There are three things we know to be true in this life: The sky is blue, water is wet, and The Punisher kills the hell out of criminals. Ever since his first appearance in 1974’s The Amazing Spider-Man #129, Frank Castle has waged a one-man war on crime. With the artillery of a small country and a body count in the… well, we’ve lost count of the number of digits he’s into now, The Punisher is no stranger to killing. In fact, he’s killing’s BFF.
But a man can only shoot a mobster so many times before it gets a little old. Sure, you have the occasional rocket launcher or flame thrower to mix things up, but sometimes you just want to get creative. And boy oh boy, does the Punisher know how to get creative. Over a storied career of criminal murder, the Punisher has resorted to some truly gnarly methods to punish. From your more straightforward (immolation, strangulation, sledgehammer), to your more out-there (hungry polar bears, death by obese man, a literal nuke), never let it be said that the Punisher doesn’t know how to deliver some truly memorable kills. So join us as we count down the 15 bloodiest, goriest, stomach churning-est… in a word, gnarliest Punisher kills!
15. EMASCULATED WOLVERINE (LITERALLY)
Crossing Frank Castle is never a wise move. But when you have adamantium claws and a regenerative healing factor, you might get a tad cocky and decide that you can cross whomever you want. After all, Wolverine regularly brags about being the best there is at what he does. Turns out, when he crossed The Punisher, what he did was take a point blank shot to his Man-Thing before getting smushed by a steamroller.
After a brief team-up between the two anti-heroes, Punisher and Wolverine found themselves at odds. Before Wolvie could take his swing, Punisher blew the mutant’s face clean off with a shotgun, before shooting Logan in the wang and blowing off his kneecaps. To ensure Wolverine wouldn’t come after him for the grievous dong damage, Punisher played it safe and ran the X-Man over with a steamroller. Gnarly, efficient, and downright humiliating, bub.
14. HAMMER TO THE DOOM
The nefarious Dr. Doom has clashed with the likes of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and he’s always managed to walk away relatively intact. The same cannot be said when the Latverian ruler crossed paths with a very pissed off Frank Castle.
In Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe, the Punisher does just that: systematically murdering a veritable who’s-who in the Marvel Universe. After bumping off the likes of the Hulk and the X-Men (more on that later), Frank sets his sights on Victor Von Doom. After infiltrating Castle Doom, the Punisher attempts to take Doom down with a magnetic mine. When this doesn’t do the job, the Punisher opts for a more old fashioned approach: snatching a sledgehammer off the wall and beating the legendary villain to death. Sometimes, a high tech problem calls for a low tech solution.
13. MICRO SHOTGUN BLAST
The Punisher tends to be a lone wolf. While Frank’s list of allies is short, there was a time when the Punisher counted David Lieberman, aka Microchip, as the closest thing he had to a friend. But that didn’t stop the Punisher from popping Micro’s head like a ripe cantaloupe.
When it comes to light that Micro had been working with mobsters to move drugs, with the profits being used to finance covert assassinations, the Punisher comes gunning for his former ally. When the former friends finally cross paths, Micro tries to justify his criminal deeds, even going so far as to attempt to convince the Punisher to join him. For his troubles, Punisher decimates Micro’s noodle with a well-placed shotgun blast. Shocking and graphic, Micro’s death is a reminder that the Punisher will let nothing, not even friendship, stand in the way of just retribution.
12. EVERY KILL FROM THE 2005 PUNISHER GAME
The Punisher has starred in a handful of games over the years, popping up on the NES and in the arcades. Problem is, these games ran a little more PG. This streak of family friendly Punisher games ended in 2005, when the Volition-developed Punisher game was released for the PS2 and Xbox.
Gone were the days of the Punisher firing pea shooters at enemies that would blink and disappear when hit. This Punisher killed the hell out of people, and the game delighted in showing every gruesome detail. Frank curb-stomped goons, fed mobsters through wood chippers, drowned mooks in dirty toilets, and even gored criminals on the horn of an irate rhino. Chock full of stomach churning kills, The Punisher illustrated that Frank is always prepared to punish, be it with a pistol or a group of hungry piranhas.
11. EXPLODES A GUY MID-PARKOUR
The Punisher is a simple man. He appreciates a warm handgun, a dead mobster, and a freshly washed skull shirt. He is apparently not a huge fan of parkour, however, judging from his reaction to seeing an athletic thug bust out a flip.
