Death Note

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"The human whose name is written in this notebook shall die."
Rule #1 of the Death Note

In the land of the dead, the Shinigami Ryuk—bored out of his mind—attempts to create some entertainment by dropping a Death Note (a death god's notebook; "note" is simply what the Japanese call notebooks) into the human world.

In Japan, perfect student Light Yagami grows disgusted with the rest of the human race. One day, as he heads home from school, he finds a black notebook on the ground with the words "Death Note" written on the front cover, even though he takes its existence as a joke, Light takes the Death Note home anyway. Later that afternoon, Light decides to give the Death Note a try: as he watches a news report about a criminal holding schoolchildren hostage, Light writes the criminal's name in the notebook.

Forty seconds later, the criminal dies of a heart attack.

At first, the powers of the Death Note terrify Light, but a realization hits him: he can use the powers of the Death Note to turn the world into a better place by "weeding out" all of its bad elements—at least, that's how he explains things to Ryuk, who has decided to keep a personal eye on the wielder of his Death Note.

As Light puts his plan into action (with Ryuk observing by his side), the sudden rash of criminal deaths—credited to "Kira", an Engrish pronunciation of "Killer"—throws INTERPOL into a frenzy. Given no other choice, INTERPOL accepts the aid of a master detective known only as L, a young man with a mountain-sized sweet tooth, a bad case of insomnia, and incredible deductive abilities. L's involvement presents an unusual problem for Light: the Death Note requires its user to write a victim's real name down in order to kill them, and since nobody knows L's real name, Light can't use the Death Note to kill him.

After L reveals his involvement with the Kira investigation, Light and L enter into a cat-and-mouse game as Light keeps trying to find a way to dispose of L while keeping the authorities from finding solid proof of his work as Kira. More Death Notes fall into the mix and criminals apparently keep dying by Kira's hand, which all serves to help sum up Ryuk's assessment of the situation: "Humans are so interesting!"

Death Note began as a manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata; it received an anime adaptation and inspired a series of Alternate Continuity live-action films (all based on, but slightly different from, the original manga).

This series has a set of character sheets and an extensive set of Headscratcher pages.

These spin offs of the main series now have their own pages:


Tropes used in Death Note include:
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The finale takes place in one.
  • The Abridged Series: Death Note Abridged. TEN of them, actually, only in the page.
  • Action Girl: Wedy. Naomi Misora in Another Note. Also, Hal Lidner of the SPK.
  • Actually, I Am Him: L. Light also pulls this a few times, most notably, and with the worst sense of timing, at the end.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plothole: The anime omits several scenes from the manga, which while usually not problematic, have lead to plotholes. In the manga, it's explained that SPK member Ill Ratt is actually a spy for Mello, which is how the mafia learned the SPK's names and were able to kill them. This is not explained in the anime, but in the Relight 2 special, the mafia are cut, and Light blackmails the president to send their names to Kiyomi Takada. In this version, Light's meetings with her and Teru Mikami are moved to earlier than occurred in the anime, and they kill the SPK.
    • However, while fixing one plothole, said special creates another: as the mafia are cut, Soichiro making the trade for Shinigami Eyes and his subsequent death is omitted in the process, leaving plotholes regarding Soichiro's absence as well as how Light was able to acquire Mello's true name.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Live Action Adaptation streamlines the series a lot in order to fit the entire story into two movies, and in doing so jettisoned a fair amount of the excessive plot-and-counterplot (-and-countercounterplot-and-countercountercounterplot...) that made the struggle between L and Kira look less like a series of carefully played Xanatos Gambits and more like Xanatos Roulette. Particularly by removing entirely the matter of L's Heirs Near and Mello.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Misa has black hair in the live-action movies, while Naomi Misora goes from having black hair to brown hair.
    • And then there's Matt, whose hair came out dark greenish brown in the anime, was never established in the manga, was blue in the official game, and is bright red in most Fan Art.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The series is based on a short story about a schoolboy who finds a Death Note and mistakes it for a diary. As a result, he accidentally kills his friends, until Ryuk helpfully gives him "The Death Eraser", which grants him the power to bring people back from the dead. Somewhere along the road to adapting it into a full series, the schoolboy became a mega genius with a god complex, the boring Film Noirish detective became a freakish mega genius with a sweet tooth, and the Deus Ex Machina ending was replaced with Xanatos Gambits by the bucket-load, and the rest is history. The short story, however, appears as the prologue to the manga it sprouted.
  • Adrenaline Time
  • Adult Fear
    • Look at the way Light exploits the public mood. All along, he plays on a reactionary tendency in public opinion—people don't like crime, people don't like criminals, and so if someone's killing off the worst ones, who's really going to disapprove? And then he pushes the envelope, making his brand of vigilante justice more and more mainstream. Five years on, the whole world is rapidly moving towards a police state under one man's control, and it's driven from the beginning by corrupting people's need for safety and justice. That's scary, because that mechanism plays out in less extreme form in the news every day.
    • Powerful rich people like those of the Yotsuba corporation using the Death Note to kill off rivals for no other reason than personal gain.
    • How about this, parents? Light finds the dangerous notebook in the schoolyard. And the guy who left it lying around so that someone - here, Light - would find it? He followed Light home.
    • Another one for the parents: imagine having to seriously sit and consider that all the evidence indicates that your teenage son is the terrifyingly merciless mass-murderer you've been hunting all along, and that he will get the death penalty if sentenced. Now imagine thinking about having to go home and explain this to your wife and daughter.
    • The revelation that people who use the notebook can neither go to heaven or hell. At the end of the manga series, a flashback to Light and Ryuk's first meeting reveals that all people go to "mu" (nothingness) when they die and that, after death, nothing can be done to bring someone back to life. In the anime, this is only shown in one of the eyecatches revealing the rules of the Death Note.
    • Everyone who uses the Death Note tends to have their personal worst fears become true. Misa ends up completely alone without anyone loving her, Mikami realizes he became what he hates so much, the vain Takada burns to death naked, Higuchi is humiliated in public and then dies like a dog and "god of the new world" Light has his philosophy coldly rejected by Near while the latter squashes an ugly doll of him and dies without his dignity and or a shred of respect.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Sanabi in the live-action movie.
  • All According to Plan: Kira is quite fond of this phrase. L is, too.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Light starts by punishing the worst criminals but later stoops to culling purse snatchers.
    • Both L and Near direct this principle towards Kira himself and refuse to acknowledge him as a hero.
      • Justified given the above.
    • Mikami plans to start killing people for "crimes" such as laziness and being disrespectful. How Japanese of him.
  • All Deaths Final
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Played 100% straight with Sayu, Misa and Light, and later with Kiyomi Takada and Light.
    • Averted by Raye and Misora, who did genuinely love each other.
      • Also Soichiro and Sachiko, and Aizawa and his wife Eriko.
  • All There in the Manual: In the manga, you have no idea what happens to Misa Amane unless you read the supplementary book, "How To Read". Averted in the movies and in the anime.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Happens to Naomi Misora in the manga/anime AND in the prequel novel.
    • Towards the end of the series, Aizawa gets this feeling when he drives Light to Takada's hotel.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: Kira, L, Light, Mello, Near ...
  • Alternate Character Reading: The kanji for Light's name is "tsuki", meaning "Moon", but his parents opted for it to be read as "Light" (pronounced, in the Japanese version of the anime, as "Raito") instead. Misa, at least, thinks it's cool.
    • This is actually used by Light as a mechanism to attempt to gain the real name of Detective Raye Penber's girlfriend.
  • Always Save the Girl: Played straight with Sayu. Rem forces Light to do this for Misa. Averted hard with Takada and with Shiori in the live-action movie.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: L and his similarly brilliant/socially awkward/obsessive-compulsive/emotionally immature brethren, especially Near.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Averted in Light's Memory Gambit in the anime. In relinquishing the Death Note, he loses all memory of ever being Kira and turns genuinely upstanding and moral; apart from, you know, not mass murdering criminals, he also refuses to manipulate Misa, in contrast to his Kira self where his manipulation practically defined their entire relationship. Upon regaining his memories as Kira, however, there's no apparent moral conflict between his "good/evil" personas, and he simply picks up right where he left off as Kira.
  • Amnesiac Liar: Of course, before the Memory Gambit, both Light and Misa are liars. After this, they are very confused by what L tells them about the situation.
  • Amnesiacs Are Innocent: Light
  • Amoral Attorney: Subverted with Mikami Teru. He's very moral, technically, he's just an Axe Crazy Knight Templar.
  • And I Must Scream: Experienced by Naomi Misora the moment she realizes Light is Kira and the Death Note takes effect.
  • Animation Bump: Various episodes, notably episode 25 and episode 37.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: In the anime, Light even goes so far as to hallucinate L sitting next to him and talking to him. Or, well, mouthing words in his direction.
  • Anyone Can Die: Seriously, all bets are off.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Misa kisses L on the cheek.
    • Averted, when Light kisses Misa on the lips.
  • Apathetic Citizens: In the anime, Light's second victim was about to rape a woman in full view of a crowded street, and no one else seemed likely to do anything about it. Other instances include a man dying in a subway station and a woman being harassed on a train.
  • Appeal to Audacity: When Mello tells Near about the killing notebook and the Shinigami, the SPK asks Near if he could really believe such a story. He says that if Mello were lying to them, he wouldn't tell such a ridiculous story, so it must be true.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Various characters initially refuse to accept the existence of Shinigami even after accepting the existence of a magic notebook that kills people. And even before discovering the notebook, you would think people would be a lot more open-minded after it's been established that the killer can remotely induce heart attacks simply by learning the target's name and face.
  • Arch Enemy: Light and L; Light and Mello; and Light and Near.
    • Let's not forget Near and Mello.
      • Near and Mello are more competing WellDoneSonGuys to the extreme. They'll fuck anyone over as pawns, Mello more likely to than Near because of the type of company he keeps, but in the end Near even says he needed Mello to take Light down, and Mello was only killed off because the writer thought he was more intelligent than the other characters.
  • Arc Number: Four Is Death. The manga has 108 chapters. Thirteen chapters in Another Note.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Tell me, Light, from the moment you were born, has there ever been a time where you've actually told the truth?"
  • Art Evolution: In How To Read Obata discusses how he got better at drawing Light as an evil bastard as the series progressed but then had to forget everything he'd learned during the Yotsuba Arc.
  • Artifact of Death, Artifact of Doom: The Death Notes.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The FBI Agents all have names that few Americans would have. Raye Penber is the one that is the most arguably normal, and even that tends to raise eyebrows. In Death Note #13 (which is basically an encyclopedia about the series), the creator says this was intentional, as she wanted to use names that sounded realistic, but wouldn't actually exist. Apparently, she doesn't know that the names s/he picked don't sound realistic in the least...
    • This is even worse in the prequel novel, where it broke the tension in the worst way possible, especially when Misora had to double-check whether anyone shared the name. In fact, the only realistic name in the novel is Blackberry Brown—considering names such as Believe Bridesmaid, Backyard Bottomslash, Quarter Queen and Blues-harp Babysplit (that's S-P-L-I-T, which makes even less sense), "Blackberry Brown" really does sound normal in comparison.
  • Asshole Victim: All of Light's earliest victims are Anviliciously so. (The Attempted Rape in clear view on a crowded street comes to mind. And keep in mind that the guy who was holding a preschool hostage was stated to be a small fry compared to most of the people Light was killing that first week.) However, later, fewer and fewer of them.
  • Attempted Rape: Light's second kill was a member of a scooter gang who was attempting to rape a bystander (in the anime; in the manga, they just harass her).
      • Mikami Takada kills a man who is harassing a woman on a subway, as a crucial part of Light's plan.
  • Attention Whore: Demegawa goes from merely praising Kira to actively using Kira to promote his own career. To no one's surprises, and to the joy of everyone both in and out of universe, Kira (in the form of Mikami) eventually gets sick of this and kills him.
  • Awful Truth: Light is Kira, and no one who finds out takes it well. Especially not Matsuda.
  • Ax Crazy: Pretty much all the Kiras qualify when they're at their worst, but especially Mikami when he gets into "sakujo" mode.
  • Backhanded Apology: at the culmination of Light's memory gambit, he has manipulated events so that not only do Light and Misa look innocent but then in order to maintain good standing with the police L has to apologize to Light, which he does. This trope comes into play when he arguably gets even later during the infamous rooftop scene where he insists "let me atone for this" with a painful "foot massage."
  • Badass Mustache: Soichiro Yagami. (Except in the movie.)
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Misa and Mikami believe this. Misa once scolds Demegawa with something along the lines of, "You can't buy peace and love with money, you know!" when he falls for Near's trick with the money.
    • Matsuda struggles with this idea a bit.
    • Sochiro begins to believe this from the third volume onwards. L's response underlines it very well.

