In a TV show called Supernatural, you’re bound to see some pretty spooky happenings. Whether the Winchesters are battling classic monsters -- such as vampires and werewolves -- or lesser known beasties like Rugarus and Khan Worms, there's guaranteed to be something to give you a scare. Still, while some monsters are good for making you jump, there are others that stick with you long after the credits have stopped rolling. The kind of horror that makes every hair on your body stand on end, and encourages you to check under your bed at night before you go to sleep.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jenson Ackles) have come up against plenty of these in their 12 years on the air, and with the show recently being renewed for a thirteenth season, it looks like our favorite brothers aren’t done fighting the good fight just yet. So, without further ado, here is our list of the 15 Scariest Supernatural Villains Of All Time. Warning: may cause nightmares.
15 Bloody Mary
Who didn’t spend the best part of their childhood terrified of mirrors thanks to this infamous urban legend? Well, thanks to Supernatural, we’re now as scared of Bloody Mary as adults are. The story goes that if you say “Bloody Mary” three times in front of a mirror, she’ll appear out of thin air before proceeding to scratch your eyes out. However, the Supernatural version comes with a twist.
In the show, Mary was a 19-year-old girl who was murdered in front of a mirror. The perpetrator (believed to be her old lover) also cut her eyes out. As a result, the ghost attacks those who have killed another human being by causing them to bleed to death, and she starts by liquefying their eyes (yuck!)
Unfortunately, the spirit can’t seem to distinguish between those who murdered someone and those who were indirectly responsible for a person’s death/blame themselves for a loved one’s passing. This means she comes after Sam, but the brothers put a stop to Mary by turning a mirror on her, forcing the spirit to kill herself. Smart move, boys.
Before American Horror Story season six came around, we were treated to this twisted episode of Supernatural based on the Croatoan legend. In the late 16th century, Sir Walter Raleigh founded a colony in what is now Dare’s County, North Carolina. Known as the Roanoke Colony, all of its settlers mysteriously disappeared without explanation (to this day, no one knows what happened to them). However, the word “Croatoan “was found carved into a tree.
In season two, episode nine, Croatoan is a blood-borne virus of demonic origin. Azazel lets the disease loose in a small town in Oregon, causing its residents to go mad with rage and start killing each other. The infected purposefully seek to spread the disease to others by contact with their blood, and maintain their ability to both plan and use weapons. The brothers find the word Croatoan carved into a telephone pole, establishing a link to the Lost Colony legend. Once infected, there is no cure, so a person has to be put down, and by the end of the episode, there are only a handful of townsfolk left. The virus also pops up in later episodes, including in an attempt by Lucifer to wipe out humanity.
If creepy-crawlies aren’t your thing, you might want to skip this one. Bisaan are Malayan spirits that take after the cicada bug. They are also known as “the chitters” due to the weird, insect-like sound they make when they’re horny. Like periodic cicadas, Bisaan choose to stay underground, only popping up every 27 years when it’s time to breed. Sounds harmless enough, until you discover how the Bisaan mate.
They don’t have any genitals of their own, so they possess a human through the mouth and cause them to have weird, demon-influenced orgies in the forest. When the human is under the Bisaan’s control, not only are they are overcome with lust, they also develop green glowing eyes and pointed teeth, and eventually lose their genitals too. When a human female is impregnated with Bisaan larva, she burrows back underground and slowly dies. The larva then gestates for another 27 years, until it’s time for the next generation to come back up and wreak havoc. Gross doesn’t quite cover this one, does it?
12 Famine/Black Horsemen
On the surface, Famine (also known as the Black Horsemen) looks like a creepy old man on his last legs. One of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Famine rides around in a black wheelchair with an O2 tank rather than on a traditional steed. Still, that doesn’t seem to stop him from causing trouble wherever he goes.
Famine is the personification of hunger, so whenever he’s around, people just seem to get the munchies. They get so hungry, in fact, that they go crazy and start eating each other. Like the other members of the apocalyptic horsemen (War, Pestilence, and Death), Famine wears a silver ring that controls people’s desires, which he uses to turn people into cannibals. He also gets pretty peckish himself at times, consuming both human and demon souls for sustenance (tasty). Fortunately, Dean and Sam manage to get a hold of his ring, rendering him powerless. So he’s still physically around, but he's out of the game for now.
11 The Benders
Is there anything scarier than people at their worst? In season one, Sam and Dean encounter the Benders -- a family of cannibalistic country people who hunt down other humans for sport in rural Minnesota. They swipe their victims, keep them in cages, then set them loose before having fun catching and killing them. After Sam is taken by the Benders, Dean teams up with a local policewoman to find him. The pair discovers that the Benders have been doing this for years, and show no signs of stopping.
