Top five: Scenes from HBO's classic series The Wire

In honor of the show's tenth anniversary—and an event tonight at Housing Works—we look back at the Baltimore-set series' best scenes.

The Wire (2002--2008)

The Wire (2002--2008)

This week, authors Joy DeLyria and Sean Michael Robinson will publish Down in the Hole: The unWired World of H.B. Ogden, which imagines that HBO's epic crime drama The Wire was actually a Victorian-era novel written by a contemporary of Charles Dickens. You can see the duo tonight at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, where they'll chat about the book and the series with writer Tucker Stone. If you need to brush up on your knowledge of Bunk, McNulty et. al. before then, check out five of our favorite scenes (spoilers ahead!).

1. The "fuck" scene, season one, episode four


Using just one word, Detectives Bunk and McNulty figure out what really happened a previously-canvassed crime scene. It's proof that you don't need many words to tell a story—just a few variations on one particular profanity. (We're especially fond of McNulty's "fuckity, fuck fuck fucker.")


2. Chicken McNuggets as metaphor, season one, episode two


"It ain't about right, it's about money." D'Angelo's offhand remark about the man who invented chicken McNuggets offers up one of the prevailing themes of the series very early on. Also, oh, poor, doomed Wallace.


3. Levy interrogates Omar, season two, episode six


Narrowing down our favorite scene with Omar Little—the series' best character, obviously—is difficult. But we always come back to this brilliant vignette, in which the stick-up man turns the tables on Maurice Levy, the lawyer of choice for Baltimore's drug-dealing organizations. As Levy accuses him of being "a parasite who leeches off the culture of drugs," Omar fires back with, "just like you, man. I got the shotgun—you got the briefcase." (If you haven't yet checked out Funny or Die's "The Wire: The Musical", this scene gets the ballad treatment, hilariously.)



4. Snoop buys a nail gun, season four, episode one

Marlo Stanfield's enforcers, Chris and Snoop, are two of the series' most terrifying characters—killers who have pretty much no remorse for what they do, and even occasionally seem to enjoy it. But this scene, in which Snoop buys a high-caliber nail gun (which later figures prominently in season four), is oddly funny, from her genuine interest in the different types of tools to the salesman's befuddlement when Snoop tells him that he "earned that bump like a motherfucker, man."

5. Omar and Brother Mouzone hatch a plan, season three, episode 11


Okay, we lied, here's another Omar clip. But it's hard to deny the brilliance of Brother Mouzone, the Harper's-reading Nation of Islam member who also happens to be a contract killer. And this sets the scene for the most shocking moment of season three, and maybe even the whole series: Stringer Bell's death.


Bonus: Every single time Clay Davis says "sheee-it"


Because the horribly corrupt state senator spawned The Wire's best-known (possibly only?) catchphrase, the elongated version of "shit" that is best used as an expression of utter exasperation. Or for funsies. It's up to you, really.