Free Minds & Free Markets

Meet the Green Reaper: The Department of Energy's Ridiculous and Terrifying Mascot

Fear the reaper.

Department of Energy; MuckrockDepartment of Energy; MuckrockIn what is basically a 30 Rock episode come to life, the federal Department of Energy designed and purchased a mascot costume to warn children about the dangers of environmental catastrophe—and to haunt their dreams, apparently.

Thanks to a FOIA request from journalist Emma Best, the details of which were published this week at Muckrock, we now know a bit more about the history of the Green Reaper—a verdant version of the Grim Reaper that manages to combine the ominous presence of the original with the vacant eyes of a cartoon character. While the mascot seems best suited to shatter children's innocence by informing them about the inevitabilty of their own deaths, the documents show that the Green Reaper, which was designed in 2012, was intended to be used in "community outreach presentations to local elementary school children" and in internal memos reminding government workers to conserve energy and carpool when possible.

One of the most terrifying details in the FOIA'd documents is the claim that—in addition to making appearences at schools—the Green Reaper shows up "randomly" at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Um, no thank you.

The Green Reaper costume cost about $5,000 to manufacture, but the documents provided to Muckrock don't give a full accounting of how much time public employees spent brainstorming and designing it. Regardless, the government liked the design so much that Dawn Starett, the program manager who invented the Green Reaper, won a 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award from the NNSA for it.

For a government agency that sounds so important—according to its website, the National Nuclear Security Administration "maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile"—it's probably right to wonder whether building creepy mascots and handing out internal awards is really the best use of public resources. (The NNSA also trademarked the character's name and costume, which is a real shame, because Green Reaper would be killer branding for a marijuana start-up.)

On the bright side, squeezing that much existential terror out of a mere $5,000 is pretty damn efficient for government work.

Photo Credit: Department of Energy; Muckrock

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Gritty should kicks its ass.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Filthadelphia can finally do something positive for the country.

  • Frank Thorn||

    Thanks Obama.

  • Nardz||

    Seems appropriate.
    It is representative of the EPA, right?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Yes, Monkey-vomit Thanatos is the good-faith representation of the Erde Politische Arbeiterpartei.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    I really want to use monkey-vomit Thanatos in a sentence, but, for once, I am stymied.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They were looking on the color wheel, something between Seal and Seal's teeth.

  • Overt||

    + 1 Kiss from a rose

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    Go, Human Beings!

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    Go, Human Beings!

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I thought governments couldn't copyright anything. But they can get trademarks?

    Maybe they should have called it the Greenback Reaper.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Red Greenbacker with Green Teeth!

  • Kevin47||

    I can't wait to hire DemonGumby for my kid's birthday party.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Umm, better think twice about that.

    Look at the top comment.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Those eyes, I've seen them before....Annie? Any relation to that little orphan of yesteryear?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    She passed back in 2010.

  • RabbitHead||

    Some evidence that she was getting a little on the side?

  • Ray McKigney||

    I'm confused. Are they saying that going green will kill you?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Yes. And the scepter with the globe on it is representative of world government.

  • Ray McKigney||

    OK, now I'm scared.

  • Kevin47||

    How confident are we this isn't a hoax?

  • Ray McKigney||

    We never rush to judgment around here. Never.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Oh great, another climate change denier.

  • Mongo||

    Not surprizing that the beaurodorks didn't go with the Japanese one-eyed space tentacle-alien the Green Slime.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There's Kzanol, the one-eyed coercive telepath from Larry Niven's World of Ptaavs. With the CNN amplifier helmet in place it could order everything on the planet EXCEPT communist China to shut down its power plants and DIE! If not for government-school illiteracy now prevailing, this could have been as good an avatar as the Integralist Green Kharon looter government econazis picked out.

  • Sometimes a Great Notion||

    Nothing left to cut!

  • Rich||

    Indeed. Everyone involved in implementing this doesn't have enough real work to do.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

  • Ray McKigney||

    You're not being "forced to work" if you can quit whenever you want.

  • Agammamon||

    But the universe requires someone to work in order for you to get your breakfast and its so unfair that *you* should have to work for your breakfast (instead of forcing someone else to do it) and that's all your employer's fault for 'exploiting the situation'.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The Green death of warmunist altruism is a perfect poster ghoul. Ecological National Socialism is as altruistic and collectivist a religion as the Christian National Socialism that took root in 1933 Germany thanks to its 97% Catholic and Protestant electorate. While Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were the rage in Europe, Green-shirt Integralistas were are again the Brazilian mirror image of Spanish, French and Portuguese catholicism's rejection of Jewish Liberal Denier separation of Infallible Pope and Omnipotent State. The Anti-Industrial Revolution could not ask for a more fitting Avatar. A summation symbol would be the perfect chest swastika for symbolizing this One World Carbon Tax People's State.

  • ||

    I can't be the only one who thinks it's head and cowl look like... *ahem* a Georgia O'Keefe painting?

    It's hard to tell if a bevvy of government bureaucrats looked at this for years and didn't see it or if that's the idea.

  • ||

    Seriously, if it showed up anywhere in pink or flesh tones it would unequivocally be identified at the "Pink Penetration Monster"

  • Nardz||

    Sexual harrassment panda's arch nemisis.

    Also: somebody's nickname at sometime (just to save somebody the trouble)

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    So you wanna fuck its eyes? You are a sick man.

  • Just Say'n||

    That's Orko from He-Man. The ghost looking sidekick. The government is ripping-off He-Man.

    For the He-Man truthers:

  • Sevo||

    Doesn't Disney own the C/R to four-fingered cartoon figures?

  • John||

    Energy is the successor agency to the old Atomic Energy Commission and controls and maintains the national nuclear weapons. So a green grim reaper is actually quite appropriate.

  • Zeb||

    Does it glow in the dark?

  • grb||

    Terrifying ?!?

    Geez, right-wing types are so easily frightened. No wonder they need all those guns......

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    2/7 - Like a lazy OBL on a bad day

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    For another $5000 they'll come up with a theme song for it.

  • Rich||

    I believe you're off by a few zeroes, there, EES.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Absolutely. I'll do it for $5.

  • Daniel||

    From the federal agency that exploded hundreds of atomic and nuclear weapons.....

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    McGruff The Crime Dog would bite that green Gumby thing in the ass!!

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    And Gentle Ben would eat him

  • Fats of Fury||

    The Grand Kleagle done gone green.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    He-man should sue!

  • Alfred MacDonald||

    this is a bootleg Vivi from Final Fantasy

  • Alfred MacDonald||


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online