‘It’s All In The Game’: Remembering Omar’s Code On ‘The Wire’

One can’t talk about HBO’s The Wire (which you can stream on HBO Now) without bringing up one of its most well-received and violent characters: Omar Little (as played by Michael Kenneth Williams). The Baltimore stick-up man was often reminiscent of a bandit in an old Western movie. Both his reputation and the sound of his whistle preceded him as he wandered through the streets of Baltimore, with a two-barrel shotgun in his hand and a strict code about what was right about his type of wrong.

Here’s a look back at Omar’s code and the character’s most memorable quotes. What I’m trying to say is, “Omar comin’!”

“Omar don’t scare.”

If the gangsters and drug dealers in the show couldn’t do anything to Omar out on the street, why should he be afraid to testify in court? It’s just another way to troll them like he enjoyed to so much. He was just one man who was so feared that he could take down entire crews and clean out stash houses on his own. We don’t know exactly how he got to that point, but it’s clear that backing down out of fear was never an option for Mr. Little.

“I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It’s all the game though, right?”

Like a storm of strong-armed robbery, Omar would show up, wreak havoc and leave without a moment’s notice. Substitute the bulletproof vest for a three-piece suit and the shotgun for a briefcase, and some might say you’ve got a lawyer. This is a similarity Omar wasn’t afraid to bring up while on the stand.

“I suppose we could. Or settle this once and forever.”

If it wasn’t already clear that Omar was a modern-day cowboy, this scene where he and Brother Mouzone faced each other with their guns drawn made it blatantly clear.

“You still don’t get it, do you? Huh? This ain’t about your money, bruh. Ya boy gave you up. That’s right. And we ain’t have to torture his ass, neither!”

One of Omar’s main principles is that you get back what you dish out. After his lover was tortured and killed in cold blood, he made it a personal mission to make those behind it pay for what they’d done. It took a little while, but once he found someone with a similar goal, Omar was able to give the one responsible a piece of his mind and a chest full of lead.

“Lesson here, Bey. You come at the king, you best not miss.”

Here’s a valuable lesson, kids: When you get a chance to take out the king, make it count. Just like Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York, Wee-Bey had to learn this the hard way. Except, this time around, you’re rooting for Omar, or, in this example, “Bill the Butcher.”

“Spread the word, darlin’. Omar back!”

The streets felt a little safer when everyone thought Omar was gone. People were able to hustle freely and not worry about getting stuck up on a regular basis. Well, Omar came back from the “dead” and ended all of that pretty quick.

“I do some dirt, too. But I ain’t never put my gun on nobody that wasn’t in the game.”

They say there’s no honor amongst thieves. Whoever said that hadn’t heard of Omar Little. Sure, he’ll do what he does with people living the criminal lifestyle, but he’ll never lay a harmful hand on an innocent civilian. The man’s entire life is built on an honor system.

“You make sure you tell ole’ Marlo I burned the money. Because it ain’t about that paper. It’s about me hurting his people, messing with his world. Tell that boy, he ain’t man enough to come down to the street with Omar!”

The need to get rich can infect a lot of people’s original motivations. Sadly, the more money they get, the more they want. Which is exactly why Omar burned Marlo’s money to show him that their beef was about much more than that. It was personal.

“It’s all in the game.”

At the end of the day, everything that happened in The Wire was a result of people trying to get ahead, either in the drug business, politics or the police force. Eventually, good things happen, but so do a lot of bad things. It’s all just part of the game they play, though.

“And for as long as I’ve been grown, once a month, I’ve been with her on a church Sunday, telling myself ain’t no need to worry, ’cause ain’t nobody in this city that lowdown to disrespect a Sunday morning!”

Perhaps Omar was a bit too trusting of the rules. Or, at least, everyone else’s respect for them. There was an unspoken law in The Wire that no one gets hands laid on them on Sundays. Well, unless there’s a huge price on Omar’s head, and he gets spotted taking his grandmother to church. Then, it’s open season.

“Money ain’t got no owners, only spenders.”/ “You got me confused with a man who repeats himself.”

Omar Little? Meet Marlo Stanfield. Marlo was far from one of my favorite characters on The Wire. He seemed a little entitled, to be honest. But he served a purpose, for sure. Once he had his sights set on Omar after being robbed of money he felt was his, things were taken up to another level.

Also, another lesson? Don’t ask the man with a gun pointed at you to repeat himself.

“If I would’ve known I’d be sharing quarters with all these boys, I probably wouldn’t have robbed so many of them.”

Like I said earlier, Omar believes in people getting back what they dish out. It’s sort of like karma. So, he knew he had good reason to constantly look over his shoulder when he got locked up with all of the people he robbed in the past.

“A man gotta have a code.”

No matter what you do or how you do it, you’ve got to have a code to live by. It may be one that no one else agrees with, but you have to stick do it. The moment you start to bend and break your own rules, that’s when you’ve crossed the line.

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