Jimmy McNulty
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Jimmy McNulty

The Wire

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About Him

Living… in Baltimore, in an apartment with spare furnishings and a mattress on the floor. Jimmy’s sense of decoration is surely more the result of apathy rather than any interest in chic Japanese minimalism. McNulty isn’t one to try and impress with appearances. He prefers to impress with his words, his work, and his trademark smirk.

Profession… Baltimore city police officer. McNulty is a homicide detective along with his buddy Bunk Moreland. He is a rare breed, a uniquely talented and effective detective who can’t go two days without provoking one of his bosses into a frothy rage. And as far as he’s concerned, he’s never wrong. Whenever a boss storms off in the aftermath of yet another argument, he’ll shrug at his colleagues and ask, “What the f--- did I do?”

Interests… drinking with Bunk. Though Jimmy certainly has a weakness for the bottle, he never (OK, rarely) lets it get in the way of his other passion: his job. He loves taking slugs from the bottle and being “good police.” Sometimes at the same time.

Relationship Status… separated from his wife, Elena. McNulty dropped out of college and joined the Baltimore PD after Elena became pregnant. He is a loving father to their sons Sean and Michael, but Elena is stingy about visitation and they fight constantly over alimony and child support. In the meantime McNulty indulges in various flings. He has trouble finding a serious relationship, but he can be a charming rogue when he wants to be.

Challenge… staying in the good graces of his commanding officers. Not only does McNulty often passive-aggressively circumvent the chain of command, he is cheeky and insubordinate to the face of his superiors. Like clockwork, he gets himself in hot water with some combination of Lieutenant Daniels, Sergeant Landsman, and Major Rawls (though he is well-liked by Major Colvin, who calls him Bushy Top). Professionally, Jimmy is often his own worst enemy.

Personality… charming, impulsive, egotistical, outspoken, and immune to criticism. For all of his faults, McNulty keeps his nose to his strong moral compass, which points in the general direction of justice. “When he ain't policing, [McNulty is] a picture postcard of a drunken, self-destructive [screw]-up,” says Bunk. “And when he is policing... he's pretty much the same motherf-er. But on a good case, he running in front of the pack. That's as close as the man comes to being right.” 

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