Mark of Cain

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The Mark of Cain.

Cain: The Mark can be transferred to someone who's worthy.

Dean: You mean a killer like you?
Cain: Yes.
Dean: Can I use it to kill that bitch?

Cain: Yes. But you have to know with the Mark comes a great burden. Some would call it a great cost.

Cain and Dean, 9.11 First Born

The Mark of Cain was a lock designed by God for the Darkness. He originally gave it to Lucifer who passed it onto Cain and from there to Dean Winchester to kill the Knight of Hell Abaddon. It was the first curse in existence and the source of power for the First Blade.[1] Amara, being the original Mark, bears it on her shoulder where it appears as a birth mark or a scar unlike with Cain and Dean, where it appeared on their forearms as a brand.


Manuscript on the location spell for the Mark of Cain.

According to Death, before there was life, the Earth, or even God and the archangels, there was the Darkness. God and His archangels defeated the Darkness and locked it away rather than destroy her to maintain the Cosmic Balance. God created the Mark to act as the lock and key to the Darkness' cage and if it was to destroyed, the Darkness would be released. God gave the Mark to his most trusted lieutenant, Lucifer, but the Mark corrupted Lucifer and made him jealous of humanity which led to his imprisonment in the Cage. Prior to being locked away, Lucifer passed the Mark to Cain as part of his deal to save Abel from Lucifer's influence.

After Cain was given the Mark, he began to realize what kind of toll bearing the Mark would take after he killed Abel, and rather than be controlled by his murderous compulsion, he attempted to kill himself with the First Blade. However the Mark would not let his soul depart to the afterlife. After Cain's soul was twisted and corrupted by the Mark's dark, primal energies, he was reborn as a Knight of Hell, the very first of his kind. Cain would go on to use the Mark to corrupt a group of damned souls handpicked by Lucifer to be the Knights of Hell. Cain became their commander, training the Knights to wreak havoc on Earth for centuries as the harbingers of chaos and darkness.[2]

After centuries of murder and mayhem, Cain fell in love with Colette Mullen. The Knights took retribution and took Colette, forcing Cain to use the First Blade and its energy drawn from the Mark to slaughter all the Knights except for one; Abaddon. Despite Colette's death by Abaddon's hands, Cain managed to cease killing, keeping his final promise to his wife. After burying his wife, Cain disposed of the First Blade in the Mariana Trench.


The Mark is the source of the First Blade's power, and imbues its owner with great strength and an almost insatiable desire to kill. This strength is enough to overpower an entire nest of vampires and even an angel. The Mark and the Blade work together, and without it the First Blade is rendered useless. The Mark can also be transferred to someone else if the person is worthy of it; a killer like Cain. While the Mark is a corrupting influence, God revealed to Lucifer that the Mark does not change the bearer, but merely amplifies and intensifies what is already there. Which in Lucifer's case was his antipathy of humanity.

The Mark will act to prevent the person who holds it from being killed, even by their own hand such as blocking fatal spells and preventing the person from committing suicide even during a hallucination.

The bearer of the Mark has also demonstrated other powers such as a telekinetic control of the First Blade, immunity to demonic powers with great concentration and in at least one case, premonitions of the murders the Mark will make them commit. It also resurrects the user as a Knight of Hell if they die.

The Mark's existence kept the Darkness bound. When it was removed without being transferred to someone else, the Darkness was released from its confinement.

Dean and the Mark

In order to kill Abaddon, Dean decided to take on the Mark in order to be able to wield the First Blade. He agreed to take on the Mark despite Cain's warnings of a terrible price as he was eager to kill Abaddon and didn't care what the price would be.

After gaining the Mark, Dean began to exhibit more aggressive behavior, and once the Mark was activated by the First Blade his aggression was amplified. Once he began killing with the First Blade, the burden of the Mark became apparent -- the more Dean kills the better he will feel, the less he kills the worse he will feel, and if he does not keep killing it will eventually cause his death. Because, as Crowley informs Dean, the human body was never meant to contain the First Blade's power.

After Metatron kills him, Dean is resurrected by the power of the Mark and the First Blade, which twisted his soul until it was demonic. As a demon Dean showed no care for anyone or thing -- not even Sam or the Impala. The Mark of Cain also bestowed an invincibility onto Dean's body, which has been shown to be able to heal from any wounds inflicted upon it. Crowley reveals to Dean that the Mark needs to be sated with killing, or Dean will become even darker.

