The Sopranos creator David Chase reveals the real reason why Tony killed Ralphie in the memorable season 4 episode, “Whoever Did This.” The crime drama series centered on New Jersey-based mobster Tony Soprano as he attempts to balance his life between managing his criminal organization, engaging in various extramarital affairs and dealing with various health problems. The Sopranos also explores the lives of his family members, namely his wife Carmela and protégé/cousin Christopher, his colleagues and rivals and his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi.
James Gandolfini led the cast of The Sopranos alongside Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Lorraine Bracco, Steven Van Zandt, Dominic Chianese, Tony Sirico, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. The series is regarded as one of the greatest of all-time nearly 15 years after it came to a close on HBO, having garnered 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards, as well as spawning various books, a video game and podcasts. The Sopranos franchise most recently sparked back to life with the prequel film The Many Saints of Newark centered on a teenage Tony, portrayed by Michael Gandolfini in place of his late father.
In the final episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast, series creator David Chase opened up about the real reason Tony killed Ralphie in “Whoever Did This.” Chase confirmed that Tony was suspicious of Ralphie for having burned the horse stables down and resulting in the death of his favorite horse Pie-o-My, but that the actual murder stemmed from an earlier heinous act. See what Chase said below:
“Tony had it right. But the thing is, when he was beating up on Ralphie for killing Pie-o-My, it was really about that girl who he killed, Tracee (Ariel Kiley).”
Though only having appeared in one episode of the series, Ariel Kiley’s Tracee played an important part in The Sopranos, namely in its setting up the downfall of Ralph. The Bada Bing! stripper entered a relationship with Ralphie after being rejected by Tony, but this resulted in her getting pregnant and Ralphie trying to back out by insulting her in front of everyone at the club. Enraged at his snide remarks and emotional abuse, Tracee would insult and attack Ralphie, though he would get the upper hand and beat her to death in the parking lot, much to the frustration of Tony and everyone else present.
Despite her small role, audiences were left reeling at the death of Tracee in The Sopranos, namely in how it seemingly saw Ralph get away with such a brutal act and lose all respect from those around him. Multiple characters in the series similarly found no respect for the capo, all of which made Ralphie’s death a relief for viewers, though it should come as a nice note to hear Chase confirm it didn’t stem solely from the death of Pie-o-My but a combination with Tracee’s. The Sopranos is available to stream in its entirety on HBO Max now.