Supernatural spent years building to a Biblical apocalypse. Over the course of a full season, our heroes stopped the end of the world, fought the full forces of Heaven and Hell, and tried to find God. Not in the spiritual sense, they literally tried to find God. Which season was that? Number five. We’re up to fourteen and counting.
If you’re a writer on Supernatural and you're faced with the prospect of trying to top Sam and Dean vs. the Devil, season after season, what do you do? You can try to make the stakes of the story interesting without making them apocalyptic. Or, you could always just introduce more creatures that purport to be even bigger and badder than Satan.
The other curious thing about Supernatural, it’s a show about powerful characters, but the budget is usually too low to depict them in action. We meet a lot of monsters who claim they can reduce the Earth to a charred ball of flame, but we the audience pretty much have to take their word for it. Casting just the right person and introducing them with just the right line of dialogue can go a long way.
Let's take a look at twenty of Supernatural’s most powerful characters. There’s going to be a lot of scary actors and bad guy boasting, but how much of that boasting is a lot of hot air? How many of these characters are actually as dangerous as they say?
Here are the 20 Most Powerful Characters In Supernatural, Ranked.
20 CROWLEY - CROSSROADS KING OF HELL
We’re going to be talking about some truly fearsome creatures, but when you’re reading about archangels and Gods and Lovecraftian monsters with unthinkable cosmic power and limitless malice, keep this in your head: how many of them survived eight consecutive seasons on Supernatural?
Crowley earns his way onto this list through sheer pragmatism and cleverness.
In the wake of the power vacuum following the canceled apocalypse, Crowley sneaks in and appoints himself the King of Hell, keeping hold of that position for the lion’s share of his time on the show. Throughout his reign, he proves himself to be a good strategist. He knows how to keep a low profile when a bigger bully appears. He’s always looking for ways to consolidate his power through souls, tablets and alliances with stronger people.
We don’t want to downplay Crowley; he’s still much more powerful than the average demon. Season 8 is the one time he gets to be the main antagonist from beginning to end, and anyone who’s gotten used to Crowley as an uneasy ally is in for a shock on their next rewatch. Seeing him turn his particular brand of silky menace on the Winchesters is a reminder that you should never underestimate the threat Crowley poses. That’s exactly what he wants you to do.
19 ALPHA VAMPIRE - ALPHA
The Alphas are the oldest and most powerful of their kinds, and Crowley spent the sixth season gathering them up. One, and only one, was wily enough to escape: the Alpha Vampire.
Rick Worthy was an inspired bit of casting, bringing a quiet gravitas and menace to the unnamed character. The Alpha Vampire was introduced in a memorably spooky hallucination Dean had in “Live Free or Twihard”, but we didn’t truly see him in his element until season 7. Left alone, the Alpha wears impeccable suits and hangs out in a lavish mansion, and even temporarily aligns himself with Sam and Dean so he can hang onto those nice trappings. We also saw the depths of his depravity as he used human children to lure victims into his lair.
One of the more amusing loose ends in Supernatural was the Alpha’s promise that that he’d see Sam and Dean “next season.” The character them promptly disappeared from the show for many years, finally meeting his end in Season 12’s “The Lair”.
Considering Supernatural started out as a show about Sam and Dean hunting monsters, it’s strange that the most powerful Earthly monster they ever faced can only manage to sneak onto the list. We’ve got a lot of nasty beings ahead.
18 ROWENA - WITCH
Rowena started out as a stronger than average witch, but made herself into one of Supernatural’s most fearsome characters when she got hold of the Book of the Damned. She’s since been depicted warping reality, turning characters into her own personal attack dogs, and even dispelling the Mark of Cain. Fortunately, circumstances and even more powerful villains often force Rowena into an uneasy alliance with the Winchesters and Crowley.
In addition to her power, Rowena has alliances with other witches and covens across the world.
She has a, dare we say it, Thanosian willingness to sacrifice even the ones she loves in the pursuit of more power. There really aren’t many characters who can say they survived two direct eliminations at the hands of Lucifer himself. It sometimes takes her a little while to come back to life, but Rowena lives on to this day.
Supernatural has long attracted criticism for its willingness to bump off all non-Sam and non-Dean cast members, particularly its female supporting characters, but Rowena at least doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
A final fun fact: Rowena is Crowley’s mother but actress Ruth Connell is a decade younger than Mark Sheppard. That’s some dark magic.
