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Characters / The Wire - Barksdale Organization

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"The game is the game. Always"
Avon Barksdale

At the opening of The Wire, the Barksdale Organization is Baltimore's largest drug dealing organization. Throughout seasons 1 and 2, the Barksdale Organization hold the prized Franklin Terrace Towers high-rise housing project and the nearby low rise housing projects called "the Pit", both of which they have turned into 24 hour drug markets. In addition, they hold a swathe of corners throughout West Baltimore and they launder their money through political donations and property development.

They are based in a West Baltimore strip club called Orlando's and their main stash house is out in the county. The group's main leaders (Avon Barksdale and "Stringer" Bell) never handle drugs, leaving that to subordinates, and they use an elaborate system of communication, the breaking of which the first season largely focuses on. As the series rolls on, the Barksdales are hit with a series of setbacks. As a result of the investigation into their organization, Avon is sent to prison at the end of season 1 and remains there until partway through season 3, they lose their main drug supply ("connect") from New York City in the aftermath of Avon going to prison, and finally they lose the Franklin Terrace Towers to urban redevelopment, which effectively breaks their power. After an abortive drug war with the up and coming Stanfield Gang and the death of Stringer Bell, the remnants of the organization join Proposition Joe's New Day Co-op under Slim Charles.


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  • Chess Motifs: The show uses a ton of chess analogies and the Barksdale organization follows suit. Avon is the king, Stringer is the Queen, Wee-bey and Cutty are knights and the rest are pawns, though Slim Charles eventually becomes a proverbial queen.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: They rank among the show's most prevalent threats in the early seasons. By the end of Season 3, however, the deaths and arrests of their most prominent members see the organization dissipate to pave way for the much more dangerous Stanfield gang.
  • The Dreaded: The citizens of West Baltimore are terrified of them, and rightfully so. Witnesses who refuse to turn a blind eye to the Barkesdales' dirty dealings tend to suffer a bad case of bullet to the brain.
  • Evil Will Fail: The Barksdale gang is defeated just as much by inner betrayals and pushing bystanders too far as the are by the efforts of the police.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Avon and Stringer, aka B&B, are like brothers and have this dynamic in the first season, which gets strained in the second when Avon is in prison and Stringer figuratively gets into bed with Prop Joe without telling Avon, which is treated like Stringer having an affair behind Avon's back. In the third season, they play traditional gender roles; Stringer is the distant "husband" who arrives briefcase in hand, late and tired after a day's work, while Avon is the "housewife" who stays at home taking care of it and of the internal problems.
  • A House Divided: Avon is more than content with being a classic gangster, while Stringer wants to leave that behind and become a legitimate businessman. This leads to internal strife at the worst possible moment during a Mob War and with the MCU and Omar closing in, and ultimately brings the Barksdale empire down.
    Proposition Joe: Call it a crisis of leadership.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: The Barksdales' well known headquarters are initially located at Orlando's bar, and more concealedly inside a funeral house later.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Most members of the Barksdale Organization get some sympathetic characterization and their motivations or circumstances are deeply examinated, while Marlo's gang is presented in a cruder, darker and edgier light. This sets the Barksdales at the center of The Good, the Bad, and the Evil aligment.
  • Offscreen Villainy: The Barksdale Organization commits a number of heinous crimes on-screen, but most of the body count has already happened at the beginning of the story, losing some of its impact. This contrasts with Marlo, who in no small part comes off as more ruthless because his racking up is contemporary and shown to the audience.
  • Properly Paranoid: Zigzagged; By default, Bell and Barksdale are extremely careful, elusive, innovative and adaptive when it comes to security most of the time, but many of their underlings drop the ball constantly in this regard.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Things would have worked out different had Avon killed String for murdering D'Angelo instead of covering it up for the sake of their friendship. String later betrays Avon to the police.
  • Villain Decay: In the beginning of the show, they are the undisputed kings of the West Side, running a lucrative narcotics operation while inspiring fear in the general populace, all while flying under the police's radar. This changes once the Baltimore Police Department is essentially forced to take notice and assigns the MCU to take the organization down. Over the next three seasons, the Barkesdales suffer a number of setbacks that causes them to lose their grip on the drug trade. By the time the organization finally dissipates, they are but a shadow of their former selves.
  • Worthy Opponent: The more prideful, intellectually and/or vanity-oriented detectives such as Freamon and McNulty come to enjoy the thrill of chasing B&B, since "stupid criminals make stupid cops."


    Avon Randolph Barksdale 
Played by: Wood Harris
...and I want my corners."

"I'm just a gangster, I suppose..."

West-side drug kingpin, head of the eponymous Barksdale Organization. A vengeful but calculating gangster, he is a lifelong player of The Game and takes both it and his street reputation very seriously. He starts the show at the peak of his influence, outwitting police surveillance until he is eventually caught by a hidden camera.

