The Wire Season 1
Season one
DVD cover
Country of origin USA
Network HBO
Original run June 2, 2002 –
September 8, 2002
No. of episodes 13
DVD release date October 12, 2004
Next season 2
Season one, which began airing on June 2, 2002, introduces two major groups of characters—the Baltimore police department and a drug dealing organization run by the Barksdale family. The season follows the investigation of the latter over its 13 episodes.



Main article: Season one crew

Cast and charactersEdit

Main article: Season one characters
See also: Season one cast
Actor/actress Character Role
Dominic West Jimmy McNulty Homicide detective - Barksdale detail
John Doman William Rawls Major and homicide unit commander
Idris Elba Stringer Bell Barksdale organization underboss
Frankie R. Faison Ervin Burrell Deptuty commissioner of operations
Larry Gilliard, Jr. D'Angelo Barksdale Barksdale organization crew chief
Wood Harris Avon Barksdale Drug kingpin
Deirdre Lovejoy Rhonda Pearlman Assistant State's Attorney
Wendell Pierce Bunk Moreland Homicide detective
Lance Reddick Cedric Daniels Narcotics unit shift lieutenant
Andre Royo Bubbles Drug addict and confidential informant
Sonja Sohn Kima Greggs Narcotics unit detective

Plot synopsisEdit

The investigation is triggered when detective Jimmy McNulty meets privately with judge Daniel Phelan following the acquittal of D'Angelo Barksdale for murder after a key witness changes her story. McNulty tells Phelan that she has probably been intimidated by members of a drug trafficking empire run by D'Angelo's uncle, Avon Barksdale, having recognized several faces at the trial, notably Avon's second-in-command, Stringer Bell. He also tells Phelan that nobody is investigating Barksdale's criminal activity, which includes a significant portion of the city's drug trade and several unsolved homicides.[1][2]

Phelan takes issue with this and complains to senior Police Department figures, embarrassing them into creating a detail dedicated to investigating Barksdale. However, owing to the department's dysfunctionality, the investigation is intended as a façade to appease the judge.[1][2] An interdepartmental struggle between the more motivated officers on the detail and their superiors spans the whole season, with interference by the higher-ups often threatening to ruin the investigation. The detail's commander, Cedric Daniels, acts as mediator between the two opposing groups of police.

Meanwhile, the organized and cautious Barksdale gang is explored through characters at various levels within it. The organization is antagonized by a stick-up crew led by Omar Little, and the feud leads to several deaths,[3][4] bringing further police attention.[5][6] Throughout, D'Angelo struggles with his conscience over his life of crime and the people it affects.

The police have little success with street-level arrests or with securing informants beyond Wallace, a young low-level dealer and friend of D'Angelo.[7][8] Eventually the investigation takes the direction of electronic surveillance, with wiretaps and pager clones to infiltrate the security measures taken by the Barksdale organization. This leads the investigation to areas the commanding officers had hoped to avoid, including political contributions.[9][10] When an associate of Barksdale's is arrested by another team and offers to cooperate, the commanding officers order a sting operation to wrap up the case.[7][8] Detective Kima Greggs is shot and seriously hurt in the operation,[7][8] triggering an overzealous response from the rest of the department.[11][12] This causes the detail's targets to suspect that they are under investigation.[13][14]

Wallace is killed by his childhood friends Bodie and Poot, on orders from Stringer Bell, after leaving his "secure" placement with relatives and returning to Baltimore.[13][14] D'Angelo Barksdale is eventually arrested with a large quantity of drugs, and learning of Wallace's murder, is ready to turn in his uncle and Stringer.[13][14] However, D'Angelo's mother convinces him to rescind the deal and take the charges for his family. The detail manages to arrest Avon on a minor charge and gets one of his soldiers, Wee-Bey, to confess to most of the murders, some of which he did not commit. Stringer escapes prosecution and is left running the Barksdale empire. For the officers, the consequences of antagonizing their superiors are severe, and Daniels and McNulty are both assigned to nightmare jobs as punishment.[15][16]


