This is a list of the major characters of The Wire. This list will contain spoilers.
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Baltimore Police Department
"Ever wonder what it'd be like to work in a real police department?"
Baltimore's Finest, the BPD is Baltimore's first and last line of defence against the hordes of dealers, fiends, and yos who present a grave and terrible threat to the civil society of the good, upstanding citizens of this fair city of neighbourhoods. Or at least, that's how they see themselves.In reality, the BPD is dysfunctional and unwieldy. Decades of political obsession with producing good statistics and the War on Drugs have resulted in a department that is more concerned with massaging arrest figures and which has community relations which can be best described as "abysmal". Of all the institutions critiqued in The Wire, the BPD comes in for the most extensive criticism, as it forms the backbone of the show. Whilst various police officers and units - such as the Homicide Unit, the Daniels-led details and later Major Case Squad - demonstrate great technical competence and integrity, by and large the department is clunking, bureacratic and brutal. Over the course of the series, various potential reformers step up and are in turn crushed by the inertia of the drug war and the political system.
James "Jimmy" McNulty
Played by: Dominic West
What the fuck did I do?
Bunk: Jimmy McNulty, when he ain't policing he's a picture postcard of a drunken, self-destructive fuck-up. And when he is policing... he's pretty much the same motherfucker. But on a good case, he runnin' in front of the pack. That's as close as the man comes to bein' right.
The Alcoholic: It has been observed that he's one of the most realistic portrayals of a high-functioning alcoholic on television. His job is so important that he manages to be a Functional Addict outside of his private life.
Anti-Hero: A very complex case: His methods are deplorable, to the point where he burns almost every bridge he's ever crossed throughout the show. And his motivations are murky; while he passionately speaks about the injustice of allowing murderers to remain at large simply because investigation of them would be time consuming and difficult, it's hard not to think he's primarily motivated by the vain desire to show off his own intelligence.
Badass: McNulty rarely gets into a fight, but he regularly and casually stares down dangerous criminals. When the SWATs are ready to perform a full out assault, he simply strolls into the Barksdale lair, like a walk in the park, arrests Avon nonchalantly and delivers a Badass Boast to Stringer: "Catch you later."
Commuting on a Bus: in season 4, when he resigns from MCU, works as a patrolman and gets his personal life back together.
Cowboy Cop: Deconstructed. McNulty plays by his own rules and goes against his superiors, and while he backs it up by being a brilliant detective, his antics end up destroying both his career and his family life.
Also, on multiple occasions Jimmy bends and breaks rules to get information because he doesn't have the patience for doing things according to the rules... and gets exactly the same information that other good detectives like Bunk and Lester got by following procedure.
He may also be seen as a Reconstruction of the trope. He has the traits, but he's smart enough to gather evidence through surveillance and isn't one for hotheaded violence.
Fallen Hero: By the end of the show. And despite his fake serial killer plan being somewhat successful, he is fired for it in the end. The ending does suggest that he's on a path to becoming a better person since he rekindles his relationship with Beadie and brings the homeless man he stashed in Virginia back to Baltimore, but he has a long way to go.
Good Is Not Nice: Unlike many in the Baltimore Police Department, he has a deep emotional investment in bringing the bad guys to justice. He's also, as Rawls puts it, a gaping asshole. At times, he frankly abandons 'good' as well as 'nice'.
Handsome Lech: A drunken womanizer prone to banging floozies in bar parking lots.
Heel Realization: It took him five seasons, but he does eventually come to see that ignoring good police procedural work and just doing his own thing without regard to the consequences ultimately causes more problems than it solves. Too bad he'll never work as a policeman again after the end. See He Who Fights Monsters below.
Heroic BSOD: Briefly goes into one in the first season after Kima gets shot including acting out the Vomiting Cop trope. Rawls of all people snaps him out of it.
He Who Fights Monsters: In his quest against Marlo, McNulty becomes a prosecutable criminal by inventing a fake case, technically embezzling money and being indirectly responsible for the death of two vagrants. A mild version of the trope in that he keeps his morals after all it's said and done in the Stanfield case, as illustrated by his last scenes.
Goes out of his way in the case of the thirteen "Jane Does" (unidentified dead women) and involves himself in a personal, humane level when nobody from Homicide gives a damn about'em. This shows Beadie that deep down, McNulty is a decent guy.
Going to pick up the homeless man he stashed in Virginia as part of his scheme, the implication being that he's going to get him help.
Poisonous Friend: To Bunk in season 5 because of his scheme and many other times, Jimmy is a dangerous chum.
Lester: You put fire to everything you touch McNulty, then you walk away while it burns!
Police Brutality: Averted; he's basically the only character affiliated with the police who's never seen beating a suspect.
Phrase Catcher: His assholism is referenced by almost every character, often.
Raised Catholic: Bunk theorizes this is the reason behind Jimmy giving a damn about a random dead woman.
Bunk: How does that matter? You see, this is that Catholic shit, Jimmy. This is that little altar-boy-guilt talking.
Comes a day you're gonna have to decide whether it's about you or about the work.
Lieutenant in charge of the Narcotics Unit of the western district who spends most of the series in charge of the special details that would become the model for the Major Case Unit. He is fiercely loyal to those under his command and demands similar loyalty in turn. He works to rein in the excesses of McNulty, Herc, Carver, and Pryzbylewski, while resisting the bureaucratic rot that has corrupted the district command. There is only so much he can do, given his superiors' impatience for in-depth police work, and the existence of a dossier implicating him in past corruption that Ervin Burrell holds over his head.He begins the series as a career-minded officer who is pliant to the demands of his superiors, but when he's confronted with the deeds and scale of the Barksdale drug crew, realizes the inefficacy of the limited investigative measures that his bosses will allow, and is pressured by McNulty, Greggs and Freamon to commit to the case, ultimately he jumps in with both feet. Daniels's renewed commitment to quality police work costs him much throughout the series (including his marriage), but in seasons 4 and 5, he receives a series of rapid promotions that ends with a gig as Police Commissioner. Daniels soon resigns after earning this top spot, since keeping the job would entail manipulating the crime statistics for the mayor, or a fight to keep the job which would put the lives and careers of his friends in jeopardy. At the end of the show he's become a prosecutor, finally making use of the law degree he'd earned before his police career.
Badass: Not explicitly shown, but he's obviously a tough guy. Behold his peacefull arrest of Avon inside the Barksdale compound, taking over a SWAT operation.
The Beard: A non-sexual-orientation version; after he and his wife split up in the third season he keeps up the act of them still being married so as not to damage her public image while she's running for office. This includes pretending to come home when she has company over, and he explains that after all she gave up to help his career it's the least he can do.
The Chains of Commanding: Daniels is always struggling between the politics of the higher-ups, his own judgement and the pressure and Cowboy Cop antics from some of his more uncontrollable but competent detectives.
Chekhov's Gun: His law degree. This is Truth in Television, as one of the detectives David Simon shadowed when writing Homicide, Terry McLarneynote Who Detective Steve Crosetti was loosely based on, was a law school graduate. Another gun of a much higher caliber is the corruption investigation in his past.
A Father to His Men: Tries to protect his subordinates after their numerous displays of incompetence or disloyalty, even when this reflects bad on him.
Married to the Job: Cedric literally tells his wife Marla that he loves the job, which eventually leads to the end of their marriage.
The Mentor: He's not merely a commanding officer, he likes to give advice to his subordinates whenever he can. Carver pays good heed to it.
The Missus and the Ex: A male example. He expects McNulty to not be very happy about his dating of Rhonda, but the two men have a friendly chat over it and everything goes fine and dandy.
Not so Above It All: At work, he cracks fewer jokes than the rest of the team. At home, he's one of the few guys who can skewer Lester. And even he joins in on the asskicking when Bird refers to Kima as a cunt.
Noodle Incident: The precise nature of the corruption allegation he faced earlier in his career is never revealed, though it is implied to have been something along the lines of skimming drug money.
Passed Over Promotion: Burrell implies that Daniel will get the command of the next available district. The promise is nullified after their fallout over the Barksdale detail and the post goes to a more manageable officer.
Subverted in Season 2; he grows tired of all the bullshit inherent in the BPD, sends in his resignation papers and is days aways from leaving the force, but he changes his mind after the Major Crimes Unit and actual police work become plausible.
Played straight in Season 5 when he's put between a rock and a hard place.
Shirtless Scene: Several during his private life. The man is really ripped.
I mean, I know you donĺt like it. But shit, I was proud.
Detective in Narcotics. One of the more competent cops on the team, she does much work in surveillance and recruiting informants, particularly Bubbles. She is shot in the first season, but recovers and returns to duty in a desk job (under pressure from her girlfriend, who doesn't like Kima's dangerous job). Ultimately, Daniels lures her back into the fray and she eventually earns an assignment to Homicide. Beholden to her conscience and strong sense of ethics (which doesn't make her nice; while she'd never look the other way at a crime or lie to her superiors, she doesn't think twice about beating the crap out of a suspect), in the fifth season, she is the one who reports McNulty and Freamon's fake serial killer to Daniels.
By-the-Book Cop: The closest thing to one on this show, as evidenced by her refusal to testify that she saw that Wee-Bey was the second gunman when she gets shot in Season 1 and her blowing the whistle on Freamon and McNulty in season 5; however, she still gets in on a little extracurricular brutality and other inappropriate conduct at times.
Cliff Hanger: Whether she'll survive after her shooting in season 1 is in doubt for awhile.
Twofer Token Minority: As a mixed black/Korean lesbian, she ought to count as a threefer, but in this case it's an aversion since the show realistically portrays the demographic makeup of Baltimore and she's not the only black, the only lesbian, or the only female detective around.
Played by: Wendell Pierce
You happy now, bitch?
A man must have a code.
Highly competent detective in Homicide. Bunk has a dry sense of humor, is almost always dressed in pinstripes, and enjoys his cigars. Bunk and McNulty often partner up to drink and cruise for women — in spite of the fact that they are both married. As a detective, Bunk is generally perfectly happy to work within the confines of the system in Homicide. In the fifth season, his tolerance for McNulty's cowboy antics is put to the test when McNulty fakes several serial murders, which puts a deep strain on their friendship.
You've lost your fucking mind, Jimmy. Look at you. Half-lit every third night, dead drunk every second. Nut deep in random pussy. What little time you are sober and limp-dicked, you're working murders that don't even exist!
I say we go down to the terrace and fuck some people up.
One of Those Two Guys in Narcotics. Herc is probably the dumbest working detective on the show. To him, the job is all about the "rip and run" and banging heads on the corners (often literally). What little active detective work he does do often involves cutting corners (such as placing bugs and pulling a surveillance camera without proper authorization) or bumbling his way through ineffective interrogations. He's also not above stealing confiscated drug money. He is forced to resign in Season 4 after acting on bad information and wrongfully arresting an influential black minister. He kicks around various private security agencies before settling into Maurice Levy's firm as a private investigator, where his friendships within the department and dumb luck earn him a bright future.
Aesop Amnesia: At the end of season 1 he's seen lecturing a couple of rookies on the importance of "smart" detective work as opposed to haphazard violent busts. This lesson is all but forgotten in the next seasons.
Apologizes to Bodie's grandmother for the inconvenience after the police come blazing into her house.
For all his failings, when Internal Affairs descends on his department, he takes the fall himself, without implicating Sydnor or Dozerman.
The Load: At the beginning of the show he and Carver are far and away the least competent detectives among the major characters; Daniels only trusts them to do surveillance work and half the time they can't even manage that. Carver eventually gets better, Herc doesn't.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: More than once, but his interrogation of Little Kevin, in which he lets slip that Randy talked to the police and thereby ruins his life, is the worst.
Police Are Useless: You could fill several pages detailing his many screw-ups over the course of the show.
Police Brutality: Most of the cops on the show engage in at one point or another, but Herc deserves special mention - brutality complaints are one of the main reasons he's not promoted to sergeant despite scoring well on the exam.
I don't need to chase these fucking knuckleheads. I know half of 'em. Shit, I know where they hang.
The other of Those Two Guys in Narcotics. He starts out almost as stupid and corrupt as Herc, but begins to mature under the tutelage of Daniels, and later, Bunny Colvin. He is instrumental in keeping Hamsterdam running in Season 3. He tries to help out Randy Wagstaff, but makes the mistake of trusting Herc, out of guilt for maturing past his ex-partner. In one of the series' biggest Tear Jerkers, he cannot save Randy from the group home. Later, he is shown to regret the cavalier attitude towards policework that he and Herc had taken earlier in his career, and proves himself a competent commander with a strong sense of ethics. He is promoted to lieutenant in the finale, showing a strong resemblance to his early mentor, Daniels.
Badass Boast: When he procures Marlo's number (courtesy of Herc actually), to an impressed Lester.
Locked Out of the Loop: Has a hilarious moment of this in Season 2, when he and Herc are left watching a townhouse all day for a guy that had already turned himself in.
The Mole: In Season 1, he feeds Burrell with inside information of Daniel's detail.
Rank Up: To Sergeant, with the implication that he's promoted because he was Burrell's mole, as Carved scored worse than Herc. Finally to Lieutenant, in one of the few meritorious and trully deserved promotions in the whole show.
Reasonable Authority Figure: He follows Colvin's advice and becomes a reference in the neighbourhood, a policeman close to the citizen and not a perpetual antagonist to the street felon.
