The Wire might not have been celebrated as much as it deserved when it was on television, but in the years since it ended, it has been praised as one of the best shows of all time. The gritty and realistic depiction of the drug trade in Baltimore showed complex and compelling characters on both sides of the law. But the standout character of the show was most certainly Omar Little.
Omar made a dangerous living by robbing drug dealers. He also lived by a surprisingly noble code which made him one of the most respectable characters on the show while also being a true badass. With the passing of actor Michael K. Williams, the character’s legacy has only grown. Omar was responsible for some of the best moments of the show and proved he was not afraid of anyone.
Playing The Game
“But The Game Is Out There, And It’s Either Play Or Get Played”
Quite unexpectedly, Omar and the police find themselves working together to bring down a common enemy. But it is not an easy reliance as Omar’s violent methods tend to interfere with police investigations.
Though they are allies of sorts, Omar reminds the cops that they operate in different worlds. He insists that he will help out when he can, but he is not one who is going to back down no matter who is asking him to.
An Honorable Man
“A Man Gotta Have A Code.”
The world Omar exists in is filled with constant violence and ruthless criminals who will do anything to stay on top. Omar is certainly included among these criminals as he kills more than a few people in cold blood, but he also has a code that few others have.
He insists on never harming anyone outside of “the game” which helps to add to his folk-hero status. It is this outlook that Omar sees as a necessity to give him a direction instead of just being a thug.
“Worrying About You Is Like Wonderin ‘If The Sun Gonna Come Up.”
It is amazing to see the kind of situations Omar can walk into without sweating at all. he lives with a constant threat hanging over his head yet he does not give it much thought beyond being ready. Even with a foe he knows is dangerous like Brother Mozone, Omar does not show much concern.
When the two men do meet again after Omar shot Mozone but let him live, Mozone wonders if Omar has been expecting to see him again. Omar coolly compares it to the rising sun, something to expect but not fear.
“I Suppose We Could. Or Settle This Once And Forever.”
The confrontation between Omar and Brother Mozone is one of the coolest scenes in the entire series and exemplifies the show’s great writing. These two men are equally deadly and intimidating, facing off with neither of them backing down an inch. But when they stand off with each other, it is also clear their developing mutual respect.
They acknowledge each other’s bravery and calmness in the moment. When Brother Mozone questions how they should proceed, Omar casually suggests they could bring this to its inevitable deadly conclusion. While they decide to ally with each other, there seems to be a part of Omar that wanted to see which of them would come out on top.
Used To A Life Of Crime
“Shoot, I Done Lost Count. Enough, Though, Not To Take It Personal.”
While many of the characters on the show go to great lengths to hide their criminal activities, Omar has no such need to hide. He is very open with his life as an outlaw, even when testifying in court.
He openly admits to making his living by robbing drug dealers and when questioned about how often he has been arrested, he treats it as just part of the job. It sums up Omar’s personality as someone who does not make excuses yet also does not apologize.
“Omar Don’t Scare.”
In Omar’s line of work, courage is a necessity. He is a man who faces the possibility of death with each new day. He has faced countless enemies who wanted to end his life and never shied away. He truly is a man without fear.
After Avon Barksdale’s people killed his boyfriend, Omar sought revenge by agreeing to testify about a recent murder. When he is reminded how dangerous this is for him, Omar only laughs and explains, “Omar don’t scare” and it’s easy to believe him.
“How You Expect To Run With The Wolves Come Night When You Spend All Day Sparring With Puppies?”
The reason Omar has managed to stay alive so long while living such a dangerous life is because he has remained smart and sharp. He is also a man of great confidence and does not hesitate to go after the biggest players in the game.
After ripping off low-level dealers who surrendered the drugs and money to him without a fight, Omar laments that such easy scores are making him weaker. While he can make a fine living off of such jobs, he understands that he is in another league and if he wants to continue being the most dangerous man on the street, he needs to give them a reason to fear him.
A More Honorable Profession
“I Got The Shotgun. You Got The Briefcase.”
