James Edison "Jimmy" Darmody (played by Michael Pitt) was an Atlantic City criminal. Jimmy is the son of one-time Atlantic City boss Commodore Louis Kaestner and showgirl Gillian Darmody. Gillian was just 13 when The Commodore raped her and her relationship with Jimmy was marred by her sexual abuse. Jimmy was raised by Gillian with support from The Commodore's lieutenant Nucky Thompson. Nucky eventually replaced The Commodore as the boss of the organization controlling Atlantic City. Nucky hoped Jimmy would one day be a highly placed official in his organization and sent him to Princeton to obtain a degree. While at Princeton Jimmy dated Angela Ianotti and she became pregnant with his son. He beat a teacher in defense of his visiting mother, and slept with her when both were drunk. Ashamed, he joined the US Army and served as an Infantryman during World War I. His son Tommy Darmody was born while he was fighting in the war. During his service in France his right leg was injured by shrapnel from a German grenade causing him to walk with a limp.
He returned to Atlantic City after recovering from his injuries and worked as a driver and bodyguard for Nucky. He was frustrated when offered an assistant clerk job and masterminded the Hammonton hijacking to prove his capabilities. He was forced to hide in Chicago for several months because of the murders committed in the hijacking. He eventually returned to Atlantic City to work as Nucky's chief enforcer. He reconciled with his father after Kaestner survived a poisoning attempt. The two seemingly succeeded in a plot to take back control of Atlantic City from Nucky during the second season. Nucky continued to retaliate and Jimmy's enemy Manny Horvitz murdered Angela. Grief-stricken Jimmy turned against Gillian and then killed the Commodore when he tried to intervene. Jimmy attempted to reconcile with Nucky despite knowing that it was impossible. He was murdered by Nucky at the Atlantic City War Memorial in August 1921.
Jimmy is the son of Commodore Louis Kaestner, a political power broker and one-time boss of Atlantic City, and the showgirl Gillian Darmody. According to Gillian, she caught the Commodore's eye during the "Neptune's Bounty" parade in May 1, 1897 - she was thirteen at the time, and he was fifty-four - and was brought to him by then-Sheriff Nucky Thompson. After being raped and impregnated by the Commodore, Gillian raised Jimmy on her own. Gillian has admitted inappropriate sexual behaviour to Jimmy in his infancy. Gillian relied on the help of fellow showgirls and wealthy men whom she had affairs with. While both father and son were aware of the other's existence, they rarely spoke and never acknowledged each other publicly, Jimmy saying at one point he "had no father."
Feeling responsible for both mother and son, Nucky took the young Jimmy under his wing - including taking him to see a speech by President William Howard Taft - and began grooming Jimmy to succeed him as the boss of his organization. Jimmy enrolled as a student in Princeton University in 1916 with Nucky paying for his tuition. While at Princeton Jimmy met Angela Ianotti and the two dated and became lovers. Gillian visited Jimmy at Princeton and attended a mixer with him and Angela. Angela told Jimmy that she was pregnant and Jimmy drank heavily. Gillian claimed to have been sexually assaulted by his professor Noel Pearson at the event and Jimmy beat Pearson up. Mother and son went home together and had sex later that night. Jimmy dropped out of Princeton and enlisted in the Army the next day. He never fully explained why he left college to Nucky and Nucky was disappointed by the decision. Jimmy also broke all contact with Gillian and Angela, not writing to her even after she gave birth to their son, Thomas.
Meanwhile, Jimmy spent some months at boot camp near Chicago and was shipped off to France some time after the United States entered World War I in 1917, where he saw extensive combat as an infantryman and later a machine gunner, according to his dog tags, as a corporal in Company B, 42d Infantry Regiment (in real life, the 42d never left the United States) The experience severely scarred him; in particular, he would suffer recurring nightmares featuring a German soldier that he saw agonizing while trapped in the barbed wire for three days. However, this didn't stop him from being awarded an unknown medal for his bravery at the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in 1918. His right leg was severely damaged by fragments from a German grenade during the Meusse-Argonne Offensive near the end of the war. Top surgery in Verdun followed by a long recovery of eight months at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington DC managed to save the leg, but he was left with scars, a noticeable limp and occasional hurt. As the series begins Jimmy has been out of hospital and returned to Atlantic City for one month, has moved in with Angela and Tommy and is working as a driver for Nucky. He is very ambitious and expects to rise quickly within Nucky's organisation.
