-30- (The Wire)

The Wire episode
-30- The Wire.jpg
McNulty is confronted by Rawls and Daniels, who order him to quickly apprehend the copycat killer.
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 10
Directed byClark Johnson
Story byDavid Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay byDavid Simon
Featured music"Way Down in the Hole" by The Blind Boys of Alabama
Original air dateMarch 9, 2008 (2008-03-09)
Running time93 minutes
Guest appearance
see below
Episode chronology
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"-30-" is the series finale of the HBO original series The Wire. With a running time of 93 minutes, this tenth and final episode of the fifth season is the longest episode of the series. The episode was written by series creator/executive producer David Simon (teleplay/story) and co-executive producer Ed Burns (story). It was directed by Clark Johnson, who also directed the pilot episode and stars on the show.[1] It aired on March 9, 2008.[2] The episode's writers were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.[3]


Tommy Carcetti and his staff learn that the "serial killer" was a hoax. McNulty and Freamon, unaware that their scheme has been exposed, discover that Gary DiPasquale has leaked courthouse documents to Levy. When Freamon gives Pearlman the identity of the mole, she reveals her knowledge of the detectives' duplicity.[4]

Templeton calls 911, and claims there was an attempted kidnapping of an inebriated homeless man which he witnessed. When the police arrive, the man is too drunk to confirm or deny the claims, though an undercover officer at the scene confirms that Templeton made up the story. Marlo and his crew learn of Snoop's death and agree that Michael must be eliminated. Cheese posts bail and Marlo instructs him to hunt down Michael. Freamon informs McNulty that Daniels and Pearlman know about the hoax and the illegal wiretap.

Levy goes through the Stanfield arrest warrants and realizes that the police used an illegal wiretap to decipher the code beforehand. McNulty, Bunk, and Greggs arrive at the scene of another homeless murder, and are distraught that McNulty's fictitious serial killer has inspired a copycat.

Pearlman and Bond are told by Steintorf to quietly settle the Stanfield case out of court to keep the illegal wiretaps from being brought to light. Pearlman meets with Levy and uses a taped conversation given to her by Freamon to force him to settle. McNulty is confronted by Daniels and Rawls, who order him to quickly catch the copycat so that the press will assume he's the original killer.[5]

McNulty identifies a mentally ill homeless man as the killer and the Baltimore Police Department charge him with two of the six "murders". Carcetti holds a press conference taking cr for both the "serial killer's" capture and the Stanfield arrests, then promotes Daniels to Police Commissioner. However, after Steintorf once again requests that Daniels "juke the stats" to boost Carcetti's position on crime reduction, he refuses, and is forced to resign after Campbell threatens to expose his past wrongdoings. Cheese is killed by Slim Charles for his role in Proposition Joe's murder.

McNulty locates Larry and drives him back to Baltimore, stopping to look over the city on the way. In a closing montage, Carcetti is elected governor while Campbell becomes mayor; Valchek replaces Daniels as Commissioner; Pearlman, now a judge, recuses herself from a case Daniels is arguing; Bubbles eats a meal with his sister in her kitchen; Marlo becomes a "legitimate businessman" and realizes he has lost his street cred; Spider runs his own crew on Bodie Broadus's former corner; Michael and a partner stick up Vinson, deliberately emulating Omar; the remaining Co-Op members meet with Vondas and The Greek; Dukie uses the money he borrowed from Prez to feed his new drug addiction; Templeton wins a Pulitzer Prize while Gus and Alma are demoted; Kenard is arrested.[6]


Title reference[]

-30- is a journalistic term that has been used to signify the end of a story.[7]


...the life of kings.

This is seen in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun, as an excerpt from a longer Mencken quote displayed on the wall when Alma talks with Gus after she has been demoted to the Carroll County bureau. The full quote reads "...as I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings."


The Blind Boys of Alabama's version of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" plays over the episode's closing montage. This version of the song had previously been used as the theme music for the show's first season.

During the scene where McNulty plays Trouble with Beadie Russell's children, the song that can be heard playing in the background is "Rich Woman" by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant from their 2007 album Raising Sand.

"Body of an American" by The Pogues is heard during McNulty's staged "detective's wake", making it the third time the song was used in the course of the show's run. Also, "The Broad Majestic Shannon" can be heard echoing out of the bar in the scene after the "wake".


Starring cast[]

Although cred, Michael K. Williams and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[]

Uncred appearances[]


Writers Ed Burns and David Simon were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award in the category Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for their work on the finale.[3]


  1. ^ "Season 5 crew". HBO. 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "HBO Schedule: THE WIRE 60: –30–". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "60th Primetime Emmy Awards". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  4. ^ "Recap / The Wire S 05 E 10 Thirty". TV Tropes. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  5. ^ "Recap / The Wire S 05 E 10 Thirty". TV Tropes. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  6. ^ "Recap / The Wire S 05 E 10 Thirty". TV Tropes. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  7. ^ Kogan, Hadass (October 1, 2007). "So Why Not 29? | Why did reporters for years end their stories by writing "-30-"?". American Journalism Review Archives. Retrieved December 12, 2017.

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