To kill a person using the Death Note, you are required to think of their face while writing their name.

If the Death Note user last saw a person decades ago when he was a child, but has no idea what he looks like now, can he kill the person by remembering the childhood face?

  • 4
    I don't think it was ever explained, but I think the answer would be: "yes". The reason you have to know the face of a person is so there can't be any ambiguity when trying to kill someone who shares a name with someone else.
    – Nolonar
    May 24, 2015 at 9:33
  • The answer is a clear "Yes". Light learns Mellow's name from Detective Yagami. After that, Mellow (who has studied a death note and questioned a shinigami for quite some time) visits Near to collect his childhood picture and Near mentions that he arranged for all fellow orphans who knew them to disappear so that Kira would not be able to make them write Mellow's name. No lettered detective ever drew a wrong conclusion without the reader/ viewer learning when and why so it's safe to assume that childhood faces do work. Otherwise, the entire scene would be meaningless and pure plot convenience.
    – hajef
    May 30, 2019 at 0:38

3 Answers 3


This is never really explained, but according to the rules, you should be able to kill that person, if you know their name and face.

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.

This note will not take effect unless the writer has the person's face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.

            — Death Note, How to Use: I


According to Rule XX:

  1. If above conditions are met, names and life spans can be seen through photos and pictures, no matter how old they are. But this is sometimes influenced by the vividness and size. Also, names and life spans cannot be seen by face drawings, however realistic they may be.

If the Shinigami Eyes work through a picture no matter how old it is, this would seem to take into account childhood photographs. The rules for using Shinigami Eyes (actually seeing them) compared to using the Death Note (remembering their face) are much stricter, so I would assume that, as long as it was a clear memory, remembering their face would work.

Also, remember that the purpose of remembering their face is only to distinguish them from people with the same name or to check that you know who you are writing about. If the Death Note counts a child version as definitely that person, then it will work.

  • I think this is quite a stretch to take a rule about "see the names and life spans of humans by using the eye power of the god of death" and apply it to the condition required to pinpoint a person when writing their name in the Death Note.
    – nhahtdh
    May 26, 2015 at 17:57
  • If the Death Note defines "someone's face" as including a picture of them as a child in one section, it is safe to assume that this applies to all other sections unless noted.
    – Laiseran
    May 26, 2015 at 18:01
  • The only difference is you have to physically see the person or a picture of them for the Eyes, but for writing their name you have to know what they look like.
    – Laiseran
    May 26, 2015 at 18:02

This is not expanded on in the series just like many other rules regarding the Death Note. I believe Ohba has not commented on such things either.

My opinion is: No.

I think a photo of a person's face can qualify as "has the person's face in their mind" if (and only if?) that person's current appearance is not too far from how the person looks in one's memory or in a photo.

I doubt a baby picture of L accurately describes the current appearance of L.

A possibly relevant detail: I would say those drawings of Mello and Near would be far superior to photos of them when they were younger. Since those drawings do not work for inferring names with Shinigami Eyes, I guess childhood photos also won't work when used for inferring names with Shinigami Eyes and possibly the same for the scenario in the question.

However, if you were to kill someone (using a Death Note) who is about 13, and you last saw them when they were 11, that may work.

So who judges "not too far"? I guess whomever invented Death Notes and their rules in the first place or whomever is responsible for the Death Notes' working. As Death Note is fantasy and not scifi, I think such question will not have a precise answer.

  • 1
    So, you believe that it would depend if a person can be recognised from their childhood picture. In this case, care to upgrade your opinion to 'maybe'?
    – Underverse
    May 24, 2015 at 13:38
  • Drawings won't work, no matter how realistic they may be. There is a rule to cover that! See How to Use: XX.
    – Masked Man
    May 24, 2015 at 13:42
  • @Underverse Sorry for the confusion. I misread or misinterpreted theq uestion. Thanks!
    – BCLC
    May 24, 2015 at 13:54
  • @MaskedMan Oh sorry. I think the drawings is actually irrelevant. How to Use XX is about seeing names with shinigami eyes. No one in the Japanese police knew their names. Sorry for the confusion. Editing. deathnote.wikia.com/wiki/Rules_of_the_Death_Note
    – BCLC
    May 24, 2015 at 14:08
  • 1
    @BCLC Oh, you are right, I too got confused by that. Wow, the rules of Death Note are so confusing. No wonder Light had to do so many experiments to figure out the rules, and even Ryuk was impressed! :-)
    – Masked Man
    May 24, 2015 at 14:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .