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Cain and Abel and Seth

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In this trope, a third person, mainly a Big Brother Bully or an Annoying Younger Sibling, is introduced specifically in a way to complicate the relationship between established siblings, or between the established siblings and the new sibling, hostile or not. If the characters aren't related by blood, but through the same Meta Origin consider themselves Sworn Brothers or Bash Brothers literally, then another character with the same Meta Origin and honorary sibling status may suffice.

Consider the trope namers. Many people know the story of Cain and Abel, the first children born in the Abrahamic religions. In the story, Cain kills Abel and was banished by God. What fewer people know is that Adam and/or Eve had several more kids, one of whom was named Seth. Seth would replace Abel as the "good" son, and while both he and Cain would have childrennote , Cain's lineage would be cursed, and would eventually all be doomed by the Great Flood. Noah and his family were descended from Seth, and as the only survivors of the Flood, this means that all humans are descended from Seth, taking both of their places as the future of humanity.

Considering these characters can be introduced quite some time after the original set, spoilers may be ahead.

Compare Long-Lost Relative (a possible supertrope to this), Cousin Oliver, Remember the New Guy?, Tangled Family Tree. May end up having Enemy Mine scenarios if two of the siblings team up against another.

Note that despite "Seth" being much more common as a given name than "Cain" or "Abel", this is unrelated to Aerith and Bob.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The late introduction of Shizuku in Candy☆Boy, with her Big Sister Worship of Yukino and slight Sibling Rivalry with Kanade, really shakes up the twins' dynamic.
  • Date A Live has Shido and Kotori (the former being adopted into the latter's family) suddenly encounter the former's younger biological sister Mana one day. What makes this complicated is that both Shido and Mana have amnesia and don't remember their pasts. Mana does have a locket containing a picture of her and Shido when they were younger, which is how she recognises him when she coincidentally sees him in a video. The relationship is confirmed by DNA testing. The drama comes from the fact that Kotori is part of the organisation Ratatoskr, which seeks to control Spirits by making use of Shido's ability to seal their powers, while Mana is part of DEM, which tries to kill them, and she doesn't appreciate Kotori putting Shido at risk.
  • In One Piece, Luffy and Ace are revealed to not be related, and have a third Blood Brother named Sabo. In their youth, he was the physical midpoint of the three and was The Spock in their three-man band. The story is told entirely through flashback, as Sabo is assumed dead and thus a Posthumous Character. His death and Ace's subsequent death complicates every previous interaction between Luffy and Ace, their current situation, and all those that would follow. Additionally, Ace's tattoo and Luffy and Ace's relationships with their True Companions take new significance. In a cover, it is shown that had Sabo lived, the three would be together, and to cement this "Good Future", Ace's tattoo loses its meaningful misspelling. It becomes further complicated when it's revealed that Sabo survived the incident that supposedly took his life, and has been in hiding for the last twelve years, apparently as a member of the Revolutionary Army. While undoubtedly a heartwarming revelation, it becomes Harsher in Hindsight when one realizes that Ace died without ever knowing that his other brother was alive. And even moreso because Sabo had amnesia the whole time, only remembering his life with Ace and Luffy upon learning of Ace's death... at which point he collapses in tears because he wasn't there to even attempt to save his brother.
  • Played about as straight as it can be with Cain (the Big Bad), Abel (The Hero), and (The High Queen) Seth from Trinity Blood. Each also spells their last name differently to reflect their different personalities and roles.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the anime, the Virtual World Filler Arc stars Noah Kaiba, the previously-unknown biological son of Seto and Mokuba's adoptive father. He has an enormous grudge against Seto and wants to take away everything he has — including Mokuba, who he kidnaps and brainwashes into thinking Noah is his only brother. The brainwashing doesn't hold, but after Noah has a Heel–Face Turn Mokuba says that he's family.

