain Enochian runes and symbols can ward and bind reapers, (Stairway to Heaven) and there is one known sigil that can trap reapers in it and render them immobile. (Death Takes a Holiday) There is also one known form of dark magic that humans can use to bind a reaper and control who the reaper reaps and force it to reap healthy people in the mortally dying's respective places. (Faith) However, nothing is known to be able to permanently stop reapers from reaping those whose time is up unless they are resurrected or another dies in their place. High-level demons such as Azazel and Alastair are apparently stronger than and capable of overpowering and capturing reapers, and Azazel was even shown to be able to take over and possess reapers as he can human bodies. (In My Time of Dying, Death Takes a Holiday)
There are few known means of killing reapers. However, an angel blade or the First Blade can destroy a reaper that is stabbed in corporeal human form. (Taxi Driver, I'm No Angel, Stairway to Heaven) Death's scythe can also be used kill reapers even in their incorporeal state, by slicing the reaper across the neck with the scythe. (Death Takes a Holiday)
Reapers are completely neutral, uninterested in the affairs of either the angels or the demons, deals or fate, or even each-other at times, and concerned only with the natural order and fulfilling their reaping duties. (Death Takes a Holiday) However, some reapers, referred to as rogue reapers, have been known to go against this trend and devotion to the natural order by working for others for the sole purpose of profit or for other reasons. (Taxi Driver, I'm No Angel) Non-rogue reapers are impartial, refusing to kill humans before their time, although there seemed to have been one possible exception. (Faith)
Although reapers can at times appear cold and stoic, they are capable of emotions such as sympathy, anger, fear and annoyance. They apparently also possess free will, although most reapers don't act upon it. Reapers have also been shown to at times sympathise with those they are tasked with reaping and to sometimes, but not always, be calm and patient with them. However, reapers will not make exceptions or allowances for anyone.
Hierarchy and interactionsEdit
Reapers have little - no known interactions with each-other, and apart from rogues, they seem to simply go to reaping tasks in their local area that they have been assigned to. Though they seem to normally be solitary, reapers do seem to have some hierarchy, as a new reaper can be sent to replace one that has gone missing in its reaping tasks. It has also been implied that when large numbers of deaths are about to occur, multiple reapers may be sent, as according to Castiel, reapers usually only gather in very large masses in prelude to great disasters. Reapers apparently follow Death as their leader, in that they answer to him and follow him without question, and after Death was raised during the Apocalypse, masses of reapers were shown to follow him around.
Little is known about reapers' history, but it has been implied that they are Death's children, created as part of the natural order. Since early human history, they have fulfilled the role of causing humans whose time is up to die and cross over. According to Castiel, among the times that reapers have gathered together in prelude to great catastrophe were the destruction of Pompeii, the San Francisco Earthquake and the Chicago Fire. (Abandon All Hope...)
Though reapers usually follow the natural order and their duties of carrying out death, by 2013, rogue reapers that work for profit began to appear. (Season 8, Season 9) The rise of rogue reapers may have been prompted by the aversion of the Apocalypse, as according to Balthazar, a consequence of the Apocalypse's aversion was that the universe had become more free and random and chaotic. (The Third Man, My Heart Will Go On)
After the Fall in 2013 closed the gates of Heaven, while humans still died as normal on Earth, the reapers were now unable to guide their souls to Heaven and thus these souls were left scared and confused in the Veil. (Captives, Stairway to Heaven) The reapers' anguish from their inability to help these souls that were left trapped in the Veil resulted in many reapers being driven to join Metatron's forces such as his ground forces elite unit; responsible for infiltrating Castiel's angel army, and suicide-bombing Metatron's angels to frame Cass. (Stairway to Heaven)
Cases and encountersEdit
- Sue-Ann Le Grange used black magic to bind and enslave a reaper, first to save her husband Roy from cancer and a coma. Afterwards, Sue-Ann began using the bound reaper to heal those that Roy chose as a faith healer of their fatal ailments and to kill those that Sue-Ann thought of as wicked in the healed people's places. While Sue-Ann was sending the reaper after Dean Winchester, she was stopped when Sam freed the reaper from her control; prompting the reaper to kill Sue-Ann and stop the exchange of the deaths of those Roy healed for others'. (Faith)
- A reaper, Tessa, was assigned in 2006 with reaping those at a hospital whose time was up. While she was attempting to reap a near-death Dean and get him to come with her, she was stopped and Dean restored and saved when the demon Azazel possessed Tessa and healed Dean. (In My Time of Dying)
- During the breaking of Lucifer's seals between late 2008 and 2009, Alastair kidnapped the reaper of Greybull, Wyoming - causing the local people to stop dying - then kidnapped Tessa as well when she came to reap those in Greybull that were meant to have died. Alastair tried to kill the two reapers with Death's scythe to break one of Lucifer's seals, and he succeeded in killing the Greybull reaper, but Tessa was freed from the reaper's trap binding her and escaped just before Alastair could kill her. Tessa subsequently began reaping those in the town whose time was up. (Death Takes a Holiday)
- During the Apocalypse in late 2009, when Lucifer was preparing to raise Death at Carthage, Missouri, masses of reapers appeared and gathered at the town in prelude to Death's return. (Abandon All Hope...)
