During the five seasons that "The Wire" aired on HBO, co-creators David Simon and Ed Burns filled it with characters more complicated and nuanced than a Russian novel.
The show introduced an international television audience to dozens of actors at a relatively early stage in their careers. Some had never acted before appearing on the Baltimore set.
"It was the hardest show I've ever done," said Pat Moran, who did casting duties for the show with New York casting director Alexa L. Fogel.
"I needed kids and people from the community that the show was about," Moran said. "I didn't need kids with braces selling Jell-O. I needed the real deal.
In the 20 years since the show's debut, most of the actors playing the main characters are still working steadily. Some have had steep careers. Some died tragically.
Below is a synopsis of what some of the key figures are up to now, based on interviews and online biographies.
Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty)
If The Wire had a star, it would be West, who played McNulty, a character loosely based on Burns, a retired Baltimore Police Department homicide detective.
When West was cast, he had more experience than many other actors, playing supporting roles in two all-star films: A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1999 and Academy Award-winning Chicago in 2002.
But it wasn't until West portrayed the underdog McNulty on The Wire that his career really took off. From 2014 to 2019, he played the lead role of novelist Noah Solloway on Showtime's hit television series, The Affair. He recently signed on to play Prince Charles in the final two seasons of Netflix's The Crown.
Fun fact: Despite his authentic Bawlamer accent, West is Irish.
Idris Elba (instead of Russell "Stringer")
Elba appeared in supporting roles for nearly a decade, when he was cast in The Wire as the brilliant deputy of the Barksdale drug trafficking organization. After The Wire, Elba racked up a string of leads, nominations and a Golden Globe for playing the title character for five seasons in the British psychological thriller Luther.
The Wire character's cool charisma combined with his intelligence made Stringer Bell a fan favorite. In 2018, People magazine named Elba the "Sexiest Man Alive".
“Nobody hits that guy. One day, by chance, I was walking past a group of actors on set and I heard a very strong British accent. It was Idris, for God's sake."
Sonja Sohn (Shakima „Kima“ Greggs)
Of all the out-of-town actors who came to Baltimore during the series, it was perhaps Son who embraced Charm City the most.
Son, who played the dedicated and compassionate detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs, moved to Baltimore in 2003. She lived here for nearly a decade, bought her first home here, and her daughter attended the Baltimore School of the Arts.
In 2009, Sohn founded a non-profit organization that worked with former youth inmates for six years. The actress invested $200,000 of her own money into "ReWired for Change," she wrote in aNew York Times Opinion Column 2015.
In Baltimore, Sohn wrote, "I found I had an activist soul."
Recently, Sohn has been exploring the other side of the camera. She made her directorial debut in 2017 with the documentary Baltimore Rising. A second documentary, The Slow Hustle, explored the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Baltimore Police Department detective Sean Suiter in 2017 and aired on HBO last year.
Michael K. Williams (Omar Little)
the character of Jimmy McNulty may have been the star of The Wire, but Omar Little, the arrogant man with a strict moral code, was arguably the show's most memorable character.
Williams had a career before The Wire. Among other things, he dancedin a Madonna music video. And he had a post-show career, appearing as bootlegger Chalky White on HBO's Boardwalk Empire in the 1920s.
But Omar was Williams' masterpiece and was lauded by top fans like former President Barack Obama.
"Michael, you rose from the ashes," Moran said. "You had everything."
The actor spoke candidly about how his drug addiction worsened over the course of the series and how he began to confuse his character's identity with his own.He died in New York on September 6after overdosing on a combination of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.
Andre Royo (Cousins of Reginald „Bubbles“)
Royo will never forget the day he made a 2012 film about the Tuskegee Airmen in Washington, D.C. he was turning around when he was spotted by Obama.
"He stopped when he saw me and said, 'Wait, that's my Bubs,'" Royo told HBO in aOnline-Interview.
But perhaps Royo's proudest moment on The Wire was when a stranger approached the actor on set. Royo was playing the mild-mannered drug addict Bubbles when the viewer handed him a small packet of heroin and said, "Man, you need this more than I do."
Royo described this moment as his "Street Oscar" in a 2007 interview with the New Yorker magazine.
