Death effector domains (DEDs) are protein-protein interaction domains initially identified in proteins such as FADD, FLIP and caspase-8 involved in regulating apoptosis. Subsequently, these proteins have been shown to have important roles in regulating other forms of cell death, including necroptosis, and in regulating other important cellular processes, including autophagy and inflammation. Moreover, these proteins also have prominent roles in innate and adaptive immunity and during embryonic development. In this article, we review the various roles of DED-containing proteins and discuss recent developments in our understanding of DED complex formation and regulation. We also briefly discuss opportunities to therapeutically target DED complex formation in diseases such as cancer.