Death Note: all the rules and curiosities about the Notebook of Death

What would you do if you could wipe anyone off the face of the earth in less than a minute just by thinking about them? With this macabre idea in mind, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata created one of the most popular stories of recent times.

Originally published as a manga and later adapted for anime, Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami , a young student who finds the Notebook of Death. This artifact has the power to kill any human that has his name written on one of its pages.

With all that power in his hands, Light decides to build a world free from all evil, becoming the “god of the new world”. But even that “god” must follow some rules if he wants to use the Death Note.

All the rules of the Notebook of Death


The following rules are observed throughout the history of the series, whether through the manga, anime, or OVAS.

The human whose name is written on the Death Note will die.

The first and most important rule of the Death Note . For someone to die through the notebook, their real name must be written on one of its sheets.

The spelling of the name will have no effect if the writer does not have the victim’s face in mind.

In this way, people who share the same name are not affected. That is, it is not enough to know the name of the person you want to kill, but it is also necessary to know their face and think about it while writing in the notebook.

If the cause of death is not specified within 40 seconds, the person will die due to cardiac arrest.

From the moment the bearer of the Death Note performs the ritual of “writing” and thinking about the person he wishes to kill, within the next 40 seconds he must explain the details of his death (mode, time, place, etc). If he doesn’t, cause of death will be cardiac arrest at the end of 40 seconds.

After the cause, the details of death must be provided within the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

After specifying the cause of death, the notebook holder has 6 minutes and 40 seconds to detail all the details surrounding the person’s death.

Any kind of changes to the details of the death must also be made within this time limit. For that, it is enough to cross out what has already been written with two straight lines and specify a new cause.

However, even by altering the cause and time of death, it can never be avoided from the moment the victim’s name is written in the notebook.

light Yagami

From the moment the notebook hits the ground, it becomes the property of the human world.

That is, a human cannot “take” a Death Note that has not maintained contact with their world.

The first person who touches the Death Note right after arriving in the human world will automatically be its new owner.

The owner of the notebook will be able to see and hear the shinigami who originally owned the notebook.

Each Death Note is associated with a specific Death God. Thus, if a human becomes the owner of a notebook, he can automatically communicate with the shinigami who previously owned the artifact.

The human who uses the notebook will not be able to go to Heaven or Hell.

The destiny of the people who use the Death Note is the MU (the Void). This information was revealed to Light by Ryuk himself.

Even not owning the notebook, any human who touches it will be able to see and hear the shinigami following the current human owner of the notebook.

An example of this was when members of the Japanese Task Force and L himself touched the Death Note that was in the possession of Kyosuke Higuchi , known as the Yotsuba Kira or Third Kira.

From that moment on, they were able to see and hear the shinigami Rem, the goddess of death who accompanied the current owner of the notebook at that time.

Other similar situations occur throughout the series, such as when Mello’s team meets the shinigami Sidoh, who came to the human world to retrieve his Death Note .


The person in possession of the notebook will be followed by a shinigami until they die. That shinigami must write the person’s name in his own notebook (if he has more than one) at the time of his death.

Light began to be constantly followed by Ryuk, the one responsible for dropping the Death Note that the young man started using on Earth.

When a human uses a notebook, the shinigami must present themselves to the human within 39 days after the first use.

Ryuk revealed himself to Light in just five days. Even without the obligation to reveal to the human how to use the Death Note , the shinigami explained to Raito some rules and the reasons for dropping the notebook in the human world (he was bored).

Ryuk also made it clear that when the time came, he would be the one to write Light’s name on the Death Note .

A shigami can extend their life expectancy using the notebook, but humans can’t.

By the way, this is the main goal of the shinigami when using the Death Note . Ryuk revealed that many gods of death came to die because they were lazy to write in his notebooks. To stay alive, shinigami NEED to use the Notebook of Death.

You can’t kill a shinigami, even if you stab him in the heart with a knife or shoot him in the head with a gun.

When Sidoh appeared to Mello’s gang, he was greeted with a hail of bullets, but all of them went through the shinigami’s body as if nothing had happened.

However, not even the gods of death are immortal. Some ways in which shinigami can die have been revealed throughout the series and Kira herself took advantage of one of them to kill the shinigami Rem.


The human who possesses the Death Note can obtain the Eyes of the Shinigami, and with that power the human will be able to see the names and life expectancies of other humans just by looking at them.

Without a doubt, the Eyes of the Shinigami is a tremendously useful power for those who have possession of the Death Note and wish to use it more freely. However, everything has a price…

To get that power, the human owner of the Notebook must sacrifice half of his life expectancy and offer it to the shinigami. But if he loses ownership of the Death Note, the person who made the Eyes deal does not get back the time of life, despite losing the power received by the shinigami.

