The Wire
The Wire

Lieutenant Ellis Carver is the executive officer to Western District Commander Dennis Mello in the Baltimore Police Department.



Carver grew up in the Flag House Courts housing project in East Baltimore. He attended Dunbar High School.

Season 1

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Carver was a narcotics detective under Major Foerster in season one; he joined the Barksdale detail along with his friends from narcotics, detectives Greggs and Hauk. His shift lieutenant from narcotics Cedric Daniels was assigned to command the detail.

Herc and Carver typically worked as a pair. They were intimidated by Greggs' ability and annoyed at her superior attitude towards them. They got into trouble early on in the investigation when they drunkenly raided the Barksdale organizations tower operation and nearly incited a riot. They easily convinced the erratic Detective Pryzbylewski to accompany them and he worsened the situation by hitting a teenage drug dealer. Daniels was exasperated with his detectives lack of forethought but defended their actions to his superiors anyway.

The narcotics detectives took part in raids on the Barksdale's low rise projects. When one of the young dealers, Preston Broadus, punched detective Patrick Mahon, Carver, Herc and Greggs were unrelenting in punishing him with a beating. Carver and Herc later received the task of travelling to Bodie's juvenile detention centre to try to convince him to become an informant; Carver was optimistic about their chances. Finding that he had absconded they raided his home finding only his grandmother.

Herc later spotted Bodie in the low rise projects while on surveillance and arrested him along with Carver. Finding that he remained defiant the detectives gave him another beating. Later, waiting to hand him over they softened towards him and the three shared a game of pool. Bodie was released from juvenile detention following the intervention of the Barksdale crew's lawyer. Unaware of this Carver and Herc angrily picked him up the next time they saw him, finding that he was a free adolescent once more they gave him a lift instead of bringing him in.

When they intercepted the Barksdale crew's profits for a day by tailing Roland Brice, Herc considered keeping some of the money, but it was Carver who realized the wiretap might leave them exposed to their superior officers. Some of the money went missing by accident, which led Carver to doubt Herc until it turned up. This also got both of them on the wrong side of Lt. Daniels. Otherwise, Carver and Herc were invaluable in providing much needed but tedious surveillance work for the detail.

Carver took his sergeant's exam and passed while in the detail, however his score was not high enough to get a position. Herc was in line for the role ahead of Carver. While on a retraining week Carver was approached by Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell to act as an insider in the unit, he was rewarded by being bumped up the queue for a sergeant promotion ahead of Herc. When his promotion came through Daniels realized his treachery.

Season 2

When the detail was disbanded Carver was moved to the Southeastern district where he worked as a Traffic sergeant under Major Valchek. His dissatisfaction with the post was apparent when Valchek assigned him to ticket dock workers vehicles and he openly discussed his problems with his commander with Frank Sobotka. ("Collateral Damage")

Daniels brought Carver back into his detail when investigating Frank Sobotka. He told Carver that because he had caught him in his betrayal before he thought he was the least likely person to try something similar again. Daniels's only condition was that Carver would not be treated like a sergeant in the detail as he felt that Carver had not earned his promotion and would report to Detectives. Carver was again partnered with Herc and the two investigated drug dealing around the docks area. They fabricated a confidential informant, actually using a listening device and took payments meant for the informant to cover the cost. However, they did establish a link between Nickols Sobotka and drug trade near the docks. ("Undertow")

They were again relied upon to do the leg work for the detail and were instrumental in placing satellite tracking devices on vehicles involved in the dock smuggling ring. Their low status in the detail was brought home when they were asked to install an air conditioner in the home of a judge who was approving the detail's wiretaps. After being left out in the rain waiting for Nick Sobotka to return home, despite having already turned himself in, Herc convinced Carver they would never be respected in Daniels' unit. While not stated explicitly, it can be assumed that Carver was given the menial status under Daniels' command as punishment due to his previous betrayals. Angered by the menial work given to him, Carver told Daniels that he wished to leave the unit. As Daniels convinced him to stay claiming that surveillance was part of the job, Carver pointed out a D.E.U. sergeant posting in the Western District for Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin. Carver quit Daniels' unit transferring to the flex squad where he felt better in a position where there was more "rip and run" recognizing his ranking status in the department. Herc then followed Carver as he had no interest in doing menial surveillance work for Daniels.

Season 3

Carver returned to narcotics with Herc and worked in the Western District under Major Colvin. Carver again began to act as a sergeant, running the district's Drugs Enforcement Unit and commanding a squad of dedicated narcotics police including Det. Herc and officers Dozerman, Lloyd "Truck" Garrick and Anthony Colicchio. He failed to learn one lesson from his work with Greggs - a police officer is only as good as their informants - as he failed to secure any for his unit and had none to present to Major Colvin. Officer Dozerman was shot and injured while under Carver's command in a failed buy bust sting operation.

Carver was responsible for policing Colvin's unsanctioned free drug trade zone, nicknamed "Hamsterdam". He was distressed by the consequences of the new zone - putting young hoppers out of work. Carver's solution was to tax the drug dealers for unemployed hoppers to ensure they found work. At the same time however, Carver took a personal mission to have the children in "Hamsterdam" better themselves out of work. With Dennis "Cutty" Wise, a former soldier in Avon Barksdale's crew, he helped organize the young hoppers into boxing and basketball programs that were becoming successful until the "Hamsterdam" project was shut down. After this Carver and Wise held a mutual respect for each other having worked together with these children.

Before his forced retirement Colvin criticized Carver's work as an investigator and told him he was not doing his job properly. He urged Carver to get to know the area he was policing rather than treating it as hostile territory in a war zone.

Season 4

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Carver maintained his position as DEU sergeant but turned over a new leaf in light of Colvin's advice. He began cultivating informants at street level and amassing a working knowledge of the drug dealers in his district. He identifies Bodie as a potential informant because he is now working independently. Carver helps Herc when he has a problem that is political in nature by putting him in touch with Valchek. Carver also tries to help Detective Moreland find a suspect in the murder of Fruit. The suspect is Bodie's second-in-command Curtis "Lex" Anderson and Carver knows where to find him. However, Lex has not turned up to work and Carver can't help Herc. Carver spots a group of kids from his neighborhood with a stolen car and rather than chasing them on foot he calls in the theft and elects to find the kids later as he knows where they hang out. When he returns he gives them a warning; telling them that he knows their names and addresses and if he learns that they are involved with stolen cars again he will arrange alleyway beatings for each of them. Carver has also show concern for Randy Wagstaff and his situation of neighborhood kids harassing and labeling him as a snitch, even offering to be Randy's foster parent when not being able to find another foster parent after his current foster mom was injured in an arson started fire. He was not able to because of the long screening process that takes months to complete. After dropping him off at his group home, Carver angrily beats on his car horn mad that he could not have done more for Randy. ("Final Grades")

Season 5



Season 1
"The Target" "The Detail" "The Buys" "Old Cases" "The Pager"
"The Wire" "One Arrest" "Lessons" "Game Day" "The Cost"
"The Hunt" "Cleaning Up" * "Sentencing"
Season 2
"Ebb Tide" "Collateral Damage" "Hot Shots" "Hard Cases" "Undertow"
"All Prologue" "Backwash" "Duck and Cover" "Stray Rounds" "Storm Warnings"
"Bad Dreams" "Port in a Storm"
Season 3
"Time after Time" "All Due Respect" "Dead Soldiers" "Amsterdam" "Straight and True"
"Homecoming" "Back Burners" "Moral Midgetry" "Slapstick" "Reformation"
"Middle Ground" "Mission Accomplished"
Season 4
"Boys of Summer" "Soft Eyes" "Home Rooms" "Refugees" "Alliances"
"Margin of Error" "Unto Others" "Corner Boys" "Know Your Place" "Misgivings"
"A New Day" "That's Got His Own" "Final Grades"
Season 5
"More with Less" "Unconfirmed Reports" "Not for Attribution" "Transitions" "React Quotes"
"The Dickensian Aspect" "Took" "Clarifications" "Late Editions" "-30-"

*Credit only.


  • Salon described Carver and Herc as providing needed comic relief to the show and acting as a bickering couple.[1]
  • Over the course of the four seasons, Carver's character has matured by a considerable amount, both as a cop and as a human. In the first season, he and his partner-in-crime, Herc, were all about busting-up the corner-boys, and did not quite fit into the cerebral unit of Cedric Daniels. Carv and Herc did not seem to have any ethical problems stealing drug-money during one of the raids on a stash house. Also, he was a snitch, feeding information about his unit to the bosses higher-up, which eventually led to his promotion. During the second season, as part of the major crimes unit, Carver and Herc were largely assigned to do the menial legwork, and Carver seemed to resent this, which led him leaving the major crimes unit at the end of the season, to the Western district. In the third season, he reverted to his old ways of busting-up the corner boys until his district commander Howard "Bunny" Colvin pointed out the uselessness in the daily busts that led to no significant information gain in building a case against the various drug dealers. Carver supported Colvin's "Hamsterdam" experiment and was then brought in for a talk with Bunny. Colvin told him that while he is a loyal solider and decent supervisor that from where the command sat Carver wasn't worth anything when it came to true police work. He started realizing what true police work was after Colvin told him that a real policeman learns his post and gets the necessary information from given people on that beat to make real cases that protect and serve the community. From this, Carver showed a more human side to policing by getting to know the community better and setting up a basketball court for the kids who are no longer required at Hamsterdam. Furthermore, he showed support to ex-convict Dennis "Cutty" Wise by helping him get kids off the street and into a boxing gym.


  1. Dan Kois (2004). Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire". Retrieved on 2006-07-12.