His Role: A brash, thick-headed, and proud police officer with a contempt for his superiors and the "chain of command", McNulty is nevertheless one of the brightest detectives in The Wire. His hard work and intuition are often central in solving the big drug cases that happen during the course of the The Wire.
During most of the series McNulty's private life is also in shambles as he has problems with an alcohol addiction, frequent affairs & one nighters, difficulty making his child support payments, and more.
Played By: Dominic West. (Fun Fact - Dominic is British and puts on an American accent for The Wire).
What Seasons: Jimmy is in The Wire complete series, seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (however his role in the 4th season is quite diminished relative to other seasons).
My Favorite Line: "What the *curse* did I do?" Jimmy says it numerous times over the course of the series. The awesome thing about the line is that more often than not he knows precisely what he's done :-).
Best Foil or Rival: Stringer. From the beginning of season 1, Bell and Jimmy are going after each other - each trying to outsmart and get the better of the other. Whether it is run ins at a murder trial or at the supermarket, their interactions are always classic and it's very clear that despite their strong hatred for the other, there is a definite respect for the intelligence of the other.
Analysis: Jimmy is seen by a lot of pundits as the leading character in The Wire... but in a rather atypical way. He isn't a protagonist, but in reality more like an "anti-hero" (as described by Jim Shelly of The Guardian). McNulty is bright, a charmer, and has good relationships with his peers (though definitely not with his superiors); at the same time, he is also rather immature and at times unable to control himself. We cheer for him in The Wire, but we also loathe him for several of the things he ends up doing. Wonderfully fashioned and superbly played, McNulty isn't just one of the main characters in HBO's The Wire - he is one of its finest.