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In The Wire, Bubbles was a drug addict who was a grass for Detective Greggs and other Balitmore cops. He was instrumental in providing evidence to help convict members of the Barksdale gang.

He seemed to be pretty open about it. He told his friend Johnny, who was beaten up by the Barksdale gang, what he was doing.

Bubbles: I'd have come past sooner, but I been on kinda like a mission.

Johnny: A mission?

Bubbles: Yeah. Them hoppers that beat you down they got problems now. Them and the people they sling for, even.

Johnny: What?

Bubbles: I put the police on their ass.

Johnny: Police? What, you get locked up or something?

Bubbles: No, come on. No, I'm not working for them. I'm working with them. They don't give me the badge soon enough, I keep doing like I do.

Johnny: Why?

Bubbles: What do you mean why? How can you ask me why? Why the fuck are you in here, man, with all these falling-down motherfuckers? Why you passing shit through a bag? Why they beat you down? Why I couldn't do nothing about it?

Arguably Johnny wouldn't have dropped him in it, but we learnt from Omar that it was common knowledge Bubbles is Greggs' informant.

Omar: Saying, you trying to catch up with Bird? Word is he dropped a workin' man.

McNulty: Wait, hold up. Come on, don't play me. What workin' man, what Bird?

Omar: Come on, now, ain't but one working man, now, is there? And Bird? I think your snitch can handle that. Shit, Bubbles know Bird.

So, given it was street knowledge that Bubbles was an informant, why didn't the Barksdale gang kill him? They had already killed someone for working with the police, so why not Bubbles?

  • The Wire is the best program of all time. This is a major plot hole though. The only explanation I can think of is that they didn't want to kill off such a sympathetic character. However, this doesn't jive with the outcome of the show, in which (spoiler!) all of the good(ish) characters get killed off, either literally or through the end of their careers and professional hopes – Ne Mo Jan 22 '18 at 10:31
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    That quote doesn't show that it was common knowledge that Bubbles was Greggs' snitch; it shows that Omar knows Bubbles is a snitch. At other times, Omar has been shown to have knowledge other characters don't, and this is likely the same. If it was common knowledge that Bubbs was snitching, the guys at the towers would never have let him do his thing with the hats, for instance. – Patrick Wynne Jan 22 '18 at 18:23
  • This could be the explanation, though we don't see how Omar found out about Bubbles. – Ne Mo Jan 22 '18 at 20:02
  • True, but we also know how Omar operates. He watches and observes everything that goes on in the neighborhood. It's how he knows where all the stash houses are, for example. Wouldn't be too much of a stretch for him to learn that Bubbs was snitching. That passage of dialogue is almost certainly meant to indicate to Greggs and McNulty just how near-omniscient Omar is regarding the street and how little they themselves know. – Patrick Wynne Jan 23 '18 at 0:01
  • Why don't you make that an answer? It's the only reasonable one other than "plot hole" – Ne Mo Jan 24 '18 at 20:29
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That quote doesn't show that it was common knowledge that Bubbles was Greggs' snitch; it shows that Omar knows Bubbles is a snitch. At other times, Omar has been shown to have knowledge other characters don't, and this is likely the same. If it was common knowledge that Bubbs was snitching, the guys at the towers would never have let him do his thing with the hats, for instance.

Omar's whole schtick is that he has almost preternatural awareness of the street. He watches and observes everything that goes on in the neighborhood. It's how he knows where all the stash houses are, for example. Wouldn't be too much of a stretch for him to learn that Bubbs was snitching. That passage of dialogue is almost certainly meant to indicate to Greggs and McNulty just how near-omniscient Omar is regarding the street and how little they themselves know.

So the answer seems to be that people don't know that Bubbles is a snitch. Most people on the street ignore him or dismiss him as harmless, as the tower guys do when he is marking them with the red hat for the watching police. Which, when you think about it, is what makes him such a great snitch in the first place. Conversely, those who pay attention to what goes on, like Omar, have figured it out.

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