YMMV: Death Note

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Misa Amane, in the anime. Doubles as an Alas, Poor Villain.
    • Granted we don't see her die (if she did commit suicide). We just see the facial expression as Light dies. And she shouldn't have been aware of it as it happened.
  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • "Death Note? Man, I love that anime/movie. What, there was a manga?" This is somewhat of a strange case, as originally the manga was already immensely popular in the West before the film/anime adaptations.
    • Individual scenes are subject to this as well, even amongst fans who know the manga. The infamous "potato chip" scene was understated and matter-of-fact in the manga, but bring up potato chips in reference to Death Note, and people either recall the over-the-top Japanese dialogue from the anime, or the even more ridiculous English dub of the same scene.
      • Notable examples of this are certain Narm-tastic moments such as L's reaction to the second Kira mentioning shinigami and Mikami's death. Just like in the potato chip example, the reactions of the characters were far more understated (and realistic) in the manga. And in the case of the latter, the actual death/suicide happens 10 days later and off-screen.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Has its own here.
  • Americans Hate Tingle:
    • Italians Hate Light Yagami.
    • Misa Amane is way more accepted in Japan, Europe and South America than in North America. If she could see fan reaction to her, she'd probably wish the NA Death Note fandom was more like the Batman fandom; she'd be more popular then!
  • Anvilicious: The power to kill (without having to assume responsibility) is evil.
  • Arc Fatigue: It depends from reader to reader, but many feel this around the second arc (see Ending Fatigue) and some even as early as the first arc. This is a series that prides itself on being a "howtocatchem" Gambit Pileup war between two Magnificent Bastard characters... and obviously those with low tolerance for endless mind games are going to rage.
  • Ass Pull: Mello and Near also come almost out of the blue, in contrast to the usual pains the story takes to show the plans in action from start to finish.
    • While we are on the subject Near replacing the death note with a fake. Especially the fact that Light didn't notice.
  • Awesome Ego: Light Yagami the God of the New World. Also more subtly L-only the world's top three greatest detectives with his own L-screensaver.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Light Yagami is the biggest one here. He's both loved and hated by the fandom.
    • L is this to a lesser degree.
    • Matsuda is an Ensemble Darkhorse, but he's also hated for being an idiot.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Misa's Villain Song comes out of nowhere, has no relevance to the overall story, and is never mentioned again. It feels particularly out of place considering that everywhere else in the story, not a single second is wasted. Furthermore, it's nowhere to be found in the manga.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Manga: Light Yagami is a brilliant, egotistical student who finds the titular Death Note and soon embarks on a quest to become the God of a "perfect" world he will create. After killing multiple criminals with the Note, the narcissistic Light flies into a rage when a man denounces his public name of "Kira" ("Killer") on TV and gleefully murders him on the spot. Once FBI agents investigate, Light kills them as well, revealing himself to one to gloat and later gleefully forces the man's fiancee into suicide. Later, to eliminate his chief pursuer and rival L, Light pulls a Memory Gambit where he has he Death Note given to a man he knows will misuse it and pulls off a scheme that kills multiple people, including L. Light contemplates killing his own sister when she becomes a liability and only relenting for the scrutiny it will draw. Not even lovers are immune, as he uses one of his two lovers as bait for another rival and forces her to burn herself to death, also eliminating any evidence along with her. When exposed, Light attempts to justify himself as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but is revealed as "nothing more than a crazy Serial Killer."
    • Film: Once a college student frustrated at the perceived failures of the Japanese justice system, Light Yagami proves that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Upon getting his hands on the titular Death Note, the narcissistic Light quickly declares his designs of becoming the god of a new world. While he starts off by simply killing criminals, he eventually expands his targets to include the FBI investigators attempting to catch him, and anyone else he sees as a hindrance to his ascension. Light kills his girlfriend Shiori Akino at the end of the first movie to gain sympathy from L, using Naomi Misora, whom he also kills. His disinterest in the fate of anyone other than himself is shown most clearly when he gives the note to someone who he knew for certain would use it for selfish and evil purposes just so that he can throw the authorities off his trail and kill his rival.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Many have noticed Ryuk's physical resemblance to another humorous death god.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Movie-L has a high-tech getaway car. And it's a bright pink Angel Crepe van.
    • Also Light and Mikami emphasis on CRAZY.
  • Creepy Awesome:
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
    • The songs Japanese band Maximum The Hormone did for the second opening and closing credits.
    • Nightmare did a great job too.
