First Appearance: Castlevania (Konami, NES, 1986)
Aliases: The Grim Reaper; Angel of Death; Pale Rider; Ghost of Christmas Future
M.O.: Perennial penultimate boss; Scythe-chucking; Ridiculous secondary forms

Profile by Matt Williams? | February 23, 2011

“How did it come to this? How have I fallen so low?”

Death aimlessly floated through the halls of the clock tower as usual, the ruminations in his mind mirrored the gears and cogs shifting and rotating in the background. These days, thinking was one of the very few luxuries he still had; life was unbearably boring in the dilapidated Castlevania. When everything around you is an undead monstrosity or a lower demon from the depths of Hell, there isn’t much room for He Who Rides the Pale Horse, the Lord of the End. What was he going to do? Send a zombie back to Hell? While he once represented the Omega, the great inevitability of all life, he has now been reduced to a second banana only capable of cheap parlor tricks; a plethora of miniature flying scythe here, an unexpected and odd transformation there. At one time men, regardless of creed or religion, feared the very nature of his existence. Now, though? A single vagabond with a whip, a cross, holy water, a hope and a prayer could fell him with only minimal effort.

“Holy water? A cross? A whip called the Vampire Killer!? I’m not even a vampire!”

And there was the rub. Death was better than the lord of this castle, and he knew it. Dracula? Please. Death was the personification of a force of nature; Dracula was just the fever dream of an Irish novelist from the 19th century. Death didn’t even know why Dracula was the head honcho. He has as many weaknesses as strengths. No sunlight! No garlic! The man couldn’t even eat garlic bread! And in a castle brimming with Universal Monsters, why should Béla Lugosi get the top billing? Everyone liked Boris Karloff more anyway; if anything, Frankenstein’s Monster should be in charge.

“Okay, that may be going a bit far, but…”

Death’s thoughts were growing muddled by anger. Exasperated, he slouched against the wall, taking a sip from a flask he kept hidden in his tattered robes in an attempt to calm himself. A peculiar habit he picked up from one of the many intruders foolish enough to enter the castle. It wasn’t as though he could taste the alcohol, or even feel its warmth coursing down his throat, being devoid of any living tissue and all. Even so, it still put him at ease, oddly enough. Sadly, it was an indulgence he could only partake in once every hundred years. And that was another thing! Once every hundred years? Death never understood it. If Dracula was so powerful, why could he only materialize centennially? Sure, there were exceptions: some random dark priest or distant cousin of Dracula’s may attempt some bizarre resurrection ritual, but it never really panned out. For the most part, Death was doomed to a century of oblivion before rematerializing in some dank castle.

“I don’t even know why I’m here! I don’t even like the guy! It’s that stupid crimson gemstone, I know it. Lousy alchemy.”

A heavy sigh escaped his ossified mouth. Maybe, Death thought, he should try being more optimistic. Perhaps Dracula wasn’t such a bad guy; nothing like having a hands-off boss. Sometimes he wouldn’t even bother to show up until some wanderer miraculously made it to his throne. Being lord over the demise of all living things was certainly a burden, and a vacation was definitely in order. True, Castlevania wasn’t a five-star resort, but it could be worse. And while fighting and constantly losing to a stiff-limbed intruder was frustrating, at least was better than haunting some miserly geezer every Christmas. Yes, being the second-in-command of this old castle wasn’t so bad. Hell, Death had stopped his fair share of vagrants over the years; in an odd way, that made him the final boss! With renewed vigor, Death flourished his trusty scythe. Hearing the unmistakable creaking of one of Castlevania’s many worn doors, Death turned towards his new adversary.

“Okay, let’s do this! …wait, does he have a flask of holy water? Crap. Where do they keep getting these things!?”

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