This article is about the character from classic Disney cartoons. For the Marvel Comics character, see Grim Reaper.

The Grim Reaper (otherwise known as Death) is a legendary figure being the personification of death. Best known to be described as a skeleton in a hooded cloak (that usually hides their face) carrying a scythe. The Grim Reaper has appeared in many Disney properties.

History

Background

The Grim Reaper is the embodiment of death itself.  They are often portrayed as a pscychopomp, a deity-like being which brings souls to the afterlife.

Personality

The Grim Reaper is a dark, gothic character with a mysterious presence.  Ultimately, the Grim Reaper is neither good nor evil who cares only about collecting the souls of the deceased, and bringing them to the afterlife.

In the Haunted House, the Reaper posesses an ominous, hostile malice to his behavior however as demonstrated in their antagonistic relationship with Mickey Mouse who wanders into its abode during a fretful storm to escape the rain. 

Despite their antagonistic personality in the Reaper's first appearance, later appearances have depicted them as a less self-serving malevolent entity.  After all, death is only natural and neither cruel nor kind; merely being a condition of life and the natural order which every living thing must face.

Physical appearance

The character's depictions are frequently based on the folklore's Grim Reaper with skeletal hands, wearing a grey cloak, and their face is covered in darkness. The Grim Reaper's appearance changes with his various different appearances, in their first appearance in Haunted House their face is obscured in darkness, they don a ragged grey cloak and their hands are outlined in thick, black shadow. As Marty in American Dragon: Jake Long he bears a light silver skull face with ominous, glowing dark red eyes, has a jet black cloak, light silvery skeletal hands, and a bone banner at the center of the top end of his cloak bearing two dark silvery hands hanging down. His appearance however in shading alters in American Dragon as the dark silvery hands protruding and the rest of his skeletal features lighten to a ghostly white in certain sequences. In Darkwing Duck the Reaper appears again with a face shrouded in darkness, their cloak, however, a faded grey and their hands a skeletal white.

Development History

The Grim Reaper originates from Europe in the middle ages during the time of the Black Plague when one third of Europe was killed by the Bubonic plague.  Due to the high death rates, depictions of death as a common figure in art escalated to visually portray the conditions of the event.  These portrayals showed Death using a scythe to reap mortals as if they were reap, an allegory for human life growing like plants only to be cut short by demise.

The pop-culture depiction of the Grim Reaper is also highly influenced by death personifications and psychopomps throughout world cultures.  This includes: Thanatos, Charon and Hermes/Mercury from Greco-Roman mythology, Santa Muerda from Latin-American folklore, the Angel of Death and apocalyptic Horseman of Death from Abrahamic faiths, Hel/Hela from Norse myth, and Marena/Marzena/Mara from Slavic mythology.  Due to this influence, the Grim Reaper is typically anachronistic to any one religion and holds a melting-pot of different traits.  Traditional iconography for the Grim Reaper includes a black robe, skeletal appearance, hourglass, scythe, and pale horse.

Appearances

Film

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Although not being named the Grim Reaper in the movie, the Irish mythological representation of Death known as the Dullahan appears near the end, driving his Death Coach, to claim the soul of the daughter of Darby O'Gill, Katie.

It should be noted that the Dullahan is not the personification of death nor does it reflect the conception of the Grim Reaper. The Dullahan (or the Headless Horseman) is traditionally a race of headless fairies who ride on horses while using skulls and spines as weapons. They traditionally herald death but do not personify it, simply being a warning of impending demise or bringer of it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Grim Reaper only makes two brief appearances throughout the film. He is first seen during the musical number, "This is Halloween" and in the crowd during the Town Meeting where Jack tells the citizens about his discovery at Christmas Town.

Animated Short Appearances

Haunted House

The Grim Reaper appears in the abandoned hilltop haunted home before Mickey Mouse unwittingly sought refuge at his mysterious, seemingly uninhabited abode. He comes upon the shelter desperate hero and demands he play his piano so as to amuse him in the rainy night's macabre musical ensemble. He has his legion of skeletons perform alongside Mickey and prevents Mickey from escaping; with the intention of having him join the undead as a nightly performer of his for his own amusement. He plays on Mickey's fear to control him and eventually fails in his plot to integrate traveler Mickey from joining his undead troupe as the weary mouse leaps from a Haunted House window to freedom, fleeing as the sun begins to rise, signaling the end of the Reaper and the Skeleton ensemble.