    • Low Of Solipsism, which plays whenever Kira is on a killing spree, and Death Note, which plays to highlight a key point in the overarching conflict - the "I Am Justice" scene, for example - both qualify as well.
    • Don't forget L's theme (A and B).
    • Special mention also must go to "Domine Kira".
    • Basically, any of the epic classical music played. Leave it to Death Note to make writing in a notebook fucking EPIC. Or eating potato chips.
    • Coda ~ Death Note, the music played over the credits of the final episode. That scene really wouldn't have had the same power without it.
  • Cry for the Devil: Deserving or not, Mello, Takada, Light, Mikami, and Misa all had very sad deaths.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Happens to some people, due to the dark nature of the series and the characters.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Getting away with murder and eating potato chips has never looked so cool.
  • Die for Our Ship: Misa and Takada for getting in the way of L and Light. Takada gets this from Light/Misa shippers as well, some of whom actually cheered when Light killed her, even though he was only using both of them. To a lesser degree, Halle for getting in the way of Mello and Matt or Mello and Near.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Any of the series' protagonists, to varying degrees.
    • Light gets an in-universe example.
  • Ending Fatigue: The second arc for many. Ironic as the series was written specifically to span 108 chapters, partly as a Take That toward Arc Fatigue which Tsugumi Ohba identifies as a Pet Peeve Trope.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Matt. He appears in a mere sixteen panels of the manga, but is extremely popular in the fandom, to the point where if you were unfamiliar with the series you'd think he was one of the main characters.
      • Or that his relationship with Mello was canonically romantic.
    • Matsuda established himself squarely in this place when he pulled a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass moment in emptying his revolver in Light when the later attempted to kill Near. Of course before hand he was one due to his carefree attitude.
    • Soichiro Yagami certainly qualifies. In most of the abridged series of the series he is made to be this supreme badass whom no one will question or talk back to.
    • Mikami is highly revered by fans for being arguably the most over the top user of the death note and for having a genuinely sympathetic back story. He's one of the few aspects of Part Two that's not a Base Breaker. It helps that he's also very pretty.
    • Beyond Birthday only appeared in the book spin off "The BB Murder Cases" and had a passing mention in the anime and manga, but became rather popular nevertheless.
    • Naomi Misora and Raye Penber for being intriguingly mysterious characters.
    • Between L's two successors, Mello gets a lot more praise as a character then Near for actually going out and doing his own thing whereas Near just came off as an L copycat to most of the fanbase.
    • Near does have his fans, though.
  • Escapist Character: Light is handled well enough to be this rather than a Villain Sue.
  • Evil Is Cool: Most of the... umm, "less heroic" characters, especially Light. Ryuk, Mello and BB also qualify.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Light Yagami, Misa, Mikami and Mello.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many, many fans would like to forget that Rem kills L. Others like to ignore the bits involving Near and/or Mello. Some even take that a step further and pretend the second season as a whole never happened. And there is yet another group of fans who would very much like to believe that Light won and/or lived. And that's just the manga, there are those that much prefer how the movies went (though few would include L Change the World in their continuity).
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Poor Mello actually thinks he looks intimidating in that outfit.
  • Faux Symbolism: The apples. The artist assumed they were there for their religious significance, but the writer just put them there because he thought they were cool. So he claims, anyway.
    • Not to mention the first opening credits that make us think that Light is going to do something really just and noble. Heck, the first time you see him he's reciting Scripture perfectly in class. Two episodes into the series, you know better.
      • Throughout the series, there a number of images that just happen to resemble crosses. And in the first opening credits sequence, Misora is seen holding the recently killed Raye Penber's body, looking uncannily like La Pieta art.
      • The first opening credits also shows a split-second image of Light laying on what appears to be a stained-glass window (in the second opening, this is repeated, only Light is shown more as a festering corpse).
      • Also in the opening credits is an image of Light handing Ryuk an apple, in what appears to be a crude mimicry of Michelangelo's ceiling painting of Adam and God (With Light as Adam, giving the apple more symbolism, and Ryuk as God, being flanked by Shinigami rather than cherubim). Also note how, in this image, Light has THAT chain handcuffed to his wrist, which leads off-screen. Is speculated to mean that the image may actually be larger, including L attached on the other end.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Tons of it. L seems to get this with all his enemies with Light above all others but also with Misa, and Beyond from Another Note at least on B's side. B is very obsessed with him. As for Light and L the two compliment each other's methods and skills all the time, and regard each other as worthy adversaries. L evokes feelings in Light that he feels for no one else. L is the most important person in Light's life even after he is dead. And in the anime L is the only person on Light's mind when he's dying. And of course, there's that infamous foot massage in the anime, which must be seen to be believed.