Detective transferred in to Daniels' unit from the Pawnshop Unit. At first he keeps to himself, spending much of his time applying his meticulous nature to making miniature furniture instead of doing police work, causing McNulty and others to write him off as a worthless hump. After watching the other detectives fail to secure so much as a photograph of the detail's intended target, Freamon comes off the bench and shows himself to be true "natural police" (in fact, he is a former Homicide detective), proving himself knowledgeable and adept at many of aspects of running a wiretap investigation (including an understanding of the legal and political nuances that even the other competent detectives lack), and serves as a mentor to Kima, Prez and Sydnor.He is almost as insistent as (and at times, MORE insistent than) McNulty when it comes to pressing an investigation beyond what the department brass has tolerance for, but has more wisdom about how and when to fight for a case. While he's not above crossing his superiors and manipulating his coworkers, and goes along with Jimmy's 5th season serial killer scheme, he still lacks Jimmy's more self-destructive tendencies.
Cowboy Cop: Though he's much smarter and more careful about it than McNulty or Herc.
Do Wrong, Right: When he learns of McNulty's scheme, he apparently reacts with a What the Hell, Hero?, but what Lester means is the plot is weak and needs to be sensationalized.
Forensic Accounting: One of his specialities, usually met with a stern opposition from the higher-ups, since drug money funds political campaigns. The few times he can use it, he compares it to a Boom, Headshot.
You follow drugs and you find drug addicts and drug dealers, you follow the money and you don't know where the fuck it's gonna take you.
Daniels: He stares at you over the top of his reading glasses, with that look that says I'm the father you never had, and I don't want to be disappointed in you ever again.
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski
Played by: Jim True-Frost
I was a police...up in the city...
You juke the stats, and majors become colonels. I've been here before.
Roland begins the series as dead weight that's dumped on the Barksdale detail from Auto, who only still has a career in the department thanks to the aid of his father-in-law, Major Stanislaus Valcheck. Prez is unhappy in his job and has a hard time keeping his head while in the street. Early in the series he accompanies Herc and Carver on an ill-conceived recon mission in the high-rise projects, where he pistol-whips a youth (which results in permanent blindness in one eye for the kid). Daniels coaches Prez on how to answer IID's questions, and he is removed from street duty.While indoors, he takes to Freamon's wiretapping, showing a real knack for codebreaking, deciphering the street talk through the tinny audio of the wiretap, following the paper trail and organizing the accumulated info on their targets. In the third season, when responding to a distress call while out making a food run, he accidentally shoots a plainclothes officer, and resigns. He becomes a middle school teacher in season four, helping out Randy and Dukie as best he can.
Author Avatar: Series co-creator Ed Burns was also a Baltimore cop who later retired from the force and became a middle school teacher.
Leeroy Jenkins: One of the reasons he's a poor street cop is his tendency to panic and rush in without a plan in dangerous situations. This flaw ultimately ends his police career when he accidentally shoots a fellow police officer to death during a firefight.
Reassignment Backfire: twice in the series - first when he becomes a Desk Jockey instead of a beat cop, which allows him to bring his decoding skills to the table and aid the Barksdale investigation; then when he's kicked off the police force and becomes a teacher, a profession he turns out to be very well-suited for.
Used rather painfully after his accidental shooting of Officer Waggoner in season 3. All the other police present are talking about how much of a fuck-up Prez is based off of his record prior to joining the MCU, not having seen the way that he's grown in the years since. McNulty's expression as he listens to Landsman lambaste the guy says it all: Prez's mistake is so huge McNulty can't really refute the talk, but at the same time he knows just how unfair it is that no one outside the unit will ever understand the true quality Prez has demonstrated to his comrades.
An intelligent, hardass police commander and bureaucrat, once described by a fellow police commander as being "as ruthless a fuck as we have in this department." He begins the series as a major in charge of the Homicide department, and over the course of the series enjoys promotions to colonel, deputy commissioner, commissioner and state police superintendent. Rawls achieves this by mainly by doing everything in his power to produce good stats (murder clearances, lower crime rates, etc) — though what looks good on paper doesn't necessarily shine so bright in reality. For example Rawls is not above making an arrest that has no real prayer of producing a conviction, even though it means severely compromising a major investigation — all to make the crime stats look better on paper. While serving as a colonel and deputy commissioner, he applies severe pressure on subordinate officers, much of which is quite deserved, that causes most of his colleagues to "juke the stats" by reclassifying crimes (felonies are downgraded to misdemeanors, etc) — a practice that he strongly encourages without actually being explicit about it.Rawls has no patience for insubordination, or anything that might threaten his stats. As a result, McNulty makes himself an enemy of Rawls, who orders another cop to spy on him (in an attempt to get him fired), kicks him out of homicide and blocks his transfer to another, more desirable unit that could put McNulty's skill as a detective to work. Still, there are limits to Rawls' animosity towards McNulty; when McNulty feels responsible for another cop getting shot, Rawls steps in to assure him that his guilt is misplaced.
Genre Savvy: He's quite competent, if cynical and nefarious, knows his trade and quickly recognizes special situations before other officials do, due to his great experience. Too bad he devotes all the efforts in a wrong direction.
Pet the Dog: His speech to McNulty where he tells him that Kima getting shot wasn't his fault. Done with Rawls' usual bluntness, of course, and an explanation that if it was Rawls would be the first to lay into him for it.
Rank Up: Starts as the Major of the homicide unit. Enjoys a series of promotions, mostly political, and ends up as Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
Straight Gay: If he's in the closet, then it's a pretty rare case of being neither armored nor transparent - no obviously-false-front of homophobia or anything remotely camp. Truth in Television, since there are a lot of gay cops in real life whose sexuality is basically a non-issue in their professional lives.
Word of Gay: His sexual orientation is strongly hinted at in the show, but David Simon has confirmed it in interviews.
Played by: Frankie Faison
MAJOR! MY OFFICE! NOW!
It's Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you.
Deputy commissioner (later, commissioner). Burrell is a career-minded officer, more skilled at playing politics than actual police administration. He proves to be a major roadblock time and again for Daniels' unit, which has a tendency to run investigations that could implicate Burrell's politically connected friends. Eventually, when Carcetti is elected mayor, his fixing of crime statistics gets him forced to retire, though he is savvy enough to make sure he gets a golden parachute.
Book Dumb: Described as "stone stupid" by fellow Dunbar High School alumnus Prop Joe. Still smart enough to play the connections game.
Jerkass Has Apoint: At the very end of his time in the BPD, as he is getting ready to leave his office for the last time he points out that no other public service/department gets completely interfered with by politicians the way that police do, and that the fickle nature of those politicians makes it impossible for the police to actually accomplish anything they're set to, and it's all compounded by the utter lack of knowledge that politicians have about the nature of policing. It doesn't change the fact that he's an Obstructive Bureaucrat who would rather make himself l0ook good with rigged numbers than actually improve the city, but he definitelyhas a point.
Pet the Dog: A minor one, and perhaps only done because he misunderstands their relationship, but when Commissioner Frazier refuses to talk to Kima's partner Cheryl when Kima is shot and in danger of dying, Burrell goes ahead and does so alone.
Daniels: There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, now, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel.
Sleazy Politician: It's politics that got him to his current rank, and Burrell definitely knows how to play that game. Give him credit, he is good at using politics, for example the way he used Internal Affairs to get Herc fired for Carcetti without making it look as though Carcetti was caving to the deacons was a very effective piece of work.
It's all about self-preservation, Jimmy. Something you never learned.
Sergeant in Homicide who enjoys his pornography and food. Like Rawls, he has little patience for anything that threatens his squad's clearance rate, and spends much of his time belittling McNulty. While he appears aloof, he truly does care about his subordinates, and he demonstrates when he lobbies Rawls on McNulty's behalf (although this partially comes from Jay's desire to keep the clearances that Jimmy brings in) and when he gives wakes to fallen officers.
Hidden Depths: A good orator and apparently a caring father, judging by the photos of his children he keeps in his desk.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though he is often overbearing and obnoxious to his subordinates, he genuinely does care about them and attempt to protect them whenever the homicide unit comes under attack.
Name's the Same: He's emphatically not based upon the real-life Jay Landsman, who plays Lt. Mello.
The Nicknamer: He calls McNulty "The Prince of Tides" and "Clarice", and Lester "Madam Curie" when he is pestered and burdened by their overdiligent police work.
Porn Stash: More often than not seen reading a girlie mag.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Downplayed, but considering that Rawls uses him as an attack dog to breath down the necks of the detectives and watch over the clearance rate, he's sometimes more supportive and agreeable than expected.
Played by: Corey Parker Robinson
Low bottom enough for you?
Torn cammies by Versace, stained sweatshirt by Ralph Lauren. Haven't showered in two days, haven't shaved in four. I am one ripe, nasty son-of-a-bitch.
Young detective assigned to Daniels' unit early on. Does surveillance and undercover work alongside Greggs and Bubbles. He agrees to help Freamon work his illegal wiretap in season 5, and in the finale, is shown going to Judge Phelan to get a case worked on, demonstrating his willingness to disregard the rules and chain-of-command to bring in a good case.
The Generic Guy: Probably the least distinctive and well-developed among the police of the cast.
History Repeats: In the finale, he asks Judge Phelan to help him circumvent the rules to advance a case in a way that closely echoes a similar scene featuring McNulty in season 1.
Only Sane Man: More or less becomes one by default in Season 4 when the MCU is made up of only himself, Herc, and Dozerman.
Out of Focus: Even when he is around, he gets less screen time and character development than most of the other cops.
Put on a Bus: For pretty much all of season 2. Lampshaded when Sydnor reminds the other detectives that he doesn't remember the details of the port case because he didn't work it with them.
The Reliable One: Stays in the background, but is always doing decent work, and aside from Season 2, he is part of the MCU for its entire existence. This makes his Character Development into the next McNulty very unexpected.
Played by: Michael Salconi
A bumbling detective of the Homicide Unit.
Clueless Detective: He's terrible at the job, having less than 40% clearance rate. His excuse for his performance is the lack of "dunker" (easy) cases.
Deadpan Snarker: At times, for instance when he points out the futility of counter-terrorism training in a crime-ridden city like Baltimore.
Demoted to Extra: Rawls demotes him to patrol officer. He's happy with the less demanding job.
The Driver: Responsible for driving the district arrest van in the Western District.
The Mole: Subverted. Rawls sends him to the detail because he's one of the unit's more inept detectives. He can spy on McNulty or be expelled from Homicide. But when Bunk and Jimmy solve a case for him, he clues McNulty in.
Polk and Mahon
Two old-timer detectives of the Homicide Unit.
The Alcoholic: Infamously notorious for it. Polk shows up drunk at 9am.
Daniels: Between the two of them, I don't have a designated driver.
Put on a Bus: Mahon takes early retirement following his injury, and is last seen encouraging Polk to do the same.
Those Two Guys: They hang around together, doing very little until their shift is over. Probably for the best.
Played by: Al Brown
Fits like a glove!
You want to do it your way, fine. But you ain't gonna use my people to fuck me.
Commander of the Southeastern district. Father-in-law of Pryzbylewski, he uses his connections to get him out of trouble several times. Gets into a feud with Frank Sobotka over a stained glass window, leading to the theft of a security van by dockworkers, and an investigation into the stevedore's union's finances that brings them down. Later, he becomes a supporter of Carcetti. In the series finale, after Burrell has left, Rawls has been bribed into a state position and Daniels quits rather than juke the stats, he is promoted to Commissioner by virtue of being the last man standing.
Dark Horse Victory: He is the last character that people would expect to wind up as Commissioner, but in the last episode he becomes the last prominent member of the police hierarchy left...
It's All About Me: Concerned about petty personal schemes most of the time. Ironically some of those lead to actual police work when they spiral out of his control.
What's right would be for you to come down here to my house like a decent human being and ask a common courtesy. But that's not you, it's not your way. My old man always said you were a half-ass punk over at Holy Redeemer as a kid. My sister said you were a pain in the ass pest at all them CYO dances where none of the girls would even look at you. Damn near everyone at the Point said when you got your badge it was too much for anybody named Valchek to have a patrolman's drag. And sure enough, you've been an official asshole every day since.
Villainous Breakdown: In season 2, when the detectives and Rhonda tell him they can't charge Frank Sobotka in connection with drug smuggling because it would scuttle their broader investigation.
You Have Failed Me: He views the police officers under his command as tools, and won't hesitate to fire them when they didn't follow exactly what he's telling them to do.
Howard "Bunny" Colvin
Played by: Robert Wisdom
There's never been a paper bag for drugs. Until now.
The city's worse now than when I started this job. Now what does that say about me?
Colvin is the Major in command of the Western District. He's a reasonable commander who is sincerely devoted to protecting the community and has become jaded after witnessing the corruption of Baltimore in general and its police department in particular for many years. Sick of seeing so much death related to the drug game, he comes up with the "Hamsterdam" free-zone experiment in Season 3. He forced to retire in disgrace because of it. Afterward he goes on to try to rehabilitate delinquent middle school children and keep them from joining gangs. He find success in Namond Brice, whom he adopts.
Compassionate Critic: Most prominent when he explains the difference between soldiering and policing to a still green Carter.
You're a good man sergeant. You got good instincts, and as far as I can tell, you're a decent supervisor. But from where I sit, you ain't shit when it comes to policing. Oh, don't take it personal, it ain't just you, it's all our young police. Whole generation of y'all. You think about it; you've been here over a year now, and you got nobody on the street looking out for you, nobody willing to talk to you.
Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: His initial plan for a new job after retiring from the police was a position at the prestigious and powerful Johns Hopkins University, which would have also paid him very well. Once he is forced to retire in disgrace due to Hamsterdam, that job offer is withdrawn and Colvin instead winds up as the head of a hotel security team. And that job only lasts until the hotel management tell him to turn a blind eye to a businessman patron physically assaulting a prostitute in the hotel...