L: If Kira is an ordinary human being who somehow gained the power, he is a very unfortunate being.

  • Bad Powers, Bad People: L and the investigation team definitely believe this.
  • Bait and Switch Gunshot: The mock execution
  • Baka: "Matsuda no baka!" ("Matsuda, you idiot!")
    • Light calls Misa this a few times as well, mostly in internal dialogue.
  • Batman Gambit: When Light is incarcerated and loses his memory. He made elaborate plans that had to work correctly despite him not being able to make any adjustments for two or three months, or even make sure he carried out his part. In this, it's more impressive than a standard Batman gambit, since he wasn't able to actively manipulate anyone during that period. It doesn't count as a Xanatos Gambit because, while the plan was flexible, several aspects relied on people acting predictably.
    • Light and L do this almost constantly, especially early on. Many of their most clever moves against each other rely on the other party being smart enough to figure out clues that the average person wouldn't even consider, then acting accordingly.
  • Battle Butler: Watari.
  • Battle of Wits
  • Being Watched: Okay, there are 64 surveillance cameras hidden in your bedroom alone... now act normal.....
    • And how does Light pretend to act normal? Looks at porn. How does he find it? "Ugh, this is so boring."
    • Later, L does this to Light and Misa 24-7: Misa complains about it briefly.
  • Berserk Button: Ties into Beware the Nice Ones below: do not insult Soichiro Yagami's memory in front of Matsuda.
    • It's also not a good idea to ever suggest that what Light/Kira is doing may be wrong. Look at how big he writes Lind L. Tailor's name!
    • Light learns what Misa's Berserk Button is when he outlines his plan to date other girls to throw off suspicion. "NO WAY!" indeed.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: On learning that Light is Kira and seeing him try to write down Near's name, Matsuda, who was by far the softest policeman in the series, flies into such a rage that he shoots Light to stop him, but it almost went to the point where nearly finishes him off.
    • Misa herself embodies this trope. That cute, cheerful girl over there? Don't mess with her.
  • Beware the Superman
  • Big Bad: Light. He just also happens to be the protagonist.
    • Big Bad Friend: At one point, L says he would be disappointed if Light turned out to be Kira, because Light is one of the best friends he's ever had.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: "It is important to teach our children that Kira is good."
  • Big Damn Villains: B.B. is one of Kira's judgments.
  • Big Eater: L is almost constantly eating candy and sweets, yet stays in excellent shape a state of gaunt sickly malnourishment. In the manga, he explains that his overactive brain uses up all the calories, while in the anime he claims that "if you do it right" you can eat whatever you want, effectively outsmarting his food. Mello also seems to gobble down chocolate bars and stay rakishly thin.
  • Big Fancy House: The Wammy's House.
  • Bishonen: Light, in a straight example. L's also perhaps a good example. There's also Mikami (who even has long hair), Mello, Matsuda, Raye Penber, Gevanni, Near, Namikawa, and Midou.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending is one of these because Light's defeat cost the lives of most of the people investigating him.
  • Black and Grey Morality: L, a detective who takes on cases because they're interesting and who is all too willing to use coldly ruthless tactics to win, goes up against Light Yagami, a serial killer acting as an avenging god on a mission to smite the world of all its sinners. It's arguably a matter of scale; Light is willing to kill those who oppose him (in the name of a better world, of course), regardless of their innocence (and to gloat about it, too); he is also willing to kill those of his supporters who fail him, and those whom he no longer needs. L, who had called Light's murder spree "unforgivable," is not willing to go to such extremes, although he was willing to let the Yotsuba Group's victims die for evidence against them and to have Misa tortured (in the name of catching Kira, of course).
    • Whether Near and Mello fit this or Evil Versus Evil is another arguable matter. Mello is a ruthless mob boss willing to kill his underlings and those opposed to him, such as the SPK, and also to threaten innocents, like Sayu Yagami, with murder. Word of God has stated that Near is the "more evil" of the pair. So make what you will of their battles with Light and each other.
      • Made even more ambiguous as crime rises back to the level it had before Light entered the picture.
      • This is more a matter of a perspective - previously Kira had monopolized murder. It just didn't show in the criminal statistics.
  • Black and White Morality: How Light and his supporters view the world.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Fanasonic."
    • The anime also gives us the search engine "Gentle."
    • And the array of computer hardware that was very close to perfect reproductions of contemporary Apple hardware... except for the logo.
    • Averted with Smith & Wesson, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and probably others.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Slightly subverted, as Matsuda shoots his hand rather than the object; his target is also bleeding profusely.
    • Also Watari when he shoots a pistol out of Higuchi's hand to keep him from killing himself.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Mello, Mafia terrorist extraordinaire in his debut, described as having brought in the head of a mob boss to join the group, all while he was still in his teens.
  • Blood From the Mouth: In the anime, Namikawa, during the Yotsuba Group's mass heart attack.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Whoever wrote out the rules that the Shinigami live by believed that killing a human out of necessity, boredom, or malice was 100% acceptable, but to kill a human to extend another human's life out of love for that human was the ultimate offense, worthy only of death.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: L tries this frequently with Light; later, L, Light, Misa, and the task force do this to Higuchi.
  • Board to Death
  • Bond Creatures: The Shinigami in the sense that they grant humans powers and may reject (i.e. kill) a human if they don't like them.
  • Book and Switch
  • Book'Em Danno: Light volunteers for this as part of his plans.
  • Bowdlerise: In the anime, Misa's cross necklace is replaced with a fleur de lis, and all crosses worn by Mello are removed. Interestingly, the cross is retained on the Misa collector's figure included with volume 5 of the DVD series, and she is also depicted with it in the first anime opening.
  • A Boy and His X: A Boy and his Shinigami.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Sayu.
    • This is part of the backstories of both Misa and Mikami.
    • Matsuda is a nice and naive person who has his self esteem and ideals destroyed over the course of the series.
  • Break the Haughty: Light, can't you keep it together for two more damned seconds?
    • And of course the instant classic: "I'm going to...die?...No!! I DON'T WANNA DIEEE!!!!"
    • Also gets done to Kiyomi Takada in her final moments, which she spends crying and terrified.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the manga, Ryuk: "It's like living in a sitcom!"
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: The busjacking is a subversion. "If he were Kira he could just kill this guy with a heart attack."
    • Specifically, Light is exploiting this trope to deflect suspicion. And to learn the name of the man tailing him. He's good.
  • Bully Hunter: Teru Mikami, as a kid.
  • Bullying a Dragon: L's main tactic to reveal Light as Kira seems to be to just keep annoying him until he slips up...
    • Near has no problems with this strategy.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: L writ large: he is the world's greatest detective (in fact, he's three of them), despite being a teenager who almost never sleeps, constantly eats sweets, and will only "sit" by crouching on the balls of his feet. Later, Near is almost as bad, equaling L's deductive abilities while spending almost all his on-screen time sitting on the floor and playing with toys.
  • Burning Building Rescue: A skeptical Light tests the titular notebook on a criminal holding the children in a nursery school hostage.
  • Butt Monkey: Matsuda
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: Only those who have touched the Notes can see the Shinigami.
  • Can You Hear Me Now?
  • Cape Busters: The anti-Kira Taskforce.
  • Captain Obvious: Of the Admiral Akbar kind. "Trap! This is a trap!"

Ryuk: The F.B.I agents aren't criminals.

