An architect and Korean War veteran from New York who started killing criminals after his wife and daughter were attacked inside his own apartment. He started his vigilante career by killing small-time bad guys (muggers, rapists etc.), moved to street gangs and by the end of the series takes on heavily armed mafiosos.
Played by: Charles Bronson
- Anti-Hero: When you are a vigilante who murders bad guys, this kinda comes with the territory.
- Badass Mustache: The trademark Bronson 'stache.
- Berserk Button: While Paul kills all crooks equally, he gives far worse punishments to rapists, muggers and drug addicts, all of whom were responsible for his greatest tragedies.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Who'd thought that some nebbish architect guy would end up taking down several criminal organizations?
- Cartwright Curse: No woman is safe from harm around Paul, least of all his family. Except for Geri, who left him due to his violent lifestyle.
- Cool Guns: Kersey's Weapon of Choice in the third movie is the .475 Wildey Survivor.
- Crusading Widower: The entire thing began when he lost his wife to scumbags, and it just gets worse when his daughter joins her in the second movie.
- The Gunslinger: A handgun is his weapon of choice.
- In-Series Nickname: Mr. Vigilante, the New York Vigilante in the first film.
- Part-Time Hero: Does architect work when not shooting criminals.
- Vigilante Man: The iconic urban vigilante, who set the standard for vigilante flicks to come.
The leader of the unnamed street gang in the third movie.
Played by: Gavan O'Herlihy
- Ax-Crazy: After he meets Paul in the cell, he tells him that he'll kill an old lady, just for the hell of it.
- Big Bad: Of Death Wish 3.
- Bulletproof Vest: Was the only one smart enough to bring one of these to the final battle against Kersey, and it helps him shrug off a full round from both Kersey and the police chief. Not enough to save him from the mini-bazooka Kersey had on hand, however.
- Facial Markings: Just like his cronies, the mark of his gang is on his forehead.
- Gang Bangers: Leads a group of particularly vile ones that are terrorizing New York.
The person who hires Paul Kersey in the fourth film to take down the major drug rings in Los Angeles. He is actually an ambitious drug dealer under the identity of an absentee news magazine mogul, who seeks to take over the local drug businesses by tricking Paul to do the dirty work for him.
Played by: John P. Ryan
- Big Bad: Of Death Wish 4: The Crackdown.
- Badass Mustache: It's even better than Kersey's, and he's one of the most dangerous opponents Kersey's gone up against.
- The Chessmaster: This guy uses Kersey and his vigilante tendencies to eliminate his rivals in the drug trade. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of painting a target on his own head after trying to kill Kersey and kidnapping one of his love interests.
- Diabolical Mastermind: He's one of the only villains in the Death Wish series who manages to run rings around Kersey (and even use him to completely destroy all of the local drug competition), and probably comes the closest to killing him of any other antagonist aside from the previous film's Manny Franker.
- Easy Impersonation: He impersonates the real Nathan White (who's off on vacation in Europe for most of the film) and just has his henchmen and himself wear fancy suits, speak and act formally, and use White's mansion. It completely fools Kersey, but then again, the ruse only needed to last until the rest of the drug business was dead and "White" could try and off Kersey.
- No Name Given: His real name is not revealed.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tries to kill Kersey off by trapping him in a car with a bomb after he finishes off the last of the drug trade (and by extension the last of his competition). Unfortunately for him, it fails and he pays with his life.
A mobster in the fifth movie, who brings Paul Kersey back into the vigilante game by killing his new wife-to-be.
Played by: Michael Parks
- Big Bad: Of Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
- The Don: He made his way through Irish gangs to be a boss of his own outfit.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: His mocking (and later torture) of Big Al for being fat and Reg for being black certainly qualifies.
- Sinister Shades: Prefers to wear Elton John-inspired shades in his public appearances.
- Smug Snake: A slimy, Irish mobster, he always manges to escape prosecution because he has a mole in the D.A's office but once Kersey gets his sights on him, he acts like its' a minor annoyance. Even when his dragon Chicki warns him not to underestimate Kersey, O'Shea is far too confident in his plans. Sadly, his overconfidence proved to be his undoing, as he wasn't savvy enough to realize he was a villain in a Death Wish movie and therefore, doomed.