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In mythology, and folklore, a vengeful ghost or vengeful spirit is said to be the spirit of a deceased person who returns from the afterlife to seek revenge for a cruel, unnatural or unjust death. In certain cultures where funerals and burial or cremation ceremonies are important, such vengeful spirits may also be considered as unhappy ghosts of individuals who have not been given a proper funerary rite.
The concept of a vengeful ghost goes back to ancient times and is part of many cultures. According to these legends and beliefs, the ghosts roam the world of the living as restless spirits, seeking to have their grievances redressed, and return to the world of the dead after justice is done, but in some cases remain unappeased. In certain cultures vengeful ghosts are mostly female, said to be women that were unjustly treated and died in despair.
Exorcisms and appeasement are among the religious and social customs practiced by various cultures in relation to the vengeful ghost. The northern Ache people group in Paraguay cremated old people thought to harbor dangerous vengeful spirits instead of giving them a customary burial. In cases where the person has been killed and the body disposed of unceremoniously, the cadaver may be exhumed and reburied according to the proper funerary rituals in order to appease the spirit. Others have been known to salt and burn their body, or where they were killed or what they were killed with.
Vengeful ghosts have been featured in many contemporary movies of different countries such as The Grudge, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fog, The Ward, Cassadaga, Kaal, Left for Dead, Bees Saal Baad, Darling, Ragini MMS, Dark Shadows and the Troublesome Night film series, as well as television series Spooky Valentine, Spooky Nights, Charmed and Ghost Whisperer and the popular Thai television soap opera Raeng Ngao. They are also part of the theme of novels such as Tamír Triad and Tamsin, comics such as Gentleman Ghost and Judge Death, animated television series like Danny Phantom and adventure games such as Chzo Mythos.
Lemures in Roman mythology are the wandering and vengeful spirits of those not afforded proper burial, funeral rites or affectionate cult by the living.
Keres, spirits of violent or cruel death in Greek mythology.
The Green Lady. A restless female spirit said to haunt certain locations in Scotland such as Crathes Castle, Knock Castle (Isle of Skye) and Ashintully Castle. In some tales she was murdered in a green dress, and then stuffed unceremoniously up the chimney by a servant. It is said that her footsteps can still be heard as she walks the castle in sadness.
Mogwai, a vengeful ghost or demon in Chinese mythology
Nü gui, is a vengeful female ghost of the Chinese folklore. She appears with untied hair.
Yuan gui, the spirits of persons who have died wrongful deaths.
Chudail , a female ghost of Indian folklore, well known in North India and Pakistan. This spirit is said to originate in a woman who died either in childbirth, in pregnancy or during her menstruation, in a state of ritual impurity.
Funayurei are ghosts (yurei) that have become vengeful spirits at sea. They are mentioned in the folklore of various areas of Japan.
Goryo. A certain type of spirits, usually the ghosts of martyrs, from Japanese mythology
Kuchisake-onna, the vengeful ghost of a woman mutilated by her husband
Mu-onna , the vengeful spirit of a mother who lost her child to famine or war
Onryo. A generic name of the Japanese folklore for ghosts who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their lifetime. Onryo are mostly women and often manifest themselves in physical rather than spectral form.
Dama Branca, also known as Mulher de Branco meaning 'Woman in White' in Portuguese, is the ghost of a young woman who died of childbirth or violent causes in Brazilian mythology.
La Llorona. Also known as 'Woman in White'. Can be a female spirit from Mexico who drowned her own children because her husband left her.
La Sayona. A female spirit who believed her husband had an affair with her mother in Venezuela and Colombia.
Patasola. A female spirit from South America that appears as a beautiful woman. She attracts men and lures them to the depths of the rainforest were she turns into a beast and devours the man.
Sihuanaba. A female spirit who had an affair and attacks unfaithful men in El Salvador.
Chindi. Vengeful ghost that causes dust devils in Navajo mythology
Krasue , known as Ap in Cambodia and as Kasu in Laos, a nocturnal female spirit of Southeast Asian folklore.
Phi Tai Hong , the restless spirit of a person that suffered a violent or cruel death in Thai folklore.
Suanggi is a malevolent spirit in the folklore of the Maluku Islands, Indonesia.
Sundel bolong, in Javanese and Malaysian mythology, the ghost of a woman who died when she was pregnant and gave birth in her grave so that the baby came out from her back where she has a large wound.
Tai Thong Klom , a Thai ghost, the wrathful spirit of a woman who committed suicide after being made pregnant and subsequently betrayed and abandoned by her lover.