17 LILITH - THE FIRST DEMON
Supernatural is so packed with powerful creatures that Yellow Eyes, the villain of the first two seasons, is nowhere to be seen on this list, and Lilith, the villain of seasons 3 and 4, barely ekes her way on here. She spent an entire year traveling the globe and triggering the apocalypse, one seal at a time. Sam paid an enormous personal cost in becoming powerful enough to finish Lilith. Yet she’s still only a harbinger of what’s to come.
In Supernatural’s mythology, Lilith has the distinction of being the first demon turned by Lucifer. When she came topside she found a favorite pastime: possessing little girls and forcing them to torment their families. Using Ruby, she frayed the bond between the Winchesters, and even personally sic’d a hellhound on Dean. Sam was so determined to get revenge, he spent a season corrupting himself via the ol’ Demon Blood Diet.
Using child actresses to depict Lilith was an interesting and original creative choice.
Given that a later story involved her and Sam potentially consummating their unholy union, understandably Lilith moved into the body of a grown woman. This had the unfortunate side effect of making the character more generic, and the actress only had a few scenes to try and make an impression. Lilith is memorable, but mostly because of what’s done in her name.
16 ABADDON - KNIGHT OF HELL
Nowadays if you think of a powerful redheaded who’s a huge thorn in Crowley’s side, you’re more likely to think of Rowena. Also doing Abaddon no favors, she’s mainly featured in season 9, which is honestly a bit of a mess in terms of plot. Abaddon is a major villain of the season, but meanwhile there’s Metatron, there’s an angelic civil war, there’s Gadreel possessing Sam, there’s the latest and seemingly most irrevocable rift between the Winchesters. Even Snooki is in there at some point.
Abaddon’s goals never get as much oxygen as they need to really develop. Who cares if she steals Hell away from Crowley?
But those are story issues. The character is the longest-living and most powerful of Cain’s Knights of Hell, slicing and dicing her way through the centuries. She survives a decapitation and comes back for more later. Just to have a chance in the fight against her, Dean is forced to take on the dreaded Mark of Cain - an act that has huge implications for the seasons ahead.
Alaina Huffman does a fine job playing the character. If Abandon never reaches her full potential, it’s mainly the fault of the storytelling.
15 CAIN - THE ORIGINAL CRIMINAL
The O.G. Knight of Hell, the one who trained Abaddon and the others, Cain was a formidable presence on Supernatural. He was the Cain, of Biblical Cain and Abel fame, and the circumstances of his legendary fratricide are more complicated than the Bible would have you believe. He ended his brother’s life to ensure he would get into Heaven and, at the urging of Lucifer, took on the Mark of Cain in order to seal away The Darkness.
Cain took his own life, but the Mark resurrected him and made him into the most feared demon in the history of Earth.
He eventually mastered his violent impulses and led a life of quiet solitude, but after a meeting with Dean fell off the wagon and began exterminating his entire line of descendants. Given that Cain was played by Timothy Omundson, we have no doubt he was up to the job. Luckily Dean put a stop to him.
Cain was a breakout character in the midst of the chaotic ninth season, and his return go-around was a genuine highlight of the lower key season 10. We didn’t see much of this guy, but he made a hell of an impression in just two episodes.
14 EVE - MOTHER OF ALL MONSTERS
Without Eve, there wouldn’t be a show. Or at least, Sam and Dean would have a lot more downtime between their angel and demon battles. Eve spawned every single Alpha monster in her time on Earth, then hung out in Purgatory as her descendants overran the planet. She mysteriously returned halfway through the sixth season, and it was several episodes before we found out why. Like many things in latter day Supernatural, it was all about Crowley.
It was a surprising bit of plotting, setting Eve up as a new Lucifer-level villain only to dispatch her three episodes before the end of the season and reveal Crowley and Castiel as the true villains. It the kind of plot twist that appeals to those who would later enjoy what happened to Snoke in The Last Jedi.
Crowley and Castiel were far more personal antagonists for the Winchesters in the end. Eve as a presence was powerful, but Eve as a character didn’t really make much of an impression until Samantha Smith (otherwise known as Mary Winchester) assumed the role in her final scene.
There was still some untapped potential with Eve. She’d spent her time on Earth creating new monsters like the Khan Worms and the Jefferson Starships. Given the chance, what else could she have done?
13 RAPHAEL - ARCHANGEL
A little bit of Raphael went a long way.
The youngest of the four archangels, we mainly saw him as an eye meltingly bright light any time someone threatened the prophet Chuck.