Happily Married: We don't see a great deal of his home life, but he and his wife appear to be this.
History Repeats: Colvin is all too aware of this trope, and thus does his best to help avoid it once he starts working with school kids.
Every single one of them know they're headed back to the corners. Their brothers and sisters, shit, their parents. They came through these same classrooms. We pretended to teach them, they pretended to learn and where'd they end up? Same damn corners. They're not fools, these kids. They don't know our world but they know their own. They see right through us.
Internal Reformist: Fed up with the "statistics-game" and related bullshit, he tries a new approach in the so-called war on drugs.
Mentor: In addition to his stint as a teacher and his tutelage of Namond, he kindly gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Carver regarding his policing style which makes a deep, positive impact on Carver's career and helps him to become a caring public servant. Watch
Nice Guy: Compassionate, empathic, friendly and fatherly. In a show like The Wire this is a Trauma Conga Line waiting to happen.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: His reward for cutting the felony crime rate in his district by 14% and improving the general quality of life for its citizens is to be busted down to lieutenant, fired in disgrace, blacklisted and vilified to the media as an "amoral" and "incompetent" man who "buckled under the pressure" of his command. It also does significant damage to his plans for what to do when he retires from the police.
Save Our Students: Makes this his goal once he takes a job doing research work with the troubled "corner kids" at the school in season 4. He has some success.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: In season 3, he goes against police department policy and essentially legalizes drugs in his district because he believes it will reduce the amount of violent crime and make it easier for social services to reach out to addicts, and thus accomplish what he views as the ultimate goal of policework - making people safer. It works, but only for awhile.
Shadow Archetype: An inversion. He's Stringer's good counterpart; they both try to rationalize the drug trade by breaking the old patterns and are both screwed over by the bosses for their trouble. This is lampshaded by Stringer himself when he says he went to Colvin because they were "both just trying to make sense out of this game." Later on he uses the same Curse Cut Short (Just get on with it mother-) to Rawls and Burrel as they are cashiering him that Stringer used an episode earlier to Omar and Mouzone.
Tragic Hero: He's a Reasonable Authority Figure who is passionate about doing the job right and protecting the community in a police force where most cops only care about working the numbers so that it makes them look good. His last big attempt to do something about the out of control drug and gang violence proves his undoing.
Played by: Jay Landsman
Administrative lieutenant of the Western District.
At the opening of The Wire, the Barksdale Organization is Baltimore's largest drug dealing organization. Throughout seasons 1 and 2, the Barksdale Organization hold the prized Franklin Terrace Towers high-rise housing project and the nearby low rise housing projects called "the Pit", both of which they have turned into 24 hour drug markets. In addition, they hold a swathe of corners throughout West Baltimore and they launder their money through political donations and property development.They are based in a West Baltimore strip club called Orlando's and their main stash house is out in the county. The group's main leaders (Avon Barksdale and "Stringer" Bell) never handle drugs, leaving that to subordinates, and they use an elaborate system of communication, the breaking of which the first season largely focuses on. As the series rolls on, the Barksdales are hit with a series of setbacks. As a result of the investigation into their organization, Avon is sent to prison at the end of season 1 and remains there until partway through season 3, they lose their main drug supply ("connect") from New York City in the aftermath of Avon going to prison, and finally they lose the Franklin Terrace Towers to urban redevelopment, which effectively breaks their power. After an abortive drug war with the up and coming Stanfield Organization and the death of Stringer Bell, the remnants of the organization join Proposition Joe's New Day Co-op under Slim Charles.
Played by: Wood Harris
..and I want my corners
I'm just a gangster, I suppose...
West-side drug kingpin, head of the eponymous Barksdale Organization. A vengeful but calculating gangster, he is a lifelong player of The Game and takes both it and his street reputation very seriously. He starts the show at the peak of his influence, outwitting police surveillance until he is eventually caught by a hidden camera. Influential even in prison, he attempts to run his criminal empire while behind bars, but his longtime friend and Number Two Stringer ends up making a couple major decisions behind Avon's back that forever change the direction fo the Barksdale Organization. He manages to orchestrate a scheme that gets him early parole (serving only a couple years of his seven year sentence), but when he's released, he finds that much of his best territory is in the hands of a rival drug crew. Against Stringer's advice, he starts a war with the rival Stanfield gang, which leads to Stringer betraying him by giving a tip to the cops. When the police catch him in a safehouse full of weapons, he is arrested and forced to serve out the remainder of his previous sentence with no hope of parole. Afterward, the Barksdale Organization collapses entirely, but he manages to retain some of his influence in prison.
Batman Gambit: In season 2, he ensures his early release from prison by orchestrating a mass poisoning at the prison, then offering to testify against the "culprit".
Blood Knight: As he tells Stringer, who ultimately only truly cares about money, "I bleed red, you bleed green."
Book Dumb: He is a very far cry from being sophisticated in the same manner as Stringer, but he is intelligent and streetwise. Arguably, he is also far more self-aware than Stringer.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After going to prison, Avon sees Wee Bey being constantly harassed by a guard. Turns out Wee Bey killed the guard's cousin on Avon's orders, but when Wee Bey tries to remind Avon and tell him about the details, Avon doesn't remember a thing about it. "Need a scorecard to keep up with your lethal ass."
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He's not very fond of Stringer's quest for legitimacy. Avon is just a gangster, and he wants his corners.
Even Evil Has Standards: He may be a bloodthirsty kingpin with no compunctions about killing people who threaten his profits, but even so he's appalled by Stringer's decision to order a hit on Omar while the latter is escorting his elderly grandmother to church on Sunday morning.
Et Tu, Brute?: Betrays and is betrayed by Stringer Bell, for the sake of the business.
Genius Bruiser: A former golden gloves boxer who is wise and reflective. Sanguine as he is, he knows his trade better than Stringer.
Genre Savvy: He is related to legendary criminal Butch Stamford and his family taught him well the ways of the game. Avon knows the likes of Stanfield can't be negotiated with.
There's always gonna be a Marlo man, no Marlo, no game.
Kingpin in His Gym: In one scene in the first season, he and Stringer are seen playing basketball in a gym.
The thing is, you only got to fuck up once. Be a little slow, be a little late, just once...
Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: He's sent away to prison in season 2, but manages to maintain control of his business, take over the supply of drugs flowing into the prison, and spend his free time playing video games and eating KFC.
Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters: He sponsors a local charity basketball game, and in season 3 he gives Cutty the financial backing to get his boxing gym up and running, among other community activities.
Sympathetic P.O.V.: He would be a run-of-the mill big-bad guy in most other works. The Wire takes some time to show how his life circumstances influence his criminal ways and how his rivals are worse than him.
Thicker Than Water: Has a soft spot for his nephew D'Angelo and discusses that family is what counts and ultimately the point of the game.
Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?
Second in command to Avon Barksdale, the two have been friends and accomplices since they were boys. Stringer sees himself as analytical, precise, and intelligent, and takes economics and business classes in hope of legitimizing the Barksdale Organization's profits through investments such as real estate. Gradually this stance eventually alienates him from Avon, who ultimately is much more concerned about playing the game and upholding the street code of ethics he grew up with.Stringer is not arrested when Avon and D'Angelo get hauled off at the end of Season 1, and becomes effective head of the organization. Immediately, he must deal with encroachment from Proposition Joe's crew, Omar's continuing robberies of Barksdale holdings and his suspicion that D'Angelo will eventually sell out the Barksdale Organizaion in order to reduce his prison time. He attempts to solve these problems by allying with Prop Joe to create the start of what becomes the New Day Co-op, pointing Omar and Professional Killer Brother Mouzone at each other, and having D'Angelo assassinated. When his plans to become a real estate developer take longer than expected, he bribes state senator Clay Davis to get the proper permits, but is rainmade by him instead. Soon afterwards, he is assassinated by Omar Little and Brother Mouzone, who figured out his role in turning the two against each other.
Ambition Is Evil: Inverted, as his ambition to rise above the gangster life implies a pragmatic approach to crime and a reduction of violence.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: He plans to apply his shrewd knowledge of economics to become "the bank", winning the game through real estate, legitimate business and untraceable laundered money, shifting away from the risky street trafficking.
Dragon Ascendant: When Avon is caught on a hidden camera but he is not, that means de facto takes over the reins of the Barksdale group. At first he tries to continue coordinating the Organization's moves with Avon, but he increasingly becomes a Dragon-in-Chief and moves to truly take over the Organization.
Dragon-in-Chief: Arguably to Barksdale in Season 1 given that he is one whom McNulty and the other detectives at the Baltimore Police Department must match wits with in order to incriminate his gang.
Et Tu, Brute?: Betrays and is betrayed by Avon, for the sake of the business.
Hidden Depths: When McNulty and Bunk look in his apartment after his death and find it immaculate and very tastefully decorated (complete with a copy of Adam Smith's On the Wealth of Nations, McNulty remarks that he had no idea who he was chasing all this time.
Idiot Ball: His usual shrewdness leaves the building when he tips his hand to Brother Mouzone by asking, in a surprised tone, about the existence of more than one assailant
Internal Reformist: Founder of the "New Day Co-op". Sets the focus on quality product as opposed to controlling territory since turf wars draw police attention.
Noble Demon: Played with. Stringer is a refined thug, but his quest to become a legitimate businessman is a step that would take Baltimore out of a spiral of violence. When his prospects go sour, the ruthless druglord who is willing to kill a Senator comes back.
Man of Wealth and Taste: When Bunk and McNulty finally find his apartment after Stringer is killed, they're shocked to see a large, very tastefully decorated apartment that looks like it belongs to a banker or intellectual.
Murder the Hypotenuse: Only implied, but his arranging for D'Angelo's death might've had something to do with the fact that he was also busy screwing Donette, in addition to other factors.
Pragmatic Villainy: His market strategy abhorres violence not out of moral qualms but because it's bad for business and brings the attention of the law.
Nigga you ain't got the floor, chair don't recognize your ass [...] Adjourn your asses
Surrounded by Idiots: Through most of season 3 you can tell this is going through his head as he tries to use his business smarts to reform the Barksdale gang. Comically agravatted by his use of advanced economics terms with barely literate underlings whose intelligence is like a 40 degree day.
Too Clever by Half: His cleverness takes him several steps ahead of himself, which ultimately leads to big failures.
Avon: I look at you these days, String, you know what I see? I see a man without a country. Not hard enough for this right here and maybe, just maybe, not smart enough for them out there.
Villainous Breakdown: Basically almost all of his scenes in "Middle Ground", leading up to his death.
It ain't like that. See, the king stay the king, a'ight? Everything stay who he is. Except for the pawns. Now, if the pawn make it all the way down to the other dude's side, he get to be queen. And like I said, the queen ain't no bitch. She got all the moves.
Lieutenant in the Barksdale Organization, and nephew of Avon. He is acquitted for murder in the premiere episode, by means of witness tampering. In charge of the low rise projects, and the dealers Poot, Bodie, and Wallace, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the drug game. When Wallace wants to leave the game, he is supportive, which places him under the suspicion of Stringer Bell. The news of Wallace's murder turns him against the organization, and he begins the process of becoming a witness against the Barksdale organization, but is convinced by his mother to keep quiet and serve the years for the sake of his family.In prison, D'Angelo is distances himself from his family and seems to want little more than to be left alone so he can do his time in peace. Avon tries to insert himself into D'Angelo's life, offering to make him a part of the scheme which results in Avon's early release, but D'Angelo doesn't bite, not wanting to be party to the harm his family does, nor wishing to be beholden to them. Meanwhile, Stringer still fears that D'Angelo may turn on the organization, and has an additional motive for wanting D'Angelo out of the picture in the form of his romance with D'Angelo's girlfriend, Donette. Stringer arranges to have D'Angelo murdered (without Avon's knowledge), which is made to look like a suicide.
Anti-Villain: On the darker side of a type IV, but still a type IV.
Chess Motifs: In a memorable early scene he explains the game to Bodie and Wallace; this scene receives a Call Back much later in the series when Bodie realizes that street-level dealers like him are nothing more than pawns in the drug game and are expendable to the higher-ups.
Decoy Protagonist: Seems like the main character during the street settings. Then he surprisingly gets killed off in prison.
Deuteragonist: In season 1 the workings of the Barksdale gang are seen mostly through his eyes.
Fish out of Water: Shown as an unrefined patron during a dinner with his baby mama in a fancy restaurant. In a broader sense he's out of his element in the criminal world, despite being born into it. The cops/attorneys exploit this when he's under custody.
Lying to the Perp: In the 2nd episode Bunk and McNulty trick him into writing a letter of apology to the non-existent family of a Barksdale clan murder victim; this later causes him to refuse to believe it initially when he's told that Wallace has been murdered.
Nepotism: his rank in the Organization is only due to him being Avon's nephew.
The Reveal: Early on D'Angelo claims to have been the killer in the murder of a former girlfriend of Avon's who had agreed to cooperate with the police; it is revealed that while D'Angelo did take part in the murder by providing a distraction, it was Wee-Bey who actually pulled the trigger.
Sympathetic Adulterer: Cheats on his girlfriend Donette with Shardene in season 1, but Donette being revealed to be a rather unpleasant person who in turn cheats on him with Stringer while D'Angelo is in prison in season 2 it is portrayed sympathetically.
Sympathetic Criminal: Most of the criminals on the show receive at least some sympathy, but D'Angelo in particular stands out.
Villainous BSOD: Wallace's death, which shakes his belief in the whole system of "family" that he's been taught to rely on. In the following season, his general apathy and the fact that he's actively avoiding associating with Avon makes it that much easier to pass off his murder as a suicide.
