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Grim Reapers are supernatural creatures that have been featured in various religious faiths and folktales as well as fictional lore found in movies, television programs and comic books. Represented as the classical "Angel of Death", they are wraithlike spirits, whose function is to ferry the souls of the recently departed into the afterworld. Nearly every culture has their own interpretation of such a being. Classically, a Grim Reaper is characterized as a skeletal being draped in grey robes and a hood who wields a scythe. Reapers are the personification of mortality and the name Death is often attributed to them. In some belief systems, Death is the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse.
The presence of a Grim Reaper is often vulgarized to be synonymous with evil or the Devil. However, as death is simply the natural termination of life, it exists contextually and existentially on a greater plane of understanding and cannot be pigeon-holed into humanity's base concepts of morality.
In television Edit
On season two of the FX Network series American Horror Story, Grim Reapers were portrayed as the Angel of Death. There was only one Reaper presented in the show, which went by the name of Shachath. Played by actress Frances Conroy, she was presented as a dark-haired, pale-skinned woman with large black wings who would appear before those wishing to die. Shachath was recognized by a nun named Sister Mary Eunice McKee, who was possessed by a demon at the time. 
Shachath visited several characters during the series, offering forth her "kiss", which would result in their deaths. In several instances, the characters would change their mind, finding some inner strength that enabled them to go on. She visited Lana Winters who had been tortured and raped by serial killer Oliver Thredson, but Lana declined her advances. She came to Monsignor Timothy Howard after he too had been tortured by a psychotic maniac, but he also turned her away. When Monsignor Howard pushed the demon-possessed Sister Mary to her death, Shachath laid claim to her soul, and also took hold of the demonic spirit that had inhabited her.
She answered a summons by Sister Jude Martin on more than one occasion. While still possessing her mental faculties, Sister Jude recognized Shachath and turned away from her. She saw her again years later after she been rendered insane and committed to Briarcliff Manor as a patient. In her delusional state, she saw Shachath in the form of a tough-talking prison inmate. Again she denied her. At the end of the season, which took place several years later, Sister Jude found the peace she needed and welcomed Death to take her. 
Ghosts are but one of three primary supernatural creatures found on both the original UK supernatural drama series Being Human as well as it's US/Canadian remake series of the same name. In season two of the North American version, a Grim Reaper is introduced as a supporting character to ghost Sally Malik. According to this Reaper, Grim Reapers do not target the souls of the recently deceased, but instead go after ghosts. Specifically, they retrieve ghosts whose presence upset the cosmic balance. This includes spirits who refuse to move on, or walk through "their door". Sally Malik, having missed her own door, inadvertently drew the attention of the Reaper. The Reaper, who later became known as Scott, began grooming Sally to become a Reaper herself. The act of destroying a ghost in this series is referred to as "shredding". Eventually, Sally makes the ultimate self-sacrifice and shreds herself, thus destroying Scott the Reaper.
The 2003-2004 dramedy series Dead Like Me was devoted entirely towards the concept of becoming a Grim Reaper and featured a central main character, Georgia Lass, as a reaper as well as a supporting cast of Reapers such as Rube Sofer, Mason, Roxy Harvey and Daisy Adair. In the show, Georgia Lass was a teenage girl who had a stifled and dysfunctional relationship with her family until one fateful day when she was struck down by (of all things) a toilet seat falling from the de-orbiting Mir space station. Georgia became a Grim Reaper for the External Influence Division and was tasked with the duty of routing the souls of those about to die into the Great Beyond. All of Georgia's new Reaper acquaintances shared their own specific job-related quotas as well as a unique perspective on death itself. 
Reaper culture on Dead Like Me is rather organized and operates on principals not dissimilar to that of an office job. There is a departmental breakdown of authority with a managing supervisor, who doles out assignments to other reapers. Each Reaper has a predetermined quota of souls that they are responsible for. Upon satisfying their allotment, they are then re-assigned to a different division and/or alternate job description.
Unlike Grim Reapers presented in other programs, Reapers on Dead Like Me are just a another classification of ghost, which is to say, they were all once living people who died under extraordinary circumstances; like drilling a hole into one's head to achieve euphoria, such as in the case of alcoholic Londoner, Mason. Visually, they appear no different than they did in life, and do not develop the stereotypical traits of a cloaked skeleton with a scythe (although this imagery did feature on promotional material and home video releases of the show).
Reapers have a physical body and may interact with the living and the dead. Besides collecting souls, reapers have powers to remain ageless, heal extremely quickly (George once severed her middle finger, but was able to reattach it by just putting it back in place, while Mason has sustained what should have been fatal damage on multiple occasions, such as being shot and hit by a car), drink alcohol without suffering a hangover, and forcibly pull a soul from a living body and replace it. 