His proper introduction in season 5’s “Free to Be You and Me” drenched the entire Eastern seaboard in a powerful rainstorm, and he made a lot of solemn declarations about fate and the apocalypse. The character then proceeded to completely disappear from the fifth season, but when it came time to introduce a villain in season 6, the writers had Raphael in their back pocket.
In terms of character, there’s not much here. However, Raphael is a sort of conduit for great scenes and episodes. Without him, Dean and Cas would not have paid an unforgettable visit to a pleasure house, a scene that more or less permanently transformed Castiel into Supernatural’s comic relief. Later, Castiel’s descent into darkness began when Raphael beat him up in front of everybody in Heaven. Wiithout Raphael, there’d be no inciting incident for “The French Mistake.”
The character rarely appears, considering he (later she) is such a major villain, but Damore Barnes and Lanette Ware convey menace, power, and inflexible fanaticism in their brief time onscreen.
12 GABRIEL - THE TRICKSTER
The Trickster, with his wicked sense of humor and ability to warp reality, was responsible for some of Supernatural’s best and most entertaining early episodes. The character had already become a fan favorite by the time he met his end in the fifth season and even though the future would bring us episodes that were Trickster-esque in spirit (“The French Mistake”, “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Managerie”, “Scoobynatural”) the character himself was sorely missed. Fans of The Trickster celebrated the character’s return in Season 13 although, given what he’d been through, his sense of humor was not what it used to be.
There was more to The Trickster than what met the eye. In a move that dovetailed very neatly with the fifth season mythology, The Trickster was revealed to be Gabriel, another of the four archangels. Retroactively his encounters with Sam and Dean were revealed to be offbeat life lessons. I n terms of power, he was the one character in season 5 who even came close to finishing off Lucifer.
In a nice little meta move, Gabriel’s actor Richard Speight Jr. is now a semi-regular director for Supernatural. The character seems to have met a permanent end, but the thought that The Trickster is just off camera forcing Sam and Dean to perform for him is enough to make anyone smile.
11 METATRON - ANGEL TABLET POWER-UP
You’ve got to beware the nerdy ones. Everything about Metatron, from the casting of lovable ol’ Curtis Armstrong to his bookish nature, seemed designed to make the audience underestimate him. Even when he betrayed Castiel in the eighth season finale, he still seemed too cuddly to be a real threat, but he did harness the power of the Angel Tablets to enact sweeping changes across Heaven and Earth.
He kicked all the angels out of Heaven, he kept human souls from ascending, eventually he went down to Earth in order to assume a role as the new God.
All with the ultimate goal of… Well, that was always a bit unclear, to be honest. Would it have really been so bad to have Metatron in charge of the world? What would have happened if Sam and Dean hasn’t thwarted him?
Metatron hangs around for a couple more seasons as a shadow of his former self. He’s put in jail and he makes a few desperate grabs for power. He even takes a leaf out of Jake Gyllenhaal’s book and becomes a freelance news videographer. Ultimately Metatron is redeemed when he (of all characters) convinces God to start paying attention to humanity again.
10 CASTIEL - PURGATORY SOUL POWER-UP
Castiel’s brief stint as God might be remembered more for the irresponsible way it was marketed to the fans. The sixth season ended with Cas slurping up every soul in Purgatory and declaring himself God. With that cliffhanger, it’s not unreasonable to expect the story to carry through the next season for a while. All summer, you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing a commercial that promised a big Winchesters vs. God showdown (“Kiss. Your. Cass. Goodbye.”). What a disappointment to lose God-Cas after only one episode.
If you haven’t revisited the sixth and seventh seasons since they aired, they hold up a lot better when you can just watch them straight through. There are few things more dramatic in a TV show than seeing a favorite supporting character turn into the villain, after all. God-Cas’s reign, brief though it is, is chock full of darkly funny moments. Plus, it seemed Misha Collins had left the show forever back in 2011. Knowing he’ll be back late in the season makes his early demise a lot easier to take.
We’ll always wonder what a full season of God-Cas would have been like, but we need not resent the Leviathan for taking his place, as they’re actually pretty entertaining villains.
9 DICK ROMAN - LEVIATHAN
God-Cas was strong, but he couldn’t stop the Leviathan from tearing his vessel into shreds. From there, the Leviathan set to work on a season-spanning, systematic plan to turn the human population into “Walking Happy Meals.”
Their leader was Dick Roman, a character who was thoroughly entertaining just for how different he was from previous Supernatural Big Bads. He was cocky, full of corporate doublespeak, and empty upper management platitudes, and oh, he ate people who failed him. That self-satisfied smirk never left his face, even in his final moment.
