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Meta: The Nature of Death on Supernatural

The Nature of Death on Supernatural
(AKA: How my former love of the anime Bleach affects my Supernatural world-view)

Yesterday, I was talking to someone in comments on "To Being Half a Person" about S6. They expressed disappointment that God brought Cas back at the end of S5, but (so far) did not bring Gabriel back.

This got me thinking that I should post how *I* understand the way death works on Supernatural. To do so, I'm going to be using screen caps from this anime I used to watch called Bleach. You don't need to know anything about Bleach to understand though....

Basically, in my mind the Supernatural-universe looks like this:

Blue is the living/human souls. 
Brown is the dead/creatures/demons/etc. 
The space within the hourglass is made up of those places over which God has dominion. 
The space outside the hourglass is OUTSIDE God's dominion - It doesn't exist. It is outside the known universe. It is nothing.

When someone is killed by natural means, they are still WITHIN the hourglass. When Sam and Dean were in hell/heaven, they were still in the hourglass. Creatures in purgatory are still in the hourglass. Both times Cas was killed, he was exploded - they've never said where angels go when they are exploded, but it's my opinion that they are STILL IN THE HOURGLASS. 
Here, let me write all over this thing for you:
It's MY opinion that when something is killed by the Colt, the Knife, or Sam's Mind - they are taken OUT of the hourglass. They are cast into nothingness - they are immediately and irreversibly doomed to confirm the atheist's world-view, because they quite simply cease to be.
I believe that angels that are killed with the angel killing swords are also thrown out of the hourglass - they cease to be. God CANNOT bring them back.
So, basically you have this:
The brown liquid outside of the glass represents those beings that have been destroyed by the Colt, Knife, Angel Killing Sword, or Sam's Mind. God cannot bring those beings back to life. There is now a pocket of air where they once existed inside the hourglass.
Only, unlike in Bleach (whence this screencap comes) this does not destroy the world....or at least, not that we've been told so far.
But that, my friends, is why I don't believe Gabriel will ever come back....or Ruby, or Azazel, or Zachariah, or Alistair, or Lilith....they are simply gone. 
Mind you, the show could still prove me wrong - Supernatural has never liked following it's own rules after all - but I think personally, even though I dearly love Gabriel, I'd be disappointed if they did prove me wrong. In order for death to be a threat SOME death has to still be permanent and irreversible.
On a related note: Bleach is a pretty good anime for the first 38 episodes or so...then it falls into the common ongoing-anime trap and gets too convoluted and causes me to lose interest. Uryu Ishida is my favorite character. He is the one that can remove things from the hourglass and thus destroy the world....and he does it with the power of ARCHERY! What's not to love?!

But that's just my opinion...



( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 10th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
I think another reason why God hasn't brought Gabriel back is because well... I don't think he ever died in the first place.

I mean this is the guy who faked his death in his first appearance on the show. The Trickster.

When Lucifer talked about how he'd taught Gabriel all of his tricks I couldn't help question that, since well, he's been locked up for a long time while Gabriel was learning new tricks while playing with the pagans.

Add to that the fact of how easily Gabriel was killed, with no real damage to the surrounding area (something I find hard to believe considering what we've been told of what would happen as a consequence of the battle between Micheal and Lucifer). All of which leaves me to think that Gabriel quite simply played his ultimate trick, allowing Lucifer to think he killed him, so he could slip out of sight, and stop the Winchesters or anyone else from bothering him.

I do hope that if or when SPN brings him back, they go with this excuse, cause you're right, it's just no fun when every death can just be reversed.

Edited at 2011-04-10 10:53 pm (UTC)
Apr. 10th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)

This is the ONLY excuse I would accept for Gabriel coming back, because I agree with all your points. If Gabriel could use one clone against Lucifer, he could use two and put on a proper show.

Not to mention the fact that we know that angels CAN effectively fake their own deaths - Balthazar had done it before we even met him. Whereas Gabriel may have just disappeared from Heaven one day, Balthazar fooled people enough that Castiel mourned for him.