Influential even in prison, he attempts to run his criminal empire while behind bars, but his longtime friend and Number Two Stringer ends up making a couple major decisions behind Avon's back that forever change the direction of the Barksdale Organization. He manages to orchestrate a scheme that gets him early parole (serving only a couple years of his seven year sentence), but when he's released, he finds that much of his best territory is in the hands of a rival drug crew.
Against Stringer's advice, he starts a war with the rival Stanfield gang, which leads to Stringer betraying him by giving a tip to the cops. When the police catch him in a safehouse full of weapons, he is arrested and forced to serve out the remainder of his previous sentence with no hope of parole. Afterward, the Barksdale Organization collapses entirely, but he manages to retain some of his influence in prison.
  • Badass Boast: Finger-wagging Daniels after shaking off the police tail.
  • Batman Gambit: In season 2, he ensures his early release from prison by orchestrating a mass poisoning at the prison, then offering to testify against the "culprit".
  • Big Bad: For season 1.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Stringer Bell in Season 3. Ultimately ends up being a Big-Bad Ensemble.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Season 3 sees him falling into this trope as well as String. Despite being back in the game, it's clear that he is struggling to hold onto his once absolute authority. His Number Two turned Dragon-in-Chief begins to wrestle power away from him and he can't do much besides be sullen about it. Furthermore he is shown to be on the losing side of a vicious gang war against the more dangerous and ruthless Marlo Stanfield. By the time he is ready to make a comeback, the police have closed in and it's too late.
  • Blood Knight: As he tells Stringer, who ultimately only truly cares about money, "I bleed red, you bleed green."
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After going to prison, Avon sees Wee Bey being constantly harassed by a guard. Turns out Wee Bey killed the guard's cousin on Avon's orders, but when Wee Bey tries to remind Avon and tell him about the details, Avon doesn't remember a thing about it. "Need a scorecard to keep up with your lethal ass."
  • Demoted to Extra: After season 3, he makes a last appearance in season 5 when Marlo has to go through him to get access to Sergei Malatov.
  • The Determinator Stubborn to a fault, and being challenged, as Marlo challenges him for supremacy of the West Side, only makes him twice as determined to achieve his goals. In both seasons 1 and 3 he can only realize that he's taken things too far after it's already done and there's no way to undo his actions.
    Prop Joe: You ever know Avon Barksdale to back away from anything?
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: He wasn't great at taking punches, which put an end to his boxing aspirations. He doesn't seem sad about it though.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It's clear from early on that he's fiercely protective of his family, and despite their differences, he loves Stringer like a brother up to the end.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He may be a bloodthirsty kingpin with no compunctions about killing people who threaten his profits, but even so he's appalled by Stringer's decision to order a hit on Omar while the latter is escorting his elderly grandmother to church on Sunday morning.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Betrays and is betrayed by Stringer Bell, for the sake of the business.
  • Fatal Flaw: Clinging onto family values and trusting Stringer Bell too much is what ultimately does him in.
  • Family Values Villain: Avon cares deeply about family. He has taken care of his comatose brother (who was shot in the head and is in a permanent vegetative state), sister and nephew. That said, D'Angelo thought this was just a cover and his uncle would kill or abandon anyone if necessary. Tellingly, when Stringer reveals that he arranged Dee's murder, Avon's first impulse is to attack Stringer, but after that initial impulse fades he goes along in maintaining Stringer's facade.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: McNulty notes that Avon essentially came out of nowhere to run the drug trade in west Baltimore, when the Major Crimes Unit hits a wall attempting to gather information on him.
  • Genius Bruiser: A former golden gloves boxer who is quite Street Smart, he can come up with clever plans such as his framing of the corrupt prison guard, and has moments of reflection.
  • Idiot Ball: Brianna calls him out for sending D'Angelo in a drug run without proper backup or decoys, when Avon feels that he couldn't trust anybody else.
  • Just a Gangster: The trope namer. He's completely uninterested in going legit and even resists efforts by Stringer to turn the Barksdale Organization to only wholesaling drugs because all Avon's ever known in his life is the vicious game of hustling on the corners and claiming territory by killing or frightening off the competition. To be fair, it turns out the plan to become the wholesaler had a major problem: Marlo Stanfield and others that wouldn't buy into the system, on whom no solution besides violence would work.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: In one scene in the first season, he and Stringer are seen playing basketball in a gym.
  • Large and in Charge: The King of his organization, and one of the tallest members at 6'2".
  • Mentor: To D'Angelo
    The thing is, you only got to fuck up once. Be a little slow, be a little late, just once...
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: He's sent away to prison in season 2, but manages to maintain control of his business, take over the supply of drugs flowing into the prison, and spend his free time playing video games and eating KFC.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Just as he's tooling up an army with enough ordnance to blow Marlo to kingdom come, the police show up knocking at the door and arrest him with most of his soldiers.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: He sponsors a local charity basketball game, and in season 3 he gives Cutty the financial backing to get his boxing gym up and running, among other community activities.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: Avon never wanted to go to prison at all, and until the end of Season 1 he'd managed to become a drug kingpin without ever seeing the inside of jail. Despite the power and perks he has inside prison he's awfully happy to be out of it in season 3 and vows to never go back. Of course, when he tries to go back to running things the same way he used to, completely with a violent territory war against Marlo, it draws police attention back to him.
  • Our Founder: Cutty hangs up Avon's picture as a tribute for bankrolling his gym.
  • Pet the Dog: His interactions with Cutty in season 3. First he lets Cutty retire from The Game with no consequences or deciding He Knows Too Much, and then later he gives Cutty the financial backing needed for Cutty to start a boxing gym for kids in the neighborhood.
  • Properly Paranoid: Has unprecedented, advanced communications systems and protocols in place to begin with, and changes them some more the moment he perceives a nebulous threat from the police.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Avon generally gets along with his gang. He even willingly lets Cutty leave and go straight.
  • Red Oni: To Stringer's Blue Oni, also to D'Angelo.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: When he's disappointed with Slim Charles and Cutty's failed attempt at a hit, he wags a gun right in their faces, complete with his finger on the trigger.
  • Street Smart: He is a very far cry from being sophisticated in the same manner as Stringer, but he is intelligent and streetwise. Arguably, he is also far more self-aware than Stringer.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: In Season 3 he's unable to recruit any quality muscle for a while - with Slim Charles being an honorable exception- and is burdened with a bunch of morons at first, until he hires some soldiers from the Eastside. A more subtle and rare case when he calls out Stringer in season 2 over his questioning of Brother Mouzone, as soldiers like that take care of their own business.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: He would be a run-of-the mill big-bad guy in most other works. The Wire takes some time to show how his life circumstances influence his criminal ways and how his rivals are worse than him.
  • Thicker Than Water: Has a soft spot for his nephew D'Angelo and discusses that family is what counts and ultimately the point of the game.
  • Villain Decay: Starts the series at the height of his power and flying under everyone's radars until McNulty takes issue against him. The police, internal dissent and other street rivals bring him down gradually and his kingdom ceases to exist in the last seasons.
  • Villainous Friendship: Stringer and Avon go way back and are like brothers. He's more than a boss to Wee-Bey, they are close and get closer when he's incarcerated.
  • Worthy Opponent: Comes to view Marlo Stanfield as one after being repeatedly surprised by Marlo's cunning and ruthlessness.

    Russell "Stringer" Bell 
Played by: Idris Elba
"Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?"

"Let the younguns worry about how to retail. We're the wholesale. I mean, who gives a fuck who's standing on what corner if we're taking that shit off the top, putting that shit to good use, makin' that shit work for us? We could run more than corners, B. Period. We could run this godddamn city."

Second in command to Avon Barksdale, the two have been friends and accomplices since they were boys. Stringer sees himself as analytical, precise, and intelligent, and takes economics and business classes in hope of legitimizing the Barksdale Organization's profits through investments such as real estate. This stance eventually alienates him from Avon, who ultimately is much more concerned about playing the game and upholding the street code of ethics he grew up with.