  • Cassandra Truth: In the manga, when the killings started, various tabloids put forward the Crackpot Theory that L was Kira, so it was harder for the SPK to seriously put this theory forward when it became true.
  • Cast From Lifespan: The Shinigami eye-trade deal, which gives a human the power to see anyone's name and lifespan, at the cost of half of their own time left.
  • Catch Phrase: Ryuk's "Humans are... interesting!" ("Ningen-to omoshiro!"), appears at least twice in every version of the story—the manga, the film adaptations, the TV series. Also, variations on "I am Justice" crop up a lot. Teru Mikami also says "sakujo!" ("Delete!") constantly while he is using the Death Note. He seems to get very excited while writing in the Death Note. Fans have called this a "sakujo-gasm".
    • Rem makes a variant on Ryuk's statement later on. Instead of "Humans are... interesting!" she decides that "Humans are ... such ugly creatures."
    • Let's not forget Light's "I will be the God of this new world!" ("Boku wa Shin-sekai no Kami da!")
    • "Just as planned."
      • And conversely, (with a screenshot of him smiling upside down) "Not as planned".
  • Cavalier Consumption: L seems like he's doing this, but it's actually necessary to maintain his energy and intelligence.
  • Cessation of Existence: "Don't think that anyone who uses the death note can go to heaven or hell." In the manga, Light figures out this means there is no afterlife for anyone and all humans are equal in death. In the anime, this is only revealed in a short incoming-commercial-break image in the last episode.
  • Chained Heat: Light and L are handcuffed together for several episodes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: "Hideki Ryuga." (The name but not the character.)
  • Chewbacca Defense: Especially in the early interactions between Light, L and the Taskforce where Light deliberately stumbles on L's name: "Ryuuga, I’m sorry I mean Ryuuzaki" to broadcast look L's using an alias, he's an outsider, he's not trustworthy. But Light as the Chief's son and popular golden boy is. Therefore you lose.
    • Later Light and Near when Light says to the Taskforce " Near really seems against us, doesn't he?" Light also points out how Near associates with a known criminal and he's rude. This strategy works in discrediting his opponent-even when the Taskforce is at their most suspicious of Light they still don't trust Near.
  • Child-Hater: Roger the Director of Wammy's House, according to the manual. This is never shown anywhere else.
  • Children Raise You: Maki and "Boy" do this for L in L: Change the WorLd although he doesn't get to find true love.
    • At the end of the movie, L names the boy Near.
  • The Chosen One: Light thinks he's this in the first episode until Ryuk bursts his bubble.
    • Depending on how honest he was in his final Hannibal Lecture, Light might still think he was chosen to rid the world of evil---just not by Ryuk.
      • Lampshaded in the first chapter
      • Light also attributes his luck concerning Penber's fiancee to this.
  • El Cid Ploy
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Misa. To a degree, Matsuda. L has his moments.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: In the anime, whenever either L or Light are having inner monologues, they are dyed with a blue and red light, respectively. Matsuda turns out to be yellow, Mogi is a different shade of red, Aizawa is green, Misa is light blue, Naomi Misora is dark blue, and spoiler: Mikami is purple.
    • In the final couple of episodes, Near's hair turns a light blue, probably in emulation of his precursor, the deceased L.
    • The Live Action Adaptation features similar color coding: at the end of the first movie, as L and Light face each other in person for the first time, L is standing in a shaft of blue light, while Light is standing in orange.
    • The live action movies have another, subtle example. In the first film Light for the most part wears casual brown clothing, switching to all black in the sequel as he has fully embraced his Kira persona. He goes back to wearing brown once he loses his memory, then starts dressing in black again once it's back. Takada also starts wearing all black once she actively starts using the death note.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: So in the first episode Light has an interesting moral dilemma. What's worse? To use the evil dark power to kill people or refuse the call and let the Bus Full of Innocents get killed when he has the power to stop it?
  • Compressed Adaptation: In the first part the anime simply cuts out a lot of the Wall of Text dialogues, since the manga has an habit of explaining every last insignificant detail about the protagonists' plans, and that wouldn't do in anime. In the post-Time Skip episodes however, entire chapters are removed. To give you an idea, the two parts are almost equal in length in the manga; in the anime, the first part is covered in 25 episodes, the second in 11 episodes.
  • Conspicuous CG: Cars in the Yotsuba arc.
    • Shinigami in the live action films.
  • Contrived Coincidence: If Naomi Misora hadn't happened to go to the police station during the ONE instant that the entire Kira task force had left to meet L, and if Light hadn't been asked to deliver a package to his father at that same exact instant, and just happened to overhear what she was there for, or if Aizawa walked slightly slower, or faster, or didn't have an umbrella for the rain that came out of nowhere, or if Misora had another alias, the manga would have ended at 2 volumes, with Light soundly defeated.
    • Although when he discovers this coincidence, Light acknowledges how "another God" is on his side. Since Word of God and the manga universe have bent over backwards to say that there were no gods in the Death Note universe this means that it's just conjecture on Light's part, and the events fall in his favor by simple, improbable coincidence. (In Volume 13, Naomi is consequently stated to have the lowest possible score in the "luck" attribute.)
    • By another way of seeing it if Raye Penber hadn't been assigned to investigate Light, hadn't decided to bring his fiance to Japan while on assignment or hadn't mentioned the bus hijacking to her then a lot of events later on would never have happened and Light might have avoided suspicion.
    • Much later on Near and his allies learn a great deal because Teru Mikami just happens to hear something that makes him wonder if it's Ryuk and goes on to speak out loud about several points that they didn't know about. If he hadn't done this Near's investigation would have at least been slowed down. Of course, Light via Takada told Mikami to do this on purpose, in order to throw Near onto Mikami and off Light and Takada.
  • Consummate Liar: Light, all the way.
    • L is also quite the liar. "Light-kun is my first ever friend," anyone?
      • Though, L might have genuinely felt that way about Light. Maybe...
  • Contemptible Cover: The novelization of L: Change The WorLd. If you wouldn't be caught dead with that book in public, you're not alone.
    • Or the tankobons if you don't want people to get the wrong idea of why you're reading a book with a huge cross on it.
    • Also the seventh volume of the Japanese DVD series' cover, which features Light standing triumphantly over a dead L.
  • Continuity Nod: To Another Note. Beyond is also mentioned in L: Change The World.
    • Also (only in the anime) after Misora is killed by Light L mentions that they worked together on the LA BB Murder cases.
    • The manga notes "She arrested the perpetrator of the 'Los Angeles BB Serial Killings'"
  • Cool Guns: All of the firearms shown in the manga actually exist. And yes, they are cool.
  • Cool Old Guy: Here, we get two: Soichiro Yagami and Watari. Both meet untimely ends (only Watari in the movie)
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Yotsuba Group—specifically, Higuchi.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Light ends up in possession of a Death Note because Ryuk was bored.
    • Ryuk even kills Light the moment he loses his entertainment value.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Light at the end. He gets shot in the attempt.
  • Crapsack World: Light certainly thinks the world is one. And thus he feels that he needs to clean it up. One criminal at a time...
    • Misa and Mikami believe it, too, willingly joining Light to "make the world a better place."
  • Crazy Consumption: L's sweets, Mello's chocolate, Ryuk's apples, and Light's potato chips.
    • On a kinda-related note, has anyone else besides me noticed a shot of Sayu eating potato chips? Guess It Runs in The Family.
  • Crazy People Play Chess: Light and L in the live action movie.
  • Crazy Prepared: Light's three different ways to tell if someone was in his room, not to mention his Porn Stash just in case someone happens to be watching.
    • The rigged desk has got to count as well.
    • Near kept millions of dollars ready to be dropped from the top of a skyscraper at the press of a button, just in case a Torches and Pitchforks mob attacks his secret hideout. Fridge Brilliance in that the SPK are a proscribed terrorist organization by that point, so their bank accounts would have been frozen.
  • Creepy Child: Near. He gets extra points for being able to pull off Creepy Child despite not actually being one.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: Misa's necklace and earrings, Mello's crucifix. The anime adaptation of the series, however, changed Misa's crosses to Fleur-de-Lis symbols while Mello's crucifix became a nondescript red stick, and the crosses on the knees of his pants were taken out.
    • There is a distinct cross motif to the covers of the manga volumes as well, and the cross is retained on the Misa collector's figure included with volume 5 of the DVD series.
  • Crime After Crime: The cover-up killings of an agent and his wife narrowed L's attention on Light even more. It was after this L decided to reveal himself just to keep him closer.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: L and Near.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Subverted—the messages are solely to trick/irritate L. On the other hand, Kira does tend to take risks to show his superiority to a defeated opponent.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Misa, who can be quite devious.
    • Matusda. Compare his inane comments early on with the time he practically blows Light's hand away and then riddles him with bullets.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: "All humans, without exception, eventually die. When they die, they go to Mu (Nothingness). Once dead, they can never come back to life."
  • Cue the Sun: In the first episode, it is stormy and raining when Ryuk first confronts Light. By the time Light has finished outlining his master plan and declared that he will be the god of the new world, the sun has come out and he has a halo of light at his back. It all comes around back in the last two episodes - it's raining all throughout episode 36, but the sun breaks through the clouds in the beginning of episode 37 the very moments after Light dooms himself by declaring his victory prematurely.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Light just wanted to see if the notebook would work. The same thing presumably happened to Misa.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Averted. Female Shinigamis are just horrifying as their male counterpart and just as unsexy.
  • Cutting the Electronic Leash
  • Daddy Didn't Raise No Criminal: Soichiro's reaction to L's suggestion that Light or Sayu could be Kira.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Light. He manages to anticipate and avoid just about every common villain pitfall.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than most Shonen series, some even confusing it with Seinen.
  • Dark Messiah: Light Yagami means to save the world by cleaning it with blood ...
  • The Dark Side
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Light pretty much completely abandoned his ideals over the course of the series.
    • Abandoned... or embraced as never before?
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 19 is titled "Matsuda". Guess who it's about.
    • Misa gets one, too.
  • Dead Line News
  • Deadly Upgrade: Quite literal in that the Shinigami can give a Death Note's wielder the power to see people's names and lifespans—at the cost of half the wielder's remaining lifespan.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Shinigami eye deal.
  • Death by Adaptation: Mogi dies in Ukita's place in the Live Action Adaptation, and Takada's death is hastened (granted, because the plot itself is hastened). L's death sort of counts as it's by his own hands instead of Rem's.
  • Death by Irony: Demigawa: can you say "SAKUJO"?
  • Death Is Cheap: Intentionally averted by Ohba who felt that this trope had been overused in other manga.
    • Played straight in the pilot chapter with the addition of the death eraser
  • Death Wail: Light fakes one when L dies. Good actor, that one.
  • Debate and Switch: The series avoids answering the morality of Kira's actions by making Light leap off the slippery slope.
  • Defective Detective: Everyone from Wammy's House.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In the manga during confinement the Taskforce comment on how Misa being denied water for three days was too much for a young girl to take.
  • Deuteragonist: L, Near and/or Mello are the opposing deuteragonists to protagonist Light.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: It's established that if a Shinigami uses its notebook to deliberately prolong a human's life by killing someone else (i.e. the human's murderer,) that Shinigami will die. Knowing this, Light manages to manipulate events so that Misa is about to be caught by L, forcing Rem to write L's true name in the Death Note along with Watari's in order to save her. This is even lampshaded by Rem just before she writes their names in the Death Note and she curses Light for it.
  • Didn't See That Coming: How Light met his end.
    • Played with in the manga (but not in the anime) with how Near came very close to being killed by Light. Near looks completely shocked when Light pulls a hidden piece of the Death Note out of his watch. Light was only one letter away from taking Near down with him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: With Kira as judge, jury and executioner, all crimes - even purse-snatching and embezzlement - qualify for the death penalty, for the good of the new world.
    • Lind L. Tailor while posing as L, tells Light over broadcast television "Kira, I think I have a pretty good idea of why you're doing this. But what you're doing is evil!" Not the nicest thing to say, but at least he gives Light credit for trying to improve the world. Light's response is to kill him.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sayu.
  • Doesn't Like Guns
    • Aiber.
    • Light and his father: "Guns aren't allowed in Japan."
    • Matt: "Since when are the Japanese allowed to carry such nice guns?"
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Getting away with murder and eating potato chips has never looked so cool.
  • Does Not Like Women: Light doesn't really like anyone, but he explicitly doesn't like women because he thinks they're overemotional and weak.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Putting aside the religious and biblical context of it, the dialogue and quite a few of the actions during the foot massage scene between Light and L sound awfully kinky (and only existed in the anime).

L: Hey, you Shinigami, the white thing over there...
Matsuda: Er.. Ryuuzaki, should you really go around calling someone a white thing?

