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The Ending Of Death Note Explained

When the "Death Note" anime TV series premiered in 2006, it quickly established itself as a global phenomenon that's still felt today. For instance, the series has led to a multitude of live-action films, musicals, and even video games. The anime adaptation of the manga by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata boldly stood out during its shared era with its Shonen Jump peers in "Naruto," "Bleach," and "One Piece." Sure, "Death Note" contained a story of a protagonist gifted with a supernatural ability. But instead of a lovable plucky hero with a can-do attitude fighting physical battles, fans of the series fell for a charismatic and intelligent villain involved in a mental cat-and-mouse game.

"Death Note" tells the story of high school student Light Yagami, who finds a notebook belonging to the shinigami Ryuk. The notebook has the ability to kill anyone as long as the user knows the target's name and face. Light begins using the notebook to kill some of the world's criminals, which earns him the nickname "Kira" from the media. It also raises the suspicion of Interpol, who tasks detective L Lawliet to find out Kira's true identity.

"Death Note" ran for 37 episodes, and Light consistently finds a way to evade capture. However, by the series' final episode, Kira's reign finally came to an end.

Light falls victim to the Death Note

With Light's rival L Lawliet already defeated about two thirds of the way through the show in the episode "Silence," we'd think that the series would end with Light undefeated. Yet, instead of becoming his own twisted vision of justice unopposed, the protagonist of "Death Note" is not only exposed in the series finale "New World" but dies alone on a flight of stairs. Light's final moments begin thanks to Near managing to expose him as Kira at the Yellow Box Warehouse. And while the confrontation leads to Light being wounded by a string of bullets, it's the very shinigami that bestowed the Death Note to Light who gives the final blow.

Ryuk may have been involved with Light since the beginning of the series, but they were never friends. Light's rise and eventual downfall has been nothing but entertainment for him. But when the show is about to be boring, what else can you do but end it? It's that thought that goes through Ryuk's mind as he signs Light's name into the notebook in the series finale, as he realizes that waiting for Light to rot away and die in prison would be just like the boredom he tried to escape in the first place. In this way, Ryuk feels more like an audience member than he does an accomplice to Light, saying that the fun's over. It's fitting that the one who began all this chaos would be the one to ultimately pull the plug.

Death Note's ending should have involved L

For all the praise that the "Death Note" anime series received, there are many who feel that the ending was lackluster. With Ryuk establishing at the beginning of the series that he would be the one to sign Light's name in the notebook, it already gave the show an out that made sense. But what would have been stronger is if L had been the one to successfully expose Light as Kira and cause Ryuk to lose out on his entertainment. As Light goes into cardiac arrest in "New World," he does see a final vision of L. It's almost as if the anime shows L getting the last victory over Light. But it falls flat since L didn't beat Light. Near beat him.

On the other hand, it wouldn't have felt out of place if the series had ended an episode or two after "Silence." Light could have beaten L and ruled as Kira for as long as he liked. Then, exhausted and weary from all the blood on his hands, he could have asked Ryuk to finally write his name down. This actually relates to a popular fan-made alternative manga ending that has Light passing on into the shinigami realm. As Screen Rant notes, the alternative ending has never been confirmed or acknowledged by the series' original creators. However, ending the series like this after L's defeat would be the perfect setup for fans to learn more about Ryuk's realm in a possible sequel, while also giving Light the win.