- Main article: Jimmy Darmody Season 1
The advent of Prohibition in the United States, in January 17, 1920, finds a conflicted 22-year old Jimmy Darmody just returned to Atlantic City after a four years-long absence during which he joined the army and fought in the Western Front of World War I. Jimmy, who left a promising career at Princeton when he enlisted, never gave an explanation to those close to him, nor kept touch with them during his absence. As a result, his relationships once returned couldn’t be more awkward: Jimmy lives in the house of his ‘fiancée’, Angela Ianotti, whom he got pregnant when they barely knew each other and just before he left, and with their 4-year old son Tommy, who grew up without him. Nonetheless, and despite the fact they are not married, Jimmy tries to live up to his role as father and husband by discouraging Angela from seeking a job, and is paranoid that she might be unfaithful to him now or having been so in the past. Jimmy works as a driver for Nucky Thompson, who practically raised him as a son, but is disappointed when he discovers that Nucky only plans to make him assistant to the new Fourth Ward Boss Paddy Ryan, rather than outright giving the spot to him, and is incensed when Nucky specifically points his recent absence as the reason he is not promoted further. Finally, and despite having been living in Atlantic City for over a week now, he is yet to see his single mother, Gillian, or his father the Commodore Louis Kaestner, to whom he has no relation.
Jimmy enters crime life after meeting 21-year old Al Capone and bonding with him over their perceived similarities, including his age, the fact that he also has a little child, and his (falsely claimed) military service. Furthermore, Capone, like Jimmy, has also been left out while Nucky meets with other crime bosses: NYC’s Arnold Rothstein, Chicago’s Big Jim Colosimo and Capone’s own mentor, Johnny Torrio. Informed of how much (and apparently, easily) a gangster of his age like Lucky Luciano makes, that Rothstein has just bought $60,000 worth of liquor from Nucky and that Torrio wants to get in the illegal alcohol business despite Colosimo’s opposition, Jimmy and Al hijack the liquor shipment while Colosimo is murdered in Chicago. However, the hijacking goes awry because of Capone’s impetuousness and they are forced to shoot Rothstein’s men, causing a political scandal in Atlantic City and a war between Nucky and Rothstein. It gets worse when one of the men, Simon, actually survives long enough to identify Jimmy before dying, forcing him to run out of town in order to avoid both legal prosecution and Rothstein’s hitman, Lucky Luciano.
In Chicago, Jimmy works for Torrio as an enforcer and starts a relationship with Pearl, a prostitute working in the Four Deuces; they even go as far as planning to run together to California. However, Pearl commits suicide after her face is slashed by rival mobsters. Jimmy also meets and recruits Richard Harrow, a disfigured and socially stunted sniper that he finds at a veterans hospital, and hatches a plan with his mother to set a trap for Luciano.
Eventually, Jimmy is invited to work as an enforcer for Nucky back in Atlantic City after Nucky’s brother Eli is shot by the D’Alessio brothers, who have an alliance with Rothstein. Jimmy is arrested after another witness of the massacre surfaces but Nucky buys Prohibition agent Eric Sebso to take him out. Jimmy also resumes his relationship with Angela, although she almost leaves with Tommy after Jimmy beats Robert Dittrich in a rage, mistakenly assuming that he had a relationship with Angela in the past. Finally, Jimmy also discovers that his father has been poisoned through the year by his maid, Louanne Pratt.
By the beginning of November, Jimmy is upset at Nucky once again as he has just discovered that it was Nucky who pimped his mother to the Commodore when she was 13 years old, resulting in his conception. Jimmy assumes that every act of kindness that Nucky ever displayed to him was just a façade born out of guilt for his responsibility in the event and that he never truly loved him. Since Nucky does not deny this, a scorned Jimmy decides to take up the offer from his father The Commodore and Sheriff Eli Thompson to remove Nucky from power and restore The Commodore as city boss with Jimmy as his acknowledged heir.
