Since the hit HBO series The Wire wrapped in 2008 it has been regarded as one of the best television shows of all time. The show is studied in the classrooms at some of the country’s top institutions including Harvard College and Johns Hopkins University and lies at the top of a number of media critics lists. It has been lauded for its accurate depiction of the social and political issues that surrounded Baltimore at the time. Its literary themes and showcase of life in the inner city have been commended by everyone from historians to the local Baltimore residents. Even President Obama said that it’s his favorite show of all time. Now that’s some high praise!
The series was created by David Simon after he worked as a beat reporter covering the Baltimore Police Department for The Baltimore Sun. While covering the police he watched as they monitored a slew of criminals and studied their surveillance methods as well as their internal dramas at the precinct. After a few years of this he had an idea for a series about the inner workings of a busy police department in Baltimore. He pitched the idea for the show to HBO who was reluctant to add another police drama to the roster. Eventually they gave in and good thing they did.
Each season introduces a different institution of Baltimore and how it affects law enforcement in the big city. The gritty police drama follows the illicit activity within the inner city and the police that try to crack down on the violence and devastation. The show put stars Dominic West, Lance Reddick, and Amy Ryan on the map as ones to watch. Many of the show’s stars and guest stars have gone on to headline their own films and series. It was one of the first series Method Man appeared in as an actor and it showcased now-superstar Michael B. Jordan before he landed the lead in Black Panther.
Although the show wasn’t a commercial success in the beginning it has developed a passionate cult following. The Peabody Award-winning series may not have been nominated for a single Emmy but television experts across the world name it as one of the best shows of all time.The public continues to discover the series on HBO’s streaming platform and on DVD. So whether you’re a longtime fan or just discovering the show for the first time, we have your look at the characters that stole the show and the incredible actors who embodied them.
Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West)
McNulty is a police detective with the Baltimore Police Department. Although he is highly competent and respected in the field, his ethics have been called into question throughout the series. He struggles to manage his impulses and off the force he has incredible difficulties managing his personal life. His self-destruction seeps into his work from time to time and much of his conflicts are of his own making. Throughout the show critics have called McNulty the show’s “anti-hero.”
West is a veteran English actor who is currently starring on the hit romantic drama series The Affair. He is a staple in the London theater scene, the West End, and has also appeared in a number of hit UK series across the pond. The two-time Golden Globe nominee will next star in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot as well as a TV adaption of the classic musical Les Misérables. He is married to his college girlfriend, landscape designer Catherine Fitzgerald.
Rhonda Pearlman (Deirdre Lovejoy)
As the Assistant State’s Attorney Judge, Rhonda Pearlman is responsible for being the legal liaison for officer Daniels’s cases at the police department. She is a guiding legal force in the unit and with a messy personal life to boot. She was once in an on-and-off-again relationship with McNulty that destroyed his marriage. During the third season she enters into a romantic relationship with Officer Daniels. He is apprehensive at first to go public with Pearlman but by the season’s end the two lovers celebrate winning a case together as a couple.
After earning her graduate degree at the prestigious New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Lovejoy began working in film, television, and theater immediately. After wrapping production on The Wire, Lovejoy worked in a number of hit TV series including Orange is the New Black, Shameless, and American Horror Story. She recently appeared in the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post opposite Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. She first worked with Hanks in the 2013 Broadway production of Lucky Guy.
William Rawls (John Doman)
Rawl maintains an extremely private personal life. The show’s writers make an effort to tease to a potential personal life off screen but only allude to certain details about his wife and kids. He is at the top of his field and throughout the show he consistently rises in rank until he reaches Superintendent of the Maryland State Police. He is a skilled case-worker but his foul-mouth and crudeness sometimes clashes with his fellow officers.
Doman is known for playing a host of tough and complicated men. He starred in the Netflix Renaissance drama Borgia, he recurs as the aristocratic and unfaithful Bruce Butler on the Showtime drama The Affair (with co-star Dominic West), and he also co-starred as Carmine Falcone in the Batman series Gotham. Next up for the Philadelphia-born actor is the action thriller Hard Powder opposite Liam Neeson and Laura Dern. In 2014 his wife Linda tragically passed away.
Beadie Russell (Amy Ryan)
Viewers meet Officer Beadie Russell after she stumbles upon a major crime scene at the beginning of season two. As the season progresses she becomes entangled in a flirty and suggestive relationship with McNulty that ends up leading to something more. For the rest of the series we watch their relationship go through highs and lows. While they do end up together in the end, the love doesn’t come without its dose of drama and turmoil.
Born Amy Dziewiontkowski, Amy Ryan changed her surname to her mother’s maiden name when she decided to embark on an acting career. The Academy Award-nominated actress for Gone Baby Gone has starred in Birdman, Bridge of Spies, Win Win, and Goosebumps to name just to name a few of her hit films. She also memorably played Michael Scott’s love interest and future wife on the hit sitcom The Office. She will reunite with Steve Carell in the upcoming drama Beautiful Boy.
Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams)
Omar lives his life according to a strict moral code. He steers away from using profanity and he doesn’t harm innocent people. He is extremely close with the people in his life ranging from his grandma who he accompanies to church every sunday to his partners. Although he is constantly criticized for being LGBT, Omar is proud of his identity and embraces his privately sweet side. He is killed by Kenard in season five, sending shockwaves through the rest of the characters’ lives.
Michael Kenneth Williams
Brooklyn-born actor Michael Kenneth Williams has appeared in more than 100 acting projects. He was nominated for two Emmys for his roles in the HBO musical drama Bessie and for the crime series The Night Of. He is also an accomplished dancer who has appeared in a number of music videos and has toured with Madonna, George Michael, and Crystal Waters. Next up for the talented actor is the crime drama Motherless Brooklyn and the historical thriller The Red Sea Diving Resort.
William “Bunk” Moreland (Wendell Pierce)
Bunk is best friends and partners with McNulty and deals with a number of similar issues including alcohol abuse and relationships struggles. Although he often turns up hungover to work he remained a top homicide detective in the unit throughout the show’s run. He is the main eye on Omar Little and monitors his elicit activity. When McNulty is kicked off the squad, Bunk gets partnered with Greggs and is last seen investigating a new murder with him.
After graduating from the famed Julliard School for drama in 1985, Pierce began working consistently on the screen and on the stage. On the film side he has delivered memorable turns in the hit comedies Bad Moms and Horrible Bosses, and the moving dramas Selma and Malcolm X. He will next star in the highly anticipated Amazon series Jack Ryan opposite John Krasinski. He is a well known fixture in politics and once took esteemed journalist Gwen Ifill as his date to the annual White House State Dinner.
Melvin “Cheese” Wagstaff (Method Man)
Cheese is Proposition Joe’s nephew and one of the head honchos in the Eastside gang. His illegal activities take its toll and he is eventually murdered by Slim Charles following a heated dispute. Although it’s not explicitly revealed during the show, viewers learn later on that Cheese is actually Randy Wagstaff’s father. David Simon confirmed the reveal in an interview at the time. In fact, he initially planned on revealing that connection earlier but couldn’t fit it in to the series due to time constraints.
Rapper and actor Method Man’s entry into the entertainment industry was with the hit hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. His first acting job was in the Samuel L. Jackson thriller One Eight Seven. Since that role he has appeared in a number of hit films and series including Trainwreck, Keanu, and The Good Wife. Next year he will star with Samuel L. Jackson again in a reboot of the ‘70s action thriller Shaft. He has been married to his former assistant Tamika Smith since 2001.
Wallace (Michael B. Jordan)
At just 16 years old Wallace has already got himself caught up in the wrong crowd. His involvement with delivering and supplying illegal substances as part of the Barksdale Organization gang sends him down a dark and destructive path. After he provides information that leads to the death of one of their members, he tries to leave the group altogether. He tells the police about Barksdale and when word gets back around, Wallace inevitably meets his end.
Michael B. Jordan
Since his star-making performance in the 2013 critically acclaimed drama Fruitvale Station, Michael B. Jordan has become one of the busiest young actors. He went on to appear in the Zac Efron-starring comedy That Awkward Moment, the 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four, and opposite Sylvester Stallone in the boxing drama Creed. He most recently starred in the superhero film Black Panther. He will next star in the sequel to Creed and the HBO sci-fi drama Fahrenheit 451.
Lieutenant Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick)
One of the highest regarded officers in the force, Daniels has an impressive track record for delivering success and catching the bad guy. While he sometimes has conflicts with his authorities he manages to perform well and has a reputation for being a hard-lined and tough cop who delivers. By the end of the series he makes his way up to commissioner but resigns after refusing to participate in a manipulation scheme. He decides to pursue a career as a lawyer.
Reddick originally took up acting to promote his music career. He studied music at the Peabody Preparatory Institute and even taught music classes at the Walden School. After The Wire ended he starred in the sci-fi series Fringe and appeared in the hit thrillers White House Down, Oldboy, and John Wick. He has six films coming out this year including the upcoming western Little Woods, the Kate Bosworth-starrer The Domestics, and the thriller St. Sebastian.
Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn)
Detective Kima Greggs is a central part of every case the comes across the Baltimore Police Department’s desk. She is a proud LGBT woman who lives with her longtime partner Cheryl until the couple split up at the end of season three. Throughout the show she struggles with her own issues involving alcoholism and infidelity. Known for being nonsense and tough, she was the key figure in ending McNulty and Freamon’s career at the Police Department.
Before she became an actress Sohn was a slam poet and activist. After she was discovered performing her work on stage, producers of the film Slam asked her to co-write and star in the award-winning movie. She took a break from acting in 2009 to focus on her Maryland nonprofit reWIRED that works to benefit underprivileged youth. She made her documentary directorial debut last year for the HBO film Baltimore Rising and currently co-stars in the Showtime drama The Chi.