The cause of death must be physically possible in every way.

For example, writing that a certain person will be hit by a bus on the moon in the next two hours is technically impossible, especially with such a short period of time.

When there is some kind of inconsistency in the specified cause of death, the victim will simply die of a heart attack.


A page extracted from the Death Note, or even a fragment of the page, maintains all the functionality of the notebook.

This is something Kira did multiple times. She tore off pages of the notebook, and small pieces as well, to carry with her in a more discreet way.

Light even created a small mechanism in his watch where he hid a small piece of Death Note paper and a needle, which he used to prick his finger and use his own blood as ink to write on the sheet in case of extreme emergency. .

This shows that it doesn’t matter what type of material is used to write on the Death Note (ink, blood, makeup, etc). The only thing that really matters is that the written name is legible.

The cause and details of death may be written before the name. The owner has 19 days (according to the human calendar) to place the name in front of the cause described.

If a name is written after this period has elapsed, the victim will die of heart attack and the previously specified cause will be nullified.

Although not the rightful owner, any human can write on the notebook and cause the same effect.

Kira explored that rule many times throughout the series. For example, while still owning the notebook, Light lent it to Kiyomi Takada, his ex-girlfriend. Takada was a journalist, and with the help of Teru Mikami, or X-Kira, she became the serial killer’s mouthpiece in the media.


The Death Note has no effect on those less than 780 days old.

There is no use trying to kill children under the age of 2, as the Death Note has no effect.

Speaking of children, the Death Note cannot be given by a shinigami to people under 6 years of age either. There is one exception, and that is if the child finds the notebook when it is thrown into the human world.

The victim will be immune to the notebook’s effects if their name is unintentionally misspelled four times.

Even if it is written correctly the fifth time, the victim will no longer suffer from the writing on the Death Note .

If the writer intentionally misspells the victim’s name four times, he will die and the victim will remain vulnerable to the notebook.

This only happens in the event that the mistake is made on purpose by the one writing in the notebook.

death note

In the event that a person has relinquished possession of their Death Note and comes into physical contact with another notebook, they will recover all their memories for the duration of their physical contact with the notebook.

This happened when Light touched the notebook that was in Yotsuba Kira’s possession, when he was captured by the Task Force. However, if he left the Death Note behind , he would again lose the memories related to the notebook.

Suicide is a possible way of death. In principle, any human can think of committing suicide.

This is a cause of death widely used by Kira to confuse the police, as well as to interrupt the pattern of deaths caused by heart attacks.

However, if the specification of suicide leads to the death of other people, the victim will die of heart attack. In this way, the Death Note ensures that other lives are not affected.

If the notebook is lost or stolen, the original owner will lose possession if it is not recovered within 490 days.

It is important to remember that the owner of the notebook will only lose possession of the notebook if he resigns the position. If by any chance the Death Note is lost and someone else finds it, the original owner has 490 days to retrieve the notebook.

Otherwise, ownership passes to whoever is holding the Death Note , causing the former owner to lose all memories related to the artifact.


Only 6 Death Notes can exist simultaneously in the human world.

If this is the case and there is a seventh Death Note in the human world, it will be just an ordinary notebook and will only start to take effect if one of the other 6 is destroyed.

Therefore, according to this logic, a human being can own up to 6 different Death Notes .

The notebook can be loaned or rented without any change of possession.

Light did it several times (with Misa Amane and Teru Mikami, for example), mainly to try to clear his name and remove suspicion from L.

The human with the borrowed notebook will not be followed by the shinigami and will not be able to make the change for the Shinigami Eyes either.

Teru Mikami only managed to make the change for the Shinigami Eyes when he had ownership of the notebook. To get that power, therefore, it is not enough to have the Death Note on loan.

Even being able to see and hear the shinigami, those people, those people are also not constantly followed by them.

When the owner of the Death Note dies while the notebook is being borrowed, its possession will be transferred to the person who has the notebook at the time.


If the shirigami decides to use the Death Note to kill the killer of an individual they favor, the individual’s life will be prolonged, but the shinigami will die.

The shinigami can’t even save the lives of humans, they can only kill them. Otherwise, they must be punished with death. For example, the shinigami Gelus died after saving Misa Amane’s life.

In this case, when a shinigami sacrifices himself to save the life of a human, all the life expectancy that the God of Death had is immediately transferred to the one he has decided to save. Misa Amane was saved by Gelus and Rem, so her life expectancy is estimated at thousands of years.