Sam was able to cure Dean and revert him back to a human, however, Dean still possessed the Mark. After seemingly being unaffected by the Mark for months, its powers started to affect Dean again, giving him a precognitive nightmare of a massacre of humans he committed under its influence a few days later. Unable to find any way in the lore to stop the Mark's influence, Castiel retrieved Metatron from his incarceration in Heaven. Metatron refused to provide any information, however as Dean tortured him, Metatron tells him, "The river shall end at the source." Sam suggests to Dean that he needs to find a power within himself to resist the influence of the Mark.

After killing Abaddon's demons, Cain fell back under the Mark's influence, deciding to slaughter his own descendants as he felt his bloodline was "tainted" by the stain he released upon the Earth -- murder. To stop him, Dean, Sam, Castiel and Crowley teamed up, imprisoning him in a devil's trap which limited his powers but didn't block them completely. After Cain was trapped, the two bearers of the Mark faced off in a fight to the death which Dean won, killing Cain who claimed that there was no cure for the Mark.

Following his killing of Cain, the Mark's influence on Dean grew even stronger, nearly being completely consumed by its power. The toll of the Mark would lead to Dean having nightmares all the time, including nightmares of those he killed under the Mark's influence. This led Sam and Castiel to interrogate Metatron who admitted he doesn't know of a cure for the Mark, and only said what he said to stop further torture. After a run-in with the Styne family, Sam became engaged in obsessive but mostly futile attempt to crack the Book of the Damned behind Dean's back. Following Charlie Bradbury's murder, Dean appeared to have given into the Mark completely, brutally murdering the entire Styne family in revenge, even an innocent kid, and nearly murdering Castiel when he tries to help Dean remember his humanity. Dean was able to find enough control to stop himself from killing his friend, however he warned Castiel and Sam to stay away from him or he will kill them next time.

After the Mark makes Dean allow his fellow hunter, Rudy, to die, Dean summons Death to kill him or remove the Mark. Death explains the Mark's purpose to Dean and makes an offer: he will transport Dean someplace where he will no longer be a threat -- but only if Dean kills Sam first. Dean kills Death instead, and the Mark is removed by Rowena, releasing the Darkness.


9.11 First Born

Dean, Tara, and Crowley cast a location spell intended for The First Blade, but the spell sent them to the source of the blade's power; the Mark of Cain. Knowing that Dean wants the First Blade to kill Abaddon, and after seeing him kill a number of demons, Cain decides that Dean is "worthy" of carrying the Mark in order to wield the blade. Cain transfers the mark to Dean, where it appears on his right forearm. Cain warns Dean that carrying the mark will come at a great cost.

9.12 Sharp Teeth

Dean and Sam have parted ways, but meet up at a hospital when they both find out Garth has been hospitalised. While there, Dean tells Sam about getting the Mark of Cain.

9.13 The Purge

Dean tells Sam that his research hasn't yielded any more information about the Mark of Cain.

The Mark of Cain reacting to the First Blade.

9.16 Blade Runners

Finding the First Blade in the possession of Magnus, Dean is given the Blade by Magnus who wants to keep Dean as part of his "collection" as he is the only one who can use it due to the Mark. The Mark glows when Dean holds the Blade and it affects him strangely until he drops the Blade. Magnus tells Dean that he will get used to the feeling in time.

After Dean kills Magnus with the Blade, the Mark affects him strangely until he drops the Blade again.

9.17 Mother's Little Helper

Dean is feeling the after effects of invoking the power of the Mark of Cain when he used the First Blade. He's not sleeping and he is obsessed with finding Abaddon - to the point of refusing to accompany Sam on a hunting trip - and his hand is shaking. Crowley suggests that using the Blade made him feel powerful and virile - but also scared.

9.18 Meta Fiction

Dean rubs his arm once early in the episode, as though the mark is sore or bothering him. Towards the end of the episode, Castiel asks if Dean is okay, sensing something; Dean demurs, but Castiel grabs Dean's arm and pulls up Dean's sleeve to reveal the mark then asks him "What have you done?" and Dean justifies it as the means to an end. "Damn it, Dean!" Castiel says, but without further explanation, Dean leaves telling him that while Castiel locates Heaven, he has a Knight to kill. After Dean gets into the Impala, Castiel tells Sam to keep an eye on Dean.

9.19 Alex Annie Alexis Ann

Dean is shown to be able to overpower the vampire Connor with little effort, and slowly decapitates him with the blunt edge of his knife, presumably because of the Mark of Cain. Sam comments that Dean seemed to enjoy the kill a bit too much.

