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Characters / The Wire - Major Crimes Unit

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"Same fuck-ups in the same shit detail, workin' out of the same shithouse kind of office. You people lack personal growth, you know that?"
Lester Freamon
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Intended as a temporary creation to address a specific problem, the Major Crimes Unit becomes the main focus of attention within the police. After Judge Phelan sees the Barksdale gang blatantly intimidate witnesses in his courtroom and is enlightened about the reach and scope of the organization by McNulty, he complains to the police higher ups that he wants an investigation specifically targeting the Barksdales, and in response they create the first MCU squad. Populated largely by cops who are either worthless or perceived to be so, and commanded by the promising but career minded Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, the MCU is intended to do the absolute minimum amount of work necessary to satisfy Phelan without having to become too involved.

Against all odds, however, the MCU investigation picks up steam once they begin shedding dead weight and other officers assigned to it wind up being able to contribute much more than would be expected. As Daniels proves to be willing to put his career on the line to support the Unit's efforts, they manage to bring down a significant part of the Barksdale Empire including Avon Barksdale himself, although the fact that Stringer Bell remains free allows the Barksdales to remain a force within the drug trade.

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The Unit is disbanded at the end of season 1, but put back together at the insistence of Valchek in season 2 due to his petty feud with Frank Sobotka and desire to have Sobotka and his union similarly dismantled. After that point the unit remains in place and works with other divisions of the police throughout season 3, although once Daniels is promoted and moved elsewhere it becomes a shell of itself in season 4. The Unit gets one last day in the sun, however, when it gets assigned the duty of taking down Marlo Stanfield.


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    Jimmy McNulty 
Played by: Dominic West
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jimmy_mcnulty_7473.jpg
"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 closest thing to a main character in The Wire. A detective in Homicide, he is an alcoholic womanizer, something of a deadbeat, insubordinate toward his supervisors, and known for coming up with creative solutions to hard cases. His disrespect for the chain of command makes him many enemies among his superiors, while his self-destructive behavior alienates his peers and friends.