- When Lucifer sent Death to Chicago in early 2010 to wipe the city out with a storm system, a large mass of reapers followed Death to Chicago. (Two Minutes to Midnight)
- When Dean took Death's place for twenty-four hours as part of a sort of bet with him, the reaper Tessa was assigned to help Dean with reaping those whose time was up during Dean's 24-hour period as Death. (Appointment in Samarra)
- When Bobby Singer was in a coma and dying from a headshot by Dick Roman, a reaper was sent to contact Bobby in his comatose dreams to get him to come with it. Bobby initially refused and tried to escape and survive, but this ultimately failed. As Bobby's body died, instead of going with his reaper, he chose to stay behind on Earth as a ghost. (Death's Door)
- The rogue reaper Ajay was responsible for working as a type of spiritual coyote (smuggling spirits and mortals in and out of realms for a price), smuggling Bobby Singer's soul to Hell for Crowley in 2012, and sending Sam Winchester to Purgatory in 2013 for 24 hours. After helping Sam enter Purgatory to breach Hell, Ajay was killed by Crowley with an angel blade. (Taxi Driver)
- After Bartholomew's faction of angels rose on Earth, Bartholomew hired rogue reapers to try and find Castiel for him. One of these reapers tracked the Winchesters in search of Castiel, and was captured and killed by them as a result; while another possessed April Kelly and successfully captured and interrogated Castiel, but was subsequently killed with an angel blade. (I'm No Angel)
- The reaper Tessa was recruited by Gadreel for Metatron's elite unit, and brainwashed to suicide-bomb Metatron's angels and frame Castiel as the one who'd ordered her to do it. However, Tessa was discovered and taken into custody, and she was shortly afterwards killed by Dean with the First Blade. According to Tessa, there were countless other reapers serving the same goal she was now. (Stairway to Heaven)
- Ajay (deceased)
- April Kelly (deceased)
- Maurice (deceased)
- Tessa (deceased)
- Bobby Singer's Reaper
- Reaper (Faith)
Many cultures and religions have lore of psychopomps like reapers, whose responsibility is to escort the souls of the recently deceased to the afterlife. Psychopomps' duty is not to judge souls but merely to guide them when they die, and they are usually neutral in such matters. Classic examples of psychompomps include Charon, Hermes and Mercury, and the one with which reapers have the most in common with is Death (A.K.A. the Grim Reaper). Shamans also serve in many cultures as psychopomps, as do mediators between conscious and unconscious planes in Jungian psychology.
- In My Time of Dying
- Death Takes a Holiday
- Abandon All Hope...
- Two Minutes to Midnight
- Appointment in Samarra
- Death's Door
- Taxi Driver
- I'm No Angel
- Stairway to Heaven
- In Taxi Driver and I'm No Angel, rogue reapers have been shown to take corporeal human form which makes them visible to humans and able to directly interact with the physical world. How and why these reapers have been able to become corporeal, something reapers have never been seen to do before, has never been officially explained, but most fans believe based on the revelation in I'm No Angel that reapers can possess human bodies like angels and demons that these corporeal reapers are actually possessing human bodies as well. Alternatively, a few fans have suggested that reapers becoming corporeal could perhaps be a side-effect of these reapers going rogue from the natural order, or that these reapers have simply crossed from the Veil onto the physical state of existence (as it was mentioned in Taxi Driver that reapers' ability to cross the dimensional border included crossing between Earth and the Veil among other realms).
- In Stairway to Heaven, Dean called the reaper Tessa an angel when talking to her, and many fans afterwards took this to mean that reapers are in fact a type of angel. However, other fans disagree with this assumption and have suggested that Dean calling Tessa an angel may have just been a slip-up by Jensen Ackles or the scriptwriter, due to; certain significant differences between angels and reapers, the way in which angels themselves seem to treat reapers as a separate species, and the fact that reapers were previously described as being related to Death.