Wewe Gombel, a female ghost in Javanese and Sundanese mythology. It is said that she kidnaps children.
In Jewish mythology, a malicious possessing spirit is known as a dybukk. They are believed to be the soul of a dead person, who can possess the body of a living person. They usually leave after they have accomplished whatever task they need to
Vengeful Spirits in Supernatural
Peter Sweeney, in 1.03 Dead in the Water takes revenge on those who drowned him, and their families. When the last man responsible for his death sacrifices himself to save his grandson, Peter is appeased and goes to rest.
Mary Worthington, aka Bloody Mary, kills people who have been, or feel, responsible for someone else's death, after her own murderer was never caught. Destroyed when her own power is rebounded upon her by Dean with a mirror.
Cyrus Dorian's spirit possesses his truck in 1.13 Route 666 and attacks those responsible for his death, and their families. Destroyed when his bones are salted and burned and his truck is lured onto hallowed ground.
Jonah Greely in 2.16 Roadkill takes revenge on drivers, also targeting the ghost of the woman who was driving the car that killed him. Bones salted and burned by Sam.
Callie in 3.05 Bedtime Stories causes deaths based on the fairy tales her father is reading to her because her father won't accept that she was 'killed' by her step-mother. Dies and moves on once her father accepts the truth.
The Rise of the Witnesses is one of the one of the 66 Seals that when broken, will unlock and open the "door" to cage. The Witnesses are people who have seen or died at the hands of supernatural beings. Once summoned by the proper spells, they act in a manner similar to other vengeful spirits, but target a specific person with their wrath. Put back to rest by a spell cast by Bobby.
Dirk McGregor in 4.13 After School Special possesses social outcasts and harms popular kids at an Indiana high school. His spirit is tied to a lock of hair his father keeps in a Bible on the school bus, where he possesses students who travel on the bus. Put to rest when Dean burns the lock of hair.
Rose Brown in 6.14 Mannequin 3: The Reckoning takes revenges on the work colleagues whose bullying led to her death. She is able to move around wherever her sister Isabel Brown goes because she received one of her kidneys in a transplant. She is dispatched when her sister dies.
In 7.04 Defending Your Life, Osiris can command the spirits of the dead and cause them to kill. He commands the ghost of Jo Harvelle to kill Dean, but the god is stopped before she does it.
Bobby becomes obsessed with killing Dick Roman after his death, injuring Charlie Bradbury the computer hacker in the process. Sam and Dean fear he will become a vengeful spirit, unable to control who he hurts. Later he becomes one as feared and possesses Louise to kill Dick, but regains control when he nearly kills Sam and at his request, his flask is burned and he is put to rest to prevent it from happening again.
In 8.06 Southern Comfort, Vance Collins, aka The Unknown Soldier becomes a type of Vengeful Spirit known as a Spectre after he is killed by his brother in the Civil War. After his grave is disturbed and his Indian Head Penny is stolen, Vance ties himself to the penny and possesses people, causing them to kill people they have grudges against. Is put to rest when Sam, Dean and Garth burn his bones and Garth melts down the penny after he possesses Dean.
In 9.07 Bad Boys, Timmy's Mother protects her son from any threats after dying in a car crash, but starts to go insane from being trapped on Earth and becomes vengeful, attacking anything she sees as a threat whether it is or not. As she is attached to Timmy, Sam and Dean are unable to dispatch her with normal means, but Timmy is able to take control and become assertive, ordering her to move on. Timmy's Mother grows peaceful and moves on on her own.
Dispatching Vengeful Spirits
Sam appears to push the spirit of Dirk McGregor out of a high school student by pouring salt into his hand and filling or covering her mouth with it in 4.13 After School Special, although this doesn't destroy it.
The boys commonly dispatch a spirit by salting and burning its corpse.
In some cases, even if the corpse is destroyed, some remnant of bodily material may remain which must be burned. Examples include an antique doll containing some of Melanie Merchant's hair in 1.19 Provenance, the lock of Dirk McGregor's hair in 4.13 After School Special, or P.T. Sandover's gloves containing skin cells in 4.17 It's a Terrible Life.
Spirits can be attached to an object: Mary Worthington was trapped inside a mirror in 1.05 Bloody Mary, Bobby was attached to his whiskey flask and Vance Collins was attached to his Indian Head Penny as well as his bones.
Vengeful spirits may be at rest once they are avenged or heard (i.e. Peter Sweeney and Callie).
If a vengeful spirit is on Earth for a particular reason, such as protecting a specific person, if they calm down enough, they may be able to move on on their own such as Timmy's Mother.