After the Barksdales show their power by getting D'Angelo acquited, McNulty goes to Judge Phelan and sets in motion the creation of the Major Crimes Unit in season 1. This maverick crusade irks Rawls and Burrell, and at the end of the season he is assigned to what he sees as the worst possible position for him in the BPD: the marine unit. He spends the start of the second season there, but when Daniels puts the band back together, McNulty is recruited back into the MCU and spends the rest of season 2 and all of season 3 there, where he resumes his crusade against the unpunished Stringer Bell. Burnt out on being a detective, at the end of season 3 he begins a relationship with Beadie Russel and puts in for a transfer to patrol, and spends the 4th season as a beat cop, happier in the less intense world of walking a beat.
McNulty proves unable to stay uninvolved with the Stansfield Gang's reign of terror, however, and attempts to get Bodie to cooperate with the police against Marlo. This quickly gets Bodie killed, and inflames both McNulty's guilt and his drive to catch and punish the bad guy. He returns to the MCU, and takes all his self-destructive behaviors Up to Eleven as he takes part in the efforts to catch Marlo even while the police budget is slashed to the bone by Carcetii. At this point he dreams up the fake Serial Killer idea, and uses the resources sent to the department to illegally pursue Marlo. When his superiors finally catch on, it proves to be the last straw for McNulty's career and he's forced to resign.
Somehow he never actually receives a McCloud Speech to his face during the show (well, with the exception of Landsman's eulogy at his mock detective's wake), but other characters give descriptions of him that almost fit the trope.
  • Achilles in His Tent: During season 4 he gives up being a detective and takes a job as a regular patrol cop. He's asked several times by Daniels and his other supervisors to become a detective again, because he's too good an investigator to be in a patrol car but he refuses. Saying he's happier walking the beat. Only when Marlo Stanfield and his gang grow out of control does Mcnulty finally decide to rejoin the Homicide unit to try and stop him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Jimmy usually takes with a smile many of the numerous jabs he receives.
  • 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 to him that he manages to be a Functional Addict outside of his private life. In his private life however, he's a complete wreck. When we see him regularly drinking on the job in season 5, it's a good sign of just how low he's sinking and how many of his own lines he's crossing.
  • All for Nothing: His serial killer plan finally gets Marlo off the streets (for now) but destroys his career. A montage of Baltimore shows that at large, it hasn't changed for the better.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He cites anger as a major source for his dysfunction and half the shit he does can be rooted back to his need to demonstrate that he's smarter than anybody else, but he gets a bit too involved and casual when tampering with the vagrants, like a child on a candy store, which doesn't go unnoticed by Bunk, Lester or the FBI.
    Lester: McNulty, you are deserving of serious psychological study.
  • Anti-Hero: Unscrupulous Hero. a drunken, philandering mess in his personal life. Jimmy might be a great cop when he has the will to be, but he's got serious personality issues that need addressing.
  • Arch-Enemy: He definitely regards Stringer as this, and holds a serious grudge against him after he gets off scot free at the end of Season 1, which leads to McNulty becoming obsessed with taking him down as payback in Season 3. It's highly unlikely Stringer ever saw him the same way, more of a nuisance.
  • Author Avatar: Word of God confirms he's based heavily on Ed Burns, the co-creator of the show.
  • Badass Pacifist: 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."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Discussed Trope at length. Especially at his mock funeral in the finale.
    Landsman: Natural police, but Christ what an asshole!
  • Byronic Hero: Hot-blooded, alcoholic, workaholic womanizer with quite a reputation. This is his ironic answer to Landsman about his previous whereabouts in the very first episode.
    Drinking. Crack smoking. Whoring myself on the streets of Baltimore.
  • Catchphrase: "What the fuck did I do?" Played for laughs and drama. Frequently used sarcastically (i.e. "What the fuck did I do?"), to demonstrate his inability to acknowledge his own stupid mistakes.
  • The Chains of Commanding: In season 5 he's trusted with some managerial duties and responsibilities, with varying and ironic results
    [To Lester:] You're a supervisor's nightmare.
  • Character Development: Played with. After he settles down with Beadie he moves away from investigation quests, along with boozing and womanizing, "Good"-ol'Jimmy is back in Season 5, not before earning quite a few incredulous remarks about his domesticated state.
    Lester: World is on its hole when Jimmy McNulty is the most qualified to drive.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Toward his superiors. He has also been accused of doing this to his peers by Lester Freamon and Rhonda Pearlman.
    Fuck the bosses!
  • 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. Additionally, when he does break the rules, they tend not to be the constitutional ones intended to protect the individual rights of citizens (the biggest constitutional violation in the series is actually Freamon's illegal wire, which McNulty merrily used but didn't actually come up with), but rather the budgetary and protocol rules that are supposedly aimed at keeping the police under the control of the elected politicians, but are actually most often used to protect the asses of the BPD higher-ups.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He usually voices his objections in a sardonic way.
  • Defective Detective: Lampshaded; Freamon observes that despite his excellent police work, the rest of his life is a train wreck.
    The things that make me right for this job, maybe they’re the same things that make me wrong for everything else.
  • Drinking on Duty: Multiple examples. Prominent ones during season 5 (pictured) and in his prequel segment.
  • Drink Order: A Jameson. Not that he has much of a problem with Protestant whiskey anyway.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Doesn't need much of an excuse to prop up the bar, but he always does it if he's distraught.
  • Drunk Driver: At times.
  • Fallen Hero: By the end of the show. And despite his fake serial killer plan being somewhat successful, he is driven out of the force 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.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Jimmy needs a lot of time to understand that Elena wants to move on with her life. He ends paying $3000 per month as alimony, and he can't afford it.
  • 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.
  • Handsome Lech: A drunken womanizer prone to banging floozies in bar parking lots.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Very fond of his vintage leather jacket, which evokes at least the looks of a Hardboiled Detective.
