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Characters / Death Wish

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Characters in the Death Wish films:

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    Kersey Family 

Paul Kersey

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 Kersey 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 would have thought that some nebbish architect would end up taking down several criminal organizations?
  • Cartwright Curse: No woman is safe from harm around Kersey, least of all members of 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.
  • Villain Killer: He makes it a point to subtract baddies. After his wife is killed and his daughter raped into a vegetative state, Kearsey goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the punks responsible, plus quite a few other nasty no-goodniks in the process. His Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? approach to street crime makes Kearsey into The Dreaded among Chicago's hoodlums. Several criminal organizations fall because of him.

Carol Kersey

Kersey's daughter.

Played by: Kathleen Tolan (Death Wish) & Robin Sherwood (Death Wish II)

  • Break the Cutie: A very tragic example. Her Trauma Conga Line begins with a home invasion by a random gang of hoodlums that results in her rape and the murder of her mother, understandably leaving her traumatized and afraid of being touched by even her father and fianceé. She gets better by the second film (despite remaining mostly mute), but another gang of criminals with a grudge against her father kidnap her and rape her once again, causing her to jump out a window and fatally impale herself on a fence to escape them.
  • Cute Mute: By the beginning of the second film, she has recovered from the worst phase of her catatonia and trauma from her rape and the death of her mother in the first film, but has graduated to this trope.


    The Law 

NYPD Lieutenant Frank Ochoa

A detective who investigates Kersey's killings.

Played by: Vincent Gardenia

  • Enemy Mine: In Death Wish II, he saves Paul Kersey from a hidden sniper targeting him, and then performs a Heroic Sacrifice helping Paul take out members of Nirvana's gang, despite being on loan to the LAPD from the NYPD to track Kersey down and stop his vigilante spree.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: He is an opponent of Paul Kersey throughout the first film and much of the second film of the Death Wish series, but he gives Paul a chance to disappear at the end of the first film, and then saves him from Nirvana in the second film at the expense of his own life.


Manny Fraker

The leader of the unnamed street gang in the third movie.

Played by: Gavan O'Herlihy

"Nathan White"

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

  • 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.

Tommy O'Shea

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

  • 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.


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