Death Note: The Shinigami’s Rules (Explained)

Death Note is the evergreen thriller Anime that has won the hearts of critics and audiences.

Tsugumi Ohba—the creator of the Manga, crafted all the rules of the terribly powerful notebook very carefully. And Light Yagami being an absolute genius did not break any of them. 

Ryuk Light's Shinigami
The Death Note has the power to kill anyone whose name is written on it.

Even though most of these rules were described in the Anime very clearly, some of the hidden aspects and conditions are hard to keep up with.

So here in this blog, I will talk about these rules of Death Note which was the main thing that made the plot so popular and loved by the audience. 

Title Death Note
Written byTsugumi Ohba
Illustrated byTakeshi Obata
GenreSupernatural, Thriller, and Suspense
Duration per episode23 minutes per episode
About the Death Note series

About the Death Note Plot

In the Anime Death Note, Light Yagami, a normal high school student finds a notebook with the power to kill any person whose name is written on it.

Yagami thrilled with this new autonomy over people’s lives begins his propaganda to get rid of evil from the world.

But as the story unfolds, his sense of justice turns into pure evil. 

Yagami starts his propaganda to eradicate evil from the world, ecstatic at his newfound power over people’s lives.

What exactly is a Death Note?

Death Note is a notebook revealed to be connected to a Shinigami. Shinigami is a grim reaper or the god of death. The Death Note can kill anyone whose name is written on it under the circumstances written in that notebook. 

The major rules of the Death Note Manga are presented in the form of full-page guidelines at the end of each chapter with the heading “How to Use It.” 

The rules in the Anime are substantially the same as the original rules, which are the foundation for all later adaptations. Some of the most interesting considerations about Death notes are:

  • A human in possession of the notebook can neither go to hell nor heaven.
  • A user never runs out of the pages of a Death Note.
  • You can write with almost any medium or tool be it lipstick, any cosmetic, or even blood. 
  • A small piece of paper from this notebook holds the same power as the whole notebook. 
  • There can be Death Notes with Red or White front covers, but this does not lessen its effectiveness compared to the Black one.

What makes Death Note the finest anime?

The series is far darker than major shonen anime like One Piece or Naruto.

The fundamental theme of the show is ‘justice’ and appropriate punishment for the crime. Death Note, on the other hand, makes this tired premise interesting by examining how ambiguous morality is and how justice itself may be warped.

Light Yagami, the show’s protagonist, is a straight-laced high school student who discovers a notebook that allows him to kill anyone whose name is written in it. This notebook is the Death Note, to which the series title alludes explicitly.

In Death Note, who murders Light?

Light attempts to write on a secret piece of Death Note but is shot by Matsuda, a member of the investigation team.

Light instructs Ryuk to jot down the names of the team members, promising to show him many intriguing things as he begins to giggle. He comes to a halt, however, as Ryuk shows him that he had only scribbled one name: Light’s.

Light tries to stop Ryuk, but it simply goes through him. As Light begins to succumb to the effects of the Death Note, Ryuk uses this as an opportunity to inform him that people who have used the Death Note are forbidden from entering either Heaven or Hell, and must instead spend eternity in nothingness.

What are the rules of the Death Notes?

Other than the conditions stated above, here are some rules the user has to abide by to use the Death Note.

When a Shinigami in the human world passes away and leaves behind a Death Note, the person who finds the note instantly inherits it. But in this instance, only a person with the necessary vision and hearing abilities can see and touch the Death Note.

Although it is extremely unusual, if another Shinigami were to pick up the Death Note, they would then become the owner.

This note will have no effect unless the writer writes the person’s name while picturing their face. It is a way to not cause any harm to those who share the same name.

A person can acquire the eyes of the god of death and, by gazing through them, be able to see someone’s name and remaining life in return for losing half their lifetime.

The Death Note is only used by the one who has found it, if that person gets rid of it or throws it away the ownership then automatically falls to the next person who picks it. 

The notebook is useless if the cover is torn or destroyed.

If you do not want to be followed by the Shinigami, you can just give the Death Note back to it or throw it away.

Other than that you can watch this video to get a better understanding of these rules: 

A brief overview of all the rules on how to use the Death Note.

What are the Shinigami Rules?

This is the most tricky category since Shinigamis were the most mysterious beings in the story. They did not reveal details about themselves, they were difficult to understand since they were always careful to not reveal too much about themselves to the humans they interacted with.

Even though humans are no match to Shinigami, there are some rules that Shinigami abide by without saying a word. 

Shinigami are supposed to haunt the users of the Death Note they are related to. They must appear in front of the user within the first 39 days after their first kill. 

Shinigamis can see the life span and names of every human on earth but they must not tell the Notebook owner. 

Shinigami are only permitted to leave their world if the original owner of their note has died and their name has been written on it, or if they need to use observation holes to locate the owner of the note.

Shinigamis cannot dwell in the human world for more than 82 hours but this can change if their note is in the possession of a human

Another interesting thing about Shinigamis is that they are not obligated to explain how the Death Note works. But sometimes they do it out of their own will. 

Shinigamis have no connection to the deaths caused by the note. Even if the related Shinigami dies, the Death Note will still hold the same power as it did before. 

As funny as it may sound, Shinigamis do hold some respect for humans, therefore, they must not hand their Death Notes to children under the age of 6. 

Shinigamis cannot kill the owner of its Death Note until or unless that person himself hands it the notebook.

Shinigami can only reclaim their respective notebook by murdering the human who currently has them; they are unable to reveal the owners of other Notes.

Shinigamis cannot be killed by human attacks or strikes, the only way to kill them is as a punishment. If a Shinigami succeeds in killing a human without the use of a Death Note, he will be punished in his realm with death.

Light has known this rule and made good use of it in his favor in the series.

What are the fake rules in the Death Note?

A little background to how these rules were made *with some spoilers* is as follows:

The Shinigami Rem warns Light that he must rescue Misa Amane or Rem will murder him when she is detained on suspicion of being the Second Kira. Light is aware that he will get arrested, and that it is only a matter of time.

Light consequently devises a strategy that will clear him as well as Misa.

When Misa Amane is arrested on suspicion of being the Second Kira, the Shinigami Rem warns Light that he must save her or Rem will kill him.

Light instructs Ryuk to add two additional bogus rules to the Death Note in addition to the actual ones as part of the procedure. He then gives Rem this Death Note and tells her to give it to another anonymous person.

Fake rule #1

If the user of the Death Note is not able to write the names of people consecutively within 13 days then he or she will die. 

Fake rule#2

All the humans who touch the notebook will die if it is torn or burnt.

What happens if you write a Shinigami’s name on a Death Note?

According to the rules on how to use a Death Note, it is mentioned that a Shinigami can increase its lifespan by jotting down human names in the notebook. But a human can only shorten their lifespan by using the Death Note.

As mentioned in multiple places in the Manga and Anime, Shinigamis only consider the human world as an interesting place, since their realm is too boring, they came to earth to see how humans handle the Death Note.

In chapter 1 of the Manga, Ryuk clearly states that:

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.

Hence even if you put Shinigami’s name on the notebook, nothing will happen to them. Honestly even before you finish writing it, Shinigami would finish you off within seconds. 


  • Deathnote is something that should not be played with. 
  • The story’s concept relies heavily on power dynamics and how a person changes once he gets power.
  • All these rules made this Anime more interesting and thrilling.

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