Since the show, Royo has played attorney Thurston "Thirsty" Rawlings for several seasons of the Fox television show Empire. His performance in Josh Locy's 2016 film Hunter Gatherer received critical acclaim and a Special Jury Award for Best Actor at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin.
Royo said that working on The Wire changed his attitude towards the homeless.
"Before I played Bubbles, I walked right past a homeless man," he told HBO. "You get numb — 'Are you homeless? That's your problem, man."
"After the show, it was like people mattered."
Robert Chew ("Proposition Joe" Stewart)
Proposition Joe was one of the greatest comedic characters on The Wire, and seeing him sweat his way out of a sticky situation was one of the show's best moments. The writers gave the character an intentionally devious speaking style that suited the complicated twists and turns of Joe's mind, and Chew's delivery was absolutely perfect.
An example of a conversation with Omar: “A businessman like me doesn't think badly of a man like you. It interferes with sleep.”
But Chew once told The Sun that he loved teaching children as much - if not more - as he loved performing. Through his work with the Baltimore Arena players, Chew brought talented young actors to the attention of local casting directors. He also coached the young actors on the set of The Wire.
To chewdied of a heart attack in 2013at age 52.
Jamie Hector Marlo Stanfield
Jamie Hector said his parents didn't find out he had an acting career until they watched the season three premiere of The Wire. Fearing their disapproval, he hid his ambitions from them.
But by 2004 the cat was out of the bag. Hector's 2003 performance in Five Deep Breaths, an independent short film that won several prestigious awards, led to his being cast in The Wire as drug dealer Marlo Stanfield, the role that launched the actor's career.
Hector has spent seven years playing Det since The Wire. Jerry Edgar on Bosch, Amazon's longest-running series, and most recently he played the lead role of the Baltimore Police Detective. Sean Suiter in the HBO miniseries We Own This City.
In his spare time, Hector started a free arts program for at-risk children in New York. He started his own production company to tell stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
And he started writing children's books.
"I fell in love with Baltimore during my three years there," Hector told The Sun. "I'm grateful to the people who have allowed us to tell the stories we do."
Felicia Pearson (Snoop)
The woman that writer Stephen King once called "Perhaps the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series" had never starred in a production until 2004, when she visited the set of "The Wire" after meeting Michael K. Williams at a bar.
"She's a wonderful, hilarious person," said Hector. "When she was on set, she cut us up and sewed us up."
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Since The Wire aired, Pearson has made two movies with Spike Lee. She recently teamed up with Burns to develop a miniseries about her life. In her 2007 memoir, the actress revealed that she was born to two drug addicted parents, grew up in a foster care system and served six years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.
"Felicia has a phenomenal story to tell," said Burns.
“Our show looks at the world through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl who was gay and how she found her way. The stories she tells in memoirs of hers only scratch the surface.”
Michael B. Jordan (Wallace)
Perhaps more than any other actor on The Wire, Jordan's post-show career has reached stratospheric heights. Jordan was just 15 when he was cast to play drug dealer Wallace, who is murdered after becoming a police informant.
Since The Wire, Jordan has appeared in three films directed by Ryan Coogler: Fruitvale Station; "Creed" and most memorably as supervillain Erik Killmonger in "Black Panther."
Jordan achieved celebrity status, with pop culture magazines covering all the developments of his romance with model Lori Harvey, daughter of comedian Steve Harvey. (Yes, they recently broke up, but it will be even more romantic when they get back together.)
"He was just a kid when he was on the set of 'The Wire' season one," Moran said. "And now he's a top-notch actor."
