Today marks 20 Years since the iconic HBO series "The Wire" debuted. One of HBO's best produced and most revered properties, on the surface it's about drug dealers and cops. The series digs much deeper than that over its 5 seasons, instead using drug dealers and cops to touch on how institutions and the system fails individuals.
When I started writing this particular blog I started on top ten episodes in my book. After thinking about it, I felt ten episodes didn't do the series justice. I decided to instead focus on my favorite scenes from the show.
Here are twenty scenes from across the five season 60 episodes series, that have resonated or stood out to me for a variety of reasons.
20. Prez Figures Out The Puzzle
Det. Roland Pryzbylewski better known as Prez was assigned to the special crime detail in season 1, cause he just wasn't fit for the streets. An encounter in episode 2 proves that, but being related to a major within the BPD (and his white privilege) he was going to continue to be given breaks. Prez was very aloof and book smart but obviously not street smart.
Prez soon proves his worth in season 1 episode 5 when he cracks the pager and pay phone code The Barksdale organization uses to communicate. It shows everyone's skill set brings something to the table and just how deep the Barksdales are in covering their tracks.
19. Cat And Mouse Game
This particular scene in season 1, episode 9 showed just how careful Avon Barksdale and his organization were. On a hot summer day after a east side vs west side basketball game, Avon hops into the car to his next destination.
Initially unbeknownst that he is being followed by Lt. Daniels and company Always one to look over his shoulder he soon is very aware and leds the team on a cat and mouse game across a few city blocks. He eventually evades them, but not before trolling Lt. Daniels. While he assumed by the cops to be a high ranking "Yo" Boy, Avon was very smart about how he went about his business.
Avon in season 1 was always one step ahead.
18. Omar And Bunk Brief History
If you're from Baltimore chances are your very familiar with one of its many nicknames "Smallitmore". Everyone know's everyone in some fashion, and if not through directly knowing a person then they know someone who knows someone. This scene perfectly illustrates that ideal, as Omar recognizes Det. Bunk and they realize they went to high school at the same time. Audience's also learn some background on Bunk who played lacrosse in high school.
A brief scene that in the grand scheme of the show illustrates the different connections in life, you may not be aware of that come into play down the road.
17. Take Care Of My Fish
Season 1, Episode 11 in the aftermath of Kimas shooting, its determined Wee-Bey needs to tie up some loose ends, get out of town and lay low. D'Angelo is then summoned by Stringer and Wee-Bey for a mission, but isn't told what the mission is. Thinking he's in trouble and scared for his life he gingerly walks into Wee-Bey's ready sobbing to himself, until Wee-Bey turns some fish tank's on. He just needs someone to watch his fish while he's gone.
This scene while tense is hilarious for the simple fact D'Angelo thinks hes messed up and all Wee-Bey wants is for someone to watch his fish. A personality trait we learn is something Wee-Bey is very passionate about.
This scene is also hilarious because while D'Angelo is obviously very scared and acting strange as hell, meanwhile Wee-Bey is either very oblivious to it or just doesn't care.
16. The Big Heist
I love a good heist movie or good heist TV show, this scene gave viewers the best example of a heist in the world of the wire.
Omar gathers a team to rob a huge shipment of Prop Joe's supply. It has all the making of a good heist, a huge score, decoys, catching the targets off guard. Driving away newly rich, the ensuing subplot of selling the product back to The New Day Co-Op in which the asking price keeps going up as it flows through different channels is hilarious.
15. D'Angelo Reflects On His Life
To many, season 2 is viewed as the weakest season of the series due to the primary shift from the streets of Baltimore to the dying docks of Baltimore. When you really look at season 2 in the overall story it's very important. It brings up a very important question in the war against drugs, how do they get to the streets? Who's bringing them in? How connected are they? Who else besides the continuous media representation of Black males are involved in this deadly trade?
This scene from season 2 episode 6 however features a season 1 regular D'Angelo Barksdale. Sitting in the book club of his prison, he and fellow members discuss the true meaning of the classic The Great Gatsby. D'Angelo reflecting on his life and where it has gotten him at that point and the need to who know you are, reinvent yourself if needed, but also be real with yourself. D'Angelo hinted he was trying to erase his past and move forward in his life.
14. Bubbles Finally Confronts His Grief
Grief is very hard to tackle and face head on, it also takes a lot of time. At the end of season 5, Bubbles is clean from his addiction and finally tackles the grief around Sharrod's death head on at one of his meetings. It's the final closure Bubbles needs to finally move on with his life and start a new chapter free of his past.
How Andre Royo who played Bubbles did not win any awards for this scene is beyond me.
13. Date Night
This season 3 scene is hilarious in nature but more coincidental. Herc and Carver leave the movies with their respective dates and run into Bodie and Poot who are doing the same.
Poot and Bodie make light of the fact the detectives try to bust them everyday to no success. Chalking it up as part of the game, they tell the detectives they'll see them tomorrow. Herc and Carver without their badges protecting them are left speechless and dumbfounded.
12. Cutty Leaves The Game
In this season 3, episode 6 scene, after a trial run back in the game former enforcer Dennis "Cutty" Wise finds out he no longer has it. He let's Avon know he want's out, he's older now and the game just ain't in him no more.
This scene proves people do change and it show's just how much Avon respected Cutty. In fact maybe the scene highlighted how much Avon wished he could just walk away.
11. Chris Shocks Even Snoop
All through season 4 Marlo enforcer's Chris and Snoop were very careful about the murders they carried out. Meanwhile it was always implied Michael had been molested at a young age, when his younger brother Bug dad returned everything came together. Michael went to the only person he could in Marlo to help retcify the situation.
