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Characters / The Wire - New Day Co-Op

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The New Day Co-Op is a syndicate of Baltimore's remaining drug lords formed at end of season 2 to fill the void left by Avon Barksdale's incarceration.


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    Joseph "Proposition Joe" Stewart 
Played by: Robert F. Chew
"A proposition might fall kindly on your ear."

Wanna know what kills more police than bullets and liquor? Boredom. They just can't handle that shit. You keep it boring, String. You keep it dead fucking boring.

East-side drug kingpin. Has a mellow temperament. Dislikes common squabbling and turf wars (and the ensuing police attention), preferring instead to arrange alliances and cut deals between rival gangs. His group is the first to fill the vacuum left by the disruption of the Barksdale Organization in Season 2, chipping away at their territory and influence. An alliance between the two groups, the New Day Co-Op, is eventually formed. He keeps Stringer Bell powerless and under his control, but he can't contain the ascendant Marlo Stanfield, nor his mercenary-in-all-but-name, Omar Little. He is murdered by Chris Partlow as he is packing his bags to flee Baltimore.

  • Affably Evil: Joe is quite friendly and cordial as long as you don't interfere with his business. In that case he'll play up his Faux Affably Evil side, as his bark is worse than his bite.
    [To Omar]: Don't believe we've met ; Proposition Joe. You ever steal from me, I'll kill your whole family.
    [To Nicky]: Fool, if it wasn't for Sergei here, you and your cuz both would be cadaverous motherfuckers.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Batman Gambit: To try and persuade Marlo of the security benefits of the Co-Op, he has Omar rob the poker game Marlo attends to show Marlo how he needs the extra security. This backfires by setting in motion a chain of events leading to Joe's downfall and death.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: He goes through three different accents as he calls the BPD and gets transferred multiple times while trying to gather information on Herc..
  • Catchphrase: "I've got a proposition for you."
  • The Chessmaster: Joe is always engineering conflicts and events that are favorable to him, at least in the short run.
  • Deal with the Devil: Faced with an incursion of New York drug dealers into the East Side in Season 4, he turns to Marlo to get rid of them. This does not end well.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • He is betrayed by Cheese, his ambitious nephew. Ironically, the first step in a chain of events that led to Joe's death, (Joe revealing his connection with the Greek) was done by Joe in order to prove Cheese's innocence and probably save Cheese's life when Marlo was insisting on questioning Cheese after Omar stole the entire drug shipment.
    • Evoked quite literally during his demise.
      Joe: I treated you like a son.
      Marlo: I wasn't made to play the son.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: The first to profit from the decay of the Barksdale Organization, but he's not powerful enough to fill that vacuum alone and seeks the help of Stanfield.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Marlo and Chris, his prophet of Death, come without knocking, Joe doesn't panic and tries to cut his way out of the situation with a deal, as usual. When Marlo refuses any compromise, Joe accepts his fate, closes his eyes and faces the inevitable. The viewer hears Proposition Joe getting shot, but does not actually see the death. On the DVD commentary, Ed Burns confirms they wanted Marlo to grant Proposition Joe's death more dignity than his other victims.
  • Foil: To Stringer. Both are pragmatic businessmen, but while Stringer wants to be sophisticated and to rise above a life in the underworld, Joe is his own boss, is happy with being a simple druglord, is content to work and use a dingy appliance store as his headquarters and has no desire for legitimacy.
  • Hustler:
    • He outsmarts and cons Avon in a basketball game by withholding his best assets until a bet has been raised high enough.
    • Season 5 DVD extras show he was a High School Hustler back in the day, he would sell test answers to his classmates, then when they underpaid him and threatened him, he sold the teacher information about who would be cheating on the test! Clearly, not much has changed in the years since.