  • Don't Tell Mama: Light is trying to keep his secret of being Kira from his parents and sister.
    • Soichiro explicitly tells Light not to tell either Sachiko or Sayu where he's going when he agrees to help with the investigation.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Years later legions of followers still mourn the loss of Kira.
  • Driven to Suicide: Misa kills herself soon after Light's death. However, this isn't shown in the manga.
    • This was also the method of disposing of Naomi, although L had doubts that it was done willingly. Some of the criminals killed when Kira was testing the Death Note's powers also committed "suicide."
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Light, Misa, Takada, Mikami, Higuchi ...
  • Drunk with Power: ... Light, Misa, Takada, Mikami, Higuchi ...
  • Due to the Dead: the deleted scene of L's funeral.
    • In the second arc, the Taskforce decides to take on the task of capturing Mello in honor of Soichiro Yagami, who died in their first attempt.
  • Dying Like Animals: Lemmings, mice, and snakes are all around. And Light himself is a mole.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Wammy's House, though it's hard to find a character who doesn't have some sort of obvious mental disorder or traits thereof.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Takeda, Mikami, Near, and Mello showed up in the 2nd openings even though it would be quite a few episodes (plus a timeskip) before their arc started.
  • Easily Forgiven: during the Yotsuba arc L confines Light for over fifty days and then fakes having his father shoot him in the head. In the manga Light forgives L in the very next panel.
  • Eat the Evidence: In the manga it's explained that Light swallows the Death Note scrap he used to kill Higuchi.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: At one point in the anime, the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye are used as visual shorthand for Paris and London.
    • ...and the World Trade Center for New York City, despite both the manga and anime taking place post-9/11.
  • Empathic Environment: The aptly titled episode "Overcast" features a brilliant and chilling example. The year's first snowflake floats into frame and past Naomi Misora's drivers license a split-second after she lets it go, handing it to Light, thereby sealing her fate. Light reads the license and jots down her name in his Death Note. Less than a minute later, when Light reveals to Naomi that he's Kira -- and thus that she's about to die -- the snowfall is already heavy.
  • End of an Age: Depending on your views on Kira, Light's death definitely counts.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Used by L.
  • Environmental Symbolism
  • Episode Title Card
  • Eureka Moment: Naomi Misora gets a lot of these in the BB Murder Cases. They were planted by Ryuzaki.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ryuk, an absolutely pitiless Death God, is still sometimes astonished by the depths Light will sink to; it's remarked several times that Light is worse than any Shinigami, something that amuses Ryuk to no end.
    • In the second live action film, Misa stops her terrorist broadcast when Sayu calls her out for being a murderer (though she goes right back to killing once she meets Light. Toward the end of the film, she's horrified and begins to cry when Light writes Soichiro's name in the Death Note.
    • Light is also dismayed when Mikami's killing spree extends to even elderly and sometimes innocent people.
    • The Death Note doesn't work on people younger than 3 years old.
    • Rem is apparently fine with Light and Misa killing people so long as it makes Misa happy, but she's disgusted by Kyosuke Higuchi.
    • Light zig-zags the trope in a rather complicated fashion: He objected strenuously to Misa murdering an innocent police officer who was only doing his job, but he had no problem doing the same thing to a bunch of FBI agents. He also killed Lind L. Taylor early on for no other reason then the fact that Taylor had offended him (he was unaware of Taylor's convict status at the time).
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Misa Amane.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Sparkle chips!
  • Evil Eye: The Deadly Upgrade above involves trading for "shinigami eyes."
  • Evil Gloating: Light does this a lot. And well.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: The jokes of the Yotsuba group are pretty bad.
  • Evil Is Hammy: A lot of Light's evil gloating is pretty over the top. Ditto for Hitoshi Demegawa.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy:

L: ...And most importantly, we must ensure that the Yotsuba Group doesn't discover that we are investigating them.
* cut to Matsuda getting caught by the Yotsuba Group*
L: Please, just forget everything I said. We need to rethink our plan. Matsuda you idiot!

  • Girlish Pigtails: Misa wears them, mostly in the first arc.
  • The Glomp: Not only the below quote, but in the manga at least, Misa does this to Ryuk.
      • It's in the anime too.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Light gets these when he's contemplating something particularly evil.
  • A God Am I: Light wants to use the Death Note to create a new world, with himself as... you guessed it.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: If a shinigami uses the Death Note to extend the natural life span of a human (for example, stop an attacker), the shinigami dies.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: The Shinigami from Relight.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: L and Light throughout the first arc.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Used deliberately in the manga.
  • Good Is Not Nice: One of the story's main themes, as whether anyone in the series can truly be called good is open to interpretation.
    • Quick examples? #1: L, who is quite scheming and manipulative. #2: Soichiro. #3: Near. The list goes on.
  • Gorn: Not in the original manga, but present in the anime's series finale. Mikami attempts some kind of poor man's Seppuku, either out of despair or to distract the police so that Light can escape. Unfortunately for the audience, it works a little too well. Then again, if gore is your thing...
    • In the Director's cut, the deaths of three Yotsuba Group members, featuring a Gross Up Close-Up of Midou lying on the sidewalk after falling or jumping from a tall building
  • Grail in the Garbage: Light finds the Death Note in the school yard.
    • Light tosses out his expensive mini-TV with nary a wince.
  • Gratuitous English: The Japanese title "Desu Noto" (Death Note), and "Kira" (Killer).
  • Green Lantern Ring: The Death Note, once Light figures out imaginative new ways to use it.
  • The Grim Reaper: Ryuk and many other shinigami.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Matsuda sneaks right by the Yotsuba security guard.
  • Gullible Lemmings
  • Hacker Cave
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Light and Mikami's shouting match in the Grand Finale.
    • In the second episode / first manga, L's and Light's shouting match (directed, in both cases, to electronic screens) concerning Justice.
  • Harassing Phone Call: A certain anonymous individual Near keeps calling up this one guy Kira in the middle of the night promising that he has a very unpleasant fate in store for him. Alas there is no caller I.D.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Light asks these exact words of Ray Penbar's fiancée Naomi, who is investigating Kira. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't live much longer after answering no.
  • Hearing Voices: Anyone "possessed of a God of Death".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Expected in a series where many people die of heart attacks.
  • Here We Go Again: The end of Relight has a bored Shinigami (that is possibly Light) headed down to the human world to alleviate his boredom for a while...
    • Matsuda and the taskforce when L deduces that there are other notebooks and other Kiras out in the world, after Higuchi's death.
  • Hero Antagonist: L and Near to some degree. The police for sure.
  • The Hero Dies: Though who it is depends on your interpretation.
  • Heroic Albino: Possibly Near, although you'd have to use the term heroic very, VERY loosely!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Soichiro and Rem.
    • Mello, whose sacrifice ultimately saves Near, his crew and the NPA from death while confirming Near's suspicions of Light.
  • He's Dead, Jim
  • "Hey You!" Haymaker: When L is complaining that he's depressed and unmotivated with the Kira case now that it looks like Light isn't Kira. The following Ensues: Light gets L's attention, L turns around, Light punches him hard in the face.

Light: Ryuuzaki...
L: "Huh?"
Light: *PUNCH*

Light (shaking fist): Damn, damn you Kira! You bastard!

    • Also: "I'm evil? I'll KILL YOU!"

L: I hate it when people's cellphones go off when I'm talking. I find it very distracting... * ring* Excuse me, I have to get this.

Light: I can't take it anymore! How do you think it feels to be accused of being Kira!
L: It was the worst feeling ever. (Light suggested that L might be Kira earlier in the episode...)

    • Leave it to Light to explain it:

Light: Remember what I told you [Ryuk]? Humans are foolish, two-faced creatures.

Misa: Light is way more affectionate than he looks, at least with me! In fact he starts clinging to me when I come in the door every night!

Desk clerk: Hi Light, remember me?
Light: Er... sorry. I'm really bad with names and faces.

    • and (from the Director's cut):

Light: I swear right here and now-- I will send Kira to his execution!

Lind L. Tailor: Kira you yourself are a hypocritical, vile, and immature criminal.
Light: Immature?

  • It Amused Me: Ryuk set off the ENTIRE PLOT For the Lulz. More information on the trope page.
  • Jerkass Gods: Again, Ryuk.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk – Light (he really cares for his family... and really hopes he doesn't have to kill them), L.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: "I AM JUSTICE!"
    • All of the Kiras take this role.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Light, Oh God Light.
    • Light brought a sled so he could get down the slope faster. Second episode he decided an innocent man should die for calling him a murderer and declaring his intention to stop him. Oh, and most unforgivably for outsmarting him.
    • Technically, Lind L Tailor was a death row inmate scheduled to die that day, which is why L used him. Light, however, didn't know that; to the best of his knowledge, the person he killed was innocent. That first episode, you could make the case that Light was a Well-Intentioned Extremist waging his crusade against evil for the benefit of the world; his murder of Tailor, done to appease his pride, marks the point where he moves from Anti-Hero to Villain Protagonist.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: in the second arc between the Japanese Kira taskforece and the SPK.
  • Just Between You and Me: Subverted—Whenever Light reveals his identity to a rival, he is very sure they are already in their death throes or otherwise under the effect of the Death Note.
    • Used by L to mock Light in his introduction. For being so "helpful", L lets light in on a "secret", and proceeds to mock Light's arrogance in front of the entire Kanto region of Japan on live television.
  • Justice Will Prevail: Sometimes played straight, and sometimes inverted, depending on whose side you take.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: When Light and L confront each other, they glow red and blue, respectively. Sometimes this happens to their bodies, other times just to their hair and eyes.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Ryuk returns to the Shinigami world no worse for wear and there doesn't seem to be much of anything that can stop him from doing what he can to create another Kira and generally mess around on Earth.
    • Misa in the live action movies. The fact that the police let her go is a particular bad when you consider that she killed Mogi. Of course, it does make sense, as there's no way they could convict her without revealing the existence of a magic notebook that kills people, which they instead destroy, causing Misa to lose her memories of her crimes anyway.
    • And Demegawa in the live action movie.
  • Kick the Dog: Light is obviously all over that. But L also gets a turn when he has Misa cold-bloodedly tortured, up to the point where she tries to kill herself to avoid revealing Kira's identity.
    • In episode seven, Light tells Naomi that he is Kira, just as the Death Note takes effect, and she goes off to commit suicide. He opens his phone and offers her the chance to call his father with the information that would put Light away, but she's forced to carry out the Note's instructions, so that really comes off as putting salt in the wound.
  • Kid with the Leash: Anyone possessing a Death Note and thus a shinigami qualifies, although Light is perhaps a subversion in actually being more dangerous than Ryuk.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: L and Matt.
  • Kill'Em All: How many major characters in a cast of around 20 survive? Three of the original police task force, plus Misa, Ide, and Near.
    • The companion book How To Read 13 reveals that Misa dies a year later from suicide.
  • The Kira In Me: Light bluffs this in order to convince the taskforce that he needs to be confined (for the sake of his Xanatos Roulette.) "Another me could be killing while I sleep!!!"
  • Kirk Summation: Near does this in the manga's final chapter.
  • Knight Templar: Any of the series' protagonists.
  • Laughing Mad: Light, when he is cornered by Near and revealed to be Kira.
  • Letter Motif: L, M, and N.
  • Life Drinker: When a Shinigami kills a human, that human's lifespan is added to the Shinigami's. Shinigami who don't kill regularly will eventually die.
    • Conversely, a Shinigami who uses their Death Note to save a human loses what's left of their own life to extend that human's time.
  • Light Is Not Good: Well...
  • Likable Villain: Light Yagami, Misa Amane, Teru Mikami, and Kiyomi Takada all have their fans, both in-universe and out.
  • Line in the Sand: Souichiro Yagami draws one of these. Most of the police do not stay on his side.
  • Live Action Adaptation: Two main movies, and one spin-off, to be precise.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Light to Misa, whether he wants to be or not. (It varies depending on how useful it is at the moment.)
  • Living with the Villain: Light and L not only go to the same college, but also work together on the team to catch Kira and spend quite a while chained together.
    • Also Light and his father... makes for some awkward dinner conversations.
  • Locard's Theory
  • Lonely At the Top
  • Loners Are Freaks: Subverted and played straight.
  • Look Behind You! - In the manga Light walks out on a family meeting by railroading the conversation to:

Light: Is that all the help you needed on your homework, Sayu?
Souichiro: Was your brother helping you with your homework again?
Sayu: Gee, Light! Thanks for blabbing!

