After Cain killed his brother
, he was not killed but cursed by God and driven into exile in the land of Nod. There he took a wife (a famously Unknown Character
), and at least six generations were descended from him.
Fictional depictions of Cain's descendants vary; they may inherit the wicked nature of their Biblical Bad Guy
progenitor, perhaps to the point of having degenerated into hideous monsters. The mark specifically placed on Cain by God, which is associated with God's promise that sevenfold vengeance would be taken on anyone would would kill Cain, may or may not be an obvious physical feature inherited by his descendants.
Cain's descendants may have all been drowned in The Great Flood
, whose survivors were all descended from the line that proceeds from Adam's other son Seth through Noah; this would necessarily limit depictions of Cain's descendants to antediluvian Biblical Times
. Some believe, however, that Cain's descendants survived the Flood, and still bear the identifiable mark of their ancestor.
This trope does not apply to those descended from anyone else who has the Name of Cain
- In the DC Universe, Vandal Savage was at one point revealed to be the Biblical Cain, leading to stories in which the monster Grendel, his daughter Scandal Savage, and his indirect descendant Batwoman had to deal with the familial and mystical consequences of being, well, descendants of Cain.
- The Hellblazer "Third Worlds" story arc has John meet with a tribe consisting of Cain's descendants, living near the entrance of the Garden of Eden in the Middle East in a state of perpetual penance. Their religious zeal leads his current girlfriend to mistake them for Islamists.
- Noah has the antagonists explicitly be the descendants of Cain. Not all of them are evil, they "merely" suffer from a near total cultural lack of the wisdom and compassion needed to use their knowledge and technology to live in harmony with nature— and each other. This has gone on since the beginning of their history, leading to ravaging the planet to the point of apocalyptic resource depletion and descent into cannibalism. Of the Cainites, only Ilah and the girl Ham finds, Na'el, were shown to be innocent, and the former was basically raised by descendants of Seth.
- In Beowulf, it is said that the monster Grendel and his mother are descended from Cain.
- Supernatural: In "The Song Remains the Same", Micheal says the Winchester bloodline is descended from Cain and Abel. Their descendants are the only ones who can be used as vessels by the Archangels Michael and Lucifer to manifest on Earth. However, Cain's entire backstory was changed in "First Born", where they made him a reformed demon after he slaughtered Abel for being tempted by Lucifer.
: A bloodline? Michael
: Stretching back to Cain and Abel. It's in your blood, your father's blood, your family's blood. Dean
: Awesome. Six degrees of Heaven Bacon.
- The Bible names six generations of Cain's descendants. Cain begat Enoch, who begat Irad, who begat Mehujael, who begat Methusael, who begat Lamech. Lamech's wife Ada bore him Jabal the shepherd and Jubal the musician; their half-brother Tubalcain and half-sister were Lamech's sons by his other wife, Zillah. Lamech explains to his two wives how, where Cain would be avenged sevenfold, Lamech's vengeance is seventy-sevenfold.
- The idea that Cain or his descendants were cursed with black skin dates back at least to the Middle Ages. Many Christians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also believed that dark-skinned people were the descendants of Ham and a wife who was descended from Cain. Thus, they attributed to black people not only the mark of Cain but the curse God placed on Ham's son Canaan that declared him "servant of servants." These common nineteenth-century belief were adopted into the Books of Abraham and Moses from the Mormon scripture Pearl of Great Price, where the Egyptians are Canaanites descended through Ham's wife and/or daughter Egyptus. The Mormon leader Brigham Young stated that Cain's mark was "the flat nose and black skin." The Church of Latter-Day Saints used the Book of Abraham to bar blacks from the priesthood until 1978, when God changed his mind about black people.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, Cain's curse was actually vampirism, so the modern (Western) vampires are all descended from him by transmission of said curse. For this reason, non-Western vampires (like the kuei-jin) refer to them as "Cainites".
- In Children Of Eden, Ham falls in love with Yona, a descendent of Cain.
- The Green Pastures features some apocryphal descendants of Cain, including Cain the Sixth. Their wickedness inspires God to order The Great Flood.