Who is the most famous from The Wire? ›
Michael Kenneth Williams (November 22, 1966 – September 6, 2021) was an American actor. He rose to fame in 2002 through his critically acclaimed role as Omar Little on the HBO drama series The Wire. He has been described as a "singular presence, onscreen and off, who made every role his own".Why do people like The Wire so much? ›
Delving into the law enforcement's world of crime and the various institutions and systems of Baltimore, The Wire is still to this day considered possibly one of the grittiest, most realistic, and critically-acclaimed crime series of all time, and certainly one of the best HBO TV shows ever made.Why The Wire is the greatest show ever? ›
It was a clear winner; nearly half of all critics put the show in their top 10 and almost a quarter of those polled ranked it in first place, citing its depiction of power, race, class and American life.Is The Wire the best show of all time? ›
The Wire has officially been named the best television show of the 21st century, according to a poll conducted by BBC Culture with industry critics. The platform gathered 206 entertainment experts from across 43 countries and asked them to vote on their favourite series since 2000.Who had the most screen time in The Wire? ›
'" Although eight actors are billed in the opening credits for all 60 episodes, Daniels is the character who actually appears in the most episodes, 58 out of 60.What was number 1 through the wire? ›
"Through the Wire" debuted at number ninety-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number fifteen for five weeks. It remained on the chart for twenty-one weeks. It performed better on the urban contemporary charts, reaching number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and number four on the Hot Rap Tracks.Is The Wire worth the hype? ›
The Wire absolutely, without a doubt, lives up to all the hype and love it gets. The storytelling is so ridiculously good and that's because that this is one of the best written shows in television history. It's one of those rare shows where every season is just as good as the others.Why is The Wire not popular? ›
But “The Wire” did not receive the same ratings as broadcast or basic cable series for the simple reason that it did not air on a broadcast or basic cable network. It aired on HBO, a pay cable network, and at that time — before the advent of streaming — HBO didn't have the reach that it enjoys today.Is The Wire addictive? ›
But what you'll quickly discover when you blast through a bunch of episodes — trust us, it's that addictive — is that you've never quite seen anything like The Wire before.Are there any shows as good as The Wire? ›
If the focus on solving crimes in The Wire is what really got fans into the show, then True Detective is definitely one that will have them immediately hooked. This series, like The Wire, is a great example of HBO's intense, dramatic shows.
What is the highest rated episode of The Wire? ›
1. Mission Accomplished (Season 3, Episode 12) The third season of "The Wire" concludes with one of the most beautiful moments in the entire series.Why did WIRE get Cancelled? ›
Simon told Slate that there was little left to say for any subsequent seasons: "The big thematic heavy lifting was done in Seasons 1 and 2, when Ed and I were figuring out what we wanted to do: how many seasons, etc. We came up with five. We talked about many things; nothing seems substantial enough for a Season 6.What is the most watched TV show of all time? ›
The following is the list of the all-time most watched television broadcasts in the United States by average viewership, according to Nielsen. Of the 30 most-watched broadcasts, 29 are Super Bowls. Super Bowl XLIX, with 114.4 million viewers, is number one.What is the biggest TV series of all time? ›
- 1 'The Simpsons' ...
- 2 'Friends' ...
- 3 'Modern Family' ...
- 4 'The Big Bang Theory' ...
- 5 'Cheers' ...
- 6 'Frasier' ...
- 7 'Seinfeld' ...
- 8 'Everybody Loves Raymond'
|Number of seasons||Series||Network|
|19||American Dad!||Fox (2005–2014) TBS (2014–present)|
|16||Criminal Minds||CBS (2005–2020) Paramount+ (2022–present)|
|15||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||CBS|
- Robert Duvall (145 acting credits) ...
- Susan Sarandon (163 acting credits) ...
- Michael Caine (176 acting credits) ...
- James Earl Jones (187 acting credits) ...
- Samuel L Jackson (198 acting credits) ...
- Donald Sutherland (199 acting credits)
Season 3. After two excellent seasons of drama, Season 3 established The Wire as the best program on television. Dramatically speaking, little else can compare with the Machiavellian tragedy of Avon and Stringer, which comes to full fruition here in the best scene of the entire series.How many people from Oz were also on The Wire? ›
This was the first one-hour drama ever produced by HBO. Several cast members went on to appear in The Wire (2002) - J.D. Williams, Domenick Lombardozzi, Seth Gilliam, Lance Reddick, John Doman, Method Man, Clarke Peters, Michael Potts, Reg E. Cathey, Wood Harris and Frankie Faison.Does Kanye have a number 1 song? ›
His Billboard Hot 100 history reads; 107 entries, 56 top 40s, 18 top 10s, and four number-one singles.Who sampled Kanye West Through the Wire? ›
It has been 17 years since Kanye West's debut single “Through the Wire” was released, in which he sampled Chaka Khan's voice from her 1984 track “Through the Fire.” While considered a staple of West's catalogue, Khan is still not a fan of how her voice turned out on the song all these years later, she revealed on ...
