Names: War, Famine, Pestilence, Death
Locations: No fixed address
Occupations: Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Actors: Titus Welliver, James Otis, Matt Frewer, Julian Richings
Episodes: 5.02 Good God, Y'All!, 5.10 Abandon All Hope (Death hid his visage), 5.14 My Bloody Valentine, 5.15 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, 5.19 Hammer of the Gods, 5.20 The Devil You Know, 5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight
The Horsemen are powerful beings that are instruments of chaos and destruction during the Apocalypse. It is unclear whether the Horsemen are angelic or demonic or something entirely separate in origin. Their relationship to each other is also unclear. War refers to them as 'siblings', Alastair refers to them as 'amigos'. Death implies that he is older than and separate from the other three. Horsemen are immune to Sam's powers, but Sam was able to weaken Famine by destroying all the demons that Famine had consumed.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Antichrist as described in the book of Revelation are part of the apocalyptic destruction of Earth. They are generally described as War, Death, Famine and Pestilence (also described as Conquest or the Anti-Christ himself) - each riding a different coloured horse. In Supernatural, each Horsemen drives a car that reflects these colors, and each possesses a different ring. Their rings prove integral in ending the Apocalypse.
War can alter people's perception of reality, causing them to become violent towards each other. War drives a red Mustang. War is also known as the Red Horseman.
Famine causes people to hunger for what they desire - be that money, food, sex, drugs - and pursue it until it kills them. It feeds on the souls of the people it kills. Famine drives a black SUV. Famine is also known as the Black Horseman.
Pestilence spreads diseases. He is also known as the White Horseman. However he drives a green car, so it is likely that he was meant to be the Green Horseman. Pestilence has the farthest reaching scheme in Supernatural, which involves distribution of the Croatoan virus. Pestilence drives a green Hornet.
Death was always kept restrained according to Bobby, and had not roamed freely on Earth since the time of Noah's ark. Death was released from his cage in episode 5.10 Abandon All Hope by Lucifer. Unlike the other Horsemen, Death does not support the Apocalypse. He voluntarily gives his ring to Dean and explains how the Horseman's Rings can be used to recapture Lucifer. Death drives a white Cadillac. Death is also known as the Pale Horseman.
EPISODES FEATURING THE HORSEMEN
5.02 Good God, Y'All!
War causers havoc in a town when he convinces the townspeople that some of them are being possessed by demons, when in fact none are. He is banished when Sam and Dean remove a ring from him that seems related to his power.
5.10 Abandon All Hope
Lucifer undertakes a ritual to release the most fearsome Horseman, Death. It involves killing all the women and children in a town, and then the men, who are possessed by demons, sacrifice themselves. He then performs an invocation. Death rises, but is not seen.
5.14 My Bloody Valentine
Famine arrives in town and causes everyone's cravings to turn rabid. People start killing each other and themselves. He infects Sam, who craves demon blood, and Castiel, whose vessel had a fondness for red meat, but Dean is unaffected. Famine says this is because Dean is already "dead inside". Famine is stopped when, after consuming demons that Sam had exorcised from their hosts, Sam exorcises those demons from his body. The brothers take his ring.
5.15 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Death causes previously dead townspeople to come back to life, including Bobby's wife, Karen. Death sends Karen back with a warning: that because Bobby is helping Sam say 'no' to Lucifer, Death has his eye on him. Karen describes Death as "A really thin man, almost like a skeleton," but he is not seen in this episode.
5.19 Hammer of the Gods
Pestilence arrives at a small store, and enters, coughing and spreading germs and phlegm everywhere. He buys some flu medication and leaves. As he drives, his car fills with flies.
5.20 The Devil You Know
Sam and Dean begin the episode on the trail of Pestilence, posing as CDC agents at a hospital hit with a swine flu outbreak.
Crowley offers to help Sam and Dean find Pestilence by tracking down and cutting a deal with Brady, who Crowley calls "the Horsemen's stable boy." Brady is in charge of the plan at Niveus Pharmaceuticals. He uses the Goblet of Blood ritual to communicate with Pestilence about the progress on the vaccine. Brady eventually relents and gives up Pestilence's location to Crowley, Sam, and Dean.
Brady reveals that War and Famine aren't dead, but they have been taken out of the game, telling Dean, "See, War and Famine, even if I could cram the rings back on their bony fingers, I doubt it would do much good. They're withered husks right now, fetal position on the floor, all thanks to you. So I don't want the rings. What I want is retribution. And I'm going to rip it right out of your ass!"
Bobby is talking on the phone with Rufus Turner discussing possible omens for locating Death when Crowley appears in his home. Crowley tells Bobby he can help them find Death, but he needs to make a deal for Bobby's soul to pull it off. Bobby is resistant to the idea, but Crowley assures him that it will be temporary and that he will give Bobby back his soul after it's done.
5.21 Two Minutes to Midnight
Using the alias "Dr. Green" Pestilence is working at the Serenity Valley Convalescent Home. He tends to an old woman named Celeste, telling her she has a combination of the common cold, dengue fever, and a "nasty, nasty case of Japanese encephalitis." He then proceeds to give her chicken pox. She asks if he is going to cure her, and he tells her that she is going to die. She vomits in his face (a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist) before she dies.
