The Grim Reaper

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The Stealer of Souls, Defeater of Empires, Swallower of Oceans, The Ultimate Reality, Harvester of Mankind, atop his mighty steed, Binky

When the first living thing existed, I was there, waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I'll put the chairs on tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.

Death, The Sandman

The mascot of death. The nature and purpose of the Grim Reaper actually varies between two different versions: one version describes him as a simple guide, the being who takes you to the next world after you die (the fancy word for this is Psychopomp); the other sees him as the actual entity of death—you die when he touches you. Either way, he is generally seen as a tall skeletal spectre in a black hooded robe, who wields a Sinister Scythe when he visits commoners and a sword when he visits royalty, though the scythe is the most common of his symbols. He is also often shown with an hourglass as a symbol of elapsing life. These dual accouterments are Older Than Steam, but both were drawn from the ancient Greco-Roman god Χρόνος (Chronos). This god (not a god of death), in turn, was drawn from the Ur Example of the Sassanid sect's Zoastrian god Zurvan Akarana. He is sometimes described as mute, and in some accounts you can challenge him to a game of chess for the right to stay alive. Often he picks up the characteristics of Charon, the boatman of the river Styx in Greek theology. But even these characteristics are filtered through a Christian veil.

The Grim Reaper, in his days as a frequent figure of folk tales, was originally used as a menacing, sombre symbol of the inevitability of death. He first appeared in Western art and folklore with the outbreak of the mid-fourteenth century plague epidemic (known to us as the Black Death).

As with most folklorish characters, he is no longer taken seriously and may even come across as benign, or played for laughs as a bored civil servant type. Even when he's still treated as a menacing figure, there will be humor involved. Still other representations of death forgo the neutral and buffoonish guise entirely and make Death a God of Evil that must be fought.

Conversely, actually meeting him may reveal Don't Fear the Reaper is wiser; dying is not as bad as feared.

A frequent modern variation is the notion that instead of the Grim Reaper, you can be a Grim Reaper - that it's a position offered to certain people after they die.

When this concept was imported to Japan in the 19th century, they translated the name as Shinigami (literally spirit of death, or god of death[1]). Japanese media then proceeded to play with the character to the point that many shinigami no longer have anything in common with the Grim Reaper, aside from the name. Shinigami are more typically spirits associated with death, rather than being the singular Anthropomorphic Personification thereof. Thus, the concept of being able to defeat or kill Death in combat (Castlevania) or Grim-Reaper figures themselves being able to die (Death Note) can seem absurd to Western viewers.

A subtrope of Psychopomp. Compare to Horsemen of the Apocalypse for when the rest of the Four Man Band show up, and Afterlife Express, when the Grim Reaper is or rides on a vehicle, especially a train. See also Enemies with Death and The Problem with Fighting Death. As with most public services, expect hilarity to ensue if Death Takes a Holiday. A more kinder interpretation may portray him as The Sacred Darkness.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of The Grim Reaper include:


  • Australia had a landmark 1987 AIDS education ad which portrayed the reaper going bowling... with people as pins.
  • An ad for an SUV portrayed driving it as so much fun it filled even Death with the joy of life: he's first seen looming over a baby bird ... which he picks up and gently replaces in the nest from which it'd fallen.
  • The PSA "dark and lonely water" features Donald Pleasance dressed up as Death ("The spirit of dark and lonely water") who then proceeds to monologue about the children who he's here to reap.
  • Another advertizement featured the grim reaper getting kicked out of a house Home Alone style, by the same Cool Old Guy he wanted to take. The reaper had no idea the Cool Old Guy has just bought some handy tools from the company the ad was advertising, and used them to booby trap the entire house.
  • There was a PSA shown in theatres that warned about the dangers of trains, showing a nervous man playing cards with The Grim Reaper interspersed with a car racing to a road/railroad crossing. It ends with the man crushed, The Reaper laughing, and the car getting nailed by the train. The title card at the end said "Why gamble with Death?" Yes, title card: this PSA was filmed in the era of Silent Films.
  • In New Zealand's "Wheel of Misfortune" PSA, Death is a carnie sitting at a traffic intersection next to a wheel with alternating slots for 'near miss', 'minor crash', 'major crash', and 'death' (and, in a single teeny tiny slot, 'miracle'). Every time someone makes a stupid decision, he puts his hand on the wheel and gives it a spin.
  • This advert for a cable company has the grim reaper along with a werewolf, a mummy, and a mad scientist talking about their jobs when the grim reaper gets messages about complaining about satellite losing signal during the rain just before explaining what he just did to a passenger. To be fair, soul harvesting is his job regardless of weather.

Anime and Manga

  • Tagmec, Knight of Parca (no, not that one) from Kishiro Yukito's Aqua Knight. Bone.
  • The Death Notes of Death Note belong to shinigami, and they sustain themselves by writing the names of mortals and draining their life forces. At least, that's how they're supposed to be used...
  • Death shows up to claim Nube halfway through the Hell Teacher Nube manga. She's a cute, cheerful girl dressed in a black robe with skull motifs, huge glasses, with a taste for parfaits and confectioneries. And a huge scythe.
  • Shinigami-sama in Soul Eater is your standard looking Grim Reaper, though with a goofy looking face as not to frighten the students of the Extranormal Institute he founded. He is also surprisingly Badass if you provoke him, even ripping off a powerful Demon's SKIN and sealing said demon in a sack made of its own skin. In a series with many Equippable Allies, his partner is a scythe. But he also has a tonfa, a rifle-like gun sniper crossbow, a guillotine (or at least he did) and a mirror
  • The Grim Reaper is the cloaked, silent, skeletal form at England's bedside in Axis Powers Hetalia. He is moved to tears by England's "last words" (or his inability to finish them) to America. England doesn't die.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Botan is the equivalent of a Grim Reaper... although she doesn't look the part. Or act it. At all.
  • In Zombie Loan the Grim Reaper shows up and seems kinda menacing. Later his soul is stolen, so he turns into a chibi, no one feels threatened by him anymore. An incredibly adorable (and irritable) chibi.
  • Dominikov of Murder Princess (At least in the Manga) is a "Shinigami" who resembles a diminuative skeleton carrying a large scythe and able to conjure a spirit-powered motorcycle in a medieval setting. Amazingly for a manga, he actually reaps souls frequently, even going out of his way to do so.
  • Most characters in Bleach are Shinigami of the sheparding souls type, hence the dub name "Soul Reaper" (not that they spend much time on screen doing this). Ironically one of the Espada, enemies of the shinigami, was the closest to the Grim Reaper, with skeletal appearence, scythe (not really a scythe, but a stylish axe) and the ability to cause decay and death by touch and breath (with the drawback that he was not immune to his own powers while getting inside his body).
  • Black Butler has more then one Grim Reaper appear throughout the show. Though they aren't what you'd expect. They are almost all Bishounen males who wear (And in Williams case need) glasses, and wield odd weapons such as chainsaws(Grell) and a Lawnmower (Ronald Knox.) The Grim reaper himself does appear, though he's known better as The Undertaker
  • RIN-NE: Shinigami are the shepherding type. They aid souls to complete their business and move on to the wheel of samsara. Because shinigami have quotas to fill some shinigami go bad and become known as Damshigami instead. Instead of acting as a Psychopomp a damashigami actively leads humans to their death so as to pad out their quotas. In shinigami society they are considered criminals. The Hero of the story is Rinne, part human and part shinigami, whose grandmother is a well-respected full-blooded shinigami and whose father is a well-respected damashigami (well-respected in damashigami circles, that is, making him one of the biggest lowlifes of the entire story).
  • Meroko of Full Moon o Sagashite is probably the cutest shinigami of all time complete with Pink Rapunzel Hair Bunny Ears tiny Angel Wings and a costume that's little more than a skirt with a bikini top and thighhigh socks. In universe her looks are explained as being necessary to stop the crying of children since she's a shinigami specializing in children.
    • Takuto is also a shinigami but he's still in training so his ears and wings aren't real.

