Sometime after L's death, he works for the United States under the SPK (Special Provision for Kira) team that is established to investigate Kira without the help of "L". He soon manages to deduce that Light Yagami, posing as L, is actually Kira. After he finds that Teru Mikami is Light's proxy and Mello kidnaps Kiyomi Takada, Near is able to switch Mikami's Death Note with a forged one, allowing him to set up a final confrontation that leaves Light exposed. Ryuk kills Light soon after. Near says that neither he nor Mello could surpass L alone, but have managed to do so by inadvertently working together. Near soon takes L's alias, and keeps on the surviving members of the SPK as his subordinates.
Tsugumi Ohba, writer of Death Note, said that Near "becomes less likeable" as the story advances, citing Near's plan to take the notebook at a later point in the story. Ohba said that a negative reaction originated from "the difference in their attitudes" and that people may have viewed Near as "a cheat." Ohba added that Near's "cheeky behavior," intended to "reinforce his childishness," had been construed as "annoying."
In the final chapter Near brings finger puppets to the Yellow Box Warehouse. Takeshi Obata, artist of Death Note, said that Near first bought the Kira finger puppet and drew on it with a magic marker. Obata then said that Near must have created the other puppets afterwards. Obata views Near as not liking L much so Obata had Near depict L as "ugly", and that Near "worked hard" on Mello's puppet as Near "liked Mello."
Obata said he enjoyed drawing Near and that Near is also one of his favorite and his least favorite characters, considering him to be the smartest character in the manga "because he cheats."
When asked about which character was most similar to himself, Ohba indicated Near and "maybe Light." Regarding Near, Ohba said that he does not leave his house often.
Ohba said that he gave Near a hobby of playing with toys stacking "things" as a development from L's hobby of stacking sugar cubes. Ohba included the match and the dice towers in his thumbnails. Ohba said that he thought about Obata encountering difficulty in drawing the dice towers and felt surprised when he saw the dice towers in the final work.
The given name "Nate" comes from the word "natural" and "River" is to symbolize that Near's talents flow from L. Therefore Near is the natural successor to L. The name is "supposed" to show that Near is a "natural genius blessed from above." The nickname Near is composed of the first and last letters of Nate River, then swapped around to make a recognizable word.
Obata said that, since Ohba wanted to "include a little L" in Near and Mello, he tried to keep "the weirdness and the dead eyes." Obata added that since L was an important character he felt that he made Near and Mello look too much like L. He described the character designs as "a major struggle." Obata said that, when he first heard about Near and Mello, he assumed that Near and Mello would join as a team and work together, so he envisioned the two as twins when he created the character designs. Obata stated that he originally thought about creating Near as "a bit more mature mentally." Obata said that he created a "cooler looking version of L" design and considered using a younger version of that design. Another design Obata created for L included a "really innocent and cheerful character" and he felt that the design could work for Near; he said that he "quickly abandoned" the idea.
Obata said that when he first saw Near he "didn't even know what the heck he was wearing." He said that "it was tough" drawing Near's clothes as he did not understand the assembly of his clothes. Obata said that he settled for pajamas and "things got a lot easier."
Obata added that the designs for the characters became switched at the design phase; the final Mello had Near's design and vice-versa. Obata said that when he created a depiction of the designs his editor wrote the wrong names accompanying the designs; then Obata received approval he could not say that the labels were incorrect. Obata said that, for him, Near was "more evil." He felt that "it's better" that the switch occurred.
Obata stated that as he drew Near the concept of his immaturity became "stronger and stronger" as he believes that such traits are best revealed "gradually." Obata cited the fact that in the beginning Near's sole toy consisted of darts.
Ohba said that the finger puppets used by Near in the final chapter did not exist in the thumbnails and that he felt the final scenes "looked cooler" with the presence of the puppets. Obata said that he felt he could express "negative" parts of Near with the puppets. Ohba added that one could see "his dark side in his kind of puppets he used."
In L: Change the WorLd, L gives a talented Thai boy with a gift for calculations the name "Near." L hopes for the Thai boy, the sole survivor of a Thai village ravaged with a deadly disease, to succeed him as L knows that the rules of the Death Note will kill the experienced detective within a short period of time. Near does not speak much in the movie and when he does he speaks only in English. Like many of the characters during the transition from animation to live action, Near is portrayed with black hair instead of white hair as seen in the anime. portrays Near in the film.