Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the hit anime Death Note has finally arrived. However, there are a lot of parts and characters from the anime that got lost in translation. One such omission is why Ryuk appears to be always eating or trying to eat apples. In the movie, there are several scenes where we see Ryuk chomping away at this fruit, but the movie never really explains why this is happening. This habit is actually explained in the anime a few times and actually acts as a way for Ryuk to begrudgingly help Light early on int he first season.
Ryuk eats apples because to Shinigami (or death gods) they are equivalent to cigarettes. Ryuk is absolutely addicted to eating them and he always appears relieved after consuming one in the anime. In the Shinigami realm, their apples are rotten and bitter, so Ryuk doesn’t usually have a chance to enjoy them. If he doesn’t have an apple, Ryuk will actually go into withdrawal like a person who is hooked on drugs or alcohol. However, it’s not nearly as serious as one of the major side effects of his withdrawal includes, and we are making this up, performing handstands.
This trait is never really explained in Netflix’s version of the anime, so it appears to just be a weird quirk. In fact, most of the details of a Shinigami are never really explained in the Death Note movie. It’s never explained Shinigami can only die if they fall in love with someone in the human realm or that there are multiple death gods. Another change to Ryuk in the film is that he appears to be more “hands on” when it comes to people using the Death Note. In the show/manga, Ryuk is largely aloof and always sits on the sidelines. This is mainly to alleviate his boredom and not because of any sinister motives or desires.