  • Internal Reformist: Co-founder and chairman of the "New Day Co-Op", an organization that aims to reform the drug trade in Baltimore by reducing violence and increasing cooperation among the various drug lords and gangs.
    Got to say I'm proud of y'all for putting aside petty grievances. For a coldass crew of gangsters you carried it like Republicans and shit.
  • Large and in Charge: He's an obese man (probably the heaviest player in the game that is seen) who controls his own drug empire.
  • Mentor: He schools the unsophisticated Marlo in the ways of "the game". It backfires, leading to Marlo to hit Joe with You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and Mentor Occupational Hazard.
  • Nepotism: He suffers from it, Cheese being a major, but not the worst, example. His organization is not depicted in much detail but it is suggested he suffers from being Surrounded by Idiots.
    I got motherfucking nephews and in-laws fucking all my shit up all the time, and it ain't like I can pop a cap in their ass and not hear about it Thanksgiving day. For real, I'm livin' life with some burdensome niggas.
  • Noble Demon: One of the most relatively innocuous drug lords out there, his pragmatic villainy makes him quite reasonable and sensible. "Buy for a dollar, sell for two", everything else attached to the drug trade is just unwanted bad business.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Joe knows as well as anyone that 1) the police are much more interested in violence and bodies than they are in non-violent drug traffic, and 2) that he doesn't have the muscle to rule the drug trade by force, the way that West Baltimore players like Avon and Marlo aspire to. He solves these two problems by keeping violence in check to keep the police at bay, (see his speech to Stringer about how police can't handle boredom) and developing a cooperative system in the form of the New Day Co-op that allows him to be one of the most powerful drug kingpins in Baltimore without requiring any violence.
  • Pet the Dog: Business and numbers aside, there's plenty of humanity below his Pragmatic Villainy, and Joe's decency is demonstrated often, right up to his final scene, wherein he tells Cheese (who is under suspicion but unbeknownst to the viewer and to Joe has just betrayed his uncle) to be extra careful because Omar is out there hunting. Another example is his genuine sadness and funeral arrangements for Butchie, regarded highly by Joe as an old-school peer. Joe is also very sympathetic to the Barksdales for their loss during D'Angelo's funeral (even half-apologizing for talking shop with Stringer when it ends).
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He prefers to avoid violence and confrontation when he can, as it's bad for business. Unfortunately for him, he's not able to convert his protege Marlo Stanfield to this viewpoint.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Nothing too bad, but Joe certainly has a way with words that sticks out in the social circles of the underworld; he's not laconic and likes his circumlocutions.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Joe is very clever and his need for glasses reflects this.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: He frequently speaks like this.
  • The Svengali: For pragmatic reasons, he tries to control and mentor Marlo Stanfield in a manipulative/deceptive but not entirely selfish way, with unexpected results for Joe... "It ain't easy, civilizin' this motherfucker."
  • Thicker Than Water: Notes how he has to put up with idiotic family members in his organization, because he obviously can't "fire" them and expect not to hear about it at the next Thanksgiving gathering.
  • Team Switzerland: Mediates between Omar and the Barksdales, "doing like one of them marriage counselors". Joe also offers to arrange some parlay with Marlo, but Stanfield is not the talking type.

    Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff 
Played by: Method Man
"Where my cheese at?"

There ain't no back in the day, nigga. Ain't no nostalgia to this shit here. There's just the street, and the game, and what happen here, today.

Co-op lieutenant. Has gotten to where he is by virtue of being Proposition Joe's nephew, though Cheese's mercenary nature overrides any blood loyalty he might have to Joe. He defects to Stanfield's crew after selling out both Omar Little and Proposition Joe, and is later murdered by Slim Charles. Word of God is that he is Randy Wagstaff's biological father, though the two never come in contact with each other.