    L: It's the least I can do to atone for my sins.
    Light: ...Do as you wish.
  • Fountain of Memes: Light
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: A certain pratfall toward the end of the first season plays very differently by the end of the second.
  • Cosplayers Love Misa: She's generally more popular within the Cosplay fandom than the rest of the anime fandom, due to how easy it is to cosplay her and how the many teenage girlsnote  in the cosplay fandom can relate to her (albeit not completely). In fact: Francesca Dani, one of the most popular cosplayers in the whole world, has Misa among her most popular cosplays.
  • God-Mode Sue: L in the films.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Watch the first episode after watching the series and think just HOW different Light's life (and the entire world) would have been if he wasn't looking through that window.
  • He's Just Hiding: Pick a character- any character- there's loads of Fix Fic.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • in Volume 5 of the manga L wonders "Just how far ahead have you prepared, Light Yagami...?"
    • In Volume 2 Light declares in his mind "I can't let myself be even remotely suspected of being Kira!" Yeah, good luck with that.
    • We agree, Ryuk. Humans are fun!
    • When people found out live-action Soichiro was played by Takeshi Kaga, it started jokes about where Light got his potato chip eating skills from.
  • Hollywood Homely: According to Word Of God, L is supposed to be "ugly."
  • Ho Yay/Les Yay: See here.
  • Internet Backdraft: L's death, which is arguably the most risky move by Ohba, caused a great deal of the fans to simply stop following the series altogether.
  • Iron Woobie: Soichiro Yagami. He's the most decent man in the series, but he has to suffer due to his son’s and L's actions. Pun not intended.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Depending on your view and how much sympathy do you retain for them, despite them doing many bad things, Light, Misa, Mikami, Mello, Beyond, and even Takada could qualify.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The DVD covers spoil certain events of the series. Such as the one that has an image of dead L and Light gloating over him. Also if you take a peak at any fanfiction you'll know the ending to Another Note.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Ohba was a master of subverting the trope. Doesn't stop the fans' perspectives, though.
  • Love to Hate: Light.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Light is practically the manga poster boy for this trope. L actually fits some of the requirements even better than Light. Mello might have become one with his final actions, if you choose to believe he had it all planned.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Raye Penber is stalking teenage boys for the F.B.I. Doesn't help that in the anime his signature makes his first name look like it's spelled "Rape." Many a jokes have been made on Youtube.
    • Ryuk's permanent rape face.
    • Just LOOK at Near's creepy smiles! Also in the manga, how he wanted to keep Light.
    • Higuchi is a Dirty Old Man in canon.
    • Beyond Birthday often supplies the "hurt" part of Hurt Comfort FanFiction. There's really no good way to take his line in Another Note of "I'm an aggressive top."
    • L never misses an opportunity to install cameras in a bathroom.
    • Light for evidence, see the deleted scene of L's funeral. Not to mention his Slasher Smile as he says "Just as planned."
  • Memetic Mutation: Lots.
  • Mind Game Ship: Light with practically everyone. The most notable ones are L with Light and Near with Light.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
  • Moe:
    • Misa Amane is a walking blob of Moe. Pigtails, Gothic Lolita, Zettai Ryouiki, squealing girly voice, all topped off with a Yandere personality. She's so Moe that she even Shinigami want to protect her. Also, Sayu.
    • Light and L have their moments too. Especially L, thanks to his personality quirks.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Light definitely falls into this trope. He did so many horrible things from killing FBI Agent Raye Penbar to killing Raye's fiancee, Naomi Misora, getting closer and closer for every bad thing he's done. While the ones listed above were to just simply stop them from getting in his way, he finally crosses it when he kills someone that wasn't getting on his way, was on his side, and ultimately loved him. He betrays and murders Kiyomi Takada, even after she did what Light told her to do, murder Mello. What makes it even worse is she is forced to burn herself to death and die slowly and painfully.
    • Beyond Birthday's Moral Event Horizon is when he kills a little girl.
    • The members of NPO Blue Ship (except for K, since this happened before she joined them) crossed it when they slaughtered an entire village of innocent people with a deadly virus just because they thought that by decreasing the surplus population, they could save the environment.
    • Kyosuke Higuchi has two candidates. It's either when he kills Hatori for trying to back out (and he coldly informs the poor guy beforehand that he's going to get killed), or when he decided to marry Misa and then kill her to get her money. Even Rem was shocked to hear about this.
