Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Death Note – Main Characters

Go To

Main Character Index | Main Characters (Light Yagami | Misa Amane | L Lawliet) | Task Force | Shinigami | Side Characters | Novel, Pilot, and Movies | Death Note (2017)

Warning! Unmarked spoilers ahead!

    open/close all folders 

Light and his allies

    Light Yagami/Kira 

    Misa Amane/2nd Kira 

"You're asking me why? I did it 'cause I was bored."
Voiced by: Shido Nakamura (JP, anime, movies), Jun Fukuyama (Japanese, TV drama), Brian Drummond (EN), Jorge Varela (Spain), Alfonso Vallés (Spain, movies), Rolando De Castro (Latin America), Jorge Vasconcellos (BR), Emmanuel Karsen (FR)
Played by: Daisaku Nishino (motion capture, TV drama), Kotaro Yoshida/Kazutaka Ishii (musical)

Light's Shinigami 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.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In both the Japanese and Korean productions of Death Note the Musical, Ryuk is much less ugly and scary-looking than his manga counterpart.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While his manga and anime incarnation could hardly be called heroic or villainous since he doesn't take sides, being more of a bystander than anything. In the TV series he is shown to be more of a prominent and will figure, in the series he intentionally drops the notebook so Light is the one to find it and goads him to use it upon seeing his hesitance.
  • Advertised Extra: Ryuk is often sold as a Series Mascot of sorts, even representing the series in crossover art during the manga's original run. In the actual manga and anime, however, he is only a prominent character in the first arc, being Put on the Bus for the second, and having a substantially reduced role for the third.
  • Affably Evil: Is a bit of this and Faux Affably Evil, 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 are addictive to him.
  • Allergic to Routine: Ryuk really disliked the fact Shinigami tend to spend their lifetimes doing nothing but writing names on their Death Notes from time to time. And when Ryuk did get a second Death Note, he decides to drop it to break the routine.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: He could end the duel between Light and L at any time if he really wanted to, just by writing one of their names in his notebook. But that would be too boring for him.
  • Ambiguous Situation: He has stitches surrounding his head at the distance of his collarbone, but it isn't clear if this means that his white head is stitched onto his black body or if he wears a black suit that's stitched onto his white skin.
  • And Show It to You: An odd example, but the spirit is there; at the end of the manga, when Light is Out-Gambitted and is desperate enough to beg him to write the names of the Task Force in the Death Note, Ryuk instead chooses to write down Light's name and then show him the book so Light gets to spend the last 40 seconds of his life knowing his death is coming and begging to not die.
  • Art Evolution: His new look for the 2016 film Light Up the New World is noticeably sharper and more intimidating.
  • 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".
  • Big Bad: In the Death Note Special Chapter, he is the main antagonistic force and who carries out the plot events.
  • 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.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: It's difficult to really judge his actions by human standards, considering he's a member of a species from a realm far beyond humanity whose very existence is defined by claiming human lives. For all he knows, he isn't doing anything wrong because every human is destined to die anyways.
  • Catchphrase: To use the manga translation, "Humans are fun!"
  • Captain Obvious: He tends to point out obvious problems so that Light can then explain things more thoroughly (to him and to the audience).
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: His face is frozen like that so he has one all the time.
  • The Corrupter: In the TV drama, he intentionally drops the Death Note near Light, and goads him into using it more when Light hesitates, effectively making him the one responsible for Light becoming Kira, a stark contrast to the source material in which he was a self-acknowledged neutral bystander.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: For all his lovable goofball portrayal, we get a reminder of his status as a Death God at the end of the series, when he murders Light without a second thought for having used up his entertainment value.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: Downplayed. 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. He has withdrawal symptoms and everything, even explicitly comparing them to cigarettes.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Don't order Ryuk to kill anyone when his reason of being in the human world was to see someone else kill. When an Out-Gambitted Light asks him to write the names of the entire Task Force in his Death Note, Ryuk writes Light's name instead. He was not going to take orders from any human. Along with the small matter of shinigami who write in their Death Notes to save a human ceasing to exist; he certainly wasn't going to sacrifice himself for Light's sake.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Evil is stretching it, but as a morally ambiguous being he still has his own standards.
    • Ryuk tells Light at least once that he's even eviler than a shinigami, and generally, when Light does something particularly nasty, laughs mockingly in the background.
    • He also suggests that Light should have second thoughts about killing L after he said he thinks of Light as a friend.
    • Zigzagged with Misa wanting to make the Eye Deal a second time. He reminds her that her lifespan has already been halved by Rem when Misa originally made the deal. However, he follows through with it after she insisted she was fine with giving up another portion of her lifespan for Light.
    • Played with in the "Never Complete" one-shot. When he confronts Donald Trump over possession of a Death Note, he sarcastically muses the man values his own life over his nation's prosperity when he hastily concedes the notebook despite a monetary transaction already having gone through. However, he does call his decision "shrewd" before leaving.
    • Again in "Never Complete"; Ryuk is conflicted over warning Minoru that he was going to die if he accepted any money for selling the Death Note and honouring his promise to stop bothering him. In the end, Ryuk leaves Minoru to his fate, but doesn't chuckle at the thought of it.
  • Evil Laugh: Lets lose a harsh, throaty cackle in the English dub whenever he's amused. In the manga it is written as "hyuk hyuk hyuk."
  • False Friend: Though he "betrays" Light and kills him in the end, this trope is Subverted; Ryuk makes it perfectly clear that he is fated to kill Light as soon as he meets him, and, as far as things go, he really is Light's friend for all intents and purposes. It's just that loyalty and emotional attachment traditionally doesn't come with the package when you're friends with a god of death. From Ryuk's point of view, killing Light once his usefulness was lived up is just the natural way of things. No hard feelings. His speech before killing Light in the anime can even have his actions considered a Mercy Kill - he didn't want to wait until Light died in prison, implying he still had a long time to live.
  • For the Evulz: Most of the bad things that happen in the series can be traced back to the fact Ryuk was bored and dropped the Death Note on Earth just to see who would pick it up and what they would do with it.
  • Food as Bribe: While he claims to be neutral in Light's plans, he will occasionally aid him if Light promises him apples as compensation, such as when he used him to search for all the cameras in his room or to write fake rules in the Death Note.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: In every adaptation, Ryuk's wings are some manner of evil. In the manga, he has black crow wings, while in the film adaptation he has leathery bat wings.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: He's the reason the notebook is on earth in the first place. Being a genuine Shinigami, Ryuk is a greater threat to humans than Light can ever be, but he's content to watch Light work and is otherwise uninvolved with his Evil Plan.
  • Greek Chorus: Serves as this a few times, notably his Inner Monologue eulogy for Soichiro.
  • The Grim Reaper: He is a god of death after all and he collects the remaining lifespan from other humans.
  • Guttural Growler: Has a very raspy and harsh voice to go along with his malevolent looking design.
  • 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.
  • The Hyena: His response to most situations is to let out an Evil Laugh .
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: He's a "triple A"; an Apple Addicted Asshole.
  • I Warned You: He really, really did. Just as promised, he kills Light in the end. Even as the latter begs for his life, Ryuk simply reminds him of what he said all those years ago... Though this is averted in the anime where he kills Light and the latter dies peacefully.
