Monstrous, inhuman creatures who inhabit the land of the dead, the Shinigami
are Gods of Death who all own their own copy of the titular Death Note
. The series starts when one Shinigami in particular gets bored with lazing around all day and decides to take a visit down to Earth.
These tropes are shared by most of the Shinigami:
- Blue and Orange Morality: Of course Shinigami have no problems killing humans or with humans dying. Shinigami take human lifespans for themselves. Why should they care about the human world beyond it being their food source? In fact if a Shinigami does care about a human, that means they "failed as a Shinigami", and that is punishable by death.
- By the Eyes of the Blind: A shinigami on Earth can only be seen or heard by humans who have touched his/her particular Death Note.
- Cute Monster Girl: Averted: all of the female Shinigami are rather grotesque in appearance.
- Deadly Upgrade: Any Shinigami on Earth can offer a human the Shinigami Eyes, at the price of half of the human's lifespan.
- G-Rated Drug: Ryuk mentions that Apples to Shinigami are like cigarettes and alcohol to humans.
- Intangibility: Although a Shinigami on Earth can temporarily become solid to manipulate objects.
- Namedar: Shinigami eyes see humans' names...
- OC Stand In: Most of the Shinigami who don't go down to Earth.
- Punch Clock Villain: It really is only their duty to take humans' lives, and they only truly qualify as "evil" insofar as the occasional decision to kill a human earlier than intended - and doing so to save another is an offense for which death is punishment.
- It's unclear if death is a punishment or it's simply what happens
- Random Power Ranking: All of the known Shinigami are ranked from 1 to 13 (with the exception of the Shinigami King who doesn't have a rank). This could be subverted in that Ryuk is two levels below Rem, yet is shown to be more cunning and manipulative than her, not to mention he ends up outliving her.
- Shinigami: Obviously.
- Stationary Wings: Some have extending wings despite being able to float like ghosts.
- Was Once a Man: If the speculation about the Unnamed Shinigami is correct than it suggests all the Shinigami were once human Death Note owners.
- We Are as Mayflies
sidekick, and the one who dropped Light's Death Note on Earth in the first place. Despite his terrifying appearance, he's mostly harmless (unless he gets bored), and has a fondness for apples. He tells Light about various rules of the Shinigami Realm, sometimes at extremely inconvenient times.In the end, he's the one who kills Light, due to Light being finally beaten by Near, meaning that things won't be fun anymore. Appears briefly in the one-shot, where he is indirectly responsible for creating C-Kira by revealing to all the other Shinigami that they can go into the human world under certain circumstances and eat apples
Tropes associated with Ryuk:
- A Protagonist Is Ryuk
- Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil: Is a bit of both, as he can be genuinely nice to Light and Misa, but fits the latter in his malicious way of curing boredom. Of course, it's worth noting that Shinigami are not hard-wired toward compassion for humans to begin with, so from Ryuk's standpoint, his actions do not seem immoral.
- Alien Catnip: Apples
- Allergic to Routine
- Audience Surrogate: He starts the whole story simply because he was bored, and mostly hangs out on the sidelines treating Light's antics like his own personal soap opera, not really caring who wins as long as it's entertaining.
- Ax-Crazy: Even for a Shinigami, his idea of fun back in the Shinigami World is attempting to kill his "friends".
- Beware the Silly Ones: Moreso in the manga and the movies than in the anime.
- Bigger Bad: Ultimately this because of providing Light that Death Note. Same for the one-shot, as he's the one who revealed to Midora how to enter the human world, thus creating C-Kira.
- Bishōnen: Was this in his original design◊ which was going to be of "an attractive rockstar," before the creators decided that him looking more interesting than Light could cause the fandom to ignore Light's character.
- Catch Phrase: To use the manga translation, "Humans are fun!"
- Captain Obvious
- Cheshire Cat Grin: his face is frozen like that so he has one all the time.
