Follow TV Tropes

Following

Nephilim

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_nephilim.png
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Advertisement:

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 the 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. However, 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.

Advertisement:

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 religious concepts. 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.

Advertisement:

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.

Probably due to its inherent epicity, the story of the Nephilim remained popular even after being shunned by Jews and Christians alike, and was adapted by the syncretic religion of Manichaeism, which had the Nephilim being half-demon instead. Modern esotericists and conspiracy theorists would also get their hands full with it.

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 Half-Human Hybrid, Human-Demon Hybrid, and Born of Heaven and Hell for what they usually are, and Our Angels Are Different and Our Demons Are Different, for their possible "parents". May overlap with Divine Parentage if they are part angel.

(Note: the singular form of "Nephilim" would, linguistically, be "Nephil" or "Naphil". However, most modern works use "Nephilim" as both a singular and plural term.)

For the tabletop game, see Nephilim.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • High School D×D: While the term is never used specifically, 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 organization of fallen angels named the Grigori, clearly using one of the possible definitions in the description.
  • Symphogear: In the second season, 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 that 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.

     Comic Books 
  • Lady Death: Lady Death's father Matthias is descended of fallen angels, although the term Nephilim is never used.
  • Runaways: The Greater-Scope Villain 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Devil's Advocate: In the climax, Milton reveals that he's the Devil and that he's been traveling the Earth to impregnate human women against their will. Kevin and Christabella are his half-human offspring.
  • 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.
  • Noah portrays the Nephilim as fallen angels in the form of rock monsters that aid the heroes hoping for redemption.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • A Batalha do Apocalipse: Nephilim are the offspring of angels with humans, and usually inherit angelic powers from their parents. They were considered bastards and hunted down by witches because their blood and guts were used in unholy rituals.
  • Drinking Midnight Wine: One of these is imprisoned within a giant mound, something that proves pretty crucial to The Dragon of the Big Bad.
  • 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.
  • Georgina Kincaid has Nephilim as major characters. This version follows mostly the origin from the Bible, although 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.
  • 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.
  • A Lower Deep: A Nephilim is bound beneath Tel Megiddo. The end of the novel reveals that it's the embryonic form of the Beast of Revelations.
  • 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 Relic Guild: A rogue Thaumaturgist known as the Progenitor and who's actually the Relic Guild's necromancer Hamir conned a hundred human women to come with him (his intention is to use them as vessels to reincarnate a hundred fallen Thaumaturgist souls). He used powerful High Magic and bits of unused reality known as "Dead Time" to impregnate them. The result are a hundred giant, higher magic-using beings that tear their mothers apart when they are born.
  • Relics: 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, and his fury is actually a major part of his real personality and he's the Big Bad for Books 2 and 3.
  • 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.)
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles:
    • The Mortal Instruments, while keeping the angelic origin, has the Nephilim as essentially enhanced humans descended from angels who slay demons and look beautiful while doing it. This book series also has the fairies as the common descendants of angels and demons. However, it is explicitly emphasized that they are not Nephilim.
    • The Dark Artifices: Queen of Air and Darkness reveals that during the early days of the Shadowhunters, parabatai could channel their romantic feelings for each other to become the mythical Nephilim, allowing them to assume gigantic forms with the power comparable to angels. However, only one changed while the other became their anchor to the mortal realm; if they transformed together, they would descend into mindless monsters that would bring destruction to the world and they would die eventually. When too many parabatai did exactly that, the Clave issued a law forbidding all parabatai to love each other, even though there are ways for the transformation to be nonlethal. Near the end of the book, Emma and Julian transform into the mythical Nephilim, instantly turning the battle to their favor, but come close to destroying Alicante if not for The Power of Love.
  • Son Of Angels' 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.
  • The Stress of Her Regard: The characters end up learning a good deal about Nephilim — and they are not in any way human.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The half-demon Whistler's father was a kind of angel, and his mother was a demon.
  • 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 giveaway, 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.]
  • Lucifer (2016): By the end of the series, Lucifer and Amenadiel have both fathered children with human women. Lucifer and Chloe's future daughter Rory is initially an antagonist but only towards her father who she believes abandoned them in a time of need. Amenadiel and Linda's son Charlie is completely neutral, mostly because he's an infant throughout his time on the show. Both children look like normal humans with easily-hidden wings, like their fathers, with Rory's having metallic tips due emotional trauma in the future.
  • Supernatural: Nephilim in the show, as a result of having angelic grace and a human soul at the same time, will in fact surpass their parent and uncles and aunts in power in time. It's for this reason that the birth of a Nephilim is punishable by death to the parent and the Nephilim. They were thought to be extinct, but some appear in the show:
    • "Clip Show": Jane, the last known Nephilim to exist on Earth, looks no different from 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.
    • In the 12th season, Lucifer impregnates 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.
  • Wynonna Earp: Waverly ends up being one of these as revealed in season three. It primarily comes with a combo of Healing Hands and Touch of Death; full angelic power and wings come with a complete personality change and apathy towards humans.
  • The X-Files: "All Souls" features Nephilim in the form of several grotesquely deformed young women, who are all being murdered by immolation. In the end, it's revealed that the killings were done by a seraph to bring them to Heaven before the devil could claim their souls.