  • 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.
  • Instant Taste Addiction: He falls subject to this trope when he first tries "human world apples". For context, vegetation in the shinigami realm is all dried up, so a juicy fruit is unlike anything he has ever tasted before. He immediately forms an addiction to them, even going through withdrawal symptoms.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: Along with boredom, his main reason for setting off the events of the series.
  • It Amused Me: Ryuk drops his Death Note into the human world, setting off all the chaos that follows, just because he's bored.
  • 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. However this does not make him a pure Jerkass as he is shown to be quite friendly towards Light and other people who can communicate with him, though he would prefer to just enjoy the show from the sidelines.
  • Karma Houdini: Despite being the one responsible for the events of the story, nothing bad happens to him.
  • Keet: He's surprisingly energetic and cheery, despite appearances. Of course, the events of the series are the most fun he's had in centuries...
  • 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: He kills Light at the end of the series. Exaggerated in the manga and the second movie, where Light begs him to write the names of the Task Force in his Death Note, and Ryuk writes Light's name instead, then showing him.
  • Large Ham
    "The symptoms are STAAAAAAARTING!"
  • Laughably Evil: He sets the entire plot in motion because he's bored, but he's just so funny that it's practically impossible not to like him.
  • Lost Food Grievance: He doesn't like it when he's denied apples.
  • Man Behind the Man: He gave Light the Death Note, or rather, he arranged for someone to pick it up.
  • Mercy Kill: It's not outright confirmed, but the way he kills Light in the anime seems to suggest this is his intent. Light is clearly going to die one way or the other and if he somehow doesn't then he's going to prison, so Ryuk instead gives him a relatively quick and painless heart attack so he can go out with some dignity.
  • Monster Clown: His white face, dark blue lips, and constant smile evokes clown imagery, when in reality he's a ruthless god of death who views the deaths of thousands of people as entertainment.
  • Monster Roommate: He's a Shinigami, and he's bound to Light so long as he has the Death Note, and usually just chills out munching on apples when Light's at home.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Ryuk has a definitive row of razor sharp canines.
  • Mr. Exposition: It's through Ryuk that we learn the rules of the Death Note (since he's the one who wrote them down), as well as how the eyes of the Shinigami function and the deal humans can make for their eyes.
  • Mundane Utility: He uses his intangibility to poke around Light's room and find where the cameras and bugs are stashed after he suspects that L had his room tampered with.
  • Noble Demon: An honest demon, as he is fully straight with Light from the start that he's on nobody's side and will probably be the one to kill him in the end.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: He likes to get close to Light, especially when explaining the rules of the eye deal.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Ryuk acts like a goofball for the whole series, but his initial decision to throw a Death Note near Light Yagami, only because he wanted to have fun, is the reason why he becomes Kira, leading to the deaths of millions of people in the process. In a more concrete way, he finally uses his own Death Note at the end of the series to kill Light, as he promised in the first episode.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Ryuk conceals his knowledge of the rules of the notebook from Light in order to amuse himself.
  • Out of Focus: After the Time Skip, he isn't as prominent a character as he previously was, mainly due to him having to shadow Mikami instead of Light once the former became the Death Note's owner.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The whole series is him doing this. He watches disaster unfold with sheer delight, since it's entertaining. Instead of a big bucket of popcorn, however, he has apples. Many, many apples.
  • Perky Goth: He is dressed in a dark manner, with lots of black, belts and chains, but he's very energetic and excitable.
  • Perpetual Smiler: His default expression is that of a Cheshire Cat Grin, even when he's obviously upset or in pain.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Along with Matsuda, he provides most of the humor in the story.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: He's a nigh-immortal god of death that happens to like Nintendo games (since he asked Light to play Mario Golf with him, and, in an omake, asked for a silver Game Boy Advance SP).
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Ryuk is a god of death itself who sets everything off because he's bored.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: His character design (both the one they ultimately went with and the original Bishōnen one) evoke the image of a rockstar.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: His presence becomes significantly limited after L dies, and even more so after Mikami receives the notebook, though he does play an integral role in the final chapter.
  • Shooting Superman: When the bus-jacker tries shooting him in Episode 4. He's thoroughly amused by it, and proceeds to scare the shit out of the guy.
  • Slasher Smile: His literal default expression is a creepy grin on his face.
  • Snarky Nonhuman Sidekick: He is a god of death and Light's sidekick, and ninety percent of his dialogue consists of deadpan commentary.
  • The Sociopath: To the extent that he can be judged by human standards, Ryuk fits a great deal of the criteria. He sets the plot of the series in motion when he deliberately drops his Death Note into the human world just to see the results, and when Light himself acquires the notebook, he makes it clear that if he doesn't provide entertainment through continuing to cause carnage and mischief, his own death won't be far behind. Light himself is eager to oblige for his own reasons, but while Ryuk sometimes expresses surprise at the depths Light will sink to, it's always with amusement or appreciation, never condemnation. Throughout the series, Ryuk never quite reaches Light's level of active evil, and in fact often serves as comic relief, but his role as an amoral eager observer is never obscured. In the end, he makes good on his promise to kill Light when he outlives his entertainment value, and despite Light's pleas, shows not a trace of remorse in doing so.
  • So Proud of You: He tells Light he's proud of him at his high school graduation, in a bizarrely hilarious Pet the Dog moment.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Light directly uses him as part of his plan to flush the FBI agents out by putting a death precondition of a thug that he will freak out when seeing a terrifying monster, who is Ryuk after he unwittingly touches a Death Note page.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: He crashes at Light's place the entire time he remains bonded to Light through the Death Note. He spends most of his time lounging on the bed or couch and eating apples. Justified in that he is supposed to remain close to the human owner of the Death Note to encourage him to use it (not that Light needs any encouragement) and kill him when it's his time to die.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Apples.
  • Troll: He seems to enjoy messing with Light just for the sake of amusing himself.
  • The Unblinking: It seems he doesn't even have eyelids.
  • 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 SP for Christmas in an omake.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Light, 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!!)
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    "Hey Light, want to play some video games?"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Light may poke at each other often but they actually enjoy each other's company.
  • The Watson: Since he's constantly hanging around Light (and has to because of the Death Note bond), he is the one that Light explains all of his plans to, for the audience's benefit.
  • Wild Card: He makes it clear that he's not on Light's side or L's; he's on no one's side but his own.
  • You Can See Me?: He can only be seen by the current owner of the Death Note or by people who touch it. Asks this word for word, when one of Light's plans involves a criminal picking up a note written on paper of the Death Note and then freaks out upon seeing him.
  • 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 Usefulness: He doesn't kill Light because he's Entertainment Value. This is what he plans to do to Light when the latter's final days are up. He does so in the end when Near beats Light when his entertainment is pretty much over but in a less malicious way and becomes more of a Mercy Kill.
  • You Monster!: Downplayed; he does call Light worse than any Shinigami at one point and multiple times seems shocked at how far he'll go, but whenever he expresses this it's not out of condemnation.