White Sheep: Played with. While he's not exactly an angel, D'Angelo does not share the ruthless, cold-blooded nature of his uncle and his mother, which causes friction among them since the family business often requires cold-blooded ruthlessness.
Played by: Michael Hyatt
To do with what?
He came to the edge, but he turned around and walked away.
Avon's sister, and a quiet partner in the family's drug operation. She is the mother of D'Angelo and attempts to protect and promote his interests within the organization though ultimately she fails to save him when Stringer begins to doubt his loyalty. Later, after Avon is sent to prison and Stringer killed, she takes over as the leader of the organization.
Calling the Old Man Out: Subverted, after a persistent interrogation she realizes the truth about D'Angelo and seems to be about to explode on Avon, but she quietly understands the situation and just weeps.
Evil Matriarch: Fulfills the "matriarch" part better than De'Londa, though she's arguably not as evil.
Mama Bear: Say what you will about her, she does care about her son.
Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice
Played by: Hassan Johnson
My word is still my word.
Look at me up in here. Who the fuck would wanna be that if they can be anything else, De'Londa?
The Barksdale Organization's most trusted soldier. It's hinted that he has been soldiering for Avon since he was a teenager, and like Avon he has grown up in the Game and knows it inside and out. As the head of the Barksdale muscle in season 1, he is tasked with forcibly acquiring territory from other drug dealers/organizations and hunting down enemies of the Barksdale Organization such as Omar. He is wounded by Omar when ambushed in the middle of one such territory grab, and later wounds Omar in return when Omar attempts to assassinate Avon.Later he takes part in killing Orlando, who is cooperating with the police against the Barksdales, which also results in Kima being wounded and nearly killed. He is eventually caught, sentenced to life in prison, and takes the fall for many of the organization's murders. While on the inside, he remains a trusted friend and confidant to Avon. He does not wish his son, Namond, to go the same route, and lets Howard Colvin adopt him in Season 4.
Affably Evil: Wee-Bey is very friendly and quite personable. But he's also a completely ruthless killer and the best soldier the Barksdale Organization ever had.
Badass: Wee-Bey has the distinction of being the only character in the wire to beat Omar Little in a one-on-one gunfight, when he thwarts Omar's assassination attempt on Avon and wounds him in the shoulder, forcing him to flee. Bonus points in that he was responding to an ambush too.
Badass Boast: "My word is still my word. In here, in Baltimore, in any place you can think of calling home, it'll be my word that finds you."
Big Eater: During his negotiations with the DA, in addition to his other requests, he demands pit sandwiches in exchange for confessing.
Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Unlike his wife, he doesn't want his son Namond to follow in his footsteps, and allows Bunny Colvin to adopt him as a result. See the page quote above.
Hidden Depths: Again, see his page quote and the way he leaps at Namond having a chance at life outside of the drug world. He's also surprisingly poetic, describing 1990s Baltimore - when the Barksdale Organization began it's rise - as "a vision in gold".
We like them bald-headed bitches on the chessboard.
Bodie begins the series as a low ranking drug dealer in the low rises. Bodie fully buys into the mystique and glamor of gangsta lifestyle, believing that as a loyal, competent, ambitious soldier, he can eventually rise up through the ranks of his world and become a kingpin like Stringer and Avon. He does indeed catch Stringer's eye and is promoted to a mid-level position, but subsequently loses Stringer's favor somewhat as Stringer begins moving the Barksdale Organization away from violence while Bodie maintains his thug outlook.Once the Barksdale organization disbands, he becomes an independent dealer, and manages to build up a quiet corner into a decent piece of real estate (at least, if you're a drug dealer) but is muscled off the corner by the Stanfield crew, and is ultimately forced to become a part of that organization. Ultimately, Bodie is disillusioned by the casual, often excessive violence perpetrated by the Stanfield gang and looks to turn informant when one of his friends is murdered by the organization. However, he is spotted with McNulty, and is killed, though he goes out fighting on his corner.
Book Dumb: He's not very literate and his vocabulary is poor, but he's one of smartest pushers and has a deep insight of the game.
Dumbass Has a Point: Much to Rhonda's surprise, he successfully alleges "contrapment" in the aftermath of Hamsterdam. McNulty is amused by it and later hails him as "Mr. Entrapment".
Even Evil Has Standards: He's an unrepentant drug dealer willing to kill as part of his job, but even so he's disgusted by Marlo's callousness and brutality. When he sees the bodies of Marlo's victims being pulled out of the vacant houses, he just loses it.
"FUCK Marlo, man, FUCK him! And anybody that thinks it's alright to do people this way!"
Glory Days: He clearly misses the days of the Barksdale Organization's dominance once they're gone, and makes several references to it during the 4th season.
Bodie: Shit, man, if this was the old days... Slim Charles: Yeah, well, the thing about the old days... they the old days.
Seen It All: He's like this in regards to the drug game by the time Season 4 comes around, and is growing increasingly world weary, not to mention cynical and disillusioned with The Game as a result.
I've been doing this a long time. I feel old. I've been out there since I was 13, I ain't never fucked up a count, never stole off a package, never did some shit that I wasn't told to do. ... They want us to stand with them, right, but where the fuck they at when they supposed to be standing by us? I mean when shit goes bad, and there's hell to pay, where they at? This game is rigged, man.
Undying Loyalty: To his friends in the Barksdale crew and later the people who work for him when he becomes an independent dealer. When he grudgingly agrees to inform on the Stansfield gang, one of his conditions is that he will not say anything about anyone working for him or other former Barksdale Organization members, despite the fact that there are few of them left and those who are left didn't come to his aid when he needed it.
Malik "Poot" Carr
Played by: Tray Chaney
It's a cold world.
World going one way, people another.
A drug dealer in the low rises who is obsessed with women — an obsession that results in many trips down to the clinic for treatments for various venereal diseases. He serves Bodie well when the latter is promoted, and stays loyal to him even after the disintegration of the Barksdale organization, up until the attack on their corner, when he flees for his life. We see him in the fifth season, having left the game, working in a shoe store.
The Casanova: Downplayed but constantly in the background save for Jimmy he seems to be the most successful with women in the series with Bodie descrining him as a "Pussy crazed motherfucker"
Drug dealer in the low rises. He takes care of the younger members of the drug crew he's not dealing. Leads Stringer Bell to Brandon, but feels guilty afterwards and starts snorting heroin. He is arrested and agrees to inform; he is sent to his grandmother's for protection, but returns to Baltimore and is slain by Bodie and Poot.
Free-Range Children: He takes care of several younger children who live in the Towers with him. This makes his death even more heartbreaking.
Idiot Ball: It's really pretty stupid of him to return to the Towers after talking to the police about Brandon's murder, but it's justified given that he's very naive about the true nature of "the game".
My God, What Have I Done?: When he informs Stringer Bell about Brandon's location he wasn't aware that he'd be tortured to death. He feels so guilty about it that he must resort to taking drugs in order to cope.
Too Dumb to Live: Had a chance to get out of the streets and live a normal life with his Grandparents in another state after talking to the police. However, he goes back to the "corners" because he missed his two friends. They end up killing him.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: He has a very naive view of both friendship and the nature of the drug trade. He pays for it.
Marquis "Bird" Hilton
Played by: Fredro Starr
Tell you what bitch. Gimme this hand back, step to me, and I'll fuck you in all three holes!
An especially foul-mouthed and vicious soldier in the Barksdale crew, he is responsible for the murder of the State's Witness who testified against D'Angelo in episode 1 and played a large role in the torture and murder of Omar's lover Brandon. Those two acts come back to haunt him, as it makes him a major target of the police and makes Omar willing to cooperate with the cops and testify against Bird in court.
Framing the Guilty Party: McNulty and Bunk put Omar on the witness stand, knowing that he will perjure himself to convict Bird in retaliation for Bird's torture of Omar's boyfriend. Things is, despite Omar lying about witnessing it, Bird really did do the crime he's accused of. Amusingly enough, everyone on both sides of the case knows Omar is lying - everyone except the jury.
Jerkass: A charming gentleman who spouts Country Matters and many other slurs, several times at Kima and the other detectives while in homicide's interview room. He's so offensive and obnoxious that even Daniels joins in on the asskicking.
Omar: Man, Bird really know how to bring it out in people...
Police Brutality Gambit: Played with. When Bird is arrested, a Polaroid is taken of his existing injuries so he can't claim they were inflicted in custody. This does not stop the Baltimore Police Department from beating him. While he is handcuffed to a table, no less, and they ceremoniously tear up the Polaroid before they do it, just so Bird knows what's about to happen.
A top enforcer in the Barksdale Organization who, along with Wee-Bey, participated in the shooting that nearly killed Kima. He surrenders himself to police custody afterwards, although thanks to Levy's legal magic he only gets sentenced to several years. After getting out of prison the Barksdales have fallen apart, so he joins the Stanfield crew. Is killed by Omar as part of his feud against Marlo.
Boom, Headshot: Executed by Omar for his association with Avon and Marlo and in revenge for the torture-murder of Butchie. While he wasn't present at Butchie's torture and murder, when Omar asks him what he would have done if he was, Savino doesn't answer. (This is in contrast to Slim Charles, who says that if Joe had anything to do with Butchie's death he would have helped Omar avenge it.)
Honor Among Thieves: Omar doesn't target Savino because he was not directly involved in the murder of Omar's boyfriend Brandon. In Season 5, Savino tries to invoke it again, pointing out he had no part in Butchie's demise, but Omar is out for blood.
Savino: When they did the old man like that, I wasn't there. Omar: Bein' that you muscle for Marlo, what you was gonna do if you was there, huh? Riddle me that. Yeah. You know what, yo? (Omar shoots him in the head)
Just Following Orders: Savino tacitly admits this would be his response to being told to torture or kill an innocent.
Long Bus Trip: Sentenced for three years at the end of Season 1, he returns in Season five as a member of the Stanfield crew.
Played by: Anwan Glover
The thing about the old days is they the old days
If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie.
Soldier for the Barksdale Organization who rose through the ranks when the group was disintegrating. A friend of Cutty, and respectful of his decision to leave the game. He manages to evade capture when the rest of the Barksdale Organization is raided at the end of Season 3, and goes on to join the New Day Co-Op, becoming a trusted member. When Marlo Stanfield takes over the Co-Op, he is a dissenting voice. Eventually he learns that Cheese betrayed Prop Joe to Marlo and kills Cheese. Clips from the end of the series hint that he is now one of the top ranking members of the Co-op.
Badass: The last quality muscle of the Barksdale organization.
Genius Bruiser: Downplayed but clearly more intelligent than the average muscle and sometimes on par with the smartest druglords; he finds valid holes in Stringer's market strategy, points out killing a Senator is a whole new game and inmediately recognizes "Marlo's up to some shit" and warns Prop Joe about it.
Arguably more Genre Savvy than Genius. Charles' intelligence revolves around the game and knowing his place in it. Where Stringer and Joe dream of a new day in drug dealing without body counts and beefs, Charles is imminently aware that younger, fringe dealers will see this as a mark of weakness. When Avon admits that their cause to start a war with Marlo is unfounded, Charles answers that whether or not the war is justified is beside the point at this stage. Even in the end Charles doesn't step up to claim sole representation to Greeks, but rather, sets up Fat Face Rick to be the chief representative, with him as The Dragon.
Honor Among Thieves: His outrage is more than palpable when he confronts two of his subordinates for violating the traditional Sunday Truce when they try to kill Omar. Later on when Omar ambushes him, Slim mentions he would have helped Omar if Prop. Joe were involved in Butchie's fate. Omar implicitly acknowledges and spares him.
Honor Before Reason: Killing Cheese can be argued to be this, especially since it cost the Co-op the $900,000 he was going to pitch in.
Mook Promotion: In line with the chess analogy of the show, he is the rare pawn who eventually becomes a queen.
Motivational Lie: After Stringer is killed and the Stansfield gang falsely take credit for it, he encourages the low ranking soldiers to blame the Stansfield organization even after Avon enlightens him as to the truth.
Don't matter who did what to who at this point. Fact is, we went to war, and now there ain't no going back. I mean, shit, it's what war is, you know? Once you in it, you in it. If it's a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight.
Number Two: First to Avon and Stringer, then to Prop Joe.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Shoots Cheese right in the middle of a speech and takes control of the Co-op.
Murder ain't no thing, but this here is some assassination shit!
Surrounded by Idiots: Much like Stringer, he feels this way thanks to less than competent members of the gang like Shamrock.
As usual man, y'all fools are missing my point.
Dennis "Cutty" Wise
Played by: Chad Coleman
The game done changed
The game ain't in me no more. None of it.
Introduced during his last days in prison, Cutty was a notorious soldier and enforcer in the drug game who served 14 years for murder. Although he is reluctant to get involved with The Game again, Avon attempts to recruit him before he leaves jail, and when he has difficulty adjusting to life outside prison he agrees to soldier for the Barksdale organization. However he soon finds that he doesn't have the killer instinct and urge needed in him any more, and leaves. With funding help from Avon, he opens up a boxing gym to keep youth away from drug dealing. Although he ultimately cannot keep his favorite pupil Michael Lee from the streets, (despite the fact that he takes a bullet to the leg trying) he keeps doing what he can for others.
Boxing Battler: Although it's downplayed, he has a few scenes where he shows how much damage a guy with his size and physique could do in a fist fight once it's combined with his in depth boxing knowledge.
Demoted to Extra: He's a fairly major character in the third and fourth seasons but his role in the final season is reduced to one short scene in which he gives Dukie some advice.
Slim Charles : Game's the same - just got more fierce.