    Comic Books 
  • The third installment of Amelia Rules!, "Superheroes", uses the trope namer. According to Reggie, the very first Steve in the Legion of Steves was the third brother of Cain and Abel who has been lost to history. Steve manipulated Cain into instigating conflict with Abel, before shifting blame back to Cain saying "You shouldn't have done THAT!" when Abel died. Turns out to be made-up, though, since the Legion of Steves was just Kyle's way of getting back at his mom's new boyfriend.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender continuation comics have Zuko and Azula's maternal half-sister Kiyi, who complicates their already complicated relationship by having a remarkably uncomplicated one with Zuko, adoring and admiring him. Meanwhile, Azula initially takes her entire existence as an insult, thinking Ursa had her as a replacement because Azula disappointed her (this isn't even remotely true, but Azula's grasp on reality post-series is tenuous at best). In Kiyi's second appearance, Azula expresses some mild admiration for her, but that's all.
  • Some continuities of The Mighty Thor include Balder as the Seth to Thor's Abel and Loki's Cain, though as far as their father Odin's concerned, Balder is the only "Abel" there, with both Loki and Thor viewed as reckless and wayward sons (usually).
    • Marvel's Original Sin storyline complicates this still further by introducing a previously unknown sister. It's Angela, originally a supporting character in Spawn and more recently a regular in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Marvel’s Eternals have Kronos and Uranos, the first leaders of the million-year-old Eternals, who fought a bloody civil war over the future of the Earth. The genocidal Uranos lost; Kronos himself fell from grace many thousands of years later. Both are now supposedly imprisoned forever. But then there’s their brother Oceanus, who’s still active and alive, but has been staying out of Eternal politics for a very long time.
  • Damian Wayne, the fifth Robin, is this in spades. He's the youngest Robin ever, has a massively abrasive personality, and is the only Robin to actually be a blood relative of Batman (much to the discomfort of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, who are adopted sons of Batman).
  • Referenced in The Simpsons as part of Dr. Hibbert's explanation of "middle child syndrome", which features an alternate version of Cain and Abel, where the two brothers had a third brother as the middle child. No one paid attention to him, which allowed him to easily frame Cain for murder.
  • In X-Men, a slip-up by Mr. Sinister introduced an example. As explained on the Tangled Family Tree page, Scott Summers was introduced as an orphan, then met and established a relationship with his brother Alex. This lasted for quite some time before Sinister hinted that there was at least one more brother out there. After a lot of plot changes and Word of God statements, the brother was set as Vulcan, a supervillain emperor. But of course, given that Sinister never gave a specific number (he merely said "brothers"), any or all of the other implied candidates could still also be Summers brothers…and there were. The fourth Summers brother was eventually revealed to be Adam X.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Thor: Ragnarok: With Loki and Thor as Cain and Abel respectively, in comes Hela revealed as their older sister. The two end up working together to stop her.