Anyway, yes, Gabriel could come back under that excuse, but no other - in my opinion, anyway.
(no subject) - liliaeth - Apr. 11th, 2011 07:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
I agree with your interpretation. And that it would be a cheat to bring Gabriel back, unfortunately.
Apr. 10th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's sad because we like him...but then, we like a lot of people who are dead. :P
Apr. 10th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
I don't think the show has thought it through that far. They'll bring back anyone they feel like bringing back, though thankfully demons haven't been part of that (we'll see where this purgatory thing goes.) My feeling is that they had the vague idea that if demons could bring humans back to life, so could angels, and since angels were created by God, if he felt like bringing them back he could do so.
Apr. 10th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
Well, whether they've thought about it or not, I hope they don't start bringing back those-who-I-believe-are-the-permanently-dead. Otherwise, I'll be pissed off.
(no subject) - claudiapriscus - Apr. 11th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 11th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 11th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
first off, I totally agree with Lilaeth regarding the poss. of G faking own death. I thought this at the time and would have no problem if it came around.

second of all, I love your hourglass idea and the GOD HATH NO DOMINION zone. I also enjoy the idea of the natural order being thrown off in terms of your diagram. cool.

In terms of storytelling it is very helpful that there is at least some zone where God hath no dominion.

I also fully agree that heaven hell and purgatory are all basically the same zone. I would also add, faerie, just because that's what Neil Gaiman derived from the lore, and we all know that Show are a pack of Mad Neilies. :D
Apr. 11th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
But wait! How did God bring back Castiel again?? Did Lucifer and Raphael have a soft spot for him that they exploded him instead of using their swords?

Michael killed Anna with fire. She could also come back??

(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 11th, 2011 12:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 11th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 11th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)
I like your theory, but think the obliterated angels/demons/Gabriel will depend on where the show goes with Purgatory. They could make Purgatory somehow the place for everything that's not in Heaven or Hell...and have some kind of hierarchy similar to heaven/earth/hell there. If they do that...

I have wondered if Gabriel faked his death. The fact that his image was interacting with the Winchesters (through the porn DVDs) could mean that his consciousness was somehow aware and functioning, somewhere. Plus...I really liked the Trickster/Gabriel. I want him to still be alive.
Apr. 11th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
True true, it really does depend on what they do with Purgatory. For instance, I'm not sure if burning a demons bones permanently kills them or sends them to purgatory...

I want Gabriel to be alive too - I really thought that when they played that DVD there would be some trick about it that would bring him back.
Apr. 11th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
This discussion always confuse me, mainly because canon goes back and forth on the subjects, reverses over their own claims to forward the story arc, speeds forward to gloss over the vague zones, swerves the sharp corners to avoid crashing on their own words, etc.

F1 is still clearly on my mind :p

Anyway, I like your explanation, because in the show it's stated that God is not as omnipotent as everyone is led to believe, and there are some things that God couldn't touch even with all his powers. But if angels were killed by the swords couldn't come back, and demons were killed by bullets or the dagger are dead dead, then why does show still bring back Purgatory? Shouldn't Purgatory be outside the hourglass, and i imagine all the 'dead' angels and demons are having their own little universe there, or something like that. Which is why Crowley wants to find it, pronto.

Show needs to be clearer on their canon LOL
Apr. 11th, 2011 04:53 am (UTC)
I was about to say "I do not understand your reference" but then I reread and put it together :P Slow hells_half_acre is slow. You are talking about racing - which probably recently had some sort of important race...

See, I don't think that the show goes back and forth as much as other people seem to think it does. Mind you, it still could prove me wrong and go back on all of this. (And I must admit that when the angels brought back Adam after he had been salted and burned, I was a little like: Really? Well, alright, I guess.)

