Grell Sutcliff (グレル・サトクリフ, Gureru Satokurifu), sometimes romanized as "Grelle," is a Grim Reaper. They are part of the Retrieval Division of the Grim Reaper Dispatch. Grell initially posed as Angelina Dalles's butler and conspired with her as Jack the Ripper. They were suspended for some time as a result, but are now a fully active Grim Reaper.
Grell has long, dark-red hair, shark-like teeth, and red-framed glasses which are accessorized with a chain with skulls. Their typical attire consists of a vest, gloves, a red and white striped bow tied around their neck, and red and black 11 cm high-heeled ankle boots. Grell also sports a red coat they confiscated from Angelina Dalles after fatally wounding her. After they took it, they now wear it slung off their shoulders, and the sleeves are up to their elbows. Therefore, they are described as "covered in red."
Grell has specially modified their Death Scythe to operate like a chainsaw because they think that the average Death Scythe is old-fashioned; they claim that their customized Death Scythe is of first-rate quality.
When posing as Angelina Dalles' butler, Grell has their brown hair tied with a red ribbon, and they would mostly dress in plain, black clothes.
Grell is over-the-top, flamboyant, and outspoken—they once told Sebastian Michaelis their wish to do some "vigorous exercise" with him, despite the latter's repulsion. They possess a strong predilection for the color red and believe that substances which reflect that color, such as blood, can be used to achieve beauty. They are a ruthless, bloodthirsty individual who is even willing to kill their own comrades once they lose interest in them. Grell is predisposed to resorting to violence in order to eliminate whoever annoys or hinders them, and has had numerous clashes with Sebastian; in one instance, upon encountering Sebastian on Campania, Grell immediately expresses their intention to have a "death match" with him and proceeds to attack him.
In Grell's personal view, human relations are not of great significance, and hence, they do not understand a human's reluctance to kill a person he or she cares about. They despise hesitation in their partners, and find that meaningless emotions serve as an impediment to one's goal.
Grell was, at first, dismissive of the Grim Reaper principles—which include the necessity to be neutral in human affairs—as evidenced by their unlawful partnership with Angelina Dalles. But, after a period of suspension, Grell begins to respect the duties of a Grim Reaper, enough to preach the importance of soul reaping to Ronald Knox at one point. However, due to how naturally impulsive Grell is, their adherence to the Grim Reaper rules remains questionable; for example, on one occasion, Grell was about to slay Aleistor Chamber, ignoring Ronald's cry that killing humans is forbidden.
Grell is very fond of using double-entendres and incorporating plays into their speech. They often put things in terms of theater, referring to Angelina's death as the "falling of curtains" and comparing their conflicting Grim Reaper and demon relationship with Sebastian to the famous play, Romeo and Juliet.
When Angelina Dalles started the Jack the Ripper murders, Grell followed her since she was the reason for the soul retrieval list being so filled. They sympathized with her, since they could relate to her troubles—the inability to give birth—and opted to help her, even though such an action blatantly defies the Grim Reaper's code of neutrality. Grell then disguised themselves as the Burnett family's butler to avoid suspicion.
Red Butler Arc
Grell is with Angelina Dalles, their mistress, and Lau in Ciel Phantomhive's London townhouse, searching for tea. They accompany Ciel, Sebastian Michaelis, Lau, and Angelina while they gather information on Jack the Ripper. They later attend Aleistor Chamber's party with them, where they briefly leave in order to commit another murder.
Afterwards, Grell, in Mary Jane Kelly's house, brutally kills her. When Ciel and Sebastian enter the scene, Sebastian comments that it is an excessive murder as blood has splattered all over the floor. Grell comes up with a feeble excuse for being there, despite being covered in the prostitute's blood. Challenged by Sebastian, Grell discloses that they are a Grim Reaper. When they are questioned about why they have broken the Grim Reaper's code of neutrality, they reply that they were captivated by "a certain woman".
Grell confronts Sebastian with their Death Scythe. They claim that their Death Scythe can slice through anything, and sadistically trifles with Sebastian, stating their desire to tear up his body. They add that they love the color red and enjoy using blood to do makeup for ugly women. Sebastian points out Grell's violation of the Grim Reaper rules and deems their butler principles sickening, and Grell remarks that even so they are still the "butler of death." Their battle continues, and Grell inflicts a small slash on Sebastian's left arm, revealing a brief Cinematic Record of Sebastian's past and his first encounter with Ciel. Grell explains the general purpose of a Cinematic Record, which is to replay memories for assessment by the Grim Reaper, and Sebastian dismisses it as a "spying activity."
