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The individual known as Kira, as I'm sure you're aware, has taken credit for over 400 deaths. While we don't know how he kills his victims, we do know how he chooses them. Prior to these deaths, all of the victims have had their identities released to the media. This would suggest that Kira is not some omnipotent force. He's a person, like you or me. He is also a coward. A child wielding power he does not understand, mistakenly believing that in doing so, he's at no risk to himself. He's wrong. Kira, if you're watching this, know that I am coming for you. Unless, of course, you'd like to kill me now.
~ L's press conference speech.
You're the one who flew into the sun, I'm just here to make sure you burn!
~ L to Light.

L is the main antagonist of the 2017 Netflix original film, Death Note, which is very loosely based on the anime and manga series of the same name by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. He is a teenage detective that is obsessed with taking down the criminal Kira, also known as Light Turner. L is gloomy anti-hero, he is eventually consumed with wrath, as he believes Light killed his mentor and guardian Watari. L seeks revenge, by working outside the law, trying to track down Light.

He was portrayed by Keith Stanfield.



L was raised in an orphanage in New York, where children were trained to become the greatest detectives in the world. They were put through deductive gauntlets that tested their skills and patience, including a test where they were locked in a room for several weeks, with only the ones that stayed sane able to graduate. Upon graduation, their real names were filed away and forgotten, and they took on new aliases.

L went on to become a master detective, with help from his mentor/guardian Watari. Watari set up his connections with city and even country governments for L to take cases, and L would help solve these cases both in forensics and research. Watari helped L manage his time and health, as L rarely took time to sleep and ate nothing but sweets. L worked with several governments, including the one in Seattle, Washington, on numerous cases.

Kira Case

L later became involved with the case regarding the infamous serial killer Kira, who was somehow controlling and causing the deaths of criminals around the world. L broadcast several reports on more obscure criminals around the world, with different broadcasts and different criminals being aired in different parts of the world. Though authorities previously thought Kira was working out of Japan, a mass suicide caused by Kira at a nightclub in Japan proved otherwise, as the broadcast on the criminals there aired in Seattle.

Though most of the police force in Seattle refused to go up against Kira, L comes into contact with the chief James Turner, the father of suspect Light Turner. Together, L managed to determine that Kira is able to access the Seattle Police Department criminal database without needing to hack, showing that Kira is somehow connected to the police. L gives a televised speech, taunting Kira, while keeping his face covered. When he does not die, he determines that Kira needs a name and a face to kill.

L's next move is to have potential suspects followed by FBI agents. However, the FBI director suffers a mysterious heart attack and all of the agents commit suicide. Convinced Kira is behind it, James goes on television and gives another speech, vowing to apprehend Kira. When James is not killed, L confirms that Light Turner is Kira, as Light will not kill his own father.

L tracks down Light and confronts him in a coffee shop. He explains that he is certain Light is Kira, but just needs proof and an explanation for how he does it. Light tries to convince him that he is not Kira, but L does not believe him.

Watari's Disappearance

Soon after, Watari disappears. L becomes worried and knows Light has something to do with it, so he confronts him at his house. When L accuses Light of being Kira, James becomes angry and forces l out of the house. However, L has a search warrant and has the house completely swept, destroying the house, though finding nothing.

L continues to have Light followed, worrying more and more about Watari. Later, he gets a call that Watari had gone to the orphanage in New York, and had been shot to death by security guards. In reality, Light had manipulated Watari using his supernatural killing tool the Death Note, but intended to burn the page with his name, saving him. However, due to the betrayal of his accomplice, Light was unable to save him.

Fall and Quest for Vengeance

L becomes devastated at Watari's loss, broken that he has lost his friend and mentor. Consumed by rage and vengeance, L steals a gun and a police car and begins a one-man manhunt to kill Light. Even as James puts out an arrest warrant for him, L drives to Light's school. When he sees Light running through alleyways, he crashes the car, then jumps out and chases Light on foot.

L chases Light through restaurants, apartments, and other buildings trying to reach him, knocking people down and destroying property that gets in his way. He finally reaches Light and threatens him. Though Light tries to explain what is happening and how he is trying to set things right, L does not care and prepares to shoot Light. However, he is hit in the back of the head by one of the restaurant workers, who happens to be a Kira worshiper.

Light escapes, and L comes to later. He is taken into custody be police, and driven to where Light and Mia Sutton have hijacked the Seattle Great Wheel. The Ferris wheel collapses, causing both Light and Mia to fall out of their carriage. Light hits the water and gets out alive, though Mia kits the boardwalk and dies instantly.

Disgrace & Aftermath

Light survives the fall, but enters a coma. Though in a coma for days, criminals continue to be killed by Kira. The police question L how a person in a coma could still be killing people, removing all suspicion from the suspect he chased down and tried to murder. They tell him that some of his contacts in government have kept him from ending up in prison, though he is deported and is to be sent back to Japan.

Light awakens from his coma, revealing to his father that the coma, the incident on the Ferris wheel, and the subsequent return of his Death Note were all planned by him.

While on the airplane, L remembers Mia's involvement with Light and requests they not take off yet. He leaves and quickly breaks his way to Mia's house, searching through her belongings and finding a page of the Death Note with all of the FBI agents' names on it. In a fit of rage and vengeance, L grabs a pen and prepares to write down Light's name himself. Back at the hospital, Light sees the Shinigami death god Ryuk, who cackles and states that "humans are so interesting".


L is brilliant, determined, and intelligent person with a desire to win at any cost. He is a firm believer in fair justice, even if it means vengeance. He starts off as calm and collected, otherwise a bit eccentric and antisocial. As the case becomes more and more complicated, L reveals a hidden anger that causes him to break things, shout, threaten, and obsess. After confronting Light, he embraces this anger and allows it to control him. After Watari's death, L is consumed by his wrathful and dark side, breaking the law he usually strives to withhold and protect for the sake of personal revenge. Though his motivations are understandable, he changes from the law-enforcing detective he once was to a vituperative and homicidal vigilante determined to take the life of the one that he believes has caused him so much grief.




  • Despite the praise given to his actor's performance, this incarnation of L has received controversy for being a fallen and more ruthless adaptation of the beloved and generally heroic character of the original anime and manga.
  • L is a composite character of himself and multiple other antagonists in the original material.
    • He is a hot-blood man dressed in black like Mello.
    • He performs a public speech denouncing Light in lieu of Lind L. Tailor.
    • His decision to take the Death Note page for himself mirrors how Near kept the Death Note and was implied to use it to kill Teru Mikami.
    • Like Naomi Misora, he seeks to avenge a loved one by catching Light.
  • This is the only version of L that does not die.


           Death Note logo.png Heroes

Japanese Task Force
L Lawliet | Soichiro Yagami | Shuichi Aizawa | Kanzo Mogi | Touta Matsuda | Hideki Ide | Hirokazu Ukita | Watari

Special Provision for Kira
Near | Anthony Rester | Stephen Gevanni | Halle Lidner | Steve Mason | Ellickson Gardner | John McEnroe | Ill Ratt

Misa Amane | Rem | Naomi Misora | Mello | Matt | Gelus | Taro Kagami

2017 Film
Light Turner | L