Okay, here we go with a controversial topic.

My favorite series is Death Note. Although they did ruin the story by killing L, it was still a great ride. I loved it, especially after the special chapter last year.

We have been divided from the beginning into two groups. Light thinks L is the smartest, while L believes the other is the smartest.

Today is the day that we can finally answer that question, my friend. 

Both had their share of wins and losses—moments when they outsmarted each other, and others where they outsmarted them. There can only be one winner, and there is.

L Lawliet is more intelligent than Light Yagami. He’s Death Note’s smartest character. L may have a lower IQ than Light, but his planning skills, deduction and eye for detail are far superior to Kira’s. Without any leads or hints, he did discover Kira’s identity.

Are you not satisfied with the answer? It wouldn’t be the same without you.

Which person is the smartest?

In intelligence, L is superior to Light Yagami.

These two clips will show you why…

Both clips clearly show the difference in their intelligence and experience. 

Although Light Yagami is a veteran of the Japanese Police and has been called the “new God Kira”, he cannot match L, who has the experience to solve difficult cases.

L Lawliet’s instincts and deduction skills are uncanny, as he was able to discover the two most important properties of Death Note in the first few episodes.

We’ve seen Light, L and each other neck-and-neck throughout the anime. Both were very close and neither was superior for too long. Hence, I ranked L above Light.

From the beginning of the series, L has always had a huge advantage over light. This advantage is, naturally, the knowledge of the death notes and all that is related.

The death note is an inconspicuous, supernatural and all-powerful weapon for killing. Light says that he would be caught if L and Company found the death note.

Light should not be impossible for anyone. But L almost does it. 

In just a few days, he can prove Kira’s existence and pinpoint their exact location.

L can still keep up with Light despite being confronted with so many obstacles and a complete lack of information.

He was able to reduce the number of suspects from 7 billion to 3.5 million in just three days. He is always willing to adjust to new situations, even when they are not in his favor.

Although Light may have his successes and strengths, L is always ahead of Light, forcing Light into a corner.

This is illustrated by Light’s decision to abandon the death note to save himself.

L. was close to winning. Rem would not have interfered.

Misa’s life is extended when Rem kills L.

If Misa is caught then Light will soon follow.

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Tsugumi Okba, the author of Death Note, said that L was the most intelligent character in the series.

L may have lost the battle of wits but Light won the battle of light. 

Light was able to win because he had Misa’s Shinigami eyes and the supernatural Death Note. 

What about the other? Which one is smarter? Each one has its arguments.

Light: He uses his home field advantage

This is quite literal as Light uses his bedroom as Kira Headquarters during his fight against L.

L reduces Kira’s location in Japan to the Kanto region.

However, Light’s house is relatively quiet. 

Light must protect the Death Note and take extreme measures to do so. 

He can use various traps to determine if someone is there and even if they are police officers. 

Light hides the notebook in the drawer’s false bottom and uses a decoy to make it look like someone is there.

He also sets up a fire trap for anyone who attempts to force out the Death Note. 

L never managed to penetrate these defenses.

L: Experts in Hiring

Light may choose to discard people but L is more efficient with his assets. 

Although he lives alone, he doesn’t work alone. He knows the identities of both Aiber, and Wedy and makes excellent use of their cunning and skills. 

Aiber, a genius conman, infiltrates Yotsuba Corps under the name “Eraldo Colil.”

Wedy is Catwoman and can plant trackers and bugs on Higuchi’s property. 

She can also restore shredded documents and is cool under pressure. 

L is an expert in staffing his team.

Light: Proxies

Part 1 and 2 of death note show Light as a slippery opponent.

He knows how to use proxies. Although he uses people all the time, Kira considers some more worthy than others.

Light uses Misa as a second Kira once in a while, and then five years later, in part 2, he uses Teru Mikami, a fanatical Teru Mikami, as a proxy for Kira to great effect. 

Near and the other investigators quickly become overwhelmed trying to keep up with him.

L: Has An Headquarters

L can tap into a vast pool of resources, unlike Light must resort to homegrown solutions to win the war of wits. 

He is a brilliant detective and not a serial killer.

He can use the resources of international police forces, and even build his skyscraper in just a few months. 

L can monitor Light and Misa (in the unlikely event that they are still Kira), ensure tight security and track down any new Kira easily with this dedicated HQ. 

This is a significant improvement on a bedroom.

Light: Doesn’t Hesitate To Exploit People

Although L does have access to highly skilled professionals like Wedy and Aiber, he cannot easily exploit others and make the most of them. 

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This would be against his moral code. 

