- See also: Omar Little and associates
Template:Infobox character Omar Devone Little is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, portrayed by Michael K. Williams. Omar was a renowned stick-up man who lived by a strict code and never deviated from his rules, foremost of which is that he never robbed or menaced people who were not involved in the drug trade. Omar, who was gay, has had three partners on the show. Omar is the only major character on the series who claims to make a point of not using profanity.
Omar was orphaned at a young age, and raised by his grandmother Josephine, who is largely responsible for his strict moral code. He attended Edmondson High School in West Baltimore, a few years behind Bunk Moreland. For more than ten years, Omar has made his living holding up drug dealers, and staying alive "one day at a time". He is legendary around Baltimore for his characteristic shotgun, trench coat, facial scar, and whistling the "The Farmer in the Dell". He repeatedly demonstrates exceptional skill at surveillance and as a stick-up man and shooter, further contributing to his feared status as an efficient professional. He is also highly intelligent and cunning, consistently executing well-laid plans, anticipating moves, and outsmarting his adversaries. Once a month, he accompanies his elderly grandmother to church. He also has a brother, "No Heart" Anthony, who is currently incarcerated for a jewelry store robbery in the early '90s. He enjoys eating Honey Nut Cheerios.
After Omar, his boyfriend Brandon, and John Bailey robbed a stash house, Avon Barksdale put out a contract on the trio (doubling the reward once he discovered Omar was gay). Bailey was killed, and Brandon was tortured, mutilated, and killed for keeping silent on Omar's whereabouts. He was then left in a public place so as to be seen and quickly found. In response to this, Omar cooperated with Detectives Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland, providing key information leading to the arrest of Barksdale soldier Bird, and agreed to be a witness against him at his trial (though it is unlikely that Omar was an actual witness to the crime). While meeting with the police, he observed information which he used to exact further revenge against the Barksdale Organization, killing Stinkum and wounding Wee-Bey Brice.
Omar even got a shot at Barksdale himself, by giving stolen drugs to Eastside drug kingpin Proposition Joe for Avon's pager number. He tailed Avon to Orlando's strip club, paged him and waited for him to emerge into the open. Avon narrowly escaped when Wee-Bey arrived and shot Omar in the arm. Afterwards, Stringer Bell offered Omar a truce, planning to kill him when he relaxed his guard. Omar realized Stringer's duplicity and left town, temporarily relocating to New York City.
Omar returned to Baltimore with a new boyfriend, Dante. He quickly returned to his old business, targeting the Barksdales exclusively, and connected with Tosha and Kimmy, stick-up artists who joined his crew.
Omar provided false testimony against Bird in open court as he had promised to do. Unabashed and unapologetic about who he was, he won over the jury with his wit; when Barksdale attorney Maurice Levy called him a parasite who thrived on the drug trade, Omar pointed out that Levy was essentially the same thing. In the end, the jury accepted Omar's testimony, and Bird was sent to prison for life. Assistant State's Attorney Ilene Nathan promised Omar a favor as a thank you for his testimony.
Around this time, Stringer Bell wanted to get rid of hitman Brother Mouzone. Arranging a meeting through Proposition Joe and Omar's advisor and confidant Butchie, Stringer claimed to Omar that Mouzone was the one who had tortured Brandon. Omar found Mouzone and shot him once, but when Mouzone revealed that Omar had been given false information, Omar realized he had been duped and let Mouzone live, even calling the paramedics for him. He redirected his murderous intent at Stringer himself.
Tosha was killed during a raid on a Barksdale house, and Omar contemplated giving up his war against the Barksdale organization. Detective Bunk Moreland, investigating the deaths, made Omar feel further guilt over the incident, and Omar provided him a lost police pistol as a way of making amends.
Under orders from Stringer Bell, two of Avon's soldiers attacked Omar while he was taking his grandmother to church. Omar forced her into a taxi, but she lost her best hat in the gunfire. This blatant violation of the longstanding "Sunday truce" between rival gangs, combined with the risk Omar's grandmother was put in during the incident, led Omar to re-dedicate himself to war with the Barksdales, though Kimmy opted out. Avon, outraged at Stringer, forced the men responsible for the attack to buy Omar's grandmother a new hat.
