The Nephilim ("Fallen Ones" or "Marvelous Ones") are referred to exactly twice in The Bible, the quote above just after an incident with a fruit tree, and once in the Book of Numbers, where Israel's terrified scouts compare the Canaanites to them. In addition, there are a few other places that may be indirect references to them. What exactly they were has been a matter of some discussion through the ages, since Biblical canon has so little detail other than they were strong, had great height, and devoured people. However, various non-canonical texts such as the Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees flesh them out more. The specifics vary depending on which scroll you're reading, but the general outline runs thusly:
After chasing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, God set the Grigori (Watchers) to keep tabs on mankind. But apparently, Horny Devils is an equal-opportunity trope, because these angels quickly decided it was more fun watching womankind. Finally, a faction said "Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny", headed down to earth, and made with the baby-making, producing powerful half-angels, as well as teaching humans the arts and sciences in violation of God's decrees.
Although the above is the more common version of their origins, some texts refer to them as the descendants of Seth, Adam and Eve's third child. There are many other variations, too, such as them being Lucifer's rebellious angels. Like with trolls, these guys are hard to pin down.
At any rate, they were huge and powerful, and quickly began dominating the earth, becoming rulers and unstoppable warriors. Unfortunately, they generally tended toward evil. According to the Book of Genesis, and reinforced in the Book of Jubilees, one of the purposes of The Great Flood was to wipe them out. In some versions, not even this is enough, as although their bodies are killed, their spirits stay on the world to torment man.
Like many things in The Bible and other Judeo-Christian literature, the Nephilim are handy when you're plundering for symbolism. The lack of concrete detail lends them a certain mystique, and allows the name to be attached to almost anything, although they're commonly some sort of supernatural hybrid — often a mixture of angel and either human or demon. Sometimes they are also giants, sometimes not.
Biblical researchers consider it likely that the references to Nephilim are a remnant of the polytheistic Mesopotamian and Canaanite Mythology that predated Judaism, and that they were originally considered demigods (similar to the likes of Hercules and Achilles in Classical Mythology). The myth of Utuabzu and the Apkallu is sometimes proposed as the inspiration of Enoch and the Watchers. When the Hebrew religion became monotheistic and decreed that all gods other than Yahweh were either fictional or demons falsely claiming to be divine, the Nephilim became half-angel instead of half-god since the latter had become impossible.
See The Descendants of Cain for another group of Biblical descent. Compare Golem and Our Genies Are Different for other creatures in Abrahamic religions. See also Our Angels Are Different and Our Demons Are Different, for their possible "parents". May overlap with Divine Parentage if they are part angel.
For the tabletop game, see Nephilim.
- Although never explicitly stated, it's not hard to recognize the story of Super Dimension Fortress Macross as being heavily influenced by the "ancient astronauts" hypothesis. "Protoculture" would be the Atlanteans, the advanced antedeluvian civilization submerged by the deluge (and shown rising from the water in ''Macross: Do You Remember Love?"), and the Zentradi, their engineered warrior-class of giants, would be known now only as the hybrid Nephilim, "men of old, men of reknown".
- The anime Rage of Bahamut: Genesis has Amira. She is the daughter of a male demon and a female angel.
- In the second season of Senki Zesshou Symphogear, Nephilim is the only known Relic which takes the form of a living creature rather than a Public Domain Artifact. Specifically it takes the form of a monster which eats other Relics to increase in size and power, with no apparent upper limit. According to a Keyword the plural term "Nephilim" is used because it consists of a group of "Nephil" Relics which devoured each other until only one remained. Dr. Ver later infuses himself with Nephilim cells to become a Human-Relic Hybrid, giving him a monstrous left arm which can fuse with Relics to absorb or control them.
- While the term is never used specifically, in High School D×D, Akeno is one (or was before becoming a re-incarnated devil). Her mother was human but her father Baraqiel is a fallen angel and a high ranking member (and later leader after Azazel is sealed in the battle with Trihexa) of an organisation of fallen angels named the Grigori, clearly using one of the possible definitions in the description.
- Lady Death's father Matthias is descended of fallen angels, though the term Nephilim is never used.
- The Greater-Scope Villain of Runaways are the Gibborim, six-toed giants who are the Half-Human Hybrid offspring of fallen angels. The sequel series introduces their children, the Seed of the Gibborim.
- Eegah! attempts to call the title character one of these... by quoting a non-existent bible verse as proof. Nonetheless, the basic idea of The Bible having giants seems to mean that they meant the character was a Nephilim.
- The Prophecy 3: The Ascent: Danyael Jr. is a human/angel Nephilim hybrid, conceived in the previous film as part of a prophecy to create the one destined to end the War in Heaven.
