D'Angelo Barksdale was a high-ranking lieutenant in the criminal organization of his uncle Avon Barksdale; his mother Brianna is also a high-ranking advisor. Prior to the series, D'Angelo controlled the high-rise tower of 221 West Fremont, a major drug market. He was confronted by dealer Pooh Blanchard in the lobby and, in a panic, shot him in front of civilian witnesses. He was quickly arrested and, in the series premiere, D'Angelo stands trial for this murder, represented by the organization's lawyer Maurice Levy. Though one witness, William Gant, willingly testifies, the organization has scared and/or bribed the other witness, Nakeesha Lyles, to recant her testimony. D'Angelo is thus acquitted. As punishment for his carelessness, Avon demotes D'Angelo to the low rise projects known as "The Pit", where his crew consists of Bodie Broadus, Poot Carr, Wallace, Cass and Sterling.
Over the course of the season, D'Angelo grows more and more ambivalent about the drug trade. When William Gant turned up dead, D'Angelo was shaken, assuming Avon had it done as revenge for testifying. He was brought in for questioning by detectives Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland, who trick him into writing a letter of apology to Gant's family. Levy arrives and stops him before he can write anything incriminating, and he is released. He questions his uncle, who evades his accusations and persuades him to remain loyal to the family.
D'Angelo is very hesitant about discipline, such as the brutal beating of Johnny Weeks, or punishing dealers Cass and Sterling for stealing small amounts. Because of this, D'Angelo often struggles for control with his brutal teenage second-in-command Bodie. To gain respect for toughness, D'Angelo falsely claimed responsibility for a second murder, Avon's girlfriend Deirdre Kresson. In reality, D'Angelo had delivered drugs to Kresson and been an unwitting distraction while Wee-Bey Brice killed her.
D'Angelo has a son, Tyrell, by girlfriend Donette. She wants him to move in with her, but her nagging often drives him away. D'Angelo begins dating a dancer from his uncle's strip club, Shardene Innes, and lives with her for a short time, until Shardene finds out about Keesha, another stripper. The police tell her that Keesha had overdosed, died, and was left in a dumpster after attending a Barksdale crew party. She accuses D'Angelo of seeing her as trash that could easily be discarded, and moves out. She goes on to cooperate with the police unit investigating the Barksdale clan.
Under D'Angelo's firm leadership, The Pit begins to turn a good profit. It nevertheless becomes a cause for concern when its stash is stolen by Omar Little, and, the next day, the police raid. Their information is slightly outdated, and they raid a now abandoned stash house, but Detective Lester Freamon finds D'Angelo's pager number on a wall.
Stringer chastises D'Angelo for his sloppiness, and Avon places a bounty on Omar's crew. Wallace and Poot identify Omar's boyfriend, Brandon, in an arcade; D'Angelo relays the message to Stringer, who has Brandon captured, tortured and killed. D'Angelo and Wallace both become haunted by their role in the death of Brandon.
Relating to Wallace's aversion to the violence of their trade, D'Angelo developed a friendship with Wallace. When Wallace wants to leave the business after seeing the mutilated body of Brandon, D'Angelo is supportive and gives him money. Stringer begins asking after Wallace; D'Angelo senses that the boy is in trouble and asks Avon to leave him alone, reassuring him that Wallace is no danger to the organization. When Wallace returns and asks for his old job back, D'Angelo tries to get him to leave, but is unable to save him. Wallace is killed at Bell's orders, though D'Angelo remains unaware that Bodie and Poot killed him.
Based indirectly on information Shardene provided to the police, D'Angelo is arrested while running drugs from New York, and again interrogated. McNulty tells him Wallace is dead, and proves it with photographs. Stringer Bell comes to talk to him and as much as admits to ordering Wallace's execution. As a result, D'Angelo decided to refuse Levy's counsel and turn state's witness against the Organization. He tells them where Wee-Bey has fled to after shooting a police officer, and offers numerous details of his uncle's organization. However, a visit from his mother convinces him of his duty to his family, and he backs out of the deal. Due to his refusal to cooperate, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
During season two, while in prison with Avon and Wee-Bey, D'Angelo turns to snorting heroin. Though he is distant from his uncle, Avon still protects him, and gets him a cushy job in the prison library. Wee-Bey is being harassed by a guard named Dwight Tilghman, who is involved in the prison drug trade. Avon arranges to have his heroin supply laced with rat poison, and advises D'Angelo to stay off the drug for a few days. After several prisoners die, Avon testifies against Tilghman and receives a reduced sentence. D'Angelo refuses to take part in the plan and, disgusted by his uncle's immorality, declares that he wants nothing more to do with his family.
Stringer Bell grows afraid that D'Angelo may inform on the organization, knowing how close he had previously been. He hires a contract killer from Washington D.C., who in turn arranges for a prisoner to strangle D'Angelo with a belt in the back room of the library, and fake it as a suicide, with the prisoner carefully hanging the body to the doorknob. No investigation is launched, although McNulty knows that it was a murder when he is belatedly informed about it due to the strangled mark on D'Angelo's neck.
|Season 1 appearances|
|"The Target"||"The Detail"||"The Buys"||"Old Cases"||"The Pager"|
|"The Wire"||"One Arrest"||"Lessons"||"Game Day"||"The Cost"|
|"The Hunt"||"Cleaning Up"||"Sentencing"|
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Ebb Tide"||"Collateral Damage"||"Hot Shots"||"Hard Cases"||"Undertow"|
|"All Prologue"||"Backwash"||"Duck and Cover"||"Stray Rounds"||"Storm Warnings"|
|"Bad Dreams"||"Port in a Storm"|