- Main article: Jimmy Darmody Season 2
Although technically still working for him, Jimmy’s relationship with Nucky continues to slide during the winter, not even consulting him before marrying Angela and buying a new house by the beach. Coinciding with Nucky’s arrest for election fraud on February 13, 1921, Jimmy travels to New York City to establish liquor trade links with Arnold Rothstein, but he doesn’t take him on the offer. Nevertheless, Rothstein’s pupil Lucky Luciano invites Jimmy to discuss an agreement behind Rothstein’s back: he and his associate, Meyer Lansky, are willing to trade alcohol from Atlantic City for heroin. This time it’s Jimmy who does not take the offer, mostly because he is still bitter that Lucky slept with his mother. Furthermore, Jimmy notices that Lansky’s gambling place is actually in an area disputed between Rothstein and Joe Masseria; Jimmy then tempts two of Masseria’s thugs by making sure that they see himself being handed gambled money at the place and waits for them at the nearby Tompkins Square Park. Soon enough, the two thugs attempt to rob him and Jimmy kills them in order to cause trouble for Luciano. This proves successful, as Masseria subsequently demands from Rothstein the deaths of Luciano and Lansky or some other compensation.
Jimmy does, however, wonder often if what he is doing to Nucky is the right thing, but he caves under the firm pressure of Gillian, who is pushing him to go with the Commodore’s plans. These only go smooth until the Commodore suffers a stroke on April that leaves him paralyzed. From now on, the leader of the conspiracy will be Jimmy himself, a role for which he is not prepared and where his erratic behavior will be crucial to turn the scheme into a complete failure.
That same month Jimmy also gets a deal with veteran Philadelphia gangster Manny Horvitz to supply him with some of the surplus booze that his men have gathered in one of Doyle’s warehouses. Jimmy insists that he be paid $5,000 in advance, since he is already indebted in $70,000 to the Commodore’s old cronies. However, Nucky makes use of the bomb making abilities of his new henchman, former IRA enforcer Owen Sleater, and destroys the warehouse with all the alcohol inside. Jimmy finds himself with no alcohol and thus no way to pay his debts. When pressed to return benefits by the Commodore’s allies, he is hit with a cane by one of them, Jackson Parkhurst; in response, Jimmy and his second Richard Harrow scalp Parkhurst, resulting in the Commodore’s old supporters abandoning him. Following this incident, Jimmy does accept the advice of his father’s lawyer, Leander Whitlock, that he shouldn't kill everybody, and applies it when Manny and Jimmy intercept a liquor shipment bound for Nucky that is guarded by Luciano and Lansky. Rather than killing them and taking the booze as Manny wants, Jimmy accepts Lansky’s renewed offer to form a business partnership independent of Rothstein and lets them leave with the booze, on the condition that they pay Manny his $5,000 in the future. However, Luciano and Lansky soon go back on their word and the debt falls back on Jimmy’s part.
Jimmy brings Al Capone as a partner in the new business and with him his connection to Cincinnati’s ‘medicinal’ alcohol provider, George Remus. Capone, Luciano and Lansky see no reason in sticking to the Commodore’s original plan to send Nucky to jail and press Jimmy to kill Nucky, believing that this will accomplish their goals faster. Jimmy refuses, but after Eli himself agrees with the assassination of his own brother, Jimmy finds himself in a corner and accepts Capone’s proposal to hire a Chicago hitman to assassinate Nucky. Jimmy is torn apart by his decision, and while he doesn't cancel the plan (once again, because of Gillian’s influence) he decides to meet with Nucky to say farewell to him just before he is shot. However, Nucky survives the assassination attempt with minor wounds only, leaving him with the belief that it was Jimmy who decided on his own to have him killed.
By the end of June, Nucky steps down as Atlantic County Treasurer and Jimmy calls victory prematurely. The new young town boss spends his time on parties, cheating on his wife and becoming more and more arrogant with his allies, even throwing Mickey Doyle off a balcony at one point because he brought Manny to –once again- ask for his money back. Most importantly, Jimmy gets sickened of Manny’s insistence and contacts Manny's rival Waxey Gordon to have him killed. This attempt also fails, leaving Manny wounded, furious and with evidence that the hitman came from Atlantic City.
Meanwhile, Nucky strikes back by commanding Chalky White to put the black community on strike right at the peak of tourist season, and makes use of his connections in Ireland to flood the town with quality whiskey, leaving Jimmy this time with a lot of angry hoteliers and thousands of cases of cheap booze but nobody to sell them to. Jimmy drives north to sell some in his former college, Princeton University. In his absence, Angela is murdered in retaliation by Manny Horvitz.
