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Quotes / The Wire

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On the face of it, The Wire is a drama about a perpetual war of attrition between police and drug dealers on the streets of Baltimore. But simply calling it "a cop show" is a bit like calling The Godfather "a film about a few dodgy Italians".
Charlie Brooker, Tapping the Wire

It's all in the game.
Baltimore, traditional

This is Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you.
Ervin Burrell

Omar comin'!

Hey, lesson here, Bey. You come at the king, you best not miss.

There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, now, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel.

Keep my name out of it.

Omar: Don't get it twisted I do some dirt too, but I never put my gun on no one who wasn't in the game.
Bunk: A man must have a code.
Omar: Oh, no doubt.

A man in your line of work start worrying about how other people see you, playin' to other people instead of him self, he gonna get dead.

Carver: Man, you can't even call this shit a war.
Herc: Why not?
Carver: Wars end.

A good church man is always up in everybody's shit. It's how we do.

If only half you motherfuckers in the State's Attorneys Office didn't want to be judges, didn't want to be partners in some downtown law firm, if half of you had the fucking balls to follow through, you know what would happen? A guy like that would be indicted, tried, and convicted. And the rest of them would back up enough so we could push a clean case or two through your courthouse. But no, everybody stays friends. Everybody gets paid, and everybody's got a fucking future.

Nigga, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy?! The fuck is you thinking, man?
Stringer Bell

The crown ain't worth much if the nigger wearing it always getting his shit took.
Marlo Stanfield

The people running your campaign are professionals, Tommy. Don't try this shit at home.
Norman Wilson

Rhonda A postponement or two is pro forma on Calvert Street.
McNulty Ha, 'pro forma'! From the Latin, meaning lawyers jacking each other off.

Shit, murder ain't no thing, but this here is some assassination shit!
Slim Charles

Fuck them West Coast niggers, cause in B'more, we aim to hit a nigger, you heard?
Felicia "Snoop" Pearson

Y'all don't understand, man. You don't get it. I grew up in this shit... my grandfather was Butch Stamford. [Rhonda looks like she's seen a ghost, McNulty and Bunk eye each other] You know who Butch Stamford was in this town? All my people, man, my father, my uncles, my cousins, it's just what we do. You just live with this shit until you can't breathe no more. I swear to God, I was courtside for eight months, and I was freer in jail than I ever was at home. ... I want it to go away.I want what Wallace wanted. I want to start over. That what I want. I don't care where. Anywhere. I just want to go somewhere where I can breathe like regular folk.
D'Angelo Barksdale

The king stay the king.
D'Angelo Barksdale

[Boom, Headshot!] That was for Joe.
Slim Charles

American democracy. Let's show those third-world fucks how it's done.
William Rawls

Fighting the war on drugs... one brutality case at a time.
Shakima Greggs

See, that's what I don't get about the drug thing. Why can't you sell the shit and walk the fuck away? You know what I mean? Everything else in this country gets sold without people shooting each other behind it. In the Terrace, it's one body after another.
James McNulty

We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket.
Frank Sobotka

You ain't even worth the skin off my knuckles, junior. You put fire to anything you touch, McNulty, then you walk away while it burns.
Lester Freamon

You, McNulty, are a gaping asshole.

What can I say about the dearly departed? I mean, really...he died young. Too young. Not even forty years old. Though had it lived, his dick woulda been a hundred and thirty-Four... It's coming to me... he was the black sheep, the permanent pariah. He asked no quarter of the bosses and none was given. He learned no lessons, he acknowledged no mistakes. He was as stubborn a Mick as ever stumbled out of the northeast parishes to take a patrolman's shield. He brooked no authority. He did what he wanted to do and he said what he wanted to say.
And in the end, he gave you the clearances. He's natural police. Yes, he was. And i don't say that about many people. Even when they're here on the felt, I don't give that one up unless it happens to be true. Natural poh-leece. But Christ, what an asshole! (everybody laughs). And I'm talkin' about the ordinary, gaping orifice that all of us possess. I mean an all-encompassing, all-consuming, out of proportion to every other facet of his humanity chasm, from whose borne, if I may quote Shakespeare, no traveler has ever returned.
Jay Landsman

Landsman: He gave us thirteen years on the line... not enough for a pension but enough for us to know that he was, despite his negligible Irish ancestry, his defects of personality and his inconstant sobriety and hygiene, a true murder police. Jimmy, I say this seriously. If I was laying there dead on some Baltimore street corner, I'd want it to be you standing over me, catching the case. Because, brother, when you were good, you were the best we had.
Bunk: Shit, if you was layin' there dead on some corner, It was probably Jimmy that done ya.

Shit like this actually goes through your fucking brain?
Lester, to McNulty

You happy now, bitch?

What the fuck did I do?

It's all about self-preservation Jimmy, something you never learned.
Sgt. Landsman

Maybe it's over and nobody told us. Maybe we won.
Herc on a day when the drug trade is inexplicably not dominating the streets.

Hey, hey, hey. A life. A life, Jimmy, you know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come.
Lester Freamon

No... no offense son, but that's some weak ass thinking. You equivocating like a motherfucker!