  • Narm: See here.
  • Never Live It Down: Light has rather fewer moments of completely losing his shit than you'd think from talking to fans. It's just that what little we get is just that memorable.
    • Also the potato chip incident.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Quite a bit of it.
  • No Yay:
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • This reporter:
    • Don't forget Matt's epic scene of Noble Self-Sacrifice. 16 panels in the manga, less than 2 minutes of screentime in the anime, and yet his character is one of the most popular in the fandom.
    • Linda (the only female student seen at Wammy's house), has a fan following despite her minor role. She appears very briefly in the manga, and not at all in the original anime series.note 
  • Pandering to the Base: The films change the ending so that L wins for no good reason other than to appease the hordes of Fan Dumb who wanted that to happen in the real story.
    • Though it also allows Soichiro to actually learn his son is Kira. Some fans considered his dying without ever knowing to be a copout.
    • Also counts as a Pragmatic Adaptation, as it eliminated the entire Near story arc and the need to introduce a cast-load of additional characters. The movie format doesn't lend itself well to adding the Time Skip and a new storyline from scratch.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Your life can be ended at anytime just by having some Japanese god write your name in a notebook. Moreover, it's implied that this happens all the time. And, the only fate that awaits you or anyone, for that matter is nonexistence.
  • Possession Sue: When Fan Fic writers get ahold of Light Yagami it's usually this along with a side order of Villain Sue and Mary Tzu.
    • L can fall victim to this in fanfic, too. Sometimes both him and Light at the same time.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Near, along with Mello. Some fans are not fond of L's succesors. In fact, Near gets even more bashing than Mello, and even the author said that he was more and more unlikeable as the story went on.
    • K for Light in the movie-verse.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Misa during the Yotsuba arc when she successfully outmaneuvers and controls Higuchi.
    • Also in the live action movies, where she's portrayed as a more sympathetic character, with the death of her family being shown as a constant source of pain for her, rather than just being forgotten about the minute she joins Light (who, in the movies, she comes to acknowledge as a monster who doesn't care for her, but she just can't quit him. Not to mention she has photos of her parents alongside her pictures of Light, openly says she should've died with Mom and Dad, and breaks down in tears when Light decides to kill his father).
    • Mello gets better and better as the second half of the story progresses due to his Crazy Awesome (dude took over the mafia before he could legally vote!) and Evil Is Cool as well as his faaaaaabulous fashion sense. On the other hand, Near, his rival, falls farther and farther into Replacement Scrappydom for L.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Soichiro Yagami and Misa regularly in L x Light Fan Fics. Also Rem for killing L. L-centric fics frequently derail Light. Light-centric fics often give L the same treatment.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Though it is who depending on which fandom you're asking. Both Light and L themselves are portrayed as no better than the other, with L being nominally good. Granted, Light might be a bad guy himself, but L is also equally popular for those who didn't agree with Kira's methods either. Those who agree with Mello being the successor of L rather than Near might count as this too.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Takada! Dear god Takada! Whenever fans talk about her, it's either that she was an informed intelligent fool who easily fell for Light's charms or a stuck up bitch, particularly on how she treated Misa. She even gets plenty of hate from fangirls who swore to exact their revenge on her for killing Mello.
    • Misa. The fandom seems to believe that every time she opens her mouth ears bleed. In their eyes she is annoying, crazy, doesn't act like a real person, and gets in the way of a popular fan-pairing.
  • Seasonal Rot: Apart from the final episode, the second part of the series, that is, everything after L's death, is considered by many to be inferior to the first. Whether this means "quite good, just not as good" or "so bad it never happened" depends on who you ask.
  • Ship Mates: Most fans ship Light/L with their Mello/Matt or Mello/Near.
  • Squick: Higuchi's plans to make Misa his bride.
  • Stoic Woobie: L, surprisingly.
  • Strawman Has a Point: We may be supposed to see Light as the Villain Protagonist and root for L and later for Near, especially after Light becomes more cocky as the series progresses, but the fact of the matter is, his methods work. Ultimately, crime worldwide is reduced by 70% and wars stop altogether. If you live in an area riddled with crime and wars, you’d be far more likely to sympathise with him, or at least with his goals.
  • Superlative Dubbing: This is considered one of the best anime dubs ever, though arguments still occur over which is superior.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The tune that plays when Aiber and Wedy are introduced sounds suspiciously similar to the Mission: Impossible theme tune.
