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Off My Mind: What if the Punisher Shot an Innocent?

It's his job to punish the guilty but what if he became guilty himself?

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The Punisher has been seen as both hero and villain. Many simply call him an anti-hero. He may be a killer but he is on a mission he feels is just. There's no denying that Frank Castle has suffered through the worst thing that could happen to a man. While living a normal life, he and his family stumbled across a gangland killing. To avoid having witness that could identify them, the killers attempted to do away with Frank, his wife and children. Luckily (or unluckily) Frank managed to survive. He forever has to live with the memory of seeing those he loved more than anything shot down before his eyes.

That day Frank Castle did die and the Punisher was born. He is now determined to rid the world of evil...to punish all those that commit evil acts. He feels it is now his duty to ensure the horrible incident he had to witness doesn't happen to others. There is is no discrimination when he sets his sights on this target. Criminal scum all have the potential to kill in some way and he believes the world will be better off without their existence.

But the Punisher is still human. No one is perfect. With the unpredictability of the gunfights he becomes part of, there's no way he can account for every possible scenario. He might do his best to ensure there is no one in harm's way but it would be impossible for him to be sure someone doesn't turn up at the wrong place at the wrong time. What if while having a shootout with criminals he accidentally shoots and kills and innocent bystander? Would the Punisher be able to live with himself if he killed someone that was innocent?

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In the Ultimate Universe, this is something that does indeed happen. While convinced he was doing the right thing in protecting Nick Fury, the Punisher targeted Captain America (he wasn't gonna kill him, just shoot him in the kneecaps). Spider-Man saw this about to happen and did the only thing he could, he pushed Cap out of the way. This resulted in Spider-Man, an innocent teenager, getting shot (don't worry, he's not dead...yet).

Needless to say, the Punisher flipped out, demanding that he be punished for this.

While this was Mark Millar writing the Punisher in the Ultimate Universe, it raises the question of what would his reaction be? When I first read Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates #4, I thought his reaction was a little extreme. It was almost comical.

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The thing to consider is, we're talking about a man who could be considered either obsessed or crazy (or more likely both). His only mission is to rid the world of the bad guys and protect the innocent. By shooting an innocent, he becomes one of those bad guys.

This almost happened before. You've probably heard about the infamous Punisher Meets Archie comic. The premise is Punisher is after a druglord known as "Red" Fever. Punisher chases him to Riverdale. It turns out he looks almost identical to Archie Andrews.

Punisher could have easily accidentally shot Archie. Imagine how heartbroken Betty and Veronica would have been. Riverdale would never be the same and it would be all Punisher's fault.

Was this polar bear guilty or innocent?
Was this polar bear guilty or innocent?

I have to admit I have not read every single Punisher appearance. In the 90s alone he was appearing practically in every Marvel book. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been any innocents caught in the crossfire. Has it happened and I've missed it. For the Punisher to shoot and kill an innocent, it would be devastating. I could see that really pushing him over the edge (over a different edge at least). He may be an expert marksman and tactician but nobody's perfect. There's bound to be innocents caught in his one-man war against the criminal scum. When that day happens, Frank is going to need some serious counseling.

170 CommentsRefresh
Avatar image for leokearon
Posted By leokearon

He would either 'punish' himself or make up an excuse that the person he shot was evil
Avatar image for lb70145
Posted By lb70145

I want to say that the Punisher has shot/killed innocents before. His policy is that if he does kill an innocent he will do the time in jail for it.

Avatar image for wolfthomas
Posted By Wolfthomas

Happened in punisher MAX, he was willing to kill himself after he though he shot an innocent girl, the only thing that stopped him was the chance he was wrong, he exumed her and found it didn't match the caliber he was using. But its implied he would have killed himself if it weren't the case. In "Welcome Back Frank" he kills a vigilante who accidentally killed an innocent cleaning woman.

Avatar image for eyz
Posted By Eyz

Nah! I wouldn't buy it...he's too much of a Pro to do that.

I'd rather see him getting a true bad guy that most people take for an innocent!
Yeah! What a twist.
Imagine him killing a dangerous mastermind psychopath killer....that people take for a generous well-loved idol/singer/politician/something the likes.
Yeah :D
Could be a fun story arc!

Avatar image for billy_batson
Posted By Billy Batson

I just accidentally a victim is this bad?

Avatar image for theblueangel93
Posted By TheBlueAngel93

To me, Steve Rogers put it best when it comes to the Punisher...