  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Hilariously, when Slim Charles plugs him, the only person who complains at all is Shorty, telling Slim that he just cost them money.
  • Ambition Is Evil: More greedy than power hungry, but still a factor in his villainy.
  • Asshole Victim: After Slim Charles kills him, the various drug lords and such can be heard saying things like "Motherfucka had it coming" in the background.
  • Bloody Hilarious: His last scene is something to behold. Twitching and everything.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Comically provides the Head when he's executed by Slim after Cheese reveals his treacherous nature.
  • Butt-Monkey: Very unlucky, he gets owned at least once per season. Played for laughs.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Sure, Cheese, tell Brother Mouzone to his face that his mom needs to stop laying his clothes out every morning.
  • The Chew Toy: Cheese pretty much exists for the smarter and more sympathetic characters to kick around like a football. Not that he doesn't deserve it.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Tries to dress it as I Fight for the Strongest Side; when it was his uncle, he was with his uncle, and when it was Marlo, he was with him.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: He does a fairly uninspired one when Omar comes back to Prop Joe's shop offering to sell them back the shipment at 20 cents on the dollar.
    Nigga, I'm gonna kill you twice!
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments. When being questioned following the death of his dawg he starts throwing snark at Bunk, and he even got off a quip at the expense of Marlo and company.
    Cheese: [Sees the rigid discipline and silence of the Stanfield Organization] Y'all some Semper Fi motherfuckers aren't ya? Where Cheese go to enlist?
  • Disappeared Dad: Word of God says he's Randy's father, yet he doesn't come into contact with him. We can assume he ran out on him, or he doesn't know about his existence. Either way, he won't be getting a Father of the Year mug.
  • Disappointed in You: Upon learning of Cheese's betrayal, Joe simply states that the "boy was always a disappointment."
  • Dumb Muscle: He's not very sharp and his uncle has to school him several times. Cheese is certainly very violent, impatient and disloyal.
  • Evil Counterpart: Like D'Angelo, Cheese was also a drug lord's nephew. While Dee had a conscience that made him loathe "the game", Cheese was a selfish and ambitious traitor who was willing to backstab anyone if it meant he would climb the ranks.
  • Evil Is Petty: Shoots his dog (though he regrets it later) because he thought it "punked" him.
  • Hate Sink: Cheese is one of the few almost totally unsympathetic people in the entire series, with a lethal combination of being obnoxious,rude, disloyal, and stupid. Even in universe, nobody sheds a tear when Slim Charles blows his face off. The comicalness around him might be the only thing that occasionally stops him from being completely despicable.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • The fact that he can pitch in almost a million dollars with no problem indicates that he has some financial responsibility or assets. It's even more surprising given that Joe fully expects him to fall into Suspicious Spending in case Cheese was the one who sold out Butchie, for which he got 50k dollars.
    • He shows some feelings and intelligence under questioning -despite being hurt- during the incident with his "dawg".
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Proposition Joe is obviously trying to groom him for a leadership position, but while Cheese definitely has the drive, he is nowhere close to having the brains for it.
  • Jerkass: Cheese is hostile and unfriendly by default.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Before moronically revealing his treachery, he takes his gun out, makes a good case against nostalgia and shames the other druglords for lacking enough cash despite dealing in a captive market. "We're selling coke and dope in B-more. Any of y'all ain't got that kind of money need to be ashamed. [...] There ain't no back in the day! There ain't no nostalgia to this shit here."
    • He also instantly recognizes that allowing Marlo to meet with the Greeks, whose pure Afghan heroine is the source of Prop Joe's market power, is an enormous risk.
  • Karmic Death: Holds the dubious honor of last death in the series, unceremoniously shot in the face by Slim Charles in the middle of an ego-stroking speech.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: By Slim, after denouncing Joe and Marlo.
    When it was Joe. I was with Joe. When it was Marlo's time, short as it was. I was with him. But NOW nigga-
  • Laughably Evil: Has plenty of funny moments and remarks, and as a result despite his surliness and violent attitude he's usually more amusing than dangerous.
    Y'all some Semper Fi motherfuckers, ain't you? Where Cheese go to enlist?
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Close to become the head of the Co-op, Slim puts and end to his stint before it starts... short as it was.
  • Nepotism: Coattail riding nephew of Prop. Joe.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff is defined by his ambition and his utter lack of loyalty to anyone. Cheese starts out as an enforcer and lieutenant of his uncle, the notorious drug kingpin "Proposition Joe." When Marlo Stanfield begins his rise to power, Cheese promptly aligns with him for a bigger slice of the pie and betrays his uncle. When Marlo is no longer in the picture, Cheese tries to seize control of the loose alliance of drug dealers, basically admitting his shifting loyalties and opportunism in front of them.
  • Pet the Dog: A literal example with his "dawg", followed by Shoot the Dog. The confusion actually blows the wire in Season 3, as the police tip their hand to Prop. Joe.
  • Red Oni: To Joe's blue. Cheese is very impulsive and has to be moderated by his uncle all the time.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Gets executed in the middle of a speech by Slim.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Explicitly tells Mouzone that his name rings around like Avon Barksdale's. Yeah, Cheese, sure it does.
  • Smug Snake: Not a single season goes by without him being completely owned by someone.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Provides one of the more memorable examples: "He had this one ho pulling guns out her pussy! Shit was unseemly, man."
  • The Starscream: Betrays his uncle and gets a big share of the cake left by his vacuum.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: So quick audience members can be forgiven for missing it on the first watch. "When it was Marlo's time, short as it was. I was with him. But NOW nigga-" BLAM. Cheese's application now accepted for Swiss citizenship.
  • Third-Person Person: Cheese indulges in this from time to time.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A massive case of Small Name, Big Ego who thought it would be a good idea to mock Slim Charles' boss in front of him. Fittingly, no one is much surprised or upset when he gets blasted.
  • Undignified Death: To whit: Killed Midsentence and left to rot on the ground. The only person who even seems remotely upset (or surprised) is Shorty, who exclaims (referring to Slim Charles) "This sentimental motherfucker just cost us money!"


