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Bill McCoy (played by Pearce Bunting) is a recurring character in Boardwalk Empire. He is a ship Captain and bootlegger that supplies several ports of the East Coast, including Atlantic City, with foreign alcohol, and a trusted ally of Nucky Thompson. He is based on the historical figure of the same name.



William Frederick McCoy was born in Syracuse, New York in 1877. After graduating in the Pennsylvania Nautical School he worked as a sailor in the Caribbean before he and his brother Ben established a yacht building firm in Florida around 1900. By 1920 the further development of roads and rail rendered yachting as a means of transportation along the East Coast obsolete and their firm fell on hard times. On the other hand, McCoy saw that the advent of Prohibition offered plenty of opportunities to make money and he soon became the biggest rum-runner in the Eastern Seaboard, smuggling rum, whiskey and spirits to the US from Canada and the Bahamas. In order to avoid prosecution he would unload his ships at night while on international waters and let his associates take the cargo to land on speedboats.

Season 1[]

McCoy is the first character we see in the series, appearing in the prologue portion of the series pilot. With his vessel at anchor in thick fog, McCoy, checks his pocket watch. A smaller boat approaches manned by Davey Murdoch, Simon and three other men, all working for New York organised crime boss Arnold Rothstein. McCoy asks them to hurry, worried about the coastguard. Murdoch tells him to get on with it. McCoy reveals his cargo, crates of Canadian Club Whiskey from Ontario. Simon keeps track of the number of crates loaded on a notepad and Murdoch tells him they are transporting liquid gold.

The reason for McCoy's presence in the harbour becomes clear when he meets with Atlantic City Treasurer Nucky Thompson at the boardwalk catch of the day attraction two days prior to the prologue. They joke about McCoy's recent visit to Canada. McCoy tells Nucky that he can supply Canadian Club Whiskey at 500 dollars a crate. Nucky offers to buy a 100 crate shipment for 35000 dollars every week. McCoy agrees and Nucky tells McCoy that Eli will be in touch about the particulars. McCoy stops Nucky from leaving, saying that he was expecting them to go for a drink. Nucky makes him smile by saying they have nothing to talk about now that Nucky has what he wanted. Nucky later sells the first shipment on to Rothstein. ("Boardwalk Empire")

Nucky counts money in his salon while McCoy plays cards with Aldermen George O'Neill and Jim Neary at the table. Alderman Boyd is playing the piano while Atlantic County Sheriff Eli Thompson sits next to his brother (Nucky) reading notes for his planned speech. Nucky chastises O’Neill and O’Neill says that prohibition puts them in uncharted territory. Neary toasts the Irish and their prodigious drinking and Nucky jokes that he personally drinks to forget, but can’t remember what. Damien Fleming arrives with his collections money for Nucky and says that his ward’s speakeasies have been packed with people of all ethnicities. Nucky observes that people want what they cannot have and Boyd is impressed by Nucky’s grasp of psychology. Fleming says his people cannot keep liquor on the shelves, Eli interjects that it should be hidden under the shelves, while Fleming goes on to say he needs to increase his order. Eli asks if McCoy is listening and McCoy responds that he needs to get another boat. Fleming asks the others to deal him into their game and Nucky asks when McCoy is leaving port. McCoy jokingly says he leaves at “the stroke of midnight on a sea of green.” Fleming wonders if McCoy means that the sea is green from money or from the dyed beer they will serve later. Nucky wonders how the preparation of the beer is progressing and Neary reassures him that the food colouring has arrived and is being mixed with the beer as they speak. Nucky jokes that they will need plenty of beer to get the Celts through Eli’s re-election speech. Boyd is surprised that Eli is speaking and Nucky repeats his earlier comparison to Daniel Webster. Eli is annoyed at the jest but Nucky continues, revealing that Eli is taking lessons. Fleming toasts to “the great orator” and O’Neill requests a sample. Eli refuses and Nucky says the Irish are a surly lot. O’Neill suggests giving Eli a drink and Neary jokes that he can have green beer. Nucky says anyone can drink as long as they pay and Neary assures him that they will. McCoy bursts into song replacing the words from "Danny Boy" with an ode to Nucky’s bootlegging success. ("Nights in Ballygran")

Season 2[]

McCoy remains loyal to Nucky during The Commodore's attempted coup in season 2. McCoy meets with The Commodore and his co-conspirators Jimmy Darmody and Eli Thompson. McCoy refuses to supply the Commodore despite the threat of pressure from the Coast Guard. He criticises The Commodore for backing out of his arrangement to transfer power to Nucky. McCoy sees the attempted coup as equivalent to a mutiny. ("A Dangerous Maid")

Nucky uses his relationship with New York gangster Arnold Rothstein to set up an agreement for McCoy to deliver to Waxey Gordon in Philadelphia. Gordon will hold the alcohol in Philadelphia until Rothstein's men transport it by road into Atlantic City. ("What Does the Bee Do?")

