The Wire

Ray Cole

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Ray Cole is a homicide detective.


Cole was a somewhat inept member of Sergeant Landsman's homicide squad under the command of Major Rawls.

In 2000, Cole investigated a murder where he arrested the wrong man. Jimmy McNulty, then a member of the Fugitive Escape and Apprehension Unit, got a tip about the real offender, and helped Cole arrest him while letting the innocent man go. McNulty let Cole keep the collar, and as a result, McNulty was promoted to the Homicide Unit.

Cole was the lead investigator of the death of Anton "Stinkum" Artis. His colleague Bunk Moreland told him that there was information about the case as part of a wiretap investigation that Bunk's partner Jimmy McNulty was involved in. The information would jeopardize the wiretap so they promised they would give it to Cole when the case closed. McNulty never intended to give Cole the information because the perpetrator was his informant Omar Little.

Cole was second detective on the shooting of Wendell "Orlando" Blocker and Detective Kima Greggs working with lead investigator Detective Ed Norris. This case was solved when Wee-Bey Brice confessed to the shooting.

Cole was initially assigned the fourteen Jane Doe homicides that Rawls had tried to dodge. McNulty was responsible for the cases reaching Rawls desk and when discussing Cole's misfortune with Bunk he called him collateral damage. Landsman reassigned the case to Bunk and Lester Freamon because he felt he needed his most capable detectives on it.

In Season 2, Cole served as secondary detective to Norris yet again to investigate the murder of a 9-year old child, shot to death by a stray shot fired by Bodie Broads in the middle of a gunfight between his (Bodie's) and a rival drug crew. Norris and Cole received a lead when crewmen of a ship realized a passer-by threw a bunch of handguns over the bridge onto their ship; the handguns used were the murder weapon. Later, while interviewing Bodie, Norris and Cole ignore his request for a lawyer, and show him they have the weapons. However, Cole claims they have his fingerprints on the murder gun too. Bodie, remembering he wiped the gun with a rag, thus, eliminating it of his prints then called their bluff by asking which one is the murder gun. Cole then chose the wrong handgun. At this moment, Bodie asks for a lawyer, and gets away with murdering a 9-year old.

Cole died unexpectedly and the department held a wake for him. Landsman gave a eulogy for Cole at the wake.[1] During this wake, we learn about some of Cole's notable (closed) cases: one where he worked to extradite an arson-murder suspect from Mississippi; a triple murder at an after-hours on Hudson Street; and numerous drug-related murders on Fayette Street during the city's earlier drug wars. It is also mentioned that Cole had many angry ex-wives, and cheated on his taxes, but despite his faults, was well-regarded as a good man by colleagues.


Season 1 appearances
"The Target" * "The Detail" * "The Buys" "Old Cases" "The Pager"
"The Wire" "One Arrest" "Lessons" "Game Day" "The Cost"
"The Hunt" "Cleaning Up" "Sentencing"
Season 2 appearances
"Ebb Tide" "Collateral Damage" "Hot Shots" "Hard Cases" "Undertow"
"All Prologue" "Backwash" "Duck and Cover" "Stray Rounds" "Storm Warnings"
"Bad Dreams" "Port in a Storm"

* - Uncredited appearance

Behind the scenesEdit

Cole was played by the show's late executive producer, Robert F. Colesberry, who died unexpectedly of complications from heart surgery. The character's wake was in part a tribute to Colesberry.


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named OCL
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