No, no, the other thing, the good good, the other thing my nigga... cocaine nigga you feel me now?! Goddamn, are you ignorant?

Another of Prop Joe's nephews, and a horrifically incompetent dealer. He speaks so openly about drugs on the phone that the Major Crimes Unit contemplates engineering him getting a promotion in the hopes that his Loose Lips would give them a way to bring down Joe's organization. Unfortunately, Joe was far too cunning for that one.

  • Nepotism: Subverted. Joe may be forced to support his family more than he'd like, but apparently there are limits, and he's not promoting an idiot like Drac to a position of power.
  • Not So Different: Daniels casually evokes his case as an analogy for dysfunction, which the Commissioner finds funny.
    Burrell: What makes you think they'll promote the wrong man?
    Daniels: We do it all the time. (Beat, then Burrell bursts out laughing)
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Completely incapable of talking in code.
  • Rank Up: Lester comes up with the idea that they bust someone above Drac, so that Drac gets promoted and gives them a way to crack the organization.
    Kima: Our last best hope.
    Lester: Talkingest motherfucker I ever heard on a wiretap. Listen.
  • Stupid Crooks: Doesn't even speak in drug lingo.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Listening to him makes it easy to understand Joe's frustration with his relatives. Only the fact that he's too low ranking in Joe's organization to be worth the cops' time saves him.

    "Slim Charles" 
Played by: Anwan Glover
"Game the same. Just got more fierce"

The thing about the old days is they the old days.

Soldier for the Barksdale Organization who rose through the ranks when the group was disintegrating. A friend of Cutty, and respectful of his decision to leave the game. He manages to evade capture when the rest of the Barksdale Organization is raided at the end of Season 3, and goes on to join the New Day Co-Op, becoming a trusted member. When Marlo Stanfield takes over the Co-Op, he is a dissenting voice. Eventually he learns that Cheese betrayed Prop Joe to Marlo and kills Cheese. Clips from the end of the series hint that he is now one of the top ranking members of the Co-op.

