It is unclear who was the first ruler of Hell, though Lucifer - as the creator of the demons - as matter of fact had claim to the throne. It is not known if he ever got to act as a ruler, as he was imprisoned soon after Hell was created.
The first known ruler was Prince of Hell Azazel, who took the mantle after the other Princes chose to abandon their duties. In his role as a Prince of Hell, Azazel was simultaneously the general of Hell's army, which he took command of and ruled with tyranny, yet he was said to be a fair ruler.
Azazel's eventual goal was to free Lucifer from his prison, and to do so he needed to free Lilith and create a Special Child who would kill Lilith as part of the 66 seals binding Lucifer. Azazel achieved both tasks before his death, after which the demons struggled to choose sides between the Special Child, Sam Winchester, and Lilith. Lilith ultimately took control and was the ruler of Hell, as well as the Queen of the Crossroads, until Sam fulfilled his destiny and killed her.
Her death set Lucifer free from his Cage and all the demons flocked to his side. Lucifer ordered the demons to work for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as he set about bringing the end of humanity. His defeat and re-imprisonment at Sam's hands left the throne of Hell vacant. Crowley attempted to hand over the throne to Ramiel, one of the Princes, but he refused, instead suggested to Crowley to take it upon himself to become the new King, which Crowley does. Crowley met minor opposition from the remaining Lucifer-loyalists led by Meg. Crowley managed to outplay his opposition and ruled as the undisputed King of Hell until Abaddon, a Knight of Hell, resurfaced and challenged him, leading to another civil war in Hell as the demons struggled to choose sides again. After Abaddon's death, Crowley reclaimed the throne and punished all those who chose Abaddon's side. Two years later, Lucifer escaped his Cage a second time and took control over Hell, and later Heaven, while Crowley was kept as a prisoner until he managed to escape captivity.
Following the battle with the Darkness, Lucifer lost interest in both Hell and Heaven, leaving the throne vacant as the demons did not wish to accept Crowley anymore. To regain his former position, Crowley hunted Lucifer down and helped the Winchesters defeat him. With Lucifer seemingly back in his Cage, the demons returned under Crowley's command.
The ruler of Hell can control the fate of any soul that goes to Hell and has such a high authority that he or she may even trade any number of souls in Hell as per their wish, as seen when Crowley gave Castiel "fifty large," fifty thousand souls from the pit, to make a showing in front of Raphael during the civil war in Heaven.
The King or Queen of Hell can also alter Hell's appearance and how it is run, as Crowley redesigned hell following Lucifer's imprisonment and replaced the previous method of extreme physical torture with continuous queuing (which served as a psychological torture for all in Hell). While other demons have ruled Hell previous to them, only Crowley, Abaddon, and Lilith have used this title to describe themselves. Aside from Lucifer, it is currently unknown how the ruler of Hell is determined. In Crowley's case, the Winchesters had eliminated all of the other powerful demons who could be his contenders and locked Lucifer back in his Cage and the surviving Princes were uninterested.
Known Rulers of HellEdit
- Azazel (seasons 1-2)
- Lilith (seasons 3-4)
- Lucifer (seasons 5, 11)
- Crowley (seasons 6-11, 12)
- Abaddon (season 9)
- Upon Hell's creation and before Azazel, it is unknown who was the ruler of Hell.
- Lucifer is the only non-demon to date to rule over Hell, as he is an Archangel and the creator of the demons.
- Overall, Crowley has ruled Hell for the longest duration on the show, while Azazel has ruled Hell for the longest time, lasting for an unknown period of time prior to at least 1972, ending in 2006.
- Lilith ruled for two years from 2007-2009.
- Lucifer ruled for one year in 2009-2010, than again for about a year in 2016.
- Crowley took over in 2010 until 2014, again in 2015-2016, then again in 2017.
- Abaddon ruled in 2014.
- Two out of the five known Rulers of Hell have been killed by Dean Winchester. He killed Azazel and Abaddon.
- Sam Winchester has killed one Ruler of Hell. He killed Lilith.