Tony Soprano is one of the greatest TV characters of all time. His inescapable path from a capo to street boss led him to an unglamorous life. Yet, it did not hinder him from having redeeming qualities that reflect his familial aspirations. Even with his violent tendencies and apprehensive behavior that deters him from escaping his criminal activities, Soprano showed subtle ounces of kind heroism throughout The Sopranos.
For that, here is a look at the 5 most heroic things Tony Soprano ever did (and the 5 worst) in the show that made him the iconic anti-hero that he is.
Heroic: Rebutting Of Jackie Jr.’s Misdeeds
One of the fewest virtuous qualities that Tony Soprano had is caring for his daughter and her safety. He once supported her relationship with Jackie Aparile Jr., since his skills as a pre-med student could lead him out of the mafia lifestyle. Thus, when he learns of Jackie Jr.’s secret mafia dealings, Soprano beats him up and confiscates his gun. He makes a point to Aparile Jr. about how he abused Tony’s daughter’s feelings for him.
It is one of the many humblest gestures that Soprano did out of love for his daughter, even though it is violent in nature.
Worst: Apparent Racism
Speaking of which, Soprano takes no boundaries when it comes to his uncontrollable biases. This comes with his apparent racism that he, regrettably, never shies away from. Back to being protective towards Meadow, Tony opposes her first college boyfriend, Noah Tannenbaum, for being a mixed-race of African American and Jewish. He throws unforgivable racial slurs at him and even points out to Dr. Melfi that “neither one of his sisters would have ever brought a ‘mulanyan’ home.”
This behavior made Noah break up with Meadow and drew a wedge between her and Tony. Meadow didn’t speak to her father for several months.
Heroic: Sparing Phil Leortado (Briefly)
Tony Soprano’s near-to-death experience led him to a brief reconciliation with Phil Leortado, the boss of the Lupertazzi crime family. Leortado was planning to kill someone from the DiMeo family but he suffered from a heart attack. Tony was at first thrilled, but he soon visited Leortado, related his fear of death, and asked for peace to the incarcerated Leortado. The latter was moved by Tony’s reflection that after his hospitalization, he requested to spend more time with his family. Leortado also briefly stepped down as boss.
It goes to show that there is a hidden moral core in Soprano.
Worst: Executing Salvatore Bonpensiero
Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero was one of Tony’s closest friends. And when the latter learned that Bonpensiero was an FBI informant through a wire he found in his bedroom, Soprano set up an ambush by showing Big Pussy a boat he intends to buy. When the boat sailed to sea, Tony, Silvio and Paulie made one toast with Sal. They got him cornered and shot him to death, wrapping his body in plastic and throwing it into the ocean.
At first, Tony was going to spare his friend. But he decided to stick his priorities in the business without remorse.
Heroic: Supporting Meadow’s Successes
Tony Soprano had endearing moments as a family man and a loving father. This is evident in his relationship with Meadow.
Meadow Soprano was an accomplished child in school. She played on the girls’ soccer team, sang with the choir and even participated in school pageants. She also excelled in her grades after a poor freshman year and shared her aspirations to be a pediatrician. Tony was so proud of this that he attended her sporting matches and kept boasting about Meadow’s dreams and triumphs to other people.
He took faith that her successes would overshadow his life of crime.
Worst: Advances Towards Dr. Melfi
But the opposite side of Tony’s family life is his life in crime and self-indulgence. He confided most of these during his therapies to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi. The two had a complicated relationship, juggling from comforting episodes to harsh moments towards each other. But overall, Tony sensed a level of comfort from Dr. Melfi that he needs, something that no one else ever gave him.
This leads to Tony being attracted to her and having fantasies about flirting with her, despite being married. Though she nearly received the same allure towards him, Dr. Melfi chose to ignore his advances.
Heroic: Efforts to Reconcile With Carmela
Tony Soprano never felt any comfort or consolation from anyone on his inner circle, not even his wife Carmela. When the latter felt this, despite giving her husband a pass from his devious affairs, she ultimately separated from Tony and pursued other men.
But after an elaborate dream sequence, Tony phoned his wife and started to open up to her. After a steady patch on their relationship, he agreed to pay $600,000 for land where Carmela can build her house. Also, their bond grows after Tony is shot by his Uncle Junior. He promised that he would no longer let his midlife crisis intrude on their marriage.
Worst: Many Extramarital Affairs
Segueing from there, it took many mistresses for Tony to realize what he has been missing from his wife. He was mostly involved in affairs with five major mistresses (namely, Irina Peltsin, Gloria Trillo, Valentina La Paz, Svetlana Kirilenko, and Julianna Skiff) and got hooked into brief one-night stands with strippers from his strip club Bada Bing.
His uncontrollable infidelity faced a breaking point when Carmela learned from Irina about Tony having an affair with her cousin Svetlana, and threw him out of the house. Setting his criminal activities aside, this is at the top of the most despicable things Soprano could ever do to his family and his wife.
Heroic: Aiding A.J. in His Recovery
Tony’s relationship with A.J. has been anything other than stellar. While he is proud that his son has a gentle attitude and prowess in playing football, Tony has doubts if A.J. can assume a role in the mafia. And it was obvious from his adolescent years that A.J. did not possess the same domineering stature and scheming mindset of his father.
Tony’s views on his son change when he rescues him from committing suicide in a swimming pool and aids him in his second mental rehabilitation. Saving A.J. from the pool has to be the most obvious example of heroism from Tony Soprano, not associated with his criminal activities.
Worst: Backstabbing Chris Moltisanti
Christopher Moltisanti has always been like a son for Tony Soprano, even though he is a cousin of Carmela. He rose to the ranks within the DiMeo crime family, being promoted from associate to caporegime. No wonder Tony believed that Christopher can lead the DiMeo family in the future.
So, it comes to a shock when Tony Soprano ditches his nephew and suffocates him after he inadvertently causes a car crash while high. But more than that, Tony seemed to show no remorse nor empathy, calling Chris a “drag” and “a weak, lying drug addict.” After all the loyalty that Chris gave to Tony and the family, this is how Tony repaid him, which makes it truly loathsome by nature.