I love the idea of the Grim Reaper. It’s just such a cool visual and the idea of personifying death with this skeletal figure in a tattered black robe and scythe is a cool one.
I recently re-watched a few movies and TV shows with Grim Reapers that I loved so I thought I’d run down a list of six of my favorite Grim Reapers from movies and TV.
Bengt Ekerot from the 1957 Ingmar Bergman movie The Seventh Seal. This movie has been a very influential film and even influenced two other entries on this list. The Seventh Seal also starred Max Von Sydow as a soldier who partakes in a game of chess against death. The movie is a good one, if a bit slow and tedious. Ekerot makes a very creepy personification of Death.
William Sadler from the 1991 sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Sadler’s Reaper from this movie was based on Ekerot in The Seventh Seal. The character’s clothing and makeup are almost identical to the original and he is also challenged to play games. Only in this movie the games are Battleship, Clue, Electronic Football and Twister instead of Chess. Sadler’s Reaper is the best thing about the Bill & Ted sequel.
Sir Ian McKellen in the 1993 movie The Last Action Hero. I keep forgetting that Sir Ian played this role. I keep thinking it was someone like Richard Harris. It’s a small role but a memorable one. In case you don’t know, this movie is about characters jumping off the movie screen and becoming real. The movie that Ian McKellen’s Death jumps off? The Seventh Seal.
Bret Harrison in the 2007 TV series Reaper. This sadly short lived TV series was partially created by Kevin Smith and also starred Ray Wise as the Devil. It was a great show that I wished had survived past its initial two seasons. This show sort of changes the idea of a reaper. Instead of it being the personification of death, a reaper is a bounty hunter that works for the Devil returning escaped souls to Hell. Bret Harrison discovers that his parents sold his soul to the Devil when he was born so when he comes of age, he has to become a reaper. And he enlists his two best friends to help. The show is hilarious and I highly recommend you checking it out. It should be on Netflix Streaming.
Death from Family Guy. Voiced originally by Norm McDonald and then subsequently by Adam Corolla. Death in this show is hilarious, like most of the other characters. He shows up every once in a while to wreck havoc in the lives of the Griffins and crash on their couch. Plus, whomever he touches, dies. Lots of funny to mine from this concept.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. In more than one source, this particular third ghost is usually depicted as a reaper or reaper-like being dressed in a hooded black cloak and sometimes with the scythe. The picture above is from the movie Scrooged but you can also see this depiction in Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol as well as Muppet Christmas Carol.
Those are some of my favorite interpretations of the Grim Reaper. What are yours?