The Leviathan were without a doubt formidable opponents for the Winchesters, but this ranking is a bit tricky.
That’s because, quite frankly, most of the characters on this list went into hiding the moment the Leviathan arrived on Earth. The Angels avoided them, Crowley steered clear after a disastrous exploratory meeting, and even Death, who rather patronizing called the Leviathan “entertaining,” kept a low profile. We did see Edgar make short work of an Angel, but aside from that, we don’t really know how they’d fare against Supernatural’s other heavyweights.
Dick didn’t go down without a fight, but without him the Leviathan collapsed into a disorganized mess and were gone by the next season.
8 DEATH - HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE
We spent the fifth season building to his first appearance. It didn’t seem possible that he’d live up to our expectations, but Julian Richings strolled into the season and stole the whole thing with a few simple lines. He’s one of the most striking, most terrifying characters on Supernatural.
But when you think about it, what does he actually do? He talks a great game, speaking casually about how he’s powerful enough to reap God someday. But if Earth is as insignificant as he says, why does he hang around here eating pickle chips all the time?
His three fellow horsemen were all dispatched with relative ease by the Winchesters and Cas, maybe he feels his best play is to scare Dean off with a lot of spooky talk and a lightning storm. If that’s his plan it only works for so long, Dean puts a scythe in the chest at the end of the tenth season, and he disappears without a word.
This character is sometimes used by the writers to talk up the latest new Supernatural villain, but there’s no bigger hype man than the being himself. It’s possible he’s just a glorified reaper, but we’re ranking him high, just in case he is what he says he is. Better to stay on his good side.
7 LUCIFER - THE DEVIL
A rarely discussed element of Supernatural is that Lucifer totally becomes a different character. He was kind of stately and self-righteous in season 5. We then met the more taunting version that existed in Sam’s head throughout season 7. When we were properly reintroduced to Lucifer in season 11, he just kind of permanently became that more snide, jokier character, whether he was played by Mark Pellegrino, Misha Collins, or Rick Springfield.
That version of the character was decidedly less intimidating than he had once been.
Lucifer’s release in the fifth season triggered a global wave of natural disasters.
Our heroes spent the whole season at a loss on how to get rid of him.
Lucifer escaping the cage in season 11 was treated like just another problem. Sam and Dean found out he was walking the Earth again (in Cas’ body no less) and literally went to a wrestling match the next week. Check the episode guide, that actually happens.
No matter, we’ll always have season Lucifer. He was truly dangerous, all the more so because he came across as more persuasive and reasonable. Everything in the first four seasons led up to his release, and all the fallout that came afterwards was a result of his capture. In many ways, Lucifer is still the character upon which Supernatural as a whole pivots.
6 MICHAEL - RULER OF HEAVEN
This guy used to be so boring. For years, he was the most powerful Supernatural character with the least amount of screen time. Michael didn’t even have his own default vessel like Lucifer. We only briefly saw him possessing established characters like John and Adam Winchester.
In both instances, we the audience came to realize that, tragically, Michael was born without personalty. He was blandly devoted to his destiny, with no free will or agency of his own. Supposedly his fight with Lucifer would have destroyed half the planet, but Castiel made sure that we never got to see it.
Several seasons later, Supernatural introduced the concept of multiple universes, and we got a much better sense of who Michael is. He’s still singleminded, but we see him plan, we see him threaten, and most important we see him fight.
Michael makes short work of Lucifer on a couple of occasions throughout season 13, and he finally fulfills his destiny and decisively defeats his brother in the finale. The fight is rather less destructive to the world than we’d been promised, so we don’t know if the original Michael is overrated.
By taking down Lucifer, the character finally proves himself to be, beyond all doubt, the strongest angel in all Supernatural.
5 JACK - NEPHILIM
In season 5, future show runner Andrew Dabb wrote “I Believe the Children Are Our Future”, an episode about the Antichrist. That character was a child who didn’t seem inherently evil, and who might someday come into his own terrible powers. That particular Antichrist has remained a loose end, but the basic story does seem to have stuck with Dabb. When he took control of the show in season 12, he gave us an arc about Lucifer becoming a parent to a child named Jack, a Nephilim with the potential to become an even more destructive force than his father.
Jack's mother was a good-hearted, faithful woman named Kelly, but what impact would his father's evil blood have upon him?
The Winchesters and Castiel strive to be good influences on Jack, something that proves difficult when he disappears to the alternate universe with his father for a huge chunk of the thirteenth season. Despite everything he goes through, Jack’s decency shines through and he winds up recognizing and rejecting Lucifer for what he is.
