Paul Kersey
"I mean, if we're not pioneers, what have we become? What do you call people who, when they're faced with a condition or fear, do nothing about it, they just run and hide?"




November 3rd, 1921


U.S. Military (1944-45, 1953)
Lt. Richard Shriker (1985)
Fake Nathan White (1987)


Medical Officer (1944-45, 53)
Architect (1950's-present)

First Appearance

Death Wish

Portrayed By

Charles Bronson

Paul Leonard Kersey is the protagonist in the Death Wish film series who was based on Paul Benjamin, the protagonist of the novels Death Wish and Death Sentence. He became a vigilante in 1974 after his wife and daughter were attacked by hoodlums and he felt the law didn't work. He is portrayed by actor Charles Bronson.


Early Life

Paul was born in East Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1921 to a Mormon mother from Provo, Utah and an English father. His Norman English ancestor, Pierre Whítmoré Keèrsye, anglicized the name some time in the past. Paul was raised around guns and became a very good shot as a child. However, after Paul's father was killed in a hunting accident, his mother prevented him from being around guns anymore. Paul served in World War Two in the Medical Corps on a hospital ship in the Pacific theater from 1944 to 1945. After World War Two he entered Princeton University and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1950. He met his wife Joanna at Princeton. They soon married and their daughter Carol was born in New York City in 1951. He served in the Korean War in the Medical Corps again in 1953. After the war he returned home to New York City and became a successful architect.

The Attack

In the winter of 1974 after returning home from vacation in Hawaii, Paul's wife and daughter went shopping at a local grocery store and put their address in the crate of groceries that they wanted to be delivered. Some Freaks stumbled upon the crate of groceries and used the address to find their apartment. Posing as grocery deliverymen, they busted into the apartment and vandalized it. They also beat up Paul's wife and raped his daughter. Paul finds out that they are in the hospital after he gets a call from his son-in-law Jack Toby. Upon arriving at the hospital, Paul finds out that his wife has died and that his daughter is in a traumatic state. Shocked by the incident, Paul desperately tries to get the police to find the men responsible for the attack. Once he realizes that there is a very small chance that the men will ever be found, he begins to question the effectiveness of the police and wonders how justice should really by carried out. He continues to question what justice is and how he should react to the attack over the next couple of months. His boss at his architect firm sends him on a business trip to Tuscon, Arizona to meet a client named Ames Jainchill. After getting reacquainted with guns on his trip, Ames gives him a present as Paul is about to leave for home.

New York (1974)

Paul Kersey shooting at muggers

Paul shoots at muggers.

After returning from the business trip, Paul visits his daughter and learns that she is not getting any better. He questions weather or not the police can handle crime in the city and if he should take action into his own hands. One night, he encounters the Street Mugger and beats him across the face with a sock full of rolls of quarters as the Street Mugger tried to mug him. One night, he opens Ames's present and it is revealed to be a .32 Colt Police Positive. Later he uses it to kill Thomas Leroy Marston as he tried to mug him. He continues his vigilante killings by making himself a target and then unexpectedly shooting his muggers. After he does this with the Alley Muggers, it calls police attention as they link these killings with the killing of Thomas Leory Marston. Lt. Frank Ochoa is put on the case to stop Paul. His vigilantism continues, killing the Train Muggers and later the Subway Station Muggers. Before long, Lt. Ochoa gets closer to him and is ready to arrest him before he makes another vigilante killing. After getting injured from his confrontation with the Stair Muggers, Paul ends up in the hospital where Lt. Ochoa agrees to let him go if he promises to leave the city. Paul then transfers to his company's office in Chicago where his vigilantism continues.

Los Angeles (1982)

After living in Chicago for a few years, Paul moved to Los Angeles after meeting liberal journalist Geri Nichols and
Paul Kersey fighting Nirvana

Paul fighting Nirvana.

moved his business out there. His daughter is also recovering slowly from when she was attacked. One day, after being attacked by members of Nirvana's Gang, Paul has his wallet stolen and in a similar situation as before, the criminals use it to find where Paul lives. After breaking in and killing Paul's maid Rosario, they wait for Paul and his daughter to arrive home. Once they do, they beat up Paul and kidnap his daughter who is later killed. Angered by this, Paul tries to find a way to deal with it other than vigilantism, but can't and continues to be a vigilante again. He begins killing off the members of Nirvana's Gang, starting with Stomper and then Jiver. These actions get noticed by the police and in order to avoid another vigilante situation, the New York police send Lt. Frank Ochoa to help with the case. He tracks Paul and tries to convince Gerri Nichols that Paul is the vigilante although she doesn't believe him. Later Lt. Ochoa is killed in a shootout against Nirvana's Gang where he helped Paul fight them. Paul continues to track Nirvana but Nirvana is soon arrested and sent to a psychiatric hospital. Paul later infiltrates the hospital disguised as a doctor and kills Nirvana. After Gerri finds out about Paul's vigilantism, she leaves him and Paul continues to be a vigilante in Los Angeles.

East New York (1985)

Paul Kersey arrested

Paul's mugshot.