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Avatar image for tdk_1997
Posted By TDK_1997
@War Killer said:
To me, Steve Rogers put it best when it comes to the Punisher...
 
 
Avatar image for ferro_vida
Posted By Ferro Vida

In Daredevil vs. Punisher Frank accidentally shot an innocent bystander. Daredevil was able to get the man to a hospital in time to save his life, but Frank didn't know that. It tore him up inside, but he continued doing what he was doing.


The weird thing is that I'm pretty sure Daredevil has accidentally killed more innocent people than Frank has.

And Happy Birthday, G-Man.
Avatar image for gothamred
Posted By GothamRed

please, all polar bears are guilty

Avatar image for emperor_gonzo_noir
Posted By Emperor Gonzo Noir

Easy: He shoots an innocent (i.e. a kid) he finishes his current mission then blows his brains out.

Avatar image for txman210
Posted By Txman210

In the movie Punisher War Zone he killed an undercover cop

Avatar image for dewboy01
Posted By dewboy01

On purpose, or accident?
Avatar image for Pokeysteve
Edited By Pokeysteve



@LB70145 said: 

I want to say that the Punisher has shot/killed innocents before. His policy is that if he does kill an innocent he will do the time in jail for it.

I've read this somewhere as well. I think it has happened and he's turned himself in. 
Ultimate Punisher looks ridiculous. I've noticed when written correctly, Castle is an amazing tactile planner. People thinks he's all about guns and shooting but Ennis took him deeper than that. You get in his head and he's always thinking of scenarios. 

And I'd be willing to bet Castle has saved more lives than Cap. 
Avatar image for out_of_space
Posted By Out_of_Space

 He will become the Punish My Self. I like it more than the Punisher.

Avatar image for duo_forbidden
Posted By Duo_forbidden

While this was Mark Millar writing the Punisher in the Ultimate Universe, it raises the question of what would his reaction be? When I first read Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates #4, I thought his reaction was a little extreme. It was almost comical.


I thought so as well. He didn't feel bad when he was trying to gun down Spider-man in Ultimate Spider-man Annual #2. I mean, you can argue the fact that he probably didn't know Spider-man was a teenager, but still. 

Oh, that picture with him punching the polar bear is hilarious.

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Edited By cmaprice

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Avatar image for hellionvulcan
Posted By HellionVulcan

I'm sure he has shot an innocent & he surrendered & went to jail or something but he ended up killing/Injured inmates but i'm sure he has by mistake hurt innocents but his hatred of the badguys over does his compassion or any mercy he may want to show .

Avatar image for danhimself
Posted By danhimself

Frank's insane plain and simple

Avatar image for briangermain
Posted By briangermain

Ok here's the deal, does he shoot the person in cold blood or just because they happoened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?  My answer he picks up his guns dusts off his skull puts on hig big boy pants and gets the F*$%K back to work! Why?  Frank Castle is an ex police officer and an ex military soldier.  I am sure in War times and possibly in the line of duty there has been times he has killed those that were "less than guilty".  Police do this all the time Some young punk kid pulls out a toy gun at a cop and is gunned down because of it., this is why all these toy guns are to have orange tips nowadays. Point... It's never good or easy to deal with when someone innocent dies in a firefight but as a soldier as a cop and as "The Punisher" it is your sworn duty to get past it. Because 9 times out of ten  more innocents will die without your intervention than with.
'Nuff said.

Avatar image for jonny_anonymous
Posted By Jonny_Anonymous
@briangermain said:
Ok here's the deal, does he shoot the person in cold blood or just because they happoened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?  My answer he picks up his guns dusts off his skull puts on hig big boy pants and gets the F*$%K back to work! Why?  Frank Castle is an ex police officer and an ex military soldier.  I am sure in War times and possibly in the line of duty there has been times he has killed those that were "less than guilty".  Police do this all the time Some young punk kid pulls out a toy gun at a cop and is gunned down because of it., this is why all these toy guns are to have orange tips nowadays. Point... It's never good or easy to deal with when someone innocent dies in a firefight but as a soldier as a cop and as "The Punisher" it is your sworn duty to get past it. Because 9 times out of ten  more innocents will die without your intervention than with.'Nuff said.
QFT
Avatar image for nobodythere
Posted By nobodythere

Don't feel Frank would kill himself or turn himself in if he killed someone that turned out to be innocent. I think he'd do all he could to help the grieving family and probably work in a way closer to Batman.

