A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 21: Fantasy Squad – Reaper

RI’m not sure if that’s cheating, but I’ll probably get off on a technicality! This post is about the Grim Reaper, also known as Death or the Angel of Death.

“You might be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper” (Quote taken from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey)

Okay, so as well as being a closet Bill and Ted fan, I’ve always been fascinated with Death. In Greek mythology (oh, come on, you can’t be surprised I’m referencing the Greeks), Death was also known as Thanatos, though information about him is scarce as he was mostly ‘pushed aside’ for Hades – god of the underworld. He was born to Nyx (Night) and Erebos (Darkness) and most depictions are of a bearded man with wings – though he has been portrayed as a boy. He was not purely evil and was often represented as gentle.

Grim Reaper by electromancer Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2004-2015 electromancer

Grim Reaper by electromancer – Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2004-2015 electromancer

Most people will be familiar with the depiction of a skeletal figure in a hood, carrying a scythe. There are other representations. Sometimes the Grim Reaper (or Death) is female. In some myths the Grim Reaper actually causes death when arriving to collect victims. This has led to tales of people trying to fend off Death by bribery and tricks.

The Grim Reaper is represented considerably in media – here is a taste:

  • In the Seventh Seal (an Ingmar Bergman film), a knight returning from the crusades plays chess with Death
  • In Discworld by Sir Terry Pratchett, Death is a character – portrayed as a black-robed skeleton.
  • Death appears in the DC Comic Sandman by Neil Gaiman – as a woman.
  • In the Twilight Zone (Season 1), Death was played by Murray Hamilton.
  • Death also appears in Marvel Comics.
  • In The Book Thief (book and film) – Death is the narrator.
  • In the book, On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony, Death is the main character.
  • Brad Pitt played Death in Meet Joe Black.
  • Sam and Dean Winchester have encountered Death in Supernatural.

I’d love to hear how the Grim Reaper is represented in other mythologies, so please feel free to share in the comments. What is your favourite portrayal? How do you imagine the Grim Reaper? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time. Thanks for stopping by.



I love Meet Joe Black, but the best death ever has to go to Sir Terry – Death is just awesome :).
Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    I have to agree – a spectacular portrayal 🙂 There were things I particularly enjoyed about Death’s powers in Meet Joe Black, but in particular, that he could divide his attention several places at once.

Now I have ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ in my head. 🙂 Funny thing is how the first two things that came to my mind weren’t on the list. One was how the Grim Reaper is a very common boss in the Castlevania video game series. He tends to be a real pain too. Also, ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy’ where two kids (evil little girl & her dim-witted friend) win a game against Death, so he becomes their servant. Honestly, I don’t think any brief explanation can do that cartoon justice.

I like depictions of Death when he appears in mortal form – There’s something extra creepy about the thought of him blending in amongst us, waiting to strike.

heatherjacksonwrites April 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Love the quote from Bill and Ted! As for reapers in literature, one of the reasons I was fascinated with The Book Thief was because it’s narrated by Death. Such an amazing idea!

Someone used my answer, but that’s OK. It would be Grim from the cartoon “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy”. 🙂

Hubby has a video game where you play Death as the main character. I can’t remember what it’s called though. It got me thinking though. Why is Death always dark and emo? I want to write a story where Death is blonde and like a surfer dude. I think it’d be funny. =)

Most Excellent…. 😉
I’m kind of a fan of Death myself — love the different ways that people choose to represent the concept/character.
RIck Riordan plays some with the death-figure (in both the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus book and the Cane Chronicles) — for the younger-level reading 🙂

Interesting death is always depressing. What about angels and meeting God and no more pain? But the Grim Reaper is the popular anthropomorphism of death. Today, I have no fear of him. I might change my mind as the years pass.

I loved Death from the Deathly Hallows… that was a great version of him… though Japanese anime/manga is RIPE with different versions of this character (Soul Eater, Bleach, etc.) He’s just fun to write and watch, I think!

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