Why is it called The Wire? ›
Central to the structure and plot of the show is the use of electronic surveillance and wiretap technologies by the police—hence the title The Wire. Salon described the title as a metaphor for the viewer's experience: the wiretaps provide the police with access to a secret world, just as the show does for the viewer.Is The Wire a masterpiece? ›
The Wire not only falls in the category of novel storytelling, but in most ways rises above it as a literary masterpiece.Which is better The Wire or True Detective? ›
“True Detective” is more of a character study of 2 individuals in season 1 and 3, both excellent but different than each other. “The Wire” is an ensemble piece creating a whole mini-world. Both excellent (“True Detective” was less good in the LA-set season 2).Why did The Wire not win awards? ›
Many have called its lack of recognition, especially in the Outstanding Drama Series category, one of the biggest Emmys snubs ever. Some have argued the lack of recognition was due to the show's dense plots and a disconnect between the setting and Los Angeles-based voters.Is there a spin off of The Wire? ›
Based on the book of the same name by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, We Own This City jumps back and forth between eras to tell the story of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force, which was implicated by the F.B.I. in a major corruption case in 2017.Does The Wire still hold up? ›
Absolutely — so many of the dynamics in The Wire play out in all walks of life, and not just in terms of policing or local politics. Like, the Wire has some of the most interesting commentary on the role of middle managers I've seen anywhere.What is the bug in The Wire? ›
Johnny reveals to Bubbles that they say he has the Bug: AIDS.Where did they film The Wire? ›
Where was The Wire Filmed? The Wire was filmed in Baltimore, Carlton C Douglas Funeral Services, Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, Green Mount Cemetery, McCulloh Homes, Motel 6, Pearson's Florist, Pennsylvania Station, St. James Episcopal Church, The Brewer's Art, The Pit, Viva House and W Lexington St & N Fulton Ave.How long would it take to binge The Wire? ›
There are five seasons to work through, maxing out at 60 episodes, most of which are almost a full hour. In total, it adds up to two days and 12 hours of television. You should probably pace the binge to no more than two episodes a day, as drama like this can become punishing when watched back to back.What is the best TV show after The Wire? ›
- True Detective (2014) ...
- Ozark (2017) ...
- Small Axe (2022) ...
- Mindhunter (2017) ...
- The Night Of (2016) ...
- The Sopranos (1999) ...
- Breaking Bad (2008) ...
- Peaky Blinders (2013)
Why is Season 4 of The Wire so good? ›
The Wire Season 4 is so fantastic because of its realistic ability to expose America's inequalities, but it also features a couple of unbelievable games of figurative chess.How realistic is the show The Wire? ›
“The Wire is one of the most realistic police procedural shows on narcotics,” Chretien told Vanity Fair. “Some of the characters I knew who they were portraying, some were composite characters. Some of the portrayals I didn't agree with. But overall, I thought it was an excellent, excellent show.”Does The Wire need to be watched in order? ›
Seasons/Episodes You Can Skip:
There is one rule among Wire purists: never, ever skip an episode. I generally agree (and wouldn't even advise watching them out of order), but if forced, would come up with the following exceptions: Season 1: Episode 1, “The Target” Confession time.
-- The West Baltimore depicted in “The Wire” was a network of neighborhoods plagued by drugs, poverty and violent crime as police and young blacks clashed on the streets. The series concluded in 2008--but Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park is still a cauldron of poverty, crime, drugs and social pathology.Will they ever bring The Wire back? ›
WHEATON, MD – After a 14-year hiatus, David Simon and George Pelecanos announced they have begun production on a sixth season of their hit HBO show, The Wire, which will focus this time on the recent drama at the Montgomery County planning board.Why did Wallace leave The Wire? ›
After feeling guilty about his involvement with the murder of Omar's lover Brandon, Wallace tries to leave the Barksdales. But before he can escape the drug world, Stringer Bell orders Wallace's young friends Bodie and Poot to kill the kid. It's one of the many tragic moments of the show.What is the number 1 most watched show? ›
One Piece is the most-watched show in the world (according to TV Time)What is the #1 show on TV? ›
TOP 100 SHOWS OF 2021-22, TOTAL VIEWERS.
|Rank||Title (Network)||VIEWERS (000)|
|1.||NFL Sunday Night Football (NBC)||18,139|
|2.||NFL Thursday Night Football (Fox/NFL Network)||15,397|
|3.||Yellowstone (Paramount Network)||11,312|
|4.||NFL Monday Night Football (ESPN)||11,233|
Most Watched English Language Series of All Time
Ozark (Season 4) – 491,090,000 hours watched. 13 Reasons Why (Season 1) – 475,570,000 hours watched. Maid (Limited Series) – 469,090,000 hours watched. You (Season 3) – 467,820,000 hours watched.