Comic Books

  • In Preacher (Comic Book), the Angel of Death expresses disinterest in the position he was assigned to and gives it over to the man who would become the Saint of Killers. The former actually looks like an angel and used a sword, while the latter retains his cowboy appearance from his mortal times and the sword is reforged into twin revolvers for him. Clearly, neither conform to the stereotype.
  • Death is one of several personifications of abstract concepts who appear in the Marvel Universe. She has even been killed off herself, twice—both times with disastrous results.
    • During the second Secret Wars crossover, the Beyonder did this, but was convinced that life was meaningless without death, and restored her to existence.
    • Death was destroyed by the Ultimate Nullifier at the end of Universe X, freeing the dead to travel to a new heavenly dimension—but dooming the living to suffer eternally if mortally wounded. Much of the plot of Paradise X revolved around finding a replacement Death, then dealing with the chaos when Jude didn't restrict himself to people who were supposed to have died.
    • And apparently, Deadpool is in love with her. Thanos loves her as well, however, and cursed Deadpool with immortality so he couldn't steal his girl. Or at least, that's Deadpool's story.
  • In addition to Death herself, psychopomps show up as well, apparently working for Oblivion. Deathurge was one of these, until he lost a fight with his childhood friend Mr Immortal; the post is then offered to Doorman.
  • The DC universe has a special grim reaper, the Black Flash, specializing in speedsters (like the Flash) who would presumably be too fast to be caught by the normal Death. They also have the Black Racer, for everyone else (even Gods), and is one of the most badass versons of death ever (a Knight with skis).
    • While Nekron (The Lord of the Unliving) didn't start out as a Grim Reaper per se, he certainly had this status in Blackest Night; he even had a scythe this time, and was an awful lot more grim than the average grim reaper. So grim, in fact, that where most reapers settle for one soul at a time, or perhaps a city, or maybe a planet if they're feeling up to it, Nekron intended to kill the actual essence of life itself - to make life a metaphysical impossibility in his universe. Ouch.
      • However, see the Sandman entry below; according to her, he made himself out to be more important in the scheme of things than he actually was - just another Omnicidal Maniac with delusions of A God Am I.
  • Brazilian comic Penadinho (known in English as Bug-a-booo) has comedic versions of many stock horror characters. One of them is The Grim Reaper himself - or herself, as it is a female version, Dona Morte (in English, Lady McDeath) who is clumsy and is always running after her "next clients", since no one wants to die. She also appears in stories of the same author whenever someone mentions death.
  • Death as seen in the Sandman universe is one of the Endless. She's a pretty and friendly Perky Goth, and the last thing anyone sees. She is also the first thing anyone sees, but no-one remembers or hears what she says to babies.
    • In the Season of Mists arc, after her big brother Destiny tells her she should be more formally dressed for a family meeting, she starts moaning that next he'll be moaning that she "ought to get a scythe" after the manner of a traditional Grim Reaper. In the Thessaliad spinoff series, the character Fetch complains that "Death should be bones and black robes and scythes", to which his cohort Thessaly replies "Maybe she wants to make sure everyone is guaranteed at least one hot date before they cease to exist".
    • In the spin off Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson, Hell closes, sending all its inhabitants to various places and some of them end up in Death's realm because she's familiar. A being asks who Death is, and introduces herself as such. Cue him being unimpressed and commenting, "Sure, you and all the other goth chicks that choked on their own vomit.". She then shifts to wearing a large billowy cloak and hood decked out in skulls, chains, and a huge gorram scythe. He then believes her.
  • Travis Morgan was once visited by a gorgeous Death, as Stripperific as any other woman in that series, who invited, "Come to me, my love!" and then took him through a vision of his past. He refused to go with her and recovered from his illness at the end of the issue.
  • Spirou and Fantasio get to meet the Ankou, a Bretonian psychopomp who drives a great carriage and looks like a shadow.
  • In the Italian comic series Dylan Dog, the titular character has Death as one of his archenemies.
    • Not exactly an Arch Nemesis. Death is a True Neutral who has its job to do and Dylan just happens to cross its path several times.
  • In This Magazine is Haunted, Dr. Death is the personification of death. He is both a psychopomp and sometimes the bringer of death. He can appear both as a skeletal figure or as a human.
  • Hi there!
  • Funky Winkerbean had "Masky McDeath", a Grimm Reaper dressed like The Phantom of the Opera, come to claim Lisa.
  • Recurring character [dead link] in the strips by Quino.
  • In the last story (by Wilhelm Busch) about Tobias Knopp. Guess how it ends.
  • In a kind of Imagine Spot, he's watching Empowered and Thugboy having sex.
  • In the Blacksad comics Death himself hasn't shown up so far, but Faust LaChapelle dons a costume in his image to go around incognito. Death apparantly looks like a man with a goat skull in the Blacksad universe, merging some of the imagery with that of traditional Western depictions of Satan.
  • Dilbert had a grim reaper, but after having to deal with Dogbert he started taking antidepressants. He's a slightly loon reaper now.

Fan Works

  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Core Threads by theaceoffire, a young godlike!Harry creates several internal aspects (effectively split personalities) to handle his power and manage his extensive and complicated mindscape. One of them, "Wrath", turns out to actually be Death itself, just pretending to be one of Harry's personalities.
  • Played with in the Worm/Luna Varga crossover Taylor Varga: The first time the Family meets Vista, who to hide her identity is wearing the cloak that will shortly become her alternate hero persona, Saurial creates and hands her a scythe then insists she's Death -- for a little while, at least. And after Cloak follows the Family tradition of trolling Max Anders in his penthouse, Anders subsequently refers to her as a "tiny Death" every time he thinks about her.


  • The Seventh Seal. Chess.
  • In Bill and Teds Bogus Journey, the boys get to come back from the dead after beating the Grim Reaper at various games, including Twister and Clue. (A Shout-Out to The Seventh Seal.) The Grim Reaper then helped them deal with the villains and joined their band. He later wins the Indy 500 on foot and gets caught in a lip-syncing scandal.
  • Loki, Matt Damon's character in Dogma, is said to have formerly been the angel of death, having been dismissed by God after the Exodus. That a replacement had not been appointed in the 3500 years since suggests to Loki that his talents were not adequately appreciated.
  • Parodied - with a Shout-Out to The Seventh Seal - in Last Action Hero in which Death (Ian McKellen), as a character, actually escapes the movie The Seventh Seal, and comes walking down the street. As he touches some people, they drop dead.
  • Death is the antagonist in the Final Destination movies. Unusually, Death is presented as what can only be described as a "force" rather than as a person (although WMG has sprung up in relation to Tony Todd's character about this). "It" is usually seen as wind, though the other elements like to get in on the action too; generally speaking, water works to fake out the audience, sometimes teaming up with its old friend electricity, whilst wind, fire and earth lay the real Disaster Dominoes.
  • In A Prairie Home Companion, a movie with themes of mortality (the end of a show, the end of an era, the end of a life...) that happens to be Robert Altman's last film (Oh dear...), Death looks like... Virginia Madsen. She is an Angel of Death present at the final taping of the titular show who was once human. (She had heard a joke on the show so funny that she flipped her car, but hearing the joke again post-mortem, she couldn't see what was so funny about it.) Guy Noir convinces her to ferry away a visiting executive who will be destroying the theater PHC called home, and she happily agrees, knowing it won't change the ultimate outcome. She claims her name is "Asphodel", a Meaningful Name with a reference to both the flower Asphodel and Azrael, the traditional Angel of Death.
  • Death in Woody Allen's Love And Death parodies The Seventh Seal yet again.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, anyone? The GR is designed by Terry Gilliam and voiced by John Cleese, and gets extremely annoyed when a bunch of dinner guests would rather argue with him than just die like they're supposed to.

