Played by: Wood Harris

As the leader of a criminal drug empire in West Baltimore, Avon Barksdale was one of the single most powerful men in the state. At its best, his organization ran like a finely tuned machine, with Barksdale safely isolated from the drugs, virtually anonymous and like a ghostly street legend. Although he kept a low profile, he also made sure that no one ever tried to impede on his turf or power. He did this through violence and intimidation that knew no bounds or sense of morality. Simply put, Avon was a scary man with more power and backup than anyone should ever have.

His most memorable move was surrendering his second-in-command, Stringer Bell, to gunmen with a grudge after he discovered that his partner, who was attempting to go completely legit, had, without consultation or authorization, arranged the prison murder of Barksdale's nephew to ensure his silence and protect the organization.