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So, Who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer

I love Death Note – they may have ruined the story after the first half by killing L, but it was a nice ride nonetheless. Especially after that special one-off chapter that came out last year.

Since the first episode, we have been divided into two factions. One thinks L is the smartest while the other has put all its eggs in Light’s basket.

Today, my friend, is the day we finally put that question to rest. Yes, the two had their fair share of victories and defeats — moments where they outsmarted the other and ones where they got outsmarted themselves. But there can only be one absolute winner…and there is.

L Lawliet is smarter than Light Yagami, in fact, he’s the smartest character in Death Note. L’s IQ may be lower than Light’s but his deduction skills, planning and eye for detail far surpass Kira’s. He did find out Kira’s identity without any hints or leads.

Not satisfied with the answer? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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SPOILERS AHEAD! This page contains spoilers from Death Note.

Who is the smartest?

L is far superior to Light Yagami when it comes to intelligence. 

Here are two clips that show why…

Death Note HD: Light meets L
The first encounter with L and Light

Both the clips show the clear difference in their intellect and experience. While Light Yagami has helped the Japanese Police in various cases, and become the self-proclaimed “new God” Kira, he is not a match for L who has the experience of solving difficult cases.

L Lawliet’s deduction skills and instincts are inhumane since he managed to find out the two greatest properties of Death Note during the first few episodes of the anime.

Throughout the anime, we’ve seen Light and L neck and neck with each other. They were extremely close, and neither was superior to the other for too long. So then why did I rank L above Light?

Light has had a massive advantage over L from the very start of the series. This advantage, of course, being the knowledge of the death note and all things related.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
Light And L | Source: Fandom

The death note is an untraceable, inconspicuous, supernatural, and all-powerful killing tool. Light admits that the only way he could be caught is if they (L and company) found the death note.

Nobody should be able to catch Light. But L almost does it. He’s able to prove Kira’s existence and narrow down their general location in just a few days.

Even after being faced with so many disadvantages and an utter lack of information, L is able to remain one step ahead of Light even with the number of advantages Light had over him.

In just 3 days, he was able to narrow down the suspects from a population of 7 billion to one of 3.5 million. He’s always able to adapt to new situations even if they weren’t in his favor.

While Light has his victories and strengths, L is always one step ahead of Light, forcing him into a corner.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
L | Source: Fandom

An example of this can be seen when Light is forced to give up the death note to save himself.

The victory was near for L. He would have unmasked Light if not for Rem’s interference.

Misa’s life is prolonged when Rem kills l. This means that if Rem never interfered, L would capture Misa Amane and prove her guilt enough to warrant a death sentence.

If Misa is caught, then Light is soon to follow shortly after.

If this wasn’t enough for you, then the author of Death Note himself, Tsugumi Ohba, says L is the smartest character in the series.

Other Smart Characters in Death Note

Death Note is filled to the brim with smart characters. Any one of them could be the smartest in the series.

So who would be the one true, smartest Death Note character?

1. Mello

Mello is Near’s partner and rival. He was extremely intelligent and could have been L’s successor.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
Mello | Source: Fandom

Sadly, Mello ends up dying in the series.

Without Mello, Near would not be able to reveal Kira’s identity, making him an undeniably important asset.

Mello is probably not the most intelligent character in the series. Even though he was very important, he winds up losing his life to a badly thought out plan.

2. Near

Near is an extremely smart individual. Smarter than even his partner Mello. Unlike Mello, Near survives against Kira.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
Near | Source: Fandom

He succeeds L and is able to outsmart Light and figures out that he is Kira.

Despite his young age and odd fascinations, he is able to lure Light and his mysterious operative into an elaborate trap.

However, Near isn’t the most intelligent in the series. He had a lot of help from L and his partner Mello which is the only reason why he was able to unmask Kira.

3. Minoru Tanaka

Minoru Tanaka was a character who appeared in Death Note: Tokubetsu Yomikiri One-Shot.

He’s shown to be quite intellectual and cunning despite his bad test grades and performance in school.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
Minoru Tanaka | Source: Fandom

Minoru, after receiving Ryuk’s Death Note, devised an intricate plan to sell the death note in a time period where security and technology has improved greatly.

His intelligence was praised by Near who admitted defeat for the first time after being unable to track Minoru down.

Nevertheless, even though Minoru’s plan was impeccable and perfect, he had a lot of information at his disposal.

Like Near after L’s death, Minoru knew Light’s entire story which is what he used to devise his plan. Without this, he wouldn’t be able to do what he did.

This is why Minoru isn’t the most intelligent character either.

How smart is Ryuk and why are people talking about him?

Well, I wouldn’t say that Ryuk was the most intelligent character in the death note. Maybe not even in the top 10.

But Ryuk was intelligent to some degree, even if he didn’t show it very frequently.

So, who was the smarter one: Light or L? Final Answer
Ryuk | Source: Fandom

Ryuk was involved in Light’s victory over L. However, if he had indeed remained impartial like he said he would, maybe things would have turned out differently.

However, he didn’t do it for Light’s sake but his own.

Everything Ryuk did was to ensure that he received some form of entertainment out of it. Every action he made, every word he said, every step he took.

His eons of experience in this world and others have given him so much experience to make the perfect decisions for himself.

So no, Ryuk wasn’t the most intelligent character as far as I can tell, but he played a massive part in Death Note.

Where to Watch Death Note

Watch Death Note on:

About Death Note

Death Note is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. Published by Shueisha, the manga has a total of 12 volumes. An anime adaptation of the story aired for 37 episodes from October to June 2007.

The series revolves around Light Yagami, an extremely smart highschooler who stumbles onto a notebook owned by Ryuk, a shinigami. If the user follows a specific set of rules, the notebook allows him/her to kill anyone by writing their name down in the notebook while picturing their face.

Originally Written By Epic Dope

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Vansh Gulati

Vansh Gulati

Meet our very own Hinata Shoyo! - There is no anime or manga that he’s not aware of. Also the go-to guy for all things Epic at EML. He’s on a journey to discover life one bottle of sake at a time!
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