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.
  • Celebrity Paradox; Tupac Shakur existed in The Wire universe yet no one notices Avon Barksdale looks a lot like Wood Harris who costarred with Tupac in Above The Rim.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Word of God: David Simon has spoken on a number of points over the years, (including the sexual orientation of Bill Rawls, as mentioned above, or confirming that Chris Partlow was also molested as a child) but perhaps the most interesting case regards the newspaper storyline from Season 5. This plot arc is widely criticized for being simplistic and obvious compared to the depth and complexity of other stories, however Simon has claimed that the critics are missing the true point of the arc, and it isn't really about the evils of the newspaper business or holding Gus Haynes and a few other writers up as paragons of virtue, but about how the newspaper (even the good people who still work in it) has completely lost touch with the lives of the people in its city.
    Hereís what happened in season five of The Wire when almost no one ó among the working press, at least ó was looking: our newspaper missed every major story. The mayor, who came in promising reform, is instead forcing his police department to once again cook the stats to create the illusion that crime is going down. Uncovered. The school system has been teaching test questions to improve No Child Left Behind scores, and to protect the mayor politically and to validate a system that is failing to properly educate city children. No expose published. Key investigations and prosecutions are undercut or abandoned by the political machinations of police officials, prosecutors and political figures. Departmental priorities make high-level drug investigation prohibitive. Not the news thatís fit to print. Drug wars, territorial disputes, and the assassination of the cityís largest drug importer manage to produce a brief inside the metro section that refers only to the slaying of a second-hand appliance store owner. Par for the course.

    That was the critique. With the exception of the good journalism that bookended the story arc ó which is, of course, representative of the fact that there are still newspaper folk in Baltimore and elsewhere struggling mightily to do the job ó the season amounted to ten hours of a newspaper that is no longer intimately aware of its city. ... A good newspaper covers its city and acquires not just the quantitative account of a dayís events, but the qualitative truth and meaning behind those events. A great newspaper does this routinely on a multitude of issues, across its entire region. Such a newspaper was not chronicled on The Wire. There were still good journalists in our make-believe newsroom, and they did some good work ó just as there are still such souls in Baltimore and every city laboring in similar fashion and to similar result. But there used to be more of them. And they covered more ground, and they knew the terrain in a way that they no longer do.

...all the pieces matter.