  • Looks Like Cesare: L.
  • Loony Fan: The Stalker with a Crush that tries to kill Misa.
    • To a lesser degree, Matsuda acts like this towards L and Light.
    • Also both Misa and Mikami, towards Light.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Inverted. Misa is noticeably less "airheaded" when around Light, especially when she tries to manipulate things so that she can be with him. From tricking the third Kira to trying to find the first Kira.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Misa's killing spree to get Kira's attention.
  • Love Triangle (type 3 Triang Relations). Takada and Amane are both after Light. Light is just using both of them. Pointed out by Near in episode 33, who deduces that Light "has" a love triangle. That is, a love triangle is among the things he happens to possess. "Near, please be more serious."
  • Ludicrous Precision: L and his constant revisions of the probability Light is Kira.
    • Though in How to Read it states that whenever he gives a percentage, he's lying; he actually suspects Light with a 90 to 100 percent certainty.
  • Made of Iron: Souichiro 1) rams a truck through a building while still recovering from a near fatal heart attack. 2) Shot in the shoulder while pursuing Higuchi.
    • Then there's Light's Rasputinian Death. It's implied he would have survived if Ryuk hadn't written his name...
  • Madness Makeover: Light and Mikami in the finale.
  • Madness Montage: Light, Misa, and Mikami all get one.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The Death Note's rules apply strictly, although Light finds ways to stretch them to their limits in almost every storyline. Light actually subverts this by creating fake rules to divert suspicion from himself.
  • Make Room for the New Plot: How the Mello issue is resolved near the end of the story.
  • Male Gaze: Yeah, that shot was definitely of a hidden sheet of the Death Note, not Taki's breast.
    • Misa's introductory shots feature an image of her breasts and waist on exhibit while she walks, before showing her face. This is definitely to show off her cutesy gothic clothing and therefore to establish her childlike-but-evil character. Definitely.
  • Mama Bear: Rem to Misa. Also, Sachiko to Sayu: "no way in hell!" is Sayu marrying a cop.
  • Man Child: L and Near, to varying degrees.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Light, who treats all those around him as tools for him to use, therefore making manipulation the dominating characteristic of every one of his relationships.
    • L, mind you, also has no problems manipulating, or asking others to manipulate, people.
    • Misa is also willing to manipulate people to get what she wants; her childlike charm is particularly useful for this.
  • Mass "Oh Crap": The taskforce members when Light is outed as Kira in the finale. This is not helped when Light takes the opportunity to pack all the sheer, psychotic creepiness of the moment into one absolutely epic Evil Laugh.
  • Meaningful Name: Done three times, ironically every time. Mello is a complete loose cannon, Near spends most of his time in another country from the protagonist, and Light Is (Probably) Not Good.
    • According to Death Note: How To Read 13, the graphic encyclopedia, Mello and Near were originally going to have regular Meaningful Names; Mello was going to be Near, since he was always close to but not at the other's level; and Near was going to be Mello because he was calmer. Ohba got the characters mixed up, so....
    • Also Bilingual Bonus "Kira" Engrish for Killer also means "sparkling," "shining," or "glitter" in Japanese.
    • Yagami (夜神) means "Night god" or "Dark god", so his name is "Light Dark God". But the important thing is the god part.
    • One for the Shinigami- "Res", in Latin, is a feminine noun meaning 'thing' (well, 'thing' in this case means quite a lot, including exploit and advantage, but it'll get confusing, okay?). An accusative is when something is happening to it. The accusative for Res? Rem.
    • Additionally, Misa comes from "Kuromisa", meaning "black Mass" (fitting with her cross motif), and Teru Mikami's name means "illuminated."
  • Memory Gambit: The "Exactly As Planned" Xanatos Roulette.
  • Messy Hair: L and Near.
  • Metal Scream: The second opening begins with one of these.
  • Might Makes Right
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Once Light goes all Machiavelli on everyone's ass, there's no turning back. [2]
  • Mind Rape: Light does this to himself if The Scream when he's regaining his memories is anything to go by... and then there's the ending of the manga when Near exposes him as Kira, knocking him off his pedestal and forcing him to face up to what he's done and what he's become; he is drawn as (symbolically) naked and traumatized.
    • This could also be seen as what Light did to Naomi. A bright woman driven to solve her husband's death - and in fact, uncovers information that could have stopped Light in the second chapter - has her mind force-shifted to suicide by the Death Note. Her abrupt change in speech from decisive and sharp to a Creepy Monotone drives this home.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Relight features a scene where Light is walking along solemnly through a Hall of Mirrors, pretending to grieve for L while his reflection is smirking evilly.
  • Mind Screw: The second anime opening. HOLY SHIT
  • Money to Throw Away: Near throws money out of the top floor of the SPK HQ to stop people from rioting.
  • Morality Chain: Two deaths mark a visible decline to Light's remaining ethics and sanity. The first is after he has L killed; the second is after his father dies.
  • Moral Myopia: "Crime is out of the question, even if it's done on Kira's request. Now isn't that convenient."
  • The Movie: Two Japanese live-action movies based on the original comic (with "Dani California" as the theme song) and one L spin-off.
    • And Warner Brothers bought the rights to remake the Live Action movie in America...
  • Multitasked Conversation:
    • Shinigami can't be seen by anyone other than the humans who have touched their Death Note. So when Light is under surveillance by the police, he uses his homework as a cover-of-sorts to carry on a conversation with Ryuk by saying things ostensibly to himself, like "I got this question right!" to indicate a "yes" answer.
    • When the Yotsuba group catch Matsuda, he takes cues from L over the phone to let them know he's in trouble while making it sound to his captors like he's just turning down an offer to hang out with his friend.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
  • Murder Makes You Crazy: Light Yagami, in the anime only. He's an ordinary school student until he write the first name. After that, he develops delusions of grandeur and wants to cleanse the world of evil (leaving himself as the only evil person, as Ryuuk points out). In the manga, this first target is skipped over, showing instead Ryuuk showing up after he's already killed numerous targets.
    • Possibly his girlfriend Misa too. She was pretty normal before she got the book.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Light believes this.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Apparently, L planned for Kira's capture even after his death by informing Wammy's house and setting certain events in motion that would prove Light to be Kira and solve the case. Probably.
  • My Friends and Zoidberg:

Matsuda: Er ... I can't help but notice you forgot to mention my name.

  • My God, What Have I Done?: Effectively executed in understatement during the ending credits of Relight 2 when Matsuda and Aizawa discover Light's body.
    • Light feels this way as part of his Ignored Epiphany at the beginning of the story. He quickly talks himself out of it.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: The rest of the Yagami family does not seem too keen on Matsuda's interest in Sayu. Also there's an incident in the manga where Light screams when L suggests that Sayu could be Kira.
    • Light didn't seem too worried about Sayu herself - he was more worried about the fact that L was mentioning this possibility in front of his recovering-from-a-heart-attack father.
    • Amusingly, Light briefly considers offing his little sister, Sayu, to protect his identity as Kira. At least he showed some distress when the idea was considered.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Light's alias Kira is "Killer" made to fit into Japanese phonetics.
    • Light's last name, Yagami, is written with the symbols for "night" and "god." Additionally, Misa's name comes from "kuromisa", meaning "black Mass."
  • National Stereotypes: Parodied, in L, Change the WorLd, Suruga attempts to disperse a crowd surrounding the truck he's driving by showing his F.B.I. badge, but everyone thinks its fake because he's Japanese.
  • Neat Freak: L and Light both exhibit mild OCD like tendencies.
    • And Mikami.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Light will only kill unrepentant criminals... unless you get in his way. Then you're fair game.
  • Never Suicide: L is suspicious of Naomi's death.
  • Next Sunday AD
  • No Body Left Behind: Shinigami dissolve into "something neither sand nor rust" when they die.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: If a shinigami uses a Death Note to save the life of a human, the shinigami will die and the shinigami's remaining lifespan will be added to that of the human they saved.
    • Because Light can't bring himself to kill his sister, Mello and Near learn about the fake rules.
    • When Mello kidnaps Takada and orders her to strip, he offers her a blanket to preserve her modesty. This, of course, gives her enough leeway to hide pieces of Death Note and a writing utensil. Guess what happens next.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Light, when submitting himself for imprisonment as part of his memory gambit. L is more than happy to oblige.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Matt's death involves No Nonsense Mooks.
  • Noodle Incident: According to Another Note, L claimed the names Eraldo Coil and Deneuve after winning "detective wars" against their original holders. We are never told what a detective war entails or how those two played out.
  • No Sense of Humor: Light.
  • Not Me This Time: When Light's dad has a heart attack brought on by the stress of the case.
    • Also at the first appearance of the second Kira.
    • And when Mikami kills Demegawa.
  • Not So Different: One of the series' main themes—Light and L are both Well Intentioned Extremists who believe that the ends justify the means. This is semi-lampshaded by Naomi, who points out that Light reminds her of L.

L: "Kira is childish and hates to lose."
Taskforce Member: How do you know this?"
L: "I am also childish and hate to lose."

