Death Note has cemented itself as one of the best anime series in history and the show only has a short, 37-episode runtime.
One of the biggest reasons for the show’s success was the intricate narrative told through the lens of the compelling student, Light Yagami, as he attempts to deal out justice with help from the Shinigami, Ryuk, and the death note.
The series plays out as a murder investigation where we the audience see both the perpetrator and the detective’s points of view. Split into two parts, things heat up in part two after initial investigations into the mass murderer Kira ramp up following the death of its lead investigator L.
If you haven’t seen the show, we absolutely recommend it. But if you’re the type of person who likes to go in fully spoiled (we know you’re out there), here’s what you need to know about how it all ends.
How does Death Note end?
Ultimately, it’s Ryuk himself who writes Light’s name in his death note, killing the protagonist once and for all after he has been caught red-handed by the KTA, Kira Task Force.
Throughout part two, we see L’s two protegee’s Mello and Nier attempt very different approaches to capturing Light and bringing a close to the Kira murders. Mello tries to use force and his goons to kidnap and take out Light, but this plan fails and results in Mello being killed.
Nier, on the other hand, being the true successor of L, outsmarts Light and manages to catch him within a mess of lies. After acquiring one of the three real death notes, Nier slips fake pages into a death note that Light gives to devoted Kira follower Teru Mikami prior to the final altercation.
When the task force comes face-to-face with Light and Mikami in a warehouse at the conclusion of the show, Light believes that he has won by showing Nier to Mikami, who plans to write his name into the death note, killing him and laying the groundwork to exonerate both himself and Light. After this plan doesn’t work, Nier reveals he has a second death note on him, a real one alongside the fake one planted in Nier’s possession by Mikai earlier in the episode.
Realizing that Kira would be caught Mikami commits suicide, Shinigami Ryuk announces that he will write Light’s name in his death note so that he won’t spend the rest of his life rotting away in prison. Ultimately, this is how Light dies in Death Note, seconds after Ryuk adds his name to the book.