The Golden Touch

He appears to King Midas a couple of times as the said King is having a breakdown over his curse that turns anything he touches into gold. The first is when he is in front of his mirror and asks if he will starve to death. His reflection then turns into the Grim Reaper who nods yes. Horrified, Midas runs from his mirror only to encounter the Grim Reaper in the form of his shadow who makes a slitting throat gesture.

The Race

A different depiction of the Grim Reaper appears in the Short Circuit short released exclusively on Disney+. Here, the Grim Reaper plans to take the soul of a cyclist to be ranked as the Death of the Month, but decides not to; however, one cyclist disappears after he passes through him as he chases the cyclist he saw on his tablet down a hill while dodging a number of obstacles, still chasing him. Seeing the cyclist reach the finish line, he decides to take revenge as his number of collected souls decreases. Looking at him falling in love with a woman, the Grim Reaper stops stalking and remembers his romantic flashback and feels inspired upon seeing the couple. He then grabs a bouquet of flowers from a woman and rides his bike towards a hospital meeting his wife, but she feels too tired to accept it, leaving his robe, scythe, and tablet behind.

Television Appearances

Darkwing Duck

After Darkwing Duck was killed and came back to Earth, he was convinced when the Grim Reaper came. Many times he avoided him so he wouldn't come with him. Then, he finally caught him while was trying to save Gosalyn and Launchpad from Megavolt. While going, Darkwing made a challenge with the Reaper, if he can't do what Darkwing can do, he can have an hour to save Gosalyn and Launchpad from Megavolt, and the Reaper failed. He did managed to save them, when there wasn't a way to bring Darkwing back to life, the Reaper came and took a willing and dignified Darkwing. But on the way, Darkwing fell on his knees crying and kept on saying he didn't want to go, then he woke and realized it was all a bad dream.

American Dragon: Jake Long

The show's version of the Grim Reaper, here named Marty, appeared in the episodes, Family Business and Nobody's Fu. Marty is actually the latest Grim Reaper, implying that the role is inherited when the previous reaper dies; in Marty's case, he became the grim reaper after joking the first reaper (literally) to death.

Disney Parks

The Haunted Mansion

In the Haunted Mansion, the Grim Reaper is shown as an illustration on page 1312 of Madame Leota's spell book in an article dedicated to summoning spirits bound in limbo. The Grim Reaper is depicted as having the same skeletal face as the hitchhiking ghost Ezra and the Hatbox Ghost while holding a staff. By death are the words, "Memento Mori" which is a latin expression meaning, "Remember you will die".

The Grim Reaper shares other connections with the Haunted Mansion, the attraction's theme song Grim Grinning Ghosts is even named for the reaper. The expression Grim Grinning Ghost originates from William Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis (1593) in the quote, "And, sighing it again, exclaims on Death. ‘Hard-favour’d tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean, Hateful divorce of love,’—thus chides she Death,— ‘Grim-grinning ghost, earth’s worm, what dost thou mean?". Here the term was originally used to mock death as a personification.

The Ghost Gallery

In the 1990s, cast-members of the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World created a backstory for the attraction as a means of answering guest questions. All of this backstory was recorded on paper and while unofficial, has since influenced both the original Haunted Mansion's official and semi-official features as-well as adaptations based on the Haunted Mansion.

In this story, the Grim Reaper made an appearance as, "The Angel of Death" involved in the backstory of the shadow pianist seen in the Magic Kingdom's version of the ride. In this story it is explained that the pianist was named Ludwig Von Baroketch and that he was an 18th century composer who composed the melody for Grim Grinning Ghosts to try and appease death to extend his own life. Death refused the offer however and forced Ludwig to haunt his piano as a ghost with the piano eventually coming into the collection of George Gracey, Jr..

