At the end of Season One, in Devil's Trap, when Meg is trapped and Dean starts roughing her up, Bobby steps in to stop him, saying "That's a human being possessed by a demon. Can't you tell the difference?" [emphasis mine].

This implies a few things:

  1. Demons can appear, in human form, without possessing someone.
  2. Until that point, Sam and Dean had been assuming that Meg was not a human, but a purely manifest demon.
  3. Somehow, Bobby (at least) is able to tell the difference.

By that point in season 1, we had only seen a small number of demons on-screen: Meg, the not-yet-named Azazel, Tom, the "phantom traveler", plus the two unnamed demons guarding John Winchester. Once season two begins, demons become much more plentiful, and make up the primary opposition the Winchesters have to face for the remainder of the series.

There were a couple of other comments during Season One that appear to support the idea that demons can be on Earth without a human body. However, this idea appears to have been silently dropped starting with Season Two. And, as far as I know, any time a demon has appeared in human form, it was possessing a human body. Otherwise, it appeared only in its "smokey" form e.g. after being exorcised. This actually becomes a bit of a plot point later -- one of the reasons Sam gives for using his powers instead of Ruby's knife is that his way usually saves the human host, which only makes sense if all demons are possessing people.

Have we ever seen a demon on-screen, not in its smoke form, and not possessing a human body? Was this the intention behind Azazel's brief appearances in Season One, where he appears much less "solid" than human-possessing demons? And have we heard any indication since Season Two that this is even possible?

4 Answers 4


No, because demons are of the spirit variety, not the monster variety. They don't have (useable) bodies of their own anymore.

Also, you got the quote wrong - there is no "...the difference?":

Bobby: Dean, you gotta be careful with her, don't hurt her.
Dean: Why?
Bobby: 'Cause she really is a girl, that's why.
Sam: What are you talking about?
Bobby: She's possessed. That's a human possessed by a demon, can't you tell?

At this point, Sam and Dean didn't have a lot of experience with demons, and as suggested in the question, thought Meg may have been a demon without a host. They were simply wrong - Bobby was filling them in on how demons actually work.

(This is sometimes further confused by things of the monster variety, like the Rakshasa, that are simply called demons in the culture they originate from.)

  • i probably did get the dialogue wrong, it's been a few days since I last saw it, but the statement still (to me) only makes sense if there's an option; otherwise there would be nothing to "tell" -- it would be "that's a human possessed by a demon -- like they all are.".. but maybe I'm reading too deep into it.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 2:09
  • @MichaelEdenfield One possible option is one of the Special children, like Sam. Meg was showing off a lot of telekinesis, but not much else - Bobby may have thought that Sam and Dean were confused as to what she was (demon, witch, special child, etc..), and the way he clarified it also cleared up demonic possession for the brothers. (However, witches didn't show up until later, and I don't recall when Bobby learned about the special children..)
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 2:29

That's not the implication of the dialogue. The implication is that they've always known that they were humans possessed by demons, but had forgotten this in their zeal to discover what the demon was up to.

On the other hand, I suspect Crowley is such a demon, one who isn't possessing some human being. Don't have much to back it up though.


Aside from yellow eyes appearing as smoke, in the final two episodes of season 2, while Sam and the other psychics are in that small abandoned village, there are a couple of demons that manifest without possessing. For example the little girl who instantly turned to smoke when hit by the iron rod, which of course wouldn't happen if the girl had merely been possessed. We have also seen many crossroads Demons who seem to appear and disappear in a way that wouldn't seem possible if they were simply possessing someone. Also, as Bobby points out in a later season, Demons are just "Spirits with an attitude" and so follow the same rules as other spirits (Hence burning the bones killing them), and since we have seen many spirits manifest visually and physically over the course of the series it stands to reason that demons can do the same.

  • 1
    the teleporting crossroads demons was one thing that came to mind, but angels also appear and vanish at will and we know that they are all possessing human bodies (their true form would blind anyone looking at them). The demons in Azazel's Survivor Camp, though, I'd forgotten about.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 17:27
  • The Acheri Demon is a type of ghost: "In Indian folklore, an acheri is the ghost of a young girl, who at night visits from her mountain to bring illness to children." It's simply called a "demon" even though it isn't a Supernatural-style demon, similar to the Rakshasa. Granted, there is some overlap given how Supernatural-style demons come to exist, so the Acheri demon could be at some in-between point..
    – Izkata
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 22:48

The answer to this question is now "yes". In the season 9 finale/season 10 opener, Dean manifests as a demon without possession after Metatron "kills" him. The Mark of Cain brings him back, as a demon.

It's Dean, as a demon, when nothing possessed him.

  • This can be a good answer if you flesh this out some more. Which episode did this happen? Is there a section where the characters comment on it that you can include the script for? etc.
    – amflare
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 18:22

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