Cain Dingle is a fictional character and recurring antagonist-turned-protagonist of the British soap opera Emmerdale.
He first appeared as a central character in 2000 and went on to serve as one of the main antagonists throughout 2001-2002, a secondary antagonist in between 2003-2005, an anti-hero in 2006, a major tritagonist in between 2009-2010, the main antagonist in 2011, and one of the protagonists from 2012 to onwards throughout 2013 and 2018.
He was portrayed by Jeff Hordley.
Cain is a master criminal and the bad boy of the village. He's been involved in many scams (mostly involving money) and been to jail on more than one occasion, however, he's not evil to the core and has developed a conscience in recent years but still portrays evil in Emmerdale. Despite his difficult relationship with his daughter Debbie, he would do anything for her.
Cain arrives for his half brother Butch's funeral, blaming businessman Chris Tate for his death, as the lorry that crashed into the bus Butch was on was owned by Chris. Cain also blamed Butch's death on police officer Angie Reynolds and as a revenge tactic, seduces Angie's daughter, Ollie, manipulating her into believing he cares for her despite him sleeping with her mother. When Angie dumps Cain, he has her fired, has a steamy session with Ollie and pushes Ollie's grandfather Len down a flight of stairs. In November 2002, Cain and Angie plan to rob a Tate Haulage truck but she sets him up, wanting him out of her life forever, and is fatally injured in a car crash. He begs her to tell him she loves him but she tells him how much she loves her children.
Cain found that his cousin Charity was seeing Chris so Cain attacks her. Later, Paddy and Emily Kirk foster Debbie Jones, who befriends the Dingles. When Cain sees a picture of Debbie's biological mother, he realizes that Debbie is his and Charity's daughter. Despite being a con artist and hard man, Cain had grown to love Debbie and he and Charity constantly clashed over their daughter but, when the pair took Debbie on a family trip, Cain and Charity’s love was rekindled and they began an affair. Chris also found out at that time that he had an inoperable and terminal brain tumor so a plan formed; he was going to frame Charity for his murder. What Chris didn’t know is that Cain was planning to murder his rival but he never got the chance - Chris drank poison having arranged for Charity to come to the house for dinner, and he correctly assumed everyone would think Charity had done the deed. Cain showed up and was there as Chris died so fearing that he and Charity would be charged with Chris’s death, he got Debbie and fled the village. He eventually came back and was cleared of all charges while his and Charity’s love grew stronger as she faced life in prison.
After Charity's conviction for Chris' murder is quashed, realized that she couldn’t spend the rest of her life slumming it with the Dingles. She was a woman used to having money and luxuries by then and so she moved on to Tom King, and they planned to marry. But Sadie, Tom's daughter-in-law, hires Cain to make Tom think Charity has been unfaithful. He wasn’t of course – Charity really did care for Tom – but he set her up and it worked; Tom threw her out. Never one to let sleeping dogs lie herself, Charity took revenge on Sadie by sleeping with her husband Jimmy. She also got Jimmy to confess to his part in the plot in the hope that Tom would take her back when he knew the truth. A furious Tom expelled Sadie and Jimmy from the King family and Cain was similarly banished from the Dingle homestead. Charity left the village shortly after. Sadie and Cain end up in bed; when she rejects him, he kills her beloved dog Damon.
Cain and Debbie move in to Butler's Farm with Andy Sugden. Debbie and Andy quietly got closer and began a relationship of their own which was to result in baby Sarah. She kept the pregnancy a secret but when it all came out – no pun intended – Cain immediately bonded with his granddaughter and lavished love on her. However, all his best efforts to become a good family man were wasted on Debbie who rejected her daughter from the beginning. He kept on trying and desperate for an end to the situation, Debbie begged Emily to leave the village and take the baby with her. The lonely Emily happily agreed and slipped away with Sarah but when the Dingles found out, they were furious. Cain was beside himself and vowed to find his granddaughter and bring her home however he couldn't find Emily and Sarah so he returned to the village harboring a simmering hatred for Debbie for giving away the child. He was intent on making Debbie pay for what she’d done and set about making her life hell. Things got so bad between them all that Debbie ended up moving out and went to live with Ashley Thomas and his niece Jasmine who became very close friends. Seeing this, Cain realized that he could hurt Debbie by using Jasmine so he began a charm offensive on the impressionable young girl. He slept with Jasmine and arranged things so that Debbie would walk in on them. Hurt, Debbie vowed to get her own back on Cain, no matter how long that might take.