Avatar image for arevish
Posted By Arevish

You have to do what you have to do punny!

Avatar image for cody1984
Posted By cody1984
@War Killer said:
To me, Steve Rogers put it best when it comes to the Punisher...
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Captain America is a complete moron and The Punisher was was way out of character during the civil war.
Avatar image for xerox_kitty
Posted By xerox_kitty

I'm really surprised this hasn't happened... Really REALLY surprised!      
Avatar image for sc
Posted By SC

"No one is innocent, even the innocent!" - some drunk guy outside sleeping under a bench.

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Avatar image for cody1984
Posted By cody1984

Frank would just go back to business without it bothering him much.


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Edited By cody1984
@cmaprice said:


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The Punisher is written way out of character again by an idiot.  
Avatar image for catpanexe
Posted By CATPANEXE

Not that I encourage people to run around firing bullets down alleyways, but in his defense, I'm pretty sure the accidental death of an innocent by any
super heroes arsenal or other factors like debri from their battles is a given, and has happened to many of the darkest and lightest, and was the entire
basis of Civil War.

Avatar image for woodclaw
Posted By Woodclaw
@cody1984 said:
The Punisher is written way out of character again by an idiot.
Pretty much like any grown up character that appeared on the Runaways.
Avatar image for buttersdaman000
Posted By buttersdaman000

He would be a hypocrite if he didnt kill himself

Avatar image for cody1984
Edited By cody1984

For the record this has already happened before a few times.  Sometimes with Castle being mind controlled and killing someone like how he killed the reporter in goin' out west.  Here in Born he deliberately sets up a general to get killed even though he's not guilty of anything that Frank is aware of.  He just wanted to shut down the base Frank was at.      

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If someone angers the Punisher enough he will ignore the fact that killing them will result in the death/s of an innocent/s.  

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Frank is no saint by any definition of the word.  He will try to protect innocents but at the end of the day punishing the guilty is what he is all about.  The Punisher killing an innocent will bother him to some degree but it hasn't stopped his mission.    


@CATPANEXE said:

Not that I encourage people to run around firing bullets down alleyways, but in his defense, I'm pretty sure the accidental death of an innocent by anysuper heroes arsenal or other factors like debri from their battles is a given, and has happened to many of the darkest and lightest, and was the entirebasis of Civil War.

Agreed.
47 bystanders died in the last battle of the civil war yet I didn't see many of the so called "heroes" upset about that.  
Avatar image for cody1984
Posted By cody1984
@Soldier zero said:
@cody1984 said:
The Punisher is written way out of character again by an idiot.
Pretty much like any grown up character that appeared on the Runaways.
True
Avatar image for coldbrand
Posted By Coldbrand

I honestly think he'd probably kill himself.

Avatar image for sj_esposito
Posted By sj_esposito
@HellionVulcan said:
I'm sure he has shot an innocent & he surrendered & went to jail or something but he ended up killing/Injured inmates but i'm sure he has by mistake hurt innocents but his hatred of the badguys over does his compassion or any mercy he may want to show .
This definitely happened somewhere -- I just can't remember what series or issue.

Also, I think -- and I'm not completely sure -- that Frank squared off with Bullseye in a mini series and while Bullseye was eluding Frank, Frank was killing people who were 'in the way' and they turned out to be Bullseye's hit-targets. So, Bullseye forced Frank to kill the marks and got paid for it.
Avatar image for sunber
Posted By sunber

I think it has been answered(not exactly maybe) at the end of The Punisher kills the Marvel universe when he realizes that he just killed Matt Murdock, who was his lawyer and probably a completely innocent man in his eyes, and kills himself.
So, yes I think he would kill himself sooner later for such an act or gets himself killed on a suicide mission.

Avatar image for cyberninja
Posted By cyberninja

Well you wouldn't be able to walk if you were worried about crushing few ants beneath your feet. 



HURRAY FOR  FRANK CASTLE!
Avatar image for roninidas
Posted By Roninidas

I think he would be upset, but his drive to complete his own mission/ vendetta against evil would win.  I think he would continue on and I think it may happen again and again  until finally the superhero community would have to intervene to take him in.  That would be a pretty good story.
Avatar image for nightfang3
Posted By NightFang3
Avatar image for imperiousrix
Posted By ImperiousRix

I think it depends on who is writing Frank.  With some writers, Frank is much more sympathetic.  He's a guy who feels that, not only are the criminals guilty, but he himself carries the guilt of having put his family in that position.  Written correctly (in my opinion) he becomes a man searching for atonement through ridding the streets of bad guys.