Handsome Lech/Chick Magnet: For a while. Eventually he grows into more of a Chivalrous Pervert because his dalliances (usually with their single mothers) are hurting his reputation with the boys he teaches; after being called out on it by Michael, he soon settles down with a real girlfriend.
This has more to do with Michael than with Cutty. It's very strongly implied he was molested by his stepfather, and since Cutty serves as a father figure to him, he doesn't know what else to think about his kindness.
Pragmatic Villainy: Objects to Shamrock beating a guy to death... because then he won't be able to pay them the money he owes. This also becomes one of the many reasons he doesn't fit in with the drug game anymore: before he went to jail the whole thing ran on pragmatic villainy, now everyone is just out to screw each other over without a thought for the long term.
Reformed, but Rejected: Subverted. Initially it looks like his efforts to go straight will be thwarted by bureaucracy and lack of means, but with the aid of the Deacon and Avon he manages to start up a successful boxing gym.
You Can't Go Home Again: A large part of his story arc after being released from prison is about this. He's ambivalent about going back into the Game, but can't find much outside of it. His old friends and girlfriend have all moved on, are dead, or destroyed their lives. When he goes back to the Game, he finds he doesn't fit in there, as there's no longer even a semblance of good faith in transactions, and the ranks are staffed either with guy like Bodie (who Cutty can literally remember in diapers) or incompetents. Even when he decides to leave the Game for good, his old girlfriend makes it clear that while she wishes him the best, she's not interested in him anymore. He literally has to start a new life from square one.
Would Hit a Girl: If that's the only way to get her to talk about her dealer boyfriend who's stealing money from the Barksdales.
Sean "Shamrock" McGinty
Played by: Richard Burton
Robert Rules say we gotta have minutes for a meeting, right? These the minutes.
The Peter Principle: He's way out of his depth, but ranks high in the Barksdale organization because competent members grow increasingly scarce.
Put on a Bus: Arrested in the season 3 finale and never seen again.
Too Dumb to Live: "Nigger, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?"
Omar and associates
State's Attorney Ilene Nathan: "Mr Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for eight or nine years and live to tell about it?"
Omar Little: "Day at a time, I s'pose"
A notorious "stick-up boy" - an armed robber who robs drug dealers of money or product - Omar Little naturally attracts people looking for excitement, adventure, or a quick buck. His small but efficient criminal organization changes composition over the show, sometimes consisting of a small band of merry outlaws and sometimes consisting of just Omar and his rather large gun collection... which is all you need when you are West Baltimore's most outstanding Bad Ass.
Don't get it twisted, I do some dirt, too, but I ain't never put my gun on nobody who wasn't in the game.
Robber who targets drug dealers. Omar is successful in this dangerous trade because he not only has the fearlessness that the job requires, but is also a meticulous planner, an effective leader, and is willing to devote long hours of surveillance work that even many cops would balk at. Also, he cultivates a reputation that discourages most of his victims from even thinking about putting up a fight.He starts a war with the Barksdale Organization when his boyfriend, Brandon, is tortured and killed. Occasionally he is manipulated into taking up jobs that serve the interests of Proposition Joe, but Omar eventually earns a payday at Joe's expense. Even still, Joe is willing to let sleeping dogs lie (and even buys some of his stolen product back from Omar at a discount price) out of respect for Omar's lethality. While Omar adheres to a strict code (he refuses to ever pull his gun on a "civilian" — someone not involved in the drug trade), unlike most criminals, he is willing to act as an informant for the police if it serves his interests (such as getting revenge on the drug crew that savagely murdered his boyfriend). His luck finally runs out in Season 5; after his contact, Butchie, is killed, he wars with the Stanfield Organization and is murdered by Kenard.Omar's exploits never fail to entertain.
Affably Evil: He's as friendly and polite as a thief and murderer can be.
Anti-Hero/Anti-Villain: Straddles the line. Ultimately, it's left up to the viewer to decide if he's a case of Good Is Not Nice and is a modern day Robin Hood, or just a thug with a few more standards than most.
Breakout Character: Initially slated to appear in only seven episodes before being killed off, Omar proved so popular with fans and critics alike that the writers changed his arc to make him a major character throughout the show's run.
Although David Simon denies that there was ever any plan to kill him off in season 1
The Dreaded: Hearing his whistling makes dealers run in fear.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Done deliberately. He's such an epic Bad Ass that other hardened criminals are terrified of him, so of course he'll go down in a blaze of glory, right? Wrong. Shot from behind by an eleven year old while trying to buy a pack of cigarettes.
Horrifying the Horror: Drug dealers scare the bejesus out of normal people, for good reason. Omar scares the drug dealers.
I Shall Taunt You: He purposely tries to push Marlo's Berserk Button to provoke Marlo into reckless action. Unfortunately Chris could see the ploy at work and made sure Marlo didn't learn about it.
It's Personal: Against the Barksdales organization (Stringer and Avon in particular) and later against Marlo Stansfield.
Just Like Robin Hood: Partially, he robs for himself but shows generosity to those around him, including random junkies and their kids. His friendly-neighbourhood policy also works against any bounty put on his head.
Never Hurt an Innocent: Drug dealers and street punks are fair game but taxpayers are strictly off limits. According to a DVD extra, this is something he's been doing since he was a child, when his reaction to his older brother Anthony and Anthony's friend robbing a regular working man of the few dollars the guy had on him was to force them to give the money back at gun point.
Not So Different: His Shut Up, Hannibal! to Levy. They are both players of the game, they just use different tools. He also shares an alma mater with Bunk and approves of the detective's "a man must have a code" line.
OOC Is Serious Business: After 4 seasons of making a point of eschewing profanity, we know he's playing for keeps when he tells Fat-Face Rick to spread the word that Marlo Stanfield is "a bitch."
Real Men Wear Pink: He can walk to the supermarket in blue silk pyjamas, completely unarmed, and people will still run away and give him their drugs.
Revenge Before Reason: Comes out of retirement to avenge Butchie, which gets him killed in a random incident unrelated to Marlo.
Sir Swears-a-Lot: Inverted. On a show where almost everyone drops f-bombs at the slightest provocation, he's the only one who refuses to swear and complains when others do. If anything, this only enhances his "force of nature in a duster" status.
Would Not Shoot a Civilian: His personal code forbids him from targeting anyone who is not in the game (also referred as a civilian or taxpayer).
Played by: Michael Kevin Darnall
I'm the king of this shit.
Omar's boyfriend and fellow thief. Drives the white van that their crew use for recon in season one. After the crew robs a Barksdale stash house, he is spotted by Wallace and captured, tortured and killed by Stringer Bell's crew, but he does not give Omar up.
Forgotten Fallen Friend: Notably averted. Omar is still actively thinking about him, mourning him and trying to get his revenge for his torture and demise until at least the end of season 3.
Idiot Ball: First, he uses Omar's name in front of people he's robbing. Then, he goes out to play pinball alone despite there being a bounty on his head, and one of his crewmates having just been killed.
A bar owner and quiet drug dealer who serves as a bank and go-between for Omar Little. Legally blind. He is tortured and killed by Chris Partlow and Snoop in Season 5, to draw Omar out of hiding. It works.
Retired Badass: Proposition Joe reveals that he was once a feared enforcer who got (mostly) out of the drug game after losing his sight due to a gunshot wound.
Undying Loyalty: Refuses to give any information about Omar under torture. (Torture that includes being shot multiple times.) Chris eventually gives up getting the information and kills Butchie, since Butchie's death will be sure to lure Omar back to Baltimore.
Played by: Ernest Waddell
Just you and me, then. Like we was.
Omar's first boyfriend after Brandon, he and Omar hook up sometime in the year after Brandon's murder. He joins his stick-up operation, but is shown to have a problem with jealousy, and there is a noticeable rift between him and Omar's other associates, which worsens when he accidentally shoots Tosha during a failed raid. Kidnapped and beaten in season three, he sells Omar out to Brother Mouzone (unlike Brandon, who endured much more without caving). It is heavily implied that this is why he and Omar part ways, as he is not seen again after this.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Vanishes between seasons three and four without explanation. It is probable that Omar dropped him after he sold him out to Mouzone, but this is never made explicit.
Club Kid/The Twink: seems like a rather manipulative form of The Twink at first, but after he and Omar split, he's seen drinking a Cosmopolitan in one of the most extravagant gay bars in town.
I'm in it for the money. There's easier out there than that.
The other two members of Omar's crew, whom he picks up in season two. There is a substantial rift between these two and Dante, as Dante is openly jealous of their relationship with Omar; made worse when Dante accidentally shoots Tosha during a failed raid. Kimmy blames Omar for putting them in the situation in the first place, eventually leaving the crew because his obsession with the Barksdale gang has become too risky. Kimmy apparently later forgives Omar — or at least, tolerates him well enough to participate in the theft of Prop Joe's heroin resupply at the end of season 4.
Let me be emphatic: You need to take your black ass across Charles Street where it belongs.
A hitman from New York hired by Avon Barksdale in season 2 to intimidate rival dealers working for Proposition Joe into leaving Barksdale turf, due to Avon not knowing that Stringer has secretly cut a deal with Prop Joe that makes the two organizations unlikely allies. After he is all too successful at driving off Prop Joe's dealers and puts the alliance and emerging Co-op in trouble, Stringer Bell sets him up by telling Omar that it was Brother Mouzone who tortured Brandon and where to find him. Omar seriously wounds Brother, but as the two men talk he realizes Stringer lied to him and gets medical attention for the wounded Mouzone.In the hospital, Mouzone soon realizes that it had to be Stringer who set him up with Omar, but says nothing and leaves Baltimore after recovering from his wound. In season 3 he comes back to town, and forms an alliance with Omar to kill Stringer Bell as packback for the earlier set up. After they succeed, he leaves Baltimore for good.While not stated outright, his manner and dress suggests that he is a member of the Nation Of Islam.
Affably Evil: Very much, saying "Good day to you sir" after kicking Mister Cheese's ass is a must.
The Dreaded: To anyone who does their research like Prop Joe. To the extent that Joe not only refuses to let his nephew try and take revenge for Brother shooting him (knowing that whoever he sends won't be coming back) but also refuses to set a bounty on his head for fear of Brother hearing about it and hunting Joe down.
Enemy Mine: He eventually teams up with Omar to kill Stringer Bell.
Prop Joe: You think I'm gonna send any of my people up against Brother?! Shit, that nigga got more bodies on him than a Chinese cemetery.
Put on a Bus: He disappears after helping Omar murder Stringer and is never seen again; presumably he returns to New York.
Shrouded in Myth: Has a reputation that makes even drug kingpins fearful of crossing him. When Cheese demands they try to kill him, Prop Joe launches into a tale of a whole group of hardened heavy hitters that failed to kill him.
Also, he may or may not be the the man who killed The Notorious B.I.G. (his strange manner of dress is apparently based on eyewitness accounts of Biggie's shooter).
Omar's boyfriend after Dante. The first major Hispanic character on the show, he seems fairly new to the stick-up game, as he is unused to the amount of time Omar spends in reconnaissance. His being an unknown to the drug dealers means he can go places Omar can't in order to pick up information. He owns a taxi, which the two use for surveillance.
Revenge Before Reason: Averted, he doesn't return to Baltimore to help Omar try to get revenge on the Stansfield crew.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Renaldo fills a very similar story role to his predecessor Dante (and though it is implied, the reason for this replacement is never explicitly stated), despite having a rather different personality.
Played by: Donnie Andrews
A friend of Butchie's who acts as muscle for him. When Omar is arrested, Butchie sends Big Guy and Donnie to protect him and they both deliberately get imprisoned. Donnie joins Omar's band after the demise of Butchie, as the two attempt to avenge Butchie's death. He's killed in an ambush that the Stansfield gang lays for him and Omar.
"I got motherfuckin' nephews and in-laws fucking all my shit up all the time and it ain't like I can pop a cap in their ass and not hear about it Thanksgivin' time. For real, I'm livin' life with some burdensome niggers."
—Joseph "Proposition Joe" Stewart
Whilst the Barksdale's hold the Westside, The Wire features a number of other important drug organizations, the most significant of which belongs to "Proposition" Joe. Joe's organization has an excellent supply of drugs in the form of the Greek's criminal organization, but suffers from a small territory and a critical competence deficit thanks to Joe's tedious inlaws forcing him to promote family members to important posts within it. Despite this, Joe has grander ambitions, and eventually leverages his first-rate drug supply to unite the various Baltimore drug organizations in a mutually-beneficial "Co-op", designed to eliminate competition and maximize profits...but being dependent on Prop Joe's supply. Eventually, Marlo takes over the Co-op, and tries to fold it into his own organization.
"Proposition" Joe Stewart
Played by: Robert F. Chew
Got a proposition for ya.
East-side drug kingpin. Has a mellow temperament. Dislikes common squabbling and turf wars (and the ensuing police attention), preferring instead to arrange alliances and cut deals between rival gangs. His group is the first to fill the vacuum left by the disruption of the Barksdale Organization in Season 2, chipping away at their territory and influence. An alliance between the two groups, the New Day Co-Op, is eventually formed. He keeps Stringer Bell powerless and under his control, but he can't contain the ascendant Marlo Stanfield, nor his mercenary-in-all-but-name, Omar Little. He is murdered by Chris Partlow as he is packing his bags to flee Baltimore.
Affably Evil: Joe is quite friendly and cordial as long as you don't interfere with his business. In that case he'll play up his Faux Affably Evil side, as his bark is worse than his bite.
Batman Gambit: To try and persuade Marlo of the security benefits of the Co-Op, he gets Omar to rob the poker game Marlo attends to show Marlo how he needs the extra security. This backfires by setting in motion a chain of events leading to Joe's downfall and death.