As Chris and Snoop carry out the orders of taking out Michael's problem, it's also heavily implied Chris was molested at a young age. This scene is so powerful in Chris's brutal assualt finally getting some sort of revenge, the sheer shock on Snoop's face unaware of Chris past and a likely explaination to why Chris turned into the brutal killer he became. The scene is even more profound with Michael's smirk back home knowing his problem is gone for good and he can start to heal from his tramautic past.
10. Bodie's Last Stand
Season 4 finale scene showed Bodie ever the soldier taking his last stand.
Knowing Marlo's crew was after him he refused to bow down and give up his "corner". Poot desperately tried to persuade his friend to run, but Bodie was willing to go down protecting what was his and the morals of the game he tried to live by.
Bodie was one of the last remaining symbols of the old Barksdale organization in season 4. One of my favorite characters he went down with a fight.
9. Namond Not Bout That Life
In case you havent picked up on it yet, if you ask me season 4 is the best season of the series.
Finding out little bad ass Kenard stole from him, he approachs him. Kenard knows he doesn't have the heart to try him, and doesn't respect him so he talks shit to Namond. Until Michael intervenes and beats Kenard ass. Showing Michaels slow burn to the influences of the street.
It also show's Namond's facade all his life as the son of a street legend, as he is terrified in the change within Michael and runs away.
8. Marlo Intimidates Old Face Andre
This scene from season 4, episode 4 subtlety shows how psychotic Marlo is. After Old Face Andre gets Marlo stash taken from Omar he meets with Marlo and Chris.
Old Face Andre gives his siloquoy about the global economy, while Marlo never changing his tone bullies his prized ring off his finger. Later commenting to Chris how he may send Chris to make easy work of fellow poker players he's having trouble beating.
One simple word drives this scene from season 1. As McNulty and Bunk investigate a cold case they believe is linked to the Barksdale crew.
Scouting the vacant apartment of the victim they look at the notes from the scene to what they see. Sensing stuff isn't adding up they just look at one another at different times and utter the famous four letter word.
6. Life Is Cheese Not Checkers
This season 1 gem of a scene features D'Angelo Barksdale stumbling upon corner boys Wallace and Bodie playing checkers on a chess board.
He decides to teach them the game of chess comparing it to the drug game their familiar with. Avon's the king they must protect, Stringers the queen, everyone else are the pawns. The first line of defense and the first to go early through significant jail time or death. It's a brilliant scene honestly explaining life.
5. Brother Mouzone And Omar Standoff
Straight out of a western the opening to season 3 Episode 11 features a stand off between two "legends" in the game. The cinematography in this scene is top notch, the tension is high, background music is thrilling enough. Both men although they barely know another one, knows just enough to sense the other knows something was amiss in their previous encounter and they should talk it out before guns start blazing.
If it already isn't, this scene should be studied in film classes that's how great it is.
4. McNulty And Bodie Have A Heart To Heart
This season 4 scene bring's Bodies story full circle. At this point in the series Bodie is all of 20 or 21 and is a veteran in the rap game, he quickly is realizing the rules of the game are changing and the new organizations don't follow the rules or even have morals enough to respect the game.
He alludes to feeling old because of just how long he's been in the game and how much has changed. Making a point that even as a drug dealer you have to have some type of moral code. The scene is even more poignant when he references the game of chess and life D'Angelo taught him in season 1.
3. Chris And Snoop Interrogate New Yorkers
Season 4, episode 8 show Chris and Snoop on the prowl taking care of invading dealers from New York. In a hilarious attempt to make sure they have the right targets, they start conversation about local Baltimore music. The problem is Chris is up to par on the local music scene, while Snoop isn't and frankly doesn't care to be.
Which highlights two funny scenes. Snoop nearly killing a guy since she doesnt know anything about local radio and Chris having to quickly intervene. Followed by Chris brazenly taking out another dude who is clearly not from the area. This scene was another example of just how ruthless the two are.
2. Bodie And Poot Kill Wallace
This just maybe the saddest scene from season 1, maybe even the entire series. After some time away in hiding Wallace returns home and honestly he should have stayed away.
The Barksdale organization at this point were well aware of the heat on them from the cops, and was all about tying up loose ends. Wallace was deemed a liability and had to go, it was even worst when Bodie and Poot were tasked with making sure it happened. They go out for their last meal as friends before the deed is done.
When Wallace realizes what's happening he pleads with his friends who are just as upset with the situation, but as soldiers it has to get done. Throw in the fact these are all teenagers manipulated by grown men makes it even sadder. The character of Wallace and his arc hits home for many, he was a good kid in a bad situation who would have lived a completely different life if his circumstances were different. That in itself is enough to make you bawl.
1. Avon And Stringer Reminisce
My favorite scene from the entire series, Avon and Stringer on the rooftop looking over the water living their respective versions of the American dream.
Reminiscing about their youth, where they came from, and all they accomplished together. This scene makes it even more apparent that now they are on different paths and are in one another's way from accomplishing their true goals.
Knowing what they are about to do to each other makes the statement "We Brothers" more gutwrenching.
I'll admit it was tough to make this list, going back and forth over scenes and rankings. Feeling bad leaving out some scenes, because this show was that damn good. To me in revisiting the series to craft this list, highlights why this show is considered one of the greatest TV dramas ever and why it still resonates today. It also helped me remember why I use to could not wait til Sunday evenings to get my dose of good quality TV.
About The Author
B is a 1500 original since 2017. He loves movies, pro wrestling, and traveling. His dream is to one day be able to travel around the world at his leisure. He also is a pro wrestling blogger for his brand at talkinsuplexes.com. He also has a geek branded blog at ablogbyb.blogspot.com. Follow him on IG @astorybyb where you may find some of the most random questions and polls known to man.