  • Take That, Audience!: Light's final defeat was deliberately made as devastating and pathetic as possible, complete with a speech ripping apart all his pretentions of being a hero through using the Death Note, in direct response to all the fans who saw him as a Draco in Leather Pants.
    • Fandom Berserk Button: This did not go over well with the fans, with many complaining of how the author seemingly destroyed the Grey and Gray Morality present in the series to drop a gigantic anvil about who you should have been rooting for. Doesn't help that Near doesn't do much to establish himself as any more heroic than Light (it's even implied he killed Mikami with the Death Note in the manga). The fact that L and Mello, two characters seen as cool by the fans die, while Near, L's Replacement Scrappy (even Ohba said he disliked him), makes it through unscathed and even gets to give Light a "The Reason You Suck" Speech did not please the fanbase either.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Misa's attitude gets like this at times, especially compared to the overall aesthetic of the series.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Naomi Misora and Matt
    • Subverted with Matsuda, who was slated to die in Soichiro's place. He was already an Ensemble Darkhorse by this point, so he was spared at the last minute.
  • Too Cool to Live: This applies to pretty much all the characters that meet bad ends, but especially Naomi and Matt.
    • Naomi was actually an invoked case of this, as she was intended to last longer, but then Ohba realized she was so good at her job that it would strain suspension of disbelief too much that she hadn't caught Light within a few chapters.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Most of the shinigami. Also L-Takeshi Obata meant to make L look ugly, but he has plenty of fangirls.
    • Beyond, seeing as he's L's evil doppelganger.
  • Uncanny Valley: Misa on the Volume 4 manga cover artwork.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Light is this in spades. He was villanous from the moment he picked up the Death Note, and only on very rare occasions can he be called anything close to an Anti-Hero, yet that doesn't stop his arguably Misaimed Fandom from rationalizing his actions and Rooting for the Empire. The fact that he dies pathetically begging for his life and scared shitless doesn't help either, and can be very hard to watch for some people, no matter how well-deserved one may think it is.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: L and Matsuda.
  • Values Dissonance: Many Western viewers take offense at what they perceive as Raye Penber's paternalistic and condescending attitude toward his fiancée, retired F.B.I. agent Naomi Misora — and, worse, her seemingly contented acceptance of it. Then again, that attitude gets him and his coworkers killed, so he's not exactly portrayed as being in the right. (In the DVD Commentary, her English-dub voice actress Tabitha St. Germain said that that scene was particularly difficult for her.)
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Mello, in the manga. Rem is female but looks androgynous. Also, Near who is male but is voiced by female VAs in both the original and the English dub.
    • Interestingly, Mello's original name was Near, and vice versa, but an editing error at Shonen Jump saw their names switched around.
  • Wangst:
    • Mello: "IT'S TIME I START LIVING MY OWN LIFE!" *door slam!*
    • THAT'S IT, I'M LEAVING TO TAKE OVER THE MAFIA.
    • Aizawa's "I hate Ryuuzaki and his way of doing things!"
    • Misa often spends her time whining about Light not loving her, and at the same time, acting like a womanchild who is still a bratty daughter of her deceased parents.
  • What an Idiot: Naomi Misora giving Light her real name. In the manga, Mikami gets noticed by the SPK when he is asking Kira for orders... on national TV. Also, Higuchi.
    • On a similar note, Raye Penber showing his FBI ID to his current target, a potential suspect of being the mass-murdering Kira.
    • The police when L asks them how they would prove someone was Kira. Each one answers that they would somehow set Kira up so that he was videotaped using his powers. Apparently it takes a genius on the level of L and Light to think of simply tricking Kira into revealing hidden information about the case... even though that's a common police tactic in real life.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Even plenty of anime fans mistake it for Seinen. The original manga was published in Shonen Jump.
    • To be fair, the rating on the English release of the manga says for "OT" (Older Teens). This should be the first thing you look at before reading.
  • The Woobie: Rem, Gelus, and especially Soichiro and Sayu. From the movie, Shiori.
    • Light and Misa, when their memories were erased and were left confined and later tricked into believing that they were going to be executed. Light qualifies in general during the Yotsuba arc, given how innocent he is and how you know his Kira persona is just waiting in the wings for him to regain his memories.
    • Poor Sachiko Yagami. Just a regular housewife who puts her family above anything, ends up having to bury her husband and, in the end, only has a catatonic daughter who, fortunately, is slowly recovering, but has ultimately lost her son, too. And she likely doesn't even know the real reason why for the latter.