Stringer is not arrested when Avon and D'Angelo get hauled off at the end of Season 1, and becomes effective head of the organization. Immediately, he must deal with encroachment from Proposition Joe's crew, the Barksdale Empire being cut off by their supplier, Omar's continuing robberies of Barksdale holdings, and his suspicion that D'Angelo will eventually sell out the Barksdale Organizaion in return for a reduced sentence. He attempts to solve these problems by allying with Prop Joe to create the start of what becomes the New Day Co-op, pointing Omar and Professional Killer Brother Mouzone at each other, and having D'Angelo assassinated.
When his plans to become a real estate developer take longer than expected, he bribes state senator Clay Davis to get the proper permits, but in truth Davis is conning Stringer and Rainmaking him instead. Soon afterwards, Stringer is assassinated by Omar Little and Brother Mouzone, who figured out his role in turning the two against each other.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Inverted, as his ambition to rise above the gangster life implies a pragmatic approach to crime and a reduction of violence.
  • Arch-Enemy: McNulty comes to see Stringer as his.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: In Season 3 with Avon Barksdale. Ends up being a Big-Bad Ensemble due to the introduction of Marlo - who starts a gang war against them and eventually proves to be a more violent and ruthless sort of gangster - as well as the growing rift between himself and Avon.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: What he ultimately is. Stringer is smarter than the average Baltimore gangster, but he is only really educated and intelligent by the standards of his street peers, and worse he tends to misunderstand the nature of the game, to the point of Avon often having to correct him when he attempts inappropriate solutions to his problems. (Such as ordering a hit on a friggin' Senator, or offering to "help" Brother Mouzone, who would want to handle his business himself.) He overestimates his own intelligence and underestimates the intelligence of those around him as a result, not realising that street smarts matter more than college smarts when it comes to street crime. Part of his problem is that he wants a low profile and doesn't want to act as Big Bad, but still has to before retooling his organization, and as Avon points out, he may be too smart for his fellow criminals, but he might not be smart enough for the white collar world he aspires to, and is thus playing an intellectual more than actually being one.
  • Blue Oni: To Avon's, Bodie's (and McNulty's Red Oni).
  • Catchphrase: "It's just business." He also has a thing about closing and shutting doors...
  • The Chains of Commanding: Often expresses his frustration with the lack of talent he has available and the hardships of ruling the organization like a proper business. He compares himself to a CEO who has no choice except to take responsibility for a mishap or scandal and then deal with the aftermath of it while all other employees can keep their heads down and go about their lives.
    Lester: Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
  • The Chessmaster: A complete deconstruction. He uses people as pawns in his schemes and deceptions... and one by one they either learn of his deceptions and start working against him, or wind up becoming a Spanner in the Works. In the end, playing with the lives of people catches up to him and he is killed by two men he had attempted to manipulate into killing each other.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: There are relatively few characters that Stringer interacts with that he doesn't betray, undermine, or secretly work against.
  • Composite Character: His name is a combination of Stringer Reed and Roland Bell, two Baltimore drug dealers. His character also bears a striking resemblance to Kenneth A. Jackson, a Baltimore drug dealer who began to diversify and get into legitimate businesses, including a shoe store, a small market, and an adult entertainment club. Jackson took classes at Baltimore Community College, just like Stringer, to learn more about business and become a full-fledged member of legit society.
  • The Consigliere: In Season 1 he tends to approach advising Avon in this way.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He plans to apply his shrewd knowledge of economics to become "the bank", winning the game through real estate, legitimate business and untraceable laundered money, shifting away from the risky street trafficking.
  • Death by Irony: He wants to become a developer and is very insistent about locking doors. In his final scene, several barred doors prevent him from escaping from one of his own condominiums.
  • The Dragon: To Avon's Big Bad and Wee Bey's The Brute. Stringer Bell is the 'go get shit done' piece, full of advice to his boss but also quite loyal to an extent in Season 1. This changes drastically in Season 2 however where his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder starts to surface.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: More on a meta-level. Two of the baddest killers around need to team up just to take him down. He does try to run at first, sure. But once he sees he can't get away, he stands tall and reaps what he had sewn.
  • Establishing Character Moment: D'Angelo asks Stringer if his transfer to the Pit really was Avon's decision. Clearly Stringer going behind Avon's back is nothing new.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Betrays and is betrayed by Avon, for the sake of the business.
  • Evil Genius: The brain of the Barksdale organization.
  • Evil Sounds Deep
  • Foil: Stringer sees himself as one to Major Colvin - reformers who feel their superiors are preventing useful work from being done, and "both trying to make sense of this game," though from opposite sides of the law.
    • He could be seen as one to Jimmy McNulty as his Too Clever by Half Arch-Enemy who routinely betrays his allies and bosses to suit their agendas, just like McNulty. Whilst McNulty is a drunken womaniser who's behaviour affects his work routine to some degree especially so in Season 5, Stringer Bell is trying to live up to the straight and narrow business life but is obstructed by all his colleagues around him. Both suffer the consequences of colouring outside the lines - death and being fired respectively.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When cornered by Omar and Mouzone after running, he just tells them to "Get on with it motherfu-".
  • Fatal Flaw: His Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and unrealistic view of the game is what does him in.
    • When one thinks about it, Stringer Bell's downfall was due to him getting his thoughts and approach backwards. During the entire battle with Marlo Stanfield's crew, and even before that when the Barksdales were basically on their own, Stringer is trying to be businesslike with what he's doing on the street. But when it comes to his real business, he's going around making shady deals, and using the sorts of practices that are more appropriate for the streets. When he discovered he was getting rainmade by Clay Davis and his people, he immediately wanted to have him killed until Avon stopped it. Such an action would have been appropriate, though, if he'd been targeting Marlo, and he should have left Levy to handle the legit business dealings. Stringer had both of his worlds screwed up.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Has shades of false charm in the tone of voice when he says, "You know we just want to talk to him, D".
  • Get It Over With: "Well, get on with it, motherf—"
  • Gossip Evolution: Marlo goes along with getting blamed for String's death. Snoop starts spreading stories of how Chris killed String and plays up that String was a Dirty Coward.
  • Hidden Depths: When McNulty and Bunk look in his apartment after his death and find it immaculate and very tastefully decorated (complete with a copy of Adam Smith's On the Wealth of Nations, McNulty remarks that he had no idea who he was chasing all this time.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Avon chides him for not smelling a trap and noticing that Orlando shouldn't have had so much money to buy dope on his own. Stringer concedes he made a mistake.
    • His usual shrewdness leaves the building when he tips his hand to Brother Mouzone in the hospital by asking, in a surprised tone, about the existence of more than one assailant. Furthermore Avon calls him out on his offers to "help" Mouzone, as a soldier like the Brother should be left to his own devices and deal with the problem himself.
    • He gets "rain made" easily, and Maurice Levy asks why he did not run the Clay Davis situation by him first.
  • Internal Reformist: Founder of the "New Day Co-op". Sets the focus on quality product as opposed to controlling territory since turf wars draw police attention.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: "Well, get on with it, motherf—" *BANG* BANG*
  • Large and in Charge: The Queen of the organization and one of its tallest members at 6'2 3/4".
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: He owns a copy-shop where he hangs around, but he wants it to be a serious business, not a front.
  • The Lost Lenore: He becomes this to Donette.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: When Bunk and McNulty finally find his apartment after Stringer is killed, they're shocked to see a large, very tastefully decorated apartment that looks like it belongs to a banker or intellectual.
  • The Mentor: String is fond of Bodie and gives him advice regularly. Bodie in turn looks up to Stringer, possibly even as a replacement father figure, since Bodie never really had a father figure otherwise.
    This here game is more than the rep you carry, the corner you hold. You gotta be fierce, I know that, but more than that, you gotta show some flex, give and take on both sides.
  • Mean Boss: Speaks in a condescending tone to his underlings in Season 3, most likely due to feeling Surrounded by Idiots
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Only implied, but his arranging for D'Angelo's death might've had something to do with the fact that he was also busy screwing Donette, in addition to other factors.
  • Naïve Newcomer: He is out of his depth in the respectable suit and tie part of the game, and quickly pays the price for it.
    Avon: They saw your ghetto ass coming from miles away.
  • Necessarily Evil: How he puts the termination of D'Angelo to Avon.
  • Noble Demon: Played with. Stringer is a refined thug, but his quest to become a legitimate businessman is a step that would take Baltimore out of a spiral of violence. When his prospects go sour, the ruthless druglord who is willing to kill a Senator comes back. His and Joe's strategy has been described as cooperative capitalism, and the least socially destructive business model for the streets of Baltimore.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Unlike Avon, a gangster who keeps a gun in his desk during wartime, street toughness is not one of Stringer's main skills. Another reason why the two have very different points of view and eventually drift apart.
  • Non-Action Guy: Avon taunts String for never personally killing anyone. To save his pride, String reveals he had D'Angelo murdered.
  • Nothing Personal: He's always invoking the "just business" angle. He calls Avon out when their feud with Omar becomes personal, a situation that gets inverted when Clay Davis cons String and Avon has to reign Bell in.
  • Number Two: To Avon in Seasons 1 and 2.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: His market strategy abhors violence not out of moral qualms but because it's bad for business and brings the attention of the law.
  • Properly Paranoid: So much so that even Lester Freamon is impressed.
  • Real Estate Scam: He founds the real estate agency "B&B" and engages in some insider trading and traffic of influence. Eventually the scam victim is Stringer himself.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Nearly his entire death scene is this. Stringer, who came from the streets of Baltimore and unsuccessfully tried to ascend to higher ambitions is fatally trapped in the middle by the street-dressed gangster Omar on the lower floor of his condominium and the more sophisticatedly dressed Brother Mouzone on the higher floor. Then, in the vein of classic fictional gangsters (Little Caesar, Scarface (1932), Carlito's Way), String dies near a billboard illustrating his broken dreams.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Defined as such by David Simon, with traces of Tragic Villain. Simon explains he had to let Stringer Bell die victim of his own mistakes but also killed by the system in general, because he wanted to point out that the game cannot be reformed, underscoring how bad the situation is. Next to Marlo, Stringer is A Lighter Shade of Black, but he could not escape himself and where he was from.
  • Self-Made Man: His goal in life, a rare feat for a man born and raised in the criminal world of West Baltimore.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: From the point of view of his unrefined underlings.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Telling Avon that he had D'Angelo killed.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Needs glasses to read, and is among the few people in his organization who actually does read. The glasses give him an intellectual aura.
  • Smug Snake: A complicated example. While he is undoubtedly intelligent and evasive, he is prone to word-dropping and only an educated character in a world full of Book Dumb heroes and villains and thus, probably not quite as clever or refined as he would like to imagine himself to be. And he is so obsessed with climbing the social ladder that he underestimates or ignores the people from his own social class and fails to quite fit in, which is particularly dangerous given those people are murderous drug dealers who are not quite as dumb as he thinks they are. The way he condescendingly speaks to his underlings in Season 3 is a good example of this.
  • Social Climber: Tries and fails to rise above his station in life. The show nevertheless effectively makes the point that someone with his intelligence, ambition, work ethic, and business acumen could have achieved a lot in life had he been born into an environment better than the slums of West Baltimore.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Combines swearing with economic lingo. Most prominent during his Thieves' Guild meetings
    Nigga you ain't got the floor, chair don't recognize your ass [...] Adjourn your asses
  • The Smart Guy: Another deconstruction. Stringer may be the most educated and cunning man in the room when he's with his Barskdale criminal associates but when he tries to integrate himself with the more experienced corporate politicians of Downtown Baltimore, he is easily manipulated and hustled by people like Clay Davis. Given time however, he may have been able to have gotten wise to corrupt politicians like him.
  • The Starscream: Not at first. Initially Stringer is loyal to Avon. Later, however, their friendship sours and he begins going behind his boss' back before outright betraying him.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Sometimes Played for Laughs a bit, the more he interacts with his subordinates, the more it becomes evident. By season 3 you can tell this is going through his head as he tries to use his business smarts to reform the Barksdale gang. Comically aggravated by his use of advanced economics terms with barely literate underlings whose intelligence is like a 40 degree day.
  • Too Clever by Half: His cleverness takes him several steps ahead of himself, which ultimately leads to big failures.
    Avon: I look at you these days, String, you know what I see? I see a man without a country. Not hard enough for this right here and maybe, just maybe, not smart enough for them out there.
  • The Unfettered: More ruthless than Avon. Not even his friendship with the man stops String from doing what he thinks needs to be done.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Basically almost all of his scenes in "Middle Ground", leading up to his death.
  • Villainous Friendship: With Avon
  • Villains Out Shopping: Shown a lot of time running errands, sometimes more often than plotting drug schemes.
  • Visionary Villain: Has an actual plan to win the game, as money can elevate him above the "gangsta bullshit."
    There's games beyond the fucking game.
  • White Collar Crime: Desperately wants to shift the operations of the Barksdale organization from thuggish gang banging to this type of criminal activity. Perhaps if he was to go straight full stop, he would not have ran into the king of sleaze, Clay Davis.
  • Wicked Cultured: A refined drug dealer, even more by the standards of Baltimore. And Mcnulty is shocked to see Stringer's luxurious apartment. Decorated with valuable art pieces, custom samurai swords on the wall, and a bookshelf full of classic literature including Adam Smith's The Wealth Of Nations, and In Memory Of Yet Green by Isaac Asimov.
  • Worthy Adversary: "Nicely done (McNulty)"
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: He ends up treating the game like a gentleman's or clinical world where market rules ultimately dictate everything, but the reality is more complex than what it's taught in college.
    • He assumes that influencing politicians and bureaucrats is a simple matter of handing over a briefcase full of cash and that bribes are a common and necessary part of the legitimate business world.

