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Characters / Homicide: Life on the Street

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The cast of Homicide: Life on the Street.

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     Tim Bayliss 
Portrayed by: Kyle Secor

  • Bi the Way: He comes out as such in Season 6.
  • Coming-Out Story: In Season 6 he comes to realize his attraction to men, although not exclusive to men.
  • Hot-Blooded: His passionate reactions, especially when children are harmed, sometimes hurts his cases.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Despite already being an experienced investigator on the mayor's security detail, he's not initially prepared for the murder squad.
  • Nice Guy: Bayliss is overall a good-natured and moral person in a very harsh world.
  • Taking the Bullet: For Pembleton in the season six finale, leaving him comatose with serious injuries. The former's guilt and remorse about his fate drives him to quit the force shortly hereafter.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: At 6"5, he's the tallest character in the show.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Halfway through season five, he ended his partnership with Pembleton out of frustration of his partner's distant attitude and gained a new, confident and aloof personality that showed potential for growth. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple of episodes.
  • Unlucky Everydude: The number of cases that defeat him and/or get under his skin, plus numerous personal problems, obscure just how good an investigator he's capable of being.

     Frank Pembleton 
Portrayed by: Andre Braugher

  • The Ace: He's generally considered the best detective in the squad.
  • Bald of Awesome: Wields his bald pate as a blunt instrument against suspects in the box. When he comes back from medical leave he's grown out his hair to cover surgical scars, and is also missing a few steps.
  • Black and White Morality: His basic philosophical approach. Acknowledging a middle ground doesn't come easy to him.
  • Breakout Character: Became the fan favorite and signature character over the show's run.
  • Brought Down to Normal: His brilliance as a murder detective is dimmed by his stroke, although he gets better.
  • Good Parents: To his daughter, Olivia, and his son, Frank Jr.
  • Happily Married: To Mary, played by Andre's real-life wife, Ami Brabson.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Bayliss. In one episode, he even says that Tim is the only person he trusts besides his wife.
  • The Hero
  • Holier Than Thou: Frank can be very self-righteous at times.
  • Insufferable Genius: He's brilliant and knows it. Part of his character arc in Season 5 is regaining his confidence without becoming this again.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Frank is self-righteous, egotistical, antisocial, condescending, abrasive and generally not the nicest person. But he has frequent moments that show he's fundamentally a good person capable of kindness. Bayliss and his wife Mary tend to bring this out in him more than anyone.
  • Large Ham: Frank can be very theatrical at times.
  • Raised Catholic: Even though he eventually loses his faith, Frank was brought up in a catholic family and taught by Jesuits in High school.

     John Munch 
Portrayed by: Richard Belzer

  • Ambiguously Jewish: We never really get to know much about Munch's religious background until the season 5 episode "Kaddish".
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He's got quite a few.
  • The Cynic: Used to be idealistic and naive as a teen in the early 60's. The adult Munch is quite the opposite.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very possibly the biggest one in the squadroom.
  • Karma Houdini: If going by the popular theory that he killed Gordon Pratt, the White Supremacist Serial Killer who also shot Howard, Felton and Bolander, then he has never been so much as questioned for the crime and went on to be a part of the Special Victims Unit and retire years later with his pension (and reputation) in tact.
  • Only Sane Man: Or so he likes to believe himself to be.
  • Serial Spouse: He's been married four times.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He acts like he's a major name in conspiracy circles and that the FBI must have a file on him so big that he'd need a truck to carry it. This leads to a hysterical scene when, at New York FBI headquarters, Munch learns his entire FBI file is a single sheet of paper that notes that the majority of the radical community consider him a total crank.

     Meldrick Lewis 
Portrayed by: Clark Johnson
  • It's All About Me: Downplayed; he does care about his friends and fellow detectives, but his interests and own well-being comes first and foremost.
  • Nice Hat: Is rarely seen out on the streets without his trilby.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The squad room shootout at the end of season six would have never happened if not for him, as he leaves his loaded gun in an unlocked drawer in front of Junior Bunk, causing him to retrieve it and kill three officers and injure Gharty and Ballard. Even worse, he is never so much as confronted on these events.
  • Never My Fault: He has a nasty habit of not accepting responsibility for his failings.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: It takes him the entire season to forgive Sheppard for almost getting him killed in a raid.

     Al Giardello 
Portrayed by: Yaphet Kotto

  • A Father to His Men: Not the easiest father to get along with - and he wasn't to his actual kids, either - but a fiercely protective one. While he berates and mocks his detectives, sometimes blowing up for no apparent reason, whoa betide anyone else who targets them.
  • Benevolent Boss: Provided you don't piss him off, Gee is a very friendly and protective boss who genuinely cares about his detectives like they were his children.
  • Happily Married: To his late wife. He has struggled with finding love after her death.
  • Large and in Charge: He stands 6'4" and is the boss. The only character taller than him is Bayliss.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Half African-American, half Italian, and takes both sides quite seriously.
  • Overprotective Dad: Heavily implied that Gee is one of these. He is visibly upset and angry when he learns that his daughter is marrying her boyfriend without asking his blessing, and that she doesn't care about what he thinks of her relationship.

