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.
Manny FrakerThe 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.
- 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 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 is seeking to take over the local drug business and tricks Paul to do the dirty work for him.
Played by: John P. Ryan
- The Chessmaster: This guy uses Kersey and his vigilante tendencies to eliminate his rivals in the drug trade.
- No Name Given: His real name is not revealed.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Is quite a pottymouth after showing his true colors.
Tommy O'SheaA mobster in the fifth movie who becomes Paul's main target after he kills his new wife.
Played by: Michael Parks
- Big Bad: Of Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
- The Don
- Faux Affably Evil
- Politically Incorrect Villain: His mocking (and later torture) of Big Al and Reg certainly qualifies.
- 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.