Main article: Episodes
Season # Series # Title Story Teleplay Director Original airdate
1 1 The Target David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Clark Johnson June 2, 2002
Wire01 "...when it's not your turn." - McNulty

Homicide detective Jimmy McNulty observes the murder trial of a mid-level drug dealer, D'Angelo Barksdale, and sees the prosecution's star witness recant her testimony. McNulty recognises drug king-pin Stringer Bell in the court room and believes he has manipulated the proceedings. McNulty circumvents the chain of command by talking to the judge, who then places pressure on the police department over the case. D'Angelo is acquitted and returns to work for the Barksdale drug-dealing organization—moving to the low rise projects known as "the pit." A homeless drug addict named Bubbles acts as mentor to another addict in an ill-conceived scam with severe consequences.[1][2]
2 2 The Detail David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Clark Johnson June 9, 2002
Wire02 "You cannot lose if you do not play." - Marla Daniels

The witness who testified against D'Angelo is killed, and the Barksdale organization is suspected; a detail is formed to investigate their drug dealing activity in the low rises. The detail's Lieutenant, Cedric Daniels, is concerned with the quality of his team, while Detective McNulty is concerned with the department's plan for the investigation. Daniels' protégé Kima Greggs uses Bubbles as a confidential informant to identify members of the Barksdale organization. However, Daniels' suspicions about his other detectives prove correct when a late night foray into the West side projects by Herc, Carver and Prez goes awry.[17][18]
3 3 The Buys David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Peter Medak June 16, 2002
Wire03 "The King stay the King." - D'Angelo

The detectives' brutal actions lead to a minor riot, bad publicity for the detail, injury to Herc, and Prez being placed on administrative leave. D'Angelo gives young dealers Wallace and Bodie Broadus a lesson about their place in the Barksdale hierarchy. The detail finally starts to see results as Lester Freamon obtains an old picture of Avon Barksdale. Stick-up man Omar Little takes advantage of D'Angelo's crew's lapses and steals their stash of narcotics. The pit is later raided by the police and Bodie receives a beating for striking an officer, but nothing turns up due to Omar's robbery.[19][20]
4 4 Old Cases David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Clement Virgo June 23, 2002
Wire04 "It's a thin line 'tween heaven and here." - Bubbles

Bodie wakes up from his injuries in a Washington, D.C. juvenile detention center and manages to escape just before Herc and Carver arrive to interrogate him. Avon discusses the loss of the pit's stash with his enforcers and marks Omar and his crew for death. McNulty and his partner from homicide Bunk Moreland investigate an old murder that may be related to D'Angelo.[21][22]
5 5 The Pager David Simon, Ed Burns Ed Burns Peter Medak June 30, 2002
TheWire05 "...a little slow, a little late." - Avon Barksdale

Stringer warns D'Angelo that there may be a snitch in his camp. The detail gets its affidavit approved for a cloned pager but are puzzled at the results. Prez begins to redeem himself in the eyes of his colleagues by taking a fresh approach to the pager information. Wallace spots Brandon, one of Omar's crew, in an arcade and passes the information on to the Barksdale enforcers.[23][24]
6 6 The Wire David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Ed Bianchi July 7, 2002
Wire06 "...and all the pieces matter." - Freamon

Brandon's bloodied body is discovered in the pit. Wallace gets even more unsettled about the situation after Avon rewards him for his part in Brandon's murder. The detail gets a wiretap running. Daniels clashes with homicide Major William Rawls over their approach to the evidence they have gathered thus far.[25][26]
7 7 One Arrest David Simon, Ed Burns Rafael Alvarez Joe Chappelle July 21, 2002
Wire07 "A man must have a code." - Bunk

Using information from the wiretap Detectives Greggs, Herc, Carver, and Sydnor catch a runner on his way to the pit with a re-supply. Avon worries about a possible snitch and Stringer confounds the detail's investigative efforts by cautiously instructing his people to stop using payphones. Rawls pressures his detective in the detail for information on their case.[3][4]
8 8 Lessons David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Gloria Muzio July 28, 2002
Wire08 "Come at the king, you best not miss." - Omar