  • Badass in Charge: Head of Barksdale muscle in Season 3. He and his crew are able to repel Omar from a stash house. The second Wire character after Wee-Bey to get the better of Omar in a confrontation.
  • The Brute: Takes over from Wee-Bey as this role, head of muscle and Co-Dragon to String.
  • Boom, Headshot!: "That was for Joe."
  • Dragon Ascendant: Goes from hired gun to virtually leading the Co-Op.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Just about one of the few street level dudes in the series to end the series in a better place than he started, alive, in charge, out of prison, and having avenged Joe's death. Slim is the rare pawn who crossed the chessboard and became a queen.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: He has a unique, gravelly voice that helps mark him out. Played with in that while he can be ruthless in committing gangland hits, he is otherwise one of the least evil people involved in the drug trade. During the course of the show he regularly shows a number of Evil Virtues, makes it clear that he has a code of honor and loyalty, and simply shows genuine humanity in sometimes unexpected ways.
  • Evil Virtues: Pretty much all of them, which might explain why his position seems to get better and better with each season.
  • Foil:
    • To Cheese. They are both high-ranking lieutenants of the game, but while Slim is loyal, friendly, competent and reflective, Cheese is a polar opposite.
    • Physically to Proposition Joe. They are often referred to as "tall-man" and "fat-man". In a nonphysical sense, Joe is a clever hustler who relies on schemes and leads his own drug empire, while Slim is straightforward, blunt, and prefers to be the Number Two rather than the leader at the top of an organization.
    • Ultimately he is this to Stringer Bell. Stringer is a Smug Snake who constantly overestimates himself, stabs other people in the back and overall has an unrealistic view of the game. Slim is realistic about what he is (and is not) capable of, remains loyal to his superiors and is completely aware of what the game is about.
  • Honest Advisor: Questions Avon's decision to take on Marlo and Omar at the same time and voices his objection to Stringer regarding the Clay Davis task.
    Murder ain't no thing, but this here is some assassination shit!
  • Honor Among Thieves: He is absolutely outraged at two of his subordinates for violating the traditional Sunday Truce when they try to kill Omar. Later on when Omar ambushes him, Slim mentions he would have helped Omar if Prop. Joe were involved in Butchie's fate. Omar implicitly acknowledges and spares him.
  • Honor Before Reason: As Shorty points out, killing Cheese falls into this, especially since it cost the Co-op the $900,000 he was going to pitch in.
    Shorty: This sentimental motherfucker just cost us money.
  • Large and in Charge: Very tall and high-ranked member in Avon's and Joe's organizations, to the point of being referred to as "tall man". A straighter example in the finale.
  • The Mentor: Sympathizes with Bodie and tries to ease his transition into Marlo's new era, for Bodie's own good. Bodie brushes Slim off.
  • Mook Promotion: In line with the chess analogy of the show, he is the rare pawn who eventually becomes a queen.
  • Motivational Lie: After Stringer is killed and the Stanfield gang falsely take credit for it, he encourages the low ranking soldiers to blame the Stanfield organization even after Avon enlightens him as to the truth.
    Don't matter who did what to who at this point. Fact is, we went to war, and now there ain't no going back. I mean, shit, it's what war is, you know? Once you in it, you in it. If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight.
  • Nerves of Steel: Willing to tell Omar, aka the scariest man in Baltimore, "Do what you feel", when Omar's got him on his knees at gunpoint.
  • Noble Demon: There are times where it's easy to forget who he's working with.
  • Not Afraid to Die: When Omar gets the drop on him, Slim tells Omar to skip past the talking and "Do what you feel".
  • Number Two: First to Avon and Stringer, then to Prop Joe.
  • Refusal of the Call: After dissolving the Co-Op, Marlo offers Charles to be the new number two of Baltimore and control of the Eastside, but Slim has reasons to distrust him and passes on the opportunity.
    Meaning no disrespect, but I ain't cut out to be no CEO.
  • The Reliable One: Highly competent, adaptive and loyal. Slim is a man who owns up to mistakes, listens to the authority figures that employ him but also brings his own voice. He's confident, offers sound advice when necessary, does not buckle under pressure, is a pillar of strength to others, has integrity, learns from events and stays loyal to his bosses.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Never seen before Season 3, despite being one of Avon and Stringer's top lieutenants. When he first shows up in the Season 3 opener, everyone in the gang knows who he is.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Shoots Cheese right in the middle of a speech and takes control of the Co-op.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: An interesting example. Not so much in the traditional vocabulary sense, but he speaks in heavy street slang. Even more so than all the other street charactors in the show. To the point where the average middle class surburbanite viewer may need to have the Urban Dictionary handy to follow his dialogue.
  • Street Smart: Knows his place in the game and is way more intelligent than the average muscle, sometimes on par with the smartest druglords. He finds valid holes in Stringer's market strategy, points out killing a Senator is a whole new game and immediately recognizes "Marlo's up to some shit" and warns Prop Joe about it. Charles is imminently aware that younger, fringe dealers will see Stringer and Joe's peaceful approach as a mark of weakness. When Avon admits that their cause to start a war with Marlo is unfounded, Charles answers that the justification is beside the point at that stage. In the end Charles doesn't step up to claim sole representation to the Greeks and teams with Fat Face Rick as co-representative.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Much like Stringer, he feels this way thanks to less than competent members of the Barksdale gang like Sapper and Gerard.
    As usual man, y'all fools are missing my point.
  • Undying Loyalty: Unflinchingly tells Omar to "do what you feel" when Omar is interrogating him about Joe at gunpoint, and doesn't hesitate to blast Cheese in the face for mocking Joe's memory.
  • Villainous Friendship: Slim develops an implicit comradeship and mutual respect with Prop. Joe, to the point that Slim doesn't hesitate to avenge Joe in the finale.
  • Worthy Opponent: With Omar, who spares his life when Slim refuses to betray Joe and all but dares Omar to blast him.