    D'Angelo Barksdale 
Played by: Larry Gilliard Jr.
"There are no Second Acts in American lives."

"All my people, man, my father, my uncles, It's just what we do. You just live with this shit, until you can't breathe no more. I swear to God, I was courtside for eight months, and I was freer in jail than I was at home."

Lieutenant in the Barksdale Organization, and nephew of Avon. He is acquitted for murder in the premiere episode, by means of witness tampering. Avon is displeased with D'Angelo's lack of judgement in getting involved in a shooting, and as a result D'Angelo is demoted and put in charge of the low rise projects, with the dealers Poot, Bodie, and Wallace working under him.

He becomes increasingly disillusioned with the drug game over the course of the first season, and often shows distaste for the violence, brutality, and treachery that is part of it. When Wallace wants to leave the game, D'Angelo is supportive of Wallace, but Stringer Bell soon comes to suspect that Wallace is cooperating with the police and has Wallace killed. The news of Wallace's murder turns him against the organization, and McNulty and Pearlman attempt to make him a star witness against the Barksdale organization. D'Angelo initially agrees but his mother convinces him to keep quiet and serve a long prison sentence for the sake of his family.
In prison, D'Angelo distances himself from his family and seems to want little more than to be left alone so he can do his time in peace. Avon tries to insert himself into D'Angelo's life, offering to make him a part of the scheme which results in Avon's early release, but D'Angelo doesn't bite, as he doesn't want to be party to the harm his family does, nor to be beholden to them. Meanwhile, Stringer still fears that D'Angelo may turn on the organization, and has an additional motive for wanting D'Angelo out of the picture in the form of his romance with D'Angelo's girlfriend, Donette. Stringer arranges to have D'Angelo murdered (without Avon's knowledge), which is made to look like a suicide.
  • Anti-Villain: On the darker side of a type IV, but still a type IV.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Where's Wallace?!?!?" It breaks through the armor of everyone present, as D'Angelo can see the effect that the question has on Stringer and Levy, and D'Angelo's own facade of calm and control goes to shreds when he sees that Stringer really did have Wallace killed.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He tried to be this to Wallace, but Wallace didn't take what D'Angelo tried to tell him to heart and paid the price for it.
  • Bald Of Anti-Villainy: Is bald and still a gangster, though not as evil as Avon and Stringer. His hair is noticeably more grown out in Season 2 when he is in prison and wants to distance himself from his criminal family.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Dee was keen to remind the Pit crew that he just skated on a murder charge and hadn't been caught in another. Shooting Pooh Blanchard is all but said to have been an act of desperation on D'Angelo's part, as Blanchard was in the middle of beating D'Angelo, and he flat out lied about the Deirdre's murder, where D'Angelo was just an unwitting accomplice while Wee-Bey did the actual shooting.
  • Character Death: Despite the fact that he seemed set to be the main POV for criminal characters, D'Angelo outlived his usefulness (at least as far as Stringer was concerned) and was killed on Stringer's orders, proving Anyone Can Die.
  • Chess Motifs: In a memorable early scene he explains the game to Bodie and Wallace; this scene receives a Call-Back much later in the series when Bodie realizes that street-level dealers like him are nothing more than pawns in the drug game and are expendable to the higher-ups.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Seems like the main character during the street settings. Then he surprisingly gets killed off in prison around the middle of the second season.
  • Deuteragonist: In season 1 the workings of the Barksdale gang are seen mostly through his eyes.
  • The Dutiful Son: Dee always did as he was told by her mother.
  • Establishing Character Moment: According to eyewitness reports in the pilot, D'Angelo got knocked down and was being beaten up by the guy he killed.
  • Fish out of Water: Shown as an unrefined patron during a dinner with his baby mama in a fancy restaurant. In a broader sense he's out of his element in the criminal world, despite being born into it. The cops/attorneys exploit this when he's under custody.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice
  • He Knows Too Much: Stringer believes D'Angelo to be a crumbling liability who will inevitably turn on the rest of the Barksdales to reduce his long prison sentence, so Stringer arranges for his suicide.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: "I just want to go somewhere, where I can breathe like regular folk."
  • It's All My Fault: His reaction to Wallace's death. When McNulty and Pearlman are interviewing him, he insists that while he tried to save Wallace and protect the boy from Avon and Stringer, he could have done more and it's at least partially his fault that Wallace died.
  • Jaded Washout: He becomes the drug game's equivalent. D'Angelo has some talent as a lieutenant, proven by how he both makes The Pit crew much more lucrative and more disciplined in avoiding police surveillance, but his heart isn't in it and he comes to be deeply jaded with The Game and his family.
  • Lying to the Perp: Bunk and McNulty trick him into writing a letter of apology to William Gant's non-existent family (actually just a photo of Bunk's family); this later causes him to refuse to believe it when McNulty tells him that Wallace has been murdered.
  • Nepotism: His rank in the Organization is only due to him being Avon's nephew.
  • Never Suicide: McNulty thinks so, and he's right.
  • No Respect Guy: It's not especially emphasized, but in Season 1 he tends to not get much in the way of respect from either the higher level guys in Avon's organization or from the dealers under him, perhaps because they can sense that he's a Fish out of Water. He gets some fairly harsh talks from Stringer, Wee-Bey and Avon about his failings in the drug game, and Bodie is all but flat out challenging him about his role as leader of the crew in the Pit. When Wallace and Poot spot Brandon and D'Angelo tries to tell Stringer and company that he's got something important to talk about, their first reaction to make jokes like "What, is he getting himself robbed again?"
  • Punch-Clock Villain: D'Angelo doesn't take any joy in being gangster, except for the money.
    "This game, this thing with my uncle... it might not be right for me, I'm thinkin'. Nothing good to it but the money."
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: D'Angelo tells everyone that he killed a man as a way of establishing dominance to his crew. He also relates how he killed one of Avon's girlfriends to show he wasn't afraid to kill civilians. Later it is found that the Deirdre thing was Wee-Bey's work and D'Angelo was just an accomplice who didn't know what was going to happen.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After returning from prison he's demoted to overseeing dealing in the Pit.
  • The Reveal: Early on D'Angelo claims to have been the killer in the murder of a former girlfriend of Avon's who had threatened to cooperate with the police; it is revealed that while D'Angelo did take part in the murder by providing a distraction, it was Wee-Bey who actually pulled the trigger.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Used and abused, but eventually subverted.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Cheats on his girlfriend Donette with Shardene in season 1, but Donette is revealed to be a rather unpleasant person who in turn cheats on him with Stringer while D'Angelo is in prison in season 2, so D'Angelo's adultery is portrayed sympathetically.
  • Villainous BSoD: Wallace's death, which shakes his belief in the whole system of "family" that he's been taught to rely on. In the following season, his general apathy and the fact that he's actively avoiding associating with Avon makes it that much easier to pass off his murder as a suicide.
  • White Sheep: Played with. While he's not exactly an angel, D'Angelo does not share the ruthless, cold-blooded nature of his uncle and his mother, which causes friction among them since the family business often requires cold-blooded ruthlessness.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Zig-zagged. In the first season when he's given cryptic orders to accompany Wee-bey to an isolated place with no one else around and no one to help him, he assumes that he's being set up for a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness moment. He's wrong in that instance, but later he proves to be right in his cynical take on the Barksdale leadership and is in fact the victim of He Knows Too Much/You Have Outlived Your Usefulness in the second season.

