SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for The Punisher Season 2, streaming now on Netflix.
Given the violent nature of Netflix's The Punisher, it makes sense several characters met their demise in Season 2. With Frank Castle returning to dole out his bloody brand of justice, the creative team felt they had no choice but to kill off Ben Barnes' Billy Russo, aka Jigsaw.
"What's interesting, is when we started the season, we didn't know from start that we were even going to kill him [Russo]," showrunner Steve Lightfoot told ComicBook.com. "And it sort of developed as we were writing the show, and it just felt like, given that Frank, you feel like so much of what was happening in Season 2 was born of this decision Frank mad to not kill him. It just, it didn't make sense to us that he would let Billy live again."
In the season finale, "The Whirlwind," Frank comes face-to-face with an injured Billy after he had been shot three times in a gunfight with FBI agent Dinah Madani. After barely escaping, Billy ended up bleeding out at the center where Curtis Hoyle hosts his veteran support group. Though he calls Curtis to come stay with him in his final moments, Frank is the one who shows up and puts Billy out of his misery.
"It somehow diminished Frank if he didn't finish the job this time," Lightfoot continued. "Then, as we got into the far end of the story, because they have a big gun fight in episode 7 and 8, and then there's another confrontation in episode 10, and it just felt like the natural way for the story to go, and I like the fact that you used to word poignant, because I think there's a tragedy to those two guys, and I sort of wanted part of the audience to be rooting for, in a way, that Frank wouldn't kill him, but would maybe throw an arm around him and take him to a hospital or would sit with him while he died."
The short but brutal sequence effectively bookended their rivalry, after Frank let him live last season, only for the villain to escape and wreak havoc in New York once more with a fractured memory of his past misdeeds. As the finale indicated, Frank was simply out of second chances. "I think it's a really sad scene, I think it's sort of indicative of the fact that Frank is now fully signed up to this persona of The Punisher, and that's who he's going to be from now on, and he's choosing to leave his humanity behind," Lightfoot explained.
The Punisher Season 2 stars Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, Floriana Lima as Krista Dumont and Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix. Both seasons are now streaming on Netflix.