The news of Angela’s death finally breaks Jimmy’s spirit. He spends whole days drinking, snorting heroin and reminiscing of his days as a college student. When he returns to AC, he is shocked to find his mother all but celebrating that Angela is dead and planning to raise Jimmy’s son Tommy as her own. Enraged, Jimmy attempts to choke Gillian, and ends killing the Commodore when he intervenes to stop it. Utterly depressed now, Jimmy spends the last days of summer trying to make amends with Nucky, cleaning his case of convicting evidence and making sure that Tommy will inherit the Commodore’s state. When Nucky phones him one night saying that he has caught Manny Horvitz and will hand the man to him at the Atlantic City War Memorial, however, Jimmy holds no hopes and walks into the meeting unarmed and fully aware that Nucky will kill him, even trying to calm his mentor before he pulls the trigger. Nucky rejects Jimmy’s sympathy and puts two bullets in his head.
Gillian continues to sign bills with her son's name 16 months after his death. This implies that Jimmy is still not legally dead.
Richard Harrow is deeply disturbed by her behavior, having been the man's best friend. Nucky is puzzled when he learns about it in the newspapers, and offers half-hearted condolences to Gillian afterwards, both fully aware that they both failed Jimmy in their own ways.
Towards the end of the season, as Gillian is put on trial for the killing of the young soldier. She claims she killed no one, and that it was, in fact, her son that died in her bathtub due to a heroin overdose. Since there was no body to prove her wrong, the judge could not convict her. Richard Harrow, testifying against her, knows from seeing the man that it was not Jimmy in the tub, and goes to Nucky to find out where Jimmy really is. Richard strikes a deal with him, and Nucky anonymously tips off the location of Jimmy's body.
As Jimmy's body is found, he makes somewhat of an appearance as a skeleton partially buried in the ground, seen from above. The witnesses confirm his identity when they see the screws in his femur (which Jimmy had due to his war injury).
- Louis Kaestner: Father (deceased)
- Gillian Darmody: Mother, lover
- Angela Darmody: Wife (deceased)
- Tommy Darmody : Son, Avenger
- Nucky Thompson: Rival, father figure, former mentor and former employer, murderer (deceased)
- Pearl: Lover (deceased)
- Leander Cephas Whitlock: Co-conspirator, Advisor
- Eli Thompson: Co-conspirator, Atlantic County Sheriff
- Jim Neary: Co-conspirator, Interim Atlantic County Treasurer (deceased)
- Al Boyd: Co-conspirator, Alderman
- Paddy Ryan: Co-conspirator, Chief Clerk of the Fourth Ward
- George O'Neill: Co-conspirator, Alderman (deceased)
- Damien Fleming: Alderman
- Edward Bader: Atlantic City Mayor
- Richard Harrow: Friend, fellow veteran and accomplice (deceased)
- Al Capone: Friend and bootlegging partner, former accomplice
- Mickey Doyle: Bootlegging manager (deceased)
- Lucky Luciano: Ally and bootlegging partner
- Meyer Lansky: Ally and bootlegging partner
- Manny Horvitz: Enemy, former ally and bootlegging customer (deceased)
- Waxey Gordon: Associate
- Arnold Rothstein: Associate (deceased)
- Johnny Torrio: Former employer
- Vito Scalercio: Employee (deceased)
- Billy Winslow: Accomplice (deceased)
- Davey Murdoch: Murder victim, New York gangster, executed by Jimmy and Al Capone during the Hammonton hijacking
- Simon: Ordered death, Killed by Al Capone, New York gangster
- Charlie Sheridan: Murder victim, Chicago Irish gang leader, shot in the chest and under the chin for contol over Greektown
- Robert Dittrich: Assault victim
- Liam: Ordered death, killed by Harrow, Chicago gangster
- Lucien D'Alessio: Murder victim, Philadelphia gangster, shot in the head for talking back and working against Nucky Thompson
- Leo D'Alessio: Murder victim, Philadelphia gangster, throat slit on orders from Nucky Thompson
- Incrocci: Murder victim, Masserria family gangster, throat slit for trying to rob Jimmy and frame Lucky Luciano
- Scarpelli: Murder victim, Masserria family gangster, stabbed in the back of the head for trying to rob Jimmy and to frame Charles "Lucky" Luciano
- Herman Kaufman: Murder victim, Philadelphia gangster, throat slit on orders from Manny Horvitz
- Louis Kaestner: Murder victim, father, stabbed in the stomach and chest, for attacking Jimmy and on orders from Gillian Darmody
- Klansman Victim 1: Murder victim, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member, shot in the head to get information from the other Klansman
- Jim Neary: Ordered death, killed by Harrow, Atlantic City politician