- The Devil's Advocate: In the climax Milton not only reveals that he's actually the Devil, but that he's been traveling the Earth to impregnate human women against their will. Kevin and Christabella are his half-human offspring.
- Noah portrays the Nephilim as fallen angels in the form of rock monsters that aid the heroes hoping for redemption.
- One of these is imprisoned within a giant mound in Simon R. Green's Drinking Midnight Wine, something that proves pretty crucial to The Dragon of the Big Bad.
- Georgina Kincaid has Nephilim as major characters. This version follows mostly the origin from the Bible, though they are portrayed as human-looking and not particularly tall. They are powerful and capable of killing supernatural creatures, but always weaker than both demons and angels, and they don't stand a chance against either of the two unless they have superior number. While some of them are evil, and many resent demons and angels for banishing them, the large majority just want to be left alone, and live hidden amongst mortals. The main reason Nephilim are called "giants" is because of their supernatural origin. In ancient times, average height was a LOT less than it is today with modern nutrition, so any supernatural hybrid would be taller than average (in Mead's setting, it's extremely unlikely a higher immortal would suffer from malnutrition). In addition, Roman is described as being very tall. To Georgina's default 5'2" form, he is much, much taller.
- In Many Waters, a time-travel novel which mostly takes place in the times leading up to Noah's flood, the Nephilim appear as Fallen Angels who each have a counterpart in the Seraphim who also walk the earth at the time.
- The Mortal Instruments, while keeping the angelic origin, has the Nephilim as essentially enhanced humans descended from angels who slay demons and look beautiful doing it. This book series also has the fairies. They are the common descendants of angels and demons. However, it is explicitly emphasized that they are not Nephilim.
- The Son Of Angels' book series follows several "Quarterlings," people who are the offspring of Nephilim and human beings. Nephilim and their children inherit special powers from their angel blood, but their heritage also draws the attention of evil Fallen Angels.
- In Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard, the characters end up learning a good deal about Nephilim — and they are not in any way human.
- Sandman Slim has James "Sandman Slim" Stark- Angel father, Human mother. In one of his occasional chats with Lucifer, they decide the reason Stark has survived for so long, compared to the other known Nephilim, is that they are born warriors (or berserkers), and the time Stark spent in Hell's Arena allowed him to "release steam" and come to terms with it without having to think too hard about what to do with his life. (He's still a bit of a berserker, but he can explain it away as PTSD from the arena, even to himself.)
- In The Fallen, Aaron Corbet discovers that he is one. Moreover, he, and others like him, are being hunted by warrior angels known as the Powers, who believe that the Nephilim are an abomination that must be cleansed form the world. As a Nephilim, Aaron has some of the abilities of the angels, including wings, being able to speak any language (even animal languages), and emitting fire blasts (which also includes manifesting flaming swords). He also learns that he's not an ordinary Nephilim, but the prophesied Redeemer, a Nephilim with the ability to redeem Fallen Angels (those, who wish to return to Heaven, at least). He's also Lucifer's son.
- In Tom Picirilli's A Lower Deep a Nephilim is bound beneath Tel Megiddo. The end of the novel reveals it to be the embryonic form of the Beast of Revelations.
- In Edward Cox's The Relic Guild trilogy, a rogue Thaumaturgist who would be known as the Progenitor and who's actually The Relic Guild's necromancer Hamir conned 100 human women to come with him (his intention is to use them as vessels to reincarnate 100 fallen Thaumaturgist souls). He used powerful High Magic and bits of unused reality known as "Dead Time" to impregnate them. The result is 100 giant, higher magic-using beings that tore their mothers apart when they were born.
- In Tim Lebbon's Relics trilogy, the leader of the surviving supernatural beings, the Kin, is an ancient, gigantic and very naked male nephilim, Mallian. He's usually a nice guy but he gets Unstoppable Rage at the thought of his fellow Kin getting murdered for body parts to be sold to rich collectors. Later books reveal that Mallian was just pretending to be good and in fact hates humans. Not only that but his fury is actually a major part of his real personality and he's the Big Bad for Books 2 and 3.
- In The Golgotha Series, Malachai Bick is the wealthiest man in town. He's actually an angel, Biqua, and has a number of extremely large and strong children, who's birthing inevitably killed their mothers.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer you can see the half-demon Whistler. His father was a kind of angel, and his mother was a demon.
- One of these beings shows up in "Clip Show". Jane, the last known Nephilim to exist on Earth, looks no different that any other human, but does have great strength and endurance that she demonstrates by being able to easily hold her own against two angels. She can also make her eyes glow similarly to angels, although her glow is a more dim and grayish color as opposed to the bright white or bluish-white glow of regular angels.