Couple weeks from now, you're gonna be in some district somewhere with 11 or 12 uniforms looking to you for everything. And some of them are gonna be good police. Some of them are gonna be young and stupid. A few are gonna be pieces of shit. But all of them will take their cue from you. You show loyalty, they learn loyalty. You show them it's about the work, it'll be about the work. You show them some other kinda game, then that's the game they'll play. I came on in the Eastern, and there was a piece-of-shit lieutenant hoping to be a captain, piece-of-shit sergeants hoping to be lieutenants. Pretty soon we had piece-of-shit patrolmen trying to figure the job for themselves. And some of what happens then is hard as hell to live down. Comes a day you're gonna have to decide whether it's about you or about the work.

Fuck the bosses.

Did he do that thing where he stares at you over the top of his reading glasses? You know, that look that says "I'm the father you never had. And I don't want to be disappointed in you ever again"?
Daniels, describing Lester Freamon

Where the fuck is Wallace? Huh, String? Where the fuck is Wallace?!
D'Angelo Barksdale

Colvin: He must have done something to you.
Stringer: No, it's just business.

Senator Clay Davis

Asst. State's Attorney Ilene Nathan: What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. Little?
Omar: I robs drug dealers.
Asst. State's Attorney Ilene Nathan: And exactly how long has that been your occupation, Mr. Little?
Omar: Oh, I don't know exactly, I venture to say about... eight or nine years.
Asst. State's Attorney Ilene Nathan: Mr. Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for 8 or 9 years and live to tell about it?
Omar: [smiles, shrugs, and sits back in his seat] Day at a time, I suppose.

Levy: You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and despair of the drug trade. You are stealing from those who are themselves stealing the life blood from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off the culture of drugs...
Omar: Just like you, man.
Levy: Excuse me? What?
Omar: I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?

Bunk: I'm just a humble motherfucker with a big ass dick.
Lester: You give yourself too much credit.
Bunk: Okay, then. I ain't all that humble.

McNulty: Y'know why I respect you so much, Bunk? It's not cause you're good police, cause fuck that, right?
Bunk: Fuck that, yeah.
McNulty: It's not cause when I came to homicide you taught me all kinds of coll shit about... whatever.
Bunk: Whatever.
McNulty: It's because when it came time for you to fuck me... you were very gentle. Cause you see, you could have just hauled me out to the garage and bent me over the hood of a radio car and... but no. You were... you were very gentle.
Bunk: I knew it was your first time. I wanted to make that shit special.
McNulty: It was man. It fucking was.

I'm a murder police. I work murders. I don't fuck with no make-believe. I don't jerk shit around. I catch a murder, and I work it.
Bunk Moreland

Think about it, Carver. You've been here for over a year now and you've got nobody on the street looking out for you, nobody willing to talk to you. ... This drug thing, this ain't police work. I mean, I can send any fool with a badge and a gun to a corner to jack a crew and grab vials. But policing? I mean you call something a war, and pretty soon everyone is going to be running around acting like warriors. They gonna be running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, racking up body counts. And when you at war, you need a fucking enemy. And pretty soon damn near everybody on every corner is your fucking enemy. Pretty soon the neighborhood you're supposed to be policing is just occupied territory. Soldiering and policing they ain't the same thing. Before we took the wrong turn and start up with these war games,a cop walked a beat, and he learned that post. And if there were things that happened on that post, where there be a rape, a robbery, a shooting, he had people out there helping him, feeding him information. But every time I came to you, my DEU sergeant for information, to find out what's going on out on those streets... all that came back was some bullshit. You had your stats, your arrests, your seizures, but don't none of that amount to shit when it comes to protecting the neighborhood, now do it?
Bunny Colvin

Jesus Christ you nit, don't you see what he's done?. He's legalized drugs!
Deputy Rawls

I swear to fucking Christ, we will beat you longer and harder than you beat your dick! Because you do not get to win, shitbird! We do!

This motherfucker be killing niggas just to do it. You see? Nigga kills motherfuckers just cause he can. Not cause they snitching, not cause it’s business, but just because this shit comes natural to him. Man, Little Kevin is gone! This nigga don’t feel nothing! And all them motherfuckers in the row houses… nobody means a fucking thing to him! Fuck Marlo man, fuck him! And anybody else that think it’s alright to do people this way!
Bodie Broadus

You want it to be one way. But it's the other way.

You follow the drugs, and you're going to get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money... and you don't know where the fuck it's going to take you.
Lester Freamon

The Western District way.

Fool, what do you think? That we know anything about who gives money? That we give a damn about who they are or what they want? We have no way of running down them or their stories. We don't care. We just cash the damn cheques, count the votes and move on.
Senator Clay Davis

Wee-Bey: Remember who the fuck you talking to right here. Remember who I am. My word is still my word, in here, in Baltimore, and in any place you could think of calling home, it’ll be my word that finds you. Man came down here to say my son can be anything he damn please.
De’Londa: Except a soldier.
Wee-Bey: (Snorts, looks around at the prison room) Yeah, well, look at me up in here. Who would want to be that if he could be anything else?

