|First appearance||"Straight and True" (episode 3.05)|
|Last appearance||"–30–" (episode 5.10)|
|Cause/reason||End of series|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Gbenga Akinnagbe|
|Occupation||Former drug organization enforcer/Prisoner|
Chris Partlow is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Gbenga Akinnagbe. Partlow is Marlo Stanfield's best friend and second-in-command in his drug dealing operation. According to a commentary with David Simon, Partlow was also the victim of molestation, explaining his ferocious attack on Michael Lee's stepfather.
Partlow was a key player in the turf war with the Barksdale organization and was always looking out for Stanfield's safety. He often met with Marlo and his adviser Vinson to discuss their strategy. Partlow's cautious observation revealed Avon Barksdale's car when he tried to set a trap for Stanfield. Partlow fired upon the car in a drive by shooting, wounding Avon and killing one of his soldiers. When Stringer Bell was murdered, Partlow and Snoop were accredited responsibility and they did nothing to dispel rumors about their involvement. The turf war came to a close when Stringer's death and Avon's arrest led to the demise of the Barksdale Organization and Stanfield assumed control of most of the drug dealing in Western Baltimore.
Partlow carries out murders as Stanfield orders them. Working alongside young female soldier "Snoop" he disposes of bodies by opening up vacant buildings, covering the corpses in quicklime and sheeting and then nailing the buildings shut. When Stanfield dealer Fruit is killed, Partlow advises restraint suggesting they kill the perpetrator instead of the whole of the independent drug dealing crew he works with. Marlo sees the sense in Chris' approach and gives him the go ahead to kill Fruit's murderer, Lex. Chris arranges for Lex to be ambushed by paying Little Kevin to tell him his girlfriend wants to meet him at night in a secluded spot. Kevin passed the responsibility on to Randy Wagstaff. Once the trap is sprung Lex is disposed of in Chris' reliable way. Chris is also responsible for the murder of a security guard who talked back to Marlo. Rumors on the street tie Chris to several other murders including victims known as Pookie and Byron.
Partlow continues to be Marlo's key adviser. He tries to dissuade Marlo from playing at a high stakes card game where he is losing a lot of money. When the card game is robbed by Omar Little, Marlo asks Partlow for his input in dealing with Omar. Partlow suggests a more subtle approach than simply placing a bounty on Omar. They plan to stage a robbery of their associate Old Face Andre and blame the robbery on Omar, having Andre identify him. Partlow carries out the robbery himself and kills a delivery woman and beats Andre to lend credence to their scenario.
Marlo entrusts Partlow with cultivating new prospect Michael Lee. Michael is a middle school child who Marlo believes would make a good soldier. Partlow is responsible for intimidating Lex's superior Bodie Broadus into giving up his corner because Marlo notices that he has turned it into a successful location. Partlow forces Bodie to accept Marlo's package. He asks Bodie about Michael having noticed that he worked with him for a time. Partlow tracks Michael to his home and then approaches him when he is talking with friends in an alley. He offers him cash and promises of protection if he joins the organization which Michael accepts after the return of his stepfather, Devar. Later, Chris and Snoop take care of the situation with Michael's stepfather. When he confronts Devar, Partlow confronts him with questions of molestation, something that Michael strongly hints at over the course of the fourth season, and asks him about any past sexual conduct in prison, gaining an admission of homosexual acts while in prison from Devar. Chris proceeds to viciously beat him to death, which is in stark contrast to the business-like way his other hits are carried out, hinting that Chris too may have been a victim of molestation as a child or in prison. Michael joins their organization under the condition they also look out for his younger brother. Chris has taken Michael on as a protege to the point where Marlo has referred to Michael as Chris' "puppy." Partlow seems to relate to Michael and his implied history of abuse and decided to protect him and teach him the rules of the drug trade.
Partlow and Snoop were pulled over by detectives twice during the season. The first time they were confronted by Herc, who had been following them. Snoop was able to stash their firearms in a hidden compartment. Herc discovers the nail gun and lye in the back of the vehicle, but takes little notice. Once they are released Partlow disposes of the nail gun. The second time, they are confronted by Kima and Bunk. Snoop again hides their firearms, but Kima discovers the compartment. Chris and Snoop are arrested but later released, as the police can tie neither the weapons nor the vehicle to either of them. Eventually, the police crew is able to piece together not only that Chris (and thus Marlo) are responsible for the chain of disappearances in West Baltimore, but also that they dispose of the bodies in row houses all over town.
Partlow faces weapon charges from his arrest at the car stop but manages to get the hearings related to the charges delayed. The police are unable to gather enough evidence to file charges on the vacant house murders and begin a prolonged surveillance operation into the Stanfield Organization. Stanfield and Partlow respond by stopping all phone communication and only meeting face to face. They are forced to curtail their violent activity while under investigation. Partlow continues to mentor Michael Lee, who now runs his own corner. Stanfield is plotting to take over the New Day Co-Op and usurp "Proposition Joe" Stewart's connection to his suppliers, The Greek. Stanfield assigns Partlow to arrange a meeting with imprisoned Ukrainian enforcer Sergei Malatov to broker a meeting with The Greek and Partlow finds information on Malatov at the court house. Eventually the police unit behind the surveillance is shut down for political reasons and Stanfield and Partlow soon notice they are no longer being closely watched. Stanfield orders Partlow and Snoop to kill Junebug (a rival who may have been spreading rumors about Stanfield), attack Webster Franklin's territory as he had refused the Stanfield package and to lure Omar Little out of retirement. Partlow has already arranged for Stanfield to visit Malatov at MCI Jessup.