    Ricardo "Fat-Face Rick" Hendrix
"Motherfucker who got the connect, he the one that did Joe"
Played by: Troj Marquis Strickland.

Shit, nigga, we was good when your uncle had it. You had to go ahead and put up with Marlo...

Drug lord from Veronica Avenue, on the East Side of Baltimore. Founding member of the New Day Co-Op, he becomes a co-representative in the finale.

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Off-screen. Omar mentions that when he robbed Rick, Rick fell down on his knees and wept like a little baby. On-screen, Rick takes a more dignified stand later when he's confronted by Omar and Cheese.
  • Cigar Chomper: Usually seen smoking a cigar.
  • Large and in Charge: An independent boss at first and finally co-leader of the co-op. Very bulky, he looks like the Shaquille O'Neal of drug dealers.
  • Real Estate Scam: Makes the local news when it's exposed that the city council is going to relocate him to redevelop the land where his club stands. He's being offered more than what his club is worth and a better council owned property elsewhere, so he will net a million dollars for moving. Not by coincidence, Rick has a history of campaign donations.
  • Smarter Than You Look: He's no fool, he knows the nature of The Game inside and out and isn't fooled at all by the attempts of Marlo and Cheese to blame Omar for the deaths of Prop Joe and Hungry Man.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Not very comfortable with parliamentary procedure, but still tries to abide by it.
    "Uh, point of order and shit."

    Nathaniel "Hungry Man" Manns
Played by: Duane Chandler Rawlings

Marlo, man, you're a little out of order here.

Older East Side drug kingpin and charter member of the New Day Co-Op.

  • Bring My Brown Pants: After Chris and Snoop abduct him in order to deliver him to Cheese.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: His criticism of Marlo and brushes with Cheese over territory leads to Cheese's treachery, the demise of Joe and eventually to the dethroning of Marlo himself.

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