Grell then has Sebastian pinned against the wall. However, when Ciel's life is endangered, Sebastian rushes off, in spite of Grell's Death Scythe (which deals a considerable wound to his arm). They comment that Sebastian has commendable endurance, and order Angelina to kill Ciel. They notice her hesitation and insist that she carries out the task. When she admits that she cannot because she views Ciel as her own son, they are gravely disappointed and proceed to stab her in the chest with their Death Scythe. They denounce her as an "ordinary woman" and complain that they have gone to great lengths to aid her, but were uncompensated. They remove the red coat from her corpse and proclaim that she is not fit to wear red.
Grell turns to leave, and Ciel orders Sebastian to kill them. While battling, Sebastian intentionally aims for Grell's face, much to their anger for they greatly cherish it. Grell asks if Sebastian is afraid to perish once he is critically hit by their Death Scythe, and the latter asserts that he is not. Grell states that a demon and a Grim Reaper are unable to reach a mutual understanding; thus, their relationship is like the "tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet". Grell rams their own forehead against Sebastian's and deals a strong, upward slash across his chest. Much to their dismay, they perceive a rather mundane Cinematic Record which consists simply of Sebastian's daily life as a Phantomhive butler.
Subsequently, they attempt to end the battle with the next blow. Sebastian uses a shred of his ruined, woolen tailcoat to jam Grell's Death Scythe. He then, pummels Grell in the face, ignoring the victim's pleas to spare it. However, before Sebastian can kill them with their own weapon, William T. Spears intervenes. William lands on Grell's head and lists off all of the rules that Grell has violated. He grudgingly apologizes to Sebastian, retrieves Grell's Death Scythe, and drags Grell away by their hair. Grell later faces suspension for their offenses.
In regard to the case involving the Noah's Ark Circus, the Grim Reapers are assigned various tasks. While William T. Spears and Ronald Knox are to collect the souls at Baron Kelvin's manor, Grell, whose suspension period has recently ended, is responsible for collecting the souls at Phantomhive Manor—a mission they are very excited about, as noted by Ronald.
Luxury Liner Arc
Grell is assigned to work with Ronald Knox to collect souls and investigate the Bizarre Dolls. They watch as Campania crashes into an iceberg. They then leap on the ship's deck and behead several Bizarre Dolls.
They meet with Ronald, and make Ronald hold them by the waist as they enjoy the night breeze. They soon stop, however, deeming Ronald unexciting. Ronald reminds Grell that they both should be focusing on their duty, for they have approximately another one-thousand souls to collect and they must investigate the Bizarre Dolls as well. Grell tells him that soul reaping is a Grim Reaper's most important job and that the investigation part can come at a later time. They then urge Ronald to hurry, for they wish to go home and do not want to risk another suspension order.
In the first class suite, Grell and Ronald destroy numerous Bizarre Dolls while complaining about the sheer quantity of them. Grell notes that dealing with the Bizarre Dolls is a waste of time, and Ronald agrees, stating that Campania will sink in one hour.
After they carry out their task in the first class front hallway, Ronald informs Grell that they must descend five floors to reach the third boiler room, much to Grell's annoyance. While they discuss the enigmatic Bizarre Dolls, a Bizarre Doll on a carriage led by a couple of Bizarre Doll horses appears. Grell swiftly annihilates them.
In the second class restaurant, Grell and Ronald encounter Sebastian Michaelis, Ciel Phantomhive, and Elizabeth Midford. Grell prevents them from running away, and starts battling Sebastian. During the fight, Grell accidentally slashes a window with their Death Scythe, causing water to rapidly enter the ship. While Grell is distracted, Ronald takes their place and fights Sebastian.
After a brief intervention with Elizabeth eliminating a number of Bizarre Dolls, Elizabeth goes after Grell, intending to attack them, but Sebastian stops her. Grell plans to resume their fight with Sebastian but overhears Ciel telling Sebastian to concentrate on finding Rian Stoker, who has constructed the Bizarre Dolls. Ronald shows Grell Rian's information in the soul retrieval list, and after they both read it, they leave with urgency to learn more about the Bizarre Dolls from Rian.
In the first class passenger lounge, Rian falls due to Campania tilting, and Grell catches him by the leg. When they ask for a method to stop the Bizarre Dolls, Rian discloses that there is a device in his room that can render the absolute salvation ineffective. Grell, Ronald, and Rian go to the Rian's first class guest room, where they discover that the device has been stolen. They return to the first class passenger lounge, where Ciel, Sebastian, Undertaker, and Aleistor Chamber, who has taken the device, are. When Grell states their desire to kill Aleistor, Aleistor threatens to destroy the device, and Ronald stops Grell.
A legion of Bizarre Dolls arrives, the number of them bewildering them all. Grell, Ronald, and Sebastian are forced to fight them. Irritated by Aleistor's theatrics, Ronald asks to kill him, and Grell scolds him for stopping them earlier. Grell then shouts at Aleistor to activate the device, but Aleistor refuses to until they perform the dance of the Phoenix to pledge their loyalty to him, much to Grell, Ronald, Ciel, and Sebastian's exasperation. They reluctantly recite the lines and do the pose.