As of right now, I DON'T think Purgatory contains anything killed by the Colt, Knife, Sam's Mind, or Angel-Killing Sword. So far, all we know is that Purgatory contains the souls of MONSTERS. That is - souls that were never human (or at the very least, were only human until they were turned into Vampires/Werewolves/SkinWalkers/Wendigos...) The show didn't "bring back Purgatory" they INTRODUCED it...before Purgatory, we didn't know where the monsters went once Sam and Dean killed them - we assumed they went to hell - the show has so far just said "Nope! They went to Purgatory!" So, nothing's been changed in terms of world-view - they've actually just informed us of more.

But, like I said, I could still be proven wrong with all this, and they COULD decide to have Azazel and Gabriel hanging out in Purgatory wondering why their gods have forsaken them.
(no subject) - mymuseandi - Apr. 11th, 2011 06:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 11th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 13th, 2011 07:27 am (UTC)
Interesting. I like the hourglass metaphor, but I'm not so sure about the "God Hath No Dominion" part. I don't remember seeing anything in the show that limits the Supernatural version of God's power in that way. If God made the creation inside the hourglass, wouldn't he have to have made it out of the nothingness outside the hourglass? Wouldn't that mean that he does have dominion over that nothingness? Just because we haven't seen Gabriel resurrected does not prove that God could not do so if he wanted to. He created Gabriel out of nothingness in the first place, there is no reason he couldn't do it again.

I've wondered in the past if the God of the Supernatural 'verse is the Jewish/Christian/Islamic God or not. (He seems most like the Jewish version of God to me.) All of those religions insist that God is absolute and all-powerful. If the Supernatural God does have limits on his powers, then he is not the god that we are familiar with in temple/Sunday school. If you're right, maybe the Supernatural 'verse God is just the biggest pagan god on the block?
Apr. 13th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
If the Supernatural God does have limits on his powers, then he is not the god that we are familiar with in temple/Sunday school. If you're right, maybe the Supernatural 'verse God is just the biggest pagan god on the block?

This is exactly what I believe (about the universe on the show) - hence the meta explaining it. I know the SHOW hasn't clearly stated that God isn't all powerful - but the fact that they have weapons that can remove souls (and creatures' souls) from the cosmos, reminded me of Bleach and this specific world-view...which is why I've adopted it for Supernatural as well (in my head).

Supernatural has already gone in a different direction than Judiasm/Christianity/Islam, because they have stated that God is mortal and that Death will outlast him (if only by seconds) and that Death will reap God as well...so, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to speculate that there are limits to God's power on the show.

Don't forget that Castiel informed Dean that the bible "gets more wrong than it does right" - I think they've made it quite clear on the show that although they are playing with familiar religious figures and names, they are NOT the religious figures/names from our temple/sunday school.

We haven't had confirmation on the creation story in Supernatural either - so we don't know whether God existed before the universe or whether God was created at the same time as the universe INSIDE the universe and therefore only has control of the universe...so yeah, it's all speculation because Supernatural ALWAYS puts a twist on something that makes it different than our beliefs, even God.

Personally though, even if the show proves this world-view false, I'll still be pissed off if they bring Gabriel/Ruby/Lilith etc... back - I mean, I liked Gabriel and everything - but there has to be SOME permanent death.
Apr. 15th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the deleted post. I accidentally posted while I was still writing.

God is mortal and that Death will outlast him (if only by seconds) and that Death will reap God as well...so, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to speculate that there are limits to God's power on the show.

That statement can interpreted in multiple ways, including as a reference to Jesus.

In any case, I don't see any reason that death has to be permanent in SPN world, especially for Gabriel. I'd rather have him back. I get more pissed off at the writers for killing every damn character that I like. The occasional death for the sake of drama is fine, but since they kill almost everyone it's just boring and predictable.
Apr. 15th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. I understand if you just don't want death to be permanent. I'm just saying that I DO, and that I'll be pissed off if it isn't. So, I guess, I'll be pissed off if it isn't, and you'll be pissed off if it is...and either way, the show is damned if they do, damned if they don't.

I suppose this all could have been avoided if they hadn't killed him in the first place, or if they bring Gabriel back and say that he faked his original death - that'd be fine.

That statement can interpreted in multiple ways, including as a reference to Jesus.