Meanwhile, Sadie paid Cain to sabotage the King’s new show home that was to house Cain's cousin Marlon and his wife Donna by driving a JCB into it but, while he did as she asked, she refused to sleep with him, making the passionate Cain furious. When Sadie confronts him, Cain threatens to tell Matthew as well so Sadie tells Ashley that Cain got Jasmine pregnant so the Dingles throw him out and allow Debbie to return. In his fury, he told Jimmy that Sadie had arranged the show home devastation. At the time, Sadie was having an affair with Jimmy’s brother Matthew and Cain threatened to tell Matthew that he and Sadie were sleeping together. Sadie retaliated by telling Ashley that Cain had been sleeping with Jasmine which resulted in the Dingles once again evicting Cain and allowing Debbie to move back in. Defeated all round, Cain left the village for a while but was soon back when he found out the Jasmine was pregnant. He was delighted at the thought of being a father but Debbie persuaded the confused Jasmine to have an abortion which Sadie – who was chuffed to have a chance to destroy Cain’s dreams of fatherhood – paid for. On the day the abortion was to take place, Cain searched frantically for Jasmine and Debbie but by the time he found them, the deed was done and Cain was devastated but Debbie was pleased to twist the knife and she let it be known that she’d promised revenge on Cain and she’d now got it. In the meantime, the King’s plans for the new houses in the village forged ahead but what they didn’t know is that when Cain crashed into the show house, he’d fractured a gas pipe causing a dangerous build up of gas. Despite Jimmy's temporary repair, on the day of the grand opening – which most of the village attended – a spark ignited the gas, causing a huge explosion and sending the house toppling to the ground, brick by brick, and left young mum Dawn Woods – Terry’s wife and Bob Hope’s daughter – dead, as well as villager Noreen Bell and estate agent David Brown. Cain found out about the explosion and was wracked with guilt, unlike Sadie who didn’t give a stuff.
A few weeks later, Cain's brother Sam helps his cancer-stricken wife Alice to die and was to be charged with her murder, so Cain accepts responsibility for Alice's death. Cain couldn’t bear the thought of another motherless child suffering as Dawn’s son had because of his actions. His taking the blame for the death of Alice – which saved Sam – made him the new Dingle family hero, and even the embittered Debbie was impressed. Sadie showed a partially human side by anonymously paying his bail. At Alice’s funeral, Sadie once again recruited Cain into helping her get back at Tom and Matthew King; she told Cain that they could both get rich by kidnapping Tom and demanding a ransom. However, Sadie’s plan didn’t go as expected because Debbie revealed to Cain that Sadie had paid for Jasmine’s abortion, which left him heartbroken and more vengeful than he’d ever been before. After a nasty and emotion fuelled confrontation with Sadie, Cain followed her to the pre-arranged meeting place and while Sadie and Tom discussed the house collapse, Cain emerged from the woods with a shotgun and kidnapped both Tom and Sadie. After hiding out in a barn for the night, Cain returned to the village and was quizzed by his sister Chas as to whether he’d had anything to do with Tom and Sadie’s disappearance. Cain denied any involvement but eventually, the police closed in on Cain so he ran with his hostages in tow. However, the police chased him to a nearby quarry where Cain diverted their attention by sending his empty car over cliff, making everyone believe Tom and Sadie were inside it. While the police were busy searching the quarry lake for their bodies, Cain attacked two police officers and disguised himself by wearing one of their uniforms. Later, after pretending to shoot Sadie, Cain made Tom call Chas to arrange delivery of the ransom money. When this was done, Cain fled following a tearful goodbye to Debbie who begged him to take her with him. Cain refused but later, he arranged for money to be posted to his daughter to help her set up a business. When Cain got to the airport – where Sadie was by now waiting for him – he left her stranded and vowed to change his life. Cain left a final message to Debbie on her voicemail telling her to ignore what everyone else said; he told her he wasn’t with Sadie and ended by telling Debbie he loved her.