A satisfied Aleistor then turns on the device, but it does not work. Fed up with what they consider a farce, Grell deftly kills several Bizarre Dolls, which impresses Ronald, and lunges at Aleistor, despite Ronald's cry that they must not kill humans. Undertaker blocks Grell's Death Scythe and attacks Grell with his sotoba.
Grell, Ronald, and Sebastian note Undertaker's chartreuse phosphorescent eyes, and realize that Undertaker is a Grim Reaper. Grell and Ronald are shocked to learn that Undertaker created the Bizarre Dolls by editing the deceased's Cinematic Records. On Undertaker's encouragement, Grell views a couple of Bizarre Dolls' Cinematic Records, and is appalled to see that Undertaker has indeed connected fake records following the "End" mark for the bodies to mistakenly believe that life is still continuing. Undertaker further explains how Bizarre Dolls function, and admits that Campania was merely an experiment to see what will happen when the same amount of humans and Bizarre Dolls are together. Grell and Ronald decide to apprehend Undertaker, who is most likely a "deserter," and the former adds that they can never forgive Undertaker for injuring their face.
Grell and Ronald attack Undertaker. Sebastian kicks Ronald, to Grell's surprise, and says that he would be in trouble if he were to let Grell and Ronald haul Undertaker away, for Ciel wants to take Undertaker into custody as well for Queen Victoria's sake. Grell and Sebastian tell each other to stay out of their way. They all then decide that whichever team is the fastest can take Undertaker. In subsequence, Grell, Ronald, and Sebastian attack Undertaker simultaneously.
While fighting, they discuss Grim Reapers' nearsightedness, and Grell points out that Undertaker must be at a disadvantage for he is not wearing any glasses. Grell is astonished that they are able to cut through Undertaker's sotoba, even though they could not before. Undertaker kicks Grell, and Ronald rushes over, but his glasses are thrown off by Undertaker. Grell tosses Ronald's glasses back to their rightful owner, but Sebastian knocks them away. Sebastian and Undertaker battle while Ronald retrieves his glasses with Grell next to him. Grell and Ronald mention that they are running out of time, since the ship is tilting heavily, and attack Undertaker head-on. Undertaker blocks their Death Scythes successfully, revealing his own and slicing them both with it. Grell and Ronald are shocked, with Ronald commenting that his Death Scythe should have been confiscated when he retired, and Undertaker implies that he smuggled it out with him. Undertaker then destroys a pillar near where they are at, causing it to collapse on them.
After a battle between Sebastian and Undertaker, where Undertaker manages to view Sebastian's Cinematic Record, Campania begins tilting upward, causing great chaos and many deaths. Rian falls to his death, and Grell immediately assesses and collects his soul, stating the dates of his birth and death. They tell Sebastian that they do not have much time and that they will take Undertaker. While Grell fights Undertaker, Ronald fights Sebastian, "the weakened one."
During their battle, Undertaker recalls that Grell was Madam Red's butler and remarks that they also tampered with people's lives. Grell calls him nosy and assures him that they are not going to leave, albeit the time constraints. Grell is about to take a swing at Undertaker, but Sebastian hurls a beaten Ronald at them, making them both crash into a wall. As Campania sinks and water floods the area they are fighting in, Undertaker tells them that he must go. Grell and Sebastian make a concerted attack on him, causing him to drop his chain of lockets, which Ciel catches. Undertaker entrusts it to Ciel, splits the ship into two with his Death Scythe, and escapes.
An unconscious Grell floats face-down in the water. William T. Spears rescue Grell and Ronald, and force them to wake up. Grell is thrilled that William has arrived, and tries to leap on him, but falls back into the water instead. William tells them that they must collect the souls despite their injuries and that once they are finished they must report to headquarters and immediately file a report on the "violator," Undertaker.
Emerald Witch Arc
Grell and William T. Spears travel to Germany, where they meet the German Grim Reapers Ludger and Sascha. Ludger remarks that Grell's greetings are flashy as per usual. Sascha hands documents to William, who complains about being sent all the way to Germany. Grell says that they are actually enjoying their trip with William; William responds by hitting them with his Death Scythe. William then tells Sascha and Ludger to inform the English Branch if they receive any information about the "seceders" before leaving with Grell.
Blue Cult Arc
Grell reaps a boy's soul, and complains about always getting the most wretched cases. They bemoan having to cancel their manicure, prompting another Grim Reaper to point out that Grell's nails did not last a month in the country. Grell identifies the Grim Reaper as Othello, and says that it is not often a Grim Reaper from the Forensics Division would visit a crime scene. Othello explains that he is out there because there is no end to the cases lately and adds that his getting dispatched to the scene means that their superiors are finally getting serious.
