Which philosophers have influenced Death Note? What is the name (or category) of their philosophies? I want to read deeper.

  • Death Note reminded me a lot of Crime and Punishment, and I think there might have been a connection with that to a degree. I'll probably look that up later to check and see if I can give something of an answer.
    – Maroon
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 22:41
  • Just wondering, but are you trying to find out what influenced death note (e.g. X Anime inspired A anime to be made) or a person)? Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 2:13
  • Update: seems that the Death Note movie was inspired by it, but I'm not sure about the manga. That said, that concept of the "uberman" definitely has some relation to Death Note but I'm not sure if this is just coincidence or direct influence.
    – Maroon
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 4:27
  • 1
    @Ooker: not really, and it's worth noting that I feel like in Nietzsche and other philosophers, the discussion is more of "moral aptitude" than ability per se, though the latter still plays a role. Dostoevsky discusses this somewhat in Crime and Punishment, which was before Nietzsche, but more as a plot point than actually promoting it in any sense as philosophy.
    – Maroon
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 12:23
  • 1
    @Ooker: it's not about the plot per se of Crime and Punishment, where there definitely is a difference - it's more about the motivations of the main character at the beginning in terms of "transcending moral boundaries" because of moral strength in a sense, which in a sense is similar to Nietzsche's concept. (The article for Raskolnikov should be more helpful.) Notice that I was referring to "plot point" as opposed to the "plot" or "theme" earlier.
    – Maroon
    Commented Apr 27, 2014 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


It doesn't seem to have been spun from an actual person in history or a piece of writing. From an interview with the creator of Death Note Tsugumi Ohba he says this:

There was nothing in particular. I started thinking of some ideas and while these ideas were still floating in the back of my mind, I got more ideas to fill up detailed plots like the rules and the god of death and so on. Eventually, I thought there was enough material for a good story to tell.

Since Death Note is centered around Gods of Death or Shinigami and since there are many urban legends on Shinigami in Japan and lets not mention that Shinigamis are very commonly known about in Japan, it is safe to assume that these may have influenced or helped influence the creation of Death Note, although if there were any actual people in history or a piece of writing that influenced Death Note, then these origins are yet unknown.

and also

No, there was nothing that I strongly wished to express. The basic underlying idea was that “Humans are not immortals and once they are dead, they do not come back alive again”. This is to indirectly say that we should all treasure the present and live our lives to the fullest.

From the text above, this gives some more of an insight as to what also helped influence Death Note (which would have been his own personal thoughts). Refer to sentence highlighted in bold.

In conclusion Death Note was not inspired by any philosophers (people or a writing), since in the comment that was what you were looking for.

Bibliography for reference

  1. http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds/viewtopic.php?t=21396363

This should help if you want to review my answer, compare it with other sources or to verify that information is correct.


Note: this answer does not answer the question in title. Instead, it attempts to broaden the ideas the manga presents for those who are interested

The YouTube channel Wisecrack has a good video on this topic: The Philosophy of Death Note – What Is Justice?

From the video, I understand that these characters represent these ideologies:

  • Light/Kira: the end justifies the mean (i.e. consequentialism). If one has to sacrifice oneself and be a criminal for a greater good, then let it be.
  • L: it's better and more productive to find study about what injustice is, rather than the high-in-the-sky concept of justice
  • M, N: everything is just a logic game
  • Matsuda: Socratic questioning

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