Gallery


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Media
Darkwing DuckVideographyWalt Disney's World on Ice: Double Feature... Live!NES gameBoom! Studios comicJoe Books comic
Books
High Wave RobberyThe Silly Canine CaperThe Darkest Night
Characters
Heroes and Allies: Darkwing DuckLaunchpad McQuackGosalyn MallardHonker MuddlefootTank MuddlefootHerb and Binkie MuddlefootGizmoduckMorgana MacawberNeptuniaStegmuttJ. Gander HooterDerek BluntVladimir GryzlikoffSara BellumRhoda DendronGloria SwansongPrincess of OilrabiaGoose LeeComet Guy

Villains: Negaduck/NegatronBushrootMegavoltLiquidatorQuackerjackSteelbeakTaurus BulbaHammerhead HanniganHoof and MouthTantalusClovisTuskerniniDr. FossilPhineas SharpProfessor MoliartyAmmonia PineAmple GrimePaddywhackLilliputJambalaya JakeGumboBug MasterHigh CommandMajor SynapseHotshot and FlygirlDr. SlugSplatter PhoenixCamille ChameleonAnna MatronicIsis VanderchillJohnny T. RexFluffyDark Warrior DuckNodoffBrainteasers

Episodes
Season One: "Darkly Dawns the Duck" • "Beauty and the Beet" • "Getting Antsy" • "Night of the Living Spud" • "Apes of Wrath" • "Dirty Money" • "Duck Blind" • "Comic Book Capers" • "Water Way to Go" • "Paraducks" • "Easy Come, Easy Grows" • "A Revolution in Home Appliances" • "Trading Faces" • "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlatan" • "Can't Bayou Love" • "Bearskin Thug" • "You Sweat Your Life" • "Days of Blunder" • "Just Us Justice Ducks" • "Double Darkwings" • "Aduckyphobia" • "When Aliens Collide" • "Jurassic Jumble" • "Cleanliness is Next to Badliness" • "Smarter Than a Speeding Bullet" • "All's Fahrenheit in Love and War" • "Whiffle While You Work" • "Ghoul of My Dreams" • "Adopt-a-Con" • "Toys Czar Us" • "The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck" • "Up, Up and Awry" • "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything" • "Dry Hard" • "Heavy Mental" • "Disguise the Limit" • "Planet of the Capes" • "Darkwing Doubloon" • "It's a Wonderful Leaf" • "Twitching Channels" • "Dances with Bigfoot" • "Twin Beaks" • "The Incredible Bulk" • "My Valentine Ghoul" • "Dead Duck" • "A Duck By Any Other Name" • "Let's Get Respectable" • "In Like Blunt" • "Quack of Ages" • "Time and Punishment" • "Stressed to Kill" • "The Darkwing Squad" • "Inside Binkie's Brain" • "The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain" • "Slime Okay, You're Okay" • "Whirled History" • "U.F.Foe" • "A Star is Scorned" • "The Quiverwing Quack" • "Jail Bird" • "Dirtysomething" • "Kung Fooled" • "Bad Luck Duck"

Season Two: "That Sinking Feeling" • "Film Flam" • "Negaduck" • "Fungus Amongus" • "Slaves to Fashion" • "Something Fishy" • "Tiff of the Titans" • "Calm a Chameleon" • "Battle of the Brainteasers" • "Bad Tidings" • "Going Nowhere Fast" • "A Brush with Oblivion" • "The Merchant of Menace"
Season Three: "Monsters R Us" • "Inherit the Wimp" • "The Revenge of the Return of the Brainteasers, Too!" • "Star Crossed Circuits" • "Steerminator" • "The Frequency Fiends" • "Paint Misbehavin'" • "Hot Spells" • "Fraudcast News" • "Clash Reunion" • "Mutantcy on the Bouncy" • "Malice's Restaurant" • "Extinct Possibility"

Vehicles and Gadgets
RatcatcherThunderquackDarkwing Duck's gas gunRamrodSuper Sensitive Darkwing Duck-tectorTronsplitter
Locations
St. CanardNegaverse
Songs
Darkwing Duck ThemeLittle Girl BlueKickin' in the GrooveI'm the KingI'm Darkwing Duck
See also
DuckTalesThe Disney AfternoonDisney XD (Netherlands)Justice DucksFearsome FiveF.O.W.L.S.H.U.S.H.


