Top Ten Tuesday: Top Fictional Personification of Death

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke & The Bookish! I like being TOLD what to do, so I struggled a little with this book’s freebie topic.  However, I decided to focus on Death in fiction for this week.  I’ve always had a fascination with how authors gives Death life, and the wisdom or humour that these personifications usually imparts! Here are my favourites…

Credit of image goes to Freepik, my favourite place on the Internet
Credit of image goes to Freepik, my favourite place on the Internet

1. Death in Discworld by Terry PratchettDeath_Discworld

NOTHING IS FINAL. NOTHING IS ABSOLUTE. EXCEPT ME, OF COURSE.

I still want to cry when I think that Sir Terry Pratchett has joined Death and we will not see any more words of wisdom from his pen.  Discworld’s Death is one of my favourite, absolutely fair, a bit fearsome, but utterly endearing in his simultaneous interest and bemusement in humanity.


2.  Death in Sandman by Neil Gaiman

“You lived what anybody gets. You got a lifetime.”Death Sandman

I love Sandman’s Death, who is present both when a child is born and when a life passes. She’s nurturing, wise, and has gorgeous style to boots.


3. Koschei in Deathless by Catherynne Valente

“I will not let her speak because I love her, and when you love someone, you do not make them tell war stories. A war story is a black space. On the one side is before and on the other side is after, and what is inside belongs only to the dead.”

I simultaneously marvel and pat myself on the back at my ability to mention Catherynne Valente in all my Top Ten Tuesday post. Deathless retells the story of Koschei: the wicked villain of Russian fairy tales – it turns him into a love interest, but in a way that’s a lot more interesting than you think. The book is devastating, heartbreaking, and utterly beautiful!


90949The_Tale_of_the_Three_Brothers_Story_14. Death in Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

“Death comes for us all in the end.

How could I not love him? The theme of death was always integral to the tale of Harry Potter, but to see him in all of his inevitable greatness in the Tale of Beedle the Bard was delightful!


5.  Death in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusackdownload

“I am haunted by humans”

Warning: I have not finished this book!  But Death and his narration are some of my favourite things, for he remains a compassionate and curious observer of human nature in the midst of horrors.

Don’t spoil me for the book please, even though I don’t even see how this could end in anything BUT TEARS.


6. Ryuk in Death Note by Takeshi ObataRyukk

As a rule, they say humans haunted by a shinigami have nothing but misfortune.

Ryuk is one shady mofo, but watching him gleefully observe as Light starts on his path into madness and darkness was so entertaining. Any shinigami who has the balls to groom a genius scholar into a monster just for the sake of boredom has my grudging respect.


WOW.  I failed. I could only think of 6… I swear I had more when I was concocting this post in my mind. People, please supplement with your own favourite version of Death! Tell me, do you like seeing personification of an idea as a character?

88 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Fictional Personification of Death

    1. Me too, they are just such an interesting way to examine humanity in the context of those ideas :D! I must finish reading The Book Thief!

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    1. I honestly had 8-9 when I thought up of this topic right before bed time, then I forgot them by the morning! WHY! EEP I am so nervous for The Book Thief, the cover of Death frolicking with the MC on the cover should be a giveaway XD

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    1. Death is my favourite as well, followed by Dream (obviously) haha! Looking up Ryuk’s images for this post was a bad decision, I still have nightmares XD

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  1. First: Great topic, very creative. I like being told what to do considering these things, too, so I really struggled (I ended up doing a top ten I have to buy as soon as possible list…)
    Second: I LOVE Discworld’s Death… He and Rincewind are my favs in this series. And I am not ashamed to say that I cried when I heard about Sir Terry Pratchett’s death…

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    1. I also shed many tears when I heard he passed away *NEVER GETTING OVER IT* I still haven’t read all the Discworld books though, so I still have new works of his to discover.

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  2. Ooh this is so interesting! I’m surprised you were able to think of this many. Hmm, does These Broken Stars count as personification? (I think you know what quote I’m talking about, about not talking about death)
    I’ve never read The Book Theif because everyone talks about how heartbreaking it is and I’m so scared! I know I’ll read it one day though and will have tissues nearby.

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    1. I haven’t read These Broken Stars, but there’s a Death element to it?! Interesting, I shall have to check it out promptly, I actually just bought a hard copy yesterday!

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    1. Death only stars in like a miniscule portion of Harry Potter, but you should read it anyway, the series is basically fantasy 101 XD

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  3. I absolutely loved when Death is portrayed as a character. I find you see more of this in TV shows, but I love when a book incorporates this, as well. I’m trying to think of some at the top of my head. I remember The Dark Elements series by Jennifer L. Armentrout had a very small part where the character meets Death. OH! Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers! I haven’t finished it, but that one has a really interesting Death character.

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    1. Yes. There’s plenty of Death in cinema and tv but I wanted to stick to bookish ones for this post! I need to check out one of JLA books as they seem to be so popular! Grave Mercy also looks awesome based on the premise alone. Thanks for the recs, Sarah!

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  4. I LOVE your choice of topic! This is so awesome. I cannot relate to any of these, but I currently have The Book Thief on my shelf and I NEED to read it! It sounds so damn good. In fact, I started reading it last Christmas I think, but put it down after the first chapter for some reason!
    And Death Note! I haven’t watched all of it, but I’ve definitely seen some episodes and I love it.
    xoxo

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    1. Yesss! Read it with me at some point, I’ve been putting off finishing the book for the longest time. I actually started it end of last year as well!
      Death Note does get a bit repetitive towards the end, but the show is just so well plotted overall!

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  5. After reading The Book Thief I thought the choice of having Death as the narrator only made the book more powerful and thought-provoking. This is a great topic and I’ve heard a lot of great things about Death Note and Sandman.

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    1. The Book Thief really does sound phenomenal, I need to finish reading it ASAP! I definitely recommend both Death Note and Sandman, since they’re manga and graphic novel, it will take you super quick to get all caught up!

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  6. I don’t know that many personifications of death in fiction, haha. xD but I do know the one from HP of course. Have you read that theory about death and the three brothers?

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    1. At least she hasn’t told you WHO dies right? Or even if she has — yeah that was when the series took a dip into the downward spiral for me too *sad face*

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  7. I know all these Deaths (okay not all but some I’m familiar with)! I was expecting you’d mention Koschei. He seems utterly swoon-worthy! What I did not expect was that you’d mention DEATH (with all the CAPS, baby!) From Terry Pratchett’s works. That triggered severe fangirl reaction in me and I’m afraid I’m going into some sort of shock here. He is amazing (<- that word is overused, I know) but seriously, I love DEATH. So funny, so just and so MIGHTEHHH. I'm feeling guilty for reading Pratchett's works after 6 months of his passing….. all the feels. I can see how he's so praised now.

    I still have to read Death from Book Thief and Sandman! Death Note I have to rewatch!

    Great post, Aentee. Say, can I have at least some of your creativity juices?! 😀

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    1. I am so predictable lmao, I will rave about Deathless whenever I get the chance! You need to read the book promptly, I love it so much! AND OMG TERRY PRATCHETT. I will never get over the fact that he is gone, I refuse to believe it, but I hope he met Death as he knew him! Sandman is amazing! The Book Thief I still have not finished reading but I shall post my review and ugly crying promptly when I do. AND OF COURSE *splashes creative juice aka sleep deprivation around*

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  8. This is such a creative topic! I’ve read the last 3 from this list and would have also listed them if I was putting up this list. I know of the Discworld but have not yet read the series, I should really give it a whirl, as well as Deathless by Catherynne Valente and Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I really couldn’t think of a character from a book but one of my favorite personification of Death would be from Supernatural, he is actually one of my favorite characters from the show.

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    1. I highly recommend Discworld, if you’ve read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and enjoyed it, you would love those books! Deathless and Sandman are also books that are close to my heart, would highly recommend them! I thought of Death in Supernatural when I was making the list but left him off because I wanted to stay book-related -but I did really enjoy him as well!

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  9. Wow, you may have failed to think of 10, but this list was so interesting and inspired it doesn’t matter! I love the diversity of books you’ve managed to think of, and I’m going to have to run off and research/read some of these! Especially Catherynne Valente as I’ve never actually heard of her, but I can see you have a great passion for her work. I’m also really sad that Sir Terry Pratchett passed away, I’ve been passing myself reading his Discworld novels, just to make them last longer!

    Great List, Happy Reading!
    Rachel @ Paein-and-Ms4Tune.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment Rachel! I am trying to savour the Discworld books so I have Pratchett books for the rest of my life. I would highly recommend Catherynne Valente as well. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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    1. Haha thank you! I swear there are even more but I just could not think up of any XD This will bother me for the rest of the week.

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  10. My favorite depiction of death is Piers Anthony’s On A Pale Horse, which is wholly devoted to the character of death. The whole series (The Incarnations of Immortality) is worth reading, but the first one about death is probably my favorite.

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  11. I also had such a hard time figuring out a theme for myself (I did a very basic “Top Ten Books I Read In High School”) so I really REALLY like yours in comparison. I haven’t read any of these books (even Harry Potter…) but it made me more interested in Sandman and The Book Thief!

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  12. I hope you love The Book thief. It’s one of my all-time favourites, and yeah, I know – just like everyone else, but I don’t care. I also thought Death was a great character in there. and I understand – I prefer being told what to do. xD

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  13. I loooooooved The Book Thief. BEST BOOK EVER. But omg if you love death (har har that sounds so wrong but you know what I mean) you HAVE to try The Game of Love and Death!! IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. And Death is a girl which is 100000% awesome. Those are basically the only Death personified books I’ve read…omg, wait. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Death spoke on all caps so obviously I like him. AND ALSO DEATH IN SUPERNATURAL. But that’s cheating since he’s not a book. But still. 😉 Death liked pizza. I also can get onboard with that.

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    1. YES I saw that book on your blog yesterday and I am convinced I MUST OWN IT. Female Death are too far and few in between! I thought of Good Omens’ Death as well but he was so similar to the one in Discworld I skipped it ALSO BECAUSE I AM LAZY. And yesss Death in Supernatural was awesome, both the main guy and the Grim Reaper lady!

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  14. Charley Davidson is a grim reaper. I don’t know if she qualifies as such, but she’s the most badass one I know. Honestly, you’ve gone further than I did because I can only think of a couple. Lol.

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    1. Yes! I usually find it really hard commenting on TTT posts because everyone lists similar things, but I love freebie week because it’s all so varied! Thanks Mogsy ❤

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  15. Oooh what did you end up thinking of The Book Thief? That was one of the first hyped YA novels I ever read, if I’m not mistaken. Good shit, but man did it ever make me cry. Ryuk is also a really good choice for personifications of Death! It’s been ages since I watched Death Note…perhaps a re-watch is in order! 🙂

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  16. Yours is one of the most creative topics I’ve seen around. I can only comment on HP but I really loved the way death was treated in that. I really need to get around reading Tales of Beedle the Bard.

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  17. Gah, I’m so behind with commenting … Anyway, GREAT TOPIC! I like seeing Death as a character, it’s such a cool twist to the story. I’ve only read The Book Thief from your list and I really hope you’ll enjoy the book to the end.
    One of my favourite fairytales is one called Godfather Death (I have NO IDEA which country it’s from, I read it in Slovenian but I’d bet it wasn’t ours), where Death makes a deal with a young doctor and he always knows which lives to fight for and which to let go because Death tells him in advance whose time has come. Anyway, at the end, the doctor gets married to this girl and the same day, her father suffers an accident and the doctor saves him despite Death’s wishes – and Death tells him he now has to take HIS life instead. So the doctor asks for one night with his beloved and then follows Death while she’s still asleep. I get choked up just thinking about it – I’m sure you won’t find this short paragraph as interesting but it’s my favourite representation of Death, so I guess it’s relevant. 🙂

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  18. The Book Thief and Harry Potter – yes! I can’t believe Ryuk didn’t even come to mind! I absolutely love Ryuk; a former friend once made a gigantic Ryuk out of cardboard for me in which she had put my birthday presents haha.

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