  • The Noldor royal family in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion: Fëanor and Fingolfin are half-brothers and the eldest sons of their respective mothers, with Fëanor suspicious and resentful of Fingolfin. Their father, Finwë, actually has three other children with Fingolfin's mom, however. The sisters, Findris and Írimë, don't really do much, while the brother, Finarfin, nopes out of his brothers' conflict pretty quickly, returns to Valinor and rules over the other Noldor who were smart enough not to leave.
  • In The Moomins, It is common knowledge that Little My and Mymble Jr are siblings. However, the 3rd book reveals that Snufkin’s parents are Joxter and Mymble Sr, meaning that he’s their half sibling. This adds a whole new level of uncomfortable to the scene in the 90’s anime where Little My says to Snufkin that she wants to date him.
  • Sisters Elinor and Marianne are the deuteragonists of Sense and Sensibility. They actually have a younger sister, Margaret, who's barely mentioned outside of the occasional embarrassing Annoying Younger Sibling moment. This would be expected In-Universe — in their society, Margaret was too young to be "out" and do plot-relevant things like attend balls or dinner parties or go to London.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charmed:
    • The series revolved around three sisters, the Charmed Ones. One of the sisters (Prue) died early in the show, so a half-sister was added down the line to complete the trio. The two elder sisters (Piper and Phoebe) tried to enlist the help of the new sister (Paige), who was reluctant to join them and almost joined the Dark Side. There were also episodes that focused on how Paige's personality affected the dynamics within the family (namely, an episode where Paige tries to rearrange everything in the house which causes tension between her and Piper). Paige was also far more emotional on decisions concerning the past of their grandparents.
    • The sequel comics that act as the official Seasons 9 and 10 play with this extensively by putting Prue in the Seth position. After ten years of Paige acting as the telekinetic Charmed One, most people outside of the family have forgotten that someone else originally filled that role. Much like Paige's introduction, Prue's return in a new body and having all four sisters in one place precipitated a significant change in their dynamic. In Season 10, Prue's resentment over her early death, losing her destiny to someone else, and her overall complicated feelings about her youngest sister leave her vulnerable to the influence of the leader of the old ones to try to kill her sisters in revenge for "replacing" her, turning Prue into the Final Boss of the entire franchise. Lampshaded at one point when Prue says, "there are four sisters!" as a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
  • Charmed (2018): While they were introduced to the audience at the same time, Macy acts as the Seth to her half-sisters Mel and Maggie. Macy is the oldest, but was raised alone by her father and only learned her mother's identity and met her sisters after their mother's death. Mel and Maggie have different personalities and don't always get along, but they have an established relationship and know each other on a personal level that often leaves Macy feeling left out. When Macy discovers Mel is actually the half-sister, due to their mother having an affair with Macy's father while married to Mel's, producing Maggie, she's thrilled and sees it as legitimizing her place in the family, while utterly missing the resultant identity crisis she's just given her sisters.
  • While a member of the Dallas cast from day one, it was eventually revealed that ranch foreman, Ray Krebbs, was Jock Ewing's illegitimate son. Naturally, Bobby accepts his new brother, while J.R. worries about another claimant to Ewing Oil.
  • Gossip Girl, where Chuck becomes Serena and Eric's adoptive brother when their parents are married. The siblings already knew Chuck, and because of his earlier attempt to rape Serena, neither of them trust him. While Eric is the first to come closer to Chuck, Serena still distrusts him and blames him for sending her porn magazines. Though, as it turns out, they were sent by someone else. Their relationship gets even worse when Chuck's father dies.
  • The relationship between half-siblings Arthur and Morgana on Merlin is changed forever when Morgana's older half-sister Morgause (no relation to Arthur) appears on the show and eventually spirits her away. Interestingly, The Reveal as to Morgana and Morgause's relationship (maternal half-sisters) is discovered long before Arthur and Morgana (paternal half-siblings) are discovered to be related.
  • Venus de Milo of the short-lived Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation series was a female turtle with the same Meta Origin. But she got so much hate from the fans and creators of the original series, and the show got terrible ratings and was cancelled, so the whole thing is noncanonical now.
  • Reality show The Osbournes featured Ozzy Osbourne, his wife Sharon, and their children Kelly and Jack — but not their oldest, Aimee Osbourne, who refused to participate. Reportedly, she stayed in the guest house when MTV was there filming.
  • Peaky Blinders: The introduction of Michael Gray — Polly's son, the boys' cousin — complicates the already-fragile relationships among the Shelbys. In particular, John and Polly square off on whether or not allowing Michael to participate in the less-legal side of the business is a wise idea.
  • Pretty Dudes: The Gomez brothers Ellington and Marshall are joined by a middle brother Carver in the second season, whose devotion to their parents shows exactly why the other two brothers transplanted to LA in the first place.
  • The show Sisters originally had 4 sisters: Alex, Teddy, Georgie, and Frankie. In the 4th season, they discover they have a younger half-sister named Charley who was born from an affair their father had. Charley was a guest star in Seasons 4 and 5 but when the actress who played Frankie left the show Charley (now with a different actress) became a regular character during the sixth season.
  • In Supernatural, Sam and Dean have spent most of their twenty-some years with only each other as dependable family. Eventually, in the episode entitled "Jumping the Shark" including references to Cousin Oliver, they find out that their father had a child several years after their mother died, whom he kept from the hunter's life to protect him. The brothers immediately argue about whether to train him or to spare him from their life. It turns out he's already been killed in revenge against their father, and they've been dealing with a ghoul.
    • When Adam eventually makes another appearance in season five as himself, after he's been brought back from the dead as bait or a possible alternative for Michael, he doesn't get along with either of the brothers that never knew about him. In Season six, when Dean's given the option to either save Sam's soul from eternal torment in Lucifer's cage or rescue Adam's from the same place, Dean unsurprisingly doesn't even hesitate in choosing Sam.
    • Simultaneously, within the archangels, Lucifer and Michael are seeking the same Armageddon, each thinking they would win. Winchester brother intervention gets Gabriel involved, introducing this dynamic between them to the viewers. Gabriel takes neither side, choosing humans instead, and is responsible for telling Sam and Dean how to seal the both of them in Lucifer's Cage, preventing the conflict that would raze the world.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The setting of Ravenloft's Origin Story features the Cain and Abel story of how Strahd was driven by jealousy to murder his youngest brother Sergei, becoming a vampire for his crimes. Little attention has ever been given to Sturm, the middle brother, even though he's the only one of their family who survived to become the ancestor of all living Von Zaroviches.
    • In Races of the Dragon, the twist here is that Cain murdered Seth, not Abel. The Dragon God Io's first child was Vorel (Seth). A simple-minded, but perfectly beautiful dragon. Next Io fathered the twins, Bahamut and Tiamat (Abel and Cain respectively). The two hated one another immediately, and always sought to win their father's favour over the other. Tiamat murdered her older sibling Vorel, and tried to frame Bahamut. Io, however, was not deceived, and banished her from his presence. Tiamat consumed with hatred turned utterly to Evil, while her brother Bahamut, aligned himself with all Good in order to oppose her. Io lost three of his children: the first to death, the second to Evil, and the last to Good.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue has Ragna, Jin, and their sister Saya. Saya was kidnapped 10 years before the start of the story and is nowhere to be seen in the present, both Ragna and Jin assuming that she was long dead. The ending of the second game came and revealed that she was very much alive and now the head of The Empire subjugating the world, additionally she's also possessed by a death god, so both brothers have to put aside their own animosity for each other and deal with their sister.
  • F.E.A.R. 3's Third Child is hinted in the good ending to have a brighter future than its brothers.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War ends up with a showdown between protagonist Seliph and his half-brother and half-sister Julius and Julia. Depending on the player's actions, Julia can either be an enemy or ally.
    • Though in all honesty, Seliph inverts this, as Seliph is both the Seth and the oldest, and is also their half-sibling instead of full. Making Julia the Abel.
    • Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 features a more traditional example in Saias, Julius and Julia's other half-brother, this time via their father. Saias is the inheritor of Arvis's major Fjalar blood but has the least involvement in the war of the four siblings.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, established character Solid Snake meets his twin clone brother, Liquid Snake. Designate Cain or Abel to whichever one you want (Liquid claimed that one of them was the brother of light, and one is the brother of dark, but he didn't care to specify who was who) however, Snake was the one who survived and Liquid was killed by the FOXDIE disease carried by Snake. However, as The Stinger in Metal Gear Solid alluded to, there was a third "Snake brother", Solidus Snake. He shows up in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as Raiden's primary antagonist, not Snake's. Interestingly, while the three brothers find themselves on opposing sides, they are all generally considered to be Well-Intentioned Extremists.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Rain's ending revealed that he is the third son of Argus - the other two being his paternal half-brothers and rivals Taven and Daegon.
  • Team Fortress 2's Gray Mann not only twists the family dynamic like Seth, he one-ups Cain, and murders both his brothers.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a subversion with Pyra/Mythra and Malos, who while not fully siblings, are considered to be as such and have a Cain and Abel dynamic. Near the end of the game, it is revealed that Pyra/Mythra and Malos were once two of the three cores of the Trinity Processor, which powered a supercomputer that awakened the Conduit. Pyra/Mythra was originally named Pneuma, and Malos was originally named Logos. However, the missing third core of the Trinity Processor, Ontos, is nowhere to be seen, as the Architect mentions that Ontos triggered a space-time transition event and disappeared into another dimension. Though due to the Architect actually being Professor Klaus from the first game, Pyra/Mythra having Foresight as one of their abilities, and Malos wielding a Monado as his weapon of choice, players who have played through the first game can connect the dots easily to infer that Ontos is actually Alvis/the Monado from the first game. Sure enough, when Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition was released, Alvis' model was changed to have him bearing a red core crystal in the same shape as Pyra/Mythra and Malos' core crystals.