Writer John Shiban’s inspiration for these hideous hillbillies seems to be the Bloody Benders, a family of serial killers from the 1870s. They owned an inn and a small general store in Labette Country, Kansas, and over a three-year period John, Elvira, their son John Jr., and his wife Kate killed at least six travelers. When their crimes were discovered, the family ran away, and no one is sure what exactly happened to them. There is a lot of interesting folklore surrounding the real-life Benders, and we guarantee you’ll fall into a Wikipedia hole and lose several hours of your life if you look them up.
The howling alone is enough to send chills down any horror fan's spine. Described by Dean as “demonic pit bulls,” Hellhounds are canine-like creatures from Hell (obviously) that serve demons. Their main job is to collect the souls of humans who have made a deal with a demon, and their eerie cries can be heard when payment is close to due. The hounds appear as large, black dogs with red eyes. They can only be seen by those they have come for, making it appear to others as though the victim is being ripped to shreds by an invisible entity.
However, their presence alone has been known to scare people to death. Once a hellhound has the scent of a person, it never forgets their smell, and they'll only give up the hunt once the target is dead or if the demon controlling them tells them to back off. However, they seem to have issues with Devil's Shoe String, which Bela Talbot used to keep them at bay before she got taken to Hell at the end of season three.
As you may have guessed, Thinman is based on the Slenderman, the creepypasta meme. Like the original, Thinman is a skinny, unnaturally tall man in a suit, with a blank, featureless face. After a teenage girl called Casey Miles is murdered in Washington, (while taking a selfie on her phone, no less), the brothers investigate, as a ghostly figure can be seen in the background of her photographs. When they arrive, they discover the annoying Ghostfacers are also on the case, and have even written a book about the subject. In fact, it later becomes apparent that Ghostfacer Ed invented the whole thing, as a case for he and his partner Harry to chase down to stop his buddy from moving on to better things.
However, the meme unexpectedly took on a life of its own, becoming an internet sensation (sound familiar?) that Ed can no longer control as more Thinman killings occur. Still, like the Benders, this case turns out to be another example of human beings at their most dreadful. Rather than a paranormal entity, the Thinman murders were perpetrated by a pair of local psychopaths, who murdered Casey because she turned one of them down. Classy.
8 Vanir/The Scarecrow
After a falling out with Sam, Dean heads off on his own to investigate the disappearance of a couple in a cute little town in Indiana. Every year in April, a man and a woman mysteriously vanish from the area, always while on vacation (never locals). While searching, Dean comes across a “fugly” scarecrow in an orchard. As well as being really gross looking, the thing sets off his EMF meter and bears the same tattoo as one of the last people to go missing.
As it turns out, the scarecrow is actually a pagan god called Vanir, and every year, the town come together to sacrifice a man and a woman to him, ensuring prosperity for the next 12 months. When its kill-time, Vanir jumps off his perch and slices his victims up with a scythe, then proceeds to wear their skin until his next sacrifice comes along. When Dean convinces the potential prey to leave town before the plan is completed, they decide to sacrifice him and the relative of a townsperson to Vanir, but luckily, Sam comes along at the last minute and saves their asses (because of course he does).
Lilith was the first demon that Lucifer ever created. She was released from Hell when the Devil’s Gate opened at the end of season two, and it wasn’t long before she took over Azazel's position as the new big bad. Her memorable entrance comes in the season three episode “Jus in Bello,” where she shows up in the body of a small girl (with creepy white eyes) and destroys a police station that Sam and Dean had battled to save from her minions. In fact, she has a thing for possessing children, taking over the body of another young girl and tormenting her family as some weird kind of demon vacation in the season three finale.
Her plan was to eventually release Lucifer from Hell, and her right-hand man is Crowley, boss of the crossroad demons. It’s Lilith who sets the hellhounds on Dean, sending him to the pit, and she's the only baddie to successfully achieve their goal. Fun fact: she also eats babies.
Another white-eyed demon, Alastair was the Grand Torturer of Hell. While Dean was in the pit (four months in Earth time, forty years in Hell) Alastair was in charge of torturing him, under Lilith’s orders. This included spending every day chopping him up and putting him back together again. He only stops brutalizing Dean when he manages to convince him to become his apprentice -- meaning Dean become a torturer himself -- with the intent of breaking the first of the 66 seals. (Each seal is a metaphor or event that needs to be completed by any demon or angel wishing to release Lucifer from his cage.)
So, as well as being an evil son-of-a-gun, he’s also responsible for starting the apocalypse. Nice. Fortunately, Dean was rescued by Castiel, who needed his help in stopping any more seals from being broken. Still, Dean’s face when he bumps into Alastair again on the surface in the season four episode “I Know What You Did Last Summer” says it all.