Grell, then, presses Othello for the reason why he is there, but Othello refuses to tell them, claiming that they would not understand and that they are not interested in forensic research anyway. He says that they should not interfere in each other's affairs, and requests for Grell's protection if he needs it, since he is not confident in his physical abilities and has not customized his Death Scythe either. Grell is repulsed by the "unfashionable" Death Scythe, commenting that it reminds them of their training days. Othello, then, asks to look at the file of the kid whose soul Grell has just collected, and reads that it is another case of "death by multiple organ failure caused by loss of blood," like he suspected.
Later, Grell and Othello investigate Sphere Music Hall's facility. The former comments on its size and advanced equipment. Othello notes that they are making more progress than they should have. When Grell asks him for an explanation, Othello ignores them, mulling over the situation. An irritated Grell remarks that they cannot stand "geeks" like Othello. Othello, then, admits that there is still plenty he does not understand, but what he knows for certain is that whoever the mastermind is needs to be chased down and be given "a good spanking," to Grell's excitement.
Grell and Othello arrive at a music hall in Bath, where Ciel Phantomhive and Sebastian Michaelis are. Grell collects the soul of Ralph Cutler, who has died from blood loss. Grell is delighted that they have run into Sebastian, and asserts that Gregory Violet will be fine, for he is not on the soul retrieval list. When Grell tells Sebastian that he should ask them out on a date, Sebastian and Ciel pointedly disregard them.
To Grell's annoyance, Othello explains the situation to Ciel, and even shows him the soul retrieval list. When Othello asks Grell to help him carry one of the advanced machines there home, Grell refuses, and, as a result, Othello decides to take it apart. He urges Grell to do the soul collection in the meantime, to Grell's exasperation.
Ciel and Sebastian leave for London to track down Blavat Sky, and Grell complains, for they were hoping to spend time with Sebastian. When Othello tells Grell that William T. Spears will be upset if they do not hurry, Grell decides to listen to him and work, convinced that they will reunite with Sebastian soon anyway.
Grell reaps Agni's soul, declaring that he, Arshad Satyendra Iyer, was born on 24 August 1858 and died on 28 November 1889 from multiple knife wounds. Grell adds that they did say that they and Sebastian will be meeting again soon.
- "I'm a butler to die for!"
- "This is like a big guilt trip of death!"
- "This Death Scythe I'm using will play a duet with the soul's last moments."
- (To Sebastian Michaelis) "A good man's past makes people curious! But if he's a bad man, then it makes me wanna see even more!"
- (To Claude Faustus) "Ally? What's with that clichéd word? Supreme love is always a battle to death!"
- (To Undertaker) "With all these handsome men in front of me I’m not gonna just leave like Cinderella!"
- (To Sebastian Michaelis) "Ah, It's so nice to see you in my true form! I admit, I was very surprised when I first saw you. I've never seen a demon playing a butler."
- "Such an ice king you are! A beautiful tyrant! An angelic devil! A raven with the wings of a dove. My little lamb with the appetites of a wolf. My very own Sebastian darling!"
- "Oh Bassy, I do love red the most. Hair, clothes, lipstick, I love them to be red. That's why I love using fresh blood to do make up for those ugly women. The more flamboyant a woman is, the more she's as beautiful as a poisonous flower, right?"
- "Apparently, we are unable to reach a mutual understanding. If the job of a Grim Reaper is to recover all the souls of the dead, then demons can be likened to the pests that snatch these souls away just for the sake of devouring them! No matter how much love I put in, it won't bear fruit. It's like . . . the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet!"
- Grell's favorite color is red. Additionally, they like the scent of roses and musk, and dislike tea.
- "Grell" can either mean "gaudy," "lurid," or "grating/piercing" in German.
- Grell's name bears a relative resemblance to Peter Sutcliffe, a British serial killer responsible for the death of thirteen women, also known as "The Yorkshire Ripper."
Out of Universe
- According to the official Kuroshitsuji's character popularity poll, Grell is the fourth most popular character in the series, with 779 votes. They are ranked among the "Devil Six."
- In the early drafts of the series, Grell did not wear high heels.
- In the OVA The Story of Will the Reaper, Grell and William T. Spears were both Grim Reaper students. Grell resented being partnered with William because while Grell was a very excellent student, with expertise in the area of scythe technique, William was an entirely average student.
- Grell's voice actor, Jun Fukuyama, originally auditioned for Ciel Phantomhive, Sebastian Michaelis and Finnian before being given the role of Grell.
- In Kuroshitsuji II, Grell's design was slightly altered. Their vest, which was initially black, was changed to brown, and their hair appears to be darker. Their eyes were colored so that their pupils were dark green and their irises were a light green. Their Death Scythe was also used for transportation means.