The Shield is one of the most intense and hyper-violent police shows to ever grace the small screen. Indeed, the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series, which ran for 89 episodes from 2002-2008, changed the game in terms of the way gritty police work was portrayed onscreen.
Revolving around the experimental L.A. Strike Team led by hardboiled detective Vic Makey (Michael Chiklis), the show charts the controversial methods used to bring criminals to justice. The main characters in the show are all complex, nuanced individuals who often make just as many poor decisions as righteous ones. Pay attention, here are 10 Hidden Details about the main characters in The Shield.
While many of the main characters operate undercover in civilian clothing, several others like Officer Lowe (Michael Jace) do indeed wear police uniforms. But have you ever noticed the hidden detail regarding their badges?!
Once the first few episodes of the show drew criticism over the way the LAPD was depicted, producers were forced to alter the design of the police badges used in the show. Rather than identically replicating LAPD badges, which sit across the officers' heart, less realistic replacements were created to rest on the right breast of the officers.
9 Dutch's Music
Whoa, who would have pegged Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach as a fan of 80s new wave?
Sharp-eared viewers, that's who! On at least two occasions, Dutch can be seen and heard rocking out to a couple of classic 80s tunes. During a blind date arranged by Claudette, the Strike Team finds Dutch crooning along to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf." Then in Season 6, while driving Tina to his home for dinner, "I Ran" by A Flock of Seagulls" can be heard playing in the car.
8 Original Vic
In retrospect, it's hard to envision anyone other than Michael Chiklis in the iconic role of Vic Mackey. However, do you have any idea who was originally considered for the role?
Believe it or not, Eric Stoltz (Mask, Pulp Fiction) was showrunner Shawn Ryan's first choice to play the role of Vic Mackey. When Chiklis was cast instead, he and the rest of the cast were put through intense police and tactical training. Additionally, Chiklis was coming off his title role as The Commish, a much kinder and warmer character. Descriptions of Mackey during Season 1 referred to Mackey as the "anti-Commish."
7 ManCow Sticker
Eagle-eyed fans of The Shield may have noticed a mysterious ManCow sticker randomly appear in the back window of Mackey's squad car. But did you know what the heck it means?
ManCow is the on-air nickname of Matthew Muller, a Chicago radio host who is close friends with actor Michael Chiklis. But the shoutouts don't end there. During several police lineup scenes throughout the series, Matthew "ManCow" Muller also stands in as potential convicts.
6 Vic's Son
We highly doubt any of you notice the hidden detail pertaining to Vick and Corrine's young son, Brian. Here's a clue though. Why outsource when you can keep things inhouse?
Unless you poured over the casting credits, you probably never knew that Brian Mackey is portrayed by none other than showrunner Shawn Ryan's son. The decision to cast Ryan's son was made during Season 2 of the series, continuing the role for the remainder of the series.
5 Vic's Wife
Along similar lines, how many of you knew the little old detail that Vic's wife in the series, Corrine, is played by Shawn Ryan's real-life wife, Cathy Cahlin Ryan. Yup, we can't make this stuff up!
Here's another trivial tidbit that may have escaped your attention. During Season 1 of the show, Cathy Ryan was pregnant during the entire shoot. And yes, she was pregnant with the same child that would eventually play her own son in the show the following season. Who knew?
4 Claudette's Origin
Believe it or not, but the character of Claudette Wyms was originally written by Shawn Ryan as a man. However, once actress CCH Pounder got her hands on the role, she made it her own regardless.
Pounder's agent called Ryan and argued that having a woman in the role would give the show a new dimension. Ryan agreed and Pounder was officially cast. That said, at Pounder's own request, not a line of dialogue was changed to accommodate the gender shift. Pounder was nominated for a Primetime Emmy in 2005 for her work as Claudette.
3 Cassidy Mackey
Another familial tie to the casting of the show includes Michael Chiklis' real-life daughter, Autumn Chiklis, playing his fictional daughter in the series, Cassidy Mackey. Hey, who needs to act when you can show true love for real?!
Autumn Chiklis played the role of Cassidy over the course of 35 episodes from 2002-2008. Unless you pay attention to the fast-paced credits, it's a hidden detail few viewers have noticed. But, as we've seen, the MO of the production seems to favor casting family members as a way to form natural onscreen chemistry among characters.
2 Shane's Badge Number
Have you ever noticed the visual reference to another iconic police procedural resting on Shane's badge? Here's a hint: Joe Friday!
Indeed, if you look closely at Shane Vendrell's badge, you can spot the number 714. This is the same badge number worn by Detective Joe Friday on the popular police show Dragnet. Friday's badge is featured prominently on the opening credits of the 1951 TV show, but, unless you're of a certain age, you probably missed the hidden reference in The Shield. But it's there, suggesting Shane comes from a long lineage of men in blue.
1 Vic's Breakdown
At the end of Season 1, Vic Mackey suffers a severe psychological breakdown. According to Michael Chiklis, the scene was so visceral and exhausting to shoot that what you see onscreen is 100% authentic. No acting was required.
Indeed, Chiklis had an actual panic attack while filming the scene in question. The shots of him grasping at his chest and breathing profusely were a genuine result of pushing himself to the absolute limit of his performance. Since Chiklis and Mackey have become intertwined during the show's run, the hidden detail has twice the impact!