- Death Takes a Holiday: Subverted. He maintains his function as a Shinigami and shortens more than one person's lifespan throughout the series, but his leaving the Shinigami realm to go to the human world is a holiday of sorts.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ryuk is an apple junkie.
- Interestingly, the potential symbolism of apples is one Ohba claims to have been unaware of.
- The Dragon: To a certain extent.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Ryuk tells Light at least once that he's even more evil than a shinigami, and generally, when Light does something particularly nasty, laughs mockingly in the background.
- Evil Laugh: A raspy cackle in the English Dub.
- Fish Eyes: Depending on the angle of the scene. The rest of the time it's just a bulging stare.
- Fun Personified
- Glowing Eyes of Doom
- Good Wings, Evil Wings
- Goth: Well, at least his clothes look like it. Personality, not so much.
- Greek Chorus: At times.
- The Grim Reaper
- Hates Being Touched: More like he's rather bashful. When Misa tried hugging him, he blurred away from her, blushing and citing he's not used to it.
- How Do You Like Them Apples?: Juicy!
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: He's a "triple A"; an Apple Addicted Asshole.
- In Love with Your Carnage: Ryuk shakes with excitement when Light details his plan to kill off all the evil people in the world and declares himself God.
- Intrigued by Humanity
- Ironic Echo: Y'know that thing Ryuk warned Light about at the very beginning of this whole mess? Guess what!
- It Amused Me/For the Evulz: Ryuk drops his Death Note into the human world, setting off all the chaos that follows, just because he's bored.
- Japanese Pronouns: Addresses himself as "ore" and almost everyone else as "omae," and talks in masculine slang a lot.
- Jerkass Gods: He's only here for laughs. He makes no secret of the fact that he is on neither Light's side nor L's and doesn't much care who wins. He just enjoys watching the show. He watches L die and ultimately makes Light die without shedding a single tear.
- Jump Scare: Frequently the one to make it happen.
- Kid with the Leash: Inverted; Ryuk, and by extent, the rules of the Death Note, are often the only thing restraining Light from killing his opponents directly. Not that that stops him from getting around the rules.
- Kill You Last: To Light.
"You know, you haven't been very nice to me. I might just write your name in my Death Note and kill you, just like that! ...I wouldn't laugh if I were you."
- Which he does when realizing that Near's beaten him.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: His murder of Light at the end of the series.
- Large Ham
"The symptoms are STAAAAAAARTING!"
- Lightning Reveal
- Looks Like Cesare and Looks Like Orlok.
- Lost Food Grievance
- Monster Clown
- Monster Roommate
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family
- No Sense of Personal Space
- No Trademarks Were Harmed: He's totally not The Joker.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: When he finally kills Light.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Ryuk conceals his knowledge of the rules of the notebook from Light in order to amuse himself.
- One of Us: see Video Game Culture
- Perky Goth
- Pet Monstrosity
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Psychopathic Manchild: Ryuk is type B. A cruel monster who sets everything off because he's bored.
- Product Placement: see Video Game Culture
- Shooting Superman
- Sidekick Ex Machina
- Slasher Smile
- Snarky Nonhuman Sidekick
- So Proud of You: Tells Light this at his high school graduation.
- Stalker Without A Crush: Towards Light.
- The Starscream: Towards Light. After Kira's defeat, it's Ryuk's boredom that leads to him decide that Light is worth killing off now.
- Team Pet: Lampshaded by the other Shinigami "LOL, Ryuk is being kept by a human."
- Too Dumb to Live: More Informed Stupidity; the other shinigami consider him the stupidest of their kind, but he's shown quite a bit of cunning at manipulating and tricking Light. Unless most Shinigami are just so intelligent on an above-human scale that Ryuk is considered stupid only for them.
- Too Many Belts
- Trademark Favorite Food: Apples.
- Video Game Culture: In the manga Ryuk pesters Light about wanting to play Mario Golf, and Ryuk begs Light to get him a silver Game Boy Advance XP for Christmas in an omake.
- Villainous Friendship: of the Evil Vitriolic Best Buds variety.
