Title: Grim Reaper Tattoo Designs, Ideas, and Meanings

Updated on January 19, 2016
thelyricwriter profile image

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

The Grim Reaper is a highly symbolic and meaningful tattoo. In this article, I will discuss different designs and the meanings behind this dark and bold design. I hope that you are able to find ideas and inspiration for your next tattoo.

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The Grim Reaper represents death. He has been depicted in ancient art, literature, tattoos, and movies for many years. His long black cloak and razor-sharp scythe are enough to put fear into anyone that captures a glimpse of him. He makes a unique and a fierce-looking tattoo that will catch anyone's eye. When properly done, the grim reaper tattoo is absolutely stunning.

Legend says that the Grim Reaper appears when someone is just moments from death. It is believed that the he uses his sharp scythe to separate the human soul from the body. He then accompanies the soul to its final resting place, which is either Heaven or Hell.

The Grim Reaper tattoo is an old school tattoo design that has been around for a number of years. There are a variety of different ways that the Grim Reaper can be portrayed as a tattoo:

  • Most portray the Reaper in a long black robe with his famous long scythe.
  • He can be shown holding his scythe in a variety of ways, such as in front of his body or over his shoulder.
  • Due to the length of the robe, only certain parts of the Reaper are usually shown.
  • Skeleton hands are usually seen holding the long scythe.
  • His face is usually portrayed as a skeleton skull. However, some tattoos show the Grim Reaper as "faceless."
  • It's usually done in black or shades of dark gray. Since the Reaper represents death, it is associated with the color black.
  • With more and more tattoo artists testing their creative sides, some Grim Reapers can be inked in vibrant colors. These types of tattoos are actually gaining popularity and allow the wearer a design that is less intimidating.

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History

The Grim Reaper is most commonly associated with a story from the Christian Bible. He is associated with the four horsemen of the apocalypse mentioned in the book of Revelations. The fourth horsemen represents death, he rides a pale horse and carries a scythe. It is not uncommon to see tattoos that show him riding a pale or black horse because of this.

Because of his association with death, the Grim Reaper is usually portrayed negatively or in an evil way. Some cultures, though, view him more in a neutral way than positive or negative. In Roman mythology, the collector of souls was actually portrayed in a positive manner as a sign of good luck. But in most cases, he is associated with death.

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Meanings and Symbolism

Although the Grim Reaper commonly represents "death," he can take on a variety of meanings. In the end though, your Grim Reaper tattoo will represent what you want it to. Here are some common meanings:

  • Death
  • Good luck
  • Bravery
  • Courage
  • Life
  • Fragility
  • Evil
  • Negativity
  • Emotionless
  • Fearlessness
  • Darkness

The Grim Reaper can represent the "circle of life," showing that you understand that life and death happens to us all and is an event that we all will eventually face. He can also represent bravery and courage, showing that you are not afraid to die or meet your faith. Because of this, this tattoo can be commonly seen on soldiers.

It's also seen in Goth culture. Some people just like to have fierce-looking ink, whether it holds symbolic value or not. Before you choose a final design, make sure you view as many as you can. The designs can include skulls, ravens, flames, chains, swirls, and more.

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Brandon kearney 

        12 months ago

        I personally have a grim reaper tattooed on my shoulder. I got it in a dark time in my life as my mother and father had kicked me out because I had taken my car and was in a bad accident. I got the tattoo not as a negative part in my life but as a new beginning. I got it almost a year ago and everyone that sees it asks what it means, so I tell them that if it wasn't for me getting in that car accident I wouldn't be as happy as I am I wouldn't be in the military and I might have still hated myself so this tattoo means a new start to me

      • profile image

        Johnny 

        2 years ago

        i would love to have this tattoo but i dont know how to view i

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        4 years ago from West Virginia

        Thanks for the comment Raymond. Yes, I'm with you. Love that classic black ink reaper. Saw one the other day done in traditional black but with flames in bright orange, red and yellow. The flames were in the background, great detail on the face, probably one of the best colored grim reaper tattoos I've ever seen. Raymond, be sure to drop back by when you get it, share it with us. Best to you..

      • profile image

        raymond lopez 

        4 years ago

        Great format on the reaper.I have always loved skulls and the color black.I agree and associate with the different ways one could relate to the reaper.for me its the lifestyle."fearless" Going to get the big reaper on the forearm with lettering on the side that says"let them hate as long as they fear"

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        Ron, thanks for dropping by. Great way of pointing that out. So many people view tattoos in a negative way. I try to teach others that there is a art and meaning behind many tattoos. Just have to be open about it.