    Teru Mikami/X-Kira
Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze (JP), Kirby Morrow (EN), Jordi Pons (Spain), Arturo Mercado Jr. (Latin America), Flávio Back (BR), Bruno Choel (FR)
Played by: Shugo Oshinari (TV drama)

A prosecutor who holds a view of morality more black-and-white than a zebra and penguin musical in the 1920s. Has even more of a flair for the dramatic than Light, if that's even believable, and worships Kira as the true God. Light provides him with Death Note both to use him as a diversion to pull attention away for himself as well as a co-conspirator.

  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • In the Relight specials, Light's meetings with him and Takada are moved to earlier than occurred originally.
    • In the TV drama, he's involved in the story from the start and meets Light much earlier.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In Light Up the New World, he was driven insane by Light's crazed, violent and murderous child son note , to the point he ended up killing him for fear of being killed himself. His Ax-Crazy personality is also largely omitted in the film.
  • Adapted Out: Of the first two live-action movies, though he does appear in the TV drama and in Death Note: Light Up the New World.
  • Amoral Attorney: Somewhat subverted; he works as a prosecutor during the day, but there are no hints that he acts like one of these, aside from Hanging Judge quirks.
  • Amnesiacs are Innocent: In the manga, he loses his memory after the Death Note is burned, but is in prison when this occurs and dies ten days later. On the other hand, he survives in the TV drama.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: While Mikami is a deranged fanatic, his final moments in the anime are extremely depressing. Firstly Light rejects knowing him, to say Mikami was heartbroken by this would be putting it lightly. Then he sees Light someone he sees as equal to a god shot multiple times and reduced to a crying bloody wreck on the floor. Throughout the finale Mikami looks on the verge of breaking into pieces and eventually he ends up stabbing himself in the heart with a pen just to buy Light some time and also because of how broken he is by this point, dying in complete agony. It's All for Nothing as Light is killed by Ryuk very soon after Mikami's death.
    • Mikami was just as deranged as Light if not more so, even so ultimately he's yet another victim of Light's manipulation just as Misa and Kiyomi were and in general it's sad to see someone who initially had genuinely good intentions to help his classmates end up a fanatical murder who died a horrible death at his own hands because his good ideals got warped into something very twisted after years of bullying and then was used as a weapon by Light who then threw him away to save his own skin.
  • All for Nothing: Kills himself in the anime so Light can escape the warehouse, Ryuk kills Light mere minutes after this.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Or more specifically, ascended Kira worshiper.
  • Ax-Crazy: By far, one of the most insane characters in the series. Say it with me: "DELETE." Some added scenes in Relight 2 makes this even worse.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Wears a suit almost all the time.
  • Badass Longcoat: Wears one exclusively when seen as an adult.
  • Beat It by Compulsion/Idiosyncrazy: Near uses this strategy with Mikami, who neatly and precisely writes a certain amount of names down in the Death Note per day, to calculate which pages of the notebook to replace and which to leave.
  • Bishōnen: Up until the Yellow Box scene, very much so.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: Even more so than Light. While Light falls into this after getting his hands on the Death Note, Mikami has always had it and getting the Death Note just made it a whole lot worse. Mikami's also a lot more extreme in his views than Light, seeing those who commit minor crimes or are simply lazy as equally deserving of Kira's retribution as murderers and rapists, a stance which even Light disapproves of.
  • Broken Pedestal: In the manga, Mikami loses his faith in Kira and outright tells Light he's no god after he claims he does not know Mikami, as well as Near's "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Bully Hunter: According to his Back Story, although his efforts always end up with him getting his arse kicked. He hasn't given it up completely, as in the present, he intervenes as an adult to a group of children picking on their classmate with a stern look.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: He's actually fairly intelligent compared to Misa, but his issue was that he was actually too proactive for his own good. He accidentally exposes a vulnerability in Light's plan that ends up costing the both of them.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Overlaps with Madness Mantra: "Delete. Delete. Delete."
  • Catchphrase: "Delete. Delete. Delete." And to a lesser extent: "GOD!!!"
  • Class Representative: In his Back Story.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Official color seems to be purple. Wardrobe tends towards black, white, and blood red.
  • Creature of Habit: He follows a daily schedule down to the minute. The fact that he broke from this schedule is what tipped Near off to Light's plan and ultimately resulted in Light's defeat.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He was ruthlessly bullied throughout his childhood, and he felt that his mother, the only person he had, didn't support his crusade or his ideals.
  • Deadly Upgrade: "Shinigami... I thank you for these eyes."
  • Death by Adaptation: His suicide in the anime means he doesn't live 10 days longer while imprisoned like in the manga.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Having Light yell at him and claim to not know who he is causes him to emit a soul-crushing groan. Seeing Light on the floor dying from gunshot wounds while whimpering like a dog in a pool of his own blood causes his mind to snap like a twig.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Commits suicide in the anime, while it's never fully answered how he dies in the manga.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Can be considered the Spear Counterpart of Misa.
  • The Dragon: "The Hand of Kira."
  • Driven to Suicide: At least, in the anime. In the credits scene, his body is apparently just left there to rot.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The emphasis here is on "eerie."
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: A notable subversion - as he sees his mother as someone who tolerates the bullies of the world rather than opposing them, he is ecstatic when she dies, taking it as a sign that God is looking out for him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: ”Delete. DELETE. DELETE!
  • Evil Is Petty: When it comes down to it, his entire motive for being evil is motivated purely because he was bullied at school.
  • Evil Overlord List: Subversion of item 5, in a darkly humorous manner. Apparently keeping the artifact that is the source of your power in your safety deposit box doesn't quite cut it.
  • Fatal Flaw: Predictability. Mikami is highly intelligent and fairly cunning on his own, but he also keeps to a schedule so precisely that his daily actions can be calculated down to the minute. Once the SPK catches on to him, they quickly cotton on to his schedule, making him incredibly easy to keep under surveillance at all times. And of course, the one time he breaks his usual schedule is ultimately what tips Near off to Light's plan.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: At one point, his killing spree extends to innocent people that commit such minor crimes as being lazy; even Light himself disapproves of him doing so.
  • Foil: His motivations are on paper the same as Light's except Mikami is a fanatic who honestly believes that he is making the world a better place by "deleting" evil people while Light's crusade is a thinly veiled excuse for him to assert his dominance onto the world.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Despite wearing glasses and trading his regular eyes for Shinigami Eyes, he's still not very compassionate.
  • Four Is Death: He is the fourth Kira. His office is number four.
  • Freak Out: At the end when he realizes that he's using the wrong Death Note.
  • Freudian Excuse: Subverted. His tragic past, while certainly traumatic, was nothing more than a particularly bad case of middle school bullying that he blew way out of proportion, making it quite clear that there was something wrong with him from the beginning. To further emphasize this, he's the only character in the entire series who gets a flashback sequence, reflecting his obsession with the supposed significance of these events.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Light recruited Mikami in search of a pair of Shinigami eyes who, unlike Misa, could act independently while adhering to his will. What ended up screwing the two over was that Mikami turned out to be too independent and similar to Light for his own good. He believed that he needed to act and kill Takada since he was under the impression that Light was unable to do so, and Light assumed Mikami would simply be an unquestioning servant. In the end, it was a lack of proper communication between the two that brought their downfall.
  • Gonk: From the Yellow Box scene onward he's barely recognizable as human.
  • Gorn: His bloody suicide in the anime, with High-Pressure Blood galore.
  • Harmful to Minors: He was around the same age as Light (when Light first got the Death Note) when after years of abuse he began to think the world would be better off without certain people in it. Then all the people he secretly wanted dead died, explaining why they are messed up in the same way.
  • Hello, Attorney!: A Bishōnen prosecutor? Yes, please!
  • Hates Their Parent: When his mother discouraged his Bully Hunter tendencies (out of genuine concern for him, notably), he came to resent her and wished for her to die. And then she did.
  • Hero Secret Service: Protects Light's cover of Kira being blown by taking over the Kira job.
  • Hollywood Hacking: In the manga it shows how Mikami uses his hacking skills to cover his tracks when sending messages to Takada.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: When people kept coincidentally dying around him he came to believe he possessed the power to delete evil, even before gaining those powers via the Death Note.
  • Informed Ability: While he's certainly shown to be smart, considering he has a successful career as a prosecutor and can keep up with Light's plans, he is not quite at the level of savants such as Light or Near. He often defaults to blind obedience to Light's instructions. Ironically, the one time he acts outside of Light's direct instructions is what leads to their undoing.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: He's frequently shown alone; in one scene in his introduction, he's drinking coffee by himself in the corner of the recreation yard.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: When he takes pleasure in his mother being killed in a car accident.
  • Knight Templar: Blinded by extreme ideals, zealous, devoted, and insane, even before he gets the Death Note. Most notably, he even targets lazy individuals who don't contribute directly to society, something that disturbed even Light, who believed that it was not the right time to do so.
  • Tautological Templar: When his mother scolded him for fighting bullies at school, Mikami declares her an enemy of justice, and when she and said bullies subsequently die in a car accident, he's ecstatic, taking it to mean that God was looking out for him. He takes Kira's mission even further than Light himself when he begins to kill reformed criminals and even lazy people.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: While he's nowhere near as socially adept as Light is, Mikami still has a career as a successful prosecutor and has the appearance of a handsome, withdrawn man.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: He will gladly kill hundreds, even thousands of evil people, if it means to rid the world of evil once and for all, so that supreme justice can rule.
  • Unequal Pairing: He is often shipped with Light, whom he literally worships.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In the anime he himself, rather than an omniscient narrator, narrates the flashbacks to his youth. He thus has an unfavorable view of his mother's advice to stop fighting against the bullies, whereas the manga's narrator noted that she was motivated by genuine concern for his welfare that was largely lost on him.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Played tragically straight.
  • Villainous Breakdown: So, so much. Especially towards the end.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Like Light was in the beginning, he only wants to delete evil. But in the enas his insanity grows, he just blindly kills whoever Light tells him to.

L and his allies

    L Lawliet 

    Nate River/Near 

Near (ニア;Nia) / Real Name: Nate River (ネイト=リバー;Neito Ribā)
"Keep all important information in your mind only."
Click here to see Near three years later, during the events of the One-Shot Special. 
Voiced by: Noriko Hidaka (JP), Cathy Weseluck (EN), Masumi Mitsuda (Spain), Bruno Coronel (Latin America), Charles Emmanuel (BR), Vincent De Bouard (FR)
Played by: Narushi Fukuda (film), Mio Yuki (TV drama)

"If you can't win the game, if you can't solve the puzzle, then you're nothing but a loser".

After L's death, he's the main antagonist of the series, but not the villain.

A detective presented as very similar to L. Characterized by the contrast of his mature conversation with his childlike playing with toys, he runs the SPK, a force from the USA specially designed to unmask Kira. He suspects Light to be Kira and periodically makes life difficult for him both unwittingly and wittingly- the former by reminding Light of L through the style of his speech and analytical skills and the latter by sowing seeds of doubt amongst the Task Force to make some of them suspect Light as well. He soon comes to suspect Mikami and Takada to have something to do with Kira as well.