Lucifer in turn steals his son’s grace and sends Jack tumbling off this list, but for a time, Jack had incredible power. Who knows how much stronger he could have become?
4 CHUCK - GOD
Only in Supernatural can God finish fourth in a list of powerful characters. For that matter, only in Supernatural can God become a full-fledged supporting cast member.
The notion of Chuck being both a Prophet of the Lord and God was always a bit dodgy. Plus there’s that name. There was an entire NBC series based on the premise that “Chuck” is kind of a silly name for someone important. There’s even been speculation that the fifth season implication that Chuck is God is more a wink at how the character was sort of an author avatar for show creator Eric Kripke. Indeed, after his introduction, Chuck appears in every episode Kripke writes, and is often used to comment directly on the show’s narrative. When Kripke steps away during the fifth season, so does Chuck.
Kripke never comes back, but Chuck does. Rob Benedict is an unlikely choice to play the ruler of Heaven and Earth but maybe that makes him all the more perfect: you’d never suspect him. His God is at times benevolent, aloof, dangerous, and of course, all powerful. But not powerful enough to come out on top in a direct fight with his sister - as we'll soon see.
3 AMARA - THE DARKNESS
Hey, Sam? Dean? Castiel? Was getting rid of the Mark of Cain worth it? Turns out it was the only thing keeping the third most powerful being in the Universe at bay. You meddled in ancient dark magic, Charlie lost her life for you, you put a scythe in Death’s chest and made his successor furious, and then an ancient evil overran the Earth and began twisting and consuming souls wherever she went. But at least Dean isn’t as cranky anymore!
Amara, by a very wide margin, shows off the most awesome display of strength in the series.
Wave after wave of powerful characters take a shot at her. Crowley fetches his demon horde, Rowena enlists a coven of witches, Lucifer calls all the Angels into action, and God himself takes a shot at her. He may be all-knowing, but even he doesn’t realize that this big confrontation is taking place in the second to last episode of the season, so it’s not likely to end well. Sure enough, he’s mortally wounded, and it falls to Dean to get Amara to stand down in the finale.
Thanks to some decent special effects, the high stakes of the story, and an imposing performance by Emily Swallow, Amara achieves the impossible; she becomes a more dangerous villain than Lucifer.
2 THE ENTITY
The Supernatural writers have spent thirteen years introducing a series of increasingly powerful villains. Now their villainous introductory boasts are bound to start sounding alike.
In season 12, Castiel meets what must be his twentieth "totally-for-real-this-time" demise and winds up in the Empty, the afterlife for angels and demons. It’s there that he meets The Entity, a formless creature that takes on Castiel’s appearance and winds up sending the angel back to Earth after he proves too pesky. And that’s really all we know - at least so far.
So why put The Entity as the runner-up for most powerful character? It’s because you’ve got to have a healthy level of fear for the unknown. It very well may be the case that, contrary to his claim, God actually does have some power over The Empty. Maybe if The Entity came to Earth, he’d have no power, but there’s something cosmic about the Entity, especially compared to the downright approachable Chuck.
We can’t see his real form without going mad from terror. If you played Earthbound when you were a kid, The Entity gives off kind of a Gigyas vibe. That alone is enough to justify this high ranking.
1 TIE: SAM AND DEAN - WINCHESTERS
Let’s run down the list. The Alpha Vampire and Lilith? Not walking the Earth anymore, thanks to Sam and Dean. Abbadon was a fearsome Knight of Hell. Dean took on the Mark of Cain to take her down and then for good measure went back to finish off Cain too. Eve, Dick Roman, Death himself? Gone, gone, and gone.
Lucifer took possession of Sam’s body, but Sam was strong enough to beat him from within. Lucifer himself was finally defeated by Michael, who was in Dean’s body. We don’t know how long it’ll take the boys to expel Michael next season, but we do know Michael sealed his own fate the moment he went back on his promise to leave his vessel. God, The Darkness, The Entity - to date they haven’t taken on Sam or Dean in a direct fight. That’s their good fortune.
The thing is, Sam and Dean may be human, they may be self destructive and unhealthily co-dependant, they may be in over their heads. But they’re the heroes of Supernatural, which means we know deep down they’ll ultimately be victorious no matter what the universe throws at them. There have been and will continue to be setbacks along the way, but there is a constant in the universe. We call it Winchester.
Did we miss any powerful Supernatural characters? Let us know in the comments!