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Media
Television: American Dragon: Jake Long"Morpholomew" (Lilo & Stitch: The Series crossover episode)

Books: The Dragon HunterThe Gnome Eater
Games: All Star Skate ParkRose's Print ShopDangerous DescentJake's Dragon Tile ComboJake's Inferno PinballThe Huntsclan TrapsHigh Risk RescueAmerican Dragon: Rise of the HuntsclanAmerican Dragon: Jake Long: Attack of the Dark Dragon

Characters
Main Characters: Jake LongRoseTrixie CarterArthur SpudinskiLuong Lao ShiFu DogJonathan LongSusan LongHaley Long

Other Characters: Brad MortonHans RotwoodStacey WintergrinTraceyLaceyOlivia MearsCourtneyJasmineMarnie LockjellyDanika HunnicuttNigel ThrallFred NerkKyle WilkinsGregorySilverCarol St. CarmineFrederick ButtersleevesJoshuaTrishaAunt CathyRose's ParentsSara and KaraThe Dragon CouncilCouncilor AndamCouncilor KuldeCouncilor KukulkhanCouncilor OminaPatchouli LongSun ParkDolores DercetoMs. JenkinsMs. McGuireMs. BirchMrs. CarterColonel Hank CarterMs. SpudinskiOfficer MortonVeronicaBrocamasStan LipkowskiBerthaReggie the BrownieClooneySanta ClausJaren MacArthurShaniqua ChulavistaThad Rochefort-ChaiseJasma SancereRon SlamCoach SackersonJudge Glamis CutlerTommy KingThe Witches of WoodstockJack FrostPix McGeeQueen LilianaStrigoiMister KrunkersBennyPetite Messenger FairyHerbert the Goblin
Creatures: DragonsDwarvesTrollsPixiesElvesGoblinsBrowniesTooth MinionsGiantsSpritesGremlinsGriffinsShade DemonsHairball MonstersHobgoblinsKrylockJersey DevilGuardian SerpentSea SerpentGnomesCyclopsShark PeopleNymphsKrakenDjinnKelpieThe Magical Community
Villains: The HuntsmanHuntsclanDark DragonShadow DragonsCouncilor ChangBananas B.Eli Excelsior PandarusNixHuntsboys 88 and 89Huntsgirl 18Sigmund BrockFuryEuryaleMedusa GorgonEvil JakeVicky FicklingYan YanShackles JackSolitary SamChain Gang ChuckPeg Leg PatHook Hand GhostGreen GhostKumoTiburónConey Island FreaksAvemetrusJohnny Wang
Guest Characters: Monty HallIngrid Third

Episodes
Season One: "Old School Training" • "Dragon Breath" • "The Talented Mr. Long" • "The Legend of Dragon Tooth" • "Act 4, Scene 15" • "Adventures in Troll Sitting" • "Fu Dog Takes a Walk" • "Professor Rotwood's Thesis" • "The Egg" • "The Heist" • "Dragon Summit" • "Body Guard Duty" • "Shapeshifter" • "The Ski Trip" • "The Long Weekend" • "Eye of the Beholder" • "Jake Takes the Cake" • "Hong Kong Nights" • "The Halloween Bash" • "Fu and Tell" • "Flight of the Unicorn" • "Keeping Shop" • "Ring Around the Dragon" • "The Hunted"

Season Two: "Bring it On" • "Half Baked" • "The Academy" • "The Doppelganger Gang" • "Something Fishy This Way Comes" • "Breakout" • "Family Business" • "Hero of the Hourglass" • "Dreamscape" • "A Befuddled Mind" • "Fool's Gold" • "Feeding Frenzy" • "Haley Gone Wild" • "Supernatural Tuesday" • "The Rotwood Files" • "Hairy Christmas" • "Switcheroo" • "The Love Cruise" • "Year of the Jake" • "Homecoming" • "Young at Heart" • "Siren Says" • "Shaggy Frog" • "Nobody's Fu" • "Magic Enemy Number One" • "A Ghost Story" • "Bite Father, Bite Son" • "Game On" • "Furious Jealousy" • "Being Human" • "The Hong Kong Longs"

Locations
New York City, New YorkNew JerseyAlabamaFloridaMillard Fillmore Middle SchoolIsle of DracoHong KongSubwayEmpire State BuildingChinaCamp MugwompMagus BazaarCanal Street ElectronicsIsland of AtlantisCosmopolitan Museum of ArtFamilio Festevedro
Objects
Mark of the Huntsclan13 Aztec SkullsHuntstaffMagical JournalsBrockiumRose's Dream Charm
Songs
The Chosen OneThe Hubba Hubba Hula