In the Death Note One-Shot Special, which takes place three years after the end of the Kira case, Near is the main protagonist. In the other Death Note Special Chapter, which takes place ten years later, Near takes more of an interested spectator kind of role.

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the TV drama, he's involved from the start.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Far more benevolent in the TV drama (which, ironically, makes L a case of Adaptational Jerkass).
  • Always Someone Better: Mello felt that he was this to him. After coming out on top in the series finale, Minoru, ten years later, proves himself to be this to Near himself, soundly defeating him. However, this was because Minoru was uninterested in playing games with anyone and didn't even give Near an opportunity to play whereas Light was obsessed with proving his own superiority.
  • Ambiguously Evil: At first. With his Kubrick Stare, his robotic, stone-cold personality... it's hard to tell how good Near really is. However, much of his goal is to avenge his mentor L, and "How to Read" confirmed that he is a sensitive person.
  • Anti-Hero: Near is a morally ambiguous hero from the get-go, possibly more than L. Like L, he is more than willing to use morally questionable tactics to catch Kira. He's also very emotionally attenuated and robotic.
  • Arch-Enemy: He sees Kira / Light Yagami as one. After all, he is largely motivated by revenge.
  • Author Filibuster: His Shut Up, Hannibal! summation of Light is meant to be a reflection of writer Ohba's personal beliefs.
  • Badass Adorable: He's a lot more traditionally cute than L and just as cunning.
  • Badass Bookworm: He's cunning, intelligent, and clever.
  • Bat Deduction: In the anime, Near's eyes turn white and he has the clues he needs. The manga avoids this but does show his photographic memory and ability to watch and listen to a room full of TV sets showing as many different news items and taking them all in at once.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Theorized by Matsuda. In the end, he uses the Death Notes to find out which is the real and fake ones that he can trick Mikami into taking.
  • Bishōnen: In the Death Note One-Shot Special, he's a very attractive young man.
    • In the Special Chapter (now with 28 years-old), his hair is incredibly long. He has reached the point where some fans have confused him with a girl.
  • Brains and Brawn: The Brains to Mello's Brawn. It was Mello who took all the risks to inconvenience Kira, while Near was able to make his deductions based on the outcomes of Mello's actions.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Near loves playing with toys just as much as L loves sweets. He stacks dice and matchsticks just as L stacks milk-pots and sugar-cubes.
  • Cain and Abel: Both him and Mello were the successors of L. Near is the Abel to Mello's Cain.
  • Celibate Hero: Just like L, he was never interested in romantic relationships.
  • Character Tic: Near is always doing something with his hands. If he isn't playing with toys or stacking things, he's twirling his hair.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Looks like the c: emoticon, transposed onto a human being.
  • The Chessmaster: Just as good as L and can go toe-to-toe with Light and Mello.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He has odd gestures and a very unusual personality.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Though he rejects offhand the idea of "just shooting him" as dishonorable, he's still a cheater and Ohba suggests that that's why he survives. It is still argued on whether or not he used the notebook to control Mikami in the final confrontation.
  • Color Motif: Light Blue. Probably to show that he's still new to being L's Successor, L's color being dark blue.
  • Creepy Child: Played with. Near is 13 when he's first introduced and 17-18 by the end of the story, but he gives off Creepy Child vibes all the same.
  • Creepy Monotone: He speaks in a rather monotonous voice pitch.
  • Crosscast Role: In the TV drama, he's portrayed by actress Mio Yuki.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Like all successors, he's an orphan, making it likely he witnessed his family die, with apparently no remaining family that could have (or wanted to) adopt him, and was groomed from an extremely young age (likely being confronted with very graphic crime scene evidence during the process) to succeed the world's greatest detective, and actively being pushed to compete with his peers no matter the cost to his mental health. No pressure.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just like his mentor L, he is shown to have a dry sense of humor, stating that Light was "popular with the ladies."
  • Defective Detective: He has the minimal possible rank in the "Ability to Live Everyday life" part of his stats in "How to Read", in the slot that indicates a character's special talent or significant weakness.
  • Deuteragonist: After L's death, he's the opposing deuteragonist to Light.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: As with L, he doesn't wear shoes, though he at least puts socks on his feet (except for a couple of scenes in the manga).
  • Epic Fail: During one phone call Near is shown throwing a dart at a board that completely misses. A few scenes later and the viewer is given a top-down view of the dartboard showing a large pile of darts on the floor and none stuck into the board itself.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Toward the end, he points out that he doesn't believe in an absolute code of right and wrong, but doesn't like Kira killing people in the name of justice.
    • He also acknowledges that at least some of Kira's followers truly do believe in the cause he himself is fighting but voices a low opinion of people he sees as just taking the "Kira" flag as a personal excuse to make noise and cause mayhem.
    • He also doesn't see possessing the Death Note as being something evil or illegal in itself, instead considering that it's the actions people take with it that turn them into criminals. Which is why he doesn't actively pursue people holding a Death Note if they're not doing anything illegal with it.
  • Extreme Doormat: Even more so than L. He doesn't hunt Kira out of any moral obligation but just because it's what he's been trained to do—although his final showdown with Light might imply a personal touch considering he wears the L mask and makes it a point of how important Mello's contribution was with his miniature doll.
  • Final Boss: Of the entire series.
  • Foil: To Light Yagami. Like Light, he's incredibly smart, cunning, smug, and arrogant. The big difference is that while Light has social skills and is perfectly capable of socializing, Near absolutely lacks social skills.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: In the epilogue of the manga at least, in which he's seen eating a chocolate bar. It's thought he's doing it in memory of Mello.
    • Also, in the drama, he is fond of Watari's cakes, much in the same way L is in the anime/manga.
  • Graceful Loser: He accepts defeat with a soft smile at the end of the 2020 Special Chapter. Although it's also implied many times that he wasn't trying hard to solve the mystery since he believed there wasn't anything illegal happening.
  • Guile Hero: Outwits Kira.
  • The Hero: After L's death, he's the first in line to succeed L and the mastermind behind the S.P.K.
  • Hero Protagonist: In the Death Note One-Shot Special.
  • Hidden Depths: The How to Read volume suggests that he cut his ties with the outer world because he's really sensitive.
  • Identical Stranger: He and L could be mistaken for brothers given their similar appearances and quirks, but they aren't blood-related.
  • The Immune: In the Alternate Continuity film L: change the WorLd he is the only one to survive The Plague that afflicted his village.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Was a loner from the beginning.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While his partners don't always like working alongside him, they do agree with him and his plans, especially when he tells Light that he is nothing more than a serial killer.
  • Kirk Summation: He rejects Kira's ideals entirely, especially after confronting an implicated Light:
    Near: No. You're just a murderer, Light Yagami. And this notebook is the deadliest weapon in the history of mankind. If you had been a normal person and had used this notebook once out of curiosity, you would have been surprised and scared of what had happened, regretted what you had done, and never used this notebook again. To speak of extremes, I can actually understand those who would use this notebook for their personal interests and kill a couple of people, and even think that they're normal. But you yielded to the power of the notebook and the Shinigami and have confused yourself with a god. In the end, you're nothing more than a crazy Serial Killer. That's all you are. Nothing more... and nothing less.
  • Kubrick Stare: His default expression.
  • Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: So Light, you thought you'd gotten rid of L, huh? Say hi to his successors.
  • Light Is Good: Though not as morally questionable as Light himself, Near wears white pajamas, and his hair is white - white being the color of death in Japanese culture, though whether he knows this is debatable. It's not really delved into in the story, but How to Read suggests that he's cut himself off from the world because he's "overly sensitive".
  • Loners Are Freaks: Has closed himself off from the world, and seriously creeps Light out.
  • Looks Like Cesare: In the Death Note One-Shot Special, Near is shown to have sharp bags under his eyes, probably because he's The Insomniac (just like L).
  • Manchild: He's 17-18 in the post-time skip (21 in the post-series one shot and 28 in the second post-series one shot) and he's always seen playing with toys.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • His real name, Nate River, is supposed to symbolize how his talents flow from L like a river flows from Canada to Alaska.
    • Also, "Nate" (and not "Nathan") is a very close homonym to "night".
  • Messy Hair: Well, messy and somewhat wavy. Ten years later his hair not only is incredibly messy and wavy but also extremely long.
  • Mind Rape: Just look at chapters 103 and 104 of the manga.
  • Non-Action Guy: Unlike L, it is completely unknown if he can really know some kind of martial discipline (eg, L knows Capoeira), and his abilities come solely from his own deductions and intellect.
  • No Social Skills: Even more so than L, to the point where he is apparently unable to make his own travel arrangements. How To Read, the series encyclopedia, points out that this is a significant weakness, as he can only make full use of his brilliant mind when surrounded by support because his basic social and living skills are so bad.
  • Mirror Character: Near's like a more vengeful version of L. He's not above stooping to Kira's level of mind games and manipulative tactics. It's also teased that Near used the notebook to defeat Kira.
  • Offered the Crown: Given the title of L's successor by Mello in a fit of sour grapes before the latter storms off.
  • Oh, Crap!: His surprise to Light pulling out the last trick up his sleeve, the piece of the Note in his watch. His expression is clear in the manga, but remains absent in the anime.
  • Older Than They Look: Many assume he's ten or so by his appearance, behavior, and voice: he's 17 or 18 by the end. He looks about 15 three years after that and still looks like a teenager with long hair by the age of 28. He's even referred to as a "boy" by the President of the United States.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: He spent his entire appearance clothed in PJs, although in the anime this appears to have been changed to a PJ top and jeans.
  • Parental Abandonment: Like all the other Wammy's kids, he's an orphan.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite the fact that he doesn't express his emotions and tends to be cold and robotic, his loyalty and friendship towards L and Mello are unquestionable. In fact, he shows considerable respect for L, and that's the reason why his vendetta against Light is very personal.
  • Planning with Props: Uses his toys for this sometimes.
  • Politeness Judo: Very passive-aggressive.
  • Pragmatic Hero: He's willing to get his hands dirty even more than L, though not quite as much as Mello. If Matsuda's theory is correct, he even cheated to ensure his victory by writing in the Death Note that Mikami would avoid testing the false notebook he was given before arriving at the warehouse in his attempt to kill him and the rest of the SPK.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: More so than L.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Gives an epic one to Light at the end.
    • He also gives one to C-Kira which drives him to suicide.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Mello's red. While he and Mello are geniuses, Near's more calm and logical.
  • Rei Ayanami Expy: He has even poorer social skills than L and white hair.
  • The Smart Guy: Just like L, he's incredibly smart and calculating.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Extreme emphasis on "socially awkward."
  • Sole Survivor: In the Alternate Continuity film L: change the WorLd Near is not only orphaned but is the last survivor of his village. Also in canon, he is the only Wammy’s Kid to challenge Kira and survive.
  • Split Personality: Appears to have one in the live-action series.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: When L died, his disciples did their best to take over the job, eventually it was Near who took the codename L after Kira's death.
  • The Spock: Operates almost completely on logic, and is a brilliant strategist.
  • The Spook: Very little is known about his past.
  • The Stoic: Rarely, if ever, shows any emotion.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: As with L before him, he is shown to be thinking exactly the same thing as Light when planning out his strategy for defeating his opponent.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Quoting from the folks at IGN, "Near is the darker, colder, angrier version of L. L represented justice and Near represents vengeance."
  • Techno Wizard: Seems to have turned into one by the age of 28. Claiming he was working on a facial-recognition system for Shinigamis.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Look at him.
  • Tranquil Fury: He never loses his stoicism, even when he's annoyed.
  • Übermensch: As he put it, after Light responds to his withering complaint towards his personal character:
    "Nobody can tell what is right and what is wrong, what is righteous and what is evil. Even if there is a God and I had His teachings in front of me, I would think it through and decide if it was right and wrong myself. I'm no different to you. I believe in what I think is right, and believe that to be righteous. You are no god. And I find the whole idea of you setting the path for all the people to follow is neither peaceful nor righteous. And anybody who claims to be a god and kills people from left to right is neither peaceful nor righteous."
  • Unscrupulous Hero: At first, he's almost as bad as Mello, but in the bonus chapter (post-epilogue), he's a little bit more reasonable.
  • The Un-Smile: Sometimes he gives an extremely unnatural smile like looks like a living version of the "c:" emoticon, in a great contrast to L's When He Smiles moments.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: As "N".
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about L's successors without giving away the fact that L himself dies.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Quite literally. He gets a full list of his toys in the 'How To Read' book, complete with their price and how difficult they were to obtain.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Downplayed. Near has natural white hair and he's a morally ambiguous Anti-Hero.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • While at first he viewed Light as nothing more than a crazy mass-murderer, by the time of the epilogue he has come to view Kira in a better light, refusing to consider C-Kira as an equal to the original Kira.
    • He also came to respect A-Kira as an equal, or even better, for handling the selling of the Death Note so brilliantly to the point that he didn't want to find him to pull any charges but just to meet him in person.
  • You Monster!: A variation of this trope. In the Death Note One-Shot Special, he calls C-Kira an "abominable murderer."
  • Young and in Charge: Is still in his teens (and looks much younger) and heads the SPK, which consists of several experienced FBI agents.
  • Young Conqueror: Defeats Light at the age of 18.