Wanna know what kills more police than bullets and liquor? Boredom. They just can't handle that shit. You keep it boring, String. You keep it dead fucking boring.
Proposition Joe

There's games beyond the fucking game.
Stringer Bell

I ain't no suit wearing business man like you. I'm Just a Gangster, I suppose.
Avon Barksdale

There were two of them. I was outnumbered.
McNulty explaining why he began actually having sex with two prostitutes as part of an undercover sting.

You gonna be famous behind this, you know that? As a pervert, this report is gonna make you a BPD legend.
Bunk, referring to McNulty's official report on the same incident.

Negro, you cannot travel halfway around the world and not speak any motherfucking English. English, motherfucker!
Lester Freamon

You know the difference between me and you? I bleed red and you bleed green. I look at you these days, String, you know what I see? I see a man without a country. Not hard enough for this right here and maybe, just maybe, not smart enough for them out there.
Avon Barksdale

There's always gonna be a Marlo man. No Marlo, no game.
Avon Barksdale

Omar: The way you bleedin' out your back look like that bullet bore clean through.
Brother Mouzone: A 9mm at close range will do that.

Yo, this my corner. I ain’t running nowhere!
Bodie Broadus

Lets be clear here, Detective Freamon: when I fuck you over, you'll know it. You'll be so goddamn certain you won't need to ask the question.

He's a dead man when he opened his mouth. He's just walking around not knowing it.

Did he have hands? Did he have a face? Yes? Then it wasn't us.

They make robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats, and majors become colonels.
Roland Pryzbylewski

Omar: I knew you'd come back.
Brother Mouzone: I trust you didn't lose sleep over it.
Omar: Worrying about you would be like wondering if the sun is gonna come up.

D'Angelo: This look like money? Money be green! Money feel like money!
Bodie: It's got a dead fucking president on it.
Wallace: He ain't no president.
D'Angelo: Nigger, is you crazy? Ain't no ugly-ass white man get his face on no legal motherfucking tender except he president.

Nick: Thanks for bein’ straight up on this.
Proposition Joe: Fool, if it wasn’t for Sergei here, you and your cousin both would be cadaverous motherfuckers.

Cutty: Game done changed.
Slim Charles: Game the same. Just got more fierce.

No one wins. One side just loses more slowly.
Roland Pryzbylewski

Deserve got nothing to do with it. It's his time, that's all.

Omar: It's boarded up on both sides, so we'll have to go in through the front.
Brother Mouzone: That's a change for you, isn't it?

Stringer:: Be subtle with it. [beat] You know what subtle means?
Shamrock: Laid back and shit.

So you got one huh? That's good. That's like a 40-degree day. Ain't nobody got nothing to say about a 40-degree day. Fifty. Bring a smile to your face. Sixty, shit, niggas is damn near barbecuing on that motherfucker. Go down to 20, niggas get their bitch on. Get their blood complaining. But forty? Nobody give a fuck about 40. Nobody remember 40, and y'all niggas is giving me way too many 40-degree days! What the fuck?
Stringer Bell

For a cold-ass crew of gangsters, y'all carried it like Republicans and shit.
Proposition Joe

Prop Joe: I treated you like a son.
Marlo: I wasn't made to play the son.

Fuck you, you thieving Greek cunt!
Ziggy Sobotka

Brother Mouzone: Slow train coming.
Lamar: Huh?
Brother Mouzone: Reform Lamar, reform (Evil Laugh)

Cases go from red to black via green.

This is the best work I ever did. I never did a case like this. But it's not enough.

The stat games... that lie, it’s what ruined this department. Shining up shit and calling it gold, so that Majors become Colonels and Mayors become Governors; pretending to do police work while one generation fucking trains the next how not to do the job.
Cedric Daniels

So one thieving politician trumps 22 dead bodies. Good to know.

You know what he is? He is a vandal. He is vandalizing the board. He is vandalizing this unit. He is a Hun, a Visigoth, a barbarian at the gate, clamoring for noble Roman blood and what's left of our clearance rate.
Sgt. Jay Landsman, regarding Lester

Listen to me, you fuck. You did a lot of shit here. You played a lot of fucking cards. And you made a lot of fucking people do a lot of fucking things they didn't want to do. This is true. We both know this is true. You, McNulty, are a gaping asshole. We both know this. Fuck if everybody in CID doesn't know it. But fuck if I'm gonna stand here and say you did a single fucking thing to get a police shot. You did not do this, you fucking hear me? This is not on you. (McNulty shakes his head) No it isn't, asshole. Believe it or not, everything isn't about you. And the motherfucker saying this, he hates your guts, McNulty. So you know if it was on you, I'd be the son of a bitch to say so. Shit went bad. She took two for the company. That's the only lesson here.

He was called. He served. He is counted.

Marlo Stanfield

Spiros: They have my name. But my name is not my name. And you? To them you are only "The Greek".
The Greek: And of course I'm not even Greek.

All the pieces matter.
Lester Freamon

Business, always business.
The Greek


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