Giuseppe "Joe" Masseria is an Italian bootlegger and one of the most powerful and feared Mob bosses in New York City, where he is known as "Joe the Boss". He is based on the historical figure of the same name.
He is supporting character in Season 2-5, appearing as the secondary antagonist in Season 3 and a major antagonist in Season 4.
Masseria sends his nephews Incrocci and Scarpelli to pressure Charlie Luciano and Meyer Lansky to pay tribute to him for operating a card game in his territory. While at the game his nephews decide to rob Jimmy Darmody of his winnings. They are murdered by Darmody but Masseria thinks Luciano and Lansky committed the murder.
Masseria arranges mediation through Arnold Rothstein and Luciano and Lansky are forced to give Masseria a lump sum and a 10% cut of the card games profits. Masseria tries to convince Luciano into joining his organization after the meeting, but Luciano refuses.
Luciano and Lansky develop a burgeoning heroin distribution business, run from their New York card room. They employ Benjamin Siegel as their delivery boy, hiding the narcotics in the lining of his coat and hat.
Masseria finds out about the operation and has a pair of his men assault Siegel as he leaves on his next delivery. They strike in sight of Luciano's headquarters, grabbing Siegel before he can shoot at them and announcing their allegiance. Lansky intervenes, shooting one of the thugs in the head. The other strongarm clings to the door of his getaway car as the driver pulls away. Siegel chases after the vehicle with no regard for his own safety. He runs down the street shooting at Masseria's man and vowing to kill him. ("Bone for Tuna")
Lucky Luciano is summoned to meet Joe Masseria. Meyer Lansky prepares Luciano for the meeting, suggesting they offer a 2% tribute and to settle for 5%. Masseria demands a 30% share of Luciano's heroin distribution profits in exchange for allowing Luciano to operate in his territory. Masseria warns Luciano against trusting his Jewish partners because they are not his people. ("Blue Bell Boy")
Gyp Rossetti is called to a meeting with Joe Masseria. Joe complains that Gyp is uncontrolable, is spending too much time away from home and is not reporting back to him. Joe then stands up and proceeds to leave and says an indirect good bye to Gyp, just as Masseria's men are about to kill Rossetti. Gyp warns Joe about the future of criminals, describing Thompson and Rothstein as men who will eventually make a move on Joe. Gyp convinces Joe to spare his life in exchange for Gyp promising to kill Nucky, Rothstein and Luciano, proclaiming that after he's done, they'll start calling Masseria "Joe the King." ("Sunday Best")
Weeks later, Masseria meets Gyp Rossetti on a New Jersey shore where crates of alcohol are coming in from boats and Masseria's and Gyp's men are carrying them to trucks. Joe tells Gyp that the men are loyal and pushes Gyp to finish what he started after the failed murder attempt on Thompson, Rothstein and Luciano. He also lectures Gyp on being a good leader. ("The Milkmaid's Lot")
Back in New York City, Masseria is playing bowls with other men from the neighborhood while talking to Luciano about getting into the heroin business. Luciano proposes that Joe loan him $100,000 to purchase a large quantity of heroin after which he'll be paid back with interest. Joe is uninterested, saying he doesn't trust Meyer Lansky. However, Joe later agrees when Luciano and Lansky provide information about Nucky's plan to make a move against Joe in order to weaken Rossetti's strength. Nucky gets information that Joe goes to a Turkish bath house every week and plans to have him killed there. Joe is at the bath house, but armed with the information provided to him, survives the attempt on his life and Owen Sleater is killed in the process. He then has Owen's body delivered in a crate to Nucky's suite at the Ritz. ("A Man, A Plan...")
Joe visits Atlantic city for a meeting with Gyp Rossetti. The war has been going on for a while and Joe is unhappy that Gyp hasn't finished taking over the city. Gyp tries to convince him that he has things under control having taken over most of the alcohol business and the casinos in the city. Joe points out that he has everything except for Nucky Thompson and criticize Gyp for underestimating Nucky's allies.
