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In the first episode of The Punisher (TV series), we see Frank living as isolated as possible while also working. He ends up overhearing about a planned robbery from his coworkers. Also, the coworkers end up roping the new, younger employee into helping them in the robbery. The robbery goes sideways when the kid accidentally reveals who he is to the mob and his coworkers decide to kill him. Frank at this point intercedes, kill the coworkers, and saves the kid, giving him the money. Frank then goes on and kills the mob that would have chased after the kid.

At this point, I'm confused as to why Frank gets involved. Why did he save the kid? The kid was just as guilty as the other people in the robbery, save for their attempted murder. What made him different enough to be worth protecting?

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The earlier conversation between "Pete" (Frank Castle/the Punisher's alias) and Donny established that Donny is working to support his family, in particular his grandmother.

Frank has also experienced workplace bullying at the hands of the other labourers, due to his deliberate antisocial behaviour and an implied disapproval of their workmanship and work ethic.

Frank later overhears the plot to rob the gangsters, and naturally pieces together an overview of the events at the restaurant.

Upon seeing the group about to kill Donny as a cover-up, his first reaction is that Donny is innocent and the group needs to be handled. This being the Punisher, "handling them" is a predictable scene.

Frank/Punisher doesn't have moral qualms about robbing criminal gangs (as seen in later episodes), nor about generally ending their existence (as seen at the start of the episode). Donny's motive is also an honourable one: to care for his family. Frank has a very high regard for the integrity of family. As the loss of his own family and the devastation to his life is his own motive for originally becoming the Punisher, he is likely to sympathise with Donny's position.

Therefore, these actions are entirely within character for Frank/Punisher, and serve to reinforce the nature of his character shown in later, more complex scenes and subplots.

  • I'd also like to add that, Frank doesn't necessarily have an explicitly defined code that he goes by, and so, not killing someone even though they committed a crime isn't out of character for Frank. Because he sympathized with the kid [to some degree], he's willing to give him a second chance (instead of otherwise killing all criminals, no question). – Charles Dec 4 '17 at 3:06
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    You've touched on it, but maybe to put some extra stress on it: Frank doesn't punish the robbers for robbing the mafia, but for the attempted murder on Donny. In this, Donny is clearly the victim and not the perpetrator. Afterwards, all that remains is the conflict between Donny and the mafia, at which point Frank again decides that Donny is (comparatively) innocent compared to the mafia. The Punisher tends to focus his punishment on "the bigger of two evils", mostly those who kill the innocent. Donny is not violent and would not kill, so Frank has no reason to hate him or want him dead. – Flater Dec 4 '17 at 9:59

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