    Web Original 
  • Cain and Able being major players in the universe of the SCP Foundation, it's of course inevitable that their family shows up from time to time.
    • SCP-4840, a floating city that's supposedly the first ever city, built at the center of creation, was ruled justly and wisely by the first king of men, Adam el Asem. That was until Adam was inflicted by the first vice, envy, claiming a star as his crown and desiring to become ruler of all that is. Eventually, his sons saw his growing madness and acted. Able and Cain both tried to take Adam's crown but failed. The youngest brother, though, stole it and fled from the city. In the end, the narrator of this story admits that he is Seth el Adam, and mentions a part of the story he left out: As a child, he had looked to the stars and asked his father for one of them. His father reached up and plucked one out.

    Western Animation 
  • On Daria, the title character's mom, Helen, has an intense rivalry with her older sister, Rita, due to her perception that Rita has always been their mom's favorite (though Rita actually seems to think that Helen is). The youngest sister, Amy, describes how she always felt like she was ignored and thus grew more independent...but as we see, she can be just as petty as the others, and deftly plays them against each other. Helen and Rita also argue that a lot of her "isolation" from the family is actually a personal choice.
  • Downplayed or averted in Gravity Falls — the relationship between the "original Mystery Twins," Stan and Ford, turns out to be a major part of the series, while their third sibling, Shermie, is only mentioned in passing. Justified because he was (apparently?) a baby when the other two left home; from a Doylist perspective, he only really exists to explain where Dipper and Mabel came from.
  • Another Downplayed example shows up in My Little Pony: Make Your Mark; the sequel series to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic where aside from the established Royal Sisters Celestia and Luna; there also was the Big Bad of Generation Five: Opaline Arcana, who while not at all related to the Royal Sisters had treated her with initial distain that it served as Opalines' Start of Darkness.
  • In The Miser Brothers' Christmas, a 2008 sequel to The Year Without a Santa Claus, the squabbling title characters have to call a truce to confront their even nastier older brother, the North Wind.
  • In The Venture Brothers, Dermott Fictel is introduced, and almost instantly separates Dean and Hank, as he is more similar to Hank, following the brothers' Divergent Character Evolution. He's initially made out to be Brock Samson's son, but he is actually Rusty's accidental child, thus making him the third Venture brother, and strangely enough the only brother with a confirmed mother.

Alternative Title(s): Sudden Sibling Monkey Wrench, The Other Brother