If the name of the same person is written on two or more Death Notes, the notebook where it was written first will have priority, regardless of the time stipulated for his death.

If the name of the same person is written on two or more Death Notes, with a difference of up to 0.06 seconds, those descriptions will be considered simultaneous, invalidating both. Therefore, the person whose name has been written in the notebook will not die.

The two rules above govern ownership and validity of liability for deaths caused by the Death Note .


A cause of death can only extend for a period of up to 23 days.

That is, the owner of the Death Note only has that period of time to “manipulate” the life of the person who is going to die.

From the moment a name is written in the notebook, all events leading to its death must take place within 23 days.

A cause of death can only occupy, at most, one page of the notebook.

But that does not mean that first and last name need to be followed. The owner of the notebook can, for example, put a person’s name on the front of the page and their last name on the back.

A person with Shinigami Eyes cannot see the life expectancy of other possessors, including himself.

You also cannot see the name or life expectancy of other owners of a Death Note . In this way, Misa Amane was able to discover, in the midst of the crowd, who the real Kira was, that is, Light Yagami.


The shinigami must not tell humans the names or life expectancies of the people he sees, in order to avoid causing confusion in the human world.

Ryuk and Rem, the two most important shinigami in the series, never broke this rule.

Once the victim’s name, cause of death, and death location have been written on the Death Note, this death will happen no matter if the Death Note or the part where it was written is destroyed.

If the notebook is destroyed and only the victim’s name is written, the victim will die within 40 seconds of a heart attack. However, if the owner of the notebook had started to specify the causes of death when the Death Note is destroyed, then the victim will only die within 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

All human beings, without exception, are going to die.

After his death, the place they go to is absolute nothingness.

Once dead, they can never come back to life.

Pretty macabre, right?

Fake rules created by Ryuk


Following a plan devised by Light, Ryuk wrote two false rules on the cover of the Death Note , which would eventually be discovered by L. The intention was to confuse the investigators and prevent suspicions about him from growing.

When the Death Note is destroyed, everyone who touched the notebook will die.

All members of the investigation team touched the Death Note , so with this rule Light is guaranteed that no one is going to destroy his notebook.

If the owner of the Death Note does not write any names in the notebook for 13 days, they will die.

Thanks to this false rule, Light was able to prove that he was not Kira, since he had been imprisoned for months under L.’s watch and therefore would not have been able to survive his captivity.

How many Death Notes were used in the series?

death notes

1st – Sidoh’s Death Note

This notebook belonged to the shinigami Sidoh, but it was stolen by Ryuk, who needed another Death Note to cast to Earth. However, The King of the Shinigami did not want to give him another one.

2nd – Light Yagami’s Death Note

This Death Note belonged to Sidoh, but was given to the young Light by Ryuk, who began to accompany him ever since. Light’s main goal was to wipe out all the criminals in the world and become a “god”. To do this, he assumed the identity of Kira ( killer , in English).

3rd – Death Note of Gelus

After Gelus sacrificed his life to save Misa Amane, the shinigami Rem kept his notebook, becoming the new owner. However, Rem went to the human world and handed over Gelus’s Death Note to Misa Amane, accompanying her from then on.

Contrary to the Notebook of Death that Ryuk dropped on Earth (which is in English), Misa’s is written in the language of the Shinigami.

4th – Midora’s Death Note

It is used by K-Kira to kill the elderly who wished to die. The serious killer used the notebook itself to commit suicide.

5th – Ryuk’s Death Note

It was only used once during the entire series, to kill Light.

New rules in the Netflix adaptation


Adam Wingard , the director of the live-action adaptation of Death Note for Netflix explained that new rules had been added for the film, to try to give a slightly different approach that offers something new to both manga and anime fans, as well as to fans of the movie. those who knew the story for the first time thanks to this version.

Someone told me that Japanese live action movies , very faithful to the source material, were contractually bound not to change the rules. In the Netflix version we did not change any rules, but we added some. For example, the rule that if you don’t use the notebook for seven days, it goes back to Ryuk and he can do whatever he wants with it. We wanted to make sure there was a rule that forced Light to use the Death Note regardless of whether he changed his mind or his conscience prevented him from doing so. The game is basically that, force him to advance. In other words, there is no going back. We added some new rules to make the situation more complex.

Currently, a sequel to Death Note is confirmed , also for Netflix, although it is not yet known if the director and cast of the first part will repeat.

Rumors say that the idea would be to make an anthology, where only the presence of the shinigami Ryuk would be maintained and, obviously, the Death Note. This would avoid direct comparisons with the manga and anime, something that was reflected in the many negative reviews received by the first adaptation.