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Why Dominic West Almost Left The Wire In Season 4

As far as rebellious rule-breaking lawmen go, Detective Jimmy McNulty of HBO's "The Wire" deserves to be up there with the best of them. The womanizing Baltimore badge who shouts at his superiors and often peppers his workplace banter with colorful language is arguably one of the greatest characters in series creator David Simon's revered crime series. McNulty often breaks the stereotype of being the one good cop in the bad city — mainly because he isn't necessarily a good guy through and through.

While Dominic West's performance as Baltimore's boldest cop with the biggest mouth had limited screen time in certain areas of the show, he was hard to ignore. This was even more true when it came to the fourth season of "The Wire." McNulty is present for only nine of the 13 episodes in Season 4, per West's IMDb profile. Taking almost a back seat to the main story for that year, McNulty's limited presence in the 2006 season sees him settling into a new family life and avoiding the self-destructive behavior he'd exhibited in the workplace. What that in mind, why did this notable character suddenly change direction, allowing him to come back and become a prominent player in the show's final season? 

West stepped back in Season 4 to spend time with his family

Like Idris Elba, one of the other major stars on "The Wire," Dominic West is a British-born actor who transforms into the tough-talking detective Jimmy McNulty, taking to Baltimore's heavy streets to suss out criminal activity. Although West stuck with the HBO crime drama for all five seasons, it was a job that eventually took its toll on his personal life. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times in February 2008, West revealed that his absence from the show's fourth season, which aired from September to December 2006, was something he'd personally requested.

"I really needed to get home and be with my daughter for a bit longer. So we talked about it a long time ago and David [Simon] said, 'I can let you go light in [Season] 4 as long as you come back in [Season] 5.'" The deal was made, but it was one that left West with a startling observation during his brief time being outside and looking in: "So, I took that time out, and it turns out it's by far the best season we did."

The choice to lay low in Season 4 proved to be one that West went on to praise Simon for when the attention, through the writing, shifted to other characters. "It was sort of in keeping with David Simon's audacity as a writer, that he'd lose one of the main characters," West explained. "But, God, he pulled it off. I thought he took it to another level; he really did."