    • It's actually lampshaded several times in the series, and a particular example is L's true name: Lawliet, which is pronounced like "low light."
  • Not Worth Killing: the Taskforce for most of the second arc.
  • Nothing but Skulls: On the manga coverart.
  • No, You: When L calls Kira "evil", his response is essentially "You're the one who's evil!"
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: The interactions between Light and his father.
    • Not that he seems to feel any guilt.
    • There are hints here and there that he does. More than hints, if you read the manga leading up to Soichiro's death.
  • Obviously Evil: Light in the live action movie.
  • Odd Couple: Light and L.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Semi-justified as nobody wanting to get killed by Kira and you only follow a small group in Japan, which isn't used to a bunch of murder cases.
  • Offing the Offspring
  • Off-Model: The one-shot "sequel" chapter smacks of this.
    • In one scene in the anime when Misa appears in a Stripperiffic lacy pink dress the cops' faces disappear when they enter her apartment.
  • Oh Crap: A common reaction whenever a character's opponent gains the upper hand. Light does this in absolutely epic style when he's exposed as Kira and eventually killed.
  • Oh, No, Not Again: Uttered by Matsuda after the arrest / death of Higuchi and Light and Misa have been cleared of suspicion, leading the Taskforce to believe they are dealing with yet another Kira.
    • Also, Soichiro says this when the handcuffed Light and L begin their second fist fight.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Sort of an aversion. Chief Yagami and Matsuda were first introduced like this, but were developed very differently, especially since Matsuda became a mere Comic Relief character.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: L is about seven years older than Light. Also Team Kira may garner a certain amount of sympathy from certain casual viewers who just see the pretty teenagers being imprisoned by the middle-aged cops.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Dies Irae being the most prominent.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: All over the place in L's tower, and Near's HQ seems to be wallpapered with them.
  • One Curse Limit: In the films, a Death Note can't control someone whose name has already been written down.
  • 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.
  • Only Friend: L tells Light "I feel as though you're the first friend I've ever had" though Word of God says it's a lie, that L has no friends. This hasn't stopped the fandom.
  • Ordinary High School Student: Light is a perfect example of this trope, until it's derailed by the fact that he's both incredibly smart and megalomaniacally insane.
    • A better example would be Sayu, although she's in junior high in the first arc and college in the second.
  • Outlaw Couple: Light and Misa, much to Light's chagrin.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: To hear the fans talk, Misa is quite stupid. People seem to forget that she's only stupid from L and Light's perspective and outmaneuvers both Light and Higuchi quite easily when she sets her mind to it. In any other anime, Misa Misa could have been the iconic Genius Ditz.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Misa is trying to find Light, so she sends a diary page to the task force saying that they should "show off their notebooks in Aoyama" on a certain day. On that day, Light goes to Aoyama with Matsuda and meets friends whom he hangs out with expecting to perform this trope. Misa, however, finds him first and leaves before he can see her.
    • L first reveals himself to his Kira suspect at the Entrance Ceremony and L frequently meets with Light to discuss the Kira Case in public places on the university campus.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Light wears a hoodie and bennie when manipulating Raye Penber, which renders him unrecognizable to both Raye and the investigators that view the surveillance cameras.
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: The episode appropriate titled "Overcast" comes to mind.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Light and L are masters at this. Later, Light and Near. Misa and Kiyomi's dinner conversation counts as well.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Kira's ideology holds that those who have committed crimes—originally murder and actions equally as horrible—must be killed.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: Light commits mass murder with a pen.
  • Perky Goth: Misa.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Kiras. ("The ability to commit mass murder at the wave of a hand?" Check.)
  • Pet the Dog: L: Change the WorLd consists almost entirely of this trope for L.
    • D'awwww. Light takes a break from committing mass murder to help his little sister with her homework.
    • Light gets a few of these, usually with his family. He volunteers to run an errand for his sister and compliments his mother in the first arc, and attempts to talk his father out of resigning from the police in the second arc.
  • Phosphor Essence: A subtle example which crosses with Red Oni, Blue Oni: when Light and L confront each other, or meet each other on the street, Light shines a deep, blood-like red, and L an almost naval blue. Sometimes it appears as a tiny aura around their bodies, other times their hair and eyes glow that color.
  • Pieta Plagiarism: Naomi with Raye, in the first intro.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: In many scenes with the Taskforce HQ in the second arc, Light is the only one even pretending to work... So is it any wonder the Kira case stalled?
    • Justified, as the whole plot basically boils down to I Know You Know I Know mind games between L and Kira; the rest of them are drastically out of their depth, and are mostly there to do the legwork.
  • Playing Drunk: Matsuda, after being caught by Yotsuba, pretends to be drunk so he can fake his death via falling.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Light Yagami who was willing to kill tens of thousands of criminals and other undesirables to further his ambitions. But he doesn't approve when his Bumbling Sidekick Teru Mikami announced that Kira was going to kill lazy people as well. Light doesn't object to killing the lazy, he just hasn't decided yet if it's an effective method of imposing his reign.
  • Plot Induced Stupidity: Not one of the detectives, including L, could figure out that the last two rules were fake. Despite the fact that unlike the other rules, they sound like they were written from a human's point of view.
    • To be fair, the first thing L wanted to do was test them. Unfortunately, Light's back-up plan, in the form of Rem, derailed that harshly.
    • Possibly justified due to his escalating insanity, but Light's plans seem prey to this in the second arc.
  • Poisonous Friend: Misa.
    • Mikami counts somewhat, although he doesn't actually work with Light in person until the very end, he is VERY fanatically devoted to him.
  • Police Are Useless: The public believes this more and more when Kira emerges and takes over.
    • Which is kind of ironic once you realize that without the police investigating crimes and arresting suspects (or at least coming up with them), Kira wouldn't have any names or faces to use with the Death Note.
  • Politeness Judo: So, so much. "Let’s do X, is that alright, Light-kun?" and of course Light has to agree or he'll look like he's avoiding L, which makes him look like Kira.
  • Polite Villains Rude Heroes: Light himself is usually soft-spoken, courteous, and reserved, and to an extent Misa, Mikami, and Takada all share this. L and Near, however, are brutally honest and openly manipulative; Near in particular earned quite a lot of annoyance from Mogi and Aizawa for the way he treated them. Compare some of Light's and Near's conversations, where Light is accommodating and non-confrontational while Near says exactly what's on his mind in the most blunt manner possible.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Part of Light's downfall, Mikami was told not to make a move before the showdown with Near. When Takada was kidnapped by Mello, he decided to be assertive and write her name down two minutes before Light did. It comes back to bite both of them in the ass later, to say the least.
  • Porn Stash: Light, in order to provide an explanation why he locks his door all the time, gets a porn stash for his father (and the detective team) to discover.
  • Power Walk: One each in the second intro and outro.
    • Also Light does one with the Taskforce in the finale (looking like The Sopranos in their business suits).
  • Powers in the First Episode: Light picks up the Death Note very early on.
  • The Pratfall: When discovering about the true nature of Kira, L is so surprised he falls out of his chair. Word of God confesses that this scene was drawn just for the visual image of L flat on his ass.
  • Product Placement: The manga is crawling with it. L uses a Mac, Ryuk loves to play Mario Golf, Misa walks past a vey conspicous Tabasco clothing store and mentions in her fake diary that the PlayStation 2 will soon be released, Aizawa and Ide drink Pepsi.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Light is the protagonist who turns into a villain.
  • Psychological Horror
  • Psycho Supporter: Misa Amane, Kiyomi Takada, and Teru Mikami.
  • Public Secret Message: Misa is a Kira-fangirl, but doesn't know who he is. So she uses her own death note to kill people and force the news to send messages. Light is annoyed, since while people who don't know about the notes won't be able to figure out what they're talking about, it is still far too public for his taste.
  • Punch Clock Villain: This arguably applies to most of the Shinigami. It really is only their duty to take humans' lives, and they only truly qualify as "evil" insofar as the occasional decision to kill a human earlier than intended - and doing so to save another is an offense for which death is punishment.
  • Punched Across the Room: Light does this to L, who promptly returns the favor.
  • The Purge: Light's main method of creating a utopia.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy
  • The Quisling: George Sairas (President Chicken-Maggot).
  • Ransacked Room
  • Rasputinian Death: Light.
  • Reality Writing Book
  • Recap Episode: The first half of "Renewal".
  • Redemption in the Rain: Inverted. At the beginning, Light is heavily rained on as he resolves to save the world, er, turn to evil.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Shinigami Eyes. (Incidentally, Ryuk has red pupils.)
    • Not only that, but the anime seems to make a hobby out of catching Light's eyes just right so that they look red, and the opening and closing sequences make it even stronger as part of the red/blue motif.
  • Red Filter of Doom
  • Red Herring: Many of the How To Use rules from the Eyecatch are never used.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Light and L.
    • Mello and Near fit the trope pretty well, except there it's Orange Oni Teal Oni.
  • Red Right Hand: By the end of Relight (everything after the funeral scene) Light seems to be sporting fangs in addition to perpetually glowing red eyes.
  • Red Shirt: Most of the minor victim characters, the most notable being Naomi Misora, who originally was considered to have a bigger role before it was decided to kill her off quickly to prevent the story from becoming more complicated (or perhaps way too simple). And Matt, the third-in-line to succeed L, who was given no backstory whatsoever and introduced solely to give Mello someone to interact with before the author eventually killed him off after his sporadic appearances in 12 panels. Despite this, both characters have an insane fan following.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Refused the Call: Ide doesn't join L's taskforce because he doesn't trust L. He later joins after L is killed and Light takes over.
  • Replacement Love Interest: After Misa Amane transfers her Notebook to Teru Mikami, Kiyomi Takada comes onto the scene as Kira's spokesperson and Light's new girlfriend while Misa just kind of fades out of focus. Like Misa, Kiyomi is a Kira-worshiper completely devoted to Light and willing to kill for him.
  • Retcon: While How to Read 13 states that the SPK disbanded and returned to their old jobs after Kira's defeat, in the one-shot manga special released two years later, Lidner, Gevanni and Rester are shown to still work with Near.
    • If the strongly implied rule that a shinigami must follow the owner of the Death Note was observed throughout the series, pretty much nothing after the Yotsuba arc could have happened.
  • Retirony
  • Revealing Coverup: When Light kills Raye Penber and Naomi Misora, it comes to L's attention to focus the investigation on the people Raye Penber was tailing.
    • Also when Yotsuba Corp buys off the police and key government officials to stop chasing Kira.
    • Also comes into play at the end. The immediate cause of Light's downfall was Mikami going to write Takada's name in the Death Note. He only did that to prevent information from leaking, either to Mello (by Takada telling him) or Near (if SPK got ahold of her, Death Note pages and all.
  • Revealing Hug: There are a few scenes where Light and Misa embrace; Misa's expression is either lovestruck or tearful, while Light's is ... not.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: The audience knows full well who Kira is. The fun is to see if L can figure it out, too.
  • Rewriting Reality
  • Right Behind Me: When Aizawa and Ide are discussing putting Light back under surveillance, guess who should walk in at that very moment?
  • Rooting for the Empire: Light's followers and fans, both in-universe and out, count, especially considering the amount of antipathy some of the fanbase holds for Near.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Played straight with Light, who reverts to an apparently genuinely good person on losing his memories. Averted with Misa, who jumps at the chance to be useful to Light in any way, even if it results in someone's death.
  • Rule of Empathy
  • Rules Lawyer: Light bends and manipulates the Death Note's rules like silly putty.
  • Running Gag: in Another Note L makes Naomi destroy her computer every time he contacts her.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Unintentionally done during Light's Memory Gambit:

Light: ...to be L and have control of the police while being Kira in secret. It's ideal.
L: Well, it would be pretty stupid of you to do that after you told everyone your plan.

