|First appearance||"Jus in Bello"|
|Portrayed by||Rachel Pattee (Season 3)
Sierra McCormick (Season 3/4)
Katie Cassidy (Season 3)
Katherine Boecher (Season 4)
Lilith is a fictional character on The CW Television Network's drama and horror television series Supernatural. The series' writers introduced her to stabilize the story arc in the third season by giving demons a new leader, and she serves as the primary antagonist until the conclusion of the fourth season. Series protagonists Sam Winchester and Dean Winchester attempt to thwart Lilith's plot of freeing her maker Lucifer from his imprisonment in Hell, and she in turn attempts to kill them for her own ends. As a "destroyer of children and seducer of men", the character initially possesses little girls but is later depicted as possessing young women in attempt by the writers to avoid showing violence towards children on-screen. Making only a few, brief appearances in the series, the character received generally favorable reviews from critics for her role in the third season finale.
According to series creator Eric Kripke, the archangel Lucifer "twisted and mutilated" the human Lilith's soul into the first demon "to prove a point to God...that human souls were...inferior to God and the angels". Having been freed from Hell in the second season finale, Lilith (Rachel Pattee) debuts in the final moments of the third season episode "Jus in Bello". She searches a police station for the series protagonists Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who hunt supernatural creatures. Having just missed them, she proceeds to torture everyone in the station for nearly an hour, eventually destroying the station in a massive explosion. The Winchesters' demonic ally Ruby explains that Lilith sees Sam as a rival, as he has demonic abilities and was intended—but unwilling—to lead the demonic army of the previous series antagonist Azazel. Lilith orders Sam's death in order to secure her position as the new leader, even tricking the thief Bela Talbot into making a failed attempt on Sam's life with the promise of releasing Bela from her Faustian deal, only to go back on her word and let Bela get dragged into Hell.
With Dean having also sold his soul as part of a Faustian deal—one he made to save Sam's life—the brothers spend part of the season searching for the entity that holds the contract to Dean's soul and eventually learn from Bela that the demon in question is Lilith, who holds the contracts to all deals. In the third season finale "No Rest for the Wicked", the Winchesters track her down in New Harmony, Indiana, where she is holding a family hostage in the guise of their daughter (Sierra McCormick). Before Sam and Dean can attack her, Lilith secretly takes over Ruby's host body (Katie Cassidy) and overpowers the brothers after catching them off-guard. She has one of her hellhounds kill Dean and bring his soul to Hell to be tortured by Hell's chief torturer Alastair, then tries to kill Sam as well by blasting him with destructive white energy, only to find that she is powerless against him. Horrified, she escapes before he can retaliate with Ruby's demon-killing knife.
Throughout the fourth season, Lilith orchestrates the forces of Hell's attacks on the 66 mystical seals keeping Lucifer imprisoned in Hell. They are opposed by angels, who resurrect Dean to assist them. Lilith eventually finds out that her death is the final seal that needs to be broken to free Lucifer. Reluctant to sacrifice herself, Lilith (Katherine Boecher) proposes a deal to Sam in "The Monster at the End of This Book": she will stop breaking the seals in exchange for his and Dean's lives. He rejects the deal and tries to kill her instead. She quickly overpowers him, but is forced to flee before she can do anymore when Dean tricks an archangel into coming to the location. In the season finale "Lucifer Rising", Sam kills Lilith under the impression that her death will prevent the final seal from breaking, and in doing so inadvertently breaks the final seal, releasing Lucifer.
|"I see Lilith...and a lot of the characters who play our most powerful roles as a little cult of demonic true believers. Lilith really believes that the purpose of all of their work, the way the universe should be, is for Lucifer to be in control. Ultimately she's a true Satanist."|
|— Co-executive producer Ben Edlund|
Series creator Eric Kripke noted that Lilith is "a combination of all myths concerning Lilith", and posited that the show would in particular explore her two main mythological roles of "destroyer of children and seducer of men". The former characteristic is demonstrated through her possession of children, which writer Sera Gamble considered "creepy and kind of molesty". Actress Katherine Boecher supposes that aspect to be "part of the mischievous side of her", feeling that "maybe there are a lot of demons out there that wouldn't go that far to take over a child".
