Death Note's Ryuk is one of the most popular character of the hit series! He began Light Yagami's descent from a first class student into a dangerous serial killer when he dropped his Death Note into the human world out of boredom.
Throughout the anime he follows Light around as his apple-addicted, curious, quirky observer. Despite Ryuk's ghoulish appearance and intimidating race he brings the most laughs into this otherwise dark and dank saga of L's hunt for Kira. Who could forget his apple withdrawal scene? But what don't most people know about this unusual Shinigami?
10 RYUK WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED TO LOOK LIKE A HUMAN ROCK STAR
During the concept stage of Death Note, manga artist Takeshi Obata actually drew Ryuk and other Shinigami as humans who look like "attractive rock stars." His mindset was for Ryuk to look like a darker version of Light, but his editors said that Ryuk looked too much like the main character and that just wouldn't work for the design so the idea had to be scrapped. After the editors said that Ryuk didn't have to look human, Obata began the final design of this death god. Clearly, some of the rock star influence still remains in Ryuk's design as he has a heavy metal-like outfit.
9 RYUK WAS INSPIRED BY EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
As revealed in an interview in Death Note 13, Obata is actually a fan of Tim Burton, so it's no surprise that he took some inspiration from his designs, particularly from Edward Scissorhands. If you compare the two side by side the influence is obvious from the long spangly limbs to the wild hair to the stitches to the chains and just the overall Gothic nature of the outfit. The Shinigami in general have a resemblance to Tim Burton characters such as Jack Skelington (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Victor Van Dort (Corpse Bride).
8 RYUK WAS DIFFICULT TO DRAW
If the concept design was implication enough, Obata admitted that he had some other trouble drawing Ryuk and his fellow kind throughout the manga. The mangaka said the Shinigami were too detailed and it was difficult to keep repeating this detail throughout the series. Obata even said he should have tried a simpler design for these creatures, but they do have such an unique charm, so his work is definitely well appreciated. And he did admit that he enjoyed figuring out how to design each Shinigami in the end.
7 ACCORDING TO OBATA, RYUK IS HE EASIEST TO UNDERSTAND
Though L, Misa, and Light Yagami are difficult to predict with plots involving secret identities, manipulation, and amnesia, Obata says that Ryuk is the easiest out of all of them to understand and relate to. He's just a bored Shinigami who wants out of his desolate world like most of the other Reapers and just to snack all on all of the apples he could ever want. Ryuk follows Light around because he wants something to do that amuses him. He doesn't have much of an ulterior motive--at least in the original story.
6 OBATA'S FAVORITE SCENE INVOLVED RYUK
Obata's favorite scene was the bus jacking incident from episode four of season one "Pursuit." In this episode Light Yagami tricks a drug dealer into touching the Death Note, so he'll hijack the bus and see Ryuk. The two have a violent confrontation where the drug dealer frantically tries to shoot the Ryuk but seeing as the apple-eating fiend is a death god this has no effect. Obata says that this was exactly the kind of scene that he wanted to draw partially because it had shooting in it.
5 RYUK HAS A RARE PERSONALITY AMONG HIS KIND
Among Shinigami, Ryuk has far more energy and humor. These death gods live in a haunted-house mixed with post-apocalyptic-like realm with wastelands and caves filled with bones. It's an eerie and dead land where these supernatural beings await their chance to take the lives of humans to extend their own existences however boring. Instead of remaining in this place and despite the scorn Ryuk receives, he decides to venture out into the human world. Other Shinigami have accepted their fate but Ryuk decides to use the time he's been given and taken to have a little fun.
4 RYUK KEPT A JOURNAL ABOUT HUMANS
Revealed in Death Note 13, Ryuk kept notes on the various characters of Death Note known as Ryuk's Human Observation Journal. He's written about L's eating habits, Light's image of the New World, and about how he got a hold of Misa's "Pure Love" journal. Under the name of Professor Ryuk, he even went so far as to define their personality types with an interactive quiz in the manga encyclopedia with character types such as "Type E - Stop doing bad things" and "Type G - Try to think on your own for once."
3 RYUK ONLY EATS APPLES
The only type of food a Shinagami eats is apples. Though they are far more appetizing in the human world than in the death god realm. In Ryuk's home they're shriveled and overall gross-looking as he's shown to Misa, though he's eaten them anyway because it's better than nothing. In a four panel comic in Death Note 13, Light tries to get Ryuk to eat other foods to no avail. No other foods seem to have the addictive qualities of juicy apples for Shinigami.
2 RYUK EATS APPLES BECAUSE THEY "LOOK COOL" WITH HIM
Why does Ryuk eat apples? Because they match his look of course! Tsugumi Ohba, writer of the series, says that he thinks the red of the apples go well with Ryuk's black body and big mouth. Though many people have speculated about the religious symbolism of the apples, Ohba didn't have that intentionally in mind when coming up with the idea. He just thought the apples were cool and that they made for some interesting plot points like using to bribe Ryuk into finding secret cameras in Light's room.
1 OBATA SAYS RYUK IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED
Before the release of the 2017 Netflix adaption of Death Note, Takeshi Obata drew a piece of original artwork inspired by the film. This piece is drawn in a Western style of Nat Wolff as Light Yagami holding an apple with Ryuk in the background behind a chain link fence with a menacing look holding the Death Note. Scrawled across the drawing is "Don't trust Ryuk. He's not your pet. He is not your friend!" In the end, Ryuk is still a menacing death god that preys on the lives of humans.