In the criminally under-seen movie Punisher: War Zone, a gang of hopped up criminals bound from building to building, nimble as little cats and without a care in the world. As the leader of the merry band of runners busts out a sick flip off a roof, his free running is suddenly interrupted by a rocket propelled grenade, which promptly blows him up in a glorious explosion. That just goes to show, kids: practice parkour, and The Punisher will grant you a gnarly death (via explosion).
10. THE EMPIRE STATE KILL-DING
The Empire State Building is a very tall structure — 102 stories tall, in fact. The skyscraper is so massive that throwing a penny from the top of the building could actually allow the penny to build up enough momentum to kill someone at street level! Frank Castle decided to test this theory, except, being all out of pennies, he chucked over a mobster.
Sure, The Punisher would typically settle for a quick bullet between the eyes. But sometimes, you gotta mix it up. And so, The Punisher Vol. 5 #1 finds our favorite mobster murderer, hauling the poor mook to the top of the famous New York landmark, and then unceremoniously launching the criminal like a human lawn dart towards the ground. God help the custodian that had to clean up the results of this gnarly kill.
9. WINDOW PAIN
When it comes to punishing, Frank Castle doesn’t play favorites. Whether you’re a no-name gangster or a mighty mob boss, The Punisher will murder you and move on. But being a one-time father, Punisher reserves a special hatred for those that target children, bringing us to this truly gnarly kill.
Over six issues, Castle systematically murders his way up the chain of command of a ring of high profile human traffickers that deal primarily in children. When he finally reaches Vera, one of the female ringleaders of the slaver operation, he decides a simple bullet between the eyes is just too good. Instead, The Punisher proceeds to throw the woman against a pane of bulletproof glass in the ringleader’s office, over and over and over again. Castle rarely savors a kill, but when confronted with a despicable criminal such as a child sex slave ringleader, he takes a bit of time to enjoy his job.
8. OBESITY IS A KILLER
The Punisher kills bad guys like many people pick their nose. He knows how to do it, and he knows how to do it well! We’re not sure what we mean by that, but forget it right now, we’re rolling. Look, when The Punisher runs into a threat he can’t immediately murder, he has to get… creative.
The aptly-named Russian is a (get this) Russian mercenary hired by Ma Gnucci to kill the Punisher. When the Russian shows up at Frank’s apartment, the pair engage in a knock-down, drag-out fight, trading punches and throwing each other through walls. The fight eventually spills into the apartment of Castle’s obese neighbor Mr. Bumpo, who is found trying to enjoy a pizza. Thinking quickly, Castle throws the scalding hot pizza in the face of the Russian, blinding him before tipping the obese Bumpo onto the Russian, leaving the mercenary to asphyxiate under the plus size man. Did the Russian ever really think he could take out the Punisher? Fat chance.
7. BEDRIDDEN BEATDOWN
What the Punisher lacks in super powers, he makes up for in tactics. With his extensive military background and a history of mobster murder under his belt, the Punisher is always able to think on his feet. Turns out, he can even think on his feet when he can’t even stand up.
After a botched raid on the Russian mob, Frank finds himself bedridden with three slugs to the chest. While laid up, the Russian mob decides to take revenge, breaking into the apartment complex the Punisher has set up shop in. When the mobster enters the room, Punisher asks his neighbor Joan to “push him as hard as you can.” With a shove, the mobster lands in bed with Frank, who proceeds to choke the life out of the goon, all without breaking a sweat. The Punisher may occasionally be down, but he’s never out.
6. NUKE THE MOON
The Punisher does not have super powers, unless you count having lots and lots of guns. The X-Men, and their villainous counterparts, definitely do have super powers. What Frank lacks in laser eyes or telepathy, however, he more than makes up for in sheer cunning (and bullets). It was this very cunning, along with a well placed nuke, that helped the Punisher wipe out the X-Men and their villains.
In Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe, the X-Men and their various villains, including Magneto and his Brotherhood, Apocalypse, and the White Queen, battle on the Moon. During the course of the battle, both sides blame the other for calling for the battle. The X-Men and their villains realize they have been duped, but not before the Punisher detonates a nuke stolen from Dr. Doom, wiping out the mutants in one fell swoop. It wasn’t fancy, but it was efficient, and truly gnarly.