- During the 12th season, Lucifer impregnated a human (Kelly Kline), by using the President of USA as his vessel. This nephilim poses a significantly higher threat as it is a spawn of a human and an archangel (they are much more stronger than regular angels). His birth causes a dimensional rift to open that is a gateway to another world where the Winchesters were never born. The nephilim has many feats under his belt even when he was in his mother's womb, and once born, is said to have the potential to become even stronger than his father. In following seasons, the child, Jack, eventually becomes a new part of Team Free Will after refusing Lucifer's offer of ruling the universe together. At the height of his power, Jack upstages even the Archangel Michael, Lucifer's older, more powerful brother.
- One episode of The X-Files featured the Nephilim in the form of several grotesquely deformed young women.
- Nephilim are the main antagonists in the British supernatural drama Hex.
- The 2006 Paul Wesley miniseries Fallen, based on The Fallen, deals with the Nephalim, the protagonist unexpectedly discovering that he is not fully human and that there are competing angel/human conspiracies both to protect and to destroy people like him. The main give-away, at least until the fighting starts, is understanding and speaking any language, revealed when Aaron converses with his coincidentally non-American crush, Vilma.
Aaron: Eu nao falo portugues. [I don't speak Portuguese.]
- The song Metatron of the German gothic metal band Darkwell mentions the rape of woman by angels as well as the Nephilim as the "broad giants of morbid forms".
- The demons exorcized by Jesus have been proposed to be narratively meant to be the spirits of the Nephilim killed in the Flood, as the Book of Enoch was still mainstream and popular as a Jewish religious text at the time of the New Testament (to the point Jesus literally quotes Enoch a handful of times in all the four gospels). The Book of Jubilees even states those revenant spirits are led by Satan (here named Mastema), who might or might not be one of those spirits himself.
- The story of the Watchers and the Nephilim eventually fell of favor with the first Christian philosophers and their Jewish opponents, as all of them considered it bizarre and theologically wrong, but it remained in the religion of Manichaeism. One of the earliest Manichaean findings was the Book of Giants, which was first believed to be basically Manichaean fanfic before the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed it was actually an adaptation of an Enochic work, possibly even a lost chapter of the Book of Enoch (one that got switched by the chapter currently called the Book of Parables around the third century).
- Nephilim are still accepted by the modern day Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Beta Israel, who regard Enoch and Jubilees as canonical. However, they consider them to be sons of humans (the disobedient sons of Seth) and not of angels.
- Merlin of all people might be one of these, as well as an Anti-Antichrist. Many traditions maintain that one of his parents was a demon, and demons are often interpreted as fallen angels in Christian tradition. Fortunately, his human parent baptized him, freeing him from the power of evil — in other words, he un-fell and became a regular half-angel or Naphil (singular of Nephilim). His inhuman ancestry, be it demonic or angelic, gave him the supernatural abilities that we know him for today.
- In Demon: The Fallen, the Nephilim were offspring of humans and fallen angels who combined traits of both races and were seen as abominations for this. More importantly, they were born near the close of the "Time of Babel", when the Ten Watchers (wisest among the fallen) forcefully advanced humanity's scientific progress at Lucifer's command. While some Nephilim were good-natured, most desired power and thus killed the Watchers and usurped their place. Lucifer had the Nephilim slaughtered but humanity's chance at divinity was already ruined and the fallen were ultimately defeated by Archangel Michael's Host. Thus the Nephilim were directly responsible for both the fall of the proverbial "Tower of Babel" and for the imprisonment of the fallen in hell.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- In the 3rd-party sourcebook Anger of Angels, Nephilim are presented as a monster. They are the evil offspring of the Grigori (a type of angel) and mortals.
- In the 3rd-party sourcebook Aasimar & Tiefing: A Guidebook to the Planetouched, half-celestials and half-fiends are given the names Nephilim and Cambion, respectively.
- There are two kinds of Nephilim in Halt Evil Doer!, because there are two kinds of Grigori.
- One set of Grigori are the classic Earth-based angels, and the Nephilim are their halfbreed children who have superpowers of different kinds, plus the ability to detect angels. The twist is that the Grigori were banished from Heaven, and the Nephilim are bred as footsoldiers in their war against their former comrades. (To avoid confusion, these Grigori were later renamed the Watchers.)
- The other Grigori are the Captain Ersatz Guardians of the Universe, and their Nephilim are a "failed genetic experiment"; basically a non-robotic Captain Ersatz of the Manhunters.