Partlow leaves the Webster Franklin assignment to Snoop alone but takes Snoop and Michael with him to kill Junebug. Partlow waits for Junebug at his home and tutors Michael in the importance of surprise. Partlow orders Michael to watch the back of the house while Snoop disables nearby cameras. Partlow and Snoop then stage a home invasion killing Junebug, his bodyguard and his domestic partner. Two children are also present and escape with their lives. One hides in a closet while the other flees the house. Michael is supposed to kill anyone who tries to escape but he lets the child go. The triple homicide is investigated by Detective Kima Greggs.
Stanfield offers a bounty to anyone who can provide a way to get to Omar. Stewart's nephew Cheese comes forward without Stewart's knowledge and reveals Omar's link to Butchie. Partlow and Snoop attack Butchie at his bar and kill one of his bodyguards and wound the other. They torture Butchie but do not learn anything about Omar's whereabouts. Partlow kills Butchie and instructs his surviving bodyguard to ensure that word reaches Omar. Snoop is worried about the plan as it means that Omar will now be targeting them while they still have no knowledge of his whereabouts but Partlow refuses to question Stanfield.
Stanfield is successful in reaching the Greeks and Partlow accompanies him to a meeting with Spiros Vondas. Stanfield persuades The Greeks to think of him as an insurance policy against Stewart being unable to serve them. Next Stanfield convinces Cheese to betray Stewart by having Partlow kidnap Cheese's rival—an East side Co-Op dealer named Hungry Man. Partlow delivers Hungry Man to Cheese and Cheese gives up Stewart in exchange. Stanfield and Partlow trap Stewart in his home and Partlow murders Stewart while Stanfield watches.
As Marlo meets with Spiros Vondas in a city park, Partlow and a Greek enforcer watch over the area. Vondas explains how Marlo is to communicate with him using picture messages on a Blackberry phone. As the meet ends Marlo tells Chris how good it feels to be wearing the crown and suggests a celebratory trip to Atlantic City. A cautious Partlow reminds Marlo Omar is going to make a move on them, suggesting that that moment may not be the best time for a vacation. Partlow then tells Marlo he needs to swing by his house, where Partlow tells his family that he will be going away on business for a few weeks. Marlo watches from the car side as Partlow plays in the yard with his baby girl.
Later that evening Omar waits outside of Monk's condo gathering information. Although not ever seen on the show, Chris must have been watching Omar from somewhere nearby, because the next day when he and Monk meet Marlo at the rim shop, Chris informs Marlo that Omar sat on Monk's crib all night. Lying in wait, Partlow, together with Michael and Snoop, manage to prevent Omar from killing Monk, but Omar escapes. With Omar on the loose, Partlow lays low for his own safety, worried about the safety of his girlfriend and kids. After Omar is killed, Partlow returns to work.
In the meantime, Bunk has connected Partlow with the murder of Michael's stepfather using DNA evidence. Bunk delays arresting Partlow as a favor to McNulty and Lester, but when the police bust a narcotics resupply transaction from the Greeks, Partlow is charged with murder, preventing his release on bail. Levy represents Partlow as well as Stanfield and suspects an illegal wiretap due to the speed with which charging documents were produced. In an effort to preserve as much of the case as possible, Pearlman strikes a bargain with Levy: Levy will convince the Stanfield organization to plead to various charges in exchange for Pearlman not revealing Levy's bribery of a functionary at the city courthouse. Part of this deal involves Partlow pleading guilty to not only the murder of Michael's stepfather, but all of the bodies found in the vacants, charges which yield a sentence of life without parole.
Partlow is last seen posting up in the prison yard with Wee-Bey Brice, both men having suffered similar fates as the top soldiers in their organizations and serving out life sentences for multiple homicides at the request of their respective bosses.
At the end of the fourth season, it is revealed that twenty-two bodies were removed from abandoned rowhouses across the city. It is unclear how many of these murders were committed by Partlow, since most of the killings occur off-screen. However, all of the on-screen rowhouse murders are committed by Partlow, and in the fifth season he pleads guilty to all of the bodies. Other murders committed by Partlow include:
Tater: shot by Chris in a failed attempt to murder Avon
Delivery woman: shot by Chris during a robbery and to set up Omar for a murder charge.
New York dealer: shot in the head by Chris for dealing on east side territory.
Devar Manigault: beaten to death by Chris as a favor to Michael Lee.
Junebug: killed by Chris and Snoop for allegedly spreading rumors about Marlo possibly being homosexual.
Butchie: tortured and killed by Chris and Snoop for refusing to tell them the whereabouts of Omar Little.
Proposition Joe: shot in the head by Chris on orders of Marlo Stanfield.
Donnie: possibly murdered by Chris in the shootout at Monk's apartment. The murder also may have been committed by Michael Lee, Snoop, or O-Dog.