    Brianna Barksdale 
Played by: Michael Hyatt
"To do with what?"

"He came to the edge, but he turned around and walked away."

Avon's sister, and a quiet partner in the family's drug operation. She is the mother of D'Angelo and attempts to protect and promote his interests within the organization though ultimately she fails to save him when Stringer begins to doubt his loyalty. Later, after Avon is sent to prison and Stringer killed, she takes over as the leader of the organization.

  • Alliterative Name: Both her first and last name start with "B".
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Gives one to Avon when questioning him about what REALLY happened to D'Angelo.
    Avon Barksdale: What exactly are you asking me? You think I could do something like that to my own kin!? My own flesh and blood? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING!? I didn't have shit to do with it alright.
    Brianna Barksdale: To do with WHAT? TO DO WITH WHAT!?
  • Armor-Piercing Response: She learns that McNulty has been looking into D'Angelo's murder but never approached her with his suspicions, just Donette. When she confronts McNulty and asks for answers, we get an exchange that leaves Brianna devastated:
    Jimmy McNulty: Look, two years ago we hung more wire on your brother's crew than AT&T and at the end, D'Angelo was this close to flipping. Giving up everybody, everything. But you know all that right? You were the one who went down to that detention center and talked your son out of a deal. I kinda liked your son, you know? All things considered, he was a pretty decent kid. And it grinds me that no one ever spoke up for him. Now it seems to me that nobody ever will. But mostly at this point? I'm sorry I bothered his girl and I'm sorry she bothered you.
    Brianna Barksdale: [barely holding back tears] Why go to her? Why not come to me first?
    Jimmy McNulty: Honestly? I was looking for somebody who cared about the kid. I mean, like I said, you were the one who made him take the years, right?
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Calls Avon out for sending D'Angelo in an ill-fated drug run.
    • Subverted in season 3 when, after a persistent interrogation and a visit to McNulty, she realizes the truth about D'Angelo and seems to be about to explode on Avon, but she quietly understands the situation and just weeps.
  • The Dark Chick: Her role in the Barksdale power structure.
  • Evil Matriarch: Fulfills the "matriarch" part better than De'Londa, though she's arguably not as evil.
  • Mama Bear: Say what you will about her, she does care about her son.
  • Sole Survivor: Brianna is the only Barksdale alive and free after the events of Season 3.

    Sean "Shamrock" McGinty 
Played by: Richard Burton
"Laid back and shit."

Shamrock: Robert Rules say we gotta have minutes for a meeting, right? These the minutes.
String: Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fuckin' conspiracy?!

Acting number two of the Barksdale organization during Avon's incarceration.

  • Number Two: Stringer's second in command while Avon is in jail.
  • The Peter Principle: He's way out of his depth, but ranks high in the Barksdale organization because competent members grow increasingly scarce.
  • Put on a Bus: Arrested in the season 3 finale and never seen again.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: A hoodlum with a dictionary. Stringer retooling the gang towards a parliamentary Thieves' Guild leads to Shamrock overseeing or making several faux pas.
  • Spanner in the Works: Stringer carefully plans that Bernard buy a maximum of two phones from any one outlet. Once Shamrock takes over, he stops checking up, and Bernard begins to buy phones in bulk from Lester Freamon.
  • Stupid Crooks: A supervisor who can't even get rid of a gun properly. A prime contributor to Stringer's lack of amusement with his underlings.

Soldiers and Dealers

    Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice 
Played by: Hassan Johnson
"My word is still my word."

'"'Look at me up in here. Who the fuck would wanna be that if they can be anything else, De'Londa?"''

The Barksdale Organization's most trusted soldier. It's hinted that he has been soldiering for Avon since he was a teenager, and like Avon he has grown up in the Game and knows it inside and out. As the head of the Barksdale muscle in Season 1, he is tasked with forcibly acquiring territory from other drug dealers/organizations and hunting down enemies of the Barksdale Organization such as Omar. He is wounded by Omar when ambushed in the middle of one such territory grab, and later wounds Omar in return when Omar attempts to assassinate Avon.

Later he takes part in killing Orlando, who is cooperating with the police against the Barksdales, which also results in Kima being wounded and nearly killed. He is eventually caught, sentenced to life in prison, and takes the fall for many of the organization's murders. While on the inside, he remains a trusted friend and confidant to Avon. He does not wish his son, Namond, to go the same route, and lets Howard Colvin adopt Namond in Season 4.
  • Affably Evil: Wee-Bey is very friendly and quite personable. But he's also a completely ruthless killer and the best soldier the Barksdale Organization ever had.
  • Badass in Charge: Head of muscle and is Barksdale and Bell's best killer.
  • Batman Gambit: He exploits the way Courts want speedy confessions rather than long, drawn out trials and appeals. When he is caught for a murder, knowing he is likely to spend life in prison anyway for nearly killing a cop, he gets the DA to agree to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for a full confession, then confesses to every murder the Barksdale Organization had committed. While the authorities caught onto the fact that he didn't kill William Gant due to his inaccurate description of the scene, nobody knows just how many other charges Wee-bey didn't do but took the blame for, and how many Barksdale people were still around in Seasons 2 and 3 thanks to him doing so.
  • Big Eater: During his negotiations with the DA, in addition to his other requests, he demands pit beef sandwiches in exchange for confessing. A lot of pit beef sandwiches. With extra horseradish. And fries on the side. And potato salad. (They were out of potato salad; when offered cole slaw in its place, he shook his head and sighed.)
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He's frequently a lively, fun loving guy who happens to shoot down people in the streets with the best of them.
  • The Brute: The main muscleman for the Barksdale organization, though he's an unusually friendly example.
  • Character Tics: Rubs his face a lot, mostly his chin/goatee.
  • Co-Dragons: Whenever Avon is short one Stringer Bell, Wee-Bey is typically his go-to-guy for handling important matters.
  • Demoted to Extra: After he's sent to prison. With the exception of season 4, where he has slightly more prominence because of the storyline surrounding his son Namond, in seasons 2-5 he gets only one or two appearances per season.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Unlike his wife, he doesn't want his son Namond to follow in his footsteps, and allows Bunny Colvin to adopt him as a result. See the page quote above.
  • Handicapped Badass: The only Wire character to ever get the best of Omar Little in a 1 to 1 gun fight. This was AFTER getting shot in the leg in the first encounter, bonus points for responding to an ambush.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Again, see his page quote and the way he leaps at Namond having a chance at life outside of the drug world.
    • He likes aquarium fish and is captivated by their beauty. He even has a tank in prison, although he can only keep motorized plastic fish.
  • Idiot Ball: According to Stringer, Bey approached him with the genius idea to take Orlando's cash, ultimately fucking them all over during the cops' sting operation.
  • Implied Death Threat: To his own wife De'londa, during the confrontation where he tells her to let go of Namond and allow Colvin to adopt the boy.
  • Kick the Dog: He ignores Shardene's friend saying that she's not feeling well after taking drugs at the party, has his way with her, then leaves her unattended, where she dies of an overdose.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he finds out from Stringer that the hit on Orlando resulted in a cop being shot, he's actually startled speechless for a few seconds.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Even his own wife calls him "Bey".
  • Parents as People: He's aware of his failure as a father.
  • Pet the Dog: Letting Colvin adopt Namond.
  • Professional Killer He's a gang assassin who is implied to have been part of dozens of murders over the years.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Raped Shardene's friend when she OD'd and dumped her body in the trash. This causes Shardene to go agree to inform on the Barksdale gang.
  • Scary Black Man: The most prominent example of the intimidating black gangsta in the Barksdale organisation.
  • Taking the Heat: When he's arrested, he attempts to spring the Barksdale organization's other enforcers by pleading guilty to every murder the crew had committed.
  • Villainous Friendship: He and Avon are very close. Wee-Bey is very appreciated by the boss.

    Preston "Bodie" Broadus 
Played by: J.D. Williams
"We like them bald-headed bitches on the chessboard."

"I'll do what I gotta do. I don't give a fuck. Just don't ask me to live on my knees, you know?"

