Saturday, October 16, 2021

My favorite and least favorite Sopranos characters

In the late summer and into this fall, for the first time, I watched The Sopranos. These are my 20 standout characters from the show.

Tony, Carmela, and A.J. HBO image.


  1. Tony--of course. He makes the show. While he’s a sociopath who does horrible things, he’s still oddly likable--mostly. That smile. Those impish eyes. It’s the irony of the show and one of the ironies of the human condition that someone like Tony Soprano can do all that he does yet still be likable. A true anti-hero.

  2. Carmela Soprano--wow, Edie Falco nails it as the mobster’s wife. No innocent herself, her “take the world as it comes to me” attitude is still inspiring. After all, isn’t that all any of us can ever do? She takes on life with aplomb. Carmela has her dark moments where she pressures people, but she is married to the family after all. Though she and Tony endeavor to protect her from Tony’s many crimes, it’s impossible to hide them all--even when things aren’t spoken. She’s no dummy. Yes, she suffers too, but the way she soldiers on through it all makes her admirable.

  3. Meadow Soprano--a total winner. She may just rise above her background, if she chooses, and is lucky. Her character evolves from a bratty teen to a smart, nice, and going somewhere young woman--whether it’s in or out of the mob. 
  4. Svetlana Kirilenko--the one-legged Russian gumar of Tony’s--though her role preceded and survived her brief fling with him. Here’s someone for whom life has dealt a shitty hand but she has a great attitude, and like Carmela too, presses on with gusto. In the arc of the series she’s a minor but memorable character.
  5. Hesh--Tony’s Jewish friend with the horse farm and long ties with Tony’s family. Love him with his happy-go-lucky charm. 

  6. Artie--The restaurateur. He's got his problems, but is hard working, has a great smile, and does his best even when he’s dealt blows by life. By the end of the show his endurance for the world is flagging, but hopefully he’ll find his bounce again.

  7. Michael Imperioli as Christopher. Josh Miller photo.
    Christopher Moltisanti--Arguably second to Tony in carrying the plot, Chris had aspirations of leaving his life of crime but he was so immersed that there was little hope he ever could. He commits countless atrocities including hitting Adriana and cheating on her like there’s no tomorrow. Yet he’s a strong character who helps make the show and plays well off of his “uncle” Tony.
  8. Jennifer Melfi--Tony’s psychiatrist who treats him like the train wreck that he is. Like any of us who watched the show, she just couldn’t look away from Tony and his world. The actress's husky, calm, and confident voice helps define this character.
  9. Furio! Love this sexy Italian import. He migrates from old world to new as he engages in his life of crime. He’s ruthless but can be charming when the situation calls for it. A cool dude and one you don’t want to cross. 

Least Favorites

  1. Janice Soprano--the dreadful sister of Tony who uses everyone and whines endlessly. Ugh. A bad person through and through.

  2. Uncle Junior--Mobster scum with a permanent chip on his shoulder.

  3. Ralph Cifaretto--Played by the actor who was Cypher in The Matrix, Ralph is crazy and stands out as especially detestable in a show with many bad people. 

  4. Richie Aprile--Brother of Jackie Sr. who becomes Janice’s boyfriend and fiance in season two after serving ten years. In one of my favorite scenes, Janice finds a memorable way to say her goodbye to him when things turn sour. Richie was horrid--a guy who took deep pleasure in other’s pain. In that sense he and Janice deserved each other. Yet he didn’t know his place in the broader family after being released from prison. 

  5. Livia Soprano--Tony’s mom, of course she makes my least favorites list. Interesting that show creator David Chase says she’s modeled after his own mother. Poor David Chase. 

  6. Paulie--I just can’t stand this dude. Pure mobster and a pure guy in all of the worst ways--oozing with toxic stupidity. And the wings in his hair. Ugh. 

Honorable Mentions

  1. Silvio Dante--Of Tony’s inner circle of thugs, I really like Silvio. This real life E Street Band guitarist and songwriter is a cool dude in a weird yet undeniable Jersey way. For someone who appeared in almost every episode of this long series, his character is overly cartoonish and underdeveloped.

  2. A.J. Soprano--Anthony Junior is highly unlikable but gets a pass from my least favorite list since he was a kid.

  3. Adriana--Christopher’s girl. She grew on me, though not enough to make my favorites list. Her downfall and final demise was tough to watch. 

  4. Rosalie Aprile--Friend of Carmela, widow of Jackie Sr., mother of Jackie Jr., and sister-in-law of Richie. I like her toughness and apparent joie de vivre in spite of being at the heart of a wicked, mobster-filled world that--along with cancer--takes the men from her family.

  5. All the beautiful young men who had early demises--if there was a good looking young guy, there was an extremely high chance he was going to get whacked, starting with Brendan Filone who falls into the “he had it comin’” category, cute or not.

I was late to The Sopranos, not tuning in for the first time till the summer of 2021 with the strong encouragement of some friends who watched it closer to its original release--twenty plus years ago!
Jackie Jr., another of the good looking young men. Image via HBO.

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