"There's a Mister Death here; he's here about the reaping? I don't think we need any at the moment..."

  • The Right Stuff has a character (listed in the credits as "Minister") with strong, symbolic Grim Reaper-ish overtones. He wears a plain black suit and tie, and first appears to tell a young Air Force bride that she's just become an Air Force widow. He is silent while doing so, but is then seen singing "The Navy Hymn" (suitably adapted for the Air Force) at his funeral, and then shortly thereafter enjoying a cold one at Pancho's. Then, as Chuck Yeager taxis away to try to become the first pilot to break the sound barrier, he's seen on the edge of the tarmac ...
  • In the Italian horror film Cemetery Man, the protagonist Francesco Dellamorte meets the Grim Reaper twice.
  • In Irish crime comedy Perrier's Bounty Jim Broadbent's character claims to have met the Grim Reaper and describes him as an ordinary man in a suit. we don't see him but he's seemingly Irish since his voice is done by Gabriel Byrne.
  • Many people interpret Anton Chigurh to be a representation of this in the novel and film No Country for Old Men.
  • Meet Joe Black makes for two possible inversions. The first is when a character asks Death how he can take on a human form and explore the world but still keep his rather important job, and Death replies by saying that he's entirely capable of doing both at once. The second is that if Death looked like Brad Pitt (and Joe's personality was quite nice and kind), people would possibly be a little less afraid of meeting him.
  • The Swedish silent movie Körkarlen (from 1921, The Phantom Carriage in English) involves the soul of dying man following Death's coachman around picking up the dead - and seeing the consequences of his own bad life. Here, the driver of the "phantom carriage" is the last man to die each year.
  • Appears briefly in Metropolis.


  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels take this even further: Death is a character in his own right, with thoughts, feelings (sort of), and a genuine personality. He's the central figure of several books in the series, and has appeared in every book (even if only for a line or two) except for The Wee Free Men. Oh, and he Always speaks in small caps, how the author depicts "a voice like lead slabs falling on a marble floor." In a subversion of the reaper's traditional portrayal, Death is one of the most likable and sympathetic characters in the series, to the extent that Pratchett fans due to meet the real one soon have expressed their hopes that he's like the one in the novels. For "What can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?"
    • Although Death is largely a nice person, you really don't want to get him mad. The Auditors of Reality have discovered this several times over, and a good guy like the titular protagonist of Mort can get on his wrong side with near-fatal results.
    • Though Death performs his duty for every living thing on the Disc, from humans to tube worms, his brief retirement in Reaper Man left a void that was filled with a separate Death for every creature: Death of Rats (Squeak), Death of Mayflies (a trout), Death of Trees (a chopping sound), and so on, to say nothing of the malevolent, Witch King-like replacement Death of Humans. When he returned, Death recalled all of them... except for Death of Rats.[2] It's a lonely, eternal job, and it's nice to have someone to share it with.
    • Death's boss is Azrael, the Death of Universes, a being so colossal that galaxies appear as twinkles in his eye, and it takes a whole page to contain a single-word reply to a question. Also, he has a clock -- the clock—which tells Time what it is.
  • Pratchett also used another more True Neutral version of Death in Nation, called Locaha. Who may or may not exist.
  • The Pratchett/Neil Gaiman novel Good Omens concerns Armageddon, so Death features as one of the Four Horsemen (or motorbikers) of the Apocalypse. He doesn't get as much page time as the others because he's always busy, but shares the Death of Discworld's accent and occasional sense of humor.
    • Towards the climax he reveals that, in spite of his position with the Four Horsemen, he is not like the others. Whereas his three companions are more or less manifestations of inherent facets of humanity, Death is the Angel of Death, with wings of darkest blackness.
  • In Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse, the office of Death passes from one holder to the next when the new Death kills his predecessor.
  • Robert Burns's poem Death and Dr Hornbook features a non-skeletal (albeit cloaked) Grim Reaper of the disgruntled civil servant mould, who is apparently a Grim Reaper specifically responsible for southwestern Scotland. This ingenious double subversion is similar to modern unorthodox portrayals of Death.
  • In Paul Robinson's book Instrument of God, the person who is in charge of the Recycling Department (where people who have died decide to go back to earth to be reborn as a baby) is The Death Traffic Manager but is colloquially known as Grim or The Grim Reaper.
  • The Book Thief is narrated by Death (and makes him a sympathetic character to boot!)

I do not carry a sickle or scythe
I only wear a black cloak if its cold.
And I don't have those skull like features
You humans are so keen on pinning on me from a distance
You want to know what I look like?
Find yourself a mirror while I continue.

  • The Black Rabbit of Inle from Watership Down is involved in the death of every rabbit, but if a rabbit dies without his permission, he will avenge the deed. In rabbit mythology, this explains why elil (the rabbit word for enemies, including humans) hunt and kill each other.
  • Death of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series is a bald figure in dark clothing, who has a quota of deaths every hour (by profession) and has never missed it.
  • The description of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol is a clear reference to the Grim Reaper.
  • Death is worshipped in many forms in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, from the Black Goat of Qohor to the Stranger from the Faith of the Seven. However, a cult of assassins known as the Faceless Men believe all of these to be the same being, the Many-Faced God.
  • Invoked in Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only In Death. Wes Maggs is haunted by a figure of an old woman with a malformed face and a black lace gown. He is convinced that she is Death, come to take Ghosts. In some, dangerous situations, other Ghosts see her as well. When resolving to fight as hard as he could, Maggs defies her. She proves to be Soric's handler from the Black Ships, projected by him. The reason she appeared more when they were in danger was that Soric sensed it, and his desperate desire to help them caused more of his psychic activity to reach them.
  • The classic Spanish novel La Dama del Alba (The Lady of the Dawn), has Death as a beautiful woman who envies the living, as she can never know love because of her role.
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Death is a quiet woman clad in an old blue dress who orders Amaranta Buend ía to sew her own death shroud, promising that she will died peacefully and painlessly at the end of the day she's done.
  • Death is a fairly important figure in Paradise Lost and is part of the "evil trinity" along with Satan, his father, and Sin, his mother. Satan is also Sin's father.
  • In Amber Benson's Calliope Reaper-Jones series, Calliope is the daughter of the current Grim Reaper, a man who has held that post since about 1900. Having been in life a businessman during the latter part of the Industrial Revolution, he used those approaches to manage his reaping duties, by forming the afterlife company Death, Inc.
  • Final Destination spin-off Dead Reckoning has a Lovecraft-inspired version of the usual stereotypical Grim Reaper appear in a dream sequence.
  • Death: A Life by George Pendle is a humorous look at Death's existence up to the present time. The main story focuses on Death being fascinated with the idea of living after meeting a soul by the name of Maud, whom he falls in love with. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Yambe-Akka to witches in His Dark Materials. At one point it reveals that every person has an individual death ("Well, Lyra, if you ask, sooner or later they will show.)", and they can hide very well to take on A Form You Are Comfortable With.
  • Harry Potter doesn't have Death himself appear in-story (though so many have died), but in The Tale of the Three Brothers, Death did appear to the three Peverell Brothers. He is portrayed here as cunning and disliking to be on the losing side of anything. He was, in the story, the creator of the Deathly Hallows.
  • Silicon Wolfpack has a traditionally-garbed reaper who seems to merely be one of many, and has a sense of humor.
  • The Demonata, after several books, reveal that Death was the main-villain all along.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, Death is described poetically as the Shadow-Lover - an attractive member of one's gender of preference - and "embracing the Shadow-Lover" is a metaphor for dying.
  • In the Stephen King novel The Long Walk, an unnamed dark figure appears at the very end who is theorized to be Death, ushering Garraty into the afterlife.