Near: Actually "L," I'll let you have full authority on this...

  • Scare Chord: Light's psychotic daydream sequence in Relight 2.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Soichiro's glasses often function this way.
  • Scheherazade Gambit: Ryuk is bored, he wants to be entertained and if he gets too bored he'll just kill Light and go home. Light constantly reminds Ryuk how entertaining he can be. It works for six years.
  • Schmuck Bait: Pretty much what causes Light to pick up the notebook and cause the series to happen.
  • Scholarship Student: Referenced and inverted. When L and Light both give the entrance ceremony speech, Light is said to look like a normal private school student, "pampered and brilliant." L is said to look like a "crazy genius," though one of the conclusions (based on L's physical appearance) is that he's a poor scholarship student. It's an inversion, because L is rich from all of the cases he's solved and received money for.
  • School for Scheming: Wammy's House exists in order to find a successor to L.
  • Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: In episode 24, L and Light capture the Death Note. Light suggests analyzing it. L replies that the Death Note is the kind of thing that can't be analyzed, and is later confirmed when they do try to analyze it and are unable to determine what it is made of.
    • It is stated in the rules at the end of a manga chapter that no scientific or clinical analysis can reveal if someone posseses the shinigami eyes.
    • Averted, however, when Light uses his brain as opposed to gizmos to analyze the Death Note and determines what it can or cannot do. Ryuk wasn't even aware of some of these things.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: L. "Shinigami? Am I supposed to believe that they really exist?"
    • Light is no slouch in the girly scream department either.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have a Nuke: Or a Death Note.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The Cult of Kira
  • See You in Hell: Used effectively in the episode "Execution" (at least in the English dub).
  • Selective Obliviousness: Misa never seems to get a clue that Light hates her guts and just pretends to love her in order to use her. At one point, she even says she won't kill the girls Light has dated in the past because she knows "he was just using them and didn't really love them." Er, Misa...?
    • "My son is not capable of being Kira!"
    • and

Ryuk: ...then you'd be the only bastard left.
Light: I have no idea what you're talking about Ryuk...

  • Self Destructing Security: Light goes to great lengths to protect the Death Note. Not only is it hidden in his locked bedroom in a secret panel of his desk drawer, but opening the panel without first deactivating the failsafe will incinerate the notebook before it can be found. After all, if someone else takes it he's unlikely to get it back, and it links him to hundreds of murders.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: President David Hoope kills himself pre-emptively when he believes that Mello will manipulate him into launching a nuclear weapon. What he didn't know was that the rules of the Death Note would have made this impossible anyway, making his noble self-sacrifice a pointless waste. Just to rub salt in the wound, his replacement is a sniveling coward who surrenders the United States to Kira.
    • Though it's teased at that Kira might have killed him.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Naomi and Halle dress sensibly whereas Misa is Ms. Fanservice.
  • Serial Killer Kira
  • She's All Grown Up: Sayu after the Time Skip.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend
  • Shonen: You would expect a crime story with a Villain Protagonist to be Seinen fare, but not here. It was published in Shonen Jump.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Light is killed by Ryuk, having been exposed as Kira, after so many people have been pointlessly killed. The world is rotten again, and nothing's been accomplished.
  • Short Distance Phone Call: One of the turning points in the first arc, which leads to Misa's capture and Light's Memory Gambit to save them both.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few; they have their own page.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Near's rebuttal to Light's Motive Rant at the end.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Light: "Now be a good girl and go home." Misa didn't mind.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Light and Sayu.
  • Sidekick Ex Machina And how!
  • Side-Story Bonus Art: The Omake in the manga includes a day at the beach and a Christmas Special.
  • Sinister Scythe: Light on the cover art of the manga and as a Shinigami in the Relight movie.
  • Sinister Subway
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: There should be no doubt in that this series is firmly on the cynical side.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Has shades of this: L and Near are the slobs, dressed in rumpled jeans or pajamas, and Light and his allies all are usually impeccably dressed and groomed.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Mello.
    • Light does this a few times, very early on. He seems to grow out of it.
  • The Slow Walk: The opening theme song of the second arc comes to mind.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: L. See the main page's Hypocritical Humor entry to get an example.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Light and L in the live action movies.
  • Snow Means Death: Naomi Misora
  • Social Engineering: Most of the main cast are Social Engineering masters-Light, L, Mello, and Near. Aiber as well.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Light Yagami, with Misa Amane as his sidekick.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: As pointed out in Death Note Abridged "in this footage you can see various pedestrians who clearly don't give a $h!t that somebody near them just collapsed and died."
  • Someone's Touching My Butt: Of course, in classic L fashion, he was pretending to cover up for touching Misa's butt by saying it was an outrage, when in actuality touching her butt was a cover so she wouldn't notice him taking her phone.
  • Stop or I Shoot Myself: Higuchi after having been cornered as the current Kira, does this to keep himself from being caught. At some point he realizes it is hopeless and tries to pull the trigger. Watari snipes it out of his hands.
  • Spanner in the Works: Teru Mikami.
    • Misa.
    • Shidoh.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the Live Action Adaptation, Ukita lives (with Mogi dying instead), Misa lives (without her memories of the Death Note), and Soichiro lives (and holds Light in his arms while Light dies).
    • Also in the second Rewrite special, Soichiro's death is not shown or even mentioned...leading to plotholes regarding his absence as well as how Light was able to acquire Mello's true name.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Putting so many "L" and "Th" sounds in a Japanese series was just asking for trouble.
    • Light / Raito, L / Eru, Death Note / Desu Noto, Mello / Mero, and so forth.
  • Spy Speak: L and Matsuda during the Yotsuba arc. Light and Ryuk get a moment early on in Light's conefinement.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The obsessed fan that tries to kill Misa, Misa becomes one herself pursuing Kira/Light, and of course L for putting 1 camera in every other room of the Yagami household and 64 in Light's room.
    • May be Justified, since Light was L's prime suspect as Kira, and thus the one he would watch the closest.
  • Stalking Is Love: Misa believes this.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Raye pulls this on Naomi.
  • Stepford Smiler: Light - a calm smile over a dangerously crazy self.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Light and L tend to finish each other's thoughts / inner monologues between cutaways.
    • Light and Mikami.
  • Strawman News Media: Type IV. You'd think that after the emergence of Kira that there would be a massive clampdown on broadcasting suspect's names... WRONG! Trial by media becomes execution by media: Here's the names and faces of people our viewers want to die in a fire. Let's hope they die on live TV! This is especially exemplified with Demegawa and Takada.
    • The cops actually consider a media clampdown as soon as L points out that Kira is killing by reading names of criminals out of the newspaper; however, L shoots the idea down, on the grounds that he reads Kira as a Psychopathic Manchild who would just start killing anyone he thinks is guilty, and blaming any innocent deaths on the police for instigated a media clampdown. He's probably right.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Not explored in depth, but one of these might be something to fear if it's out on the Internet and Kira agrees with the writer. In a way, Light and Mikami used the Death Note as this.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Light's experiments with the Death Note.
  • Surprisingly Good English: In The Movie, an actual American played Lind L. Tailor ( L's decoy). The news broadcast had a Japanese voiceover, but his Dixie accent was still clearly audible.
    • The rules are written in English because it's a "universal" language. 95% of the time, it's near perfect, with minor exceptions like "looses" and one "bictim". Then again, Ryuk doesn't seem like the type to have pefect spelling
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Both L and Light feel this way from time to time.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: L likes this trope. So do Mello and Near.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The tune that plays when Aiber and Wedy are introduced sounds suspiciously similar to the Mission Impossible theme tune.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Near.
    • Some consider Mikami to be this, given that not only does he physically resemble Light, but his name is basically Light's backwards.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: L has a couple of custom holding cells for confining Kira and the more dangerous Second Kira.
  • Talking to the Dead: Light does this at L's funeral, complete with loads of Trash Talk and Evil Gloating.
  • Talk to the Fist
  • Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Naomi Misora's pretty decent-looking. As is Takada and post-timeskip Sayu.
  • Tautological Templar: BOTH team L and team Kira.
  • Tame His Anger: Soichiro Yagami and Aizawa do this to put up with Misa Amane's Kira support.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Light and Misa. Though with their faces, you'd never even suspect at first without being like L.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Light's rival L pulls one of these off when he uses a dead-man's drop on his computer to send a message to Wammy's house, telling them of his death, if for some reason he doesn't check in every day or so. He knows this will set Near and Mello to task with catching Kira, and he probably knew that they would race each other to catch Kira and that Near especially was almost but not quite as smart as he was. It's not too much of stretch to say that he planned on Light catching on to this and on Near and Mello inadvertently cooperating (without Light realizing it), leading to the showdown in the warehouse and Ryuk's writing Light's name in his death note. Just before he dies, in the anime (but not the manga or films), Light sees L (whether its a hallucination, vision, or ghost is left for the audience to decide) standing over him much the same way he, years before stood over L when the latter died (also killed by a shinigami with a Death Note.
    • At the end of the live-action movie, L writes his own name in the Death Note to die 23 days in the future to protect himself from Rem when he confronts Light. Watari still dies but Light and Misa are caught red-handed.
  • That's What I Would Do: Light explains this to L regarding a theory of his about Kira and the second Kira. Soichiro is a bit freaked out.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Misa and Matsuda both have the first ending song as their mobile phone ringtones, and the 2nd ending theme is used in the Director's Cut of the car chase in episodes 22 & 23.
  • There Are No Therapists: Grief counseling for Misa could have solved a lot of things. Also, Light comes across in that first episode as rather depressed.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Happens to Matt and Light.
  • They Fight Crime: Yep, they all do.
  • The Thirty-Six Stratagems
  • This Cannot Be!
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Matsuda has had enough of Light at the time of the final confrontation with Near. The results are quick, well-deserved, and quite scary. Ryuk almost couldn't keep up with him.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Happens to Light, Misa, and Mikami, and to a lesser extent Takada and Higuchi. The differences between their non-Kira selves and their Kira selves are striking.
  • Threesome Subtext: First arc: Misa-Light-L and Second arc: Misa-Light-Takada / Light-Takada-Mikami and in the prequel novel Another Note Raye Penber-Naomi Misora-Ryuuzaki
  • Time Skip
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Kinda... sorta.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Naomi, the former F.B.I. detective who figures out crucial information on the Kira case and then decides to trust Light after he's been acting creepy, following her around, and asking "Have You Told Anyone Else??" As mentioned below, though, according to Word of God she's less stupid than about as lucky as Near is socially skilled—i.e., not at all.
    • If you think about it, her big "mistake" was going to the police station at absolutely the wrong time—the one time when no one working on the case was available and also when the real Kira (who, bad luck for her, was the son of someone working on the case) was also arriving. Well, that, and succumbing to Light's explanation. She had every reason to be convinced—not least because she implicitly trusted L, and Light reminded her of L (which also lampshades that they're Not So Different).
    • Demegawa. Someone who uses the name of Kira to pad his own pockets, knowing that Kira is a vengeful god of justice without much sense of mercy. Demegawa? Can you say "SAKUJO"?
  • Tragedy
  • Tragic Hero: Light pretty much fits into the Shakespearian mould for a tragic hero exactly. For example compare him to the classic tragic hero character of Macbeth.
  • Treachery Cover-Up
  • Trope Overdosed
  • Trouser Space: In the second arc, Light's new Death Note hiding place. [3] He did it in an earlier scene in the manga too...
  • Try Not to Die
  • Tsundere: It's mentioned in Another Note that Naomi tries not to be seen as one during her time in the FBI. The definition given in-text matches up with Type A.
  • Twist Ending: The second Death Note movie, where the audience expects L to die just like in the manga and anime. Instead, surprise! L is alive (for 23 more days) and Light is utterly screwed.
  • Tyke Bomb: Arguably, the Wammy's kids.
  • Ubermensch: Light is a textbook case. Or nothing more than a sociopath with a serious god complex, it all depends on your viewpoint.
    • In the first Live Action Movie he's seen reading Nietzsche's 'Beyond Good and Evil' shortly before being approched by Naomi Misora for the first time. In German even!
  • Unflappable Guardian: Watari.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Light and Misa, whether Light likes it or not. They were both villains in their own right before joining forces.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: Light OutGambits Near by fooling him into stealing a fake Death Note. However, because of Mello's own unrelated failed Indy Ploy to kidnap Takada, Near realizes the note is fake and is alerted to the location of the real Death Note, which he also steals and replaces with his own fake, allowing him to outwit Light.
  • Unmoving Plaid: In the manga, some very noticeable shortcuts were taken when depicting plaid or striped clothes. Sayu's pajamas come to mind.
    • Soichiro's suits are especially this.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Mello tells the story in Another Note.
    • In the anime, Mikami narrates the flashbacks to his youth, as opposed to the ominiscient narrator in the manga. 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.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Usually we don't see Light writing his more complex death plans into his diary before they happen.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Higuchi, both to L's plan and to Light's master plan.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Light's motivation.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Takada kills Mello with pages of the Death Note hidden in her bra. Shouldn't have let her have that blanket, huh?
  • The Villain Makes the Plot
  • Villainous Breakdown: Light's is certainly one of the more famous ones, and has become somewhat of a Memetic Mutation in its own right.
  • Villainous Friendship:
    • Light and Misa begin as Type III, though seeing as Light never does get around to killing her, it is possible that they moved to Type I territory (though knowing Light, it's highly unlikely).
    • Misa and Rem are Type III; Rem cares deeply for Misa, but Misa doesn't really care about Rem.
    • Mello and Matt are Type I, seeing how Matt is the only person Mello shows remorse for having gotten killed.
    • Mikami and Takada are Type I, but Mikami kills her anyway because his loyalty to his "God" trumps any feelings he has for her.
    • Light and Takada are very much Type III. Takada loves and admires Light, but when Takada has failed him by getting kidnapped, he makes her kill herself by Self-Immolation.
    • Light and Mikami are Type I. Mikami swears absolute devotion to Light when Light entrusts him with the Death Note and in turn he was the only one Light was planning on keeping around after he won. However, in the anime at the very end it turns into Type III. When his plan to kill Near and others fails, Light tries to save himself by sacrificing Mikami, claiming that he doesn't know him; Mikami, while broken by this rejection, remains loyal to Light and responds to his call for help by killing himself, creating a distraction that allows Light to escape. In the manga it ends ups being completely subverted, as not only Light abandons Mikami, but also Mikami responds to Light's call for help by yelling at him that he's not a god.
    • Light and Ryuk, on the other hand, are subversion: Light seems to see Ryuk as a buddy to brag to, and Ryuk likes playing with Light, but in the end, Light only wants to use Ryuk as much as he allows it (e.g. making him find hidden cameras installed in his room or add fake rules to the Death Note as a part of his Memory Gambit), while Ryuk just sees Light as a shiny new toy to be disposed of as soon as he gets bored.
  • Villain Protagonist: Light.
  • Villain Song: Misa sings one when Light chooses her to act as Kira in his place. "Ki wo tsukete, Kami-sama wa miteru..."
  • Villain World: During the second arc, crime has dropped virtually to zero, many countries have declared their support for Kira, and he's got multiple TV spokesmen.
  • Visionary Villain: Light.
  • Voodoo Shark: In the second rewrite special, the mafia are cut and Mikami and Takada kill the SPK in their place, with Light's meetings with them moved to earlier than occurred in the manga. This fixes a Plot Hole present in the original anime, wherein SPK member Ill Ratt is never realed as a spy for Mello (providing no explanation for Mello's crew knowing their names and thus able to kill them with the Death Note), but with the mafia plot's removal, another is created: Soichiro Yagami making the trade for Shinigami Eyes and his subsequent death are also omitted, leaving his absence and Light's knowledge of Mello's true name without explanation.
  • Wall Slump: Light, at the end.
  • Walls of Text: The manga, partially because of the very nature of the story, partially because Ohba made sure it had 108 chapters.
  • Weird Moon: It seems any time Light goes out walking at night the moon is always full.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Light who starts out with killing only prominent murderers, but then jumps off the slippery slope and begins killing anyone who gets in his way. Though he does state his intention to get around to killing people who harass others or are 'immoral' in the first episode.
    • Also applies to Kiras X-, a lawyer who not only kills criminals but extends his punishment to people who have atoned for their crimes and "those who do not use their potential" -- that is, lazy people and C-, the aforementioned unseen Death Note writer in the manga sequel who kills adults over the age of 70, later 60, in order to unburden the youth of Japan.
    • Also, while L is the leader of the good guys while he's alive, he does some morally dubious things during his quest to stop Kira.
    • And then there's Mello, who wants to be L's successor in the worst way. His actions (which include joining the Mafia, kidnapping Sayu, and indirectly getting Soichiro killed) are so ruthless that he's not much better than Light.
    • And then you have the debate over whether Near controlled Mikami with the Death Note or not, based off of Matsuda's theory in the final chapter. Word of God also states that Near is a "cheater" and less innocent than he seems compared to Mello.
      • Near treats detective work as a game, and will try to "win" the game by any means necessary. He has no emotional attachments or morals to distract him.
  • We Need to Get Proof: L and Near suspect Light almost immediately, and though they're both willing to play fast and loose with ethics to solve a case, Near says ex post facto justification (like killing Light and seeing if the murders stop) is intolerable for either of them.
  • What Is This Feeling?
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: The Death Note kills people. Light quickly finds ways to make it do... more.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: This is Mikami's Freudian Excuse.
    • In The Grand Finale Matsuda is done with being the Butt Monkey...
      • Some food for thought- Light was seriously considering the school bully for his second kill despite how it might implicate him to kill someone he knows.
      • And Taro Kagomi from the pilot chapter.
      • Kiyomi Takada in the live-action movie.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Invoked by the Death Note. If a victim's description of death has them writing "death gods love apples" before dying, they'll just die of a heart attack without fulfilling the description, because the victim would have no way of knowing that. What they can do is write an ordinary suicide note that just happens to spell "death gods love apples" if you take the first letter of each line.
  • With Due Respect: Aizawa says this to L when convinced of Light and Misa's innocence.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: To the nth degree.
  • Worthy Opponent: Light toward L. Particularly after L dies. Light's inner resentment of Near wearing a mask of L seems pretty genuine.
  • Would Be Rude to Say Genocide: Kira prefers the term "Justice."
  • Written by the Winners: A discussed trope.

