One similarity between the kill counts of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) in The Sopranos highlights just how close Christopher was to Tony. According to the official Sopranos Wiki list of deaths attributed to main characters, Christopher and Tony claim the highest kill counts in the series when also considering characters who they killed second-hand. It’s not surprising that the series’ main character Tony would have killed the most characters given the nature of the show. However, it’s telling that his protégé Chris takes a close second.
Neither Tony nor Christopher killed the most Sopranos characters first-hand. The character directly responsible for the most deaths is Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico), who killed nine people to Tony’s eight and Christopher’s seven. However, Tony and Christopher accumulate their kill counts in the number of deaths they’ve overseen, influenced, or ordered.
Throughout The Sopranos, characters would blame Christopher’s status as Tony’s “nephew” – or rather his cousin-once-removed by marriage – as the reason why Tony would give him special treatment for certain things. Some of the deaths Christopher was responsible for throughout the show due to his temper, impulsive nature, or reckless behavior would have created more serious, immediate consequences for other mafia members. Granted, Tony expressed his disappointment and anger toward Christopher on many occasions. However, Tony and Christopher’s high respective death counts coupled with how Tony treats Christopher for his actions reflect their significant similarities to each other and the bond that resulted.
Why Tony & Christopher Caused So Many Deaths In The Sopranos
Tony and Christopher share three second-hand kills, the first of which being The Sopranos’ Jimmy Altieri (Joe Badalucco) in season 1. Tony suspects that Jimmy is an FBI informant and orders him to be whacked. Once Tony produces enough evidence, Christopher lures Jimmy into a hotel room for Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) to privately shoot him. The move is calculated and premeditated, following a code meaning to protect the DiMeo crime family. However, as The Sopranos progresses, both Christopher and Tony’s kills become more spontaneous. Tony’s last three direct kills are Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano), Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi), and Christopher. Of these three kills, only Tony Blundetto’s death is premeditated. Likewise, Christopher’s last kill happens in season 6 when he visits his screenwriter friend J.T. Dolan (Tim Daly) after heavy drinking and shoots him over an emotional exchange.
Tony’s kills are due to his strong position in the DiMeo crime family. Deaths that he’s ordered include the hits on Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo), Mikey Palmice (Al Sapienza), Jack Massarone (Robert Desiderio), and others. Meanwhile, Christopher got a lot of hit assignments due to his rising star status in the DiMeo crime family. Christopher’s growing kill count is also evidence of Tony’s influence over him. While Christopher and Tony’s kills are the result of their responsibilities in the mafia, both characters inherently hurt those who get involved with them due to the temperamental, ego-driven qualities that they exacerbate within each other.
How Christopher Being Like Tony Led To His Own Death
Tony viewed Christopher as a son. In addition to referring to Christopher as his nephew, Tony paternally protected Christopher and saw potential in him. Likewise, Christopher saw Tony as the father he never had. Despite his rebellious encounters with Tony, Christopher trusted him and looked to him for support. It’s this paternal bond between the two characters that makes Christopher’s Sopranos death at Tony’s hand all the more devastating. However, the death was inevitable given the trajectory Christopher was going down as a result of his bond with Tony. Because of Tony’s toxic nature, he often hurt the people in his life, inadvertently or otherwise. Tony decided to kill Christopher because he recognized the fatherly influence he had over him and saw how this was doing serious harm. Throughout The Sopranos, Tony would lament the “rotten genes” he passed to his troubled son AJ (Robert Iler) and felt increasingly frustrated as AJ continued to put himself in danger. AJ is one of the few characters in Tony’s life who makes him feel out of control at times. Meanwhile, Christopher is the AJ counterpart who Tony could control. Tony killed Christopher to stop the damage he foresaw – Christopher relapsed, Christopher’s Saw-ripoff Cleaver movie showed bolder attempts to stand up against Tony’s authority, Christopher was becoming more of a risk, and so on. Killing Christopher was Tony’s way of absolving his failures as a fatherly figure without doing the unimaginable act of killing his own son.