The Wire and The Shield are the two best Police/Crime-themed TV shows of all time. Trying to pick which one is “better” is more or less a futile pursuit, but I will attempt to do so in about 500 words. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of ScreenCrave (I only mention that because Vic Mackey may come after the editors after he reads this).

The Characters

Advantage to The Wire

Jimmy McNulty and his on-again, off-again alcoholism, Stringer Bell’s deviousness, Omar Little’s court testimony at Bird’s trial, Herc, Carver, Greggs, Avon Barksdale, and Brother Mouzone… Need I say more? In a way, you cannot fully appreciate the amount of effort that went into character development for The Wire until after you watch its 5th and final season. Each main character on The Wire could viably have his, or her own HBO series.

The characters on The Shield are deep, powerful, but somewhat predictable. You learn pretty early on that Vic Mackey only acts out of self-preservation, Dutch and Aceveda are equally egomaniacal through every season, and Claudette is always the voice of reason.

The Story

Advantage to The Wire

Never has a series capture the “heartbeat” of a city quite like The Wire describes Baltimore (in gut wrenching detail). The schools, the drug trade, the police, the journalists the ports, and the politics: you get everything all rolled into one package. You’ll never view city officials the same after you watch The Wire… and you may find yourself empathizing with the drug dealers from time to time.

The stage is set for The Shield on Episode 1 of Season 1: Vic and the Strike Team cover up a very big crime….and oh the tangled web they weave. Unlike The Wire, each episode of The Shield could be watched independently, which some viewers may prefer.

The Series Finale

Advantage to The Shield

The last episode of The Shield, entitled “Family Meeting”, will leave you sleepless for days (provided you watch every episode leading up to the finale). The web completely unravels in one fell swoop – it’s both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

The series finale of The Wire leaves you feeling hollow and wanting more. So many stories are left open ended: what becomes of Bubbles? What about McNulty and Avon? I really hope they create a film adaptation of The Wire someday.

Bottom Line The Wire is some of the best filmed entertainment you’ll ever watch. Do yourself a favor and see what everyone has been talking about for yourself – well worth your time, and well worth the money.

Written by Sunil Rajaraman who is the President and CEO of