      • Ron Hites profile image

        Ron Hites 

        6 years ago

        I have the Grim Reaper on both my arms, upper and lower...

        I'm what you would call a "Old Skool Biker" type...

        The Reaper is part of the lifestyle...

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        Services4all, appreciate your time and comment. Glad you found it interesting. Best wishes.

      • services4all profile image

        services4all 

        6 years ago from U.S.

        I like the different types of tattoos, Its really interesting.

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        Stars439, thanks again for taking the time to stop by. It is greatly appreciated. Take care.

      • stars439 profile image

        stars439 

        6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

        Cool. GBY.

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        Tbrian123, thanks for taking the time to come by. Hope you found it useful. Take care.

      • tbrian123 profile image

        tbrian123 

        6 years ago from colombo, Sri Lanka

        Good one... I would really like to read this type of articles :) Voted up (Y)

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        *Acaetnna, it is always a pleasure to have you drop by. I sincerely appreciate your time and thanks for reading.

        *Alastar, thanks again for dropping by friend. This is a design that I almost got once. I don't know why but I am drawn into the reaper design. I just think it is cool. What can I say.

      • Alastar Packer profile image

        Alastar Packer 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        Oh my lyric, this ones wicked bad. The artistry's amazing and maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy but can't see going through life with one of these permanently inked on. Good info on em though.

      • acaetnna profile image

        acaetnna 

        6 years ago from Guildford

        Great information as always!!

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        *Bri, thanks for taking the time to come by and for your kind words. Hope you enjoyed this article.

        *AE, always great to hear from you. I feel the same way. There is just something about that design that is cool looking to me.

        *Kash, it is great to hear from you. I appreciate you taking the time to come by and thanks for the comment and vote.

      • kashmir56 profile image

        Thomas Silvia 

        6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Very interesting and very cool pictures !

        Vote up !!!

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        6 years ago from Southern Illinois

        Wow, The one with the waterfall and many skeletal faces is intriguing. Thank's for sharing...

      • profile image

        bri36 

        6 years ago

        Keep up the good work")

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        *Bri36, always great to hear from you. I spent time in Casa Grande and had the chance to catch a few shows ever now and then. I appreciate your time, comment, and votes friend. See you soon.

        *Seeker7, always great to have you come by pal. I just got through reading another paranormal article of yours, "Ghostly Women". Awesome job I must say. Same here, I can see it representing life, not as much as death. I just think the design is cool I guess. Take care and catch you later.

      • Seeker7 profile image

        Helen Murphy Howell 

        6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

        Wow! Not only fascinating information but the artwork is stunning!

        I don't think I'd fancy having the Grim Reaper grinning at me all day - and especially at night! But the attraction for these type of tatoos is obvious. I was also interested in the various meanings as well, that's very new to me. I had always just associated the grim reaper with the usual life-death-life cycle.

        Great hub + voted up awesome!

      • profile image

        bri36 

        6 years ago

        cool stuff here the lyricwriter like the pictures. Just the other day here in phoenix there was a tattoo show and I remembered You are the tattoo hubber so thanks for a cool hub")Yes I voted^

      • thelyricwriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Ricky Hale 

        6 years ago from West Virginia

        *Gypsy, always great to hear from you doll. It makes you wonder don't it. I like them. I have always been interested in the design rather then meaning. I wouldn't mind having one of these tattoos for sure.

        *Frank, well, I would persume that this was the meaning behind the tattoo. I don't know what the Grim Reaper would be doing back there personally. Probably spends more time facedown then anything:) Could be wrong of course. Some people go all out. One would be surprised where some people choose to get tattooed.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        6 years ago from Shelton

        damn thelyricwriter.. you know I was at a strip-club near NYC and we saw a dancer with a grimp-reaper tattoo on her left butt cheek.. kinda made me wonder.. hit that and die..right? LOL they are pretty scary.. but only you can explain break down and tease tattoos thanks for sharing :) Frank

      • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

        Gypsy Rose Lee 

        6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

        Being a horror movie fan I voted up. Are these people with the last name of Dracula or Frankenstein??? lol Wild tattoos and a great job as usual.

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