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The effect on Sam as he completes the first trial.

The tablet says, 'Whosoever chooses to undertake these tasks should fear not danger, nor death, nor...' A word I think means getting your spine ripped out through your mouth for all eternity.

Kevin Tran, after translating the demon tablet, 8.14 Trial and Error


In case Heaven and Hell ever needed to be sealed in order to protect humanity, God put in place three trials for each that a being could do to seal them. The information about the trials was encoded on the tablets.

Hell Trials

After weeks of non-stop work, Kevin Tran finally manages to translate the part of the tablet about closing the Gates of Hell. According to Kevin, the tablet reveals that someone must do three trials and read an Enochian spell after each one. Once the three tests are done, the gates can be closed.[1]

Sam kills a hellhound, and bathes in its blood.

Despite Dean wanting to do them, Sam ends up being the one to undertake the trials. Each trial has a serious effect on him. Castiel says they are damaging Sam in ways even he can't heal.[2] It is revealed that by the time Sam gave up the Trials, they had burned all of his major organs and the only way for him to be saved was for an angel to possess him to heal the damage from within.[3]

First Trial

Kevin manages to translate the section on closing the Gates of Hell and learns that the first trial is to kill a hellhound and bathe in its blood.

Sam and Dean set out to kill a hellhound by looking for someone who has made a deal which is to come due soon. They find a family who has come into good fortune, because one of them made a deal ten years ago with what turns out to be Crowley.

Later, Kevin finds information on hellhounds and calls Dean to tell him about it, telling him it reads, "The dire creatures may be seen only by the damned or through an object scorched with holy fire." Using this information, Sam and Dean come up with the idea to use glasses scorched by holy fire to see the hellhound.

Dean is determined that he will be the one to take on the trials, but in the fight with the hellhound, it ends up being Sam who kills Crowley's hellhound with Ruby's knife, slashing through its gut, and getting soaked in its black blood. Afterwards, after convincing Dean that he can do the trials and survive, he casts the Enochian spell.[4]

Sam travels to Hell.

Immediately after, Sam starts suffering the effects of what he has done, coughing up blood.[5] According to Castiel, the trial damaged him in ways even he can't fix, all the way down to the subatomic level.[6]

Second Trial

Eventually, Kevin translates the second trial and reports it to Sam and Dean: Sam must travel to Hell and rescue an innocent soul and "deliver it unto Heaven." Needing a way to sneak in, they summon and torture a crossroads demon who tells them that rogue reapers take humans and souls between Earth, Heaven and Hell for a price, and they track down Ajay. Ajay reveals that he took Bobby Singer's soul to Hell on Crowley's orders when he was put to rest and they decide to use him as the soul Sam will rescue. Sam successfully makes a deal with Ajay where he will take him to Hell and back with Bobby in exchange for the Winchesters owing him a favor in the future. Ajay takes Sam to Purgatory where a Hell Gate exists that acts as a "backdoor" into Hell and leaves, telling Sam to meet him there in exactly 24 hours. However, Crowley learns of this and kills Ajay with an angel blade so he can't pick up Sam.

Sam enters Hell armed with Ruby's knife and a purgatory axe and finds Bobby who he has to convince of his identity. The two begin making their way out, but are attacked by three demons, one of whom takes on Sam's form to confuse Bobby. Bobby kills all the demons, guessing right which one is the real Sam. The two make it into Purgatory, but are trapped there as Ajay is dead. However, as they come under attack by three vampires, Dean's friend Benny Lafitte arrives to help them, having been sent by Dean to lead them to the portal out. At the portal, Sam absorbs Bobby's soul into his arm and returns to Earth, but Benny stays behind to hold off the attacking vampires.

Bobby's soul being released unto Heaven.

On Earth, Sam and Dean are reunited and Sam releases Bobby's soul towards Heaven, but Crowley arrives and traps it, planning to take it back to Hell. However, Naomi intervenes and forces Crowley to retreat before releasing Bobby's soul, allowing Bobby to ascend to his rightful place in Heaven. Having completed the trial, Sam casts the Enochian spell.[7]

This trial is shown to hit Sam harder than the first and he is left in a weakened condition, but develops the ability to sense the Tablets and Metatron, something that Metatron says is happening because he is now "resonating" with them.[8]

Third Trial

After Kevin gets the second half of the demon tablet, he is finally able to learn the third trial which Metatron reveals and Kevin confirms is to cure a demon.[9]

Looking through the Bunker's archives, Sam and Dean find a film where two priests, Father Max Thompson and Father Simon try a different type of exorcism on a possession of a woman. The result is that the woman's chest is burst open. Talking to the Father Simon, they discover that Father Thompson believed it was possible to cure a demon and make him human again, and he performed the ritual to that end, but he failed. Listening to a recording of the last attempt Father Thompson made before he died, Sam and Dean learn that he had finally succeeded by performing the ritual on consecrated ground, injecting a demon with his own blood after purifying it first through confession of his sins, and doing so over a period of eight hours until the demon began to behave as a human once more. The final step of the exorcism was for the exorcist to place his bloody hand over the demon's mouth. Once this was done, the demon in the recording was healed and became human again.

recited by Father Max Thompson
As spoken in Latin English Translation
Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus...

hanc animam redintegra...