Brief Accent Imitation: He uses three different accents during the course of one phone call to the BPD while trying to gather information on Herc.
Nepotism: He suffers from it, Cheese being the worst example. His organization is not depicted in much detail but it is suggested he suffers from being Surrounded by Idiots.
I got motherfucking nephews and in-laws fucking all my shit up all the time, and it ain't like I can pop a cap in their ass and not hear about it Thanksgiving day. For real, I'm livin' life with some burdensome niggas.
Noble Demon: One of the most relatively innocuous drug lords out there, his pragmatic villainy makes him quite reasonable and sensible.
Pragmatic Villainy: He prefers to avoid violence and confrontation when he can, as it's bad for business. Unfortunately for him, he's not able to convert his protege Marlo Stanfield to this viewpoint.
The Svengali: For Marlo Stanfield, with unexpected results for Joe... "It ain't easy, civilizin' this motherfucker."
Team Switzerland: Mediates between Omar and the Barksdales, "doing like one of them marriage counselors"
Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff
Played by: Method Man
Where my cheese at?
There ain't no back in the day, nigga. Ain't no nostalgia to this shit here. There's just the street, and the game, and what happen here, today.
Co-op lieutenant. Has gotten to where he is by virtue of being Proposition Joe's nephew, though Cheese's mercenary nature overrides any blood loyalty he might have to Joe. He defects to Stanfield's crew after selling out both Omar Little and Proposition Joe, and is later murdered by Slim Charles. Word of God is that he is Randy Wagstaff's biological father, though the two never come in contact with each other.
Jerkass: Cheese is hostile and unfriendly by default.
Jerkass Has a Point: Makes a good case against nostalgia and shames the other druglords for lacking enough cash despite dealing in a captive market. "We're selling coke and dope in B-more [...] There's no back in the day shit."
Negated Moment of Awesome: Close to become the head of the Co-op, Slim puts and end to his stint before it starts... short as it was.
Once Upon a Time, Baltimore was a thriving port-city, and served as one of the main hubs for commerce on the Eastern Seaboard. Sadly, those days are over. Amid the wreckage of old industrial America, the local stevedores union under their Treasurer, Frank Sobotka, tries to eke out a living protecting what's left of Baltimore's docks from "urban renewal", for which we can read "ending poor peoples' jobs to build condos for rich people", and fighting a rearguard action against the encroaching death of America's industrial working class. Desperate, Frank and the union turn to smuggling to try and drum up the money to lobby for a new grain pier and for their canal to be dredged. It all goes to hell in a handbasket, kicking off the events of season 2.
There are different kinds of wrong.
Beatrice "Beadie" Russell
Played by: Amy Ryan
What they need is a union.
Officer for the Port Authority and single mother of two. She discovers thirteen dead women in a shipping container, kicking off the events of Season 2. While at first she treats the job as little more than a paycheck, as the investigation progresses she develops a knack for policework and becomes invested in the case. She reappears late in season 3, when she and McNulty begin a romance, though his behavior in season 5 tests Beadie's patience.
Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: She initially views working as a port cop as a good gig because the pay is decent and it doesn't involve much actual policework, though she proves pretty good at the latter when major criminal activity does start happening at the port.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She gets together with McNulty after he stops drinking and gets his act together, but their relationship is strained when he falls off the wagon in season 5.
Took a Level in Badass: When she's introduced at the beginning of season 2, she doesn't take her job very seriously. By the end of the season she's developed into "real police".
Played by: Chris Bauer
I know I was wrong. But in my head, I thought I was wrong for the right reasons.
Treasurer for the stevedore's union in Baltimore. Needing to keep his workers paid in the face of declining port traffic and the juggernaut of gentrification, he arranges to lobby and bribe local politicians in exchange for projects to keep the docks alive. He gets the money by an arrangement with The Greek, who uses the port for smuggling. He runs afoul of Major Valchek, who starts investigating into his finances. Things start unraveling when thirteen dead prostitutes are found in a shipping container, and he has to deal with both the police and The Greek. When his son, Ziggy, murders the Greek's fence, and the plans for expanding the docks collapse, he agrees to inform on The Greek to the police. The Greek gets word of this, and has him killed.
Ambition Is Evil: One prominent unionist insists they should settle for the more modest goal of the grain pier, but Sobotka aims higher with the dredging of the canal (not for personal gains but for the well-being of the workers). This implies a closer criminal collaboration with The Greek.
Job-Stealing Robot: He is horrified by the upcoming trend of mechanical automatization rendering stevedore manual labor obsolete.
Parental Neglect: consistently shows little affection or consideration towards his (admittedly irritating) son Ziggy.
Raised Catholic: Frank is a regular churchgoer who pays more than lip service to the Church, but when Father Lewandoski suggest a confession, Sobotka scoffs at the idea.
Sibling Yin-Yang: He's crooked and active while his brother Louis is straight and retired.
Slave to PR: His well-paid political backers run for cover as soon as Frank's shady deals get exposed.
Suspicious Spending: While he repeatedly warns Ziggy and Nick about this and seems to generally avoid it (until you look closely at it, his union seems to have constant financial issues, he generally pays his personal bills late, etc.) he initially attracts Valchek's suspicion by making an extravagant donation for a church window which he shouldn't be able to afford.
Ziggy: You were always too busy dredging up the canal, making sure the right bum got elected, buying another round for the house. I always used to think you were working, all them hours you spent away.
Frank: It was all work, Zig. Even when it wasn't.
Working Class Hero: He has a discussion with his fancy lobbyist about this, but the lobbyist points out his once humble family just climbed the social ladder. Sobotka also delivers a poignant analysis on America's industrial decay.
We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket.
Played by: Pablo Schreiber
...I'm talking raised-on-Rapolla-Street White.
I don't know how to tell you this without hurting you deeply, but first of all, you happen to be white...
Nephew of Frank Sobotka and cousin of Ziggy. He acts as a go-between for his uncle towards Vondas, often bringing Ziggy along. Seeking a steady income so he can support his girlfriend, he makes an arrangement with The Greek to obtain chemicals used for drug processing. He is paid in heroin, which he sells to local dealers in lieu of Ziggy. The police catch on and send out a warrant for his arrest, and he turns himself in after Frank's murder. In exchange for identifying The Greek, he is sent into the witness protection program.He is seen briefly in Season 5, jeering the opening of the Granary condominiums.
Foil: to D'Angelo Barksdale. Both come into life of crime thanks to their uncles, both try to break away from it, both are young fathers. The differences in class and race form the contrast between them.
Let me show you old gents some bulk cargo that none of you could ever handle. Who says they don't make 'em like they used to?
Son of Frank Sobotka. He is stupid and impulsive, failing at both legitimate work in the docks, as well as drug dealing. He convinces his cousin Nick to make a deal with The Greek to sell drugs. Nick's success where he failed sends him into a depression, which drives him to kill one of The Greeks' frontmen when a deal goes sour. He is apprehended and sent to prison. Both the police and the Greek try to use Ziggy's situation to apply leverage to Frank and Nick.
Boisterous Weakling: Talks quite a lot about taking down Cheese, Maui, and anyone else he thinks has wronged him, but generally gets punked whenever he actually tries anything.
Smart Ball: While he is an abject failure at everything else, when it comes to being a thief he has his moments. Interestingly, he seems to pick this up whenever he isn't trying to be the center of attention - the only time he gets anything close respect or affection is when he isn't acting up for them.
Globalization doesn't just affect the legit economy, it opens up many exciting new possibilities for the discerning crimelord too. "The Greeks" ( they're not even Greek) are a multinational crime syndicate that seems to be based out of southeastern Europe and the Levant, and which includes members from the Ukraine, Russia, and Israel. Their primary criminal enterprise seems to be smuggling Afghan heroin into Europe and the United States, but they are also involved in the cocaine business and have connections to Colombian narcoterrorists. They also operate prostitution rings, which becomes the focus of the second season. It is to them that Frank Sobotka turns when he needs money for the redevelopment of the grain pier, smuggling contraband and stealing from other shipments, and it is their pure heroin that Proposition Joe peddles in East Baltimore. They escape justice, and are seen again dealing with Joe, Marlo, and finally, in the last episode, with Fat Face Rick and Slim Charles.
Played by: Bill Raymond
The world is a smaller place now.
Business. Always business.
Head of a smuggling operation running out of the Port of Baltimore, specializing in drugs, prostitues, and stolen goods. Tends to hide in plain sight, sitting at the bar while his Number Two ostensibly takes care of business. He is the main supplier for Proposition Joe, and later, Marlo Stanfield. The port investigation almost manages to arrest him, but a tip from an agent within the Department of Homeland Security (which the Greek is an informant for) gives him the time needed to shut down operations and flee the country, along with Vondas. No relationship, as far as we know, to "The Greek's", the restaurant in season one, where Brandon Wright played pinball.The police just know him as "The Greek", and he's not even Greek.
Devil in Plain Sight: Everyone who meets with Spiros wonders who his mysterious boss is, with relatively few people ever figuring out that he's the quiet elderly gentleman who sits at the counter drinking coffee while Spiros does the talking.
Fake Nationality: He's not actually Greek, but he's clearly foreign; the actor who plays him, Bill Raymond, is American.
Karma Houdini: Thanks to a tip from his FBI connection, he and his Number Two manage to flee just before the police arrive to arrest them, and while the remaining members of his organization are arrested or killed and his smuggling, drug-running, and prostitution activities are shut down temporarily, he's able to resume business as usual in season 5.
Know When to Fold 'Em: He makes a pragmatic exit as soon as he learns he is under scrutiny, forsaking a valuable last container.
Nothing Personal: One of the connotations of his philosophy "Business, always business".
Outside-Context Villain: The Greek's empire is a serious international crime syndicate very different from the petty kingdoms of the local drug gangs. Even the most competent police officers have to learn how this new threat operates.
Villainous Friendship: He and Vondas seem genuinely close. He even fusses over Vondas' lack of appetite at one point when Vondas is worried, and when he sees Vondas taking a fatherly interest in Nick Sobotka, he fondly tells Vondas "You should have been a father, Spiros."
Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos
Played by: Paul Ben-Victor
In business, you learn to appreciate a dependable man.
They have my name. But my name is not my name.
The Greek's soft-spoken right hand man who oversees his operations in Baltimore, which most notably includes acting as the wholesaler who supplies Prop Joe with drugs. He takes a liking to Nick Sobotka, facilitating the young man's descent into a life of crime.
Fake Nationality: Spiros' actual nationality is unknown, but he's not American. Paul Ben-Victor, the actor who plays him, is. Judging by his name, he, unlike his boss, may actually be Greek, and at least claims to be Greek when Ziggy first meets him.
Ziggy: So, uh, you must be The Greek. Vondas: [Long pause] Well, I'm Greek, anyway.
Pragmatic Villainy: He prefers to avoid violence if he can, not out of moral conviction but because it tends to make a mess and draw attention from the police. When it becomes necessary, he is perfectly willing to cut a throat or two, as Frank Sobotka learns.
Did he have hands? Did he have a face? Yes? Then it wasn't us.
A Ukrainian (not Russian) who serves as a driver and enforcer for the Greek's organization. He's first seen waiting in a truck for the shipping container in which the dead girls are later found, and after committing several brutal crimes becomes a primary target of the police's investigation as season two goes on. When the combined police/FBI operation moves on the Greek's operation, he is arrested. He later agrees to inform on the Greek, but by this time his former boss has already escaped. In season 5, he makes a brief reappearance in prison, in which he facilitates a connection between the Stanfield gang and the Greek's organization.
Twenty percent was last week. Today the quote is ten.
The Greek's fence, also in charge of smuggling stolen goods. His retail shop and warehouses are the front, storage facility, and transit line for stolen goods. He works with Nick and Ziggy Sobotka on several deals but rips Ziggy off on the last one. After an altercation where he beats and verbally abuses Ziggy, Ziggy comes back with a gun and kills him, causing a major breakdown in the relationship between the Greek's organization and the Sobotkas.
The Evil Genius: He's the man with the plan in the Greek's organization for moving stolen goods, smuggling, etc.
For Want of a Nail: The docks investigation might have ended completely differently if he hadn't felt the need to rip Ziggy off and get into a fight about it.
Moving the Goalposts: Which gets him killed when Ziggy doesn't like it and it turns into a physical confrontation.
An up-and-coming gang of drug dealers who are dealt a mighty hand when the Barksdale Organization's prime real estate is demolished by the City, leaving them with all the new best territory. Led by the ambitious and utterly ruthless Marlo Stanfield, the Stanfield Gang gradually work their way through the West Baltimore drug hierarchy. When Avon is locked up and Stringer is murdered at the close of season 3, they end up the new masters of West Baltimore, controlling nearly the whole district. Prop Joe's scheming manages to convince Marlo to join the Co-op, a decision which backfires spectacularly when Marlo murders him and takes over the Greek drug connect. By season 5, the Stanfield Gang are the center of the entire Baltimore drug trade... at least until McNulty and Freamon get on their case.
Played by: Jamie Hector
You want it to be one way...
I wasn't made to play the son.
Up-and-coming west-side drug kingpin, head of the eponymous Stanfield Organization. He starts out small-time, operating in the vacuum left by the Barksdale Organization, and fights his way to supplant them and merge with Proposition Joe's New Day Co-Op. He works to eliminate his enemies and anyone who would betray him. A repeated theme in Marlo's characterization is his demand for respect, which trumps all other concerns. He frequently kills those who show him disrespect, or undermine his name on the streets however unwittingly. Marlo's obsession with respect ultimately proves to be his downfall.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Viewed by many as a glorified punk wannabe. He quickly identifies Stringer's peaceful strategy as a sign of weakness and proves his detractors very wrong. Meanwhile, the cops almost universally view him as a two-bit nuisance, until the bodies start showing up.
