Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) lives at home with his parents (Andrew AirlieandAllison Hossack) and brother in theSeattlearea. He had always wondered why his mom and dad were so easy on him, whether it was sports, school, or career choices, and so hard on his younger brother. Sam dropped out ofcollege("It made him sleepy", his Mom explains) and took a dead-end job at the Work Bench, a home-repair superstore. He spent the rest of his time hanging out, playingvideo games, and pining for his co-worker, Andi (Missy Peregrym).
On Sam's 21st birthday, his parents behave very strangely, and Sam himself sees hellish visions and experiences odd events. His father eventually claims that many years ago, he was very sick, and in return for restoring his health, he and his wife promised their firstborn child to the Devil (Ray Wise). Although the couple intended to cheat the Devil by having no children, this plan went awry when Satan convinced their doctor to lie and tell the couple that they could not conceive in exchange for wiping hisgamblingdebts clean. Sam was born shortly thereafter.
After informing him of his fate, the Devil explains to Sam that he must serve as hisbounty hunter(or "Reaper"), tracking down souls that have escaped fromHelland sending them back using his new powers (which includetelekinesis) and "vessels", varied objects said to have been hand-made in the bowels of perdition by the iniquitous and the vile. Vessels appear inside a long wooden box sent for Sam to open (with theItalianinscription"Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate"("Abandon all hope, ye who enter here"), as was written on the entrance to Hell inDante's Inferno), and are specially designed for each job. Examples throughout the series have included aDirt Devilvacuum cleaner, aTasergun, and a cigarette lighter.
Although Sam initially balks, Satan tells him that should he refuse, then Sam's mother's soul is forfeit. Unwilling to sacrifice his mother, and convinced that he is doing good in the world by tracking down evil souls, Sam accepts his fate. With the help of his slacker friends Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez), he begins his new life tracking down the corrupted souls trying to escape their own eternal punishment.