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Media
The Nightmare Before ChristmasKingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesKingdom Hearts IIKingdom Hearts 358/2 DaysThe Pumpkin KingOogie's RevengeDisney UniverseDisney InfinitySoundtrackVideo
Disney Parks
Haunted Mansion Holiday

Entertainment: Oogie Boogie’s Freaky Funhouse Show
Parades: Disney's Fantillusion
Halloween: Disney's Not So Spooky SpectacularFrightfully Fun ParadeGlow in the Park Halloween ParadeHappy HallowishesHocus Pocus Villain SpelltacularJack Skellington’s Villainous GatheringJourney to the Halloween TownThe Annex“This IS Halloween!” Dance PartyVillains Night Out!World of Color: Villainous!
Christmas: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

Characters
Jack SkellingtonSallyOogie BoogieLock, Shock, and BarrelDr. FinkelsteinMayor of Halloween TownSanta ClausZeroClown with the Tear-Away FaceMr. HydeHarlequin DemonScary TeddyDuck ToyPumpkin-in-the-BoxVampiresIgorBehemothMonster Who Lives Under the StairsMonster Who Lives Under the BedThe Grim ReaperThe DevilWolfmanWinged DemonCorpse FamilyMummy BoyUndersea GalHanging TreeJewel
Objects
Worm’s WortFrog’s BreathDeadly Night ShadeFrog GunWorm's Wort SoupBat BoomerangPumpkin BombDog BiscuitsShrunken HeadRun-Over TurtleSoul Robber
Locations
Halloween TownChristmas Town
Songs
This Is HalloweenJack’s LamentWhat’s This?Town Meeting SongJack’s ObsessionKidnap the Sandy ClawsMaking ChristmasOogie Boogie's SongSally’s SongPoor Jack FinaleDr. Finkelstein's Song


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Disney Parks
The Haunted MansionPhantom ManorMystic ManorHaunted Mansion HolidayMemento MoriMuseum of the Weird
Media
Films: The Haunted Mansion

Books: Tales from the Haunted MansionThe Haunted MansionDisney Kingdoms: The Haunted MansionKingdom Keepers
Video games: Adventures in the Magic KingdomThe Haunted MansionWalt Disney World ExplorerKinect: Disneyland AdventuresDisney Infinity: 2.0 EditionDisney Crossy RoadDisney Emoji BlitzThe Haunted Mansion: The Black Widow Bride

Characters
Ghost HostMadame LeotaCaretakerMaster GraceyHatbox GhostHitchhiking GhostsThe Singing BustsGeorge HightowerConstance HatchawayRavenCaptain GoreLittle LeotaOrganistThe Coffin OccupantTightrope WalkerThe BridePickwickThe MarinerPrudence PockBluebeardDeathThe ExecutionerDuelistsGramsAlexander Nitrokoff

Phantom Manor: Melanie RavenswoodHenry RavenswoodMartha Ravenswood
Mystic Manor: Henry MysticAlbertCaptain Mary OceaneerMaestro D'ElfmanThe Monkey King Statue
Haunted Mansion Holiday: Jack SkellingtonOogie BoogieLock, Shock and BarrelSallyZeroThe Vampire Teddy-BearZero • The Giant Snake • The Man-Eating Wreath • The One hiding under your bed • Skeleton Reindeer
The Museum of the the Weird: The Mistress of Evil • The Candleman • Madame ZarkovThe Grandfather Coffin Clock
Characters from Spinoffs: Elizabeth HenshawRamsleyEmmaEzraJim EversSara EversMegan EversMichael EversZombiesZeke Holloway • Friendly Ghosts • Atticus ThornAmicus ArcaneDanny CroweMaxwell KeepMelody KeepRoland Keep

Miscellaneous
Grim Grinning Ghosts • Gracey Manor • The Flying DutchmanThe Ghost Relations DepartmentTarot CardsIocane PowderBeacon of Souls • Bravery Tonic • Mumbo Doll • Soul GemsSeaman's Ring • Brotherhood of the Soul • Order of Shadows • Mystic Manor Theme SongThe Sinister 11
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