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 character being the bringer of death. Best known to be described as a skeleton in a hooded cloak (that usually hides his face) carrying a scythe. He has appeared various times in Disney Toons and shorts and was featured as a cameo character in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. He was first featured as the main antagonist in the 1929 black and white animated short Haunted House in which he was voiced by Walt Disney himself, who also although uncredited also directed the 7-minute short. He also marked a prominent appearance in Darkwing Duck.
The Grim Reaper serves as the proprietor of a dilapidated Hill House in which he holds macabre musical ensembles comprising of his legion of spirits. He holds command over the skeletons which he has annually come to his Hilltop residence and perform for his dire amusement.
The Grim Reaper is a dark, gothic character with a mysterious presence. Although nonchalant, he takes his duty over life and death seriously and has no sense of humor.
He possesses an ominous, hostile malice to his behavior however as demonstrated in his antagonistic relationship with Mickey Mouse who wanders into his abode during a fretful storm to escape the rain. His only joy comes in the delirious tones of melodramatic, macabre music which he has played at his whim by his legion of the re-animated skeletons within his hilltop home. He displays a frightening impatience and intolerance for disobedience as Mickey expresses an inability to produce the music he will want. He is naturally intimidating and looming in his first appearance with a horrific, hoarse voice he slowly harrows at Mickey in order to get him to play for him and join his legion in producing the night's musical number.
Despite his antagonistic personality in his first appearance, later appearances have depicted him as a less self-serving malevolent entity. His power and high standing approach contrast with the terrifying Night on Bald Mountain villain Chernabog. 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.
He is based on the folklore's Grim Reaper with skeletal hands, wearing a grey cloak, and his face is covered in darkness. His appearance changes with his various different appearances, in his first appearance in Haunted House his face is obscured in darkness, he dons a ragged grey cloak and his 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 he appears again with his face shrouded in darkness, his cloak, however, a faded grey and his hands a skeletal white.
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.
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.
Although not being named the Grim Reaper in the movie, the Irish mythological personification 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, Sarah.
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.
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.
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.
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.