Nicholas Knight, author of various Supernatural tie-in books, acknowledged the character's immense evil, but also revealed that Lilith is capable of feeling love, stating that she "loves her creator (Lucifer) so completely that she willingly sacrifices herself, allowing Sam to kill her [to free Lucifer]". The show's writers set out to make Lilith's motivations "as logical as possible", with Kripke explaining that "everyone sets out thinking they're doing the right thing". He noted that in the fourth season finale "Lucifer Rising", "There's a private moment with Lilith when she says to her minion, 'Don't be afraid... we're going to save the world,'" and he believes in her sincerity. Boecher, too, thinks that the character is "super-confident in what she's doing" and feels that "she really believes that she's going to fix things in her own way and that she has to take it into her own hands to do so".
The third season of the series initially focuses on the Winchesters fighting small, independent groups of demons, an attempt by the writers to reflect terrorist cells. When Kripke felt that this format was not successful, however, the writers chose to introduce a new lead villain to stabilize the demon storyline. Although the character had the working title of Zarqawi during the planning stages, Gamble insisted that the demon be female. She eventually suggested the mythological Lilith, who the writers had previously learned was in part the basis for the Bloody Mary legend in conducting their research for the first season episode "Bloody Mary". Writer Jeremy Carver said that the debate about what form Lilith would take quickly ended when they realized a little girl "would be the most powerful representation of evil". As Kripke noted, "I think it's just something about the innocence of a child saying truly awful, horror things." Much of Lilith's actions in the third season finale "No Rest for the Wicked" served as a homage to the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", in which a powerful child terrorizes his town.
The writers initially intended for Sam to potentially defeat Lilith in the third season, but the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike prevented them from fleshing out Sam's demonic abilities until the fourth season. Realizing that they could not depict Sam killing a child, the writers had her possess an adult body in subsequent appearances. Boecher received the part for the episode "The Monster at the End of This Book", with Kripke feeling that she fulfilled Lilith's myth of being a "seducer of men" by bringing a "a sexuality and a menace to the role". Boecher still attempted to maintain some childlike quality for the character to "bring out more sides of Lilith". Although demons typically rotate through their hosts, production asked her to return for the finale "Lucifer Rising". Kripke admitted the benefit of having a familiar face return for the finale, but furthermore said that the production team "really liked what [Boecher] did, and [...] thought she had such a fascinating look. She's beautiful, but there's something really menacing in her performance as well, and the camera just loves her." The opportunity to reprise the role both surprised and excited Boecher.
Lilith's demonic eye color—she is the first demon depicted with white eyes—originated from Kripke's viewing of the horror film I Walked with a Zombie. He found one of the creatures having all-white eyes to be "really disturbing", and gave Lilith white eyes to indicate her high status within the demon hierarchy; Knight described her as one of the "demon chiefs of staff" and named her as "the Queen of the Crossroads" for whom "all Crossroads Demons make deals, which is why she ultimately holds sway over Dean Winchester's soul." As such, Lilith holds higher status than the yellow-eyed demon Azazel, on which Kripke commented, "You don't get much higher than her until you start digging into Lucifer territory." Unlike actors portraying Azazel in previous seasons, Boecher's eyes were colored white using visual effects instead of requiring her to use contact lenses.
Regarding Lilith's depiction in "No Rest for the Wicked", Don Williams of BuddyTV deemed her "one extremely scary little girl". He found her taking over Ruby's host as "one of the many disturbing moments in [the episode] that helps to make it so unforgettable", and added, "By the end of the episode, it's obvious that the Winchesters have never faced any demon as powerful as adorable little Lilith." Despite the shift in actresses between Rachel Pattee and Sierra McCormick, Tina Charles of TV Guide felt that "the results were still as creepy". Karla Peterson of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Cassidy did a "terrific job of acting like a completely different character is inside her body". Likewise, Diana Steenbergen of IGN found it "nice to see Katie Cassidy have a chance to act so differently", and believed that "Lilith and her little girl mannerisms in Ruby's body were far more chilling, and interesting, than Ruby's tough chick persona ever has been". Brett Love of TV Squad, however, felt "a little disappointed". He enjoyed her storyline and that she "served as the catalyst for some great Ruby bits" throughout the season, but felt that the shortened season did not allow the proper build up for her character. He also did not like the change in Lilith's host, explaining, "each [body jump] takes away a little bit from the character...Especially if the demon in question keeps jumping into cute little girls". Although McCormick impressed him, he posited that "when it comes to menacing and scary, she's no Fredric Lehne" (Azazel).
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