    Mihael Keehl/Mello
"I wanna eliminate my competition. I will be the best. I don't care what it takes."
Later in the story (SPOILERS AHEAD) 
Voiced by: Nozomu Sasaki (JP), David Hurwitz (EN), Manuel Gimeno (Spain), Javier Olguín (Latin America), Marcos Souza (BR), Emmanuel Garijo (FR)
Played by: Mio Yuki (TV drama)

A handsome but dangerous young man with a massive inferiority complex. Briefly after the timeskip, having resigned himself to the fact that he cannot work with Near, he sets up a gang of Mafia members even Kira hasn't noticed who abduct the head of the Japanese police department from whom- following a spot of torture- he deduces that there are two Death Notes within the human world and vows to acquire both of them to stop Kira once and for all before Near does.

Besides being in the manga and anime, Mello also appears in the spin-off prequel novel, Another Note, where he acts as the narrator.

In stark contrast to Near and L, Mello is extremely dynamic and a ruthless mob boss, but just as brilliant as Near. Also, he likes chocolate.

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the TV drama, he's involved in the story from the start, due to being Near's Split Personality.
  • Adapted Out: Downplayed in the TV drama, as in that he doesn't actually exist aside from being Near's Demonic Dummy / Split Personality.
  • Affably Evil: While Mello does have severe problems with anger, he's genuinely charming and charismatic, and while he's ruthless he isn't a cruel person.
    • In particular, the way he speaks to Takada, and lets her cover up with a blanket when he makes her remove her clothes.
    • Also, the fact that he does genuinely care about Matt and views him as a friend as well as an assistant, and expresses genuine sorrow over Matt's death.
    • Even before that, he offers Sidoh some of his beloved chocolate.
    • He's very polite towards Soichiro as well and is genuinely sorrowful and remorseful when he's forced to cause Soichiro's death to save himself. Even to the point of saying "For what its worth I never wanted to kill you"
  • Agent Peacock: The aforementioned fur-lined coat and massive amount of leather makes him stand out, even among his Mafia subordinates.
  • Always Second Best: The reason for his rivalry with Near, he thinks Near is always better than him and hates it.
    • In the novel Another Note, Mello sympathizes with Beyond Birthday because of this.
  • Ambiguously Christian: He wears a rosary necklace note , as well as a matching bracelet, and crosses and even a Virgin Mary graphic appear on his clothes occasionally. He also has a crucifix on the wall, a little cross charm on his gun, and a small Marian shrine on the mantle in his personal living space. He also refers in Another Note to The Almighty. And when he dies, the rosary is seen going through the steering wheel, in a way that could pretty much only happen if Mello were touching the rosary beads, which is how they are meant to be used while reciting the Rosary prayer. This, and a real name Mihael Keehl that marks Mello as being possibly from a predominantly Catholic country or ethnic background, leads many fans to believe that he is a practicing Catholic. It would also be a plausible reason to fight against Kira besides besting Near, whom he technically gave the role of L's successor to in a fit of sour grapes. However, it is never actually confirmed In-Universe if Mello actually is a Catholic, or if he was one but is not anymore, or is one In Name Only, or if he's some other type of Christian (real or made-up) that's similar to Catholicism but isn't, or if he just thinks the crosses, and such look cool.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Particularly in his first manga appearance, where he had a rather androgynous figure and hairstyle, and wore pretty plain, gender-neutral clothing. And it took several pages for other characters to start referring to him as a male. Many readers assumed he was a woman. Backed by Obata, who described Mello's character design as "calm and feminine."
  • Anti-Villain: He's ruthless in his goal of taking down Kira, and is more interested in being the best than in serving justice. However, the author says Mello is "not purely evil", citing his reluctance to kill Yagami even when he was prepared to write Mello's name, and his sorrow at Matt's death. Lidner later suggests that he engineered his own death in order for Mikami to switch the notebooks and ultimately get Light caught, an interpretation the anime seems to favor. And he has the decency to let Takada cover herself with a blanket when stripping for him.
    • Possibly subverted. Another Note shows that Mello does have a great sense of justice, but it's primarily directed as rage toward Kira and those who stand in the way of it.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Just like L, Near and Light, he can follow potential situations and think of alternative routes to take.
  • Ax-Crazy: Because of his intense rivalry with Near and drive to get ahead, he does some seemingly-irrational (or at least extremely risky things).
  • The B Grade: He's the second-top scoring student at Wammy's House, but all that matters to him is that he's not the top scoring student.
  • Badass Baritone: In the anime, probably in an attempt to avert the viewers confusing him with a girl which ensued when the manga was released.
  • Badass Biker: Rides a cool motorcycle
  • Badass Bookworm: He's the second best student at a school for genii. He eats chocolate and blows stuff up.
  • Beta Test Baddie: Becomes a villain (or Anti-Villain, depending on your interpretation) because he can't handle being outranked by Near.
  • Bowdlerised: In the manga, Mello wears a rosary as a necklace, and he has a matching bracelet, a little cross charm on his gun, a crucifix and a small shrine to the Virgin Mary, and occasionally cross motifs on his clothes. note  In the anime, all of Mello's crosses are edited away, and the crucifix and shrine he has in his living space are never seen. Special mention goes to the rosary, where the crucifix is turned into a nondescript red stick charm.
    • Also, in the manga, he tends to lick his chocolate bars quite suggestively before actually biting into them. While he still eats chocolate bars in the anime, he doesn't lick them beforehand, especially not in that fashion.
  • Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Near's Brains. It was Mello who took all the risks to inconvenience Kira, while Near was able to make his deductions based on the outcomes of Mello's actions.
  • Byronic Hero: He's handsome, passionate, ruthless and very rebellious.
  • Cain and Abel: Both him and Near were the successors of L. Mello is the Cain to Near's Abel.
  • Celibate Hero: He doesn't seem particularly interested in the opposite sex. He's the only one of the mafia leaders not seen cuddling up with a girl, and he ignores a stark-naked Halle Lidner's attempts at flirting with him when he sneaks into her apartment.
  • The Chessmaster: Especially in his first couple of episodes.
  • Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: The creators say he plays this role to Matt, although it's probable that the reverse is also true.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Which arguably accounts for his effectiveness. Light seems to have trouble dealing with someone who refuses to play by the rules. Near, too—whilst knowing him well enough to keep track of him—does not anticipate his kidnapping of Kiyomi Takada or their subsequent fiery deaths.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: While L was a quiet, reserved man who could infiltrate a Japanese university, Mello is a loud, hot-blooded European. While L ate all sorts of sweets, Mello's Trademark Favorite Food is chocolate. While L employed a few petty crooks, Mello bent a mafia gang to his will. While L eventually died at Rem's hand, Mello took down Light with a Thanatos Gambit.
  • Creepy Doll: Appears as a ventriloquist's dummy in the live-action drama. It remains to be seen whether the dummy is merely a representation of Mello, or is Mello, or both, or neither...but either way it's creepy.
  • Cute and Psycho: He's a downright pretty young man with a borderline psychotic temperament.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Enlists the help of The Mafia in his quest to catch Kira...and becomes either its leader or second-in-command.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Like all successors, he's an orphan, making it likely he witnessed his family die, with apparently no remaining family that could have (or wanted to) adopt him, and was groomed from an extremely young age (likely being confronted with very graphic crime scene evidence during the process) to succeed the world's greatest detective, and actively being pushed to compete with his peers no matter the cost to his mental health. No pressure.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Not long after acquiring a large burn scar, he goes on a Suicide Mission that ends up leading to Kira's undoing—but not before Takada kills him.
  • Death by Pragmatism: He's the only one of Kira's opponents that doesn't "play by the rules" of Kira's game. Despite being smart enough to avoid it, he still ends up being killed by Takada anyway, not realizing that she had a scrap of the Death Note with her. Or did he?
  • Decapitation Presentation: At the tender age of 15, he presented Rod with the head of one of his biggest rivals. He also keeps skulls in his living space (and shows one of them off on a manga cover), though it's unknown if they are the heads of Mafia rivals he is keeping as trophies, or if they're fake and purely decorative.
  • Defective Detective: Mello is a very capable detective. He just happens to have a lot of personal issues, is all.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the Relight movies and the live-action drama series. The live action films excise him entirely, while the anime series cuts a few of his smarter plays.
  • Determinator: Does not give up easily, and works very hard.
  • Deuteragonist: After L's death, Mello and Near become the opposing deuteragonists to Light.
  • The Don: Rod Ross is the head of The Mafia, but he answers to Mello.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Eats chocolate with Sidoh, a Shinigami.
  • Dies Wide Open: Dies of a heart attack at the wheel of a truck, landing on the steering wheel with his eyes open.
  • Driven by Envy: Wants to catch Kira, not so much to be L's successor (and in fact technically gives up that role), but to be able to say he outdid Near for once—though vengeance also plays a part.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: He's often mistaken as a very flat-chested girl when readers or viewers first see him. At least until his survival of bombing the mafia hideout, then he gets more of a Face of a Thug
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: After finding out that Matt was killed.
  • Erotic Eating: Whenever he eats his chocolate.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He definitely cares about Matt, and expresses genuine sorrow when he founds out he was killed in a police shootout. He also admired L, which Near attributes much of his determination to, and Mello's statement that he doesn't underestimate revenge as a motive seems to back that up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: This is ultimately what gets him killed—he tells the kidnapped Kiyomi to strip naked so he can get rid of any tracking devices she has on her, but allows her to cover herself with a blanket while she removes her underwear to preserve her modesty, allowing her to palm the scrap of a page from the Death Note hidden in her bra without him seeing, and ultimately kill him with it. If he'd been just a bit more ruthless and inconsiderate, he might have lived.
  • Evil Brit: Downplayed. He was raised in Winchester, but it's as likely as not that he's actually from the UK.
  • Evil Virtues: Mello is intelligent, passionate, and works hard for everything.
  • Eyes Are Unbreakable: Although badly burnt on the entire left side of his face in an explosion, his left eye is apparently just fine.
  • Face of a Thug: His survival of bombing the mafia base had left his face horribly scarred, making him more menacing.
  • Foil: To Light Yagami. Like Light, he's incredibly stubborn, short-tempered, arrogant, childish, refuses to listen to others, is extremely passionate, very intelligent, good-looking, and is not afraid of performing unethical acts to carry out his plans. The big difference is that while Light pretends to be on the side of the law, Mello pretends to be on the side of The Mafia and uses it as a resource. Where Mello has a rebellious appearance, Light is always impeccably dressed. Just think of Mello as a more rebellious version of Light.
  • Fur and Loathing: He wears fur-lined jackets and his villain lair is decorated in zebra / tiger-stripe prints.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: Pretty much lives on chocolate, much like L and his cakes and candies. (And, like L, manages to stay thin in spite of his diet.)
  • Good is Not Nice: His tactics are quite ruthless.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gets a large facial scar from an explosion he caused.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Pretty much only wears leather.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Almost always portrayed this way with Matt by fandom (minus the Heterosexual part).