Omar might be an outlaw but that does not mean he’s not a highly intelligent person. Whenever he comes up against an opponent, Omar has a talent for explaining his situation in a way that makes it hard not to agree with him.
In a standout episode of The Wire, Omar is in court testifying against one of Avon’s triggermen, the smarmy defense lawyer challenges him by saying he is a person who feeds off of the drug industry for a living. Omar points out that he is no different than the lawyer in that regard, aside from their work materials.
“Spread The Word, Darlin ‘. Omar Back.”
The streets are never safe for Omar. He has stolen from Baltimore’s most powerful criminals and they do not let that go lightly. So on occasion, Omar has been forced to walk away from the game to stay alive. But being the man that he is, he can never stay away too long.
At the beginning of season 2, Omar pays a visit to a new crew who are taking up his old position. As word spreads that Omar was either killed by Avon or run out of town, he is quick to let everyone know that he is back and up to his old trouble-making ways.
An Intimidating Reputation
“Sometimes Who You Are Is Enough.”
Omar is a bit of a Baltimore folk hero. His name is known all throughout the streets and his legend continues to grow. Whenever he walks the streets, a cry of “Omar comin ‘“can be heard and as bubble explains, he does not need a last name, Omar is enough.
When McNulty has a word with Omar out on the streets, he was surprised to find that the outlaw isn’t carrying a weapon. Omar explains that sometimes his name is protection enough and knowing that no one would dare step to him.
Won’t Ask Twice
“Boy, You Got Me Confused With A Man Who Repeats Himself.”
When it comes to his robberies, Omar would prefer to do things the easy way, but he is certainly not opposed to doing it the hard way if need be. He comes in with a whole lot of firepower and will use it if necessary. He expects everyone to do what he says and any hesitation is addressed violently.
During the first robbery that Omar orchestrates on the show, he proves to be an organized professional and a dangerous man. After asking where the stash is and getting told there isn’t any, Omar lets everyone know that he is not someone you want to test.
“And I Keeps One In The Chamber In Case You Pondering.”
One of the few characters who can stand up to Omar without being backed down is Brother Mouzone. The well-known hitman is brought in by Avon Barksdale and quickly runs into Omar. The two men have a tense but respectable standoff where they remind each other how dangerous they can be.
Brother Mouzone has a gun on Omar, but with full confidence, Omar takes his own gun out. He is kind enough to let his opponent know that he has a round ready to fire, showing Omar is always prepared for a fight.
View On Money
“Man, Money Ain’t Got No Owners, Only Spenders.”
After outlasting Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell in the game, Omar comes against his next great opponent, Marlo Stanfield. The two men meet as Omar robs a poker game and takes Marlo’s money. To Marlo’s credit, he remains perfectly calm even with a gun in his face.
When Marlo tells Omar the money is his, Omar responds, “Man, money ain’t got no owners, only spenders“It’s another example of Omar being smarter than people realize and another only of his philosophies that make him such a fascinating character.
“It’s All In The Game, Yo.”
Omar does not consider himself to be a bad person, and compared to many people on the show, he isn’t. He robs people, but he sees them as fair targets because they are all “in the game” which means they’ve agreed to live in a lawless and dangerous world.
Omar’s strict code means that he will not willfully harm a regular citizen, but everything else is just part of the game. This line becomes his catchphrase of sorts and a motto to live by. It also fits nicely with the overall series, adding to its rewarding rewatch value.
A Dangerous Enemy
“You Come At The King, You Best Not Miss.”
As often as Omar is threatening the lives of others, he is having his life threatened as well. He understands that this is part of the job and is prepared for it. But that does not mean he will let any attempt on his life go unpunished.
After Avon’s crew kill his boyfriend and try to kill him, Omar goes on the hunt. He takes out one of Avon’s top men while taking shots at his right-hand man, Wee-Bey. He then calls out from the shadows with this iconic line which reminds everyone he is not someone you want on your bad side.
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