After watching the Netflix Death Note movie I was left with a interesting question.

During the movie (from memory)

Light; What if I write your name into the death note?
Ryuk; Ha! I would like to see you try. Furthest someone got was two letters.

Was this also a possibility in the original manga/anime series? Or this something totally original to the movie?

There already seems to be a similar question Is there a way to kill Shinigamis with a death note? . This however only covers indirect usage of the Death Note and not directly writing it down (which the op of that question seems to debunk without a source)

  • 1
    – Ikaros
    Sep 1, 2017 at 8:38
  • One thing I noticed (I haven't watch the netflix movie yet) by what you said: in the anime ryuk mentions that there were shinigamies that dropped their notes in the human world before but he never said he was the shinigami that did it, based on the dialog you provided, the movie indicates that ryuk was the one that done it before. so I think the movies shinigami concept is different from the original masterpiece ;)
    – Henjin
    Sep 5, 2017 at 4:57
  • Japanese Wikipedia stated: デスノートに死神の名前を書いても死神は死なない。(Shinigami can't be killed even if their name is written on the Death Note). It's stated that it's from the official guide book Death Note 13: How to Read, but I'm still reluctant to post it as an answer since I can't prove the source.
    – Aki Tanaka
    Jan 25, 2018 at 3:48

5 Answers 5


There is no definitive information in the anime or manga on this particular question. So it MAY be possible, theoretically, to kill a Shinigami with a Death Note. However, regardless of that, in practice, it is impossible for a human to do it, for the following reasons:

You don't have their name. Humans have no way of verifying a Shinigami's true name, much less its spelling. Correct spelling using the script in which the name is "officially" written does seem to be required. Shinigami vision, which always shows the name needed to kill, always shows the "official" spelling. For example, when Misa views Light's name, it shows up not as the English word it comes from, and not as the kana approximation, but as the official kanji character, presumably because that's the way it is on his documents/how he likes to spell it, etc. Even though this spelling makes her confused as to how to pronounce it (she initially reads it as "Tsuki" in the anime). On the other hand, the names of Western characters always show up in Western script, not in Japanese approximation. The Shinigami would have their own way of spelling their names as well. According to the manga creators, each Shinigami has their "own written language", and some even use pictures (says the wiki here: deathnote.wikia.com/wiki/Shinigami). And misspellings are not allowed: after 4 misspellings the target becomes immune from that Death Note, and misspelling it knowingly more than 4 times (such as deliberate trial and error) kills the Note's owner (Rule XXXV.1). Even with the Shinigami eye deal, Shinigami names don't seem to show up, from what I've seen in the anime. So even assuming the Shinigami is stupid enough to tell you their real, full name, good luck explaining to them why you need it spelled, in their native language.

You don't have their face. You need to visualize a face to kill. Many Shinigami seem to wear masks/makeup that cover most of their faces. Who knows if that's their actual true face or just a costume? Again, good luck asking them and getting an honest answer.

No cause of death. Ok, this one is a little complicated, but here goes... The conditions of death must be "physically possible" (Rule VI.1). If an impossible cause of death is listed, or if none is specified, the cause reverts to the default: a deadly heart attack (Rule I.4). In other words, the person's blood is no longer being pumped and they quickly suffer brain death, organ failure, etc., from lack of oxygen/nutrients. But we know for a fact that it is physically impossible to kill a Shinigami this way. They are spiritual beings that are able to phase in and out of the material world and don't need to eat, so assuming they even have such an organ as a heart, lack of physical pumping from it would not kill them. Thus it is physically impossible to kill a Shinigami with the known DEFAULT cause.

So you have to SPECIFY some other cause that is actually known to kill Shinigami. The only way we know is to make them kill someone with their Note to extend another human's life (Rule XVII.1). But that won't work either. Here's why:

A. Bystander deaths are not allowed. If you make the Shinigami write down a random human's name, you run into Rule X.2, which prevents your Death Note entry from being the direct cause of death of anyone other than the people you specifically listed by name.

B. Double entries are not allowed. If you try to work around that by specifying the name of the human the Shinigami is to kill, you run into Rule XV.1, which states that if a name is written in 2 Death Notes, only the first entry written takes effect. So the Shinigami's attempt to re-enter the person's name will be void, no harm no foul, the Shinigami lives. Even if you try to force them to do a split entry with you (allowed in Rule XXXII.1), YOU initiate the split entry, the human becomes YOUR victim, the Shinigami's Note is NOT the cause of death (yours is), so the Shinigami is still not responsible.

TL;DR Only someone who knows the Shinigami's true face, true name, and how their body works, can possibly kill them with a death note (or maybe even without it). That would most likely be the Shinigami king, possibly some of the higher ranking Shinigami. Your only real option is tricking the Shinigami into doing something stupid like giving up their life voluntarily or getting into big trouble with their higher-ups (they do have a death penalty, per Rule XLVI.1).