Light does make a deal to get the Death Note. Light can use the Death Note to kill anyone from Raye Penber, Kal Snydar, Kiyomi Takada, and many others. 

Light can cross boundaries that are not available to anyone else, making him a wicked mastermind. 

He has access to power that no one else would want to use.

L: You Don’t Get Cocky!

Even though Light can get caught up in egomania, and make a few mistakes, L will not let anything slip. 

Because he is a famous detective, he can second-guess almost anything and will take every precaution to make sure that he is 100% certain of something. 

L will not let Light or Misa go even if they “prove” their innocence.

He orders Soichiro, to set up a murder attempt against them to see if Kira can defend herself. 

L won’t hesitate to revisit an old suspicion if it leads him to results.

Light: Fantastic Actor

Light Yagami has a sociopath mentality.

He can pretend to feel any emotion or even have a personality if it’s profitable. 

Naomi Misora is fooled by Light Yagami into believing he is a warm and caring man who wants her to help with the Kira investigation.

He’s also stone-cold towards Kira’s father.

Soichiro wants Kira to be arrested.

His son Kira never gives anything away to a professional, seasoned detective like Soichiro.

L: Takes bold risks at Times

L is cautious for the most part like Light, but at times he is ready to leap.

L becomes frustrated by the lack of evidence against Light and envisions the perfect scenario. Light confesses to L that he is Kira. 

L enrolls at Light’s university and confronts Light, trying to protect himself while also pressing Light. 

Light is shaken by this action and struggles for a while to find a way around. It’s so close and yet so far!

Light: Be Cautious with a Cool Head

Light can sometimes get cocky and careless, as was mentioned earlier. This is when Kira’s egomania gets in the way. But he’s otherwise cautious. 

Light is constantly under pressure and admits that there are very few opportunities for L, Raye Penber, or the police to exploit. 

When Misa, the beautiful and flamboyant Misa, joins Light’s team, he quickly gets her up to his standards like Kira. He keeps her safe for a while. 

L eventually caught her, but Misa would’ve been arrested much sooner if Light wasn’t so cautious with her.

L: Light Knows Your Personality

L made this deduction about Kira as soon as he discovered Kira’s Kanto location. 

L quickly discovers Kira’s mentality.

He is a young adult with a competitive side and an ego. L is the same as Light, so L uses Light’s personality to their fight of wits many times. 

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This Kira-baiting almost won the battle for L, since Light will take any bait offered.

Other smart characters in the Death Note

There are many smart characters in Death Note. Each of them could be one of the smartest characters in the series.

Who would be the smartest Death Note character, if any?

1. Mello

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

Unfortunately, Mello dies in the series.

Near wouldn’t be able to reveal Kira’s identity without Mello. Mello is an undeniably valuable asset.

Mello is not the smartest character in the series. He was very important but he ends up losing his life due to a poorly thought-out plan.

2. Near

Near

Near is a very intelligent individual. Mello, his partner, is smarter than Near. Unlike Mello, Near survives against Kira.

He succeeds L, can outsmart Light, and discovers that he’s Kira.

He is capable of luring Light and his mysterious operative, despite their young age and strange fascinations.

Near is not the smartest of the series. Near was helped a lot by L and Mello, which is why he was able to unmask Kira.

3. Minoru Tanaka

Minoru Tanaka was a character that appeared in Death Note: Tokubetsu YomikiriOne Shot.

He has proven to be intelligent and clever despite poor school performance and test results.

Minoru devised a complex plan to sell Ryuk’s Death Note in a period of technology and security that was long before Ryuk died.

Near, who was unable to locate Minoru for the first time, praised his intelligence and admitted defeat.

Minoru’s plan was flawless and perfect, but he still had lots of information.

Minoru, like Near after L’s passing, knew Light’s whole story and used it to create his plan. He wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what he did without this.

Minoru is not the most intelligent of characters.

Ryuk is smart and people are talking about him.

Although Ryuk wasn’t the smartest character in the death note, it would be hard to argue with that. Perhaps not in the top 10.

Ryuk was intelligent, even though he wasn’t displaying it often.

Ryuk was part of Light’s victory against L. But, if Ryuk had remained objective like he claimed he would then maybe things would have turned around differently.

He did it not for Light’s sake, but his own.

Ryuk made sure that everyone he met had some entertainment. Every step, every word, and every action Ryuk took was to ensure he received entertainment.

He has a wealth of experience from the world and other cultures that have given him the ability to make the best decisions for himself.

Ryuk was not the smartest character I know, but he played an important role in Death Note.