Live-Action TV

  • The entire premise of the TV series Dead Like Me. Grim Reapers in the Dead Like Me universe work as a team, and are the first variation of Reapers described; the kind that guide the soul of a deceased person to the afterlife. They also have the responsibility to "pop" the soul of the person shortly before their death, so that they feel no pain. As George quickly learns, failure to remove the soul can have... side effects.
  • The cockney, cab driving Grim Reapers from the first season of The Mighty Boosh.
  • The Angel of Death appeared several times in TV's Charmed, played in all but one instance by the same actor. He was depicted as unstoppable, anyone who fell onto his list would die, and the episode would involve characters learning to accept death was inevitable.
  • In what could be regarded as a rare subversion, an episode of Star Trek: Voyager not only plays it straight, but features friendly-guide Death turning into aggressive-destructive Death as Janeway refuses to pass over. He was a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who, for some reason, needed people to voluntarily travel to his torturous Hell dimension so he could use them as a living battery. His aggressive side made for a pretty creepy Reaper.
  • Spoofed in the series Murder Most Horrid. Dawn French plays a grim reaper forced to be customer-friendly, and has to deal with interrupting a murder a few minutes early by arranging the circumstances so that the right murder takes place.
  • At the end of the series finale of Red Dwarf, a pale reaper shows up to collect Rimmer, who evades death by kicking the specter in the jewels and running away.
  • Andrew in Touched By an Angel is one of the Angels of Death. They don't actually kill people; he just helps those who were about to die (or in the process of dying) get prepared and escorts them after.
  • Big Wolf on Campus had two episodes that involved the Grim Reaper, naturally everything is parodied hilariously. When a character tries to save his own life by challenging Death to a game of chess, he loses, so then they play Yahtzee, and he loses, so they play Connect 4, and so they play Cluedo. Death was not up for playing Stratego at that point. Also, in the other episode, Death has agreed to leave, but as he walks out the door he turns and starts to deliver his classic "In time all will come to..." speech only to have the door slammed in his face... because, you know, they're teenagers, they don't want to hear about that sort of stuff.
  • Supernatural featured a few episodes with an insanely hot black-haired reaper, who guides the deceased to their afterlives.
    • Lucifer summons Death himself in Season 5's 'Abandon All Hope'. He is one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the boss of all reapers. He later makes an appearance in the episode "Two Minutes To Midnight". Whilst he does not appear as the classical Grim Reaper, he is portrayed by Julian Richings, a man with a very skeletal appearance. While not actively malicious, he views humanity the same way we might view microbes - barely noticeable and utterly insignificant. He also claims to be at least as old and as powerful as God, and that in the end, he'll reap Him too. He's portrayed as more of a typical Grim Reaper-type being in his second appearance in "Appointment in Samarra", which makes it clear that his task is to maintain the natural order into eternity. He views the Winchesters as slightly more significant this time - enough for him to be annoyed at the way they keep coming back from the dead, anyway. In his third appearance in "Meet the New Boss" he is summoned by the Winchesters to stop Castiel after his ascension to godhood, but he doesn't bother to go through with it when Cas unbinds his restraints.
  • The catch in Reaper is that at least one version of reapers are alive, work for The Devil, and capture already-dead escaped souls to return them to Hell. Worse than a Reaper is the Ender, which can destroy souls (and anything else) utterly.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess has Celesta. She looks nothing like a normal reaper.
  • An episode of Benson had him play Trivial Pursuit against Mr. G. Reaper, not for his own life but for the lives of a bus-full of schoolchildren caught in a severe storm. All the questions Death got had answers involving "death"; when Benson accused him of cheating, he denied it, saying, "You have often heard it said, 'He cheated Death,' but no one ever said 'Death cheated him!"
  • Grave Digger is the Grim Reaper in monster truck form. He'll roll over your grave. And like 20 or 30 cars after that.
  • Although not appearing as a character the Reaper is the symbol worn by the Sons of Anarchy Motorcyle Club on their jackets and is carved into the conference table in their meeting room. The stock of his scythe is a rifle and he carries a buckler with the anarchy symbol on it. Some members have him tatooed on their backs.
  • Death appears in several episodes of The Twilight Zone, the first being "One For the Angels". He appears as an affable guy who shouldn't be feared.
  • In one episode of The Outer Limits (new series), Death takes the form of a lightning bolt. He does not like people trying to escape him by medical means, apparently because it would destroy reality if done too much.
  • The Torchwood episode Dead Man Walking features a Death that, should it successfully complete the requirements for it to appear on Earth, will attempt to kill everything.
  • In the horror pastiche episode of Cirque Du Soleil's Widget Series Solstrom, once a hotel has been magically transformed into a Haunted Castle / Hell Hotel hybrid, Death arrives as a guest (i.e., he's taking a holiday). Even though he fits the traditional appearance pictured above, magically signs the register with a skull and crossbones symbol, and has a menacing laugh, he observes the strange hijinks going on rather than interfere with them. By the episode's end, an unlucky guest has perished via choking, and when Death checks out it's with the person's soul following him in a daze. Further playing this for dark humor, the Hotel Owner doesn't seem to recognize Death and treats him like any other guest (well, with everything else that's changed, what's one more bizarre stranger on the premises?).
  • One of these shows up for Al in an episode of Married... with Children. When Al shuts the door on its face, it reappears inside the house as he turns his back. 'It's the first thing they teach in Death school.'
  • A strange example in the usually reality-based NCIS. In the fourth season finale "Angel of Death", Dr. Jeanne Benoit encounters a little girl outside the hospital who may or may not be the Angel of Death. It's strongly implied to the viewer that she really is.
  • The Undertaker is sometimes portrayed as not a mortician or a zombie, but as the actual reaper himself.
  • Played with in Grimm. It's not the Grim Reaper, it's the Grimm Reaper. And it's not the single avatar of death, it's a group of assassins made up of (comparatively mundane) monsters who use scythes as their Weapon of Choice. And their targets happen to be people known as Grimms.
  • In an episode of Scrubs, J.D. images Death hanging around the hospital due to all the deaths that happen there. Death among other things has a daughter selling girl scout cookies, and plays a game of Connect Four with J.D. over a patient's life.
  • The rare version of the Reaper wielding a sword when coming to claim royalty is highlighted on the final episode of The Tudors when a Reaper on horseback approaches Henry(who, after three seasons of subtle aging, is back as he was in Season 1); aiming the sword at the king's neck. It's a dream sequence, however.


  • Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper", a Trope Namer. Used especially well in the TV version of Stephen King's The Stand, playing while the camera roamed a biological weapons lab where everyone had been killed by an escaped virus.
  • Halo has two songs named for the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death (Another name people use for a personified death, along with the Grim Reaper). To be exact, On A Pale Horse, and it's remake Behold a Pale Horse are those songs.
  • Death appears in Ayreon's Into the Electic Castle when the Indian dies. Obviously we can't see him, but his part is done in death growls.
  • The music video of Nana Mizuki's Eternal Blaze has a blonde little girl summoning the Grim Reaper, though this version came with a bovine skull instead of the traditional human one.
  • The Nice's song "Azrael" is about the Angel of Death (its alternate title).
  • Bands such as Grave Digger, Grim Reaper, Children of Bodom and post-reunion Artillery have Death as their mascot.
  • Wow. That's surprising. Pearl Jam's "Do The Evolution" only has one happy character in it. Death. Shown as a pretty woman, a skeletal pilot, and something in-between during the video.
  • Machinae Supremacy has I Know the Reaper.
  • Schubert's Death and the Maiden, about a young woman arguing with the grim reaper over the justice of her passing. She cries out in fear, but Death replies that he won't hurt her. Death wins the argument (he always does).
  • Voltaire's "Feathery Wings", which is about the Angel of Death.
  • David Bowie's "Look Back in Anger" recounts an encounter with Death, who is described as a tired, bored angel with "crumpled wings", but "Very sane he seemed to me".
  • "Death, The Reaper" is one of the Tarot Motifs-inspired instrumentals on The Enid's debut album In the Region of the Summer Stars.
  • Likewise, Dark Moor has a track for Death on their album Tarot.
  • A variation of Death's Thanatos incarnation is the narrator in "Can't Take It With You" by The Alan Parsons Project.
  • The Scary Black Man from the Bone Thugz 'N Harmony video for "Crossroads", until the end when he takes off his coat and hat revealing he has angel wings.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Charon, the ferryman who takes the dead to the underworld in greek mythology, is probably the Trope Creator. He is often represented in a skeletal figure dressed in dark robes with a long pole by which he steers his barge.
    • In Greek mythology, death itself - Thanatos - is a minor deity but he looks like a handsome bearded man with large wings.
  • Ankou, from the folklore of Brittany, shares many traits with the Reaper, and may have been an inspiration.
  • The Mexican cult of Santa Muerte.
  • In The Bible death it/himself is referred to a number of times, although it's a bit unclear whether these should be interpreted as describing the concept of death or Death as an actual entity. He's definitely identified in Revelation as one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse however, and in fact the only one to be explicitly named.
    • What part of "an angel who is either associated with Jesus, or Jesus himself(son of man) [1], wielding a scythe ready to reap the grapes of wrath,[2] symbolizing the killing all of the earth dwellers who martyred of all of the Christians" [3] do you not understand?
    • Also, in Roman Catholicism Archangel Michael and Archangel Samael are respectively considered to be the good and the bad Angel of Death.
  • In Islamic mythology Azrael is considered the Archangel of Death.
  • Death is the narrator of "Appointment in Samarra", a story retold by W. Somerset Maugham in 1933, itself based on an old Middle Eastern story.
  • Averted by anthropomorphic personifications of death that look nothing like the Grim Reaper:

Tabletop Games

  • The Warhammer 40,000 C'tan god known as the Nightbringer MindRaped proto-life so comprehensively he gave all living creatures (except Orks) the fear of death, and although he can take any shape usually styles himself as a giant floating reaper, complete with thirty-foot-long-scythe. Partially as a consequence of this, the Eldar formed a sect of warriors called the Dark Reapers, although instead of scythes, they use rapid-fire micro-missile launchers. The first Dark Reaper, the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra, instead uses a shuriken cannon (yes, a BFG that fires shuriken) with a scythe blade on the end of the barrel.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had several gods of death over its history, and several Grim Reaper analogues:
    • In 3.5E Forgotten Realms, the Lawful Neutral god of death, Kelemvor, could dispatch any creature he liked to do his work, and Kelemvor himself would occasionally come in person. Kelemvor's avatar is of a tall man wrapped in black shrouds, wearing an emotionless silver mask. In an exception to the Grim Reaper's usual weapon of choice, Kelemvor prefers a bastard sword, which he used when he was still a human warrior.
    • One type of Inevitable (mechanical being of pure law designed to fulfill a specific duty while roaming the planes) is the Marut, which seeks to destroy any being that uses magic to extend its lifespan beyond normal limits, while ignoring those who simply were resurrected, unless the offender does so repeatedly or on a massive scale. Like Kelemvor, Maruts are relatively benign to players (who seldom bother with simply prolonging their lives), and can be potent allies to players hunting liches and the like.
    • D&D 4E features an entire race of Grim Reapers, the Sorrowsworn, who answer to the Raven Queen, the goddess of death and fate in the new setting. Extremely high-level monsters, they won't bother you unless you "defy death"...which given the fact that at least one character has been subject to Raise Dead at that level, makes them a frequent opponent around that tier of play. The Sorrowsworn also come with their own pets, the shadowravens, who you do not want to get mad.
    • There is the greater deity Nerull the Reaper, who is described in Manual of the Planes as "...a rust-red skeleton wearing a dull black cloak" who wields a "...sablewood staff from which projects a scarlet blade of force that has the power to slay any creature". Nerull's clerics are serial killers. In 3rd Edition, he was opposed by Wee Jas, a Lawful Neutral deity of death and magic who didn't agree with him on the "kill everything that breathes" subject.
      • There was also an adventure released in which Nerull succeeded in his plan, and wiped out all life. He eventually realized just how stupid this was, and went back in time to request the players stop him.
    • Fourth Edition states the Raven Queen (an ascended mortal, rather than Wee Jas) took him down, hard. It seems Vecna the Maimed God has managed to salvage part of him, because Vecna now has big mean undead with scythes in his service...
  • Long before Fourth Edition did it, there was a "grim reaper" included in the Ravenloft setting's monster-books. They aren't minions of a death-deity as far as anyone knows: they just like to kill stuff. Also from Ravenloft, there's the darklord Death, which believes itself to be the real thing (it's not; in reality, it was once the mortal servant of another darklord, transformed by his mad experiments).
  • Also in D&D, drawing the wrong card from a Deck of Many Things could summon a "minor death" to try to kill you, which looks like the grim reaper as depicted on a Tarot card.
  • One of the hundreds of chatty deckers who have added in-character commentary to Shadowrun products went by the login of Grid Reaper. Another decker eventually outed him as a ghoul, explaining the morbid reference.
  • The darkly humorous HOL: Human Occupied Landfill actually gave stats for "Death Himself (Mortus). It also uses the civil servant interpretation, saying that due to the immense workload he has to do in the game's highly volatile and dangerous setting, he realized the need to hire subcontractors to assist in the workload and open his first branch office. One example given was a man named "Gordo" who, due to death's vanity concerning his Sinister Scythe, is forced to collect souls using a weed whacker.


  • The personification of Death is a central character in the German musical Elisabeth. He's not much of a traditional Grim Reaper type, though, as he's not hooded, scythe-wielding, or skeletal (in fact, he's usually rather handsome, although it depends on who's playing him). He's referred to as "Der Tod" ("Death", in German); his duets with Elisabeth are seen as long-life flirtations, and the single duet with her son Rudolf can be very easily seen as Ho Yay.

