The wire

The Wire: 5 Characters Who Deserved More of the Spotlight

A story as complex and ambitious as The Wire can't let every character shine, but these characters absolutely deserved more of the spotlight.

There are few, if any, television series as ambitious in the size of their cast and scope of their storytelling as The Wire. The ensemble approach to storytelling allowed the 2002 HBO series to thoroughly explore every facet of Baltimore and its criminal underworld in astonishing detail, and in order to do that, the series had to showcase individuals from all walks of life.

Sadly, the show only had so much space to dedicate to each of its characters. Over the course of its five seasons, The Wire managed to convey some of the best and most engaging characters in television history, but not the entire cast received as much focus as Omar Little. Unfortunately, some characters received bit parts or were only the focus for a single season, and these five stand out as deserving of far more screen time.

Proposition Joe

Known off the streets as Joseph Stewart, but more colloquially as “Proposition Joe” or just “Prop Joe,” the East Side kingpin of the Baltimore drug trade was one of the most titanic figures in the game. Known for the diplomacy and willingness to bargain that earned him his moniker, Prop Joe thrived in shark contrast to most of the other drug lords, not through sheer force of violence but in the shrewdness of his dealings and his cunning ability to navigate the politics of the underworld.

Yet, at the same time, despite being a major player throughout nearly the entirety of the show, very little of Prop Joe’s life, background or history receives attention. With the narrative primarily focused on Baltimore’s West Side and its drug trade primarily dominated by Avon Barksdale and then Marlo Stanfield, Prop Joe’s ability to remain on top no matter where power shifts is astounding. However, with the lion’s share of the story focusing on other organizations, how Prop Joe managed to pull off his operation or set it up in the first place remains a mystery.

Snoop

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson stands out as one of the most memorable enforcers across any criminal organization in The Wire. Together with Chris Partlow, the two served as the primary muscle behind Marlo Stanfield’s rise to power. Given how often Marlo relied on that muscle to gain his power, this put Snoop and Chris in key roles, and yet, other than Snoop serving as one of Chris’ earliest proteges, almost nothing is known about her background.

If such a high-ranking female enforcer in the otherwise male-dominated drug trade wasn’t noteworthy enough, Snoop’s gender goes largely unaddressed throughout the bulk of the series. Though she is seldom seen interacting with other women and embodies few traits of femininity, her final scene asking Michael how her hair looks stands out as a touching tidbit to the character’s inner workings. With her memorable purchase of a nail gun and her chilling monotone voice, there were more than a few fans who wanted more from the character.

Brother Mouzone

In a series otherwise rigorous about its realism, Brother Mouzone stands out as a larger-than-life figure who could easily be straight out of Hollywood. The impassioned yet professional Mouzone embodies a militant and buttoned-up persona sharply distinct from many of the others in the drug trade, while his background as a professional hitman from Avon Barksdale’s New York connections precedes his arrival in the second season. Proving to be the pinnacle of violent efficiency, Mouzone is first brought in to help Barksdale against Prop Joe, then pitted against Omar as a tactic by Stringer Bell. In the end, though, he sides with Omar to take revenge on Bell.

And that’s it. As entertaining as every moment with Mouzone is, there is far too little of it throughout the series, and he never appears again after earning his vengeance in Season 3. The Wire spent plenty of time building the character up before his arrival, only for his arc to be too brief. Without fleshing out his character, fans are left with nothing but the feeling that with more time and attention, he could have been humanized into a character as real and believable as anyone else in the cast.

Augustus Haynes

While not as violent or exciting as many of the cops and criminals that make up the rest of the show’s cast, journalists like Augustus Haynes were an integral addition. As a reporter and editor for The Baltimore Sun, Haynes received prominent focus in Season 5 as the show introduced the element of journalism to the narrative and balanced its place in Baltimore’s ecosystem accordingly. Compared to many other characters on the show, Haynes received plenty of focus, but the problem is that it came too late.

Season 5 was The Wire‘s final season, and by that point, much of the rest of the cast and the show’s biggest plot points were already in full swing. Introducing the journalists so late made the work all the harder for engaging with them and seeing them as anything other than a distraction from the rest of the show’s events. Creator David Simon’s own experience as an investigative reporter shined through Haynes and that perspective that would have provided valuable illumination in earlier seasons.

Ziggy

The Wire‘s cast portrays a massive cast of characters across the entire spectrum of likeability, but perhaps no character inhabits that idiosyncratic space between endearing and detestable as much as Ziggy Sobotka. Given countless opportunities to thrive as the part of a union of stevedores, Ziggy flounders his every chance, shoots himself in the foot for no reason and makes so many flagrant mistakes that by the time the second season ends and he walks away to his prison cell, viewers are relieved they won’t need to agonize through his antics any longer.

Ziggy was a key part of the show’s second season and every mistake he made that made viewers hate him more stood as a testament to The Wire‘s character-driven narrative. The world is absurd, the systems that try to impose order are even more so, and individuals like Ziggy muck up the best-laid plans of mice and men for petty reasons of vanity or boredom. The fact that he did not appear again for the remaining three seasons of the show creates a notable absence, and after spending enough time to become invested in his story, it’s a shame that audiences never received any real closure.

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