Meanwhile Brother Mouzone captured Dante, and forced him to reveal Omar's hiding place. (Dante gave in after much torture, in contrast with Brandon who never cracked.) Mouzone suggested an alliance against Stringer. Together, Omar and Mouzone ambushed Stringer during a meeting with Andy Krawczyk and executed him. Brother Mouzone set Dante free and returned to New York, while Omar was tasked with getting rid of Mouzone's gun, as well as the shotgun that killed Stringer. Both weapons were later thrown into the harbor.
Omar felt dissatisfied with how easy work had become and worried that pursuing easy thefts would make him soft, so he and new boyfriend Renaldo pulled a robbery of one of Marlo Stanfield's dealers, Old Face Andre, who ran a westside corner convenience store that was actually a drug front. At Proposition Joe's suggestion, they proceeded to rob a poker game, not knowing that Marlo Stanfield was one of the men at the game. While committing the robbery, Omar made a point to take a large ring from Marlo, who had earlier taken the same ring from Old Face Andre as a debt for money owed. Marlo vowed to get revenge. Chris Partlow framed Omar for the murder of an innocent woman at Old Face Andre's store, and Omar was jailed. During the arrest, he was robbed by Officer Eddie Walker, who took the ring that Omar had stolen from Marlo. Before Omar was taken away in a police van, he was questioned by Officer Jimmy McNulty, who thought it out of character for Omar to have murdered an ordinary citizen not involved in the drug trade. When imprisoned in Baltimore City's Central Booking, Omar was recognized by other inmates, a number of whom wanted to kill him for the bounty that had been placed on his head. In retaliation for an attempt on his life, he brutally stabbed an adversary in the rectum as a means of warning the other inmates not to attack him.
Omar was able to convince Detective Bunk Moreland that he would never kill a "citizen." After having Omar transferred to a safer prison (calling in the favor from Ilene Nathan), Bunk managed to prove Old Face Andre had lied. The charge against Omar was dropped and Bunk transported him out of Harford County with a warning: no more murders against anyone. Bunk would bring up the unsolved murders at Omar's hands that he knew about, such as Stringer Bell, Stinkum Artis, or Tosha if Omar was caught killing anyone else.
Omar learned that Marlo had framed him and was the one he had robbed at the card game. Omar demanded that Proposition Joe help him rob Marlo, and Joe agreed to alert Omar when Joe's soldier Cheese was dropping off Marlo's package. Omar orchestrated an elaborate and successful hijacking of Joe's entire shipment of heroin as it entered port. As he had no wish to sell drugs on the street, he sold the heroin back to Proposition Joe. Although the heist had made Omar a lot of money, it also had all of the drug kingpins ready to put a contract on his head.
Omar retires with Renaldo following the heist and moves to a Puerto Rican slum called "La Perla", adjacent to Old San Juan. Marlo Stanfield has Butchie tortured and killed, seeking revenge on Omar. Word reaches Omar and he returns to Baltimore to punish those responsible. Omar ambushes Slim Charles and confronts him. Omar knows that Slim Charles' employer "Proposition Joe" Stewart knew of his connection to Butchie and believes Stewart may have been responsible. Slim Charles is able to convince Omar of Stewart's innocence and Omar targets Stanfield. Along with Butchie's friend Donnie, Omar decides to go after Stanfield's people as Stanfield himself has gone into hiding and Omar targets Monk. Stanfield's soldiers spot Omar outside of Monk's apartment and bait Omar and Donnie into an ambush. Once inside they are attacked by Chris Partlow, Snoop, Michael Lee, and O-Dog. During the shootout, Donnie is killed and O-Dog is wounded in the leg. Out of bullets, Omar is forced to jump from the sixth story window, breaking his leg in the process.
He continues his mission around the city in search of Marlo with a makeshift crutch. He terrorizes and robs many of Marlo's corners and shoots or kills several members of Stanfield's crew including Savino Bratton. All the while, Omar calls for Marlo to meet him on the streets. During "Clarifications", a young boy from Michael's crew, Kenard, follows Omar to a Korean owned convenience store. Omar sees Kenard walk in, but seeing just a little boy, pays no attention to him. Kenard shoots Omar in the side of the head, killing him. This brings closure to some of the foreshadowing in Season 3, as Kenard was the young boy Bunk witnessed imitating Omar at the Barksdale stash house shootout.