  • Hollywood Healing: Manages to recover from a third-degree burn in a matter of days, and goes across the country to demand his photo from Near like nothing happened. In Real Life, a burn like Mello's would take months to sufficiently recover from.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Sidoh, a Shinigami is scared of him.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Holds Sayu hostage, in order to get his hands on the notebook.
  • Hot-Blooded: Prone to emotional outbursts.
  • I Have Your Wife: A daughter variant. Says this pretty much word-for-word to Soichiro, in a bid to get the notebook.
  • Idiot Ball: Ohba says he needed to carry it because he ended up finding out too much about the notebook too early on, and if he'd been the one closing the case, much of the suspense would be gone. He believed Soichiro when he said Matsuda was the Second L despite Matsuda not being anywhere near intelligent enough, and when he made Takada strip to remove any weapons, phones, or tracking devices, he let Takada keep her underwear and cover herself with a blanket. Making Takada strip was a smart move, but only if she stripped all the way, so Mello brought about his own death at her hands. Not to mention that Mello also removed his helmet in her presence, despite being able to reasonably deduce that her boss, Kira, knew his name.note 
    • Also, How to Read: 13 reveals that the reason his hideout was found was because he left boxes of fancy imported chocolate lying around.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: In response to Halle Lidner showering in front of him and offering him a place to stay in a seductive manner, he instead points a gun at her, demanding her to bring him to SPK headquarters.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: The only friend he seems to have prior to leaving Wammy's is Matt. Even while at Wammy's, he's shown by himself a lot, though this may be because Matt was an afterthought on the part of the creator.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Wears lipstick in some of the colorized manga and nail polish, as well as form-fitting, midriff-baring leather clothes, and fur-and-feather-lined coats.
  • Mad Eye: Does this during his encounter with Sidoh, to the point where the God of Death is creeped out by him.
  • The Mafia: Mello leads one, having brought in the head of a mob boss at fifteen.
  • Man on Fire: Takada's involuntary suicide forces her to burn herself, and everything around her, including Mello's corpse.
  • Meaningful Name: His real name, Mihael Keehl. Mihael means "there is no one like God", or essentially, "I am at most second best". While he doesn't seem like the type to keel over, that's pretty much how he plays his own Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Motor Mouth: In his narration of Another Note, he's a bit long-winded at times. (In the series proper, he's not exactly quiet, but not a chatterbox either.)
  • Morality Pet: Matt. He's the only person whose death Mello expresses regret over. Also, to an extent, Soichiro Yagami. He didn't intend to kill him, but justifies it due to his alliance with Kira in using a Death Note against him.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: His last move is to kidnap Takada, before he was killed.
  • Narrator: In Another Note. Specifically, he's a First-Person Peripheral Narrator, as he was not present for or involved in any of the events he describes (L told him about it after the fact). It's his physical and temporal distance that allows him to muddy the waters in preparation for the twist at the climax. He also has elements of a Lemony Narrator, with the way he gives up on an arch narrative tone one paragraph in and mocks the reader for not expecting the aforementioned twist, and is a bit of a First-Person Smartass, occasionally snarking on Ryuzaki's and Naomi's dialogue.
  • Nerdy Bully: In his days at Wammy's House. He is seen punting a soccer ball at another boy's head at his first manga appearance, then tugging on yet another boy's hair as the kids go back inside from recess. Later, he becomes practically the head of a criminal organization.
  • Nominal Hero: Does want to bring Kira to justice, but more for the sake of besting Near and avenging L than for actual justice's sake.
  • Noodle Incident: Back at Wammy's, he got to meet L in person once. L tells him 3 stories: The LABB Murder Case (which Mello does share in Another Note), the story of how L bested Eraldo Coil and Deneuve in another Noodle Incident, the Great Detective Wars, and how L arrived at Wammy's. Mello chooses not to share how he met L, or how and why L came to tell him these stories, though he calls it his most valuable memory. (Nor does he share the Detective Wars story or the story of how L arrived at Wammy's.)
    • How he met and became friends with Matt.
      • Considering they were both raised at Wammy's, where they met seems clear. How they became friends can be speculated on, but the fact that Matt was third in line probably helped: he was smart enough to keep up with Mello, but not a threat to his rank due to his laziness. Their personalities seem to mesh quite well, too, as far as we can tell: Mello is ambitious and fiery, while Matt is far more calm and laid-back, and appears more than capable to take whatever Mello dishes out.
    • The aforementioned incident where Mello took down one of Rod's rivals and presented Rod with the head of said rival as proof.
    • How he lost his family and arrived at Wammy's house.
    • How he came to the US with little more than the clothes on his back.
    • Heck, Mello's entire existence seems to be either one big Noodle Incident or a string of them!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When he puts down the chocolate bar, it's a sign that he knows that he and Matt likely won't survive the mission he's planned out.
  • Only Friend: The only person he has anything even close to a functional, normal, and healthy relationship with is Matt, and it would seem that the reverse is also true.
  • Parental Abandonment: Somehow lost his parents and ended up at Wammy's House.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: When he briefly gets control of one of the notebooks.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He cites that he "doesn't underestimate revenge as a motive" as a reason that killing Chief Yagami would cause him more trouble than would be worth. Later on, Mello justifies his killing of Yagami because Yagami was prepared to use the Death Note against him.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Note that he loses this speech pattern after the explosion. It's possible that he affected it to blend in with the mafia, and, after the explosion, reverted to his regular way of speech because there was no need to maintain the act.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Particularly before the explosion, or when dealing with Near.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Near's blue. While Mello is a genius like Near is, Mello's more emotional and impulsive.
  • The Resenter: Is jealous of Near.
  • The Rival: Mello is Near's rival, and a bit more unhinged.
  • Satellite Character: To Near, in the drama. In the anime/manga series, he has one in the form of Matt.
  • Scars are Forever: After he blows up his base.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Does this in his first appearance, leaving Wammy's House at the age of 14.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Believes this.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Compare his clothes to Near's. Interestingly, after the explosion, Mello starts covering up a bit more... and also being more willing to cooperate with Near.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Views himself as this, and introduces himself as "the best dressed" in Another Note.
  • Shout-Out: In Another Note, he gives one to The Catcher in the Rye.
  • Sinister Sweet Tooth: Is addicted to chocolate, has allied himself with the Mafia, and has set up his own gang of kidnappers.
  • Slouch of Villainy: This guy can't even drive a car sitting straight.
  • The Social Expert: The one area where Mello is unequivocally more talented than Near and L put together is social skills. L and Near are both tolerated by their teams due to their genius, but Mello is capable of engendering loyalty if he bothers to try. He makes sure that the people who help him benefit from it, and Halle and Near himself both regard him postively despite him pointing a gun at their heads.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In Another Note, particularly.
  • Spanner in the Works: Near and Light planned a meeting to finally settle the score, but in a fit of I Know You Know I Know, Near's team tampered with a fake Death Note Light had Mikami plant ahead of time. Because Mello took action two days before their meeting that caused Light and Mikami both to kill the intermediary they relied on to communicate, Near and his team discovered the true hidden notebook and swapped it with their own faked copy.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He doesn't die in the TV drama due to being Near's split personality.
  • Split Personality: In the live-action drama, he is a split personality of Near, rather than a distinct entity.
  • Straight Edge Evil: If the viewer/reader considers him to be evil, that is. Unlike other members of the mafia which he leads, he never drinks, smokes, does drugs, or enjoys the company of women. Just eats chocolate.
    • As far as we know, anyway.
  • Teen Genius: He is from Wammy's House, after all.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He hates to acknowledge that practically speaking, he and Near are on the same side. He tries to avoid working with him because he'd rather best him, but if Near does go out of his way to help him, Mello will give him some help in return so as not to be in his debt— though likewise, if Near uses him, Mello has no problem turning the tables and using Near right back.
  • Technical Pacifist: If his reluctance to kill Mr. Yagami is anything to go by, he may be this.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Likely. His death ultimately engineers Light's downfall; the ambiguity lies in whether or not everything he did was intentional. However, Near's eyes not being in view while he says "Even if he didn't surpass me... Even if he didn't..." may hint at what he thinks about it.
    • Lidner certainly seems to believes so: the final time they called and she fed him information, he said the rather ominous last words, "Then I guess I'll have to do it." to her. After hanging up, he bowed his head, chocolate abandoned, and looked rather forlorn, with a similarly grim-looking Matt watching him. Near, however, dismisses this theory— Mello wasn't looking to help Near, Mello was looking to bag Kira himself by using Takada as bait, and had to act fast if he was going to beat Near. Still, it does illustrate more clearly the tragedy: Mello's methods were effective at generating evidence, and if he and Near had worked together, they might have had more control over the results.
  • Two-Faced: By the base he blew up while he was still inside.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Is hardly surprised by the idea of a killer notebook, and offers a Shinigami chocolate.
  • The Unfettered: Will do whatever it takes to beat Near and capture Kira.
  • Unknown Rival: Near actually isn't that interested in beating him and expresses no problems with working with him. Light's lucky that Mello isn't quite as open-minded.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: He carries a gun in the front of his pants.
  • Unreliable Narrator: He tells the story of Another Note. Because the clinical style of narration he started with bores him. Unreliable because he's very biased in favor of his idol, L, and states openly that he sympathizes with B. Also because he's telling a story that he's heard from L, who heard the details from Naomi, and is filling in a lot of blanks he couldn't possibly know.
    • Hell, as far as Another Note can take us, we don't even know if Mello is even alive.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about L's successors without giving away the fact that L himself dies.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: There are hints of this in the way he sympathizes with Beyond when telling Another Note.
  • Wild Card: This is spelled out more clearly in the manga, but what makes him so dangerous to Light is that Light can't predict his moves, and he spends a lot of time trying to kill him specifically for this reason. Light can usually figure out what L or Near are thinking and actually would have had Near and the SPK dead to rights, but because Mello is willing to go places and do things that L and Near won't, he can catch Light off guard and ferret out information that Near, who never leaves his headquarters, wouldn't otherwise be able to get.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Does this to everyone directly involved in the notebook exchange as well as his mole in the SPK. He had explosives planted in the Mafia headquarters for quite some time before the raid planned by Kira, which suggests he would eventually do the same with his Mafia allies after solving the Kira case.
  • Young and in Charge: Heads a Mafia crime syndicate while not yet out of his teens.