As of December 2022, The Simpsons was the TV show with the most Facebook fan page likes, with a total of 62 million fans.
What show has 100 seasons? ›
The 100 (TV series)
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||100 (list of episodes)|
1 Law & Order (1990 - Present)
The show has spawned multiple spin-offs, including Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, LA, Law & Order: True Crime, and Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Guinness World Records says the longest film ever made is "The Cure for Insomnia" released in 1987. The 85-hour experimental film was directed by John Henry Timmis IV.Why is Omar the best character in The Wire? ›
He's a classic stickup man who can outsmart anyone at the game. He works with gangs and the law, doing everything on his terms. This iconic character left an outsized impact from his screen time. He was mythical and amazing.
Avon Randolph Barksdale is the central antagonist of the HBO series The Wire, serving as the main antagonist of season 1, a major antagonist in season 2, the secondary antagonist of Season 3, and a supporting antagonist in season 5.Why did Idris Elba leave The Wire? ›
'" Simon went on to say that it was understandable for Elba to be concerned about having a place in Hollywood, as The Wire was one of the few shows offering opportunities for Black actors at the time. "There just wasn't enough content being generated," Simon said.What is the Omar whistle? ›
The 6'5'' closer shuts the bullpen door as Omar's whistling from HBO's 'The Wire' plays throughout the stadium. The character whistled 'The Farmer in the Dell' on the series. Omar was played by the late actor Michael K. Williams.Why is Omar Little so popular? ›
One of the reasons for Omar's popularity was the code he lived by. Antiheroes have been a popular part of fiction for a long time and Omar was the walking embodiment of one. He did things his own way and had the fear and respect of an entire city for it.Why is there a wire shortage? ›
Shortages of raw materials like switchgears and cables, along with manufacturer capacity issues have also contributed to the shortage. Large semiconductor companies have been merging, resulting in the cutting out of low-margin lines and the elimination of overlapping production.How realistic is The Wire? ›
“The Wire is one of the most realistic police procedural shows on narcotics,” Chretien told Vanity Fair. “Some of the characters I knew who they were portraying, some were composite characters. Some of the portrayals I didn't agree with. But overall, I thought it was an excellent, excellent show.”
Who is the main hero The Wire? ›
James "Jimmy" McNulty is a fictional character and the protagonist of the HBO drama The Wire, played by Dominic West. McNulty is an Irish-American detective in the Baltimore Police Department.Who is Avon Barksdale based on? ›
He has stated on The Wire DVD that Barksdale is a composite of several Baltimore drug dealers. Avon Barksdale is likely based, to some extent, on Melvin Williams (who plays the character of The Deacon) and Nathan Barksdale.Who is the girl gangster in The Wire? ›
Felicia Pearson (born May 18, 1980) is an American television actress, rapper, published author and convicted murderer. She played Felicia "Snoop" Pearson on The Wire and wrote a 2007 memoir, Grace After Midnight, detailing her troubled childhood and time in prison for second-degree murder.Why are there no captains in The Wire? ›
However, in the series, any mention of the ranks of Chief, Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain are omitted. Presumably this is to avoid confusion and make the relationships between different members of the hierarchy clearer to the viewer. Detectives fall into a rank that coincides with their administrative position.Why did Omar shoot Stringer Bell? ›
Stringer at first tries desperately bargaining for his life, but when Omar reveals that he and Mouzone are after him for personal reasons, and that Avon has betrayed him, he sombrely resigns to his fate and is shot to death by Omar and Mouzone.Is The Wire Based on a true story? ›
Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale (1961 – February 13, 2016) was a Baltimore, Maryland, stick up kid dramatized in the HBO series The Wire, although the extent to which any of the show's characters or plot lines are based on his life is disputed.