  • 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.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Had an affair with the redheaded lawyer Rhonda Pearlman while he was still married. However, he only liked the relationship because of the sexual favors; predictably Rhonda gets fed up and moves on.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Wannabe: His desire to be a cop is driven by this persona.
  • 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.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: In Season 5, he is the lead investigator on the Serial Killer case. He's so overwhelmed with resources that he quite capably diverts them to actual police work. Eventually he's given a right-on-the money FBI profile about himself.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Pretends to be a British businessman to go undercover in a brothel. It's bloody orrible, nowhere near Sheffield-born Dominic West's natural accent.
    Cwoikey! I was lookin' to get a little hanky-panky, and this one bloke gave me this number to cawl when I got acwoss the pond
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: For all his arrogance and abrasiveness, McNulty believes deep down that if he isn't being a detective and catching bad guys his life doesn't amount to anything and he is basically worthless.
  • It's All About Me: Self-confessed. Jimmy doesn't lack empathy, but when he sets his mind to something, nothing will interfere with his quest, come hell or high water.
    Landsman: Jimmy is an addict, sir. [To] himself. It's not funny, it's a fucking tragedy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be a womanizing insubordinate asshole, but he does care about being a good cop, and his screw-ups hit him VERY hard.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The fake serial killer in Season 5.
  • Knight Templar: His pals suggest it sometimes, due to the mayhem he causes. Jimmy himself wonders if they are right.
    You start to tell the story, you think you're the hero, and then when you get done talking...
  • The Last DJ: Doing actual police work is a sure way to harm your career.
  • Last-Name Basis: Even Russell's kids call him McNulty. Bunk and Freamon do use Jimmy, especially when they want to talk him out of something.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Less wrong when you can flash a badge to the patrolmen and then continue about your business.
  • Manchild:
    McNulty: You know what they call a guy who pays that much attention to his clothes, don't you?
    Bunk: Mm-hmm, a grown-up.
  • Married to the Job: As Freamon says in this get-a-life scene.
    Lester: Oooh, you need somethin' outside of this here. The job won't save you Jimmy.
  • Men Can't Keep House: The status of his apartment is reflective of the status of his wrecked life.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Played with; he poses as a bigot with a sheriff, assuming the man would be a prejudiced hick. He has to backpedal when he learns that the guy's wife is black.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He is demoted at the end of season 1 for his role in bringing the Barksdales to justice. Happens again in 5 when he brings Marlo's crew to justice barring Marlo himself.
  • Officer O'Hara: Averted - he's of Irish descent (and possesses a couple of stereotypical traits), but he is a competent detective and doesn't have a comedy accent.
  • Off the Wagon: In season 5.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The way he sees his enemy, Stringer. He is the only one who is moved by his death soon after the latter was killed.
  • Parental Neglect: McNulty loves his kids Sean and Michael but won't be up for any father-of-the year awards.
    • Due to his tight schedule, he has his kids mixed with less-than-exemplary companions such as Omar and Bubbles.
    • Loses sight of his children when they are made to play-tail Stringer in a market.
    • He doesn't really know the first thing about his kids' education or whether Sean is in sixth or seventh grade.
    • He leaves the kids alone in the house to have a quickie in a hotel, in the middle of the night.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • 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.
  • Phrase Catcher: His assholism is referenced by almost every character, often. He's also a magnet for "My office, now!"
  • 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.
  • Prodigal Hero: Considered and often called the prodigal son and the Black Sheep due to his on-off relationship with Homicide and the MCU.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Takes down Marlo's crew in Season 5 and ultimately is thrown off the force but Marlo is never allowed to return to the streets again and is forced to retire which unlike Stringer, is Marlo's own personal hell.
  • Raised Catholic: Makes the sign of the Cross before tampering with the vagrants and Bunk theorizes his background 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.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Twice. The second time he actually prefers it though.
  • Reassignment Backfire: Rawls puts him on the boat. Jimmy still finds a way to get back at Rawls and shove one major case up his jurisdiction, for the lulz.
    Rawls: (laughing) Fuckin' Jimmy. Fuckin' with us for the fun of it. I gotta give the son-of-a-bitch some credit for wit on this one. Cocksucker.
  • Red Oni: To Bunk's Blue Oni (alternatively, to Kima's or Lester's Blue).
  • Sex with the Ex: Just the once, leading Jimmy to think Divorce Is Temporary. It isn't.
  • Shirtless Scene: Several.
  • Shotgun Wedding: He dropped out of college and married Elena after she got pregnant.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The narrative shows how some of his twisted shenanigans stem from an odd sense of justice and personal righteousness.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Lean, black-haired and good-looking, probably too much for his own good, even scoring while comatosely drunk.
  • Three-Way Sex: Jimmy is bloody outnumbered in a bordello, with sexy results. Other characters are still talking about it several seasons later.
  • Too Clever by Half: He's too competent for his own good. It speaks volumes that his only period of stability happens when he is away from investigative tasks.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Willing to stab Daniels in the back through Colvin despite Daniels working to get McNulty off the boat, much to Daniels' Tranquil Fury.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Bunk.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Receives these, in tandem with "The Reason You Suck" Speech, on a regular basis.
    Bunk: There you go. Givin' a fuck when it ain't your turn to give a fuck.
    • Subverted in season 5 when Bunk brings Lester to the loop, hoping to end the serial killer scheme. Lester objects because the lie needs more wings to fly.
      Lester: Shit like this actually goes through your fucking brain?
  • Working with the Ex: Has an affair with Rhonda at the beginning of the series. They keep working together occasionaly after the break-up. He's very cool about Daniels dating her.
  • Worthy Adversary: Intellectual vanity is one of his motors. He is proud to be chasing Avon and Stringer, on the basis that stupid criminals make stupid cops.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Chronic, although his condition does undergo a short-lived remission.
    Lester: Ain't he married or some shit now?