Paul returns to New York in 1985 to visit his Korean War buddy Charley. Unknown to him, the neighborhood of East New York where Charley lives has been ravaged by the ruthless Street Punk Gang. When Paul arrives, he finds Carley brutally beaten from being attacked by the Street Punks and Charley soon dies of his wounds. Paul is arrested after the police arrive on the scence but is let go by Lt. Richard Shriker after he recognizes him as the vigilante. He agrees to let Paul go if he will rid the streets of the Street Punks. Paul goes to work quickly gathering information and interacting with the residents of East New York. After he begins fighting back against the gang, the gang's leader Manny Fraker notices and begins ordering revenge attacks against Paul and the residents of East New York. The attacks go back and forth for a while before finally it leads to an all out fight between the residents of East New York, led by Paul and the Street Punk Gang. A huge battle ensues leaving most of the neighborhood in ruins. After Paul kills Manny, the surviving Street Punks surrender and the neighborhood becomes peaceful once again.

Los Angeles (1987)

Paul who has largely retired from being a vigilante has been residing in Los Angeles for a few years and
Paul Kersey about to kill Ed Zacharias

Paul about to kill Ed Zacharias.

continues to be an architect. He is in a romantic relationship with local journalist Karen Sheldon and is trying to forget his vigilante days. When Karen's daughter Erica dies of a cocaine overdose given to her by local drug dealer Jojo Ross, Paul kills him causing suspicion between two local drug cartels, Ed Zacharias's Cartel and the Romero Brothers Cartel. Paul gets blackmailed into meeting with a man claiming to be Nathan White. When Paul meets him, the man tells him that he wants Paul to get rid of the two drug cartels and that he would give him information and weapons. Paul reluctantly agrees and sets out to take down the two drug cartels. He picks off members of both cartels making it look like they're going after each other until they two finally fight it out and fall apart. Paul is told to meet with Nathan White to celebrate but after surviving an assassination attempt by him, it is revealed that the man isn't Nathan White but is a drug lord who used Paul to get rid of the competition. After failing to kill Paul again, the Fake Nathan White kidnaps Karen and lures Paul to a roller rink where after battling his way to the Fake Nathan White, the Fake Nathan White kills Karen and Paul kills the Fake Nathan White. Paul then leaves Los Angeles.

New York (1994)

Paul confronts one of Tommy's O'Shea's men

Paul confronting one of Tommy's men in the fashion factory.

Paul has been living in New York City for a few years in the Witness Protection Program either from the events in Los Angeles in 1987 or other events between then and when he moves to New York. He is in a relationship with fashion designer Olivia Regent and is more or less recovering from his many years of vigilantism. Problems with Olivia's ex-husband, Irish Mob boss Tommy O'Shea, become apparent and Paul confronts him and some of his men in Olivia's fashion factory where they are causing trouble. Later he convinces Olivia to testify against him although Tommy finds out about this and uses Freddie "Flakes" to disfigure her while she is out with Paul where he proposes to her. Paul is convinced to let the police handle Tommy instead of getting revenge against him. Later Tommy sends some of his men to kill Paul and Olivia and Olivia is killed but Paul escapes. Paul then goes after the O'Shea Gang and kills off some of it's members. Tommy gets custody of Olivia's daughter Chelsea but Paul becomes determined to get her back. After killing corrupt police lieutenant Hector Vasquez, who had been giving Tommy information, Paul goes after Tommy. He fights his way through Olivia's fashion factory where Tommy and his men are held up and he kills Tommy and rescues Chelsea. Paul then leaves telling the police lieutenant who arrives on the scene that if he ever needed anything, he could give him a call. It is presumed that Paul stays in New York is occasionally called on by the police to be a vigilante.


Paul Kersey finger gun

"Smile hoodlums."

Paul's personality before the attack and after the attack while in some aspects remained the same, others changed forever. Before the attack he was a liberal and he cared about the underprivileged and poor. He also didn't approve of guns, a trait he had gained from his mother during his youth. After the attack, his personality struggled and conflicted as he had trouble dealing with it. Once he becomes a vigilante, his personality slowly but surely adjusts to fit his new lifestyle. Although not at first motivated by revenge, as time goes on and especially after his daughter is killed, revenge becomes his main motivation. He still fights for justice, but only what he thinks is justice. He is easily able to lead two lives, one of an architect and one of a vigilante. Paul more or less tries to stop his vigilantism, only to eventually continue it. Paul seems to never forgive or show lenience towards criminals and doesn't hesitate to kill them. He always helps out innocent people in danger and although makes few friends, is good at making them. Overall, Paul can be brutal and violent but he is a good person who fights for what he thinks is justice.


Paul is noted for being an extremely skilled vigilante who is capable of taking down entire criminal organizations
Paul with M1919

Paul and Rodriguez fire at members of the Street Punk Gang.

by himself. Despite being old, beginning his vigilantism after the age of 50, he proves to be a dangerous and skilled adversary to anyone. He is in overall good physical condition and exercises frequently. He can run fast and is very strong being able to beat people half his age and twice his size in hand to hand combat. Paul relies mostly on weapons when being a vigilante. Some of his many weapons include a nickel plated .32 Colt Police Positive, Beretta Cheetah, .475 Wildey Magnum, Ruger Mini 14 and even explosives such as a LAWS missile launcher and a remote controlled soccer ball rigged with a bomb. He is very good with his weapons and is extremely accurate with them. People who underestimate Paul usually find out the hard way how dangerous he really is. He is very smart and knows how to trick criminals and set traps. Having been a veteran of both World War Two and the Korean War, he has combat experience and is skilled in shootouts. Paul is an extremely dangerous and skilled vigilante.

Family and Relationships


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