Having grown sick of Gyp's incapabilites, Joe accepts a a deal with Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein stole the heroin Luciano bought with Joe's money and makes Joe a deal: Rothstein will partner with Joe in the heroin business in exchange for Joe backing off his support for Gyp in Atlantic City. Joe agrees and orders his men to leave Gyp and Atlantic City and return to New York. However, Nucky has the men massacred by Al Capone's and Chalky White's men as they're leaving, weakening Masseria and Rossetti. Gyp is able to escape, but Nucky has Tonino kill him. The war is over and Joe and Nucky are done fighting. ("Margate Sands")
Masseria, Luciano and Tonino attend a meeting with Nucky, Eli, Rothstein and Lansky where Masseria meets Nucky for the first time. He refuses to talk or shake hands with Nucky. When the conversation turns into a large argument, Masseria silences everyone and asks Nucky why he should trust him. Nucky presents a briefcase with money in it as a peace offering, which Massesia accepts. Luciano later reveals to Lansky that Masseria still has hostile feelings towards Nucky.
Later Luciano and Lansky go to Florida to enter a bootlegging operation with Nucky. Luciano backs out when he recognizes one of the business partners as Masseria's cousin. Masseria's cousin calls Masseria and informs him of Luciano's presence in Florida. Rather than being angry at Luciano for planning on doing business with Nucky, Masseria tells him to enter into the partnership so that Masseria's cousin can smuggle heroin up to New York in the same trucks they transport the liquor.
After Masseria muscles Rothstein out of the heroin business, Dr. Narcisse reaches out to Masseria to gain a new supplier. This coincides with Nucky finding out that Luciano and Lansky were smuggling heroin in their liquor trucks from Florida. Nucky and Masseria have a sit down and agree to give Nucky a third of the heroin profits to continue the operation. Masseria insists that Nucky switch alliances from Chalky White to Narcisse, who is looking to expand his operations in Atlantic City.
In early 1931, Joe Masseria is shown meeting Luciano at one of his favorite restaraunts "Nuova Villa Tammaro". Masseria and Luciano talk about the ongoing mob war between Masseria's gang and Salvatore Maranzano's. Masseria talks about how he came to the US when he was 16 with nothing and built up his empire. The war is going badly for him, but he tells Luciano that Maranzano can't take what he built, declaring "one man, one boss, it don't work no other way." Although skeptical of Luciano's motivations, Masseria accepts his offer to take care of things and end the war. Luciano exits to the bathroom and Benjamin Seigel and Tonino enter the restaurant and greet Massria before shooting him dead. In a secret deal with Maranzano, Luciano agreed to carry out the death of Masseria in return for becoming Maranzano's second-in-command. Luciano declares "the fight is over" in Italian and the three gangsters leave the restaurant.
- Arnold Rothstein: Fellow New York crime boss (deceased)
- Salvatore Maranzano: Mafia Boss, former top level member of Masseria's faction in New York Mafia; later traitor and main rival
- Lucky Luciano: Rising star in the New York crime world later his Underboss
- Meyer Lansky: Luciano's business partner
- Benjamin Siegel: Robbery target, murderer
- Masseria's man 1: Enforcer (deceased)
- Masseria's man 2: Enforcer
- Vincenzo Petrucelli: Cousin
- Incrocci: Nephew and enforcer (deceased)
- Scarpelli: Nephew and enforcer (deceased)
- Gyp Rosetti: Underboss (deceased)
- Tonino Sandrelli: Capo, traitor, murderer (deceased)
- Frankie Yale: Capo (deceased)
- Valentin Narcisse: Business partner (deceased)
|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"|
|Season five appearances|
|Golden Days for Boys and Girls||The Good Listener||What Jesus Said||Cuanto|
|King of Norway||Devil You Know||Friendless Child||Eldorado|