The Sopranos

The Only Sopranos Episode Carmela Wasn’t In (& Why)

Carmela Soprano appeared in 85 of The Sopranos’ 86 episodes. Here’s why the iconic matriarch of the Sopranos family wasn’t in one season 5 episode.

Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) was absent from The Sopranos for just one episode, but it emphasized her importance to HBO’s show about New Jersey’s thriving “waste management” business. Edie Falco was one of The Sopranos‘ lead actors, and her portrayal of Carmela Soprano is still one of TV’s greatest performances ever. Carmela was also an integral part of the influential series that directly inspired Breaking Bad and Mad Men, so it’s fitting she was in every episode of The Sopranos except one

Out of The Sopranos’ 86 episodes, there’s only one without Carmela Soprano: season 5, episode 3. Carmela and Edie Falco’s noteworthy omission from “Where’s Johnny?” wasn’t due to real-life circumstances like Katey Sagal’s pregnancy-related hiatuses from Married with Children. Instead, it was a creative decision that paid off in a couple of major ways for both The Sopranos and the matriarch of the titular family, highlighting both her importance to the show as a whole and how crucial her role was within the central family dynamic.

RELATED:The Sopranos Actress Who Almost Played Carmela

Why Wasn’t Carmela In The Sopranos Season 5, Episode 3?

Carmela (Edie Falco), Tony (James Gandolfini) in The Sopranos S04E13.

The relationship between Carmela and Tony Soprano had the tendency to get extremely contentious, and it got to the point where they separated not-so-coincidentally after Furio’s exit in season 4. While it’s true The Sopranos season 5, episode 3’s plot didn’t really require an appearance from Carmela to begin with, her absence was still a good way for viewers to feel the weight of Carmela and Tony’s separation. It was also a great reminder of what Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano brought to the table during her numerous scene-stealing moments.

Why Carmela Was So Important To The Sopranos

Tony (James Gandolfini), Carmela (Edie Falco), AJ (Robert Iler) in The Sopranos finale.

It would hardly be accurate to call Carmela Soprano the moral compass of The Sopranos given her own significant flaws and general complicity in Tony’s illicit shenanigans. She was more like a telltale barometer indicating how the show’s viewers should feel about Tony and all seven of his mistresses. Carmela generally reacted to Tony’s good and bad actions in appropriate ways, giving Tony’s home life real depth while also reminding fans that his disarming charisma didn’t make up for his unethical antihero status. Without Carmela (and their kids), Tony would have been a much more typical, and less interesting, mob boss.

The Sopranos continues to be a heavyweight contender for the greatest TV show ever, and it’s the complex development shown by characters like Carmela Soprano that elevate HBO’s flagship series from its past and present peers. Carmela wasn’t a model character, a model woman, or a model mother. She wasn’t a sidelined female character who was there just to feed Tony his beloved gabagool or “shut the freaking door” at his command. From The Sopranos‘ pilot episode to the one episode she wasn’t in, Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano was the fluttering, beating heart of the show whose presence was keenly felt in its absence.

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