Light: If we catch Kira, then Kira is evil. If Kira takes control of the world, then Kira is Justice.

  • Xanatos Roulette: Light.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: L is a master of it.
  • Yandere: Let's have Misa explain it: "If I see you with another girl, then I'll kill her!". Quintessential yandere.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain
  • You Are What You Hate: As Lampshaded by Ryuk when he first meets Light, no matter how many criminals Light kills there will always be one bastard left. Also Misa, who fears stalkers, becomes a stalker herself.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Shinigami King, so says the manual.
  • You Didn't Ask: In the live action movie this is Ryuk's explanation for why he hadn't told Light why, if you have a Death Note, your lifespan is hidden from a human who has traded for Shinigami-sight (which allowed Misa to discover who he is).
    • This is his explanation in the manga as well. In addition, one of the rules of the Death Note as presented in "How to Use" is that the Shinigami is not obligated to tell the holder of the Death Note anything, even if the holder asks.
  • You Fool!: Light says it a couple of times in the English dub.
  • You Get Me Coffee: L pulls this on Butt Monkey Matsuda when he asks how he can better pull his weight.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Light does this all the time, as does Mello. Ryuk returns the favor to Light at the very end.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Invoked word for word.
  • You Just Told Me: Light of all people falls for this and accidentally outs Higuchi as Kira to Namikawa. Made even funnier by the fact that he's using L's name at the time.

Misa: "Wow! Namikawa is really smart to have figured that out!"
L: "No, that's just because Light messed up."

  • You Kill It, You Bought It
  • You Meddling Kids: Light would have gotten away with it too (or at least had been able to realistically argue his innocence)...if he had waited two freaking seconds!!!
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Bit of a subversion; Light makes his life worse because he didn't give up. Light kills FBI Agent Raye Penber, eventually casting suspicion upon himself, not long after the latter judges him free of suspicion of being Kira. If he had simply done nothing L would not have managed to narrow the suspects down to him.
    • Light never gives up because he's come too far to stop now. It would mean forfeiting his pride and admitting he was wrong—something he will never do. For instance after the Yotsuba arc, if he hadn't accepted back his Kira memories, he could have remained as L's partner - there was insufficient evidence against him, Misa was currently "safe", and he could have just forfeited his memories again. In the manga, that scene plays out where he is really wishing that he had more time with L (you know, just to gain his trust and all), but ultimately decides that it has to be now. For Light, the Kira mission is more important than anything else. Also, when Light tried to get the death note hidden in his watch out, he took a few steps away from the Task Force, SPK, and Near to have more time before somebody could reach him, then frantically yanked at his watch, pulled out the death note, and frantically tried scribbling Nate River on it. If he stayed calm, he could have turned back around to face the group of people and put his arms behind his back, hiding the fact that he was pulling out a death note and writing Near's name on it.
  • Young Conqueror: All of the four main characters have the mental qualifications to be this, but only Light is idealistic enough to follow this route.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Lind L. Tailor.
  • Your Seconds Are Numbered