    Cedric Daniels 
Played by: Lance Reddick
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cedric_daniels_8405.jpg
"Bend too far and you are already broken"

Comes a day you're gonna have to decide whether it's about you or about the work.

Daniels begins the show as a Lieutenant in charge of the Narcotics Unit for the Western District, and spends most of the series in charge of the special details that would become the model for the Major Crimes Unit. He is fiercely loyal to those under his command and demands similar loyalty in turn. He works to rein in the various 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 juking 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 Baritone: A deep voice that commands respect.
  • Badass Pacifist: Behold his peaceful arrest of Avon inside the Barksdale compound, taking over a SWAT operation. He also has the stones to hold his own against Burrell and Clay Davis in a dignified manner.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Begins to sport a shaved head in season 3.
  • 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.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word
  • Catchphrase: Downplayed with "This is (some) bullshit."
  • The Chains of Commanding: Daniels is always struggling between the politics of the higher-ups, his own judgement, the pressure and Cowboy Cop antics from some of his more uncontrollable but competent detectives and the need to protect his more inept underlings.
  • Character Development: He begins the series as a company man observant of the chain of command, but grows tired of the chronic obstructionism and he gradually becomes a reformist, it's not about him, but about the job.
  • Chekhov's Gun: His law degree. This is Truth in Television, as one of the detectives David Simon shadowed when writing Homicide, Terry McLarneynote , was a law school graduate. Another gun of a much higher caliber is the corruption investigation in his past.
  • Da Chief: Warns early on that he doesn't want "cowboy shit" and tries to reign McNulty in most of the time during the first season. He becomes a justified case in mid-season 3 when Jimmy and Kima abuse his confidence, force his hand and derail his investigation with their extracurricular activities, but is still willing to have McNulty in his unit after telling him that he's done.
  • Deadpan Snarker: From time to time.
    So one thieving politician trumps 22 murders. Good to know.
  • Defector from Decadence: Daniels quits the force after being told to cheat on the crime stats.
  • 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.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He can be quite reasonable and accommodating, but when something angers him, he'll be very vocal about it.
  • Guile Hero: After being burned a few times, he becomes relatively adept at playing office politics indirectly and/or without openly antagonizing other powerful officials.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Becomes an official couple with Rhonda.
  • Honor Before Reason: Several times, particularly toward the end of the series.
    You bend too far and you are already broken.
  • Internal Reformist: Tries to transform the "stats game" into real police work.
  • Large and in Charge: Usually the tallest police officer in any room unless the 6'3" Rawls is present.
  • The Last DJ
  • 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. It takes awhile, but Carver eventually heeds his advice and it, along with what Carver learns from Colvin, makes Carver a better policeman.
  • 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.
  • Nerves of Steel: He has the stones to hold his ground against Senator Davis and Deputy Burrell and stand tall while he's a mere Lieutenant.
  • 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, which shows how much Bird has it coming. More so, Daniels later tells Bunk to send Bird his love when the trial approaches.
  • 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.
  • Official Couple: With lawyer Rhonda Pearlman in season 3.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Burrell implies that Daniels 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. Burrell ultimately later fills the promise at the end of season 3 after forcing Bunny Colvin out of the Western District over the Hamsterdam fracas.
  • Perpetual Frowner: His typical expression borders on Death Glare territory.
  • Rank Up: A rising star under Carcetti's New Day. He's too good to last. He's proud to be promoting Carver face to face in one of his last acts as policeman.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Eventually revealed to be one.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After the first Barksdale detail is wrapped up, Burrell sends him to the basement to handle evidence control.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Subverted in Season 2; he grows tired of all the bullshit inherent in the BPD, sends in his resignation papers and is days away 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.
  • Secret Keeper: Daniels will keep secrets to save loyal subordinates and loved ones. In the end he is given a choice to either juke the stats or address his allegedly corrupt past that he is being blackmailed with. He could have fought but he quits the force instead because it's implied his ex-wife was involved.
  • Shirtless Scene: Several during his private life. The man is really ripped.
  • Tranquil Fury: One of his specialties and very good at this. Detectives that wouldn't think twice about throwing down with hardened gangbangers are scared shitless when Daniels' voice drops another octave in restrained fury.

    Shakima "Kima" Greggs 
Played by: Sonja Sohn
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kimagreggs2_407.jpg
"Don't tell me we're the same kind of asshole?"

I mean, I know you don´'t like it. But shit, I was proud.

Kima starts out as detective in Narcotics, working under Daniels, considered by Daniels to be his best and most reliable detective. As a result he promptly enlists her into the special detail investigating the Barksdales, as he needs someone he can trust and rely on. One of the more competent cops on the team, she does much work in surveillance and recruiting informants, particularly Bubbles.

While undercover she is shot and badly wounded in the first season, but recovers and, under pressure from her girlfriend, who doesn't like Kima's dangerous line of work, transfers to a desk job. Ultimately, Daniels lures her back into the fray and after spending season 2 and 3 as part of the MCU she eventually earns an assignment in Homicide.
Kima is completely 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) and as a result in the fifth season, she is the one who reports McNulty and Freamon's fake serial killer to Daniels.
  • Action Girl: She fights crime in a rather literal sense, and isn't averse to jumping into the fray or tuning up prisoners.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Zig-zagged. Kima is talked into having a child with her girlfriend, but is completely unenthusiastic about it, which ultimately causes their separation. In season 5, she starts to regret her decision and spends more time with the child.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted; Kima's girlfriend having a baby makes their relationship worse, and eventually contributes to their breakup. Kima does come to care for her son however.
  • Blood Knight: She doesn't find police work satisfying unless she has the chance to forcefully confront and bust criminals face-to-face.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: The soft center comes out when children are involved.
  • Butch Lesbian: Kima is open with her colleagues about her sexual orientation, although the womanizing McNulty tries to hit on her before she tells him.
  • 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.
  • Consummate Professional
  • Fair Cop: Despite — or perhaps because of — her butch attitude Kima is quite good-looking and attracts the attention of both men and women.
  • The Fettered
  • Henpecked Husband: A lesbian example. A consequence of being the masculine half of her relationship. Lampshaded by Herc.
  • Honor Before Reason: Her refusal to falsely testify that she knows for a fact that it was Wee-Bey who shot her.
  • The Lad-ette: She enjoys drinking, screwing, and busting heads as much as any of her male co-workers; conversely, she doesn't have much interest in "feminine" activities like shopping or homemaking.
  • Married to the Job: Her partner begins to resent her dedication to policework when it detracts from her willingness to be a parent to their child.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Half black half Asian. Old Face Andre even hits on her because of this.
  • Naïve Newcomer: When she lands in homicide, she experiences a number of novice-related pranks from the veteran cops. The audience surrogate part is downplayed, as this happens in season 4.
  • Not So Different: A minor story arc has Kima realizing she's following in Jimmy's footsteps—even to the point of becoming Bunk's partner in Homicide.
    Don't tell me we're the same kind of asshole...
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When she is posing as a criminal's girlfriend for a sting operation, she brings out her femme side and draws admiring comments from her male colleagues.
  • 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.
  • Your Cheating Heart: After she and her girlfriend adopt a baby, Kima is less than enthused and even has a fling with an unnamed woman.

    Thomas "Herc" Hauk 
Played by: Domenick Lombardozzi
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hercthomas_5483.jpg
The Western District Way

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. That said, he does have some positive qualities, such as loyalty to his friends and some capacity for self-reflection.

During season 3 he becomes a part of Mayor Royce's security team, and witnesses the mayor having an affair with his secretary. He is bought off with a promotion to sergeant and a transfer back to the MCU, but loses any political connections when Royce is voted out in favor of Carcetti. He is forced to resign in season 4 after he manages to wrongfully arrest an influential black minister and lose an expensive police surveillance camera in a short period of time. After leaving the force he becomes part of 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. The closest thing we get to an explanation of why he didn't pay attention to that aesop is him exclaiming about what a hassle police paperwork is when he tries doing some property seizures in season 2, hinting that perhaps the bureaucratic nightmare of paperwork helped send him right back to his old ways.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Always favors physical solutions to departmental problems.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Lombardozzi's New York accent was so blatant that the show eventually wrote it in that Herc was originally from the Big Apple, and there are few cops in the show more violent or prone to Police Brutality.
  • Butt-Monkey: His incompetence often lands him in very hot water and is the eventual cause of his firing, coupled with dishonesty and thuggery. Even when he's right, his colleagues usually ignore him until someone competent can confirm it.
  • Catchphrase: "The Western district way."
  • Character Development: In the last season, after he has been kicked off the force and is working for Levy as a consultant, he privately admits to Carver that he realizes he was a useless, brutal police and wishes he'd tried to make a better go of it.
  • Cowboy Cop: Like McNulty, a deconstruction; in his case of the "cut corners and rough up the suspects" variety.
  • The Ditz: For all his asshole-ish attitude and knuckle-headedness, it's really hard to stay mad at the guy, though.
  • The Driver: His role in the Mayor's detail. This puts him in a very awkward spot when he comes to collect Royce and finds him in a pantless situation.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Like Carver, he gets tired of doing lowly surveillance jobs and transfers away from the MCU, but unlike Carver, Herc earns little respect or knowledge and eventually comes back to the unit.
  • Dumb Muscle: A brute that approaches crimefighting with "the Western district way" motto; rounding up corners, knocking heads and a complete lack of subtlety, in a nutshell.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Appalled by the downward spiral of Hamsterdam with events such as the police having to hide a murder committed inside of the free zone, he blows the whistle and informs a reporter.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After taking a job as an investigator with Levy. Although ironically, being fired from the BPD makes him a better person, even if his new job is unsympathetic.
  • I Know You Know I Know: He finally makes sergeant thanks to it. When detailed with the Mayor, he awkwardly surprises Royce in the middle of getting a blowjob from his secretary. After being counseled by Valchek, Royce and Herc reach an implicit agreement about his silence and the Mayor gets him a promotion to elsewhere with a single phone call.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dim witted, crass, and blunt, but not without decency.
    • Apologizes to Bodie's grandmother for the inconvenience and foul language they used after the police come blazing into her house.
    • For all his failings, when Internal Affairs descends on his department, he takes the fall himself, instead of trying to save himself by lying or implicating anyone else.
    • He supports Carver in his decision to bubble Colicchio to IID after Colicchio attacks a civilian for apparently no reason. Herc reflects that maybe Carver was right and comes to regret being a violent and incompetent cop.
  • 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.
  • Manchild: At times even more immature than some of the hoppers.
  • 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 Randy's life, is the worst.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: His Bronx accent sticks out like a sore thumb; in season five he finally acknowledges he's originally from New York.
  • The Peter Principle: He wasn't exactly competent as a detective, but at times he could a decent foot soldier, and was useful for simple tasks, and even if he screwed up the repercussions were generally minimal. Once promoted to Sergeant and sent back into the field, his screw ups have much bigger ramifications and he is no longer Beneath Notice as far as the bosses are concerned. In record time he manages to piss off pillars of the community, wreck a young man's life, lose police equipment that he took without proper authorization, and cause a minor political crisis for the mayor himself. This quickly results in Herc being dismissed from the BPD.
  • 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.
    Daniels: ...a formal brutality charge, which for Herc will make an even four in the last two years.
    Herc: None sustained...
    Daniels: But all of them true.
  • Rank Up: He scores surprisingly well on the Sergeant exam, but does not get a promotion until the mayor kicks him upstairs after Herc witnesses him in a delicate situation.
  • Salt and Pepper: The salt to Carver's pepper
  • Those Two Guys: With Carver.

