Breaking Bad and The Sopranos are considered two of the greatest TV shows ever made. The former has a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes, while the latter has an impressive 92% score. There are two things that simply make these shows great: the well-crafted storylines and the devious antiheroes.
In The Sopranos, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is a mob boss who controls the operations of the DiMeo crime family. In Breaking Bad, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a chemistry teacher who, after discovering he has lung cancer, decides to start manufacturing and selling methamphetamine to make enough money for his family before he dies. Both of these characters end up being impressive crime lords but who is better? Let’s make an argument for each of them.
Tony Soprano: Great At Asserting Authority
If you are a mob boss, it’s advisable to inflict as much terror as possible on your subordinates; you should never appear weak. If you do, they might start doubting your ability to lead, and someone will eventually whack you and take your place. In the sixth season of The Sopranos, there is an attempt on Tony’s life, but he survives. However, the shooting leaves him weak.
In order to show his juniors that he’s still got it, he challenges his bodyguard Perry Annunziata to a fight. Perry almost has a body like that of Dwayne Johnson, so Tony’s chances look slim. However, Tony wins and even manages to break the big guy’s nose. He then goes to his bathroom and smiles at the mirror as he vomits blood — a classic gangster moment.
Walter White: Using Blackmail To Get a Business Partner
Walter and Jesse had great chemistry, but it didn’t start via a coffee meeting like in El Camino. No! It wasn’t a case of “I like you. Let’s work together.” When Walt saw Jesse fleeing from the DEA, he recognized him as one of his former not-so-bright students.
Realizing the boy would make a perfect partner because he understood the streets, Walter went to Jesse’s house and informed him of his desire to start making meth. Walter then informed Jesse of his wish to bring him on as a partner. But it wasn’t a ‘could you please join me‘ moment. Walter made it clear that if Jesse refused to come on board, he’d turn him in.
Tony Soprano: Showing FBI Informants No Mercy
In the world of organized crimes, rats, aka snitches, aka informants never survive for long. They are usually killed as per orders from the boss. But what if the boss decides to do the dirty work himself? It’s rare but not Soprano-rare.
In the episode titled “College” from the first season, Tony decides to go search for potential schools with his daughter Meadow. Spotting a former snitch, he acts immediately by attacking him and strangles him to death. And when the mn is finally dead, Tony glances up gleefully to flying ducks. Apparently, HBO executives were initially afraid that this episode would alienate viewers. Contrary to their fears, the viewers loved it.
Walter White: Dethroning a Drug Lord By Planting a Bomb In a Nursing Home
There are many ways to take over from the guy at the top but none is more ruthless than trying to blow him up. This is exactly what Walter does to free himself from the annoying Gustavo.
Played by Giancarlo Esposito from The Mandalorian, Gustavo Fring always appeared to be smarter than Walter. For a long time, it seemed like the drug kingpin would have full control over the former Chemistry teacher for good. However, Walter eventually manages to take out the kingpin by planting a bomb in a nursing home. This results in half of his face being blown off. The man still manages to walk a few meters before dropping dead on the floor — tough guy.
Tony Soprano: He’ll Kill For Anything… Even a Horse
In the season four episode titled ‘Whoever Did This”, we saw Tonny killing Ralphie because of a race-winning horse called Pie-Oh-My. What a name! There is a fire in the stables and Pie-Oh-My ends up badly wounded, leaving Tony heartbroken.
Tonny and Ralphie then get into an argument because Ralphie is downplaying the whole issue. Tonny suspects that Ralphie was involved. Eventually, Tonny kills Ralphie and has his body dismembered. Yes! All because of a horse.
Walter White: Expert At Corpse Disposal
Walt should clearly have been the star of How To Get Away With Murder. Most killers are usually caught after the body is found. But what if there was no dead body to be found? Thanks to his expertise in Chemistry, Walt knew the perfect way to get rid of bodies.
To get rid of the evidence, Walt mostly dipped the bodies of victims in hydrofluoric acid. This ensured that all the parts dissolved and became unrecognizable. Ummm… quite a sendoff. Even Jesse was amazed at this genius way of getting away with murder.
Tony Soprano: He Kills Family Too
Even mafia dons don’t like junkies. When Tony’s nephew Christopher refuses to shake off his drug habit, Tony kills him. This is despite the fact that Christopher even outed Adrianna, his own fiance, to Tony as a rat to show his loyalty.
When Christopher gets an accident and declares: “I’ll never pass the drug test; call me a taxi,” Tony grabs him and holds his nose until he suffocates. Letter on, Tony confesses his family-related killings to his therapist Dr. Melfi saying: “I murdered friends before, even relatives. My cousin Tony … my best friend, Puss.” No one was safe with Tony. In another scene, he was ready to kill his mother, Livia, in a hospital, but luckily for her, she gets whisked away by doctors before it happens.
Walter White: Hiring Neo-Nazis As Hitmen
By the fifth season, Walter was no longer trying to pretend that he had morals. He was on full gangster-mode. After shooting Mike, Walt knew he still had a problem because Mike’s associates were in prison and they could talk to the authorities.
So, what does he do? He doesn’t just hire normal hitmen. He hires neo-nazis. Hitler probably applauded in his grave. The ten associates are all taken out in perfectly executed prison killings. Like most popular crime bosses, Walter shows that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill in order to protect his own interests.
Tony Soprano: He Kept It On the Low
“Are you in the mafia?” When Tony is out looking for a college with his daughter Meadow, she asks him about his links to organized crime. Tony is caught off-guard but he plays it down, insisting that he is in the waste management business.
Throughout the series. Tony never wanted to be obvious and flashy like John Gotti. This was an intelligent way to operate. In The Godfather, for example, Vito’s children always knew he was a mob boss. Plenty of other criminals on TV and in cinema are always open about their activities. Tony was like a Bruce Wayne. Family man by day. Crime Lord by nighhh… umm… by both day and night
Walter White: Letting His Partner’s Lover Die
This was the moment that Walter truly broke bad. At some point in the series, Jesse and Walter aren’t in good terms because Jesse has refused to give up his drug addiction. Since he wants his business to continue working well, he goes to Jesse’s apartment to try and reconcile with him.
Walter finds both Jesse and his girlfriend Jane unconscious. Jane begins asphyxiating due to an overdose but instead of trying to save her, he lets her die because he feels that she’s a bad influence on Jesse. He doesn’t even care how her death will affect Jesse. This is another classic way of a crime lord being all-too-glad to get rid of anything that gets in his way.