Founded in the 1950s by Ercoli DiMeo, the DiMeo crime family is the dominant organized crime outfit in The Sopranos. Despite being constantly targeted by the rival Lupertazzi crime family and the FBI, the DiMeo crime family remains stable for most of the series. This is all thanks to capable and ruthless members.
Based in New Jersey, it is loosely inspired by the real-life DeCavalcante crime family. Three members of the Soprano family have had high ranks in the organization, including Corrado, Tony, and Tony’s father Johnny Boy. The family has had no shortage of crazy mobsters. While some have been wise, others have been their own worst enemies.
Fortune 500 companies would be jealous of the rate at which Ralphie makes money but that’s the only good thing about him. Outside his financial prowess, the capo is somehow idiotic. Instead of improving his already strained relationship with Tony, Ralphie keeps on making impetuous decisions.
Ralphie pranks Paulie’s mother, and the shock gives her serious health complications. His insensitive joke about the obesity of Johnny Sack’s wife almost gets him whacked. He also murders Tracee, a stripper that Tony was close to. He eventually crosses the line when he downplays the death of Tony’s favorite horse Pie Oh My. The grieving boss bashes Ralphie’s head on the floor until he dies.
Richie comes out of prison with a sense of entitlement. He believes that he should be given cuts for no work done because he served a lengthy period behind bars and never snitched. This creates friction between him and several DiMeo crime family associates.
His streak of uninformed decisions continues when he allows himself to be influenced by Janice, who wants him to overthrow Tony and take over as boss. When he proposes the idea to Junior, the elderly mobster tells Tony. Richie is also hypocritical. He lashes out at Christopher for being violent towards Adriana then loses his temper and punches Janice. In return, Janice shoots him dead.
Tony initially loves Christopher more than his own son AJ. This is understandable since AJ does nothing but disappoint. Tony sees Christopher as the future of the family. Instead of taking advantage of the boss’ favor and replaying the love by being a responsible person, Christopher sinks into regressive habits such as heroin use.
Christopher makes so many mistakes that his catchphrase ends up being “I’m sorry, T!” His worst decision has to be reporting his fiance Adriana to Tony for being an informant yet she refused to give the FBI any information. When she is killed, he becomes depressed and binges on drugs even further. This forces Tony to make an executive decision and put him out of his misery.
Paulie earns the name “Walnuts” after hijacking a truck that he thought contained TV sets. It only had walnuts. This says a lot about his lack of intelligence. In the first season, he is not subtle about investigating the possibility of Big Pussy being an informant. His aggressive methods force Big Pussy to go into hiding.
Paulie also picks up an unnecessary fight with a Russian mob member named Valery while collecting money. He is unaware that Valery is a war veteran who killed 16 rebels on his own. The man ends up giving Paulie and Christopher the biggest embarrassment of their criminal lives. On the positive side, Paulie is smart enough to avoid getting killed throughout the series.
Big Pussy gets credit for being an informant for several years before he is finally discovered. When the crew begins suspecting him, he disappears for a while. Upon returning, he lies to Tony that he had gone to Puerto Rico to seeks treatment for his troublesome back. Tony believes him.
He does everything to hide his status as an informant, including killing an associate who sees him with his FBI handler. It only takes a weird dream for Tony to realize that he is snitching. When the boss searches his bathroom, he finds a wire. Leaving a wire inside a bathroom is careless. Tony goes on to kill him inside a boat.
At the beginning of the series, Bobby is only a soldier in the DiMeo crime family. By the time he dies, he is the underboss. That’s impressive for a mobster who has only killed one person his entire life.
His ascendancy can be attributed to the fact that he knows how to form good, lasting relationships with others. There isn’t a single associate of Bobby who hates him. Though he has inner reservoirs packed with ruthlessness, Bobby is generally nice to everyone. It’s a shame that he meets his demise in a brutal manner.
Furio finds himself in an awkward position when he falls for Tony’s wife Carmela. The fact that Carmela likes him too complicates matters. If they get into a full-blown affair, Furio might just end up dead. Luckily, he is smart enough to avoid spending too much time with her. As a result, Tony never suspects anything.
He even avoids coming inside the house whenever he comes to pick Tony. When he goes to Naples for his father’s funeral, he shows maturity by asking his uncle for advice. After much deliberation, he decides to leave Tony’s crew and go back to Italy. It’s a good move on his part because he could have been killed when an angry Carmela shocked Tony by confessing her feelings for the enforcer.
The consigliere is Tony’s most trusted advisor, which means he oozes wisdom more than any other member of the DiMeo crime family. He gives Tony sound advice on how to deal with Richie Aprile and Ralph when the two mobsters prove to be problematic. In addition to that, he frequently manages to make Tony change his mind without angering him.
Unlike other mobsters, he is level-headed at all times. Never is he seen making impulsive decisions out of anger. Silvio also remains loyal throughout the series. Tony’s close associates like Paulie and Ralph consider turning against him at some point but Silvio remains loyal.
Tony is smart enough to avoid being nabbed by the FBI for the entire series. That says a lot about his intelligence. He also knows how to keep his juniors happy, which makes his reign as boss a fairly smooth one. There is never a serious threat of him getting whacked by his own men.
However, he makes a couple of questionable decisions throughout the series. He kills his highest earner Ralph over a horse, thus messing with his own income in the process. Surprisingly, he lets his mistresses have the house phone number too. This almost ends up ruining his marriage after Irina calls and tells Camela about his affairs.
Corrado “Junior” Soprano
Just by listening to him talk, one can tell that Junior is a smart mobster. He has some of the best quotes in the entire series. Junior is an old man too. You don’t get to live that long in the mafia by being foolish. As seen with how he deals with Tony, Junior is able to dissuade even his worst enemies from harming him.
Junior cleverly uses his illness to avoid prosecution by the FBI. At one point, he pretends that his Alzheimer’s has gotten so bad that he can’t remember most things. He claims Clinton inherited the presidency from Kennedy, convincing the feds that he really is sick.