There really is no show like The Wire. It’s sometimes easy to forget, over eight years after it finished its five season run, but over the course of those five years David Simon’s masterpiece redefined what a television show could do. The deftness of its execution — everything from the writing to the direction to the performances — beggars belief to this day. The sheer scope of it staggers. As a treatise on the death of the American institution and the rottenness of the country’s structures it is almost without equal.
It’s also damn fucking quotable. But, really, for a show with such incredible characterisation this should not be a surprise.
Here are some old favourites to brighten up your damp Tuesday (Tuesdays are damp even when they’re not. Even when you live in a desert. They’re damp on the inside):
‘The tree that doesn’t bend, breaks. Bend too far, and you’re already broken.’ - Marla Daniels
Maurice ‘Maury’ Levy: ‘You are a parasite who leeches off the culture of drugs—’
Omar Little: ‘Just like you, man. I got the shotgun… you got the briefcase… ‘s all in the game, though, right?’
‘Middle management means that you got just enough responsibility to listen when people talk, but not so much you can’t tell anybody to go fuck themselves.’ - Howard ‘Bunny’ Colvin
Kima: Fighting the war on drugs… one brutality case at a time.
Carver: Girl, you can’t even think of calling this shit a war.
Herc: Why not?
Carver: Wars end.
‘Don’t matter who did what to who at this point. Fact is, we went to war, and now there ain’t no going back. I mean, shit, it’s what war is, you know? Once you in it, you in it. If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight.’ - Slim Charles
‘Tomorrow ain’t promised to no one. Meanwhile, we go on.’ - Marlo Stanfield
‘I feel old. I been out there since I was 13. I ain’t never fucked up a count, never stole off a package, never did some shit that I wasn’t told to do. I been straight up. But what come back? Hmm? You’d think if I get jammed up on some shit they’d be like, A’ight, yeah. Bodie been there. Bodie hang tough. We got his pay lawyer. We got a bail.They want me to stand with them, right? But where the fuck they at when they supposed to be standing by us? I mean, when shit goes bad and there’s hell to pay, where they at? This game is rigged, man. We like the little bitches on a chessboard.’ - Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus
‘Look the part, be the part, motherfucker’ - Prop Joe
‘There you go, giving a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.’ - William ‘The Bunk’ Moreland
‘All the guys at the bar, Jimmy, all the girls; they don’t show up at your wake. Not because they don’t like you. But because, they never knew your last name. Then a month later, someone tells them, “Oh, Jimmy died.” “Jimmy who?” “Jimmy the Cop.” “Ohhh,” they say, “him”. And all the people on the job, all those people you spent all the hours in the radio cars with, the guys with their feet up on the desk, tellin’ stories, who shorted you on your food runs, who signed your overtime slips. In the end, they’re not gonna be there either. Family, that’s it. Family, and if you’re lucky, one or two friends who are the same as family. That’s all the best of us get. Everything else is just…’ - Beatrice ‘Beadie’ Russell
‘The king stay the king.’ - D’Angelo Barksdale
‘We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just stick our hand in the next guy’s pocket.’ - Frank Sobotka
‘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