(All Rules are here: http://deathnote.wikia.com/wiki/Rules_of_the_Death_Note)

Incidentally, the same basic idea applies to the Netflix movie version of Ryuk. We don't know anything pertinent about him either. He may threaten to kill anyone who writes his name, just because he's miffed, but that doesn't mean they have the ability to actually do it. In fact, someone did write "don't trust Ryuk" on the actual parchment pages of the Death Note, so technically he should be dead, because his name was put down in the Note. So apparently it doesn't work on him.


You can't kill a Shinigami by putting down his/her name on a Death Note

As stated on the anime/manga, the only known way to kill a Shinigami/Death god is for him/her to kill an human with a Death Note in order to expand another human's life span. That's why Gelus died by expanding Misa's life span :

Rem recalls Gelus watching over a younger Misa Amane in the human world. Knowing that it was Misa's final day, she watches with him. Having fallen in love with Misa, Gelus uses his Death Note to kill Misa's destined murderer, against Rem's protests. Gelus is reduced to a pile of dust as punishment for extending a human life, leaving behind only his Death Note.

Death Note Wiki

Here's the clip of the episode where Rem explains to Misa how a Shinigami dies :


  • 3
    But what about page V rule IV of the deathnote:` A god of death cannot be killed even if stabbed in his heart with a knife or shot in the head with a gun. However, there are ways to kill a god of death, which are not generally known to the god of death. ` Which contradicts your statement.
    – Dimitri mx
    Sep 1, 2017 at 8:54
  • 4
    my bad, it's the only known way to kill a Shinigami, updated my answer and looking for sources stating explicitely that you can't kill a Shinigami by writing its name
    – Ikaros
    Sep 1, 2017 at 9:17
  • I did upvote you but your first line is not justified by the remaining ones. It seems "We don't know" is more appropriate.
    – kaine
    Sep 1, 2017 at 18:44
  • 1
    @kaine we do know, it was stated many time in manga and anime. when ryuk was describing the shinigami world he was complaining that it was too boring and even if you put a shinigamis name down on a death note nothing happens. there for shinigamis cannot be killed by death note and their death is only a punishment.
    – Henjin
    Sep 3, 2017 at 7:01
  • @Henjin that isn't in this answer but a (almost) perfect answer itself.
    – kaine
    Sep 3, 2017 at 20:55

Rules in both manga and anime mustn't even be put into consideration for this.

Ryuk tells Light both in chapter 1:

"I'm in the Shinigami realm, so killing people in the Human world isn't any fun" "...but if I write the names of the Shinigami into the book they don't die."

Interesting change in current translation of chapter 1:

"killing guys in the human world from the Shinigami world isn't fun at all" "...and writing a Shinigami's name in the notebook won't kill them."

in episode 1 (sub):

"...writing names of other Shinigami doesn't work"

in episode 1 (dub):

"even if you wrote the name of another Shinigami it would be pointless, because they wouldn't die."

This is of course a translation, someone should confirm the exact Japanese text, but if it follows the original kanji closely that would mean a Shinigami can't be killed by the Death Note as far as Ryuk knows (probably they tried it out of boredom?). We aren't talking Shinigami king. He remains shrouded in mystery, so that being might.

Also following the first line in new English translation a Shinigami can be killed in the Human world, it's just no fun according to Ryuk. That can imply the method of Rem, though that one is so unusual. It took Ryuk a bit by surprise. I take from that there might be another way that Ryuk knows about and it must be done in the human world.

Again, what are those two lines in original Japanese text? Anyone?


No it shouldn't be possible to kill a Death God with a Note, since the very first rule states that the human whose name is written in this note shall die, and Death Gods aren't human.

  • This doesn't exclude Shinigamis. I mean, the first rule does not state "The person whose name is written in this note shall die, but only if he is a human"
    – Ikaros
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:02
  • What's more, consider expanding your thoughts. On this Stack Exchange, we value expansive answers :)
    – Ikaros
    Jan 25, 2018 at 9:03
  • To add to this, rule IV states "there are ways to kill a god of death, which are not generally known to the god of death." If the gods of death could kill each other with death notes, surely it would be generally known to them.
    – Purple P
    Jan 29, 2021 at 3:13

Because shinigami will kill the owner before the owner will write shinigami name. Ryuk said furthermost anyone written is two word which means he killed the person before he/she finished writing the whole name of Ryuk.

  • 1
    Could you provide any sourcing or additional information? It seems as though you're mostly just repeating information provided in the question as your answer.
    – kuwaly
    Nov 25, 2018 at 5:51

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