9.21 King of the Damned

Dean faces off against Abaddon armed with the First Blade. During the fight, he is able to kill another demon with the Blade but is pinned to the wall by Abaddon with telekinesis. The Mark, glowing brightly, provides Dean with immunity to Abaddon's powers with great concentration, but it doesn't last and he's pinned to the wall again without the Blade. With concentration, Dean is able to summon the Blade into his hand using telekinesis which was given to him by the Mark. The Mark then grants Dean full immunity to Abaddon's powers and he is able to use the Mark and the Blade to finally kill her. The rage that comes with the Mark however causes him to stab Abaddon's corpse several times before Sam gets him to stop.

9.22 Stairway to Heaven

When Gadreel arrives at the Bunker looking to join with the Winchesters and Castiel in taking down Metatron, Dean approaches him after he has made his case and extends his hand to Gadreel. As the two shake hands, when Dean suddenly removes the First Blade from his jacket and slashes it across Gadreel's chest. Prompting Sam and Castiel to jump on Dean and hold him back as he consumed by bloodlust.

9.23 Do You Believe in Miracles?

Sam and Castiel are trying to restrain Dean after he has attacked and slashed Gadreel. They lock him in the dungeon, while Dean argues he is the only one who can kill Metatron, Sam warns that the Mark of Cain is affecting him. Sam and Castiel leave, locking Dean inside.

When Dean begins throwing up blood, he manages to find the ingredients for a spell, and summons Crowley. Crowley informs Dean that the Mark of Cain will drive him to kill more and more - and that if he doesn't, he will die. Dean protests out that Cain was still alive, but Crowley points out that Cain was a demon, not a human, and that human bodies aren't meant to contain that kind of power. Dean then asks Crowley to help him get the First Blade and escape.

During Dean's confrontation with Metatron, Dean becomes mortally wounded, and soon dies in Sam's arms. Sam brings Dean's body back to the Bunker and lays him out in his room, while contemplating his next move, ultimately deciding to summon Crowley to fix the mess he believes Crowley caused.

However Crowley is already in Dean's room. He begins speaking to Dean's dead body, telling him that he didn't know the full extent of the Mark of Cain. "It's important," he says, that Dean knows he didn't lie. He does say that he omitted to tell Dean that Cain also did not want to become the killer the Mark was making him -- so he stabbed himself with the First Blade. He tells him how Cain's suicide failed, because the Mark wouldn't let him die.

Crowley then places the First Blade into Dean's hand. He tells Dean that he's feeling a new kind of life and tells him to open his eyes. He tells Dean he will now see what he sees, and feel what he feels.

After a moment, Dean's eyes open, which have become a demonic black.

The Mark maintains its hold on a deceased Dean, and resurrects him as a Knight of Hell.

10.01 Black

Now resurrected, the power of the Mark has twisted Dean's soul making him a Knight of Hell. Dean shows no care for anyone -- even Sam. Crowley tells Dean that he has been sending Abaddon loyalists to him to keep him sharp because the Mark needs to be sated with killing, or the Mark's bloodlust will consume Dean even more.

10.02 Reichenbach

In order to feed the Mark, Crowley sends Dean to kill Lester Morris' wife after he makes a deal to kill her due to her cheating. Dean agrees, but kills Lester instead as he discovers that Lester cheated first and is a scumbag.

10.03 Soul Survivor

Despite the Mark, Sam is able to cure Dean of being a Knight of Hell, however, the Mark's power causes Dean to retain his demonic mannerisms long into the cure and try to kill Sam before being stopped by Castiel. As Castiel points out, while Dean is no longer a Knight of Hell, he still has the Mark and that will eventually become a problem.

10.06 Ask Jeeves

After Dean unloads several unnecessary shots into the shapeshifter Olivia after killing her, Sam suggests that its the effects of the Mark, but Dean denies it.

10.08 Hibbing 911

Searching through the Men of Letters files, Sam and Dean find nothing on the Mark to Dean's frustration.

After killing two vampires, Dean tells Sam that for the first time it felt like the Mark wasn't pushing him to kill. He felt like he was himself again, something that relieves them both. Afterwards, he rubs the Mark through his jacket sleeve.

10.09 The Things We Left Behind

Dean receives what is later revealed to be a precognitive nightmare, presumably from the Mark of him in a room holding a knife and surrounded by dead bodies. After being attacked by a loan shark and his thugs, Dean falls under the Mark's influence once more and brutally slaughters the loan shark, his men and Randy, making his nightmare come true.

10.10 The Hunter Games

As Dean begins beating on and torturing Metatron for information on removing the Mark of Cain, the Mark begins to react. Metatron also reveals that the more Dean succumbs to the violent urges, the deeper under the Mark's spell he becomes.