Bodie begins the series as a low ranking drug dealer in the low rises. Bodie fully buys into the mystique and glamor of gangsta lifestyle, believing that as a loyal, competent, ambitious soldier, he can eventually rise up through the ranks of his world and become a kingpin like Stringer and Avon. He does indeed catch Stringer's eye and is promoted to a mid-level position, but subsequently loses Stringer's favor somewhat as Stringer begins moving the Barksdale Organization away from violence, a change in methods which Bodie needs some time to adjust to, although he eventually does.

Once the Barksdale organization disbands, he becomes an independent dealer, and manages to build up a quiet corner into a decent piece of real estate (at least, if you're a drug dealer) but is muscled off the corner by the Stanfield crew, and is then forced to become a part of that organization. Ultimately, Bodie is disillusioned by the casual, often excessive violence perpetrated by the Stanfield gang and looks to turn informant when one of his friends is murdered by the organization. However, he is spotted with McNulty, and is killed, though he goes out fighting on his corner.
  • Affably Evil: Initially an irascible corner boy, Bodie mellows out enough to be a people's person when not plying his trade of pusher, especially during his interactions with Poot and even McNulty and Carver, the former he bonds over shared disillusion with the job and the latter who enforces it as a way to be civil even when both may want to bust each other's asses. Interestingly, this trait is present even back in season 1, during a friendly pool game with Herc and Carver after his arrest and beating, only becoming more pronounced with time.
  • Alliterative Name: "Bodie" Broadus. Of course, only if his nickname is taken into account.
  • Anti-Villain: Not as apparent as D'Angelo, but despite his violent trade Bodie has a heart and some standards.
  • Batter Up!: Bodie, along with Poot, organizes a posse in the Season 1 finale to defend the Pit as their territory against some upstarts. He, in particular, carries the bat.
  • Book Dumb: Bodie isn't very literate and his vocabulary is poor, but he's a deceptively intelligent and perceptive young man. He repeatedly outsmarts the police because they don't expect pushers to be smart, he's quick to pick up on new concepts, and he has deep insight into the cyclical nature of the game. The tragedy with Bodie is that if he'd had actual opportunities or at least not grown up in west Baltimore, he'd probably be in school studying law or sociology instead of busting his ass selling drugs for low pay.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Is the victim of this when he dies fighting against Marlo's enforcers.
  • Chess Motifs: In the third episode, Bodie and Wallace play checkers with a chess set. D'Angelo comes over and tries to teach them chess in terms of the drug trade and the characters, with plenty of subtext; the pawns are street dealers and muscle, the boss of the clan, Avon is the King and the all-powerful and flexible Stringer Bell is the Queen. Everyone stays the same, but all Bodie takes from the explanation is that very successful (read:smartass) pawns can “make it to the other end” and become queens in rare circumstances, or so he’d like to believe. As he later finds out, however, the game is rigged to keep pawns like him in place.
  • Childhood Friends: With Poot and Wallace. It's very clear the three of them go way back before getting in The Game, which makes it difficult for Bodie to reconcile Wallace's snitching or killing him per Stringer's orders.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Bodie's last stand is also fairly meaningful up until its seemingly anticlimactic end.
  • Decomposite Character: Based on the real life gangster Nathan 'Bodie' Barksdale, whose name the fictional Bodie uses, and Bodie reflects the real life Barksdale's early career. The real life Barksdale did rise to become a Kingpin, so his later career and days as a Kingpin are given to Avon.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Once he realizes Chris and Snoop are sneaking around his corner in a bid to kill him, he decides to go out fighting. What makes this notable is that up until then everyone who became a target for Chris and Snoop have just begged for mercy or tried to escape.
    Come on with it, motherfuckers! I don't give a fuck! I'm right here! You ain't putting me up in one of them empty-ass houses neither!
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Much to Rhonda's surprise, he successfully alleges "contrapment" in the aftermath of Hamsterdam. McNulty is amused by it and later hails him as "Mr. Entrapment".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's an unrepentant drug dealer willing to kill as part of his job, but even so he's disgusted by Marlo's callousness and brutality. When he sees the bodies of Marlo's victims being pulled out of the vacant houses, he just loses it.
    Bodie: FUCK Marlo, man, FUCK him! And anybody that thinks it's alright to do people this way!
  • Evil Virtues: Hardworking, honest, competent, (mostly, as he does have moments where he goes too far trying to please his bosses) and loyal.
  • Fatal Flaw: Thinking its cool to be a gangster.
  • Glory Days: Come the fourth season, with the Barksdale crew largely dismantled and Bodie now on his own as an independent dealer, it's clear that he misses the time when the Barksdales were dominant and he was part of the organization. He apparently reminisces about it often with his crew (once Poot gets out of jail they recognize him from Bodie's stories) and when Bodie discusses what he'd like to do with Marlo, we get this exchange between him and Slim Charles, who obviously isn't as nostalgic as Bodie:
    Bodie: Now I'm standing here like an asshole cause I got no muscle, no back-up... shit, man, if this was the old days...
    Slim Charles: Yeah, well, the thing about the old days... they the old days.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Or Playing Pool With The Police.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Beaten up and left by Herc and Carver, Bodie escapes from juvenile hall in suburban Baltimore by simply grabbing a mop bucket to pass the guard booth and then walking out the side door. And the disguise is not even tested as the guard is distracted chatting with a lady. Grabbing the mop may have been less about needing a disguise and more about wanting help standing after the vicious beating he had taken. He's next seen trying to hitch a ride 'right outside the prison'.
  • Hard Work Fallacy: Deconstructed. Bodie, a lowly soldier in The Game since childhood, figures that by doing everything he's told and working hard in the drug trade he can eventually advance beyond his station. By the later seasons, he's still in the same position if not worse off, having suffered several setbacks, including a hostile street takeover from Marlo and realizes that there's no real upward mobility in The Game.
    Bodie: We like them little bitches on the chess board.
    McNulty: Pawns.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Just when he appears ready to inform on and help bring down the Stanfield organization, he is spotted talking to McNulty by one of the gang's enforcers and murdered.
  • Heroic Heelization Speech: Rare anti-villainous example. Bodie's code dictates that snitching is one of the lowest things someone in The Game can do (having killed one of his childhood friends, Wallace, over this) and is disgusted by those who choose to do so rather than face blowback. However, once Marlo takes over his business and gradually shows a complete disregard for all of the rules Bodie lives by, as well as a disdain for any disposable soldier, Bodie decides he must compromise this particular rule to stop him, even if it means violating his own rules and getting put in the crossfire.
    Bodie: I ain't no snitch. I been doing this a long time, I ain't said nothing to no cop. ... But Marlo, this nigga and his kind, man... th-they got to fall. They got to.
    McNulty: Well, for that to happen, somebody's gotta step up.
    Bodie: [hesitates for a few seconds] I'll do what I gotta. I don't give a fuck. Just don't ask me to live on my fucking knees, you know?
  • Hidden Depths: Hidden from the police at least. Albeit powerless, he's not the average street airhead but a very reflective and thoughtful player, as Jimmy gets to learn.
  • History Repeats: Bodie's fate is quite reminiscent of Wallace's. He also becomes disillusioned by The Game's casual violence and decides to talk to the cops, only to be killed before he can cooperate.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: This is how he views the role he and Poot played in killing Wallace.
    Bodie: We had to do Wallace!
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: After a gang shootout, Bodie wipes fingerprints off the guns used, puts them in a backpack, and throws the backpack from a car into the river, where it lands on a barge and is turned over to the police. Cole and Norris later interrogate Bodie, produce the backpack and claim they found his fingerprints on one of the guns. Bodie calls their bluff and asks for a lawyer.
  • Jaded Washout: He's been in the game since he was 13 and eventually becomes worn-out by it. See his speech under Seen It All.
  • Last Stand: Bodie spots Chris and Snoop lurking around his corner late at night, and realizes that he must be a target for them to kill. Rather than try to run to safety he opts to stand and fight.
    Bodie: Yo, this my corner! I ain't running nowhere!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is his facial expression immediately after shooting Wallace. For all his bravado and tough talk, he's clearly shocked at what's he's done, although perhaps mostly because it was done to a friend, as he shows little hesitation to fight against rival gangsters. He's shown to still be deeply troubled by it years later.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Especially in the beginning. It took a personal police file and raiding of his grandma's house to find his name was Preston; even then, he's still called "Bodie" by most people.
  • Parental Abandonment: His mother died when he was 4, (at least according to his grandmother) and there's no sign of his father. It's likely that the closest thing he has to a father figure is Stringer, who encourages Bodie on several occasions, praises him when Bodie shows insight, and offers sage advice in an attempt to get Bodie to mature.
  • The Pawn: Like in a chessboard, he believes that being one of those competent "bald little bitches" will bring some rewards. He eventually realizes this is not the case.
  • Prophetic Name: Sadly, Bodie ends up as one of the bodies the Stanfield gang leave in their wake.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Although he's (initially) enamored by the ideal of the self-made gangster, Bodie is only in this line of work because it's the only thing that's available to him. His intelligence is tragically wasted on the tedious, dangerous work he does, and it's not even especially rewarding work at that.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Another character whose death scene becomes noticeably symbolic. Bodie, who had been explicitly compared to a pawn in chess, commits to his Last Stand by firing several diagonal shots at the oncoming Cris and Snoop while unbeknownst to him, O-Dog creeps out of an alley behind him and makes a sharp left turn to deliver two shots to Bodie's head not unlike the movement of a knight taking out a pawn in chess.
  • Seen It All: He's like this in regards to the drug game by the time Season 4 comes around, and is growing increasingly world weary and disillusioned with The Game.
    I've been doing this a long time. I feel old. I've been out there since I was 13, I ain't never fucked up a count, never stole off a package, never did some shit that I wasn't told to do. ... They want us to stand with them, right, but where the fuck they at when they supposed to be standing by us? I mean when shit goes bad, and there's hell to pay, where they at? This game is rigged, man.
  • Secret Test of Character: Following orders, Bodie and some other Mooks to Philadelphia have to pick up some drugs stashed in a parked car. Bodie, in particular, has to memorize the route and check his odometer down to the tenth of a mile. What Bodie doesn't know is that Stringer has a car following Bodie the whole time, and the route he picked goes right through a construction zone (necessitating a detour) just to see how Bodie would handle it.
  • Street Smart: Multiple examples. Hilarity Ensues when he sees right through Herc and Carver's (admittedly terrible) Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. He's also aware of the concept of entrapment, although not the actual term for it, and uses it to get himself off after being arrested at Hamsterdam.
  • Those Two Guys: With Poot.
  • Undying Loyalty: To his friends in the Barksdale crew and later the people who work for him when he becomes an independent dealer. When he grudgingly agrees to inform on the Stanfield gang, one of his conditions is that he will not say anything about anyone working for him or other former Barksdale Organization members, despite the fact that there are few of them left and those who are left didn't come to his aid when he needed it.