Nucky chairs a meeting of the key personnel in his bootlegging operation in the sitting room of his suite at the Ritz Carlton. Seated in the centre of the room are McCoy, Nucky’s bootlegging manager Chalky White, New York crime boss Arnold Rothstein and Rothstein's Philadelphia connection Waxey Gordon. At the edge of the room are Nucky’s driver and enforcer Owen Sleater, Rothstein's protégé Lucky Luciano, Luciano's associate Meyer Lansky and Philadelphia gangster Herman Kaufman. With Atlantic City blockaded by the coast guard they are there to arrange delivery of McCoy’s shipments via Philadelphia. If the clear skies hold McCoy is planning to weigh anchor close to shore near Philadelphia at 2 a.m. the following night. Waxey explains that he will transport the liquor ashore in speedboats and has a dozen of them at his disposal. He estimates that this step can be completed in under an hour. Nucky and McCoy worry about the coast guard around Philadelphia and Rothstein confirms that Waxey has assured their safety. Waxey states that the guarantee of plain sailing is what he is being paid for. Nucky gripes about Waxey’s twenty percent share. Rothstein explains that once ashore the crates will be put onto trucks by Waxey’s men. Waxey points out Kaufman as the supervisor for this step and states that the trucks will be driven to the border of Atlantic City where Luciano and Lansky will complete the journey. Luciano complains to Rothstein that Waxey should earn his share by having his men complete the journey. Waxey compares Luciano to a woman asking to be walked home and Kaufman jokes about needing a good night kiss. Luciano threatens Kaufman and Lansky quiets Luciano. Chalky tells Luciano that he will expect delivery around 5 a.m. and reminds Luciano to signal his arrival with flashing headlights. Rothstein looks at Nucky and Nucky nods his assent. McCoy later delivers the shipment as planned. ("The Age of Reason")

McCoy continues to deliver shipments for transport by Lansky and Luciano. ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")

Season 3[]

Nucky reachs to McCoy once again in June 1923 and asks him to cut a deal with Gyp Rosetti. McCoy will supply Rosetti's smuggling operation in Tabor Heights, New Jersey and tell any information he can gather about it back to Nucky. McCoy is not fond of Italians and only accepts because of his long-established friendship with Nucky.

Discontented with his current supplier, who has just lost two dozen crates of whiskey to the sea during their last delivery, Rosetti readily accepts McCoy's offer and asks to be supplied with 1,200 cases. McCoy observes that it's a far bigger order than Nucky's, but Rosetti says he can take it because he has 17 speedboats at his disposal and tells McCoy they'll meet the night after in Atlantic City. Rosetti's second Tonino puntualizes that only as long as he doesn't run into "rogue waves", referencing his cousin Franco's hypothesis about what caused their recent losses. McCoy agrees that the sea can be rough, but sides with Rosetti in thinking that it takes a poor sailor to lose cargo because of it. He then guarantees Rosetti that he'll have his booze in time and intact since he and the ocean have an "understanding". ("A Man, A Plan...")


  • Nucky Thompson - Buyer, ally (deceased)
  • Gyp Rosetti - Buyer (deceased)
  • August Tucker: Business associate, murder victim (deceased)

Memorable Quotes[]

  • "And he took the loaves and fishes, looked at his disciples and said: Fuck it, we are getting in the whiskey business" ("Boardwalk Empire")
  • (to The Commodore) "So he bested you in the bargain and now you're fucking him over." ("A Dangerous Maid")
  • "See that scotch that keeps you warm at night? Don't you forget who put it there" ("A Dangerous Maid")
  • "What's the difference between a catfish and an Italian? One is a filthy, scum-sucking bottom-feeder - and the other is a fish." ("A Man, A Plan...")


Season one appearances
Boardwalk Empire The Ivory Tower Broadway Limited Anastasia
Nights in Ballygran Family Limitation Home Hold Me in Paradise
Belle Femme The Emerald City Paris Green A Return to Normalcy
Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost
Season three appearances
"Resolution" "Spaghetti and Coffee" "Bone for Tuna" "Blue Bell Boy"
"You'd Be Surprised" "Ging Gang Goolie" "Sunday Best" "The Pony"
"The Milkmaid's Lot" "A Man, A Plan..." "Two Imposters" "Margate Sands"
Season four appearances
"New York Sour" "Resignation" "Acres of Diamonds" "All In"
"Erlkonig" "The North Star" "William Wilson" "The Old Ship of Zion"
"Marriage and Hunting" "White Horse Pike" "Havre De Grace" "Farewell Daddy Blues"

Esternal Links[]