Though underrated during its initial run, HBO’s The Wire has stood the test of time and rightfully earned its place as one of the greatest television dramas in history. The show was heavily praised for its adherence to gritty realism in depicting the various aspects of Baltimore, including its depiction of the war on drugs and commentary on the failure of modern institutions. One particular scene in the show’s final season, however, has left a small stain on a nearly unblemished resume.
As it turns out, though, despite being one of The Wire’s most criticized moments, the event in question was actually taken from the real-life events of the man who inspired Omar, which may just redeem the scene’s authenticity.
In the episode “React Quotes,” stick-up man Omar Little, the show’s defining antihero, seeks revenge against Marlo Stanfield and his criminal empire after his friend and associate Butchie is killed. Joined by Donnie, they are ambushed by Marlo Stanfield’s assassins, including Chris, Michael and Snoop, in Monk’s apartment. Donnie is killed, and to escape the gunfire, Omar leaps off of the apartment’s balcony. The assassins are then shocked to see that Omar was not sprawled out dead on the ground below, but getting up and escaping the scene.
It’s easy to see how fans of The Wire had such mixed reactions to this scene. The fact that Omar survived jumping a four-story height was considered a little too absurd and convenient at the time of the episode’s release, especially compared to the grounded realism of the countless other shootouts featured in the series to that point.
However, the incident that inspired the scene was even more incredible. In The Wire, Donnie was played by the late Donnie Andrews, the real-life inspiration for Omar Little. In an interview with Vice, creator David Simon revealed that Andrews had once “jumped out of the sixth floor of the Murphy Homes when he was caught in an ambush and out of ammunition.” Simon also said that since the building they were using to shoot had only five floors, they adapted the fall to be only four stories.
This revelation is incredible, especially given that the real incident was even more improbable. Considering Andrews’ exploits and the reaction Omar’s jump sparked, this just proves once again that truth is stranger than fiction.
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