    Malik "Poot" Carr 
Played by: Tray Chaney

"World going one way, people another."

A drug dealer in the low rises who is obsessed with women — an obsession that results in many trips down to the clinic for treatments for various venereal diseases. He serves Bodie well when the latter is promoted, and stays loyal to him even after the disintegration of the Barksdale organization, up until the attack on their corner, when he flees for his life. We see him in the fifth season, having left the game, working in a shoe store.

  • Born Lucky: Poot survived multiple arrests and many brushes with death, and eventually became a Reformed Criminal.
  • The Casanova: Downplayed but constantly in the background save for Jimmy he seems to be the most successful with women in the series with Bodie describing him as a "Pussy crazed motherfucker."
  • Demoted to Extra: In season 5.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Poot escapes the game alive and free, but only after the deaths of many friends, a stay in prison, etc. Furthermore, he is the only member of the Barksdale Organization that gets an on-screen happy ending.
  • Get It Over With: A variation. Poot obviously didn't want anything to do with killing Wallace, while throughout the episode Bodie talks a big game about accepting it as Dirty Business that has to be done. When the time comes, however, Bodie hesitates and despite continuing to talk tough is having a hard time going through with the murder and has to repeatedly psych himself up to do it. When Bodie continues to hesitate, Poot finally snaps at him "Do it, goddamnit, if you gonna do it" which pushes Bodie over the edge and causes him to pull the trigger.
  • Heel–Face Turn: His leaving the game.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Even when it results in multiple STD infections.
    Poot: Yo, ain't no bad pussy, fool.
    Bodie: Yeah, that's what they keep telling your ass down at the clinic, man.
  • Karma Houdini: Arguably. Considering his part in Wallace's murder.
  • Mercy Kill: When Wallace is still alive after being shot by Bodie, Poot takes the gun from Bodie's hand (as Bodie is too stunned to do anything) and finishes poor Wallace off. Considering Wallace can be heard offscreen groaning in pain and struggling to breathe, it probably really was a mercy.
  • Playing Possum: In season 3 he survives a drive-by shooting by laying on the street in a pool of blood next to a dead man until the danger is gone.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He may be a drug dealer, but he never truly shows much in the way of villainous or malicious tendencies. It's pretty clear that he subscribes to the same school of thought that D'Angelo and Prop Joe do, which is essentially "buy for a dollar, sell for two, and leave the thug crap out of it."
  • Really Gets Around: Deconstructed when it leads to a lack of STD Immunity.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Poot doesn't call attention to it like Stringer but he has a good head on his shoulders. He repeatedly shows insight into the people around him and the drug trade, survives danger through quick thinking, and occasionally shows a philosophical side. He argues with Carver and Herc about the hypocrisy of older generations condemning younger ones for doing the same things they did, and talks with Bodie about Climate Change and people becoming more ruthless and unfeeling. Despite Stringer's insistence on holding him in contempt and calling him ignorant, Poot often showed more knowledge and insight than would be expected of a lowly street soldier.
  • STD Immunity: Averted. He has to be treated for STIs multiple times due to his many sexual partners.
  • Those Two Guys: With Bodie.


"Cuz' this shit. This is me, yo. Right here."

Drug dealer in the low rises. He takes care of the younger members of the drug crew he's not dealing. Leads Stringer Bell to Brandon, but feels guilty afterwards and starts doing drugs. He is arrested and agrees to inform; he is sent to his grandmother's for protection, but returns to Baltimore and is slain by Bodie and Poot.

  • Anti-Villain: Wallace was naive and had a good heart, but chose the life of crime in the end. Too bad the higher ups stopped trusting him.
  • The Bus Came Back: Wallace couldn't adjust to country life and came back. He even rode a bus to do so.
  • Chronic Villainy: Wallace couldn't stay away from the game and choose to embrace it, but it was too late by then.
  • Free-Range Children: He takes care of several younger children who live in the Towers with him. This makes his death even more heartbreaking.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: At first, but he eventually got over being involved in Brandon's death.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Wallace was very intelligent but he felt he didn't have it in him to go straight.
  • Idiot Ball: It's really pretty stupid of him to return to the Towers after talking to the police about Brandon's murder, but it's justified given that he's a lonely kid and very naive about the true nature of "the game".
  • Like A Little Brother To Me: D'Angelo takes Wallace under his wing and seems to regard the young boy as something like a baby brother. As a result D'Angelo takes it very hard when Wallace is killed.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he informed Stringer Bell about Brandon's location he wasn't aware that Brandon would be brutally tortured to death. He feels so guilty about it that he must resort to taking drugs in order to cope.
  • One Name Only
  • Parental Abandonment: His alcoholic mother doesn't know where he is, and doesn't even care.
  • Resigned to the Call: Wallace was going to fully embrace The Game as his life.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: His main purpose as a character is to provide an early example of how the drug trade chews up and destroys innocent young lives.
  • Token Good Teammate: Deconstructed.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Had a chance to get out of the streets and live a normal life with his Grandparents in another state after talking to the police. However, he goes back to the "corners" because he missed his two friends. They end up killing him.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He has a very naive view of both friendship and the nature of the drug trade. He pays for it.

    Marquis "Bird" Hilton 
Played by: Fredro Starr

"Tell you what, bitch. Gimme this hand back, step to me, and I'll fuck you in all three holes!"

An especially foul-mouthed and vicious soldier in the Barksdale crew, he is responsible for the murder of William Gant, the State's Witness who testified against D'Angelo in episode 1, and played a large role in the torture and murder of Omar's lover Brandon. Those two acts come back to haunt him, as it makes him a major target of the police and makes Omar willing to cooperate with the cops and testify against Bird in court.

