14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

Illustration for article titled 14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

When Cain murdered his brother Abel in the first book of the Bible, did he realize that he was turned his name into pop culture cliché? Probably not; he was busy murdering his brother, after all. Now Cain — and Kane, Caine, Kayne, and all other spellings — is among the most overused character name ever. Here are just a few of the villains, antiheroes, and assholes bearing the mark of Cain (and Kaine, and Caine, etc.).

1) Solomon Kane

Robert Howard's Puritan anti-hero Solomon Kane gets a pass for two reasons: 1) he was among the first, if not the first use of a character named "Cain" name in popular culture, as he was created in 1928, and 2) as a dark hero who was religious but killed on behalf of God, sharing the name of the Bible's first murderer was completely appropriate. It was all downhill from here.

2) The Caine Mutiny

Herman Wolk's famous 1951 novel is about a Navy destroyer named the Caine, upon which an incompetent officer slowly earns the hatred of his crew, bad things happen, and people die. The use of the "Caine" name is spelled out by a character who thinks the ship is just as evil as its Biblical counterpart, but really, the name is mainly to indicate bad juju happens here.

Illustration for article titled 14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

3) The Juggernaut, X-Men

This X-Men massive foe's full name is Cain Marko. Created in 1965, it would seem like the Juggernaut has no religious influence upon him, but alas, he is in fact Professor X's half-brother, and thus has spent most of his comic's career trying to kill his brother and his gaggle of students. Basically, he's a less successful version of his namesake.

Illustration for article titled 14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

4) Cain, Battlestar Galactica

In the original 1978 BSG TV Series, Commander Cain was the more warlike of the two fleet commanders, himself and Adama. Get it? GET IT?! But he wasn't a bad guy, and when circumstances revealed that his over=aggressive plan, had Adama not stopped it, would have been a disaster, he happily goes on a suicide mission to make up for it. In the reimagined BSG in 2004, Admiral Helena Cain is also more aggressive than her counterpart Adama… but she's also without conscience, shooting insubordinate subordinates, abandoning all any civilians who don't directly help her, and condoning torture. Shockingly, her fate is not a happy one.

5) Caine, Kung Fu

David Carradine starred in the immensely popular 1972 TV series, about Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk traveling across the Old West while looking for his brother. Now, the brother reference has nothing to do with the Caine name; instead, it's used because like the Biblical Cain, Caine killed someone (the nephew of his master's murderer, and was subsequently cursed to flee to America and wander the land. Admittedly, Cain didn't go to America, but the murdering and wandering parts? Exactly the same.

6) Kane, Alien

Perhaps the last use of the name without any religious implications whatsoever, John Hurt's crewmember in 1979's Alien had no apparent brother, no religious affiliation of any kind, and no murderous tendencies. He was just a dude who happened to be named Kane… who unfortunately had an alien xenomorph ram its ovipositors down his throat, lay its eggs, and have its baby burst out of his chest.

7) Kain the Warrior, The Warrior and the Sorceress

Caine wasn't the only "Cain" David Carradine played; he reprised the name an a badass mercenary swordsman in this 1984 fantasy remake of Yojimbo, whose good nature is slowly awakened by the heart (and breasts) of a sorceress named Naja. The name "Kain" is simply used here to make sure you know the Warrior is one bad dude. It's not particularly nuanced, but since the movie was mostly about parading topless women on screen anyways, it's probably not worrying too much about.

8) Cain, Robocop 2

Crimelord and drug kingpin Cain, played by Tom Noonan in the 1990 film, is pure, one-dimensional evil. He sells a drug called Nuke to the poor of Detroit, conspires with the police, and is basically a bad dude. Least you think Cain's relationship to Robocop is merely protagonist/antagonist, after Robocop injures him while trying to escape his hideout, Omni Consumer Projects very wisely chooses the psychotic, mass-murderer Cain to become Robocop 2.0. And thus indeed, Cain battles his brother in cyborgization.

Illustration for article titled 14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

9) Kain Highwind, Final Fantasy IV

The videogame world is no exemption from Cain/Kane/Kain/Caines. Square's beloved 1991 RPG Final Fantasy IV role-playing game starred the heroic knight Cecil, and his brother-in-arms Kain. You may be shocked to learn how this relationship goes, assuming you haven't read any part of this list yet. Both Cecil and Kain love their childhood friend Rosa, but Rosa only has eyes for Cecil. Cecil and Kain are both Dragoon Knights for the evil Emperor, but while Cecil sees the folly of his eyes and quits, Kain doubles-down on being a dick, and is eventually possessed by the even more evil Golbez.

10) Kane, Highlander: The Final Dimension

By 1994, the Highlander franchise was already in ruins and the name Caine was being used for anti-heroes and villains with symbolic connections to the heroes alike. The villain of the third Highlander movie was one of the later, and a brother to Connor MacLeod in the sense that they're both fellow Immortals, and the last two (because all of the Highlander movies feature the last two Immortals somehow). Also, Kane is quite the murder and rape enthusiast, so there's really no doubt who the good "brother" is.

Illustration for article titled 14 Characters Who Prove There Are Way Too Many Cains, Kanes, Etc.

11) Kaine, Spider-Man

The Jackal has always been one of Spider-Man's most dangerous foes. His #1 goal is to mess with Peter Parker/Spider-Man — which he's really, really good at — and his #1 choice for doing so is with clones. Yes, the Clone Saga was his fault. He began in 1994 with a Peter Parker clone he named Kaine who of course became mentally unstable and started killing Spider-Man's foes to the aggravation of the real Spider-Man. Since then, he's gotten better and redeemed himself, but he's still carrying his tragic past.

12) Jericho Cain, End of Days

Oof. The 1999 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is a prime example of the Cain name — and pretty much all of Judeo-Christian religion — getting forced into a crappy action movie. Christine is a woman destined to have Satan's baby. Jericho Cain is a bitter cop who protects Christine and her ladyparts from the devil. Basically, since the Church feels its their holy duty to murder this innocent lady to save the world, she obviously needs someone named after the Bible's first bad boy to protect her from the forces of God and Satan. It's worth noting that in the insane movie Southland Tales, a character is writing a terrible screenplay about a character named Jericho Cain. Fun!


13) Cain, The Matrix: Reloaded

You might not have even noticed there was a character named Cain in The Matrix sequels; he was the vampire serving the Merovingian, whose brother was a werewolf of course named Abel. Which leads us to a third use of the name Cain in pop culture: paired with a character named Abel in order to convey some kind of significance because there's nothing actually significant about them.


14) Marcus Kane, Doomsday

In this goofy but still kind of fun post-apocalyptic, semi-zombie movie from 2008, Malcom MacDowell plays an evil scientist who rules as a feudal lord from his castle. MacDowell said the character was like "King Lear." The director said he was based on Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. In reality, Doomsday's Kane is basically just an asshole, and thus that's the entirety of his connection to his Biblical namesake.



Rob Bricken

Two things I should clarify: 1) this list is obviously nowhere close to being all-inclusive, and 2) I left out characters named Cain/Kane/etc. who are clearly or not-so-clearly supposed to be the actual Cain, because it seemed a bit like cheating.