Michael K. Williams was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn, New York. He was only 54 years old. Since 1995, he has appeared in a number of movies and television shows. The role he will be most remembered for is as a character who was a constant contradiction in terms. Why did people as varied as the person on the street to a future president of the United States call Omar Little their favorite character?
It is hard to stand out on a show as good as The Wire. The complex plots and rich characters gave depth to everyone. Anyone could be the highlight at any time. (This may have ended up hurting the show. Though The Wire was universally praised, it did very poorly in the ratings. Some have speculated that the complex storylines prevented audiences from watching.) Still, on a show with Stringer Bell, Bubbles, and Detective McNulty, Omar still managed to be singled out by many.
One of the reasons for Omar’s popularity was the code he lived by. Antiheroes have been a popular part of fiction for a long time and Omar was the walking embodiment of one. He did things his own way and had the fear and respect of an entire city for it. Even when members of his own crew questioned his actions, he never backed down. He was a ghetto Robin Hood who never hurt civilians and respected Sundays as a day of peace.
This is seen most poignantly when his boyfriend Brandon is killed by the Barksdale gang. Though Omar recognizes the killing is a part of the risk they deal with in their lives (“It’s all in the game, yo.”), the torture and mutilation went beyond. This would begin his years long war of vengeance against the Barksdales. His vendetta underscores what his code means to him and what he feels needs to be done to those who break it.
There is also a charm to Omar that is hard to resist. There is the obvious badass aura he has about him. Everyone likes the character who has the coolest thing to say and can back up what they say. The moments with his boyfriends also show a vulnerable person who is just getting by in life the best way they know how. His best moments may be in season two. The numerous scenes in the courtroom best exemplify what kind of person Omar is. From his interest in Greek mythology to the way he wins over the gallery, it is a true showcase of the character.
Other examples show what made Omar such a popular character. Loyalty, his love for his grandmother, and the tenderness he shows are all admirable qualities that drew people to Omar. He is the type of guy that people would like to know in real life. Most of all, he reminds us of ourselves. For all of his positive traits, he is a stick up guy who lets his emotions get the best of him. His code causes him to commit violent acts and his death was due to him arrogantly dismissing a child. He was the idealized version of the average everyday person, just in an extreme setting. Omar was the King and he will be missed.
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