Jared Leto described the meaning of the song as, "It's really about a relationship with yourself. It's about confronting your fear and confronting the truth about who you are." He has also said it is about "confrontation as a crossroads" — coming face-to-face with who you really are. In September 2007, "The Kill" was re-released again in the UK. It was also available as a Compact Disc with a A Beautiful Lie poster and two stickers, and a special limited edition 7" vinyl version. The song is played in 6/8 time. Two alternate versions of the songs exist: the "Rebirth" version, which adds in orchestral accompaniment & has no screaming, and an acoustic version featuring Brazilian singer Pitty that was only released in Brazil. On May 2, 2010, the band performed the song live with Chino Moreno from Deftones.
The video is a homage to the Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining based on the Stephen Kingnovel. Several scenes are based on the film, such as when Shannon Leto enters Room 6277 and encounters the woman in the bathroom and another when Matt Wachter is served drinks at the bar by doppelgänger apparition. The video culminates in an elegant ballroom in the same manner as the photo at the end of the film. At 2:07, the papers that Jared Leto has been typing are briefly made visible and the words on them appear to read, over and over, "This is who I really am." This is another allusion to The Shining, in which Jack Torrance types up pages and pages of the same line, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", over and over in the same sense. The scene with a man in a bear costume, in a bedroom, is also from "The Shining".
The haunted room number is changed from 237 to 6277 in the video because it spells out "Mars" on a telephone keypad. The number also makes an appearance in the video for "From Yesterday".
Scenes from the music video - top: Jared Leto confronting himself. Bottom: The band perform the song to the 1920s-themed audience.
The music video was selected as the greatest rock video in the Kerrang Rock 100 on 27 June 2009.
When the press release info for "The Kill" video was released, Jared stated that the video was directed by an albino Danish man named Bartholomew Cubbins. This was intended as a joke as Cubbins is the main character of the Dr. Seuss book The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, however airings of the video on music channels still list Cubbins as the director. Bartholomew Cubbins has remained Jared Leto's alias for directing Thirty Seconds to Mars' videos (with the exception of the video for A Beautiful Lie). The hotel scenes in the video were filmed at The Carlu in Toronto, Ontario.
The music video features the band exploring a hotel which they are care-taking. At the start, Jared Leto states that they have the hotel all to themselves for three days; although, later on, after the first chorus, it comes on the screen saying "One Week Later", before showing the pages saying "This is who I really am". In the extended version of the video, the other band members complain that they have been at the hotel longer than expected and have canceled shows because of Jared's peculiar behavior, explaining the discrepancy.
A letter from the hotel owner tells the band to "Enjoy your stay and please stay out of Room 6277." Shannon Leto does not heed the warning and opens Room 6277. Following the opening of the door, each band member begins to experience the effects of the room opening throughout the hotel. Each member experiences the effects differently, but one thing remains constant for each individual – they encounter a version of themselves dressed in a 1920s style tuxedo with tails. Several other apparitions then take up residence in the hotel, dispelling the promise Jared made in the beginning of the video that the band will have the hotel all to themselves and that "there's not gonna be a single fucking soul". The video reaches its climax when Tomo encounters himself in bed with a man in a bear suit (another Shining reference), and immediately the band dressed in tuxedos are shown performing the song in the hotel's ballroom in front of a crowd of twins, dressed like the roaring 1920's, dancing with themselves. The theme of duplicity resonates throughout the video.
The song broke a record on Billboard'sModern Rock Tracks chart by remaining on the chart for 52 weeks.; oddly enough, however, the song never made it to the top spot, peaking at #3. Their next single, "From Yesterday", would be their first to reach the top, but spent less time on the charts than "The Kill".
On August 31, 2006, the band won the MTV2 Award for "The Kill" at the MTV Video Music Awards, one of their two nominations. The second nomination was for best rock video; however, they lost to AFI's "Miss Murder".
The American Christian metal band Blood of the Martyrs recorded a cover of the song and released it as a single on November 23, 2011. The cover was a departure from the band's deathcore style, instead opting for a metalcore sound with clean vocals.
Allie Night has covered the song multiple times live. Their lead singer, Alexandra Garcia, has also done solo covers of the song.
American pop rock band Envoi covers the song live, varying between implementing the screaming in the original song and leaving it out.