- In In Nomine the Grigori were the angels closest to humanity, so close that they could interbreed with mortals. All of their children have greater capacity for magic than normal humans, but some, called Nephilim, are monstrously deformed in body and/or mind. For the creation of the Nephilim, the Grigori were banished from Heaven.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Nephilim are a creature type in the Guildpact set, huge Eldritch Abominations created by the gods basically just to make mortals crap their pants. Due to the extreme resource requirements to play them, they don't see much use.
- In Nephilim, a player character is one of the eponymous spirits that keeps reincarnating through countless lives. They aren't hybrids of human and angel, but the inspiration for supernatural creatures and the gods of mythology. They named themselves Nephilim because one of its meanings is "fallen ones" and this refers to their fall from a higher state of spiritual being in the distant past.
- Nephilim in Anima: Beyond Fantasy are humans whose souls actually belong to a member of another race who died in the past and reincarnated as humans, sharing some of the traits of their former selves and even remembering more or less of their former lives.
- Nephilim in WitchCraft are the children of a human and an Angel. They have incredible strength, regenerative powers, and are almost completely immune to any kind of magical attack.
- The Assassin's Creed games occasionally use the term to refer to the Isu, otherwise known as the First Civilization.
- In Darksiders, the race Four Horsemen come from is called the Nephilim. They are half-angel and half-demon, created by the Queen of Hell Lilith. Angry at being denied a realm of their own, they started a universal slaughter across creation that threatened all of existence, and when they attempted to take Eden from the yet-to-be-born humanity, the Four Horsemen having grown tired of the senseless slaughter betrayed their own and aided the angels in wiping out the Nephilim. The leader and oldest of the Horsemen, Death, personally slayed the Nephilim progenitor and his "eldest brother" Absalom who ultimately became The Corruption and tried to destroy all of Creation again thousands of years later, forcing Death to kill him again.
- In Diablo III, "Nephalem" are the powerful descendants of angels and demons, with humans being their Nerfed descendants after a Power Limiter was put in place. The destruction of same at the end of the second game allowed new Nephalem to be born, of which your character is one.
- In DmC: Devil May Cry, Nephilim refers to demon-angel hybrids who can harness both infernal and celestial power, sometimes also called "the third race". They aren't giants, but they are very powerful. Basically the opposite of Hybrid Overkill Avoidance. Dante and Vergil, twin brothers, are the only two alive because the demon king Mundus wiped them out, fearing they'd overthrow him.
- In Elsword, the Dark Nephilim is a monstrous figure worshipped by the Dark Elves. Their leader, Chloe, summons it on your party to ambush you. Advancing Boss of Doom ensues.
- In Exile and its Updated Re-release Avernum, the Nephilim are Cat Folk.
- In El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, the traditional idea of Nephilim as children of the Watchers and humans is given a unique spin, appropriate for El Shaddai. These Nephilim are squishy and adorable creatures that look nothing like humans, and are just so cute...until they start devouring each other in a despair-induced bid for death. Leading to the last Nephilim standing becoming a gigantic, apocalyptic Fire Nephilim.
- In Dominions, the nation of Hinnom was initially the gluttonous Nephilim giants ruling over the Avvim the Grigori had fathered them with, before they left in search of purpose, leaving the nation in the hands of their own children by the Avvim, the Rephaim.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse reveals that Hallelujah, one of your party members, has a demon father and reveal his demonic powers against the angels in the infiltration of Mikado. Said demon father is Shemyaza, one of the fallen angels known as the Grigori and Lucifer's lieutinant who leads the Ashura-Kai under a human guise, Abe.
- Of all games, PAYDAY 2, a modern-day criminal heist game, began referencing Nephilim in its endgame lore when the Kataru secret society and their associated artifacts were being examined. Referenced in tablets, scribes, and apparently hidden in plain site within The Diamond heist museum artifacts, they are apparently giant figures of angelic-esque power, responsible for granting Kataru the powerful artifacts Bain and the Payday Gang end up seeking out. However, save for impossibly-sized mummies, they never appear ingame... unless one considers an Easter Egg in the Shacklethorne Auction heist wherein noclipping to walk up to stairs in the backyard triggers a lightning strike that reveals something in the skyline...◊
- In Monster Girl Quest!, Luka turns out to be the child of a human man and an angel (more specifically, the first fallen angel Lucifina). This allows him to use the holy powers of angels, but his human body means that using this power is bad for his health.
- In Angel Down, Nephilim are decedents of angels or demons crossbreeding with humans. Nephilem's powers are passed down to their descendants, however the powers weaken with every generation. Nephalem that are far from their angelic/demonic ancestor such as Chloe only have weak Psychic Powers
- In Holy Bibble, Nephilim are the offspring of the "gods." Most notably, this includes Gilgamesh and the Goddess of Wisdom.