Widely lauded? Yes, but The Wire wasn’t generally thought of as a happy show. Over its five seasons (available to stream anytime on HBO Now) it depicted life in Baltimore, MD: from the cops to the criminals, to the elite ruling class and those lost souls that were struggling to get by. The show wasn’t all bleak all the time, but violence and despair seemed to always be around the corner. Even characters that meant well had to confront a sense of disparity and the feeling of being trapped in a city that was slowly killing itself through greed, poverty, and addiction. Perhaps that’s why we still get an extra bit of satisfaction out of those few endings that pass for happy. And so, with that in mind, here’s a countdown to the happiest of those endings.
5. Thomas “Herc” Hauk
By the end of the show’s fourth season, Herc (Dominick Lombardozzi) had stolen a police camera, obtained (faulty) information from it, then attributed that information to a nonexistent informant. The following year, having been stripped of his badge and gun, he’d taken a job as an investigator for notorious criminal defense attorney Maury Levy (Michael Kostroff).
While it may have seemed like Herc was selling out, he used his position to relay a crucial bit of information to his former teammate on the force, Ellis Carver (Seth Gillam), that played an integral part in bringing down Marlo Stanfield’s (Jamie Hector) entire operation.
In the end, Herc owned up to his regrets as a cop, which prompted him to do the right thing. All that and he got to dine on some of Yvette’s famous brisket. Not bad at all.
4. Kima Greggs
After briefly enjoying a newfound solitary focus on her career following the end of an often tumultuous relationship, a particular homicide case pushed Kima Greggs to have a change of heart that resulted in her asking to rejoin the lives of her former girlfriend Cheryl (Melanie Nicholls-King) and her son, Elijah (Elijah Grant Johnson).
Kima got her career, and the chance to read Elijah her custom renditions of well-known bedtime stories. Though she did pick up a few bad habits from her old partner, Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), most notably a penchant for “giving a f*ck” when it wasn’t her turn to give one.
3. Cedric Daniels
Lt. Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick) had spent his time in the Baltimore Police Department desperately hoping to help remake the system. And for a while, with the election of Mayor Tommy Carcetti (Aiden Gillan), he thought things might actually change for the better.
Unfortunately, once Carcetti started setting his sights on an upcoming Gubernatorial election, his office asked Daniels to alter arrest statistics for the benefit of his campaign — something Daniels was not willing to do for anyone. After a few looming threats and ultimatums were passed around, Daniels finally made good on his promise to put his law degree to good use. Once in the courtroom, Daniels not only had a chance to show off his (fine) taste in suits, but also his renewed fire to help change things for the better.
2. Lester Freamon
Even though both he and McNulty were caught faking a murder investigation to fund the effort to stop the Stanfield crew, Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) ended up coming out of the situation relatively unscathed, at least for the time being.
As Jimmy was given a traditional policeman’s wake as a formal sendoff, Lester attended simply as a guest, boasting to his former fellow cops that he was now a civilian and would be happily retiring with his wife, Shardene (Wendy Grantham).
Lester’s last seen idling away the hours making doll house furniture from the comfort of his own home. It’s about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Outside of not having the possibility of a Grand Jury Trial hanging over them, of course.
Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins (Andre Royo) was a homeless junkie who ran low-ball scams and sold junk metal to get by. He also proved to be an invaluable informant at times, becoming the eyes and ears of the Baltimore Police. Sadly, Bubbles’ personal story always seemed to take him to another dead end. But by the show’s final season, he was actively working to turn his life around, had gotten sober, and was selling copies of The Baltimore Sun to help support himself. He’d even moved back in with his sister, though he was relegated to staying locked in her basement when she was home and forced to leave when she wasn’t.
By the show’s closing moments, after regaining his sister’s trust little by little, Bubbles was invited up from the basement to join his sister and her family for dinner. A long-awaited happy ending for one of the show’s most tragic characters.