Played by: Idris Elba

Stringer Bell is one of the most complex characters on this list. The second in command in childhood friend Avon Barksdale's West Baltimore drug empire, he was more businessman than thug, but nonetheless capable of ruthlessness and violence whenever someone threatened their operation.

Bell took economics courses at community college, lived in a book-filled high rise apartment far removed from the streets, and attempted to shift the organization into legitimacy, but he was also the man who oversaw torture and interrogation and secretly ordered the murder of his partner's imprisoned nephew to prevent him from ratting. In the end, the incompatibility of his street reality and society leanings led to his bloody assassination. You truly cannot be half a gangster.