Video Games

  • In Darksiders II You play as Death the main protagonist of the game and one of the four horseman of the apocalypse! A bonus in this game is that you get to play in his reaper form!
  • The Grim Reaper (Death) appears in Magicka. He's the king of the underworld, and co-owns a travel agency with a vampire. You can unlock a Magick, which will summon Death, who will hunt down and one-hit kill whatever has the lowest health on the screen; this can include 'you.
  • In the BlazBlue series of games, the Main Character, Ragna The Bloodedge was at some point before the start of Calamity Trigger nicknamed "The Grim Reaper." He also uses a sword called the Bloodscythe. At first glance you'd probably ask why he's called the Grim Reaper. One would say its because of his unique drive ability "Soul Eater" which drains enemy health in the form of little red lights. Then you see his Astral Finish, which involves his sword turning into a scythe, and him slashing the opponent into shreds...and draining the opponent energy, or soul if you will, and slashing for one final kill. It can be seen here:
  • Darkstalkers has Jedah, a blood using would-be Messiah who also is prone to using scythes.
  • In Sacrifice the final spell of the death god Charnel is, well, "Death". It summons a towering cloaked figure with two giant blades for arms, who will indiscriminately and gleefully massacre all and every creature it encounters (regardless of which side it belongs to) until he's killed his fill and vanishes. Death cannot be targeted or damaged by anything, and his duration is measured in 'units killed': Once he's locked on to a unit, that unit is dead. For some reason he will not lay a hand, errr, blade, on the wizards themselves.
  • Used in Grim Fandango, in which you play a reaper whose job is presented as a supernatural travel agent.
    • Lampshaded. Manny appears as the classical representation of Death when he's collecting clients from the Land of the Living. When he gets back to the office, he folds up the scythe and takes off the black robe and the elevator shoes. He normally looks like a shorter man in a blue suit, with a stylized skull for a head.
  • The scythe-chucking Grim Reaper is almost always Dracula's second in command in the Castlevania series of video games. Why exactly the embodiment of death is a servant of a Vampire is anyone's guess. Though his name in every game is always "Death," not Grim Reaper. It becomes confusing when you can kill Death.
    • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, reapers are encountered as normal enemies on the penultimate stage, they are effectively Glass Cannons since they go down in 2 hits but they deal tons of damage and they tend to Zerg Rush the player.
    • In Castlevania, Dracula is more than just an ordinary vampire. He's the Dark Lord. And Death seems to be his friend.
      • Or devoted servant, in some games. Given how many times Dracula has died and come back, one could assume he has mastered Death.
  • In Romancing SaGa, Death is actually a God and a Bonus Boss, He makes the Final Boss look like a weakling in comparison. (Strangely enough, defeating him increases your alignment with him; also if your alignment with him increases enough; he will assist you in battle by killing any enemy except Undead monsters and certain bosses)
    • Death also takes human form during the Soulgutter quest, teaching you how to seal him away and blesses you to prevent your soul from being taken by Soulgutter.
  • Die in Shadowgate (not hard to do) and this is who's waiting for you.
  • In The Sims series, The Grim Reaper appears, as a scythe-wielding floating skeleton in a face-obscuring black robe, when it's time to take away any character who dies. With the appropriate expansion, he also comes for pets (with a rather cute animation). Too many deaths at the same time can result in "Grimmie" (as players tend to call him) getting overworked and needing to relax by watching some TV, or go to the toilet. While he doesn't appear in the base game for 1, the first expansion pack adds him, setting the stage for the rest of the series. In 2, Sims can be saved from death if another Sim successfully pleads with "Grimmie" and wins a game of "Which hand is their soul in?" with him. Incidentally, he also has some sweet wallpaper on his cell phone. He never actually uses his scythe in-game; he instead directs a Pillar of Light to pick up the dead Sim. If your sim is dying of old age and had a good enough life, they'll shake his hand, recive a fruity drink and walk off into the light surrounded by hula girls. A premade sim, Olive Specter, also has memories of erm... Whoohooing, with Grim. Nervous Subject is rumored to to be Grim's son from this. While in 3, Sims carrying a Death Flower will present it to him upon dying and he'll be so moved he leaves to take it home and put it in a vase, allowing your sim to live.
  • "The Grim Ripper" is one of the optional characters in some versions of the Guitar Hero video games. He plays a pretty mean scythe.
  • In Persona 3, Death comes in several forms...
    • First, there's the Bonus Boss "The Reaper," who stalks the halls of Tartarus while dual-wielding revolvers. When he appears, Fuuka announces "I sense Death!" Among the personas, there's Pale Rider, a persona of the Death arcana, as well as the ultimate Death-arcana persona, Thanatos, i.e., the scary sword-wielding thing that bursts out of Orpheus near the beginning of the game.
    • Death, as an Anthropomorphic Personification, also plays a pivotal role in the story, as, due to the machinations behind two attempts to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, he ends up being sealed inside the main character for ten years, and then incarnated as the heroes' free-spirited classmate Ryoji Mochizuku. Death is an avatar and herald of Nyx, an Eldritch Abomination whose role is to bring about humanity's extinction, though in the end, Ryoji, speaking on behalf of Nyx, expresses relief and gratitude that the heroes found a way to avert the apocalypse after all.
  • The Pale Rider from the various Shin Megami Tensei games and spin-offs, including the aforementioned Persona 3.
  • The Halja from Odin Sphere. They're called 'shinigami' in the Japanese version, but more closely resemble the western image of this trope; complete with cowled faces and sickles.
  • In Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, each world in The Multiverse has its Master of Death—a god-like being acting as psychopomp and responsible for maintaining the free flow of souls between life and the afterlife. Of the two you encounter during the game, Gamma and Gig, Gamma is a Knight Templar who kills off everyone above the age of 30 in his world to keep it from being uglied by old age, and Gig is an Omnicidal Maniac with a psychotic streak who turned your world into a slowly dying dustbowl 200 years ago. Neither look particularly like the traditional reaper, being hovering humans with Shoulders of Doom. Gig uses a scythe, however. When a certain character from another game world starts talking about challenging the Reaper metaphorically, people point out this doesn't describe Gig very well. Gig (Vigilance) as actually a real nice guy before Drazil's machinations.
  • The Disgaea series has Grim Reapers as standard monsters. In the first game they appear as large cloaks with hoods and gloves, but have no body other than a few ghostly wisps coming out of the bottom of the robe. While absent from the second, they return again in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice as bloated, hunchbacked shadows with large scythes, skeletal wings, and a cow skull for a face. They are responsible for ferrying dead souls to the afterlife.
    • In addition to the previous, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has Emizel and his father President Hagos, who are reapers of a more human looking sort. Both are capable of taking on a more monstrous form, though.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day has Gregg the Grim Reaper, a short and squeaky-voiced skeletal figure who masks his voice with a loud, booming megaphone. Not quite what you'd expect, but how many grim reapers have you met before? Has a particular hatred of cats (you know, nine lives and all that) and related animals (such as catfish), and isn't that fond of squirrels either (since they have as many lives "as they think they can get away with"). He hates The Undead even more, though (because they really screw up the paperwork), and hands Conker a shotgun before the Zombie Apocalypse level so he can get rid of them.