    Ellis Carver 
Played by: Seth Gilliam
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elliscarver_5569.jpg

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. Although brighter and more perceptive than Herc, Carver starts the series with a similar mentality to his partner, showing almost identical levels of immaturity, corruption, and being just as willing to engage in Police Brutality. Due to the influences of Daniels, and more importantly, Bunny Colvin, Carver begins to change his outlook and grow into a more effective and responsible policeman.

He is instrumental in keeping Hamsterdam running in Season 3, sometimes making desperate attempts to keep Colvin's experiment going as he sees the difference it makes on the street. In Season 4 he tries to help out Randy Wagstaff, but makes the mistake of trusting Herc with the young boy in an attempt to help Herc keep his career going. Herc's mishandling of the situation makes Randy a pariah on the streets and puts him in danger of being sent back to a group home. In one of the series' biggest Tear Jerkers, Carver cannot save Randy from the group home.
As time goes on Carver 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.
    Police work detective, police work.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: On his way of becoming one, just like his two mentors before him.
  • The Chains of Commanding: After he's promoted to sergeant, most notably when he's forced to write up Anthony Colicchio for police brutality in season 5.
  • Changing of the Guard: He is the implied successor of both Colvin and Daniels.
  • Character Development: Goes from a hot-headed and inexperienced rookie to a seasoned, streetwise veteran cop over the course of five seasons, and the transformation is entirely believable.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Over the course of season 2, Carver begins to tire of doing lowly surveillance jobs after he has been promoted to Sergeant, a rank which Daniels refuses to acknowledge because Carver got it in large part due to acting as The Mole inside the MCU for Burrell back in Season 1. Despite his own frustrations, at first Carver tries to defend Daniels and the assignment to an even more irate Herc, but Carver hits his Rage Breaking Point when he and Herc are staking out Nick Sobotka's house and are not notified that during their stakeout Nick has turned himself in, meaning the two had wasted entire days in a police car in front of Sobotka's house for no reason, and that their own unit had Nick and didn't think to tell them this. At that point Carver declares that he's going to transfer to an open Sergeant's post in Colvin's district, and takes Herc with him.
  • Fair Cop: Perlman dismisses him as an inside man on the brothel sting because he doesn't look like he'd have to pay for sex. He takes the compliment.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a truly heartbreaking one after what happens to Randy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Evolves into this in Season 3, and by Season 4 he almost entirely loses the "jerk" part.
  • 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 looking 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 Carver scored worse than Herc on the Sergeant's Exam. At the end of the final season he gets promoted to Lieutenant, in one of the few meritorious and truly 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.
  • Salt and Pepper: He's the pepper to Herc's salt.
  • Those Two Guys: With Herc.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He starts out incompetent but develops into a genuinely good cop by the end of the show.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Over time Carver goes from another hardass cop who barely acknowledges the community around him to caring about the community he polices and understanding both the community and its criminals as people rather than just targets.

    Lester Freamon 
Played by: Clarke Peters
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lesterfreamon_1711.jpg
"Cool Lester Smooth"

We're building something here, detective. From the ground up. And all the pieces matter.

A 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.
  • The Ace: Subtle, but he's an elite investigator with a very wide range of talents, can play the role of a conman and put on accents, he has high social skill, which helps him in the job but also scoring with the ladies, and his manual ability and patience with his dollhouse furniture nets him an income superior to his own wage.
  • Almighty Janitor: A regular detective working secretly inside a closet and from an abandoned warehouse brings the crime lord of Baltimore down. He single handedly orchestrates a city-wide operation and then matter-of-factly debriefs the Deputy Ops about it as if Daniels were a subordinate.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: In Daniels' words, he is by himself the Major Crimes Unit.
  • Badass Boast: Near the end of the show, he wags a clock to Marlo's face to point out he has triumphed over the drug lord and cracked the code.
    Me? I'm just a police.
  • Badass Grandpa: Natural police. Occasionally mounts up and shows his prowess during field operations, for instance when he punks Bird with a bottle, and is the only character able to dominate, blackmail and outcon Clay Davis.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Eccentricities such as his habit of painting dollhouse furniture at his desk lead the others to assume he's a hump; he's anything but.
  • The Chessmaster: Probably the smartest of the police on the whole show, including McNulty and Daniels.
  • Con Man: He plays the role of one to fool a savvy street felon and further his wiretapping operation in season 3.
  • Cool Old Guy: "Cool Lester Smooth".
  • Cowboy Cop: Though he's much smarter and more careful about it than McNulty or Herc.
  • Cultured Badass: He became highly knowledgeable in furniture styles, particularly classics and antiques, by virtue of his having taken up dollhouse furniture making as a side business while working in the Pawn Shop Unit. The hobby has also made him fairly well-off.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a poignant remark for almost everything, usually with a cynical flavour.
  • Do Wrong, Right: When he learns of McNulty's scheme, he apparently reacts with a What the Hell, Hero?, not because what McNulty's doing is outright illegal, but because 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.
  • Guile Hero: Very subtle and very good at making other people dance to his tune. For instance, he often addresses Daniels as Cedric, in a paternalist, almost condescending way to make Daniels do what Lester asks.
  • Head Butting Heroes: When McNulty keeps investigating Stringer Bell on his own, Lester is compliant out of loyalty to Daniels and happy to do actual police work after years in terrible units. They nearly come to blows when McNulty appeals to Lester's pride and dares him to be police and Freamon berates Jimmy for being a selfish jackass pissing on the unit he himself created. Hilariously, they both give themselves food for thought.
  • Insistent Terminology: Worked the pawn shop unit for 13 years.
    and 4 months
  • The Last DJ
  • May–December Romance: Starts up a relationship with the much younger Shardene which continues through the end of the show.
  • The Mentor: to Prez and (to a lesser extent) Kima.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When everyone refers to the humps on the first season detail, they refer to Polk, Mahone and Lester; little do they know...
  • Parental Substitute: Daniels jokes about how Lester invokes this, exploiting his Team Dad status to have his way by exploiting the guilty feelings of his younger protegees/disciples.
    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.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Pawnshop unit after charging a politically connected fence in 1989 while working at Homicide. Thirteen years (and four months).
  • Second Episode Introduction: A major and justified example. Buried in the pawnshop unit, he's miles away from police work, unlike the officers from homicide and narcotics. Absent in the pilot, he first shows up with the dead wood that is dumped into Daniel's detail in the second episode.
  • Sherlock Scan: He figures out how Marlo is disposing of his victims immediately when he notices unusual nails in the boarded-up doorway of a vacant house.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: His glasses help to underscore that he's one of the smartest detectives out there.

