The Greatest HBO Character of All Time: The Final Four Part Two

It’s part two of Giddy Up America’s Greatest HBO Character of All Time Tournament: Stringer Bell vs Omar

If picking between Omar and Tyrion was the equivalent of me trying to pick between regular Life and Cinnamon Life, then trying to pick between Omar and Stringer Bell is like me trying to pick between Cinnamon Life and Honey Bunches of Oats. Yet on a related note, I may have just stumbled upon an idea for a bracket for next March- best cereal.

Yesterday, Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm pulled off somewhat of an upset, beating the top-seeded Tony Soprano. I think if Omar beats Stringer, the real loser will be my ability to do seeding. The championship match would be two Number 2’s. Oh and for the record, I fully realize that if using a cereal analogy when discussing Omar, then Omar should be Honey Nut Cheerios, but I need to be true to myself. I do love me some Honey Nut Cheerios, but it’s an accent piece for me. They’re like ice cubes or brown rice- they are there for assistance only. Omar is not an accent piece. Not at all.

With that being said, that scene, the Omar/Honey Nut Cheerios scene, was my first introduction to Omar. I took somewhat of a curious route down The Wire hole, having started with season four. When I moved to Philly, we magically had free HBO. It was a miracle in the same way having a bad ass roof deck was a miracle. Season four of The Wire started around that time and I was curious and wanted to check it out. I didn’t want to jump in mid-stream, though. Yet a buddy from Maine had said you could start with four and be okay. My buddy’s nickname was Lightning because when he screwed up, he screwed up. It was like lighting striking something. But besides that, he had never steered me wrong.

I watched season four and was hooked. When that was over I went to Hollywood Video and tried to rent season one. They didn’t have disc one, but they did have disc one of season three. Jonesing and needing a Wire fix, I went for it and watched season three. That was when I learned who Stringer Bell was. I also learned a lot more about Omar. Oh and I learned that the area where I did my internship in college, West Baltimore, was infinitely more dangerous than I thought. After finishing season three, I then watched season one, then season two, then seasons three and four again and then waited patiently for season five.

So to recap:
1. season four
2. season three
3. season one
4. season two
5. season three
6. season four
7. all four seasons again
8. season five

Every junkie has a story and that’s mine. It might not be pretty, but it’s true.

So now I’m sitting here, listening to a fantastical LastFm station built around De La Soul, the Heavy and Gaslight Anthem, trying to figure out the best way to determine who is the better character- Omar or Stringer. I think the best way to do this will be using the same approach I used yesterday- sticking to the rules:

  • Personal favoritism
  • The character’s role on their show
  • Their length of time on their show
  • Cultural significance
  • Memorable quotes and/or scenes

Does the fact that in the show, Omar killed Stringer? I’m not sure. We’ll see.

Personal Favoritism

I started thinking about this one last night because I wanted to make sure I was one hundred percent behind my decision. I didn’t want to rush to judgement. It’s baseball season, time to take things easy- time to let things develop.

This essentially comes down to which one of these dudes are my favorite character on The Wire. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned this before, but The Wire is my favorite show of all time.

Would that then make my favorite character on my favorite show my super ultra favorite character?


Well then who would be my super ultra favorite TV character? Tough hard to say. I can give a top five, though.

My Top 5 Super Ultra Favorite TV Characters (listed in no particular order):

Michael Scott (The Office)
Gob Bluth (Arrested Development)
Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell)
Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)
and the winner of the Stringer/Omar match up
Honorable mention: Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights,) Charlie Kelly (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,) Tobias Funke (Arrested Development,) Hurley (Lost,) Dylan McKay (Beverly Hills 90120,) and Kelly Kapowski (Saved by the Bell)

So who would I feel comfortable putting on that list? That’s a big list. Whoever doesn’t make, either Stringer or Omar, could probably get honorable mention, but that’s not what this is about. This is about more than that. Is it? No, not really. But it’s fun to pretend it is.

No more beating around the bush. It’s Omar. I love Omar. Everyone loves Omar. There has never been a character like Omar and there will never be a character like Omar.