When written INCORRECTLY (which seems to happen more and more often), Frank is a guy who has taken his obsession with his family's death to the extreme.  Most look at him as insane and he pretty much acts insane.  Sadly, I think if Frank ever did shoot someone innocent, it'd be whilst one of these writers was writing him and he would, as Millar made him do in Ultimates, "flip out".

*note* I actually do remember in an issue of Punisher War Journal by Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti where, drugged by Hate Monger, Frank actually DID kill a young journalist who was the love interest of Stuart Clarke (his partner) at the time.  However, Frank seemed more intent on forgetting the encounter and hiding his involvement from Clarke rather than "punishing" himself.  Weird...
Avatar image for soa
Posted By SoA

he was killed/harmed a innocents a few times, in a wolverine punisher team up he shot a guy
stray shot , he took guy to hospital, the punisher MAX story that been said already , and the mainstream story where under brainwashing strangled a innocent woman , he atoned and never took joy in harming an innocent always chastising himself  and either goes to the authorities or contemplates suicide  or fears he may become those he punishes . frank has been one of my all time favorites because he will accept responsibility for his actions . not a whole lot of heroes do especially the super powered ones .

Avatar image for doctor_____
Posted By Doctor!!!!!

Frank is one of the easiest superheroes to be... if you had a arsenal on you.

Avatar image for midnight_monk
Posted By Midnight Monk


Yes he would Punish himself, I say the Ultimate comics write Punisher better than the 616 writers do because he literally breaks down whenever he harms an innocent, like when he recently shot Peter Parker. He literally begged the cops to Punish him.

 

Written correctly Frank will punish himself for hurting innocent people, written incorrectly he end up looking like Jason Todd did when he was written by Grant Morrison

Avatar image for redheadedatrocitus
Posted By RedheadedAtrocitus
@NightFang: I believe they did when he accidentally killed one of the undercover agents tracking down the man who would become Jigsaw.
Avatar image for chris2klee
Posted By Chris2KLee

He'd snap, kinda like he did when he thought he killed a little girl by accident in the story line following Ennis's run. Make no mistake, Frank is kind of a sociopath, society is just sorta lucky he chooses to feed his sickness by hunting the wicked. But that said, his particular psychosis also means he keeps a laser focus on the task at hand. He will never get into a firefight where civilians would ever be at risk. Like Batman, The Punisher preps to the Nth degree.

Avatar image for mumbles
Posted By Mumbles

the bear was guilty

Avatar image for fadetoblackbolt
Posted By FadeToBlackBolt

Moot point, no one's innocent. Even kids will one day grow up to be corrupt.

Avatar image for innervenom123
Posted By InnerVenom123

Frank would freak the hell out.

Also, he punched that Polar Bear so it would get pissed off and then lead a pack to eat Ma Gnucci's arms and legs. The polar bear wasn't guilty or innocent: it was a weapon.

Avatar image for mr__dead_pool
Posted By Mr. Dead Pool
Frank is the Jason Voorhees of criminals.He just kills them without really caring if he helps people or not. Sure if it just so happens that his actions help innocent people he won't have a problem with that, but his mission is to punish the guilty and thats what he does. If he kills an innocent he might kill himself because that contradicts his mission thus making him guilty in his own eyes.
Avatar image for darkmatter23
Posted By DarkMatter23

I know it may read as knit-picky, but you have to ask yourselves, "What is being innocent?". The punisher has killed people with drug addictions who may or may have not stolen or robbed in order to pay for drugs. If he kills a drug addict, whom hasn't done either of the aforementioned, is he killing an innocent? Is it a matter of punishing people who just break the law? To delve even deeper, for example, are people who break the law by texting, while driving, innocent? If the punisher saw some  Paris Hilton type, texting in her Suburban tank, would he think to himself, " I'm gonna kill this person before she runs into a school bus". I think, 75% of the population break the law, to an extent, everyday. So, I guess, there may be some moral discrepancy as to what being innocent is.

Avatar image for cosmo111687
Edited By cosmo111687
@LB70145: What BS. He would allow himself to go to jail, but he doesn't have the enough courage (yes, courage. see: Batman) to do the same for his victims.
This is my opinion of Punisher:

 You get that creep, Molly!
 You get that creep, Molly!