Template:Unreferencedsection A brief prequel released before season five featured a young Omar, his brother Anthony, and an unidentified older boy planning and executing a robbery of a man at a bus stop in 1985 Baltimore. Even as a young boy Omar shows remarkable intelligence, morality and force of character by first questioning the value of robbing the man and then compelling the unidentified older boy (at gunpoint) to return the money. Anthony expresses tired amusement at Omar's actions, demonstrating his familiarity with his brother's forceful personality and perhaps foreshadowing conflict between them. Omar is shown with his characteristic facial scar, indicating that he somehow received it as a child.
At the end of this segment, the unidentified boy tells Anthony that his brother is not "cut out" for this line of work, an ironic foreshadowing of what would happen to Anthony some years later. After bungling a jewelry store heist, Anthony was pursued by police. Apparently sensing he was about to be caught, and unwilling to do hard time, Anthony put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger. Instead of killing or seriously injuring himself, Anthony merely suffered a contact wound. After this incident, he earned the derisive nickname "No Heart" Anthony.
Anthony's story is never depicted on the show. We learn of it in Season One because Bubbles can't believe Kima has never heard of Anthony. Kima is annoyed to discover that McNulty also knows who Anthony is. She swallows her pride and asks McNulty to tell her the story of "No Heart" Anthony.
Michael K. Williams received the part of Omar after only a single audition. Williams has stated that he pursued the role because he felt it would make him stand out from other African Americans from Brooklyn with acting talent because of its contradictory nature.
Williams expressed that his relationship with and love of off-broadway New York theatres, such as the National Black Theater in Harlem gave him the skill set needed for his portrayal of Omar; in particular utilizing the meisner technique to create Omar from the ground up, immersing himself by researching details of inner city Baltimore. The role presented a unique challenge as it was the first major re-occurring television character he had played.
David Simon has said that Omar is based on Shorty Boyd, Donnie Andrews, Ferdinand Harvin, and Anthony Hollie, Baltimore stickup men between the 1980s and early 2000s who robbed drug dealers. Donnie Andrews later reformed, is married, and now helps troubled youths. In season 4 of The Wire Andrews plays one of the two men Butchie sends to help Omar in prison, in the episodes "Margin of Error" and "Unto Others" and Omar later meets up with him at Blind Butchie's in "That's Got His Own" while planning the big drug robbery.
Omar admits to an interest in Greek mythology in the season two episode "All Prologue". Omar's nascent love of Greek mythology has some truth in real life; according to a passage The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, a non-fiction novel written by David Simon and Ed Burns, children in Baltimore schools pay little attention to most classes and stories (as seen in the fourth season of The Wire), but are often interested by and appreciative of Greek mythology.
For his portrayal of Omar, Michael K. Williams was named by USA Today as one of ten reasons they still love television. The character was praised for his uniqueness in the stale landscape of TV crime dramas and for the wit and humor that Williams brought to the portrayal. Other commentators also applauded the many dimensions of the character with his appearances in various story lines as "...a sawed-off shotgun toting terror, a vulnerable jailbird whose life lies in the balance, and a double crossing mastermind who outsmarts Baltimore’s biggest drug dealers time and time again". Omar was named as one of the first season's richest characters, not unlike the Robin Hood of Baltimore's west side projects, although his contradictory nature was questioned as a little too strange. The Baltimore City Paper named the character one of their top ten reasons not to cancel the show and called him "arguably the show’s single greatest achievement."
Williams has stated that he feels that the character is well liked because of his honesty, lack of materialism, individuality and his adherence to his strict code. Barack Obama says that Omar is his favorite character on The Wire (which, in turn, is his favorite television show).
- Character profile - Omar. HBO (2004).
- Dan Kois (2004). Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire". Salon.com.
- Template:Cite episode
- Joel Murphy (2005). One on one with... Michael K. Williams. Hobo Trashcan. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
- Francesca Djerejian (2008). Michael K. Williams: Omar Never Scares. Hip Hop DX. Retrieved on 2008-02-19.
- Richard Vine (2005). Totally Wired. The Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved on 2006-07-19.
- Urbina, Ian. "From Two Broken Lives to One New Beginning", The New York Times, 2007-08-09. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
- Template:Cite episode
- The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, p.283
- Robert Bianco (2004). 10 Reasons we still love TV. USA Today. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
- Chris Barsanti (2004). The Wire - The Complete First Season. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-07-20.
- Bret McCabe and Van Smith (2005). Down to the wire: Top 10 reasons not to cancel the wire.. Baltimore city paper.. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
- J. Patrick Coolican (2008). Obama goes gloves off, head-on. Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.