  • Asshole Victim: See Police Brutality Gambit below. Yes, it's completely unethical to beat the shit out of someone that is in one of your holding cells, but there's not a soul on this planet that would argue he didn't deserve it.
  • Cop Killer: Downplayed in that he's never killed any cops but as Omar points out, is more than willing to throw down in a fight with the police which is why Freamon employs Grievous Bottley Harm.
  • The Brute: Less competent than Wee Bey who's a Dragon to Stringer, so Bird is another Barksdale example of this trope.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: McNulty and Bunk put Omar on the witness stand, knowing that Omar will perjure himself to convict Bird in retaliation for Bird's torture of Omar's boyfriend. Things is, despite Omar lying about witnessing it, Bird really did do the crime he's accused of. Amusingly enough, everyone on both sides of the case knows Omar is lying - everyone except the jury.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Lester Freamon subdues him by striking a bottle over his head, as the MCU knows from Omar's information that Bird won't go down without a fight.
  • Jerkass: Spouts Country Matters and many other slurs, several times at Kima and the other detectives while in the Homicide interview room. He's so offensive and obnoxious that even Daniels joins in on giving him a beatdown.
    Omar: Man, Bird really know how to bring it out in people...
  • Police Brutality Gambit: Played with. When Bird is arrested, Jay Landsman snaps a Polaroid of the injuries Bird sustained during his arrest, so he can't claim they were inflicted in custody. He is so vulgar to the interrogators, though, that Daniels ceremoniously tears up the Polaroid before he, Landsman and Greggs give Bird a three man beatdown.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Aims a whole slew of homophobic insults against Kima, and a few against Omar.
  • Put on a Bus: Life imprisonment without parole.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Even by the standards of this show Bird's choice of language stands out.
  • Stupid Crooks: Not the brightest star in the firmament. He violates many of Avon's rules that are designed to make it more difficult for the police to catch you. This includes using the Barksdale Organization's own drug product, and reusing the same weapon from kill to kill because he's fond of it.

    Anton "Stinkum" Artis 
Played by: Brandon Price

A lieutenant and enforcer in the Barksdale crew. He is about to be promoted within the Organization and earn a greater share of the group's profits when he is ambushed and gunned down by Omar, who is seeking revenge for Brandon's torture and death.

  • Butt-Monkey: To an extent where you have to question why he is held in such high regard by the Barksdale organization. 1.) Gets robbed and beat up by Omar without so much as a fight. 2.) Loses an entire drug shipment after a police chase when he could have easily just sent the mook in the passenger seat to run with an empty bag to use as a decoy while he got away with the REAL drugs. 3) Gets chastised by Stringer for using the phone. 4.) Gets ambushed and killed by Omar before even knowing what hit him.
  • Informed Ability: While he doesn't get the chance to show much of it, Stringer misses him later and considers him quality muscle, on par with Wee-Bey or Bird. What we do see is him being easily bashed in the nose by Omar and his associates and later being straight up shot when waiting to attack Scar.
  • Never My Fault: Tells Wee-Bey about D'angelo getting him to guard the stash which leads to Wee-Bey hounding D for his supposed incompetence, never mind that if Stinkum was actually a better muscleman Omar wouldn't have took the stash in the first place.
  • Rank Up: He was about to receive a significant one within the Organization when Omar killed him.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Has no on screen actions besides participating in some meetings with the Barksdale bosses and lieutenants before becoming a victim of Omar's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

    Wintell "Little Man" Royce
Played by: Micaiah Jones

A soldier of the Barksdale organization. He acts impulsively and shoots Kima Greggs during a sting operation. The price for his impulsiveness and bad judgement is being killed off by the Barksdales.

  • Ironic Nickname: Anything but little. He's very heavy.
  • Killed Offscreen
  • Small Role, Big Impact: A minor background enforcer. His shooting of a police officer becomes a very serious, game-changing event; the police brass feel that they should respond in force and the Barksdale investigation suffers from it, as Daniels' detail has to hit the main stash prematurely, forcing B&B to change up and adapt. Stringer eventually gets away after the reorganization.
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • In a display of poor judgement, he shoots Kima without the approval of Wee-Bey just because he's surprised by her presence.
    • He also threw away a soda can with his DNA proving he's one of the shooters.
  • Trigger Happy: Which leads to his demise.
  • You Have Failed Me: Killed by his bosses after proving to be an unreliable weak link.


    "Slim" Charles 

    Dennis "Cutty" Wise 

    Sapper and Gerard
Sapper (left) and Gerard (right).
Sapper Played by: Brandan T. Tate
Gerard Played by: Mayo Best

"...Like a forty-degree day!"

A couple of moronic young enforcers. Gerard is slightly more competent than Sapper, which is not saying much.

  • Butt-Monkey: Sapper is always being chastised by superiors and coworkers, for very good reasons.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During Stringer's famous "40 degree day" speech, he becomes convinced that Stringer genuinely means that a 40 degree day is a good thing, which provokes a Face Palm from Stringer.
  • Put on a Bus: Jailed along with their bosses at the end of Season 3.
  • Running Gag: Sapper claiming he hit Omar and being told that he hit nobody.
  • Stupid Crooks: The stupidest members of the organization. Both snort cocaine despite Avon prohibiting its use. Sapper is especially low on the IQ scale, with even Gerard being blown away by his stupidity at times.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: They are always found together.

Played by: Addison Switzer

"We should wait for the call."

A Barksdale soldier on parole who returns to work for the organization in Season 2.

  • Chronic Villainy: Can't stay out of the game even after jail.
    Avon: Country? How long he been home?
    String: A month. Still on parole. He's "Fuck that!". Back in the mix!
  • Extreme Doormat: The Only Sane Man but also has no backbone.
  • Famous Last Words: "What the fuck?"
  • Old Soldier: Is noticeably older than many of his comrades and is mentioned by Stringer to have recently got out of prison.
  • Only Sane Man: Of the newer Barksdale footsoldiers he is the only one that shows much aptitude and during a drive by argues that they should stick to the plan and wait for Slim's signal. Unfortunately he is outvoted by idiots and is killed in the failed attempt.

Played by: Melvin Jackson, Jr.

"I can't wait to go to jail"

A lowly member of the Barksdale organization tasked with buying disposable mobile phones used by the entire organization every two weeks.

  • Henpecked Husband: A boyfriend variant. Bossed around most of the time by his annoying girlfriend "Squeak", to the point that he can't wait to go to jail to get away from her.
  • Spanner in the Works: Stringer carefully insists that Bernard buy a maximum of two phones from any one outlet. Once Shamrock takes over, he stops checking up, and Bernard, nagged by his girlfriend, begins to buy phones in bulk from Lester Freamon.


''"There go that motherfucker Nay-Nay, man!"

An obese enforcer and driver.

  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Got himself and Country killed because he didn't wait for Cutty and Slim before attacking
  • Boom, Headshot!: A victim of this after messing up a driveby.
  • Glory Seeker: Didn't like feeling "like some decoy" while Cutty and Slim do the legwork.
  • Jerkass: Freely questioned his superiors and didn't follow orders.


    Wendell "Orlando" Blocker
Played by: Clayton LeBouef

A front man for the Barksdale Organization, manager of the eponymous strip club Orlando's.

  • Boxed Crook: After he's arrested, he has to play a key role in a sting operation. It goes awry.
  • Fatal Flaw: Orlando was a Horrible Judge of Character. First he trusted an undercover posing as a dealer then he told Dee who he seemed to have forgot is Avon's nephew.
  • Spanner in the Works: As a figurehead, all he has to do is keeping a clean record. He starts derailing the organization when he begins to deal drugs on his own and gets busted by the cops.

Played by: Shamyl Brown

Girlfriend of D'Angelo Barksdale and the mother of his son.

Played by: Mia Chambers

"You must be the stupidest motherfucker I ever went out with!"

Bernard's girlfriend.

  • Formerly Fat: Bubbles remembered she weighed a lot more last time he saw her.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: She accidentally brings down the Barksdale gang first by convincing Bernard to just buy dozens of cellphones from the same store then hooking him up with an undercover Freamon who tapped all the phones.

Played by: Tiara Harris

A young woman used by the Barksdale Organisation as bait for Marlo Stanfield.

  • Boom, Headshot!: Marlo shoots her once in each breast, then point-blank in her mouth.
  • Character Death: Devonne is the only murder (onscreen at least) that Marlo personally commits rather than have Chris carry it out (even though Chris was with Marlo at the time).
  • Honey Trap: Invoked by Avon to lure Marlo, but Stanfield is too savvy and sees it coming.
  • Villainous Friendship: It's implied B&B and her go way back.

    De'londa Brice
"What niggas call a dragon lady."

Wee-Bey's wife and mother of Namond. Forces her son to become a drug dealer after no longer getting any money from the Barksdale Crew.


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