We exorcise you, every impure spirit...

Fix this soul...

Sam and Dean set out to try the cure on Abaddon, but she escapes when they are distracted by Crowley calling to threaten to kill all of the people they have ever saved if they don't hand over the demon tablet and back down from the trials. He also starts keeping all demons away from the Winchesters as he has realized they may need one for the third trial and with no Abaddon, Sam and Dean are left without a demon to cure.[10]

After Crowley starts killing all the people they have saved, Sam and Dean pretend to make a deal with him. At the ruins of Singer Salvage Yard, Sam shows Crowley the demon tablet to prove he has it while Crowley shows them the angel tablet. Crowley produces a contract many yards long, and Dean insists on reading the fine detail. As he does, he gets close to Crowley and snaps handcuffs on him connecting him to Dean. Crowley is initially amused until they reveal that they have carved a binding spell on them, keeping Crowley trapped and powerless. Sam and Dean take Crowley to a small church to undergo the third Trial - curing him.
Sam about to complete the ritual, and cure Crowley.

Soon Castiel arrives, telling Dean he needs his help in undertaking the Heaven trials. Dean is reluctant to go, but Sam insists he will be fine. After confessing his sins, Sam starts injecting Crowley with his blood. After each injection, Sam's arms start glowing for a short period of time. At one point Crowley bites Sam, and when he leaves to get a bandage, Crowley casts a spell and uses the blood to send a call for help. Abaddon arrives, and throws Sam through a window, but she tells Crowley she is not there to help him, but to take over ruling Hell. But Sam douses her meatsuit with holy oil, setting her on fire. Abaddon is left in such pain she abandons her body and flees the scene. Crowley starts regaining his humanity and tries to bond with Sam, tearfully declaring that he deserves to be loved and wondering how he could ever begin to ask for forgiveness for his actions. Sam suggests he start by going along with the cure, so he willingly allows Sam to give him the next injection.

Dean arrives just after Sam performs the exorcism and is about to complete the ritual by slapping his bloody hand over Crowley's mouth. Dean shouts for him to stop, warning Sam that completion of the final Trial will kill him after finding out from Naomi that God wanted the person doing the Trials to make the ultimate sacrifice to complete them. Sam initially wants to keep going, feeling he has let his brother down too much, but Dean convinces him to stop, and Sam lets the Trials go, causing the glowing that had appeared in his arms to disappear. He collapses soon afterwards[11] due to the fatal damage that had already been done to his body.[12]

Heaven Trials

Metatron reveals to Castiel that Heaven is in chaos since the defeat of the archangels, and that many factions are at war for control. In order to "lock the angels in a room" to force them to sort out their differences and keep the war from spilling over onto Earth, Metatron has decided to seal up Heaven, but needs Castiel's help to do so because he doesn't feel he could complete the trials himself, but that Castiel could. Castiel eventually agrees to work with Metatron to seal Heaven up. As the Scribe of God, Metatron remembers all the trials without the angel tablet.

Metatron reveals to Castiel that the first trial is to kill a Nephilim, the child of an angel and a human, and cut out their heart. There is only one in existence, and Metatron identifies her as Jane, a waitress at Eugenie's in Ojai. They trail her at night, but as she is innocent, Castiel hesitates. When she attacks and overpowers both him and Metatron, Castiel kills her with his angel blade and completes the first trial.[13]

Metatron tells Castiel that the second trial is to obtain the bow of a "cupid." Metatron has ascertained that Dwight Charles, a bartender, will be shot very soon by a cupid's arrow. Metatron and Castiel start watching Dwight, but Naomi arrives and abducts Metatron. Castiel turns to Dean for help. When they see a delivery woman arrive at the bar, they assume that she will be the one with whom Dwight falls in love. However, she turns out to be the cherub and she causes Dwight and his frequent customer Rod to fall in love. Outside the bar, Dean and Castiel tell the angel Gail, they need her bow, which then appears as a mark on her hand. She tells them how chaotic Heaven is and willingly helps them.

Back at the Bunker, Kevin has been examining the angel tablet and calls Dean to tell him he cannot find any mention of trials that Castiel has undertaken, and that the trials on the tablet look different. Just then, Naomi arrives after interrogating Metatron. She tells Dean and Castiel that Metatron's plan is to close Heaven -- but also to expel all the angels. When Castiel returns to Naomi's office, Metatron extracts his grace, explaining to him that this is the final part of the spell that will achieve what Naomi described was his goal all along. He sends Castiel back to Earth and completes the spell, thereby forcing all of Heaven's angels to fall to Earth.[14]