Unable to find any way in the lore to stop the Mark's influence, Castiel retrieves Metatron from his incarceration in Heaven. Metatron refuses to provide any information, however as Dean tortures him, Metatron says "the river shall end at the source". Sam suggests to Dean that he needs to find a power within himself to resist the influence of the Mark.

Soon after Dean is attacked by some thugs, he does find that he can stop himself from killing - this time.

10.11 There's No Place Like Home

Sam and Dean continue their research into the Mark and Sam finds a lore book, The Book of the Damned that might have something and Charlie Bradbury agrees to check it out, dedicating herself to helping rid Dean of the Mark since she can't return to Oz.

10.12 About a Boy

Dean locks himself in his room in the Men of Letters Bunker for a week researching the Mark. Eventually Sam manages to get him to leave and work a case with him in Pendelton, Oregon.

When Dean gets transformed into a teenager by Hansel, he no longer has the Mark as he didn't have it as a teenager. As a result, he suggests remaining as a teenager as a solution, but is forced to reverse the spell to save Sam. The Mark returns when Dean becomes an adult again.

10.13 Halt & Catch Fire

In hopes of finding a cure for the Mark, Castiel is working to track Cain, believing he may have the answers.

After stopping the ghost of Andrew Silver, Dean decides that while he will never stop fighting the Mark, he is going to give up hope on looking for a cure.

10.14 The Executioner's Song

Cain has fallen back under the Mark's influence and began killing again following his slaughter of Abaddon's demons. Feeling that his bloodline is "tainted", Cain decides to kill them all and begins hunting down entire families descended from him to eliminate. After finding this out, Sam, Dean, Castiel and Crowley team up together to bring Cain down once and for all, hoping to learn a cure from him in the process. They manage to capture Cain in a devil's trap, but he claims there is no cure and its better to just give in to the Mark's power, saying he should never have fought it. Dean and Cain fight it out with Dean losing as Cain still possesses some of his power even in the devil's trap and also because Dean refuses to give in to the Mark and draw on its power to win the fight. Ultimately, Dean gains the upper hand and kills Cain after Cain tells him he will never stop killing. Sam claims that if Dean could kill Cain himself without falling under the Mark's influence then there still is hope for him, even without a cure, but he privately tells Castiel that Dean is in trouble.

10.15 The Things They Carried

10.17 Inside Man

In order to find out how to remove the Mark, Sam and Castiel break Metatron out of prison with help from Bobby Singer. After Castiel removes Metatron's grace, rendering him human, Metatron admits that he knows of no cure, saying that the Mark is God-level or Lucifer-level power and not even the Tablets have information on it, having lied about it before to buy time until he could screw them over. While Sam doesn't believe him, Castiel can tell that Metatron is actually telling the truth this time.

At the same time, Dean is affected badly by the Mark, having nightmares about the carnage he's caused under its influence. When Rowena tries to kill him with three men under her control, Dean beats them but resists the Mark's attempts to make him kill them. Rowena tries to kill him with a spell, but the Mark renders him immune. Rowena later tells Crowley that the Mark is just a curse, but that she doesn't know how to remove it either.

10.18 Book of the Damned

After Charlie Bradbury finds the Book of the Damned, Dean begins to feel the Mark of Cain reacting to the book. He warns Charlie and Sam to destroy the book before it falls into the wrong hands, including himself.

Jacob Styne, a member of the Styne Family, confirms that the book holds a cure for the Mark of Cain, but warns Dean to leave it alone or it would do far more harm than good.

Sam, who wants to cure Dean of the Mark, pretends to burn the book and brings it to Rowena afterwards.

10.19 The Werther Project

Dean goes on a hunt on his own to "take the edge off" the Mark. When he later he is affected by the curse on the Werther Box, he hallucinates that he is in Purgatory, where he is met by a vision of Benny. He who tells Dean the best thing for him to do is to kill himself. However, due to the Mark of Cain wanting Dean to live, Dean is able to break free of the curse's hold on him.

10.20 Angel Heart

10.21 Dark Dynasty

10.22 The Prisoner

After Dean decides to slaughter the Styne Family in revenge for Charlie's murder, Sam asks him if it's Dean that wants to do it or the Mark. However, Dean asks him if it matters and leaves. Dean ends up slaughtering the Styne Family, brutally and coldly murders Cyrus Styne despite him not being evil, saying its in his blood and he will eventually turn. A horrified Castiel tells Dean that the Mark is changing him as he wouldn't have done that before and tries to convince Dean to allow him and Sam to find a cure as the Mark will eventually turn Dean into a monster. Dean, uninterested, tries to leave causing Castiel to attempt to stop him. With the power of the Mark, Dean easily beats the angel to a pulp and nearly kills him with his own angel blade, but stops himself at the last second, telling Castiel that he will kill him if he gets in his way again.