In February 2009, Cain was arrested on his return to the country after Andy reports him to the police. He was attempting to return to support and help Debbie, who was being held on remand for the murder of PC Shane Do
yle just before Christmas. He hired a lawyer who specialized in self-defense cases to help Debbie, paying him in advance. Cain returned to the village on 28 April to help Debbie gain custody of Sarah. After finding her father in her house, they hug and immediately went up to Butler's Farm but not after Cain demanded to know what's been happening with the Kings and Debbie reveals that Tom got murdered on his wedding day and the business is starting to go down now that Jimmy and Carl are driving trucks for King and Sons after being bankrupt which costed them Home Farm. Cain was also surprised to hear that Matthew is dead after a car accident on his wedding day. Debbie told him that Andy was refusing her access to Sarah. He warns Andy that Debbie will get custody after giving Sarah a princess dress. Later that day, Cain sees Carl and Jimmy. They demanded their money back but Cain refused. Jimmy punches Cain in the stomach and Debbie attempts to break the fight but Cain backs her off and continues to taunt the Kings before Carl punches Cain. Jimmy and Carl beat him up and Cain does not fight back, much to Debbie's horror, however, Eli along with Marlon come to Cain's rescue and Jimmy drags Carl inside. Cain is pleased to be back in business.
He then began flirting with Maisie Wylde, Andy's ex-girlfriend, and daughter of Mark and Natasha Wylde who took an instant dislike to Cain. After a brief fling with Maisie, Cain set his sights on Faye Lamb, first wife of Mark. They flirted for a while but it didn't come to anything as he realized she was using him to make Mark jealous. Cain also took an instant dislike to Michael - Debbie's new boyfriend but they didn't care. Cain was proved right when Michael admitted that he was getting married in a few days to his pregnant fiancée. In love with Michael, Cain and Debbie crashed the wedding and were shocked to discover that his fiancée was Charity. Michael called the wedding off, after discovering that Charity had lied about being pregnant. Cain warned Debbie not to have anything to do with Charity but on discovering that she and her young son, Noah, were homeless, invited them to stay with her. Charity took her up on it and moved in but took some persuasion to stay. She and Carl planned to rob Cain of his money but Cain realized and went after her. He and Debbie caught Charity in the act and refused to believe her when she said she was replacing it. Cain also threw her and Noah out so she moved in with Marlon. He also gave her the money she had been about to steal and after Debbie's reassurance that they were okay, left the village. He returned on 22 December bearing presents for Debbie and Sarah. He was still angry with Charity, but they reconciled on Christmas Day after he agreed to marry her when she proposed.
Cain is taken back when he learns that Shadrach has died. Although Cain had never appreciated Shadrach it was clear that he felt a lot of grief over his loss. Cain finds Mark's wallet in the woods after Mark was killed by his wife Natasha at the start of the year, and blackmails her and her son Nathan as he thinks there is something sinister behind Mark's disappearance, however when Sam's dog, Alfie, digs up the body and Nathan frames his half-brother and Cain's employee, Ryan Lamb, for Mark's murder, and Ryan is convicted. Cain tells Maisie that Nathan and Natasha paid him to keep quiet and he cannot help Ryan without incriminating himself for fraud and blackmail. After seeing Nathan lie in the witness box, Cain kidnaps him to keep Sam quiet about the wallet. He holds him hostage in an abandoned barn, which is uncalled for, threatening to kill him if Ryan is found guilty. When Maisie learns what her mother and brother did, she calls the police and telling them her mother killed her father. Cain should have been arrested and should have spent time in prison for kidnapping Nathan.
In April 2011, Cain is on the rebound after Charity refuses to forgive him for cheating with Faye, and sleeps with Amy Wyatt. When he rejects her, she tells him she is pregnant with his child. He coerces her into agreeing to an abortion but her pregnancy is too far advanced. However, Amy too scared of what Cain will do, so Amy tells him and Victoria Sugden that she had the abortion. Moria decides to purchase a Land Rover from Cain and agrees to pay him the money in weekly installments. Moira asks Cain to keep the arrangement from her husband John, as their marriage is under a lot of strain and is quite fragile at that moment. Cain tells John about the arrangement and Moira goes to see Cain where they fight. Moira kisses Cain and they have sex. Moira regrets this instantly but they soon begin an affair Moira pleads with Cain not to tell John, however Cain reveals the affair by taunting John about Moira's birth mark on her thigh leading to Moira and John to split up.
