Trivia: The Wire

"All the pieces matter."
Lester Freamon

  • Actor Allusion: Mixed with Real Person Cameo: (Examples)
    • Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich playing a security guard at the governor's office.
    • Donnie Andrews, the real-life inspiration for Omar Little, who appears as his sidekick a few times and is ultimately killed when Omar makes his Super Window Jump. That scene was based on an incident in Andrews' real life.
    • Guess which character is played by notorious former crimelord Little Melvin, the inspiration for Barksdale? Give up? The Deacon.
    • Felicia Pearson basically plays a fictionalized version of herself. Somewhat.
    • The woman playing the principal of the local school? Actually the principal of the real high school. No wonder you sat up straight when she yelled.
    • Lt. Dennis Mello was played by the actual Jay Landsman, a long-time homicide detective in the Baltimore Police Department. Not to be confused with the fictional homicide detective Jay Landsman named in his honor.
    • Det. Ed Norris is played by Edward Norris, former Baltimore Police Commissioner who had a somewhat controversial career that ended in indictment. His lack of respect for the current Commissioner is a running gag.
    • When he goes undercover in the Greek's brothel, McNulty's alias is "James Cromwell", in reference to "the English fuck who stole my ancestors' land". Dominic West played Oliver Cromwell in the Channel 4 miniseries The Devil's Whore.
    • Lester accuses the boys of being "A bunch of draft-dodgin' peace-freaks". The actor who portrays Freamon, Clarke Peters, was arrested in an anti-Vietnam war demonstration and later accused of draft-evasion when he was working in Europe.
  • Actor-Shared Background/Reality Subtext: Richard De Angelis really did have cancer and died due to complications from it after season 4. When it was confirmed that his cancer was terminal, his character also developed cancer, died from it during the course of season 4, and had a policeman's wake.
  • The Danza:
    • Felicia "Snoop" Pearson
    • Real Life Baltimore drug kingpin "Little Melvin" Williams plays the Deacon, whose first name is apparently "Melvin".
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Marla Daniels is clearly supposed to be around the same age as Cedric, but her actress, Maria Broom, has a solid 12 or so years on Lance Reddick, and is noticeably older.
    • D'Angelo Barksdale is another adult example. Prison records seen in season three indicate that he was approximately 23. He's played by Larry Gilliard Jr., who would have been 31 in the first season.
  • Directed by Cast Member: The season 5 episode "Took" was directed by Dominic West (McNulty). Clark Johnson also directed several episodes (notably "The Target"), even before he joined the cast as editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes. He also directed the finale.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Blind Butchie's actor S. Robert Morgan actually is blind (though as a result of macular degeneration rather than a gunshot wound).
  • Fake American: McNulty and Stringer Bell are both played by Brits. The Italian-American Carcetti is played by an Irishman.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • The man known as "The Greek" (who is not actually from Greece but is clearly not American and may be of Greek ethnicity) is played by American actor Bill Raymond.
    • Spiros either is Greek or pretends to be one, but he is played by an American actor, Paul Ben-Victor.
  • Fake Russian: Ukrainian Sergei Malatov is played by American actor Chris Ashworth.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Gordon from Sesame Street plays a cop in season 5.
    • Plenty of cameos from Baltimore-area personalities. The Baltimore Sun office in season 5, for example, has several former Sun writers playing themselves in their old jobs.
    • Many remember JD Williams (Bodie Broadus) as being Kenny Wangler from HBO's Oz. At least three cops played medium to minor characters in Oz, as well. Avon is the C.O. that smuggles a handgun to Said. The FBI mole has plenty of underground experience, what with being Busmalis aka "The Mole" in Oz.
    • James Ransone (Ziggy Sobotka) starred in Generation Kill, another HBO show written by David Simon.
    • Andy Bellefleur plays Frank Sobotka (or is that the other way around).
    • Hector Madden used to work as a cop.
    • The Greek will seem very familiar to fans of Law & Order. His actor has played several roles on that show, perhaps most notably the Pedophile Priest who molested Mike Logan as a child.
    • Back in season one, Chris Partlow can be seen in court wearing a police uniform — wait what?
    • Before he turned to dealing heroin in Baltimore, Avon was a high school football player in Virginia.
    • Beatrice McReady (Amy Ryan) is actually a decent mother for once, and a cop, no less. Also makes a change from her other day job in HR in Scranton, PA
    • Littlefinger is another sleazy politician as Tommy Carcetti.
    • In a past life, Prez invented the bendy straw.
    • Davis' bagman is rich, biatch! Doubles as Retroactive Recognition because Donnell Rawlings made his first appearance in Season 1, long before "Chappelle's Show."
    • Before being city editor, Gus Haynes worked as Det. Meldrick Lewis, at Baltimore.
    • The Bunk used to be hacker enemy number one.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Left 4 Dead 2 fans will recognize Cutty as as Coach.
  • I Am Not Spock: Defied by Wendell Pierce: "If you see me on the street, feel free for the rest of my life to call me Bunk."
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Marlo Stanfield is pretty much the only Complete Monster on the show. The actor who plays him, Jamie Hector, teaches martial arts and drama to at-risk youth, counsels them, and checks whether they attend school via his own charitable organisation, Moving Mountains. He also helped raise money for survivors of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.
    • Likewise, Sandi McCree in real life is as far away from Evil Matriarch De'Londa as you can get, being an advocate for arts education among children and teens, and all the people who contribute to the commentaries on the Season 4 DVD's, particularly David Simon, make it a point to emphasize how nice she is in real life.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The Wire may have been one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time, but it didn't get as wide an audience as some other shows that starred its actors, so it falls victim to this occasionally.
    • After the huge success of Game of Thrones, Tommy Carcetti is probably better known to people as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish.
    • Likewise, Cedric Daniels may be better known to people as Philip Broyles.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: It can be pretty amusing seeing the characters marvel over what was cutting-edge technology at the time, but of course is not so much anymore. Nick Sobotka is amazed that you can "ask a question" to a computer and get answers. Text messages are also presented as cutting edge.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • There was another season of The Wire planned which would have dealt with immigration and the large influx of Hispanic immigrants in Baltimore, but HBO had had enough low ratings.
      David Simon: We were considering a season on the topic of immigration, it was debated in the writersí room, but itís like, by the time we do the research, learn the Spanish, the trainís already rolling along and you canít stop it. We were just begging HBO to give us another season.
    • During season 3 the idea was floated of spinning off the political subplots into a separate show called The Hall. Instead the political side was folded into subsequent seasons.
      HBO: No, we only want one show that nobody is watching in Baltimore, not two!
    • Kima was supposed to die in the first season. HBO executive Carolyn Strauss urged David Simon not to kill off Greggs, telling him it would be a mistake. This and other changed details can be read in an early draft of the show, The Wire Bible.
  • Word of Gay: Rawls. His sexual orientation is strongly hinted at in the show, but David Simon has confirmed it in interviews.

...all the pieces matter.