Sunday night's episode of the program, both set and filmed in Baltimore, saw drug dealer Stringer Bell gunned down in a gristly ambush.
"When I first read the script I was like: 'What? No! This isn't supposed to happen,'" Elba said of his character's demise. "I was deeply disappointed. It was a surprise, a complete surprise."
"One of the themes of the show is that raw, unencumbered capitalism is not good for anyone," said David Simon, creator and mastermind of "The Wire." "You may get a short run, you may get a long run, but the drug trade is the only thing that's eternal."
Simon said Stringer's death was planned out two years ago. He said that although the character became a fan favorite, he and the show's producers decided not to change their plans. "Holding on to a character and then twisting the story to serve the character? There's no gratification in that for anyone. We're not doing a soap opera here," he said.