Cain dislikes Jai Sharma so when Jai's sister Priya shows an interest in him, Cain uses this to his advantage. Jai accuses Cain of stealing from his parents' house and causing their father's road accident. Cain sends Jai a photo of Priya asleep nude and persuades her to call the police for assaulting her. Meanwhile, Amy gives birth to Cain's son, Kyle, in a cemetery; thinking he is dead, she panics and leaves him in a phone box. Hazel Rhodes and Lisa Dingle find him, and call an ambulance. Amy admits to being his mother, and Cain realizes she lied about the abortion. Priya forgives Cain until she learns he is the father of Amy's baby and slept with Moira. Cain is arrested when Jai reports his threats to the police but Cain is released with a caution. When Cain enters the Woolpack, he begins taunting John and when Chas refuses to serve him, he eyeballs each customer, insulting them one by one. Debbie throws him out after finding about Amy. Cain confronts John, Moira, Chas and Amy before leaving the village. As Cain walks along the outskirts of the village, he stops and zips up his coat. Cain hears footsteps behind him but before he turns, he is struck hard on the back of the legs with a metal object and falls to the ground. Through his pain, he clearly recognizes his attacker and is severely hit over the head. Debbie's boyfriend Cameron Murray later finds Jai standing over a badly injured Cain and calls an ambulance. Cain is rushed to hospital, Jai and Charity are arrested and questioned by the police. John is also arrested when Moira reveals to one of the investigating officers how John hurt his hand. While John is arrested, Cain takes a turn for the worse where it is discovered that he has a clot on the brain and needs urgent surgery, which goes well. Cain ultimately recovers, claiming that Jai attacked him. Amy visits Cain and while he is sleeping, she tells him she might keep her baby. She is unaware that he has heard everything. Zak later admits that he was responsible and Cain tells the police that a man he knew from Spain attacked him.
Cain spends the next few months recovering from his attack. He saves Holly Barton's life when she relapses on heroin. Even though he is still weak, Cain is able to drag Holly into his car and take her to hospital. Angry that Cain was the one who saved Holly and still upset about his father's death, Holly's brother Adam confronts Cain at the garage and demands an apology for what Cain has done to his family but Cain refuses. Adam then sets the garage on fire, trapping Cain inside and leaves Cain to die. Racked with guilt, Adam comes back and saves him. Adam confides in his best friend Aaron that he was the one who set fire to the garage. Seeing Adam's pain at the grieving of John, Aaron tells the police he started the fire and is able to persuade Cain into to lying to police and saying Aaron set the fire. Cain then helps Aaron flee the police by getting a fake passport for him. Moira and Cain decide to get together and on New Year's Day 2013, they announce their relationship by kissing in the Woolpack. In April, Moira learns that she is pregnant with Cain's baby but she soon miscarries. Despite this, their relationship gets stronger and Cain moves in with Moira and Adam, who adjusts to the situation.
Cain notices that Cameron is staring to act suspicious and vows to find out what is happening. He does not know that Cameron is having an affair with his sister Chas. Cameron and Chas end their affair but Cain is still distrustful until Cameron claims he is only acting suspicious as he is planning to propose to Debbie. Cain, still doubtful tells Chas that when he finds out what Cameron is up to he will kill him and the slag he catches him with. Debbie gives birth to baby Jack and Cain is chocked with pride as he watches his grandson being born and is happy when he finds out that Jack is a match for Sarah and that Sarah will survive. Cain feels furious and betrayed when he finds out about Chas and Cameron's affair. When they try to flee he smashes the car window and drags Cameron out the car. He is then arrested along with Charity after he makes a series of threats to Cameron. He is released without caution shortly afterwards.
After Moira has a steamy with Adam's best friend Alex Moss, Cain makes a deal with Moira that if Alex works at the garage then Zak can have Alex's old job at the farm. Moira sees Cain's vulnerable side and the couple begin seeing each other in late 2012. On New Years Eve they announce their relationship by kissing in the Woolpack. Adam disapproves of the relationship and starts giving Moira grief about it. Chas is released from prison and Moira encourages Cain to make amends with her however he feels that if he does he will be betraying Debbie.