Using information from Brady, Sam and Dean arrive at the home, but are incapacitated by Pestilence. While writhing on the ground from their illnesses, Pestilence tells them they're suffering from scarlet fever, meningitis and syphilis, and gives them a condescending lecture about God, disease and humanity. Castiel, now human, enters the room and falls to the floor after beginning to feel the effects of Pestilence's epidemic. Pestilence mocks him for being a powerless occupied vessel, noting that "there's not a speck of angel in you." Castiel picks up Ruby's knife and cuts off Pestilence's ring finger. A possessed nurse rushes at Castiel, but he kills her with the knife. Sam and Dean immediately recover from their illnesses and get up from the floor. Pestilence, clutching his hand bleeding, tells them "It doesn't matter. It's too late," before vanishing.
Later in the episode, Sam and Dean figure out what Pestilence's plan was after a talk with Crowley. Brady was vice president of distribution at Niveus Pharmaceuticals. The first part of the plan was for Pestilence to start a swine flu epidemic, which set the stage for the second step: mass nationwide distribution of the Niveus vaccine which contains the Croatoan virus. Crowley suggests Sam and Dean stock up on everything, because "this time next Thursday, we'll all be living in Zombieland."
Bobby tells Sam, Dean and Castiel that he's figured out that Death is going to cause a storm and a series of natural disasters that will kill three million people in Chicago. He is eventually forced to admit that he sold his soul to Crowley to get the information on Death. The group splits up: Sam, Bobby and Castiel go to Niveus to destroy the samples of the vaccine and the distribution center to prevent the outbreak of the Croatoan virus, while Dean and Crowley head to Chicago to try and defeat Death, save the city, and get the last ring. Crowley gives Dean Death's Scythe to use in Chicago, saying that in addition to killing angels, demons, and reapers it's rumored to be capable of killing Death himself.
Death arrives in Chicago to start the disaster. Dozens, if not hundreds, of Reapers arrive too, and are later seen by Crowley.
Death stops in a pizzeria for lunch, killing everyone inside (possibly unintentionally) and is found by Dean, who attempts to sneak up on him with Death's Scythe. However, the scythe begins to burn hot in Death's presence, forcing Dean to drop it and alerting the Horseman to his presence. Rather than showing hostility toward Dean, the Horseman thanks him for returning the Scythe before asking Dean to join him at the table. Death then reveals that he has been waiting for a while to talk with Dean.
When Dean asks him how old he is, Death admits he can't really remember anymore and guesses he is as old or older than God himself and neither can remember anymore. He surmises that he has been alive since life itself began and someday he will even reap God, to Dean's surprise. Death just states God is a living being like any other and someday he too will die; its just the way things work.
Death explains that Lucifer, whom he describes as "a bratty child", has him bound by a spell and is using him to create Apocalyptic chaos.
Death offers his ring to Dean on the condition that Dean must do everything in his power to assure that Lucifer is put back in his cage, even if that means sacrificing Sam. Dean reluctantly agrees, and Death warns him to hold true to his word, reminding him that he can't cheat Death. The Horseman then gives Dean the instructions on how to operate the rings, which combine to form a key-like device.
Later, Dean and Bobby discuss the plan, and while Dean is skeptical, Bobby says that Death probably has a larger view of things than they do and they should have more faith in Sam.
RINGS OF THE HORSEMEN
Without me, you got zero shot at killing Lucifer. Sorry. But... you can trap him. The cage you sprung Lucifer from, it's still down there, and maybe, just maybe, you can shove his ass back in. Not that it'll be easy. You got to get the cage open, trick my bro back into it, and oh yeah, avoid Michael and the God Squad. But hey - details, right? And here's the big secret, Lucifer himself doesn't even know. But the key to the cage, it's out there. Actually it's keys, plural, four keys. Well, four rings from the Horsemen. You get 'em all, you got the cage.
– Gabriel, 5.19 Hammer Of The Gods
Dean: Horsemen, huh? Well we got War's... And we nicked Famine's. That's two rings down. Collect all four? All we need is Pestilence and Death.
Sam: Oh, is that all?
– Dean, Sam, 5.19 Hammer Of The Gods
Each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse wears a single ring. If the ring has a stone, its color matches that of its Horseman's car. The Four Horsemen draw or channel their powers via these rings, and most of them cannot properly sustain their full powers when they are taken. According to Brady, War and Famine are in a debilitated state, and even getting the rings back to them would not soon make them active. Pestilence also appears weakened after the loss of his ring. Death, on the other hand, seems unfazed by giving Dean his ring, suggesting that the ring is not essential to his nature. Death is likely more powerful than the other Horsemen, having been present since the beginning of time itself, and being one of the only constants in the universe.
In a hidden message recorded on a Casa Erotica DVD, Gabriel reveals posthumously how Sam and Dean can trap Lucifer in Lucifer's Cage. The keys to the cage are the rings worn by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In order for Lucifer's Cage to open, the current holder of the rings must place them on a surface and say the incantation, "Bvtmon Tabges Babalon". The opened cage can be closed by a counter-incantation, as Lucifer demonstrated by reciting "Chdr Bvtmon Tabges Babalon." The cage also closes if something passes through the opening.
FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE IN LORE
This interpretation replaces Conquest with Pestilence, which is portrayed as a distinct entity (separate from Death). The first horseman to appear is Pestilence, who rides upon a white horse. In the wake of Pestilence comes War, riding a large, wild red horse and wielding a tremendous sword. In the wake of War, due to immense destruction because of War and Pestilence, is Famine. Famine is portly, and rides upon a black, sickly horse; this represents gluttony and hunger, respectively. And in the wake of Famine comes Death. His horse is pale green. He is followed by Hades and carries the remaining souls to their final destinations.