The criminals of Boardwalk Empire aren’t just thugs, they are criminal masterminds – and these ten are the smartest of them all.
Boardwalk Empire is one of the best dramas of all time and sometimes, it’s baffling to see how underrated the series actually is. It was released at a time when HBO was producing quality content for fun and it seems, the show went under the radar because of the quality of the other HBO Originals.
Nevertheless, Boardwalk Empire had five good seasons that saw an enormous number of characters being introduced, most of them being mobsters across the United States. While some left an unforgettable impact on the fans, some managed to exceed expectations after being introduced as side characters. Here are the ten most intelligent criminals in the series.
While Gyp Rosetti gave Nucky a run for his money, it has to be said that he acted more on instinct rather than drawing up a precise plan. He was all heart, wasn’t he? And, in the end, that is exactly what cost him because he could’ve seen Nucky’s play once the latter’s back was against the wall. Gyp was a fascinating character, though, just because he used to take everything personally and it was hilarious to see him react to something normally, at times.
One of the biggest criminals in Chicago, Johnny Torrio was a really smart man, who knew exactly when to step up and when to hold back. His right-hand man, Al Capone, helped him a lot but Torrio is the one who called the shots before being bullied out of his position by someone. Johnny took pride in what he did and in the fifth season, he was the brains behind the rise of Meyer Lansky and Charlie Luciano.
Charlie Luciano used his heart more often than his brain and because he had Meyer Lansky by his side, he lasted longer in the game. The way he behaved, disrespecting everyone at every chance he gets, there’s no way he wouldn’t have been a target for more than one mobster.
Again, Al Capone is another character who acted on instinct more often than not, and towards the end of the series, that came back to bite him. He never trusted someone unless the said person was willing to sacrifice his life for him and that is not a good way of operating in his business. Still, Capone made his way to the very top by instilling fear among the people who served him and although he lost a few people along the way, Capone always knew about the consequences.
The Commodore is a strange one, actually. The thing about him was that he was a terrible human being, who only ever cared about himself while destroying other people’s lives. But, when it came to the crime business, he was a natural at it. He is the one who built Atlantic City from scratch and it’s only acceptable that he felt quite attached to it. Nevertheless, he was a stubborn old man who never knew how to let go.
The main antagonist of the fourth season, Jeffrey Wright’s Valentin Narcisse was not only intimidating, but it also felt like a step up from Gyp Rosetti. Valentin was a man of code, who was well-spoken and well dressed but when it came to the gangster bit, he surprised a lot of fans, due to his ruthless nature. He also came across as a bit of a psychopath, who was doing exactly the opposite of what he was promising his people.
Meyer Lansky is someone who worked behind the scenes and didn’t want to involve himself with fighting part of the business, although when it came to it, he always found a way out.
It was never personal with him because the only family he ever had was Charlie Luciano and there’s no one else he could trust. He just wanted to make insane amounts of money, without concerning himself with the consequences of betraying different mob bosses.
Chalky White lived in a world where he had to make a name for himself, or else, he and his family would have lived a miserable life. He made his way to the top of the tree, thanks to his decision making and involvement with just the right people in Atlantic City and across the United States. While all he ever did was for his family, towards the end, the lines were blurred when her daughter, Maybelle, got killed because of something that Chalky did.
Arnold Rothstein was a professional in every sense of the word. If someone went to deal with him, he’s more likely to accept the offer if that someone acts like a mature human being rather than being impulsive. It’s easy to get carried away in his line of work but rarely did Rothstein develop any beef with other mobsters. He was Nucky’s best business companion and it would have been wonderful to see the two of them reunite against a common enemy.
There’s no one quite like him, is there? Nucky Thompson, at times, acted misguidedly but most of the time, he was an absolute genius, especially in seasons one and two, where he took care of every precarious situation masterfully. The long pause before picking up the phone, the emotional eyes, and the whiskey, of course, helped him decide what was best for his city. Nucky is such an addictive character.