McNulty uses his children to tail Stringer after a chance encounter in a local market. Greggs and Carver arrest a driver picking up a large amount cash from the Towers from known gang members, but are forced to return the money when the driver's political connections to Senator Clay Davis are revealed. Daniels discusses his problems following the money trail with his wife, Marla.[5][6]
9 9 Game Day David Simon, Ed Burns David H. Melnick, Shamit Choksey Milčo Mančevski August 4, 2002
Wire09 "Maybe we won." - Herc

Freamon gets Sydnor and Prez started on the Barksdale money trail. Omar gives East side kingpin Proposition Joe a stolen package for the opportunity to parlay with him. Avon and Proposition Joe host an East side vs. West side basketball game, giving the detectives the first glimpse of their elusive target. Omar attempts to kill Avon, but is himself wounded.[9][10]
10 10 The Cost David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Brad Anderson August 11, 2002
Wire10 "And then he dropped the bracelets..." - Greggs

After being clean for three days, Bubbles gets some strong advice from a former addict. Avon and Stringer tighten up ship following Omar's attempted hit on Avon. The detail identifies a major Barksdale stash house and an undercover operation has terrible consequences. Omar and Stringer Bell meet for a parlay.[7][8]
11 11 The Hunt David Simon, Ed Burns Joy Lusco Steve Shill August 18, 2002
Wire11 "Dope on the damn table." - Daniels

While Greggs' life hangs in the balance, Daniels is ordered to raid the Barksdale operation. The detail's hand is forced and a series of city-wide raids and arrests are made to appease the Commissioner's desire for "dope on the table". Bubbles unwittingly implicates himself in the shooting.[11][12]
12 12 Cleaning Up David Simon, Ed Burns George Pelecanos Clement Virgo September 1, 2002
Wire12 "This is me, yo, right here." - Wallace

Avon and Stringer meet with their attorney, Maurice Levy, to discuss a potential leak in the wake of the raids. Wallace goes back to the pit and asks to be let back in but Stringer has another plan. With the loss of their wiretaps the detail takes a fresh approach and installs a camera in Avon's club. They catch Avon discussing a drug run with D'Angelo and arrest him en route.[13][14]
13 13 Sentencing David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon, Ed Burns Tim Van Patten September 8, 2002
Wire13 "All in the game." - Traditional West Baltimore

Daniels and McNulty's evidence of political corruption is rejected by the FBI. Daniels and McNulty face the ire of their superiors for flaunting orders for a quick resolution to the case. D'Angelo is convinced to stand with his family by a visit from his mother. The detail has enough information to arrest Avon and many of his people but Stringer is left on the street. Business resumes in the pit with Bodie and Poot leading the way.[15][16]


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The Target". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-02. No. 1, season 1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Episode guide - episode 07 The Wire. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-02.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "One Arrest". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-07-21. No. 7, season 1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Episode guide - episode 08 The Wire. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Lessons". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-07-28. No. 8, season 1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Episode guide - episode 10 The Cost. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-04-08.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "The Cost". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-08-11. No. 10, season 1.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Episode guide - episode 09 Game Day. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-02-08.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Game Day". David Simon, Ed Burns, David H. Melnick, Shamit Choksey. The Wire. HBO. 2002-08-04. No. 9, season 1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Episode guide - episode 11 The Hunt. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "The Hunt". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-02. No. 11, season 1.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Episode guide - episode 12 The Hunt. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-31.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 "Cleaning Up". David Simon, Ed Burns, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2002-09-01. No. 12, season 1.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Episode guide - episode 13 Sentencing. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-04.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Sentencing". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-09-08. No. 13, season 1.
  17. Episode guide - episode 02 The Detail. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  18. "The Detail". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-09. No. 2, season 1.
  19. Episode guide - episode 03 The Buys. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  20. "The Buys". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-16. No. 3, season 1.
  21. Episode guide - episode 04 Old Cases. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  22. "Old Cases". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-23. No. 4, season 1.
  23. Episode guide - episode 05 The Pager. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  24. "The Pager". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-30. No. 5, season 1.
  25. Episode guide - episode 06 The Wire. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  26. "The Wire". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-07-07. No. 6, season 1.