I suppose, but I really don't think it was. They'd never brought up Jesus before (a reference to Luke and a reference to Mary Magdalene, but that was it)...and I really had the feeling that if Death was talking about God-God there, not Jesus-God. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

Like I said, this is just how *I* view the show - I'm not saying it's how the show *IS*, because they've never explicitly stated. This is just what I've interpreted, and what informs my reviews and opinions on the episodes.
Apr. 19th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Cool idea, with the hourglass.

So, if Dean and Sam behead a vampire or salt and burn a corpse to get rid of the ghost, they end up in Purgatory, but if the Colt was involved, or the knife, the "monster" would be kinda kicked out of the glass?


Not sure if I see it the same way, I never put much thought into it - into God (except that I KNOW Chuck wasn't God, just... someone else.) in the SPN-universe.

But I completely agree that they should stick with keeping some people dead. It's cheating to bring them back, and sad as it is, Gabriel is one of them.

I can deal with them coming in form of Alternate Realities or dreams or Heaven (Ash) but that's it. I'm still mad that they resurrected Adam, though I think it could've been due to the fact that they needed base for a 6th season.

So yeah. "What's dead should stay dead" (except for Sam and Dean!)
Apr. 19th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
So, if Dean and Sam behead a vampire or salt and burn a corpse to get rid of the ghost, they end up in Purgatory, but if the Colt was involved, or the knife, the "monster" would be kinda kicked out of the glass?


I like to think that Chuck was a prophet and nothing more. Prophets ascend to heaven when their job is complete - done and done.

But yeah, this is just how *I* see things. You don't have to subscribe to the same theories as me - this is just to let people know the SPN-world-view that informs my opinions/theories on the show.

I didn't mind so much when they brought Adam back, but I kind of wish they would get him out of the cage. Adams HORRIFICALLY tragic fate is so undeserved - he really needs to be pulled out of there somehow and tossed back into heaven. I don't necessarily want to see him again, I just wish Death had been like "Yeah, ok, I'll get Sam out...oh, and I'll toss Adam in heaven while I'm there."

But yeah, seeing dead people in Heaven is fine, and if burning a demons bones sends them to purgatory and doesn't kill them completely, than it's fine if we see Crowley again...but I don't want to see any of the Colt/Knife/Angel-Sword/Sam's-Mind victims coming back.

(no subject) - marlowe78 - Apr. 20th, 2011 10:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 20th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marlowe78 - Apr. 20th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Apr. 20th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 25th, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
In order for death to be a threat SOME death has to still be permanent and irreversible.

This, exactly!

This is the precise reason I'm hoping Purgatory is not housing Mary, or Crowley or any of the other characters I've seen people speculate about. That would defeat the entire significance of death (and Death.)
Apr. 25th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)

I'd be willing to put up with Crowley, or Mary...but not any of the Colt/Knife/Angel-killy victims. Though, I wouldn't necessarily be HAPPY about Crowley or May being there...I'd just put up with it.
Dec. 7th, 2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
I found you while checking something for my meta about Supernatural in Russian, and I was just fascinated with your work - timeline and everything. It's just amazing! I'm also deeply interested in Supernatural universe structure (but I'm not sure I've got enough English to translate those thoughts) and your visualisation nature of death is very interesting... Please can I translate it into Russian? Please? Certainly I'd name you as the author and give you the link.

... I'd love to ask you some questions about Winchester locations and timeline, but I guess I should enunciate them first al least for myself... )))
Dec. 7th, 2013 05:22 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I'm glad you like my work.

Yes, you can translate this into Russian, if keep me named as author and give me the link! That would be very cool. Let me know if you have any questions as you do so.

And if you have any questions about locations and the timeline, I'll be happy to try to answer them, once you figure out exactly what they are. ;)
(no subject) - elvit - Dec. 7th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Dec. 7th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elvit - Dec. 9th, 2013 11:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elvit - Dec. 12th, 2013 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hells_half_acre - Dec. 12th, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elvit - Dec. 13th, 2013 10:19 am (UTC) - Expand
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )


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