William Moreland (Wendell Pierce), better known as Bunk, was the sharp-dressed and smooth-talking detective who stuck to his beat in homicide. Throughout five seasons on HBO’s The Wire (which you can stream anytime on HBO Now), Bunk proved time and again that he was a tried and true murder police in a city that had more than 300 murders per year. While Bunk lived by his code, he also took his own advice and never let the politics of the department get him down. Unlike his on-again, off-again partner Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), who never quite figured that one out.
So, to celebrate the effortlessly smooth and (almost) always even tempered detective who also respected the chain of command, here are Bunk’s best lines for when you need to find your inner swagger.
“I knew it was your first time. I wanted to make that sh*t special.”
One of the lifelines running through the show’s increasingly massive cast was the relationship between Bunk and McNulty, two hard-drinking, sh*t-talking detectives who were always there for one another at the drop of a hat — for the most part. When the two are bellied-up to the bar, and McNulty thanks him for “being so gentle” with him — a popular euphemism between Baltimore cops — Bunk gives him one of the best paraphrased ‘you’re welcomes’ of all-time.
“At all hazards, a man must keep up appearances. Dignity, I say. Dignity above all.”
Bunk was ‘strictly a suit-and-tie motherf*cker,’ which meant he placed a lot of importance on his appearance. Despite solving cases in a city flooded with drugs, prostitution, and murder, he only showed up to work once not wearing pinstripes. After all, if you’ve got the means and the talent, there’s no reason not to dress well, too. Of course, a fake British accent in a moment like this doesn’t hurt, either.
“Maybe you ought to set up an easel on the sidewalk and do a sketch instead.”
Technology was never McNulty’s strong suit, and even something as simple as loading film into a camera proves to be a challenge for him. The next time you’re in a situation where a friend is dealing with one of life’s little struggles, you could offer to help. Or, you could take a page from the book of Bunk and make a snarky remark about it. You can then even do one better than Bunk and offer to help afterwards.
“I ain’t all that humble.”
A lot of swagger involves just the right amount of restraint when it comes to talking about yourself. In Bunk’s case, that can mean a little bit less restraint than what most of us can get away with.
“If you got soft eyes, you can see the whole thing. If you got hard eyes — you staring at the same tree missing the forest.”
When Bunk shares some of what made him such a great detective, he describes it with a kind of Eastern flavor. Or, as Kima (Sonja Sohn) calls it, “some Zen sh*t.” Either way, your swagger has to come with some legitimately sound advice now and then, especially if you want people to take you seriously.
“I think this is a tragic motherf*cking miscarriage of justice. I think it deserves a special grand jury, and if not, the President should appoint an independent prosecutor. Oh, no no, no no, actually, I think Kofi Bryant and the United f*cking Nations should get involved.”
When McNulty brings Bunk, who’s swamped with his own workload, a file about a murder he’s investigating from the previous year, Bunk gives this level-headed and well thought-out response. After all, having swagger means you shouldn’t settle for simple replies, especially if you can muster black-belt level sarcasm off-the-cuff like this.