5. OOOH, BARRACUDA
Frank Castle takes no joy in his job… okay, well maybe a little. The same cannot be said of Barracuda. The massive, grill-sporting mercenary delights in wiping out small armies for a fat paycheck, and he doesn’t die easily. But several brutal, bloody clashes with The Punisher finally put the sadistic gun-for-fire six feet under.
Over several battles, Frank managed to gouge out Barracuda’s eye, cut off the fingers from his right hand, shoot him multiple times, stab him, lodge an axe in his arm, shoot off his nose, and cut off his hands. Despite all this, Barracuda remained a thorn in the Punisher’s side, always managing to escape death another day. But after a particularly vicious fight, the Punisher managed to get the drop on Barracuda, blowing off the mercenary’s head with his own gun, putting a gnarly end to a gnarly feud.
4. PITTSY TO BITSIES
The Punisher has gone toe-to-toe with some truly nasty characters. While Frank has managed to survive fights with super powered individuals and small armies of mobsters, it was a pissed off, pint sized potty-mouthed enforcer that almost managed to put the Punisher in the ground.
Carmine “Pittsy” Gazzera serves as the bulldog enforcer for the coldblooded and cowardly Nicolas Cavaella, who never hesitates to unleash the bloodthirsty Pittsy on anyone that wrongs him. While the Punisher is no stranger to mobster murder, he finds that Pittsy doesn’t go down quiet as easy as his usual targets. After a knock-down, drag-out fight that involves punching, stabbing, bone breaking, and throwing Pittsy through a window onto an iron fence, the Punisher finally manages to put the persistent Pittsy down for good by blowing off the enforcer’s face with a well-placed shotgun blast. Totally gross and equally cathartic.
3. FEEDING FRENZY
Frank has killed in just about every way humanly possible. He’s shot people, he’s strangled people, he’s burned people, and he’s blown people up. After a series of brutal fights with the mercenary Barracuda, Frank decided to borrow a page from the Jaws handbook and commit murder via great white.
In The Punisher Vol. 6 #6, Frank finds himself treading water in shark infested water with a legless goon. The sharks are circling the unlucky pair, and the goon is quick to remind Castle that even the Punisher can’t escape a death this certain. As a shark makes a break for the two, Frank seizes his opportunity, flinging the unlucky criminal into the waiting mouth of the hungry sea creature. Thoroughly distracted with their newfound meal, the sharks swarm on the criminal, allowing the resourceful Punisher to make a break for it and live to punish another day.
2. NO ARMS, NO LEGS, NO PROBLEM
Few mobsters get to live long enough to become a persistent problem for The Punisher, but Ma Gnucci managed to do just that. Unfortunately, all she got for her troubles was a truly humiliating death.
In Garth Ennis’ Welcome Back Frank, The Punisher draws the ire of the mob boss Ma Gnucci by killing her three sons. As the feud escalates, Ma and her goons eventually attempt to corner Frank at the Central Park Zoo, leading to Ma getting trapped in the polar bear enclosure and having her extremities torn off. When the Punisher raids the Gnucci estate, he sets the home ablaze. In a last ditch effort, the arm-less, leg-less Ma Gnucci dives out of the house and gnaws at the Punisher’s pants. Doing his best impression of a placekicker, the Punisher reels a leg back and punts Ma back into the blaze, leaving her to burn to death.
1. A FLARE FOR FILM
Remember earlier, when we were talking about how much The Punisher despises criminals who target children and innocents? We weren’t joking. Vera ended up on the wrong end of a nasty death, but the slavers leader, a sadistic thug known as The Old Man, definitely gets the worst of it.
After a brutal war against the slavers, the Punisher finally manages to get his hands on The Old Man. The Old Man has bought and sold women for decades, killing those that wronged him and even killing women’s babies to keep them in line. So, when The Old Man awakens to find himself chained to a post with a camera pointed at him, he knows nothing good will come next. Dousing the man in kerosene, Frank delivers a warning to the camera: “Don’t come back here.” He proceeds to flambé the man as the camera rolls. Stomach turning, gross, and utterly gnarly, just the way Frank Castle likes it.
Which of Punisher’s kills do you think was the most horrific? Let us know in the comments!