    Music 
  • Darkwell: The song "Metatron" mentions the rape of women by angels as well as the Nephilim as the "broad giants of morbid forms" following the Book of Enoch.

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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 that Jesus literally quotes Enoch a handful of times in all the four gospels). The Book of Jubilees states that 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 out 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-Anti-Christ. 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy: Nephilim 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.
  • 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.
  • Halt Evil Doer!: There are two kinds of Nephilim, 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 Nomine: The Grigori were the angels closest to humanity, so close that they could interbreed with mortals. All of their children had greater capacity for magic than normal humans, but some, called Nephallim, were monstrously deformed in body and/or mind. For the creation of the Nephallim, the Grigori were banished from Heaven, while the Nephallim were hunted down and destroyed. Modern celestials, both angels and demons, can still use the Songs of Fruition to have children with a mortal, with the same results as when the Grigori did it; both these celestials and their Nephallim children are shunned and hunted by both humanity and celestials. The spirits of the Marches can also breed with humans under the same conditions as celestials, and also have a chance of producing warped offspring of their own; these Ethereal counterparts to Nephallim are known as Gorgons, but are otherwise largely the same sort of beings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pathfinder features Nephilim in its third Bestiary. They're the offspring of demigods and humans, with giant-sized stature and an ability to invoke fear in their opponents. They're typically True Neutral, but their habitual secrecy leads some humans to distrust them, to the point of launching periodic (unsuccessful) crusades to wipe them out.
  • WitchCraft: Nephilim 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.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed occasionally uses the term to refer to the Isu, otherwise known as the First Civilization.
  • Darksiders: The race that the 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 slew 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.
  • 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; your character is one such newborn Nephalem.
  • Disciples Liberation: The protagonist is revealed to be a nephilim, a hybrid of angel and demon due to being the daughter of the Angel Inoel and the Demon Haarhus from the third game. Their heritage grants the nephilim unique "Twilight" magic that is a Yin-Yang Bomb of divine and unholy power.
  • 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.
  • Dominions: The nation of Hinnom initially consisted of the gluttonous Nephilim giants ruling over the Avvim, whom the Grigori had fathered them with. Eventually, the Nephilim leave in search of purpose, leaving the nation in the hands of their own children by the Avvim, the Rephaim.
  • Drowned God: One of the many factions in the lore. One of your handlers, Malchut, claims to be part of them, and the closing speech at the end of the game refers to the Nephilim as the people of Isis. It's not entirely clear what they are, but they're most likely either the "manimals" that resulted from the genetic experimentation going on back when Osiris was around or they're the offspring of aliens, replacing angels, with humans, and if so then that would make Horus a Nephil if Isis is indeed a human.
  • 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.
  • Exile and its Updated Re-release Avernum: The Nephilim are Cat Folk.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron: The traditional idea of Nephilim as children of the Watchers and humans is given a unique spin. 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.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 

    Web Animation 
  • hololive: IRyS is an angel-demon hybrid that, in the MV for her debut single "Caesura of Despair", showcases control over both light and darkness great enough to blanket an entire city in either on a whim. Oddly enough, only her demonic aspects are an active part of her physical biology, with her wings being comprised of black and white crystals that simply float behind her when not concealed and her Holy Halo being... well, a halo, just made up of four-pointed stars that are, again, black and white.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm: Nephilim are a number of strains of posthumans descended from goliaths, themselves humans modified for greater height and strength, who over centuries of self-modification and selective breeding sought to further distance themselves from "the smalls". As a result, nephilim are between six to twelve meters in height, the highest size that a hominid body plan can physically reach. In order to support their immense heights, they're very thin and slender, with flat, elephant-like feet, and some have a third leg derived from the vestigial remnants of the human tail. They also lead very passive lifestyles, as any kind of strenuous physical activity would risk injuring their delicate bodies and, at their height, falls are almost always fatal.

    Web Videos 

Alternative Title(s): Our Nephilim Are Different

Top