Pet the Dog: Keeps a roof coop for pigeons. Even hires a guy to take care of them. And of course, his affection for animals leads us to...
Victory Is Boring. Despite getting away with facing charges and keeping his millions, Marlo quickly finds out that the straight-and-narrow life isn't for him.
Don't fret boss, I got you covered.
Played by': Gbenga Akinnabwe
Don't matter who he is, or what he's done. You can look him in the eye now.
Marlo Stanfield's Number Two and chief enforcer. It's hinted that they are long time allies, as the enormously paranoid Marlo trusts Chris completely and Chris is the only one who seems to be able to question Marlo's orders and decisions without repercussions, although he only does so rarely. Although he is much less bloodthirsty than his boss, under orders he murders many, many people for Marlo, and is a major reason why the Stanfield gang is so feared on the streets.Chris takes the lead in Marlo's attempts to recruit the young Michael Lee into the Stanfield gang, and Michael winds up coming to Chris to slay his abusive stepfather. After that he and Snoop are responsible for tutoring Michael in the ways of the Game and turning him into muscle for the Stanfield gang. He is eventually sentenced to life without parole, and quickly makes friends with Wee-Bey Brice in prison.
Affably Evil: Chris isn't particularly outgoing or charming, but he's always quite polite and pleasant even when committing a murder, always making an effort to comfort his victims and ease them through the process. Ironically for someone who's killed as much as he has, Chris is probably the most reluctant to commit violence of the higher-ups in Marlo's crew, and takes little pleasure in his work. When Marlo decides to have Bodie and later Michael killed, Chris is the only one to speak against it, albeit only briefly.
Victim: Please, Chris! Chris: Don't fret boss, I got you covered. Clean and quick. (Chris shoots him)
Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters: He's too feared around the community for this to be in effect for him, but he did try to invoke this at one point for Marlo's benefit. Early in season 4 Marlo's enforcers and dealers approach children before the first day of school, giving them money for clothes and books. We then cut to Marlo and Chris watching the scene, where Marlo looks unhappy at just giving away money while Chris tries to convince Marlo that it'll "make his name ring out".
Scary Black Man: Not the only one, but as perhaps the most brutal killer in the entire series he deserves special mention. Because he doesn't look like the stereotypical scary black man, he is occasionally able to interact with normal society without anyone being any wiser.
Undying Loyalty: The vicious and paranoid Marlo trusts him completely, and when Chris is rounded up by the police Marlo says that Chris will refuse to talk as long as Marlo takes cares of Chris' family.
We will be brief with all you motherfuckers. I think you know.
Soldier under Marlo Stanfield. She devises a plan along with Chris Partlow to have people killed inside vacant houses, pour quicklime on their bodies, and seal them back up. When Marlo suspects Michael may be an informant, she is dispatched to assassinate him. Instead, Michael kills her.
Evil Genius: While he sometimes works as an enforcer, he mostly coordinates the drug trade, the phone communications and several details unrelated to violence.
The Next Generation
"Remember that day one summer past?"
A collection of adorable children from West Baltimore's projects and rowhouses, who the show uses to examine the school system and how it utterly fails in the struggle with "the corners" for the futures of Baltimore's children. Each child follows a different path, and each one ends up at a different conclusion - although, sadly, it is not always the ending they or the audience hope for.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems
Played by: Jermaine Crawford
How do you get from here to the rest of the world?
Eighth-grade student. Living in dire poverty, he is bullied by everyone, including his friends Randy and Namond, and especially Namond's "friend" Kenard. The clothes he is given by the school get stolen by his parents to feed their drug addictions. He is the one who shows Randy and Michael the bodies in the vacants.He comes to depend on his teacher, Mr. Pryzbylewski, who does his best to try to help Dukie through his troubles. Eventually he is compelled to graduate by the school bureaucracy even though he is not ready and incapable of dealing with the abuse he will get at the high school level, so he drops out and starts dealing alongside Michael. When this falls through, he tries to find work, only to end up with a junkie scrap metal thief. We last see him asking Pryzbylewski for money, and then shooting up in the final montage, with heavy implications that he's set down the road that Bubbles is escaping.
A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: His relation with Mr. Prez, his kind mentor, gets terminated when the teacher realizes all too well that Duquan has been deceiving and swindling him for money. A genuine tear jerker both in and out-universe.
History Repeats: A likeable guy victimized by others on the street who winds up a junkie and working by selling aluminum scraps? Sure does sound like Bubbles.
Wise Beyond Their Years: Due to a hard life. While Namond, Randy and others come up with elaborate stories of how Chris Partlow is a voodoo master who bewitches people and controls them, Dukie knows the cold truth that Chris simply murders them and leaves their bodies in abandoned buildings.
An eighth-grade student who is an earnest and mostly warmhearted entrepreneur being raised by a tough but fair foster mother. Friends with Namond, Michael, and Dukie. Because he always has his ear to ground about ways to make a buck, he hears about Marlo's fondness for pigeons and traps several so he can sell them to Marlo. The Stanfield gang later use him as a patsy to lure a disobedient dealer to his death. This, combined with the revelation by Dukie that the slain are sealed in abandoned rowhouses, eventually lead to him talking to the police.Unfortunately when Herc is questioning a suspect he gives away that Randy is his source of information and the Stanfield gang spreads the word that Randy is a snitch, which causes him to be ostracized by his peers and makes him a target for retribution. Carver attempts to give him police protection, which isn't enough to stop his house from being firebombed, hospitalizing his foster mother for the foreseeable future. Carver fights to find him another foster parent, even offering to adopt him himself, but nothing can be done to keep him from a group home. As we see in Season 5, the bullying and abuse break him until he is just another thug.
History Repeats: A kid who loses his mother figure early in life, whose talents go mostly overlooked and unappreciated, is repeatedly screwed over by the system, and winds up adopting a thug attitude. Sounds like Bodie, although we don't see if he ends up the same way.
I love the first day, everyone all friendly and shit.
An eighth-grade student and the son of Wee Bey and De'londa Brice. Friends with Randy, Michael, and Dukie. The money given by the Barksdale Organization as a reward for Wee-Bey taking the fall means he is (relatively) well off... until his mother spends it all, sure that there will always be more money coming from the Barksdales due to the way that Wee Bey took the fall for them. As the Barksdale organization disintegrates, however, Brianna cuts De'londa off and she promptly begins trying to push Namond into the Game as a drug runner. When placed in Bunny Colvin's experimental classroom, he is one of the most disruptive students, but is soon recognized to be smarter than he acts.As De'londa increasingly pushes him into dealing despite the fact that he has no large scale operation to protect him and is surrounded by vicious factions like the Stansfield gang, it becomes understood by all who know him that the game will take his life. Cutty, Carver and Colvin all begin to try to help him, culminating with Colvin going to Wee Bey to plead for another life for Namond. When Wee Bey hears how De'londa turned Namond out their home, he agrees to allow Colvin to adopt Namond. After this Namond abandons street life entirely and becomes an excellent student.
Abusive Parents: His mother forces him to play the mortal game to maintain her lifestyle.
Demoted to Extra: Is a central character in season 4 but only appears briefly in one episode of season 5.
Freudian Excuse: The only kid able to escape the doomed background of a troubled childhood, a dysfunctional family -at best- and the notion that crime is the only way to earn a living. Sadly, it only happens thanks to a remarkable, extremely unusual or non repeateable White Knight named Howard Colvin.
Heel-Face Turn: When we see him in season 5 Namond has turned his life around and become a good student, winning an urban debate championship.
Hidden Depths: Colvin notices an intellectual potential below his obnoxiousnesses and overcompensation.
History Repeats: He comes from a family noted for their connection with the drug trade and it's assumed that he will take up that mantle as well despite having no heart for the game. Sounds like D'Angelo, but he gets a rare happy ending because Wee-Bey realizes the drug trade isn't right for him and allows Namond to be adopted by Colvin instead.
Alternatively, Namond is a clever opportunist who says that "I'll take any motherfucker's money if he's giving it away" and shows an interest in politics. He could wind up as the next Clay Davis.
Jerkass Fašade: He acts tough due to feeling pressured to live up to the reputation of his father Wee-Bey.
Significant Haircut: He is enormously fond of his huge, frizzy ponytail, but is repeatedly encouraged to cut it because it will make him easily identifiable to the police. He tries to make himself do it but ultimately can't, choosing instead to restyle it into cornrows. After being adopted by Colvin, he returns to the frizzy ponytail style.
The Scrappy: Arguably he is this In-Universe. He's kind of The Load of the Barksdale organization; he's not a very good dealer, but Wee-Bey's influence is still strong enough to see him taken care of by Bodie, and his friends put up with him partly (if not entirely) because he seems well off in comparison.
Played by: Tristan Wilds
Yo look, I'm not tryin' stand around and let some chump ass niggas think I'm shook, I aint.
Another eighth-grade student. Friends with Dukie, Randy, and Namond. Deeply introverted, he lives with his junkie mother and little brother, who he has to take care of because his mother isn't up to the task. Shortly into season 4 his stepfather gets out of prison and moves back in, and it is strongly implied that his stepfather sexually abused Michael when he was younger.Michael starts boxing in Cutty's gym where he shows promise, but begins rejecting Cutty's fatherly attentions and starts dealing. Increasingly fearful that his stepfather will abuse his brother Bug the same way he did Michael, Michael contacts Chris Partlow and asks Partlow to kill the stepfather for him. Partlow agrees, on the condition that Michael begin working for the Stanfield gang. Michael agrees, and is taken under the wings of Chris and Snoop, who train him to be a soldier.Michael works for Marlo as both muscle and the head of his own corner in large part so he can take care of his brother and Dukie, who has moved in with Michael once Michael gets his own place provided for him by the Stanfield crew. He soon finds himself feeling out of place, as he frequently questions the necessity of the many murders that Marlo orders and finds the street life undermining his attempts to look after Bug and Dukie. When Marlo is arrested Michael's frequent questioning of his boss places him under suspicion of having talked to the police, and Snoop is sent to assassinate him. He recognizes what's going on and kills her first. He is last seen on the run from Marlo's people, having been forced to split from Dukie and his brother permanently, and become a stick-up boy like Omar.
Badass: A middle school student who stares down Marlo Stanfield. Marlo is suitably impressed and starts looking to recruit Michael afterward.
History Repeats: Becomes a stick up man like Omar. In fact, the last thing we see him do is shoot someone in the knee during a robbery, just like we saw Omar do in Season 1.
I Just Want My Brother To Be Happy: After the Stanfield Organization turns on him, he sends his brother Bug off to their aunt along with all the money he has, (with the promise of more to come) so that Bug will be safe and away from the game.
Kick the Dog: Kenard may be a little shit, but seeing Michael pound on a kid half his size over and over again is still disturbing.
Nerves of Steel: Despite the many stressful situations he's put under he only shows fear once in the series, when Omar visits his corner for a friendly chat at gunpoint. (And part of that is likely because Omar, who is known to be a Gayngster, is practically hanging all over a kid who is fearful of all contact with another guy due to his childhood molestation.) Still doesn't break, though.
Very young "friend" of Namond Brice. Torments Dukie every chance he gets. He joins the Stanfield Organization as a dealer in Season 5, and goes on to assassinate Omar Little. Last seen in the final montage of the series being arrested by the police, presumably for Omar's murder.
Boisterous Weakling: Talks a lot of shit and has a lot of attitude, but whenever the show sets him up for a fistfight, he either gets his ass kicked or needs someone else to step in for him. Of course, size doesn't matter if he has a gun in his hand...
Once the cases the BPD brings in go to trial, they are in the capable - or not as the case may be - hands of the Baltimore City legal profession. The show focuses mainly on the State's Attorney's office in Baltimore, and their stable of prosecutors and grand jurors, as well as Judge Phelan, an old friend of McNulty's whose complaints to Burrell start the investigation into the Barksdale Organization in season 1. The prosecutors at the courthouse are generally portrayed as quite morally upstanding, especially for Baltimore, but sadly the same cannot be said of drug lawyer Maurice Levy, who commits violation after violation of just about every rule of lawyers' professional ethics.
Rhonda "Ronnie" Pearlman
Played by: Deidre Lovejoy
The front office is going to go batshit!
Your client walks away now, or the both of you don't walk at all.
Assistant State's Attorney. She handles the cases brought in by Daniels' department. Rhonda tries to walk a fine line between bringing in quality casework and protecting/advancing her own career, and a few times gets blindsided by Lester (and his tendency to issue subpoenas against politically connected individuals, like her boss) and Jimmy (who browbeats Maurice Levy in defiance of the professional deference that Rhonda wishes to show him). She had an affair with McNulty, which is part of what caused his marriage to end, though by the start of the series, the romance has cooled off. Later in the series, she starts a relationship with Cedric Daniels after he and his wife separate; the romance is still ongoing as of the series finale, in which Rhonda avoids being scapegoated for McNulty's plot and becomes a judge.
Ambition Is Evil: Averted for the most part, although McNulty confronts her about the implications of her ambitions when she points out that pushing too hard against Levy would mean antagonizing the whole profession, a terrible thing for her career.
Jimmy: If only half you motherfuckers at the district attorney's office didn't want to be judges, didn't want to be partners in some downtown law firm... If half of you had the fucking balls to follow through, you know what would happen? A guy like that would be indicted, tried and convicted. And the rest of 'em would back up enough, so we could push a clean case or two through your courthouse. But no, everybody stays friends. Everybody gets paid. And everybody's got a fucking future.