Personal Favorite: Omar

The Characters Role on the Show

This is only hard because The Wire was so vast and sprawling that it’s hard to say whether or not one character was more important than the other. You could even make the argument that one (Omar) couldn’t exist without the other (Stringer) and vice versa. But I would counter with the fact that Omar seemed to exist just find once Stringer was dead. Oh sorry, spoiler alert- Omar and Brother Mouzone kill Stringer at the end of season three. In all fairness, you kind of saw it coming. He just didn’t understand how The Game was played. Oh and he killed D’Angelo. Kind of burned the bridge with Avon with that one.

I would say this one is a tie because when it comes down to it, both of these gentlemen were extremely important to The Wire. They were huge parts of plots and stories and their individual stories were massively important to the larger story The Wire was trying to tell.

More Important Role on Their Show: Tie

Their Length of Time on Their Show

This one has a more definitive answer than yesterday when it was tie between Larry David and Tony Soprano. It’s actually pretty simple.

Stringer Bell died in season three…

…and Omar died in season five…

…and while it’s true, math is not my strong point, I am able to say with 100% certainty that five seasons is longer than three seasons.

So with that being said…

Who Was On Their Show Longer: Omar

Cultural Significance

I did an informal poll here in my office at the end of last week- and by “informal poll,” I asked one person. I asked this individual who they thought should win, Stringer or Omar. They replied that even though they had never watched The Wire, they did know that Omar’s comin’. I felt that was a telling sign. Omar has become one of those characters that reach a certain kind of cult status, but in a totally widespread kind of way. One name says it all- Omar. Two words: Omar’s comin, say even more.

Idris Elba, the actor who played Stringer, has gone on to do other things- he was even rumored to be playing James Bond at one point. He was on The Office for crying out loud and sure, when he first walked into Dunder Mifflin, I chuckled because Stringer was in Scanton. But that passed and soon he became just another character. On the other side of the coin is Michael K. Williams, the actor who played Omar. He is Omar as far as I’m concerned, even though this guy was Omar. Omar is on Boardwalk Empire and Omar did a guest spot on Community. Dude, Omar is playing Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Sure, that’s kind of a bummer for Williams, but it’s probably a bummer for Rainn Wilson that he’ll always be Dwight and is still probably a little bit of a bummer for Henry Winkler that he’ll always be Fonzie. That’s just what happens when a character you play reaches iconic status.

Iconic status? That sounds like some serious cultural significance to me.

The Character With the Greater Cultural Significance: Omar, yo

Memorable Quotes and/or Scenes

This one piggy backs off of the cultural significance argument because  when it comes to Omar, that dude had some memorable scenes and definitely had some great quotes. Stringer has a few great scenes, two of the best are when he’s talking about how no one gives a (expletive deleted) about a forty degree day and his final scene with his partner in crime, Avon Barksdale, which is one of The Wire’s best. But I’m sorry String, it’s hard to beat Omar. Isn’t it, Omar?

A man’s gotta have a code. That was Omar. The game’s out there. And it’s either play or get played. That simple. That too was Omar. Come at the king, you best not miss. Also Omar. Money ain’t got no owners…only spenders. Omar again. And finally- boy, you got me confused with someone who repeats himself. That’s just some of Omar’s quotes. As for scenes; Omar has some of the show’s greatest hits. Shit man, any scene with Omar walking down the street, shotgun in tow, was a doozy. As were any of his scenes with Prop Joe and any of the other drug dealers, as well as the few scenes he had with Bunk and when he went to trial to testify against Bird for the Gant killing.

Omar owned scenes like I own seasons of The Wire on DVD.

The Scene Stealer and Quote Machine: Omar

Final Score:
Omar: 4 wins, 0 losses, 1 tie
Stringer: 0 wins, 4 losses, 1 tie

Sorry, String.

Winner: Omar

Omar moves on and the championship match is set.

Omar Little versus Larry David.

Giddy up.

Photos: HBO







  1. […] David beats top-seeded Tony Soprano in what feels like an upset on paper only. Omar beat Stringer on The Wire and beats him here. Oh, […]


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