In phantom traveller, Sam and Dean face a demon that is possessing various people related to a plane crash. The exorcism they perform is very much non-standard, in that it merely releases the demon from its vessel. As well as this, they use the Latin word christos to detect demons, which is never used again.

My question is, are these events particular to this episode or are they canon?

How can the event of Phantom Traveller be explained in relation to other episodes?

  • in later episodes, we see the Winchesters and others perform a true exorcism on multiple occasions, it just takes a lot of time and would typically have to be done on a demon trying to kill them.
    – KutuluMike
    Jul 21, 2012 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


Phantom traveler is the fourth episode of the series and as such, there are a lot of things that haven't happened yet. More importantly, there is a lot of information that the brothers Winchester haven't learned yet. Their dad's journal, while full of extremely useful and lifesaving information isn't an infallible source. There are multiple examples throughout the series where inaccuracy and scarce info put the boys in danger. So later, the boys learn better ways to exorcise demons from both Bobby and their father as well as the secrets of the Solomon trap. Additionally, the exorcism used was a two part exorcism in the episode, the first part released the demon from the body, the second part was the send back to the pit. Thus the scrambling for journal as the demon made on last attempt to send the plane into the dirt.

The reason that the christos thing didn't continue, and this part is speculation based on the later events and the personalities involved, is that it alerts the demon without putting it at a tactical disadvantage. If you had a choice between tossing some holy water to put a demon on the ground or saying the name of God and alerting the demon you are on to them, I would think the smart money would be on the ground.

  • While your answer is good, it should be noted that there were practical story development problems, so the writers sort of ignored this. It wasn't decided that they'd take an Abrahamic direction with the show until much later, and doing so would confuse the mythology they (at that time) wanted to create.
    – John O
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:15
  • 1
    @JohnO Except that Kripke had outlined the plot through the end of Season 5 before the series was started...
    – Izkata
    Aug 3, 2012 at 0:06
  • @JohnO Ah, nevermind. It was close, but it seems that seasons 4 and 5 were indeed added "a few episodes in", probably just after Phantom Traveller.
    – Izkata
    Aug 3, 2012 at 0:12
  • You can have an outline, a great idea of how you want to do things, but the reality of those things may change, especially once the reality of filming those things does not work quite the way you like. So he may have started with a functional outline and slowly began to change it when constraints on the show affected how things were going to be done in the future. By the fifth season, the most effective ideas in terms of filming, display, function and appearance were the ones being used, first season's issues resolved and choices made, and yes they may be quite different! Aug 3, 2012 at 0:13

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