The Wire is one of the most landmark TV shows ever created. The show debuted in 2002 on HBO, and its episodes dropped jaws around the world thanks to its vivid storytelling and raw, unfiltered view of the tough streets of Baltimore, the murder capital of the U.S. at the time. To make sure everybody gets a chance to experience the series, we’ve put together this guide on how to watch The Wire online.
In short, The Wire is an American crime drama about a group of cops going after the big fish in the local drug trade by tapping their phones, but that description is like saying the Mona Lisa is just a portrait. Over five seasons, writer David Simon’s story takes us on a tour of the mean streets of a poor city, addressing social issues in Baltimore, such as drug addiction, the state of schools and poverty.
It’s also a political show in many ways, showing us the backroom dealings that have shaped a deeply corrupt city and the infighting that turns a police department into a vehicle for people’s ascent up the ladder, rather than a way to protect and serve the city’s people.
David Simon drew from his experience as a Baltimore news journalist, and it shows. Every line of dialogue seems grabbed from life. The characters are perfectly rendered, from the narcissistic Jimmy McNulty to lone wolf Omar and the ambitious Stringer Bell, all of whom will stay with you years after watching the final episode’s famous montage.
Enough waxing lyrical, though. Let’s take a look at where to watch the seasons of The Wire online. Alternatively, if you’d like a more “West Coast” show yet want to keep the intensity of The Wire, we recommend our guide on how to watch The Shield, an equally good crime-drama show that got snowed under by The Wire.
Watch The Wire on HBO Now
The easiest way to stream The Wire is to get a subscription to HBO Now, HBO’s streaming service. It costs $15 per month and will get you access to not only The Wire, but to all of HBO’s excellent series, including Game of Thrones and Westworld. HBO is not cheap, but it’s worth it.
That said, if you’re outside of the U.S., you can’t stream HBO Now content because it’s behind a geoblock. That mostly has to do with licensing issues, but it’s a real pain for fans of HBO’s programming. If you want access to HBO Now from outside of the U.S., you’re going to need a virtual private network.
In short, a VPN encrypts your connection and lets you appear as if you’re somewhere else. In this case, that’d be the Lower 48. Not all VPN services cut the mustard, though, because HBO is jealous of its content, so you can’t just sign up to any VPN. We’ve done the legwork and found the best VPN for HBO Now. If you’re impatient, ExpressVPN is your best bet.
At time of writing, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu didn’t offer The Wire for viewing, so HBO Now is the only legitimate streaming option you have to watch all 60 episodes.
Watch The Wire Online for Free
The operative word in that last sentence is “legitimate,” though. There are plenty of ways to watch The Wire seasons 1 through 5 online for free. You just need to be willing to get your hands dirty. We’ll first talk about online streaming websites before moving on to your options with Kodi and torrenting.
Putlocker is probably the best streaming website — for example, it was our only option when researching our how to watch Outlander article — and it has all five seasons of The Wire available for streaming. A quick bit of clicking around shows that all files are working, too.
However, as much as we like Putlocker, you’ll need to install one of our best pop-up blockers before going there or you’ll end up tearing your hair out in frustration because of all the ads that block the screen on the website. Using the best antivirus software is no undue luxury, either, as most of the website’s cookies seem to come infected with malware.
Watch The Wire on Kodi
Another option is to use Kodi, a media extension developed for the Xbox but now available for every device imaginable. You could probably run it on your fridge at this point. We took a quick look, and The Wire is currently available on Poseidon, which you can find under the Kodil repo, one of the best Kodi repositories.
To learn how to find and install Kodil, check out our Kodi guide, which has all the instructions you could ever need. You may want to take a gander at our best VPN for Kodi article while you’re at it because streaming via Kodi isn’t exactly legal. That’s unless, of course, you enjoy receiving cease-and-desist notices from your internet service provider.
The Wire Torrents
A final option is to watch The Wire is through torrenting, but the usual warnings apply. Piracy is illegal almost everywhere, so a VPN is an absolute must. Because most VPNs fail to adequately protect your data, we recommend using only those in our selection of the best VPN for torrenting or you could face fines potentially running into the thousands.
With that warning out of the way, we’re pleased to report that The Pirate Bay mirror we used was awash with torrents of The Wire.
As you can see, you’re spoiled for choice. Plus, you get the satisfaction of watching a TV series about police surveillance by circumventing digital surveillance.
The above tips should get you well on your way to watching the five seasons of The Wire online. Though HBO Now is the best way to enjoy the series, especially if you use ExpressVPN, there are extralegal ways to do so, as well. Using a VPN is a smart idea in those cases, too.
We hope you enjoy what’s probably the best TV show ever made, and please let us know in the comments below if we missed any other avenues for watching McNulty get into trouble. Thanks for reading.