     Kay Howard 
Portrayed by: Melissa Leo

  • Bifauxnen: Her speech is gravelly and direct and she dresses like a slightly dandyish male most of the time.
  • Bi the Way: Although never displayed in-universe, many fans believed that she was a lesbian and as such, had a huge LGBT following.
  • Fiery Redhead: Had red hair and was certainly the most hot-blooded of all the women on the show.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: She's noticeably sharper than her partner Felton even before a combination of drinking, divorce, and his getting shot turn him into a mess. She got a more severe bullet wound, but it hardly slowed her down. When Felton leaves she aces the sergeant's exam and fulfills this role for Gee.
  • Made of Iron: In "The City That Bleeds", she gets shot in the heart by a suspect and she not only survived, but is back on the job within a quick amount of time.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Felton.

     Beau Felton 
Portrayed by: Daniel Baldwin
  • The Alcoholic: Starts drinking heavily when he is left by his wife. By the end of season 3 it's bad enough for him to lose vital evidence while out on one of his nightly benders. It is however implied that Felton had stopped drinking by the time that he's found dead at the end of season 5.)
  • Defective Detective: He's a homicide detective with a shambled wreck of a personal life.
  • The Infiltration: After leaving Homicide, Felton starts working as a police infiltrator in a car theft ring.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's an utter disaster of a human being most of the time but he frequently shows immense kindness and you get a sense that he wants to be better than he is.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Kay.
  • Survivor's Guilt: He, Howard and Bolander were all shot in "The City That Bleeds". Although he was shot multiple times, he ended up being the least injured of the trio and dealt with some residual guilt from this.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As comes with being played by a Baldwin.

     Stanley Bolander 
Portrayed by: Ned Beatty
  • Cool Old Guy: He can be when he isn't in a bad mood.
  • Fat and Skinny: The rotund Bolander is the fat to Munch's skinny.
  • Friend to All Children: He loves kids and gets along well with them. At times, he's implied to regret never having kids of his own.
  • Gibberish of Love: Has a case of this when he first meets and falls for the new female coroner Dr. Blythe in season one.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Stan is one of the oldest detectives still active in the Homicide unit, and has his fair share of grouchy moments.
    Munch: Name one miracle that's happened in your lifetime.
    Bolander: How 'bout the fact that I haven't killed you yet?

     Steve Crosetti 
Portrayed by: Jon Polito
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Oooh boy. Even though this role would be somewhat overtaken by Munch in later seasons, Crosetti was the original conspiracy nut among the detectives, with the Lincoln assassination as his biggest obsession.
  • Driven to Suicide: He takes his own life at the start of Season 3.
  • Overprotective Dad: He is visibly upset over his daughter having a boy home for a sleepover in the episode "Night of the Dead Living", and grudgingly jokes about "justifiable homicide" when Lewis starts talking about her having a sex life. It's also implied in the same episode that he's threatened or at least scared his daughters boyfriends with his service revolver.
  • Raised Catholic: Out of all the original detectives, Crosetti is without a doubt the most openly religious. He doesn't believe in sex before marriage, is frequently seen with a rosary, and becomes furious when he discovers that a grave digger has buried the wrong body in the wrong grave, thus disturbing their eternal rest.

     Megan Russert 
Portrayed by: Isabella Hoffman
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Receiving a double demotion from captain to detective seems to kill her interest in the job, and she takes a permanent vacation soon afterwards.

     Mike Kellerman 
Portrayed by: Reed Diamond
  • Dirty Cop: Played with then unfortunately played straight. Initially believed to be dirty due to being framed for corruption, after the Luther Mahoney saga his name and his outlook on the job and life became much darker.
  • Fair Cop: He's a pretty good-looking cop with blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • Nice Guy: At first but the effects of Season 5 leave him with little of his previous kindness.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: His two brothers are hustlers with little interest in earning an honest living while he's a homicide detective.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He joins the homicide squad with an idealistic desire to do good, but the combination of being set up for corruption and repeated run-ins with Luther Mahoney, whom he ultimately executes, leave him bitter and nasty. He seems to have improved some by the time of the TV movie.

     J.H. Brodie 
Portrayed by: Max Perlich
  • Author Avatar: He's partially based on David Simon, whose book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets was the basis of the show, which he also wrote for.
  • Butt-Monkey: The TV station he works for fires him for providing footage as evidence to the police department, and while Gee appreciates him enough to give him a job the detectives barely tolerate him at times.

     Julianna Cox 
Portrayed by: Michelle Forbes
  • Broken Bird: Her beloved father was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
  • Hospital Hottie: Technically speaking, as she was the Medical Examiner.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: She eventually leaves her position due to being fed up with her office's abundant corruption.

     Paul Falsone 
Portrayed by: Jon Seda
  • The Ace: He became one throughout the squad room, even rivaling Pembleton.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: In a sense: his ex-wife and he resolve their differences and he is granted more access to their young son.
  • Good Parents: Through all his faults, he genuinely loves his son, Daniel.

     Laura Ballard 
Portrayed by: Callie Thorne

     Stuart Gharty 
Portrayed by: Peter Gerety

     Terri Stivers 
Portrayed by: Toni Lewis
  • Satellite Character: Aside from the Luther Mahoney saga and a one-time date with Lewis, she has little else in the way of personality or backstory.

     Mike Giardello 
Portrayed by: Giancarlo Esposito

     Rene Sheppard 
Portrayed by: Michael Michele
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: One of her main issues is the fear that she won't be taken seriously because of her supermodel looks and pageant contestant background.

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