How Smart Is L in Death Note? Is He Smarter than Light Yagami?

How Smart is L in Death Note L
Credit: Madhouse

How Smart is L in Death Note L
Credit: Madhouse

Death Note's L is one of the smartest anime characters of all time, but what exactly does this mean? How smart is L in Death Note? Is he the smartest character in the series?

While we hear a lot about the strongest and most powerful anime characters and their unique set of abilities, the power of those whose strength is not physical is not quantifiable in the same way.

So, let's break this down a bit further.

How Smart Is L in Death Note?

How Smart is L in Death Note L
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Credit: Madhouse

L is considered a genius. He's one of the smartest characters not only in the beloved mystery anime but in all anime in general.

While there's no official character intelligence report from the creators of Death Note, there have been discussions in fandom wiki pages, with users discussing the possible IQ of L, Light, and other characters.

Some fans claim that L's IQ would be around 210, with a few claiming that he could even have an IQ of 240.

How Smart is L in Death Note L
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Credit: Madhouse

However, no such IQ has ever been recorded and, even geniuses like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein are reported to have had an IQ of around 160.

Therefore, some fans think that L's would be similar, rather than significantly higher.

Of course, L is a fictional character in a universe where one can use a notebook to kill people, so it wouldn't be impossible for him to have a level of intelligence that's out of this world.

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Is L Smarter Than Light?

Is L Smarter Than Light
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Credit: Madhouse

Whether or not L is more intelligent than Light is debatable, although several clues suggest that L might be the smarter of the two.

Fans who claim that Light is smarter cite his early victory over L as he manages to kill the legendary detective halfway through the series and spend a lot of time killing people before eventually being bested by Near.

However, there are two flaws in this logic: firstly, Light had supernatural help from a Shinigami, and he also exploited Misa, whom he used as cover.

Is L Smarter Than Light L
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Credit: Madhouse

Secondly, L didn't know as much about the nature of the Death Note as Light did.

This lack of knowledge doesn't equal lack of intelligence, given that the Death Note is a supernatural item that's unheard of in the world when L took over the case.

Besides, Light was eventually defeated, even if it took more for his Shinigami friend to relinquish his support and for more than one detective to investigate the case over several years.

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Did Light Defeat L?

Who Is Better L or Light L
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Credit: Madhouse

This is rather complicated to answer, as another factor to consider is the two characters' morality. After becoming corrupted by power, Light has had no moral qualms, while L, who was also ruthless in his pursuit for answers, was more ethical and lawful.

He wouldn't be such a beloved character if this wasn't the case, but this did make it a bit easier for Light to prevail.

But if L got defeated on that occasion, it was because of Light's ruthlessness and not because of L's lack of intelligence.

At the end of the day, intelligence is harder to measure than strength in battle, or even magic (when it comes to fantasy anime).

Did Light Defeat L Light
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Credit: Madhouse

Intelligence is more complicated, as two equally clever people can still have completely different sets of skills.

L was a great detective who was more experienced than Light, while Light was a prodigy that lacked life experience, so it's hard to tell who started with an advantage in their endless mind games.

One thing is certain though; rarely have we seen an anime character smarter than L!

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READ MORE: Who Are Death Note’s Voice Actors?

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