Light Yagami from 'Death Note'
Image via Madhouse Studio

Does Light Yagami become a shinigami after death in ‘Death Note?’

All humans meet their end, but some believe Light is the exception.

Death Note is considered a staple in every anime enthusiast’s life, being one of the most popular series around the globe. The cat-and-mouse game between a genius detective and a student with a weapon of mass murder has captivated audiences since the manga’s debut in 2003, which is now one of the best-selling manga of all time.

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No matter how high Light Yagami’s IQ is, when he first picked up Ryuk’s deadly notebook, he likely didn’t expect the fate that awaited him. The protagonist’s plan to become the god of the new world was partly successful, given how many deaths he was responsible for under the alias of Kira, but at the end of the day, there were always people willing to stand against him. Ultimately, Light’s secret identity was exposed by L’s successor, Near, which led to him being shot by Matsuda. While at death’s door, the main character’s name was written on Ryuk’s death note, killing him.

The series has sparked numerous fan theories over the years, but one, in particular, has always taken the central stage in the audience’s minds. Many believe Light to have become a shinigami — i.e., a god of death in Japanese folklore — after the events of Death Note. But is this just a theory?

Does Light Yagami turn into a shinigami?

Image via Madhouse

In canon, there is no information about what happens to the Death Note protagonist after his demise. This theory seems to stem mostly from the appearance of a mysterious shinigami in the anime’s first film, Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God. Although the movie is mostly a retelling of the events that take place in Death Note, an unnamed shinigami character is introduced, who questions Ryuk about his adventure on Earth. Some fans believe this to be a reincarnation of Light Yagami, who might’ve become a shinigami after death.

Unfortunately, this is impossible because the theory goes directly against the canonical universe of Death Note. In the series, it is explicitly stated that all humans go to a place called Nothingness once they die, which basically means they simply cease to exist, and neither Heaven nor Hell is real. It is also established that once dead, no human can be brought to life, therefore, reincarnation and the afterlife are concepts that do not exist in-universe.

One could argue that humans who gain possession of a Death Note might be exceptions to its rules, but such is not the case, since in this story, all humans are equal in death. Everything considered it’s safe to conclude that Light Yagami does not become a shinigami after dying.

Death Note is available for streaming on YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.

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Rafaela Coimbra
Rafaela is a freelance writer for We Got This Covered. Writing professionally since 2022, she loves sharing her knowledge and opinions about all things anime, manga, TV shows, and movies. When she’s not working, though, you can easily find Rafaela with a fantasy book in hand, or consuming some other form of entertainment — you know, lest a thought occur.