    Roland Pryzbylewski 
Played by: Jim True-Frost
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/prezbaluski_2959.jpg
"It's kinda fun, you know. Figuring shit out"

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 Valchek. 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 Lester'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.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Downplayed if compared with Freamon's, but the man has his moments where he's viewed with admiration by his colleagues for being The Smart Guy / Techno Wizard of the (not very literate) group, cracking codes, enhancing images and such.
  • Badass Beard: in season 5. Also a literal case of Growing the Beard, since he's become a pillar of authority at his school.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Prez becomes a teacher because he wasn't fit to be a cop, only to find out the school system's politics is the same as the police department.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A rare sympathetic example but punching your superior in the face and your father-in-law at that is never gonna end well.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: With violence, when he snaps after Valchek pushes him around too far.
  • Character Development: He's initially incompetent, but he gets better.
  • Cool Teacher: Season 4 onwards.
  • Desk Jockey: he becomes this at the beginning of season 1 and proves to be a valuable player in the position, in contrast to his ineptitude as a beat cop. According to Sydnor, Prez was unseemly good at paperwork when Sydnor himself has to pick up after him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: A hopeless case of Reckless Gun Usage -luckily against a wall- in his very first scene.
  • A Father to His Men: The teacher version, from season 4 onwards.
  • Friend or Foe: He mistakes a fellow cop for a gangster and shoots him to death by mistake in season 3.
  • Hidden Depths: He becomes a gifted data analyst and paper chaser under Lester's wing.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face
  • Karma Houdini: Is never seriously disciplined for any of his numerous mistakes, and the limited repercussions he faces frequently work out well for him.
    • His only punishment for shooting up his own squad car and pistol whipping and blinding an unarmed kid in one eye for no reason is to lose his gun and be relegated to desk duty... which he soon discovers he has a natural aptitude for and comes to enjoy.
    • He punches a superior officer in the face and never faces any real consequences. There's never even any indication that his wife (the superior's daughter) was upset about it. Although to be fair, given how much of an unlikeable Jerkass Valchek is perhaps this isn't so surprising.
    • Even killing another cop only results in him losing his job without any criminal charges being filed. He bounces back by becoming a 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 kills a plainclothes officer who didn't identify himself.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After he accidentally shoots and kills Officer Waggoner.
  • Nepotism: His career in the force exists because he is Valchek's son-in-law. He eventually grows tired of this and decides not to put a defense after his last accident and to pursue a new career.
  • Only Sane Employee: It's painfully jarring that something is awfully wrong with the initial Sobotka detail when Prez is the only one resembling any display or desire of competence.
    Valchek: You sent me a detail of humps, Ervin.
  • Precision F-Strike: His pleased reaction to the pieces coming together in the Sobotka case. "Fucking A"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: After becoming a teacher.
  • 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.
  • Reckless Gun Usage
  • Second Episode Introduction: Another regular dumped into Daniel's detail in the second episode.
  • The Smart Guy: He's not much good as a street cop, but he turns out to be highly adept at cracking the Barksdale gang's pager codes and figuring out how their organization fits together.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Twice - first as a cop although he later backslides, then as a teacher.
  • The Unpronounceable: Lampshaded.
  • What an Idiot!: In-universe. Practically the Catchphrase of anyone working with him. He eventually gets better.
    • 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 that 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.

    Leander Sydnor 
Played by: Corey Parker Robinson
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/leandersydnor_353.jpg
"Low bottom enough for you?"

This is the best work I ever did. I never did a case like this. But it's not enough. I gotta go back to Auto tomorrow morning. I just feel like this just ain't finished...