In February, Cameron returns from Jersey and proposes to Chas. Cain is shocked at this and threatens Chas, telling her she should leave the village. Shortly after, Cameron arrived at the garage and the two men were involved in a brawl. Chas tried to break up the fight between her brother and fiancée, but was knocked to the ground. Cain stopped to check she was OK, but an enraged Cameron appears behind Cain, armed with a wrench, ready to strike. However, Cameron backs down.
Debbie becomes uncontrollable after the engagement and starts to do lots of dodgy business deals and Cain constantly has to protect her. Angry at the danger she is putting Sarah in, Cain and Debbie relationship becomes hostile. Cain makes amendments with Chas. In April, Moira learns that she is pregnant with Cain's baby but she soon miscarries. Cain and Debbie have an argument, and Cain makes it clear that he holds her responsible for Moira's miscarriage. He then leaves Tug Ghyll and goes to live with Moira at Butler's Farm.
Adam, still angry at Cain and Moira's relationship, tries to set Cain up. He notices a bit of flirtation between a Cain and a girl called Natalie. Adam sets up a party and pays Natalie to sleep with Cain. Cain realizes what Adam is up to and pushes Adam against a wall and threatens him. The following day Adam finds out about Moira's miscarriage and tells Cain he's glad Moira lost the baby. Cain then punches him, but is stopped by Zak before things escalate. Adam then shows his mum his black eye and tries to persuade Moira to leave Cain. She sides with Cain and Adam leaves the farm.
With Moira and Adam still at odds, Cain dishes Adam a few home truths. Meanwhile, Robbie Lawson steals Cain’s car keys and concocted a plan where he and Adam can come out on top and get some money. Fueled by drink, Adam and Robbie accidentally run over a pregnant Kerry Wyatt. Scared, they drive off leaving an injured Kerry alone in the road. Cain reports his car missing while Moira later finds the dented car with blood stains on it. Disturbed and disgusted, Moira blames Cain. Later Adam returns home and asks for Cain’s help and tells him what's happened. Cain hatches a plan and sets fire to the car, destroying the evidence. Moira learns that Kerry was knocked down by a car and chucks Cain out, believing him to be responsible. She invites Adam to stay back with her, telling Adam that he was right about Cain all along. Adam agrees and does not tell his mother it was actually him. Adam eventually admits he ran over Kerry, and Cain and Moira reunite. Cain helps Marlon trace down Laurel Thomas's carjacker after Laurel goes after him with a pair of scissors. They manage to get there in time as Ross is about to attack Laurel again.
Cain repairs his strained relationship with Debbie after his cousin's Gennie's death. Cain begins to notice Cameron is hanging around Debbie and asks Debbie if she is seeing him again; Debbie firmly denies this and Cain is satisfied when Debbie publicly tells Cameron to leave her alone. In Gennie's funeral Chas realizes that Cameron and Debbie are seeing each other again. Struggling to contain her emotion Chas runs out the church whilst giving a speech about Gennie. Cain runs after her and demands to know what Cameron has done - she replies he did Debbie. Fuming, Cain punches Cameron at Gennie's wake and Debbie and Cameron reveal that they are now a couple.
Cameron comes to live with Debbie but while he is moving his stuff into the house, Cain taunts him. Cameron taunts him back, leading to Cain knocking him unconscious and dragging him into his car. Debbie witnesses this and tries to stop Cain, however Cain drives off. Desperate to know where Cain is taking Cameron, Debbie starts shouting at Charity and Chas, demanding to know where he is. Charity reveals that he might be at the quarry as that was where she and Cain once planned to kill Cameron and fake his suicide. Debbie rushes to her car and drives to the quarry. She finds a tied and gagged Cameron locked in the back of the car while Cain wipes his fingerprints of the steering wheel. Debbie begs Cain to stop but Cain ignores her and proceeds to push the car off the cliff. Unable to physically stop him, Debbie stands in front of the car. Cain demands Debbie to move however she does not, saying he will have to push her off as well. Cameron pleads with Debbie to move, knowing that the ground underneath is crumbling and it is unsafe. Debbie does not resent and Cain emotionally says that she is choosing Cameron over her family to which Debbie replies please don't make me choose. Cameron shouts at Cain to let him go and Cain does so. Cameron then punches Cain but Debbie stops him from doing more. Cain agrees to be civil but warns Cameron that he'll be watching him.