- "All I want is an opportunity." ("Boardwalk Empire")
- "If I was you I'd bet on the little guy." (At a midgets' boxing fight, to Al Capone) ("Boardwalk Empire")
- "I'm nothing but a murderer. I'm going to Hell." ("Boardwalk Empire")
- "You can't be half a gangster Nucky...not anymore." ("Boardwalk Empire")
- "I think you'd agree that Greektown belongs to us now." ("Family Limitation")
- "I was...what seven?" Pearl: What'd you look like? "Like I do now. Smaller. Hair down to here." Pearl: No. "Yeah. My mother thought it looked aristocratic. Everyone else just thought I was a girl. Anyway there was this man Mr. ...Lancaster. He was worth a few dollars and my mother figured she could get him to marry her. He had a sailboat..." Pearl: Make it a yacht. "Sure, a yacht. On the fourth of July he took us boating- my mother and me. She was in a white tea dress and a merry widow hat. Pearl: Hmm, beautiful. "She was, she still is. We sailed passed the lighthouse up along the brigantine where the pirates used to hide. Mr. Lancaster showed me how to use the mainsheet. Put me at the tiller. I steered us into Little Egg inlet like I'd done it my whole life. We tied up at Egg island. We went ashore. My mother told me to go away for awhile- I was used to that. So I ran around pretending to be a pirate and when it was okay to come back Mr. Lancaster dug a pit in the sand and loaded in some coals to roast the lobster and the corn he had brought. And we just ate like kings. When the sun began to set, Mr. Lancaster told me to go get this box from the boat. 'Be very careful.' Inside were Stars and Stripes he said that his father had carried at Gettysburg which had to be true 'cause there were bullet holes on it. So we stuck the flagpole in the grass and we sang, 'My country tis of thee hmm hmm hmm hmmmm hmm-hmm.' With our hands on our hearts we watched the fireworks go off all the way down the boardwalk. We sailed home under the moon. And my mother was... combing the sand out of my hair. That was a good day." ("Nights in Ballygran")
- "Did you serve, Liam? In the war?...Three years. France, mostly. It's almost impossible to describe the horror. It's a living, waking nightmare. There was a soldier, a German; him and his men tried to attack our position in the Argonne forest. It was nighttime, and while he was trying to climb through some barbed wire, I shot him - twice - once in the stomach, once in the neck. He slumped over the barbed wire, and no matter what he did to try and wriggle free, it just got worse for him. I left him like that, for days, listening to him moaning, crying. 'Mutti! Mutti! Mutti.' That's German for mamma. 'Mamma'. That's what he kept saying. The curious thing is that, despite the fact that his situation was utterly hopeless, he didn't wanna die. I offered to kill him several times, but he just kept fighting. Like some miracle would befall him and get him out of his predicament. You hold on so desperately to life, some people feel, certainly in that soldier's situation, that being alive is... is much, much worse. (pause) I'm gonna go now...I don't ever want to see you again." ("Home")
- "I'm what time and circumstance have made me." ("Paris Green")
- "To the lost." (repeated line)
- "Think I can't play this game?" ("Gimcrack & Bunkum")
- "It doesn't make a difference if you're right or wrong. You just have to make a decision." ("Peg of Old")
- "I'll remember! I'll remember!" (in response to Gillian Darmody's comment that little Tommy won't remember his mother after a couple of months) ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")
- "I died in the trench; years back. I thought you knew that." (to Nucky) ("To the Lost")
- So, who's gonna do it? Manny? You? Eli? ("To the Lost")
- "My first time, I vomited after. Two days straight. Second time I didn't even think about it. Just try to make yourself calm. Breathe, Nuck. You'll get through it. All you gotta worry about is when you run out of booze, and you run out of company, and the only person left to judge you is your—" (final words) ("To the Lost")
- This man had relations with my wife, when i was away in the war. ("The Emerald City")
- Ask your son. ("The Emerald City")
- You wanna have your mettled tested? ("The Emerald City")
- I don't know. (Broadway Limted)
|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"|
* - Uncredited appearance
- Morita, Drew (January 25, 2011). The Real Story Behind Boardwalk Empire's Al Capone. Examiner.com.
- The Efficient Drinker (September 21st, 2010). Boardwalk Empire Characters. The Efficient Drinker blog.