  • Played with in The World Ends With You, where the dead are given a second chance at life through the Reapers' Game, a seven-day gauntlet of challenges where Players must fight to survive against monsters called "Noise" and the Reapers themselves (again, Shinigami in the Japanese version), who as it turns out are just one part of a massive Celestial Bureaucracy the full details of which are only available to those who strive for One Hundred Percent Completion.
  • Komachi from Touhou kinda mixes up the mythologies here. She's a Shinigami who both uses a scythe and rows a boat across the Sanzu river. Also, she doesn't take her job very seriously and is prone to slacking off. In Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, it was explained that she wasn't so much a The Grim Reaper so much as purely an entity akin to Charon, since she's not permitted to reap souls. She's just a ferryman who takes you across the river.
  • The Final Fantasy series has a whole variant of Grim Reaper appearances, all summoned with the spells Death or Doom, more frequently the former. A full listing can be found here.
  • The Twisted Metal competitor Mister Grimm is actually the Grim Reaper in most incarnations. It was suggested that he was once a mortal man, as statistics given in Twisted Metal Head-On match the form he assumes in his ending, rather than his usual appearance as a skeletal biker. The exception occurs in the darker Twisted Metal Black; unlike the main series, Grimm in this game was a US soldier in Vietnam, who was captured along with a wounded friend. The friend died, and in order to avoid starving to death, Grimm had to eat his corpse, keeping the skull as a mask.
  • In all of the Gauntlet (1985 video game) games, Death appears to... steal your hit points. To make him stop, you need to use magic to kill death. Alternately, if you're magicless, bored, and made of real cash, you can just let him get his fill.
  • Dieu Mort, being the Arcana of Death in Arcana Heart, naturally has the appearance of the traditional Grim Reaper.
  • That One Miniboss in MadWorld is a Grim Reaper-styled assassin who has a One-Hit Kill scythe, appears from out of nowhere when a zombie grabs you, and disappears when you hit him. Thankfully, killing him is optional.
  • Monster Rancher has the Joker, a reaper like monster wearing a clown mask.
  • Grabbed By the Ghoulies has a Grim Reaper who appears when break one of the rules of the room you're in. Accidentally punch an imp in a "weapons only" room? Here comes Death, complete with.. totally radical air-guitar/scythe, obviously. Which is played whenever he touches anyone and kills them (yes, even enemies). And you can punch him out the window in some rooms. For the bringer of death, he seems like a pretty cool and mortal guy.
  • Dantes Inferno, very loosly based on the poem commonly assumed to have the same name, begins with Dante, a Knight Templar, beating up Death and stealing his scythe
  • Shadow Hearts has Fox Face, referred to variously as "Grim Reaper" and "God of Death". As a more traditional Japanese version of Death, he can be defeated, banished, and eventually destroyed.
  • In Mega Man X 4, Sigma disguises himself as a grim reaper, complete with a Sinister Beam Scythe. His plans in the game involves instigating a massive civil war between two benevolent Red Shirt armies and, at the end of the game, using a Kill Sat to annihilate the humans from the face of the earth. Luckily, he was defeated before the latter came to pass, but considering the events in the former, resulting in the deaths of most members of one of the Red Shirt armies, What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic?
  • In Brutal Legend, the Reaper is a type of unit in the Drowning Doom faction, and are an absolute bitch to kill, due to their high mobility and powerful attack.
  • .hack has Skeith, The Terror of Death, who is often compared to the Grim Reaper. In Another Birth, BlackRose's initial thought when she seems him is "Death", and she refers to him as such before she learns his true name. Skeith is skeletally thin in all appearances, and wields a scythe in .hack//GU. His final and most powerful form is distinctly different, resembling an "angel of death" rather than the Grim Reaper, though he still uses a scythe for close-quarters combat.
  • Death is a playable character in Magical Drop 3, as a Stripperiffic and very sexy Femme Fatale with a huge scythe, Cute Little Fangs and Unusual Ears.
  • A Grim Reaper-like miniboss appears in the Ghostbusters game for Sega Genesis.
  • If you write 'Death' or 'Grim Reaper' in Scribblenauts, you summon a typical black-cloak scythe-wielding skull-faced grim reaper. He'll attack (and eventually kill) anyone nearby, but this also includes you, meaning you should proceed with caution if you want to use him.
    • Super Scribblenauts removes his scythe—although he'll still pick one up if you spawn one—and gives him the ability to instantly kill anything with a touch. That includes Maxwell in the playground areas, where he's usually invincible to anything short of a nuke.
  • In King's Quest VI, the Lord of the Dead is a sinister, imposing figure who Was Once a Man before he was bound eternally to his underworld throne by heavy chains. Any living soul he touches is Deader Than Dead.
  • The Guild Wars fallen god Dhuum, who was god of death before Grenth took over, is modeled after the Grim Reaper.
  • Death is the first boss of Wonder Boy in Monster Land, and later reappears in Underground Monkey form as the "Poor God", who steals your gold when he attacks.
  • Chulip - hangs out in the cemetery and attacks
  • Age of Wonders gives the Grim Reaper as the ultimate undead unit.
  • The shadowy image of a Grim Reaper appears over you in Samurai Shodown 2 if you're hit with SNK Boss Mizuki's control-reversal attack, counting down on his fingers. Once done, or if you're hit with the attack again, he ... just goes away.
  • In Rosenkreuzstilette, one of the bosses is an undead The Grim Reaper-like wraith who is actually the spirit of Grolla's grandfather and master, Sir Raimund Seyfarth, better known as the legendary Thanatos. This boss not only wields a blood-red scythe called the Devil Scythe Grassense, but also the legendary Demon Sword Grollschwert, both of which he combines together when he faces the player's character head-on in combat.
  • Speaking of blood-red scythes, Guilty Gear brings us Testament, who is like a Goth version of The Grim Reaper with a scythe made of blood (which also makes it a blood-red scythe). He even has Hell itself as his stage for the first two games in the series. You can also fight him in the Hell Stage in various parts of the Story Modes in Guilty Gear XX.
  • Dusknoir from Pokémon apparantly resembles the Grim Reaper.
  • In the Hordes of the Underdark extension of Neverwinter Nights, you meet him when you die, and he can send you back under certain circumstances. Later in the game, when you get banished to Hell, he can't bring you back, so you have to find his True Name to make him bring you back to fight the Big Bad.
  • The Chaos Rings series seems to like this trope:
    • The Executioner in Chaos Rings and Chaos Rings Omega initially appears as cloaked skeletal figure which consists of a floating spine which wields a huge scythe with one arm while the other arm is made of scythes. It's true form has the spine attached to a giant tick.
    • Death in Chaos Rings II, one of the Four Horseman, is clearly based on the Grim Reaper. He has a long, tattered robe, is vaguely skeletal underneath it, and has a scythe-like weapon which has a bird's head, the bill forming the blade of the scythe.
  • In the Maximo series, Death spares Maximo as part of a deal to stop Achille from drilling into the afterlife and stealing souls. In the second game, Maximo can temporarily call Death to take his place as a power-up. Death is portrayed as surprisingly friendly towards Maximo. He cares a great deal for the souls in his care, getting angry at anyone who interferes with them. In the intro to the second game, he whispers comfortingly to a soul freed from a golem.
  • Most Halloween events in RuneScape involve Death. Also, during the period of the event, he will briefly appear to players when they die. Players are also sent to Death's office when they die for the first time.
  • There's an Airborne Mook in Mini Robot Wars called the Reaper (looks like an evil red robot holding a scythe, and it's sound cue is an Evil Laugh to boot). The good news is that its scythe attack is not a One-Hit Kill on your Minirobots. The bad news is that it hits all the Minirobots around it, and this scares them to the point that they freeze for a moment.
  • Gravelord Nito from Dark Souls is effectively the god of death and the Grim Reaper. He even has a skeletal theme, only Nito is made of a mountain of skeletons.