On the animated comedy series Family Guy, the Grim Reaper comes to town to kill Peter Griffin. However, he sprains his ankle and cannot perform his reaping duties. To keep the general populace from learning that Death is out of commission, he forces Peter to take up the mantle of Death. His first mission is to kill the cast of Dawson's Creek. 
Peter relinquishes the title once Death is healed, but helps him out later on down the road by getting a date with a pet store clerk named Amy. Death grows bored with her however and kills her just to shut her up. 
On the NBC series Grimm, there is a classification of Wesen known as Reaper of Grimms, but these are not genuine Grim Reapers, though some of them do in fact wield a scythe. These creatures are assassins whose job is to kill the hunter clan known as Grimms.
The first Grimm Reaper featured on the show was a Hässlich named Hulda who, armed with an ornate decorative Scythe, Hulda tracked an aging Grimm named Marie Kessler to the home of her nephew Nick Burkhardt in Portland, Oregon. He attacked Marie on the sidewalk and though the woman was dying of a terminal illness, she still had enough physical prowess to fight back. She fought back, stabbing Hulda in the back. Nick Burkhardt finished him off by firing several rounds from his firearm into his chest. 
The ABC supernatural dramedy series Reaper took an alternate view on the Grim Reaper. In the series, twenty-one-year-old Sam Oliver discovers that his parents sold his soul to the Devil when he was born. Satan comes to make good on the claim and reveals that Sam's function in life is to serve as his Reaper. He is tasked with tracking down and reclaiming demonic souls who have escaped from Hell. Assisting Sam in this endeavor are his trusty home-improvement store co-workers Bert "Sock" Wysocki and Ben Gonzalez.
In all of television fiction, no character has received more visits from the Grim Reaper than poor Kenny McCormick on the animated comedy series South Park. Kenny is killed in nearly every episode of South Park, usually in some gruesome and horrific manner, but always manages to find himself miraculously resurrected the following episode. One of the recurring gaffs on the series is that Kenny's friends, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski and Eric Cartman pay witness to Kenny's demise, upon which Stan exclaims, "Oh my God, they killed Kenny!" and Kyle finishes with, "You bastards!" Kenny has died more than 103 times over the course of the series. The Grim Reaper must really hate him.
The Grim Reaper has made an appearance on the series early in season one. 102-year-old Marvin Marsh wanted to die, but was too feeble and crappy to take his own life. With the help of his grandson, Stan, as well as an unsuspecting cow, he lured Death to him, but the Grim Reaper had no interest in the old man, seeking only to lay claim to Kenny McCormick. 
Reapers feature prominently in the CW Network television series Supernatural and are but one of many subspecies of creatures featured on the show. They are responsible for shepherding the souls of the dead into the afterlife and cannot be seen by the living. Reapers in the series also possess the ability to stop time, but this goes only so far as to serve their immediate requirements. Reapers began appearing as early as season one and were first represented when a woman named Sue Le Grange summoned a reaper to assist her faith healer husband Roy Le Grange in the unsavory practice of healing the sick and dying by stealing life energy from the innocent via the Reaper. One of the main characters on the show, Dean Winchester, was the beneficiary of such a gift, but would have refused it had he known that it would cost the life of another. 
In season two, Dean found himself at Death's door once again. A female Reaper named Tessa tried to help him cross over, warning him that souls who refuse to move on would become spirits of vengeance. The yellow-eyed-demon, Azazel, possessed the Reaper in order to insure that Dean's soul returned to its body. 
Reaper lore played heavily in a plotline involving the breaking of 66 seals, which would release Satan upon the Earth. The killing of two Reapers was one of these seals. Following the death of one of the Reapers, all of the terminally ill people of the small town of Greybull stopped dying. 
In season seven, longtime supporting character Bobby Singer is shot and killed by a man named Dick Roman. A bitter and stubborn individual in both life and death, Bobby's soul refused to pass on and retreated into the further recesses of his own mind. The Grim Reaper was more than just a little irritated with him. 
- On Supernatural, "Death" took a holiday, and Dean Winchester filled the shoes of being a Grim Reaper for a day in "Appointment in Samarra".
See also Edit
- ↑ American Horror Story: Dark Cousin
- ↑ American Horror Story: Madness Ends
- ↑ Being Human: It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To
- ↑ Dead Like Me: Pilot
- ↑ Dead Like Me: Sunday Mornings
- ↑ Family Guy: Death Is a Bitch
- ↑ Family Guy: Death Lives
- ↑ Grimm: Pilot
- ↑ South Park: Death
- ↑ Supernatural: Faith
- ↑ Supernatural: In My Time of Dying
- ↑ Supernatural: Death Takes a Holiday
- ↑ Supernatural: Death's Door
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