Ryuk (sounding excited and happy): He's not the least bit daunted by the fact that I'm a Shinigami! He doesn’t suck up to me, and he seems to have no problem giving me a hard time. (Grins, AWESOME!!)
- Villainous Widow's Peak: Okay, so he's not that villainous, but still...
- Villains Out Shopping:
"Hey Light, want to play some video games?"
- The Watson: Occasionally.
- You Bastard: Fridge Logic: he's the Audience Surrogate.
- You Can See Me?
- You Didn't Ask: Ryuk amuses himself by explaining certain rules of the Death Note to Light at the worst moments. He even invokes this trope word-for-word in the movie.
- You Have Outlived Your Entertainment Value: What he plans to do to Light when the latter no longer provides him entertainment. In the end, he fulfills it.
Voiced by: Kimiko Saito (JP), Colleen Wheeler (EN)
, who is highly protective of her, bringing Gelus's Death Note to her after his death and generally watching out for her. Rem forces Light to enact a Memory Gambit to save Misa when she gets caught, and haunts Higuchi while this is being done. Misa surprises her by coming to be interviewed at Yotsuba for an advertising gig as part of L's plan to local the Yotsuba Kira, and Rem takes the opportunity to reveal herself to Misa and tell her what's going on. Later, Rem follows the Death Note back to Taskforce Headquarters when L captures Higuchi and Light regains ownership of the Note. There, Light tricks her into killing L and Watari in order to save Misa; and although she realizes what he has done, she goes along with it, choosing willingly to die to keep Misa safe.
Tropes associated with Rem:
- Affably Evil: As long as Misa's safety isn't in danger, she doesn't seem terribly threatening toward people. Although, the only humans she's interacted with have somehow been a potential cause of harm to Misa...
- Bandage Babe
- Cute Little Fangs
- Dark Chick
- Dark Is Not Evil: Although her morality is in question, she genuinely cares about Misa and is disgusted by Higuchi.
- The Dulcinea Effect: She sees Misa once and developes feelings for her so intense that she journeys to the human realm to give her Gelus's notebook.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Due to Blue and Orange Morality that comes with being a shinigami, she exhibits few qualms with Misa murdering people, as well as murder being committed for her sake. She does gently rebuke Misa for not using the notebook properly and suggests that she use it more for herself and not grautuitously. She also has a great distaste for the way the Yotsuba group use the Death Note; in particular she's repulsed by Higuchi's greedy and obsessive nature.
- Eyepatch of Power
- Facial Markings
- Female Monster Surprise
- Femme Fatalons
- Four Is Death: The Rank 4 Shinigami
- Friendly Neighborhood Shinigami
- Gentle Giant
- She's a Man in Japan: Inverted. Confusingly, the film adaptation gave her a male voice while the anime gave her a female one. The manga bounces a little on this, with Light using male pronouns for her from time to time. Rem herself says in the English manga, "I'm female" and Ryuk refers to her as one.
- Hellish Pupils
- Heroic Sacrifice: She ends up killing herself so Misa won't be found out as the Second Kira.
- Horrible Judge of Character: "Now that I think about it, Light may be as pure as you, Misa."
- Humans Are Bastards: In her opinion, "humans are such ugly creatures."
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her.../I'll Kill You!: As Light notes, she is firmly on Misa's side and will take action on her behalf.
- Love Martyr: Rem cares deeply for Misa and is even willing to die for her. Misa doesn't care.
- Mama Bear: She is very protective of Misa. Considering that Misa had recently lost her mother (she tells Light that her parents were murdered a year ago) around the time Rem showed up, it's not too inconcievable that Rem took up that role for her; although Rem obeys Misa and follows her lead, she certainly is shown treating Misa as a daughter, up to and including willingly sacrificing herself for Misa's safety.
- Meaningful Name: "Res", in Latin, is a feminine noun meaning 'thing,' like a tool to be used. An accusative is when something is happening to it. The accusative for Res? Rem.
- So she's "the thing that things happen to".