A promising young detective that Daniels fights to get assigned to the unit due to his skills and undercover abilities. (And to compensate for having to receive Prezand certain others.) Does surveillance and undercover work alongside Greggs and Bubbles. He is oddly absent from the reconstituted MCU in season 2, but returns in season 3 and remains a member from that point until the end of the show, even when at one point he is the only detective within the MCU.

He agrees to help Freamon work his illegal wiretap in season 5, and in the series 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.
  • Cowboy Cop: Goes along with Lester's illegal wiretap and doesn't get found out, so he gets a knack for circumventing the chain of command to obtain results, as seen in the finale.
  • Dress Code: Dresses down to plausibly go undercover as a dope-fiend, but Bubbles still points out that his costume needs work.
    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.
  • Eureka Moment: After consulting a map of the city, he deduces most of the code used by Marlo; grid and coordinates.
  • The Generic Guy: Probably the least distinctive and well-developed among the members of the MCU.
  • 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.
  • Last Chance to Quit: Lester gives him a chance to avoid being involved in the illegal wiretap of Marlo, but Sydnor chooses to remain part of the Unit and keep working to bring Marlo down.
  • 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. When Daniels picked him up for the MCU, his superior officer was unwilling to part from him, as he is one of his best men.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Daniels successfully fights to get Sydnor assigned to the detail as a compensation for having to carry the seemingly useless Roland Pryzbylewski.

    Augustus Polk and Patrick Mahon 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/augustus_polk.jpg
Augutus Polk.
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/patrick_mahon.jpg
Patrick Mahon.
Played by: Nat Benchley and Tom Quinn, respectively

Polk: Who signs the overtime slips?
Mahon: A case goes from red to black by way of green, Lieutenant.

Two old-timer detectives tranferred from the property department, they are among the useless detectives or "humps" thrown into the first incarnation of the MCU, and proved themselves to be exactly that, even as others such as Prez or Lester showed that they had much more to contribute than expected. When the MCU attempts to raid a Barksdale stash house, Mahon is injured by Bodie and leaps at the chance for an early retirement, then encourages Polk to "accidentally" get himself injured on duty so he can do the same. Polk is ultimately unable to go through with it, and goes into a despondent drinking binge. Due to all the time he misses, Daniels gives him an ultimatum to either get to work or go on medical leave to deal with his alcoholism. Polk chooses the latter.


  • The Alcoholic: Both of them are absolutely notorious for it. Polk shows up drunk at 9am.
    Daniels: Between the two of them, I don't have a designated driver.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Póg mo thóin" (pronounced Pogue Mahone and source of The Pogues' band name) is Irish for "Kiss my ass."
  • The Bus Came Back: Augustus Polk appears in Season 2 as one of the many humps of the first Sobotka detail and in Season 5 vegetating in the evidence control unit, where he's cleaned himself up somewhat and become a more productive member of the force. Daniels is glad he landed alright.
    Yeah, beats working.
  • Clueless Detective: Up to pathetically comical levels, they are tasked with putting a face to Avon Barksdale and come up with a photo of a middle-aged white man.
    Greggs: Maybe he's white. (laughs)
  • Fat Bastard: Mahon in particular is cantankerous, slovenly, rude, and has a beer gut. Polk is also overweight but tends to come across more as dim, directionless, and permanently befuddled, making him a lesser evil than his Jerkass partner.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mahon's line about cases being solved by devoting at least some money into them gets vindicated and invoked by other characters in the final season when the Mayor cuts the Department budget dramatically and it undermines the ability of the police to do any real investigative work.
  • Lazy Bum: Two horrible "humps". They are allergic to any kind of work.
  • The Load: Far and away the most incompetent cops in the MCU.
  • Officer O'Hara: Two terrible dumb flatfeet of Irish extraction.
  • Only in It for the Money: Polk's only real concern about the job is paid overtime. Mahon is of the same ilk and jumps at the chance of early retirement, scheming he'll even complement his pension with a cushy underground economy job.
  • Police are Useless: Oh, yes. Largely because in this case they care about absolutely nothing but themselves and getting through the day with the least amount of fuss possible.
  • Put on a Bus: Mahon takes early retirement following his injury, and is last seen encouraging Polk to do the same.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Polk ends up assigned to evidence control, where he proves to be surprisingly more useful. At the very least, when Daniels sees him once again, he's sober.
  • Those Two Guys: They hang around together, doing very little until their shift is over. Probably for the best.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Mahon takes his laziness and dishonesty too far; he openly scoffs at being part of the unit and tries to convince Polk to hurt himself also to get retirement benefits, even if it means suing the city after deliberately injuring himself.

    Caroline Massey 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/250px_the_wire_massey.jpg
Played by: Joilet F. Harris.

A policewoman who joins the MCU in season three, very adept at deciphering street slang over the wire.


  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Vanishes without a trace toward the middle of Season 4 when LT. Marrimow takes over the MCU. Last mentioned to be handling some wiretap paperwork and would be back to the MCU shortly but is never seen or heard from again for the rest of the series.
  • Cunning Linguist: Can decipher street lingo far better than most cops.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Caroline is just kind of there at the beginning of Season 3 and never gets much of an introduction or focus.
  • Sassy Black Woman: She has a sharp tongue and plenty of sass for whoever tries to mess with her.

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