Where Da White Women At?: She and Daniels must initially keep their relationship a secret because it becoming known that Daniels was divorcing his wife Marla and dating a white woman instead would harm Marla's political career.
Working with the Ex: She and McNulty carried on an affair prior to the events of the show, which causes some awkwardness in their professional relationship.
Played by: Peter Gerety
See you at sentencing.
Mr. Hilton, are you the second coming of our savior?.
The judge who presides over D'Angelo Barksdale murder case. After a witness changes her statement, leading to a non-guilty verdict, Phelan summons McNulty to enquire about it, only to discover the Barksdales are not being investigated at all. The judge takes this very seriously and makes it a priority, opening a can of worms as the police chiefs are clueless. Grudgingly, the Major Crimes detail ensues to appease him and the media.
Big Good: He kickstarts the Barksdale case (flying under the radar until then) and by extension the Major Crimes detail (the series itself). Despite he is not above political maneuvering, he is the man to go when the chain of command is locked or obstructive and takes personal offense when criminals get away.
Grammar Nazi: Justifiably so. Jimmy knows no better than to present an official affidavit full of mistakes.
Hanging Judge: He does not like the drug trade or its dealers one bit. Notable at the end of Bird's trial, where he brushes right over Maurice Levy's (truthful) assertions that the state's key witness (Omar) has perjured himself. Admittedly, Bird did do the crime.
History Repeats: Shown heeding Sydnor's lamentations in the finale, like he used to do with McNulty's.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Almost always willing to help the police and to prosecute the drug dealers, shaming the obstructive chiefs if necessary.
Slave to PR/Not so Above It All: He invokes the PR angle by leaking murder details to the media in order to put pressure on the police. In turn, his big good crusader status takes a dent when he panicks after being excluded from the electoral ticket, coming across as another self-serving bigwig to McNulty. The judge continues to be a very possitive character after his re-election, however.
Toxic Friend Influence: He's a supportive old friend of Jimmy's, but his demands for actual police work and leaks of insider information to the press practically kill McNulty's career, if it existed. The support wanes in the middle of his re-election bid, but they eventually reconcile.
Played by: Michael Kostroff
You don't say anything, you don't do anything, you don't write anything!
Maurice Levy:You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You are stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off... Omar Little:Just like you, man. Maurice Levy:...the culture of drugs. Excuse me? What? Omar Little:I've got the shotgun, you've got the briefcase. It's all in the game though.
Drug lawyer for the Barksdale organization, and later, Marlo Stanfield. Very good at his job, getting cases scuttled and sentences reduced for his clients. Based on several real life Baltimore drug lawyers who happen to be jewish. David Simon, jew himself, remarked he was not willing to pull a punch just to avoid a stereotype.
"Money launderin'!? They gonna come talk to me about Money launderin'!? In West Baltimore?! Sheeeeit, where do you think I'm gonna raise cash for the whole damn ticket!? From laundromats and shit!? From some tiny-ass Korean groceries?! You think I got time to ask a man why he given me money or where he gets his money from?! I'll take any motherfucker's money if he's givin' it away!"
—Maryland State Senator Clayton Davis
At the root of why nothing can ever get done in Baltimore, and, by extension, America, City Hall tells the story of Baltimore's political leaders and their Byzantine efforts at backstabbing and career advancement. City Hall is explored through the eyes of Democratic Councilman Tommy Carcetti, who achieves a feat most of the Democratic Party think impossible by winning election as the white mayor of a majority black city. Despite his initial idealism, he is unable to leverage his electoral success into political success, being forced to back up on his promises for the sake of his career. The City Hall storyline is an examination of the corruption at the heart of Baltimore political system and how internal reformers are either forced into resignation, acquiescence, or corruption.
R. Clayton "Clay" Davis
Played by: Isaiah Whitlock Jr.
Fool, what do you think? That we know anything about who gives money? That we give a damn about who they are or what they want? We have no way of running down them or their stories. We don't care. We just cash the damn cheques, count the votes and move on.
Maryland state senator. Corrupt doesn't begin to describe him. He takes bribes from many sources, including the Barksdale organization under Stringer Bell, and does patronage and fundraising in return, when he doesn't simply fleece them. Two simultaneous investigations, one by the Major Crimes department of the Baltimore Police, the other by the FBI, are focused on him. Neither succeeds in bringing him down.
Everything Is Racist: Spins the investigation into his corruption into an inspiring narrative of his own victimization at the hands of villainous whiteys and Uncle Toms in the State's Attorney's office. Depressingly, it works.
Gus Haynes: "Well, today we watched Clay Davis not so much play the race card as the entire deck. "
City Councilman. He dreams of supplanting the current mayor, Royce, and cleaning up Baltimore. He gets his chance with the rise in violent crime, and when a key witness is killed due to the lack of proper witness protection. When Hamsterdam is exposed, he starts campaigning in earnest, pulling off an upset and becoming mayor. Once in office, with his advisors Norman and Steintorf, he seeks out people he can trust within city government, particularly the police force. Promising a reduction in crime, he is undermined by the revelation that financial legerdemain had been used to to hide a massive deficit in the school budget. Deciding not to seek the Maryland governor's help in bailing out the schools, he takes the money from the police force instead. He is unable to fulfill most of the promises he made to his allies and constituents, but manages to get elected governor by attacking his Republican opponent's positions on homeless and the poor, which works as a high-profile issue due to McNulty's fake serial killer.
Ambition Is Evil: Played with. When forced to choose between helping the city he was elected to save and his own political ambitions, he chooses the latter, by deciding not to take money to cover the city's budget deficit from the state because doing so will hurt his chances of being elected governor. However, the series makes the argument that it is the political system which corrupts politicians rather than the other way around.
Beleaguered Bureaucrat: For a while and also a consequence of his own ambition; he has good intentions but not the political clout or the funds to implement them.
Big Good: At first he's set up as possibly being this, but it's ultimately subverted.
Corrupt the Cutie: Starts out as something of an idealist, but is fast sucked into the dirty world of politics.
Establishing Character Moment: In the end of the third episode in which he appears Carcetti committs adultery with an unnamed woman he meets at a political event, staring at himself in the mirror as he does so. Though it seems at the time to be a throwaway scene, it actually serves to highlight Carcetti's narcissism and willingness to break promises for personal gain, both character traits which play a role in his later tenure as mayor. The scene actually receives a Call Back in season five, when Carcetti watches news coverage of himself making a grandstanding political speech with a similarly rapturous expression on his face.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: He bears some resemblances to real-life former Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley, though Simon has said the character was based on a number of Baltimore politicians, most of whom are too obscure to be recognizable to viewers.
Pet the Dog: On an epic scale during his Baltimore cleaning spree.
Next year? For some things, that's a long time to wait.
Deeply corrupt mayor of Baltimore. His administration has seen a dramatic rise in violent crime, which he seeks to patch over as best he can. Major Colvin's experiment in establishing drug-free zones causes crime to drop, and he makes the mistake of delaying action in bringing them to an end. When exposed, Carcetti campaigns against him for allowing them, and beats him in the mayoral election.
Cultural Posturing: During the Democratic primary campaign against the white Carcetti his staff prints up posters using African colors in an effort to appeal to racial solidarity.
Mayor Pain: Subverted; at first he's presented as too venal and incompetent to do anything about Baltimore's problems but Carcetti's arc reveals that it's the system rather than the person at the top of it that's most responsible for the city's plight.
Slave to PR: His reaction to Hamsterdam comes off as self-serving but somewhat redeeming, but once it is exposed on television and becomes a major PR disaster he quickly shuts it down.
Intrepid Reporter: His backstory. He laments he can't publish the sordid but juicy stuff that he experiences as a City Hall insider.
Knight in Sour Armor: Becomes disillusioned by Carcetti putting his ambitions ahead of the city, but keeps working for him to speak truth to power and to do what he can to make sure he fulfills his campaign promises.
President of the Baltimore City Council. When Carcetti is elected mayor, she is immediately hostile to him because she was understood to be next in line after Royce. He proves to be pliable, and she comes around to pulling strings for him, though she scuttles many of his planned projects. She is elected mayor after Carcetti.
Blackmail: Burrell hands over the dossier on Daniels to her, a card she uses to coerce the Commissioner.
Mayor Carcetti's chief of staff. A realist, he lets Carcetti know that many of his plans are infeasible. Later, he pressures Daniels to alter crime statistics.
The Consigliere: A less principled and more Machiavellian version of Normal Wilson.
Genre Savvy: Immediately recognizes that Rawls has political leverage, and consequently cuts a deal with him to protect the mayor.
Bodie: "He's a drug addict man!"
D'Angelo: "And you're a goddamn drug dealer."
Bodie: "So? So, what, the customer is always right?"
The drug trade would, of course, be nothing without the people who actually buy drugs. The various homeless characters of The Wire are the show's way of exploring these often-ignored individuals. The main homeless character is Bubbles, a drug addict who, whilst prepared to go pretty damn low for his fix, is nevertheless one of the more human and morally upright characters on the show. The show charts his struggles with addiction and the world around him, especially the desperation and fear of the day-to-day life of one of the War on Drugs' refugees.
Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins
Played by: Andre Royo
You equivocating like a motherfucker!
How y'all do what y'all do every day and not wanna get high?
A homeless heroin addict. He mentors Johnny Weeks from seasons 1-3, and Sherrod in season 4, teaching them the life of scheming and scrounging that's necessary to support a life on the streets. When Weeks is attacked by members of the Barksdale crew, Bubbles renews his duties a police informant, providing critical information to Greggs and McNulty. In season 4, Bubbs is repeatedly beaten and robbed by another drug addict, but as :Kima and McNulty are no longer working drugs, Bubbs must settle for snitching for the considerably less reliable Herc, who twice fails to come to Bubbles's aid. Bubbles pays Herc back for his incompetence by feeding him bad information that gets him in some trouble with his superiors, but his plan for dealing with the robber backfires, resulting in Sherrod's death. He attempts to turn himself in, and attempts suicide, but is the recipient of an uncharacteristic bit of mercy from Jay Landsman.By the fifth season, he has moved into his sister's basement, weaned himself off drugs, gotten a job selling papers, and begun attending Narcotics Anonymous. In the final montage of the series, he is finally allowed up into the house to have dinner with his family.
Anti-Hero: Of the original, hero without heroic characteristics type.
Blue Oni: To Johnny Weeks', and later Sherrod's, Red Oni. It keeps him alive while both of them end up dead.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Over the course of the series he endures as much hardship as any other character, and he's one of only a few "street" characters who doesn't die, go to prison, or appear to be headed for one of those two fates in the end.
Guile Hero: He manages to inform on various drug dealers for the better part of five seasons without ever being suspected of being a snitch, mostly because he's very clever in his information-gathering.
The Informant: Partially earns his living working as one for the BPD.
Tropaholics Anonymous: Bubbles drifts in and out of various recovery programs and addiction support groups until he finally sobers up for good in season 5.
Played by: Leo Fitzpatrick
A homeless addict, taken under the wing of Bubbles. A counterfeiting operation brings down the wrath of Bodie and Poot, leaving him in the hospital, where he learns he has HIV. Bubbles' informing the police produces a rift between the two, and Weeks leaves and goes to Hamsterdam. He is found dead by overdose some time later.
A young dealer who is taken in by Bubbles. Bubbles tries to get him to go back to school, but Sherrod does not, and starts using. When they are attacked by another junkie, Bubbles puts poison in a dose of heroin, in the hopes that the junkie would rob them, use, and die. Sherrod takes the dose by accident.
The Baltimore Sun is Baltimore's local broadsheet and newspaper of record. However, like most of the institutions of The Wire, it has fallen on hard times of late, losing money at a prodigious rate and suffering from a staff brain drain, as ambitious reporters use it as a springboard for careers with the New York Times or Washington Post. In addition, it is now run by an unnamed company from Chicago, who are less interested in local journalism than they are with doing gltizy "state of the nation" feature pieces with one eye on a Pulitzer Prize. The Sun storyline is largely used as a vehicle for David Simon to reflect on journalism, contrasting his own no-nonsense, context-rich style in the form of Gus Haynes with the more essay-like, narrow-focused journalism of the Sun's owners. It's fairly obvious which one he prefers.
Karma Houdini: Arguably the worst in the series, as his unethical practices win him a Pulitzer Prize.
No Celebrities Were Harmed/Composite Character: Based on Jim Haner, David Simon's co-worker in the Sun who invented quotes and events without punishment from his editors. Templeton shares traits with other fabulists such as Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley, who are all name-checked by Haynes when he's trying to convince the editors of Templeton's guilt. His status as a Pulitzer winner who fabricated his story has shades of Janet Cooke too, although she was caught. He also has shades of Walter Duranty, one of the most abhorrent journalistic fabricators, who won a Pulitzer Prize despite regurgitating Stalinist propaganda about how there was totally no famine in Ukraine. Nope. None at all.
Not So Different: McNulty's self-loathing comes to a head when he compares himself to Templeton.
Protagonist Journey To Villain: Frustrated by the mounting pressure from the paper for big stories, he starts fabricating stories and eventually hits it big by pretending to witness a kidnapping attempt by McNulty's nonexistent serial killer.
Protection from Editors: In-universe, his stories are too flashy and profitable to be hampered by the guardians of the truth.
Changing of the Guard: his piece on Bubbles is topical and true-to-life, and he might well be the next Haynes.
Earn Your Happy Ending: his promotion at the end. This plot development is significant in the larger context of the series: the point of season 5 was to demonstrate that the newspapers miss the important stories of the city, but the quality and depth of Fletcher's article (and its warm reception) shows that the situation with the press isn't hopeless.