5 Soul Eaters
Soul eaters are ancient spiritual entities – they're not human, but they're yet not fully a ghost either. They spend most of their time hanging out in other dimensions, and they enjoy feasting on human souls. With their pale skin and long black cloaks, they look a lot like the Shtriga (the witch from the season one episode “Something Wicked”), with distorted faces and empty eye sockets as an added bonus. When they get hungry, they drag human souls out of our world to store in their nest, which is hidden somewhere between space and time as we know it. Any soul taken there will be trapped forever, even after the victim has long since passed away. Souls cannot be destroyed, so over time they wither and die, becoming less appetizing. Still, soul eaters keep them around as an emergency food supply.
As they copy some of the tricks that ghosts use, such as creating cold spots, spiking EMF meters, and causing lights to flicker, hunters regularly get soul eaters mixed up with malevolent spirits. However, the monsters can be killed with a sigil, which also frees its victims. This allows the dead to rest in peace, while those still living can go back to their bodies.
Seriously, what is it with this show and creepy children? It’s enough to put you off reproducing for life. Anyway, Changelings are monsters that take on the form of pre-existing kids so they can feed off their mothers – particularly their synovial fluid. They become very protective of their food source, killing anyone who gets in their way. This includes the fathers of the children whose lives they’ve taken over. The mom lasts a few months of being fed on before she dies, at which point the changelings move on to the next neighborhood.
Although they may look like the original child, they act differently (clingy and mean-spirited), and their true forms can be seen in their reflection – hollow eyes, moulting skin, and a round mouth with a bunch of nasty teeth (like a lamprey). Fortunately, they can be killed with fire, and when Sam and Dean kill the mother changeling, all of her offspring die as well.
3 H.H. Holmes
As true crime fans will already know, H.H. Holmes was a real guy and one of the first documented serial killers ever. He confessed to 27 murders, but it is believed he killed up to 200 people before he was executed in 1896. Holmes is particularly famous for his “murder castle,” a hotel that contained a labyrinth of “doorways that opened onto brick walls, oddly angled hallways and stairs that lead to nowhere,” as well as rooms that could only be opened from the outside. The majority of Holmes’ victims were female employees, lovers, and hotel guests, and although he had a thing for blonde women, he supposedly killed plenty of children and men too. He was a swell guy, all around.
In the episode “No Exit,” Sam and Dean investigate the disappearance of several young blondes from an apartment building in Philadelphia. It turns out that the building was constructed on the former prison site where H.H. Holmes was hanged, and now his spirit is abducting female residents and hiding them in a hidden room. Sam and Dean use Ellen’s daughter Jo to draw Holmes out before trapping him in a circle of salt. Dean then seals the room with cement, imprisoning Holmes like he did his victims. So, ya know, sort of a happy ending.
2 Killer Clown/Rakshasa
A new take on the classic killer clown horror trope, a Rakshasa is a type of shapeshifter from ancient Hindu mythology. In the season two episode “Everybody Loves a Clown,” the brothers come across a Raksasha hiding out at a traveling fair. The creature had been disguising itself as a clown and tricking children into letting it into their homes (Rakshasas can only enter a home after being invited), where it then proceeds to kill and eat their parents. To make things even creepier, the children are the only ones who can see the clown – until the monster is right up in mom and dad’s faces with a knife, that is.
As well as shapeshifting into anything it wants to be, it also possesses superhuman strength and can make itself invisible. On top of its love of dining on human flesh, Rakashasas also enjoy munching on spoiled food, and they sleep on a bed of insects.
1 Family Remains Children
There have been plenty of scary spirits in Supernatural over the last 12 seasons, but as we’ve previously stated, humans can be just as monstrous. In what sounds like the beginning of every horror story ever, in the episode "Family Remains" Susan and Brian Carter move into a new house with their kids, Danny and Kate. Of course, almost immediately weird things start to happen. As the last tenant, Bill Gibson, was murdered, Sam and Dean are already on the case, and they try to convince the Carters to leave before they get hurt. Obviously, they don’t, because that would be the smart thing to do.
Sam and Dean visit the former housekeeper, who tells them that Gibson had a wife who died in childbirth and a daughter who hung herself in the attic. Despite these facts, it becomes apparent that the haunting isn’t caused by a ghost. It turns out that Gibson raped his daughter Rebecca, got her pregnant, and hid her offspring in the walls of the house – where they’ve remained ever since. Unsurprisingly, they’re not very well-adjusted, with a bit of a murderous streak. Dean ends up killing the boy when he attacks Sam, and Brian kills the girl protecting his wife and daughter. We’re not sure what we feel more of in this case, fear or pity. Either way, don't watch this one just before bedtime.
Did we miss any of your favorite creepy crawlies from Supernatural? Let us know in the comments.