Curse boxes: Were they based on Pandora’s Box?

SUPERNATURAL -- "Sin City" -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR
SUPERNATURAL -- "Sin City" -- Photo: Sergei Bachlakov / The CW -- Acquired via CW TV PR /

When curse boxes were first introduced in Supernatural, Dean comments that they’re like the whole Pandora’s Box mythology. Is this the mythology the boxes are based on?

All mythology and ideas in Supernatural are based on something from real lore and legends. This includes curse boxes. When introduced in the third season, Dean comments “like the Pandora deal,” which references the idea of Pandora’s Box.

This could certainly be where the idea of curse boxes came from. The actual lore has never been stated and there isn’t much about boxes that lock away curses. It makes sense that it would come from the Greek mythology of Pandora’s box.

Supernatural curse box lore

"Curse boxes? Th – they’re supposed to keep the evil mojo in, right, kinda like the Pandora deal?"

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When the boxes were first introduced, we’d just found out that John Winchester had a storage unit with a handful of these boxes. They were all covered in sigils and one was taken. Since then, the boxes have shown up a few times to lock away cursed objects, such as deathly ballerina slippers.

The idea is that the boxes lock the curses in. Cursed items can’t cause harm to others but the items have to remain locked away. Considering Bobby later finds out how to destroy cursed objects, it’s surprising curse boxes are even needed at all anymore! Why not just completely destroy the cursed item to get rid of the curse?

Later, it was possible to neutralize the curse by putting the item back into the box. In “Bad Day at Black Rock,” the cursed item had to be destroyed. This could have been because Bobby wasn’t sure or because he just didn’t want to take any chances.

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SUPERNATURAL — “Bad Day at Black Rock” — Photo by: Marcel Williams/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR
SUPERNATURAL — “Bad Day at Black Rock” — Photo by: Marcel Williams/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR /

Pandora’s Box mythology

Dean mentions the Pandora deal. In Greek mythology, Pandora, the first woman on Earth, was presented to Prometheus’ brother by Zeus. Epimetheus took Pandora as his wife. Zeus gave Pandora a jar that contained all the pestilence, death, and evil in the world but told her never to open it. Like Eve (the first woman on Earth in the Christian religion) in the Garden of Eden, she couldn’t help herself and opened the box, releasing the evil into the world. The only thing left behind was hope, which is something humans will always be able to hold onto at a time of sickness, death, and hardship.

The jar is now viewed as a box due to an incorrect translation in the Middle Ages.

Like the initial curse boxes in Supernatural Season 3, Episode 3, the death and evil couldn’t be put back into the jar. Supernatural adapted this later by allowing items to go back into boxes to neutralize the curse again.

Next: Supernatural rabbit's foot lore

Did you know where the idea of curse boxes came from? Did you know the original Pandora’s Box lore? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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