Web Comics

  • Irregular Webcomic has a plethora of reapers, each assigned to collect souls from specific causes of death. Very specific causes of death, including Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs, Death of Being Wrestled to Death by Steve Irwin, Death of Inhaling Hat-Making Chemicals, etc. Death of Being Ground By A Mars Rover Rock Abrasion Tool had something of a long wait before his debut performance. Of late, the author himself has become Death of Going Back in Time and Killing Yourself, after being on the receiving end but before any inkling of the giving end. One of the perks of the job is... The ability to travel in time.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court, which has numerous figures from different myths serving as Psychopomps, features a brief appearance by Ankou, who looks like The Reaper and carries a scythe.
  • Completely subverted in F@nboys, where Death is a friendly jokester who dresses in bright, cheery colors. He absolutely loves his job and a number of comics shows him cracking some kind of joke just before getting to the actual reaping. He has a pet cat who died of a bullet to the head, and he loves showing off how getting it to smoke a cigarette will make smoke come out of the wound.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Death is a skeletal maitre d' because Purgatory is a restaurant with bad service.
  • In a non-continuity set of strips in Exiern, Death (played by Typhan'knee) comes for a guy who tries the Chess with Death trope. She cheats, then lampshades it:
  • In Wily's Defense has a rather hilariously goofy Angel of Death who's entire character became cemented with the simple line of "Here's Death with the weather!". He clearly enjoys his job, since he brings up the weather almost every time he appears. At one point, it starts raining indoors, despite that according to him, the forecast didn't call for it. His older sister remarks about how unreliable his forecasts are, to which Death replies, "Meteorologist just so happens to be Sanskrit for 'lying douchebag'."
  • The eponymous Killer Rabbit of the Furry Webcomic Jack is assigned the job, as well as being the Anthropomorphic Personification (if you'll excuse the Incredibly Lame Pun) of the sin of Wrath. Interestingly, his first job is punishment for the things he did to get him the second job (namely, genocide of humanity). In spite of his fearsome appearance (seven foot tall, green humanoid rabbit with glowing red eyes, who looks like he's been dead for about two weeks) and his anger issues, he still tries to be a nice guy, especially to children and innocents. The comic is about his coming to terms with and seeking forgiveness for his deeds; perhaps ironically, while he regrets his deeds, he feels that what he has done was unforgivable - and without that, he cannot escape Hell. Unlike at least five of the seven sins, he was never a Complete Monster, but he racked up the highest death count of any of them.
  • Lovefeast is centered around the concept of less-than-normal people giving up their lives to train to become "death gods" within a secret society. Inside of that society, they call each other Shinigami. They adopt different death god abilities to not only handle souls of the dead, but also to destroy demons that might interfere with those souls' passing to Purgatory. "THE" death god passed away ages before the story takes place and was a shape-shifter himself but sometimes took on the traditional cloaked appearance of the Grim Reaper.
  • In Grim Reaper School, children that died too soon are made to be Grim Reapers in a slightly less than traditional sense; the main character, Charlie, discovers there's more to it than meets the eye.
  • Death from Slightly Damned is one of the Powers That Be, but compared to the other gods he got the short end of the stick when jurisdiction was passed out. He netted himself judgment and purgatory, and hangs out with departed souls in the Ring of the Slightly Damned sometimes when he's not busy.
  • Death ends up as a fairly regular character in Problem Sleuth, where Ace Dick and Pickle Inspector challenge him to everything from the game of LIFE to the mind-boggling LABRYNTHINE SUDOCUBE COMPREHSENSILE to win back their, well, lives. He's slightly less competent than what you might imagine, and characters simply walking out out the afterlife becomes something of a Running Gag.
  • Death in Death and The Maiden is a bit of a wimp, and has a Will They or Won't They? relationship with a mortal girl he failed to reap.
  • The Death from The Sandman is also the Death in And Shine Heaven Now. When she has some spare time, she doubled as the Ghost of Iscariot Yet to Come for Enrico Maxwell. (Interestingly, she is shown to also be the Death for the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.
  • Death makes an appearance in The Unspeakable Vault of Doom, explicitly mentioned to be Discworld's Death. Unfortunately, he isn't used to the rules with the Elder Gods around...

That is not dead which may eternal lie,
and with strange aeons even Death may die.

Web Original

  • The Grim Reaper recounts his experiences in The Grim Reaper Show, where's he portrayed as a sardonic wisecracker. There are five current installments.

Western Animation

Numbuh Three: Thanks to you, in addition to my charity work and my love of Rainbow Monkeys, I can now also reap the immortal souls of grown-ups, collecting my dark harvest with a cold, iron blade! Yay, that'll be fun!

  • Death appears in Chilly Beach to take away Dale, who opts to challenge him. Then proceeds to annoy death by taking too long to pick what game they're going to play. Leading to this exchange:

Death: "CHOOSE! or I shall choose for you!"
Dale: [panicked] "Uh, hockey!"
Death: "Very well." [summons a hockey rink and puck, then proceeds to slapshot said puck into the goal so fast it buns a hole through the net] "...By the way, hockey is what I would have chosen."
Dale: "Aw, crap."

  • Death also had the misfortune of having to collect one Wakko Warner, after an unfortunate incident involving a Swedish Meatball overdose. His siblings, Yakko and Dot, had to tag along to avoid breaking up the family. After a chaotic game of checkers (the Warners not being up to Chess), they became attached to Death Itself, whom they affecionately called "Daddoo." Finally, Death decided to restore them to life, remarking that he would not be back till the end of their natural lives, which he added he hoped would not be for a very long time.
  • The Monkey King poses as the Grim Reaper in Jackie Chan Adventures, in order to kill Jackie. While proving himself to be extremely good at wielding a scythe, he is talked out of killing Jackie that way because "it wouldn't be very funny".
  • The Reaper appears to have been following Russel Hobbes around for most of his life. Russel insists he saw the Reaper during the drive-by shooting which killed all his friends, and actually has photographic evidence of Death looming over him. Rumour also has it that Murdoc's pet raven Cortez was "born in the folds of the Grim Reaper's cloak" - he picked it up in Mexico, a place where ravens don't naturally live in the wild, so there may in fact be something weird going on with it.
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenhole has Death appear, trying his damnedest to stick it to the immortal Frankenstein. He finally finds a way by episodes end. He vows to never reap Victor's annoying and elderly children (Victor never gave them the immortality serum), leaving Victor stuck with them forever.
  • At the very beginning of Pluto's nightmare in Pluto's Judgement Day, the demonic cat dressed as a policeman who comes to arrest Pluto in his sleep and take him to Hell where his trial will take place is presumably this character.
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko's car dies, and is escorted to Heaven by the Grim Tow Truck.
  • The Grim Reaper in Regular Show is a recurring villain who lost an arm wrestling contest with Skips in order to keep Rigby's soul, tried stealing Mordecai, Rigby, Pops, and Benson's souls by winning at bowling, and blackmailed Mordecai and Rigby into babysitting his son by stealing Muscle Man's soul after he died. He also has a cockney accent, can revive people through loogie's, holds souls in bowling balls, one giant muscular arm that looks like a normal arm when he wears a jacket,and looks a lot like Lemmy from Motorhead.

Multiple Media

Real Life

  • The Grim Reaper doesn't come any cuter and cuddlier than the Kitty of Doom
  • The grim reaper is commonly depicted on the Death card of Tarot decks (although it represents change rather than death).
  • There was once a roller coaster at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, PA called the "Steel Phantom", whose mascot was the Grim Reaper. It was torn down, supposedly for being extremely dangerous. When a new coaster, "the Phantom's Revenge", was being built in its place, there were commercials featuring the Grim Reaper going tanning and generally relaxing, waiting to go back to work.
    • It wasn't so much as torn down as large sections (such as the loops) were removed and replaced, the first hill made larger, etc. It wasn't really dangerous, it just wasn't the record holder it once was and was drawing less crowds. Also he wasn't the Grim Reaper, he was known as "The Phantom"
  • If you happen to see The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore with a crew in your neighborhood well... sorry for you loss.
    • One commercial has Cantore showing up at a beach on a nice summer day for vacation. Everyone there, knowing who he is, starts evacuating the beach as soon as they lay eyes on him.

Statler: Someone should send the Grim Reaper to the writer of this script!
Death: I visit the writer of every script.
Statler: Do-ho-ho... huh?

  1. "shi": death; "ni": of; "gami" (Hepburn romanization for "kami" following an N): god or spirit
  2. and the Death of Fleas