In September 2013, Debbie finds Gennie's Dictaphone and realizes Cameron murdered Gennie. She tells Chas who takes her to the police. With not enough evidence to charge, the police bug Debbie's house wanting to tape Cameron's confession. Cain starts to get suspicious of Debbie's behavior and demands to know the truth. He is shocked and horrified when he hears of Cameron's murders and is worried for Debbie's safety. However he supports her with her plan. Cain watches with the police as Debbie is wired and sent into her house with Cameron. Cain gets agitated as he watches it unfold and tries to intervene. Cameron confesses and Debbie shouts the code word, alerting Cameron who locks them in the house together. Cain gets arrested as he tries to get into the house to save Debbie. The Dingles watch as Charity complains at Cain and Chas for not telling her about Cameron sooner. Debbie escapes and has an emotional embrace with Cain before he is taken to the cells for a night while Cameron is arrested for the murders of Carl, Alex and Gennie.
With Declan Macey demanding a great sum of money from Moira, Moira fears she to pay it off she will have to sell Butler's Farm. Cain decides to take matters into his own hands and asks Charity for some help. They return to their old scams by stealing a car again. However Cain has to help Charity as she is nearly caught by her husband Jai. The money buys Moira and Cain some time. Adam encourages Cain to raise the money however Moira wants Cain to do it legally. Cain swallows his pride by asking Jai to invest in a business investment however Jai refuses. During an heated argument Cain suggests he should marry Moira however they decide to ignore it. Cain then reverts back to his old ways, calling an old acquaintance called Marcus. Marcus asks Cain to help with a drug raid, however Cain is disgusted with what Marcus is planning. After receiving a call from Moira, declaring her love for him, Cain backs down and ropes Ross Barton into the task, unsure of his true identity. The same night Cain proposes to Moira however before Moira can answer, Ross barges in with a gun shot wound.
Covered with blood after being shot, he blackmailed Cain into helping him by threatening to tell Moira about the job whilst she was out of the room. Moira wanted to call an ambulance but Cain and Ross insisted that she couldn't otherwise they would both be arrested. Instead, they had Vanessa Woodfield assist to the wound. Cain tried to force Ross to leave at the earliest opportunity but Moira soon realized that Ross was the son of James Barton, John's brother, and therefore her nephew, whom she had not seen for around twenty years after James and John fell out. Moira allowed Ross to stay at Butler's Farm until he recovered, leaving Cain feeling uneasy. Cain tried to convince Moira to get Ross to leave, but feeling sorry for Ross she wanted him to stay for a couple more days. Cain then informed Moira that Ross was Laurel's carjacker, leading to Moira to also want to get rid of him, but she was forced to reconsider when Vanessa insisted he need a few more days of rest. Moira later finds out that it was initially Cain's job however forgives him.
After originally turning down Ross' offer of stealing Declan's car Cain relents after seeing how sad Moira is about having to sell the farm. At Declan's party, Cain hatches up a plan for Ross to dress up as valet and then pass the cars onto Cain, who later sells them on. After managing to sell Declan's car Ross gives part of his share to Cain in order for Moira to keep the farm. Ross leaves the village while Cain goes to pay Declan. Realizing Cain stole the cars, Declan initially refuses to take the money however after Megan states how desperate they are for money, Declan takes the money and Moira is able to keep the farm.
The couple get engaged and, with assistance from Chas in wedding preparations, Cain and Moira set a date for 15 May 2014. They get married successfully, although James gets drunk at their reception. Charity gets married the same day to Declan.
In December 2014, Cain returns home from a business trip to France with bad pain in his head. He ignores it for a week, at which point he collapses and is found by Charity, who takes him to a hospital. Cain is told he had a brain aneurysm stemming from his attack in 2011 and needs an operation immediately, but leaves the hospital without having had the operation. Returning to the village, he walks by the river but falls in after a dizzy spell. He is found by Vanessa Woodfield while she is out walking.