The Mark of Cain is removed from Dean's arm.

10.23 Brother's Keeper

Dean continues to hunt, with the Mark turning him into more of a jerk. As a result of this behavior, he gets fellow hunter Rudy killed and finally realizes how bad he is getting. In order to stop himself, Dean summons Death who, unable to kill him because of the Mark's power, tells him the history of the Mark and offers to remove it if Dean first passes it onto someone else as Lucifer did to Cain and Cain did to him. When Dean refuses to burden anyone else with the Mark, Death offers to transport Dean somewhere far away where he won't be a threat to anyone on the condition he kill Sam so he won't try to get Dean back. Dean agrees, but ultimately kills Death instead.

At the same time, Rowena agrees to remove the Mark in exchange for her freedom and Nadya's Codex. Sam agrees and she finds the spell requires Dean's hair, the apple from the Garden of Eden, a piece of the Golden Calf and the blood of someone she loves. Crowley is able to get all the ingredients, including Oskar, a young man Rowena loved so much she gave immortality to. Rowena performs the spell and removes the Mark before escaping with the Book of the Damned and the codex. However, like Death warned, removing the Mark released the Darkness.

11.01 Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire

The Darkness is released into the world with the Mark's destruction. Amara, the embodiment of the Darkness shows Dean that she has the Mark on her shoulder and says it links them. A baby they rescue from the people infected by the Darkness also bears the Mark in the same spot.

11.02 Form and Void

11.05 Thin Lizzie

11.06 Our Little World

God begins transferring the Mark from Amara to Sam.

11.09 O Brother Where Art Thou?

Amara reveals to Dean to she is the original Mark, telling him it was destiny that he bore the Mark and set her free.

11.22 We Happy Few

In order to trap Amara again, God and Sam decide that Sam will be the one to bear the Mark. Dean and Lucifer, having previously bore Mark, have become tainted and can no longer take it on. After Amara makes past the witch and angel and demon assaults, weakened and damaged she finally has words with her brother. Resigned to her fate, she tells God to kill her and end it. But all God can do is apologize as he begins transferring the Mark from Amara to Sam, as she pleads for him to stop, Amara's survival instincts kick in and she grabs Chuck by the throat, stopping the transfer.

11.23 Alpha and Omega

With Amara reconciling and departing with God, the Mark of Cain can no longer be transferred to or corrupt anyone as the Darkness does not need to be imprisoned anymore.

15.02 Raising Hell

The Mark can be seen on Amara's shoulder as she is getting up from her massage table.

15.05 Proverbs 17:3

After Lilith knocks Sam out, he has a nightmare where he battles against Demon Dean in the Bunker, the Mark of Cain visible on Dean's forearm. After getting the upper hand, Dean brandishes the First Blade and stabs Sam to death with it.

It's later revealed that when Sam shot Chuck with the Equalizer, it created a quantum link between the two, allowing Sam to see into his mind and witness Chuck's endings where one brother kills the other.


  • The Mark of Cain appears to resemble the Hebrew letters for Vav (ו‬) alongside the two marks representing the letter Yod (י). In the Hebrew alphabet, letters take on a numerical meaning with Vav = 6 and Yod = 10. If you were to add the letters up in the Mark (6 + 10 + 10) you would end up with the number 26. The number 26 has a significant meaning in Judaism, the gematric number being the sum of the Hebrew characters (Hebrew: יהוה‎) being the name of the god of Israel – YHWH (Yehowah).
  • While not a canonical name in the show, Jensen Ackles referred to Demon Dean with the Mark of Cain as a "über-demon" in an interview with DigitalSpy.
"He's not just a demon - he's a demon with the Mark of Cain, which makes him, like, über-demon. So there's so much evil inside him, there's so much devil inside him, that the practical Dean is smothered."
  • In a deleted scene for 15.09 The Trap, in what was possibly to be a vision of the events surrounding the future of Sam, Dean, Castiel and Eileen, Dean and Castiel are shown arriving at the casino where the Chuck-controlled Eileen attacks Dean before being subdued by Castiel. After a shorter confrontation with Chuck where he and Dean do not exchange dialogue like in the episode, Sam smashes the orb when Castiel sends it to him, causing a rift to open and suck in Chuck, completing the spell. The Mark of Cain then appears on Castiel's arm.

Mark of Cain in Lore

In the Abrahmic religions it is said that after killing Abel, God cursed Cain, saying that he would be forever separated from his family and become a nomad. The mark of Cain was said to be placed on Cain by God so "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold, and the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him." (Bible, Old testament Genesis 4-14)