Special Chapter

    Minoru Tanaka/A-Kira

The main protagonist of Death Note Special Chapter, set nine years after Light Yagami's defeat and subsequent demise. Ryuk chooses him as the new owner of the Death Note at the beginning of the story, after learning he was the smartest middle schooler of Japan.

After learning its rules from Ryuk as well as the events of Death Note years ago, he decides to give up his ownership for another two years before promising him to use it, along with some apples. But not in a way one would expect.

  • Audience Surrogate: Unlike Light (who, from the get-go, is portrayed as inhumanly "perfect"), he is much more realistic, since he has his fair share of human flaws, talents, skills, and doesn't make irrationally stupid mistakes like Light's (justified, since in modern times, he could easily be captured with the great technology of law enforcement). He even died without using the notebook to kill someone. All these attributes make Minoru a character that the audience can easily relate to amongst all the Kiras.
  • Batman Gambit: Chooses to sell off the Death Note in an auction before having the winning bid spread across banks accounts all over Japan so it couldn't be traced back to him.
  • Bishōnen: He is drawn with a boyish face and wavy hair.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: When attempting to claim his money at the bank, he suffers a heart attack due to breaking the new rule written in all of the Death Notes.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Is much more of an Ordinary High-School Student than his predecessor due to lacking any of The Ace aspects he had before receiving the Death Note. Overall, he is what a more grounded version of a Teen Genius would be like. For instance, he has a measured IQ of 142, which is certainly very high, but not unheard of, contrasting the near-inhuman intellect of a savant such as Light. It is also noticeable that Minoru is a lot less ambitious and ego-driven than Light ever was, lacking his Complexity Addiction, and proves to be much more practical and mundane in his use of the Death Note.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: A more literal example than most others. The only reason Minoru dies in the end is due to the Shinigami King himself implementing a rule that Minoru broke retroactively and had no way of knowing it would be written in the first place.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Honestly, how was he supposed the know the Shinigami King himself would be pissed off enough to directly get involved?!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Unlike his predecessor, Minoru just straight up dies without any climactic significance and without anyone ever knowing how or why he died.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: When he auctions off the Death Note, he has the money divided among everyone with a Yotsuba Bank of Japan savings account under the age of 60. This is an acceptable sacrifice to protect his anonymity, since he's still going to get 1 billion yen anyways. At least until the Shinigami King writes a new rule that kills him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Ryuk first met him, Minoru admitted that his high I.Q. didn't translate to anything practical, establishing his humbleness and wish to genuinely do something productive with his life.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Death Note would have very nearly had its first genuinely happy ending if not for a last-minute interference. Minoru's master plan is executed without any setbacks or deaths, effectively giving Light's opponents nothing to exploit and yet he dies anyway due to the Shinigami King getting angry and suddenly making up a new rule when it was too late for him to change his plans.
  • Foil:
    • To Light Yagami — all the way. The fact that both are killed by Ryuk certainly cements this status. In terms of sheer intellect, Minoru lacks The Ace aspects of Light, being unable to translate his intelligence into his academics while Light excelled at everything he put his mind to. However, in many ways, the entire purpose of his character seems to be an answer to everything Light aspired to be throughout the course of the series: careful, meticulous, cunning, successful, and altruistic. Ironically, in his short period, he achieved what Light could never achieve: defeat Near and being praised for thousands of people in his country. Another purpose of his character seems to be an answer to all the praise that Light has received by fans for more than ten years and to everything his archetype represents, letting Minoru himself to carry out much more cunning and altruistic plans for his country. All these attributes show that, by the end of the day, Minoru is a far better person than Light, which is cruelly ironic considering that Minoru did not seek to be praised and ended up being much more praised and loved than Light himself. One wonders what Light himself would think if he saw that another Kira managed to be much more loved than he ever tried to be...
    • He's also one to Kyosuke Higuchi, as both had average intelligence and used the Death Note for personal gain. A difference being that Higuchi was willing to kill people to maintain his power and his greed caused him to make dumb decisions. Minoru on the other hand doesn't kill anyone, is willing to share the wealth he gained with a sizable portion of Japan's populace and manages to keep a cool head long enough to ultimately cause Near to throw in the towel.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In a way he could never have seen coming. After giving up the Death Note and telling Ryuk never to appear before him again, the rules are changed by the Shinigami King so that anyone buying or selling a Death Note will die upon collection of payment. Because he told Ryuk to never appear before him again, Ryuk is unable to warn him not to collect his payment resulting in Minoru's death.
  • Irony: Who could have guessed that a Kira motivated by money would be infinitely more noble than a Kira motivated by justice?
  • Meaningful Name: Depending on the kanji, "Minoru" can mean "growth", "maturity", "kindness" or "success". Minoru learns from Kira's mistakes, shows strength of character, means well and manages to beat Near while making himself filthy rich.
  • Nice Guy: He's incredibly sweet, kind and friendly, which is quite impressive coming from Light's successor.
  • Odd Name Out: Together with Kiyomi Takada, he's the only character in the entire series to have a name you would find in real life.
  • Only Sane Man: Easily the sanest, most normal Kira to date, which is quite impressive considering the sheer amount of Ax-Crazy people that have been Kiras.
  • Shadow Archetype: Minoru can be considered what Light would have been if he was driven by the ideals he kept saying he embodied instead of his pride and ego in reality.
  • Superior Successor: In terms of sheer intellect, Minoru is actually inferior to Light, being unable to translate his intelligence into his academics while Light excelled at everything he put his mind to. However, what separates Minoru from Light is his wisdom, not allowing his ego to get in his way and remained anonymous while Light practically demanded he be recognized. Light constantly wanted to prove his dominance to the world while Minoru had the foresight to make a quick and clean profit and quit while he was ahead. There's also the fact that Minoru manages to outwit Near, the one responsible for Light's defeat. In the end, he succeeds in all of his objectives and would have completely gotten away with it if not for a Diabolus ex Machina.
  • Teen Genius: He's just as clever as Light and far more level-headed to boot.
  • Too Clever by Half: Learning from Light's downfall in the original story Minoru goes through extreme lengths to prevent any paper trail from forming that can link him to being the new Kira. And he almost gets away with it, but it turns out cutting off any further contact with Ryuk was his one fatal mistake. He pissed off the Shinigami King by turning the Death Note, a literal divine tool of death, into a farce to turn a profit. And as mentioned above in Hoist by Their Own Petard, had Minoru not cut off Ryuk, he would have had a complete victory.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Due to never using the Death Note, Minoru never succumbs to its corrupting influence and his plans don't leave any victims. He ends up dead anyway.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After two years that Ryuk went to visit him, Minoru went from a scared child to exceptionally analytical and cunning.
  • Worthy Opponent: Near acknowledges him as this, seeing how his plan wasn't to commit mass murder or become a god, but to simply turn a profit at the expense of a country that could afford the loss. Near eventually admits defeat when he sees how thoroughly the new Kira's tracks were covered.

Alternative Title(s): Death Note Secondary Characters, Death Note Near