- Also R.E.M. is the state when the mind is dreaming, which goes along well with Rem's idealized notions of love and sacrifice.
- It may also be derived from the Christian and Islamic angel Remiel, whose name means Compassion of God.
- Monster Roommate
- Moral Myopia: She is extremely protective of Misa, but she never says a word about the people Misa kills. Justified in that she is a god of death who herself must kill to stay alive and that she comes to view most humans as "such ugly creatures."
- More than Mind Control: "You want Misa to be happy, right?"
- My Mistress Right Or Wrong: She's on Misa's side, no matter what.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much
- Noble Demon
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend
- Protagonist Secret Service
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right
- Sidekick Ex Machina
- The Smart Gal: Though she is frequently tricked by Light and L she is the smartest of the Shinigami who get any screen time and knows the Rules of the Death Note much better than say Ryuk or Shidoh as Light notes when asking Ryuk to clarify some of the rules in the second arc:
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: She's a Shinigami and she has golden eyes.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics
- Thinks Like a Romance Novel: Dying for love is so tragic and beautiful...
- Token Good Teammate: To Team Kira.
- Unwitting Pawn: Light manipulates her into saving Misa (thus ensuring her own death) by killing L and Watari. Double Subverted in that she figures out exactly what it is Light wants her to do, how he's getting her to do it, and what will happen if she does, yet she does it anyway out of her love for Misa.
- Woman in White: in contrast to Misa and possibly Ryuk.
- You Gotta Have Purple-White Hair: she's got like anime style purple-white hair and is a magical Death God.
A lazy, whiny shinigami and the original owner of Light's first Death Note (before it was "liberated" by Ryuk). Causes trouble for Light's plans when he comes to retrieve his notebook.
Tropes associated with Sidoh:
The original owner of Misa's notebook, who sacrificed himself to save Misa.
Tropes associated with Gelus:
Armonia Justin Beyondormason
This jeweled skeleton is the Shinigami Realm’s adviser, who knows the rules well.
Tropes associated with Armonia:
A high-ranking female Shinigami.
Tropes associated with Daril:
Voiced by: Tetsuo Goto (JP), David Pettitt (EN)
Another denizen of the Shinigami realm.
Tropes associated with Deridoveley:
A female Shinigami with a spotted body that kind of looks like Jabba the Hutt
. She likes humidity and dislikes dryness.
Tropes associated with Midora:
An antelope-headed Shinigami. A friend of Ryuk's that watches his exploits in the human world. He likes gambling but he's not very good at it.
Tropes associated with Gukku:
Voiced by: Kibou Tokumei (JP), John Novak (EN)
A minor Shinigami character that expresses interest in the human world and what Ryuk is doing.
Tropes associated with Zellogi:
Another Shinigami mentioned in How To Read 13
Tropes associated with Calikarcha:
A female Shinigami. She’s very violent and not very smart.
Tropes associated with Kinddara:
The highest ranking female Shinigami that resembles a stick covered with eyes. Only the King is more powerful than she is. She likes repentance and dislikes sound.
Tropes associated with Nu:
The Shinigami King
A toy figure of the Shinigami King issued with a Death Note DVD.
"The Old Man," The King of the Shinigami Realm
, the one who issues the Shinigami their marching orders, and the highest ranked Shinigami of them all.
Tropes associated with The Shinigami King:
The Unnamed Shinigami
An unnamed Shinigami who appeared in the movie Relight: Visions of a God
, where he was searching the Shinigami Realm for Ryuk. He is violent and impetuous, making demands of the other Shinigami. He is very interested in the human world and bored
with the Shinigami realm. He bribes Ryuk with apples to hear his story of the time he spent in the human world but leaves before he finishes it. Physically the Shinigami is a skeleton with spiky brown hair and wears a tattered suit, a red tie headband and a grey bookbag, and he walks with a limp. This and the dialogue strongly hints that he is a Reincarnation of Light Yagami. 
Tropes associated with The Unnamed Shinigami: