Best Sopranos Characters (That Aren't Tony Soprano)
"The Sopranos" is one of the greatest television shows ever made, and, accordingly, it has some of the greatest characters in TV history. But which ones are the best?
At the front and center of the show stands James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano, a character so fully realized that it goes virtually unmatched in any other show or movie. But there are a host of other colorful characters that bring the mobbed-up world of "The Sopranos" to life, and each of them bring something brilliant (and usually funny) to the screen.
You can't beat Tony as the best "Sopranos" character. That's a given. So for this list, we're looking at the best and greatest "Sopranos" characters that aren't the big guy.
30. Jackie Aprile, Jr.
Played by: Jason Carbone
Memorable quote: "My father ... [insert practically anything]."
Bottom line: Jackie Jr. is an absolute disappointment. The son of the great Giacomo "Jackie" Aprile, Jackie Jr. is so dumb, he almost drowned in three inches of water at a penguin exhibit as a child.
As an adult, Jackie Jr. is angry about the death of his father and firmly believes that he should be at the top of the family raking in millions. So he decides to hold up a card game, just like his father and Tony Soprano did, to earn street cred.
Of course, he shows up tuned up on meth and murders one of the poker players, then is killed shortly in a parking lot by Vito Spatafore. It's difficult to feel sorry for the kid, but he's certainly a memorable character.
29. Dwight Harris
Played by: Matt Servitto
Memorable quote: "We're gonna win this thing!"
Bottom line: Agent Dwight Harris is the main representation of the lurking FBI threat in the background. First appearing as a neutral threat, Harris becomes emotionally invested in the years spent following the Sopranos crew and ends up rooting for them when the Lupertazzi/Sopranos war breaks out.
Harris memorably shows up at Satriale's on Christmas to tell Tony that the Lupertazzi family is thinking about putting a hit on someone close to him. Later, he shouts, "We're gonna win this thing!" when discussing the war with other FBI agents.
Both are references to a real-life FBI agent who did the same thing in real life.
28. Vito Spatafore
Played by: Joseph Gannascoli
Memorable quote: "Ten-thirty, gotta be ... hour and a half ... then lunch. Halfway point. Don’t look at your watch. Not yet. Savor it. Treat yourself.
Ten to 11 ... maybe five till. Don’t look. Think of those sandwiches Jim made. When you eat your last bite, this day is halfway ****ing over.
Eleven-thirty, has to be. Look at the angle of the sun. Maybe even a quarter to 12. OK look ... now. [Watch reads 9:55] **** ME!"
Bottom line: Vito is a strange character. First just a lackey who sort of lurks in the background for almost the entire show, he's given a surprisingly large role in the show's last season after he was outed for being gay.
The actor, Joseph Gannascoli, presented the idea of a gay mobster to David Chase after Gannascoli read about a similar real-life case.
Vito isn't the best "Sopranos" character, but he does have a few memorable moments. Chase apparently cut a scene where Vito begged for his life at the hands of Phil, who has him beat to death.
27. Gloria Trillo
Played by: Annabella Sciorra
Memorable quote: "At least your daughter doesn't need to latch onto a man for success."
Bottom line: Gloria was Tony's second goomah (mistress or girlfriend), who was also the most emotionally unstable. The two met at Dr. Melfi's office (red flag no. 1), and Tony pursued her at her business at a Mercedes dealership. The two hit it off hot and heavy, but Gloria crossed the line after driving Carmella home from work, and then later calling her house.
That's a big no-no in the mafia world. After threatening her at the dealership, Tony sent Patsy to give her a chilling message — see Tony again, and she's dead. Not long after, she killed herself, and occasionally showed up on the show to haunt Tony's dreams.
26. A.J. Soprano
Played by: Robery Iler
Memorable quote: "You just reveal your own ignorance."
Bottom line: It's easy to hate A.J. He's a whiny, spoiled brat who has zero motivation and treats his mother like dirt. But given the circumstances, his character makes complete sense.
A.J. suffers from the same kind of depressive problems as his father and was never given the therapy or care to deal with it. He lacks the toxic tough-guy persona of his father as well.
Instead, he is a sensitive, lost and emotionally unstable guy who just can't really figure out his place in life.
25. Carmine Lupetazzi Sr.
Played by: Tony Lip
Memorable quote: Carmine Lupetazzi: "One more thing. John said he went to a cookout at your house."
Tony Soprano: "Yeah."
Carmine: "A don doesn't wear shorts."
Bottom line: The elder Carmine grew up in 1940s New York City, making his way through the ranks of the Lupertazzi family. He's an old-school guy and, despite his calm demeanor, will have guys whacked for any good reason. At one point, he and Johnny Sack both go to Tony and ask the other to be "taken care of."
In the show, Carmine is the last vestiges of the old mafia from "The Godfather" days. He dies not long after suffering a stroke at a golf course, with his mouth stuffed with egg salad.
24. Patsy Parisi
Played by: Dan Grimaldi
Memorable quote: "You call or go anywhere near him or his family, they'll be scraping your nipples off these fine leather seats. And here's the point to remember: My face will be the last one you see, not Tony's. We understand each other? It won't be cinematic."
Bottom line: Where the other mobsters are loud and embellish their ays and ohs, Patsy is quiet and reserved. He does a hell of a job, too, since Tony had his twin brother killed to weaken Junior Soprano's power. (He does, however, urinate in Tony's pool, in a rare moment of showing any kind of emotion).
Patsy's the kind of guy who can slide into a room, follow you outside, garrote you in the parking lot, and leave unnoticed.
23. Feech La Manna
Played by: Robert Loggia
Memorable quote: "What's yours is yours, Paulie, but what ain't, belongs to anybody else!
Bottom line: Feech is an old-school character who begins nearly every sentence with "back in my day." It's strange that Tony doesn't seem to like him, given that he's the closest guy to Gary Cooper that they have, but he's too much of a liability. Feech's inability to humor Tony's bad jokes or stay in his lane leave him to be set up and sent back to prison.
Feech is only around for a handful of episodes, but the late Robert Loggia is so good, he becomes one of the show's most beloved and memorable side characters.
22. Richie Aprile
Played by: David Proval
Memorable quote: "Did you ever notice he’s the only mother****** who can smoke a cigarette in the rain with his hands tied behind his back? That nose is like a natural canopy."
Bottom line: In “The Sopranos” characters are rarely purely heroes or purely villains. The characters, much like people, fell somewhere in between.
Richie was more of the villain type. Fresh from prison and stuck in his own time, Richie constantly wanted to do things his way like "the old days," which usually meant tuning someone up. His death at the hands of Janice was well-deserved.
21. 'Little' Carmine Lupertazzi
Played by: Ray Abruzzo
Memorable quote: "Very observant. The sacred and the propane."
Bottom line: Little Carmine is the only guy in the entire show who has it all figured out. When his father, Carmine Sr., dies, Little Carmine doesn't want to take his dad's position as boss of the Lupertazzi family. He knows life is more than power and money. It's about hanging out in his pool, being a loving father and fixing wet T-shirt contests.
As such, Little Carmine gets to survive in the background, sometimes resurfacing to utter a hilarious malapropism before wandering back to his pool floats.
20. Irina Peltsin
Played by: Oksana Lada
Memorable quote: "Yes, I'm a piece of ****. I'm a piece of **** which the world, every morning, strains and pushes out of its butt! If you can, imagine where you are on the pecking order!"
Bottom line: Irina is the first, and best, of Tony's goomahs. She's a young Russian immigrant in her early 20s who is absolutely in love with Tony, and nearly kills herself after he breaks up with her.
While she disappears for a while, she resurfaces as the girlfriend of assemblyman Ronald Zellman. That angers Tony, who brutally beats him with a belt in front of Irina, causing the assemblyman to lose his ability to get an erection with Irina and ending their relationship.
It's also what triggers Irina to call Carmella and tell her all about their affair, which causes Tony and Carmella's separation.
19. Furio Giunta
Played by: Federico Castelluccio
Memorable quote: "You got a bee on your hat."
Bottom line: Equal parts muscle and long-haired romance, Furio just needs to show up in order to intimidate people out of their money. He also becomes the love interest of Carmella and serves to show just how lonely the woman is with the life she chose. Furio loved her back, and nearly shoved Tony's drunken head into a helicopter blade to get rid of him.
Ultimately, Furio left for Italy before acting on his passions. Presumably, he had to spend a long while in hiding after Carmella threw it in Tony's face that she was in love with him.
18. Svetlana Kirilenko
Played by: Alla Kliouka
Memorable quote: "That slut sow stole my leg."
Bottom line: Svetlana worked as Livia's nurse until the Sopranos matriarch's death. Afterward, Tony let the one-legged, chain-smoking Russian live at Livia's house until she could settle in elsewhere. Then Janice steals her leg because Livia bequeathed some old records to her.
Later, when surfacing again to care for Junior, Svetlana and Tony have a brief affair. The great thing about that, though, is that it's Svetlana who kicks Tony to the curb. Tony sends her a diamond horseshoe brooch, and Svetlana thanks him, then tells him that "he's a strong guy" and to "take care."
It's the first and only time we see Tony get rejected by a woman, and it's glorious.
17. Robert Baccalieri
Played by: Steve Schirripa
Memorable quote: "Shyness is a curse."
Bottom line: Bobby wasn’t your typical mobster. He was kind, shy and often got the short end of the stick at work. He was a loving father and a devoted husband to Janice — even with all of her craziness.
But much like other "Sopranos" characters, he was multifaceted. Did Bobby like his model trains? Yes. Could he also shoot someone in the head at point-blank range? Also, yes.
He was the only person on the show to give Tony his comeuppance, giving him a memorable beating after Tony ran his mouth. He paid for it, though, as Tony ordered Bobby to kill some poor sap in a laundry room, committing his first muder.
16. Meadow Soprano
Played by: Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Memorable quote: "The fact that you would even say this in front of an outsider is amazing to me! Jesus Christ, some loyalty?"
Bottom line: As a mob boss’ daughter, Meadow’s character could have gone the way of cheesy, stereotypical Italian princess jokes, but David Chase’s writing is always more in-depth than a simple, slightly racist overture.
Meadow is a balance between two worlds. On the one hand, she has big dreams for herself. On the other, she loves her dad and wants to protect the family.
You leave the show wondering what Meadow will really be like in 10 years. Our bet is mob lawyer.
15. Tony Blundetto
Played by: Steve Buschemi
Memorable quote: "Mmm-boy, are you fat!"
Bottom line: Tony Blundetto is Tony's cousin, who shows up after serving a 17-year stint for a job that Tony Soprano missed because he passed out from a panic attack. As such, Tony Soprano feels guilty and indebted to Tony Blundetto, so he's more than happy to help him get back into the life of crime.
After a brief attempt at flying straight and becoming a professional massage therapist, Blundetto, angry that Tony Soprano seemed to have everything — a beautiful wife and kids, a McMansion, a big bank account — decides to whack Phil Leotardo's brother for Carmine's crew.
That was his downfall, as it nearly led to all-out war. Tony Soprano did the job of whacking his cousin, but Phil Leotardo never forgave the Jersey family, and years later, Phil began a war when he ascends to boss after Johnny Sack died.
14. Janice Soprano
Played by: Aida Turturro
Memorable quote: Dr. Seepman: "Janice, you're angry. What are your actual physical feelings right now?"
Janice: "I'd like to punch you in the face?"
Bottom line: Anyone who has siblings knows that the line between love and hate is very thin, can switch on a dime, and usually does at least twice in the course of Sunday dinner.
Janice and Tony are the perfect example of the adult siblings trying to make it work. Are they close? Sometimes. Do they fight? Almost always. Janice couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get one over on Tony and vice versa.
To make matters worse (but for great television), she's just like Livia, and there's no one else who can get under Tony's skin like Janice.
13. Phil Leotardo
Played by: Frank Vincent
Memorable quote: "Let me tell you a couple of three things."
Bottom line: Vengeful, spiteful and greedy, Phil Leotardo developed a burning hatred for the DiMeo crime family after that animal Tony Blundetto killed his brother. He was only 47 years old! He was just a kid!
After being held back by Johnny Sack while underboss, Phil decides to war with Jersey after Sack dies in prison. It's a stupid move that ends with Phil's head being crushed like a watermelon in front of his grandkids, but Phil was never known for his intelligence.
The late Frank Vincent played Phil masterfully.
12. Jennifer Melfi
Played by: Lorraine Bracco
Memorable quote: "Well, in the future, I'll ask that you extend to me the same courtesy you would a crack addict."
Bottom line: Throughout the show, Melfi does her best to treat Tony, while also blocking his constant advances. She's intrigued by him, too, even attracted to him, but she never once breaks or accepts his help, even after she's attacked in "Members Only" and no one would blame her.
She's smart, cool and collected during her therapy sessions, although we are given glimpses into her less-than-perfect home and dating life on occasion.
Melfi is Tony's rock who he keeps going back to. The therapy does help him, even though he insists it's all garbage. His panic attacks have stopped by the end of the show. That's pretty good for this shrink, given the person she has to work with.
11. Artie Bucco
Played by: John Ventimiglia
Memorable quote: Adriana: "Is that an earring?"
Artie: "What, this old thing? Had it for years!"
Bottom line: Forever hiring young girls to lust after (and forever failing), Artie is primarily around for comedic relief. He's such a pathetic character, but it's played to perfection by John Ventimiglia (he based his performance off of the landlord in "The Godfather: Part II").
Artie is also Tony's one, actual friend. Where the other mobsters are jackals, Artie is the one guy who sticks with Tony, well after the boss burned down his restaurant.
10. Salvato Bonpensiero
Played by: Vincent Pastore
Memorable quote: "Anyway, $4 a pound."
Bottom line: Salvato's death in Season 2 was the first big death in "The Sopranos," and it's still one of the most memorable death scenes in television history. It was also what helped make the show so damned popular.
Busted for selling heroin and threatened with spending the rest of his life in the can, "Big Puss" flipped on the family. He was once known for being the life of the party and always had a bawdy story to tell, but the stress of the flip turned him angry and violent.
It's a sad story. At least they let him keep his eyes.
9. Johnny Sack
Played by: Vincent Curatola
Memorable quote: Johnny Sack :"I want you to sanction a hit on Ralph Cifaretto."
Carmine Lupertazzi : "What, are you ******* kidding me?"
Johnny: "He violated my wife's honor."
Carmine: "Ralph slept with Ginny?"
Johnny : "He insulted her! He made a very insensitive joke about her body to some friends of ours."
Carmine: "What'd he say?"
Johnny: "I have to repeat it?! My word's not good enough?!"
Carmine: "Not if you want him clipped over it."
Bottom line: New York crime boss Johnny Sack is a no-nonsense kind of guy who absolutely adores his wife (and God help you if you comment on her weight). While he's tough as nails in business, he's relatively reasonable, and isn't looking to start a war when it could be avoided.
Johnny's dialogue is always a treat, going from a few soft introductory words to aggressive swearing and shouting in an instant. We follow his arc as underboss to boss, then his incarceration and his death to cancer in a prison hospital.
It's not a fitting death for someone larger than life.
8. Corrado 'Junior' Soprano
Played by: Dominic Chianese
Memorable quote: "Go s*** in your hat."
Bottom line: Junior is an old curmudgeon who struggles to keep the facade of being an important figure, but as soon as something upsets him, it all falls down in a heap of flustered worry.
While Junior was given the title of boss early on, he was boss in name only. Junior would never be competent enough to run the DiMeo crime family like Tony. Junior probably knew it deep down, which is why he harbored hatred toward his nephew.
Junior is a hilarious but also a tragic character. We see him devolve with dementia, his mind slowly slipping away. Then, one night, he ambushes Tony in the dark like a ghoul and shoots his nephew in the stomach. From there on out, he's in a psychiatric center, running poker games.
7. Ralph Cifaretto
Played by: Joe Pantoliano
Memorable quote: "I have come to reclaim Rome ... for my people!"
Bottom line: He's as close to the devil as we get, and the show makes some very strong hints about it. The character even invokes lyrics to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," introducing himself to a surgeon with "Please allow me to introduce myself," then "Pleased to meet you" to Father Phil, who asks him if he "were there when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain?"
Various other little nods, like goat and devil imagery, also accompany Ralph. The man is a monster, exemplified in the brutal murder of Tracee, an almost too-young stripper who is bearing Ralph's child. Before that, we see him gleefully watching from his window as Sil slaps her around in a parking lot.
But his fatal move was incinerating Pie-Oh-My, that poor innocent creature, inciting Tony's wrath and leading to his unceremonious demise.
He's the show's best villain, hands down.
6. Adriana La Cerva
Played by: Drea de Matteo
Memorable quote: Adriana: "I love you very much, my only dream is that we have a happy life together. For the last few months, things have gotten very bad because you're using drugs all the time, you're high all the time, and I can't take it. ... When we first started going out, we made love all the time. Now because of the drugs..."
Christopher Moltisanti: "Jesus! Is this ****ing necessary?"
Adriana: "You can no longer function as a man. Last week when I came and learned that you killed our dog, that was the final straw."
Bottom line: Adriana is the show's most tragic figure. She's not innocent, sure, but she's in way over her head, almost never realizing just how dangerous the people around her really are.
The sad thing about Adriana's flip is that the FBI had nothing on her except a weak drug charge. She probably would have done only a few years in prison, but the feds frighten her into believing she'll end up there for much longer. Throughout the show, we see her at Christopher's mercy, sometimes being beaten by her fiancé and constantly taking jabs and insults.
Drea de Matteo brought Adriana to life, and Chase gave her character more screen time because of how she realized this character. Sadly, de Matteo never made big money from "The Sopranos," as she was only paid $500 per episode during the first season and was killed off before she could make serious cash.
Adriana's death is a turning point in the series. After that, things get progressively darker.
5. Livia Soprano
Played by: Nancy Marchand
Memorable quote: "Then kill me now. Go on now, go into the ham, and take the carving knife and stab me, here, here, now, please! It would hurt me less than what you just said!"
Bottom line: David Chase based much of the character of Tony’s mom on his own mother.
Livia is often vindictive, cruel and manipulative to her children, especially Tony. While she’s not the only character ever written to have all the hallmarks of borderline personality disorder, she’s definitely one of the most realistic seen on the screen.
Whether she’s laughing at Tony or guilting him, if you’ve ever known a similar personality type, it feels completely real.
4. Christopher Moltisanti
Played by: Michael Imperioli
Memorable quote: "They say there's no two people on Earth exactly the same. No two faces. No two sets of fingerprints. But do they know that for sure? 'Cause they would have to get everybody together in one huge space and obviously that’s not possible, even with computers. And not only that, they’d have to get all the people who've ever lived, not just the ones now. So they got no proof. They got nothin'. Mrs. Soprano may have passed but who’s to say there isn’t another Mrs. Soprano just like her, or will be? Maybe not with the same fears and paranoia but the same. What I’m saying is…"
Bottom line: At one point, Tony wanted Christopher to take over the family. While Christopher's loyalty would have protected Tony from the feds, Christopher would have mucked the entire thing up.
At his worst, Christopher is a bitter, angry junkie who blames Tony for just about everything going wrong in his life. Not that he doesn't have a good reason. The boss was absolutely going to sleep with Adriana, if it weren't for that animal in the road.
He's a vain, egotistical, delusional and rather stupid heroin addict. But thanks to Michael Imperioli, Christopher has some of the most memorable, dramatic scenes in the show. Plus, he made "Cleaver."
3. Silvio Dante
Played by: Steven Van Zandt
Memorable quote: "You're only as good as your last envelope."
Bottom line: Originally, David Chase wanted Steven Van Zandt to play the part of Tony Soprano, but HBO said fugghetaboutit because Van Zandt had zero acting experience.
Instead, Van Zandt introduced his own character concept, and Chase created a role for him. Enter Silvio Dante, the strange, reserved, and eccentric consigliere who runs the Bada Bing.
Sil doesn't have too many lines, but when he speaks, it's usually to say something amusing. And he's always ready to tell Tony the truth, even if it's what he doesn't want to hear. And his brief run as acting boss was hilarious.
But Sil is ruthless, too, as seen when he beats Tracee for not coming to the club to earn him money. Plus, he was squeezing her for cash to pay for her braces. He's not a good guy, of course, but nobody is in this world.
2 Carmela Soprano
Played by: Edie Falco
Memorable quote: "The last year I have been dreaming, and fantasizing, and in love with Furio. Every morning, when he'd come to pick you up, I would look forward to it all night long, in bed next to you. Those nights when you were actually in the bed. And he would ring the doorbell. I felt like my heart would come out of my chest. He would smile, and we'd talk.
And then you would come down the stairs. And I felt probably like someone who is terminally ill and, somehow, they manage to forget it for a minute. And then it all comes back."
Bottom line: Carmella is quick to take the moral high ground when it's convenient for her while also enjoying all the perks of aiding and abetting a mob boss. She's a complicated character who is played masterfully by Edie Falco, whose acting in "Cold Caps" is an absolute masterclass in the profession.
Carmella always seems torn between the choices she made and the life she thinks she wants to have — one with a loving husband who doesn't cheat on her with anything that moves. But she always ends up forgiving Tony while knowing very well what he does and where all the fully automatic rifles are hidden.
1. Paulie Gualtieri
Played by: Tony Sirico
Memorable quote: "You're not gonna believe this. He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. Guy was an interior decorator!"
Bottom line: No one quite steals the scene like Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, the hard-nosed, ruthless captain. He's played by former mobster Tony Sirico, who turns every single scene he touches into gold. Who else could snuff out an old lady with a pillow and somehow make it funny? He's absolutely fantastic in this role and would show up early to set and do those lovely sliver "wingtips" himself.
Paulie's best scenes were during the famous "Pine Barrens" episode, where he and Christopher are left to wander the frozen forest after a simple pickup job went wrong. But there are so many other ways that Paulie made the show shine, like when he visited the psychic, or commenting on how terrible Tony looked while on life support.
A survivor to the end, Paulie is one of the few guys to make it out of the war with Jersey unscathed. He's probably off somewhere in Boca Raton, heh-hehing at infomercials at 3 a.m. and clipping coupons.