There are plenty of alluring things about the dialogue in The Sopranos and one of these things is the nicknames of the various characters. The gang of creative mobsters finds it appropriate to give each other names of terms as they see fit and the nicknamed party doesn’t have to necessarily like their new label. It sticks anyway.
In a show that is mostly deep and violent, the ridiculous and well-thought-out nicknames give viewers something to either think about or laugh about. Surprisingly, Tony avoids getting a nicknamed and his only notable second moniker on the show is “Tony A” to differentiate him from his cousin, “Tony B” (Tony Blundetto).
Brainless The Second
After Carmine Lupertazzi dies, the race for the top seat in New York begins. Carmine’s son, Little Carmine, is singled out as a candidate, but Tony laughs off his chances, referring to him as “Brainless The Second.” Tony figures the younger mobster who spends his days on Miami’s beaches can’t make a good boss since he isn’t among the most intelligent Lupertazzi Crime Family members.
The nickname is an ode to monarchs of medieval times, who often went by titles such as “the second” or “the third.” By calling Little Carmine “Brainless The Second,” Tony is also implying that Carmine Lupertazzi was “Brainless The First,” hence he was an unwise boss. However, Little Carmine later proves to be quite the intelligent mediator by temporarily helping in cooling the tensions between New York and New Jersey.
Paulie Guttieri’s associates call him Paulie Walnuts. The origin of the name can be traced back to the early ’90s when Paulie hijacked a truck that he thought was carrying TV sets, only for him to learn that it only had walnuts inside.
Paulie is one of the most colorful characters on the show and his mistaking a truck is right in line with his personality. The nickname also points to his adventurous side, as he is never afraid to engage in high-risk operations in order to earn. Despite his attraction to danger, he always comes out unscathed.
Phil Leotardo is labeled “The Shah” by members of the DiMeo Crime Family, who feel he looks a lot like Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. As expected, the ever-sulking Phil doesn’t like the name.
Members of the DiMeo Crime Family and the Lupertazzi Crime Family are rarely on good terms, but the New Jersey mobsters are always the more sensible ones, as they always try to mingle and even make jokes. Their attempts to socialize don’t always bear fruit in the long term, but they lead to some light-hearted moments.
When Tony is in Maine looking for colleges with Meadow, Father Phil takes the opportunity to sleep at the Don’s house. He eats and drinks with Carmela, with the two almost making love but restraining themselves at the last minute. Tony later learns that the priest spent the night and labels him “Monsignor Jughead.”
The name is a reference to the Archie comics character “Jughead,” also seen in Riverdale, who is obsessed with food. That Tony knows a comic book is surprising, but the reference proves just how knowledgeable and different Tony is from other mobsters. The reference is also fitting since Father Phil is portrayed as having a bad habit of soliciting some of the show’s most likable mob wives for food and wine.
Salvatore Bonpensiero is one of the most notable FBI informants in The Sopranos and he is often referred to as “Big Pussy.” This is because he used to be a cat burglar when he was younger. And the “Big” moniker isn’t because of his size. It is used to distinguish him from another mobster known as Little Pussy Malenga.
Before becoming made guys, most mobsters start out as petty thieves and Sal’s case is no different. His specialty isn’t about actual cats. Cat burglars specialize in gaining access to a building by climbing to the upper story. Sal appears to have slowed down after becoming a mobster since most of his comrades are of higher rank, while he is still a street soldier during the series’ events.
Joey From Dover
Big Pussy starts sweating when DiMeo associate Jimmy Bones spots him in a store with his FBI handler, Skip Lari. He comes up with an “it’s not what it seems” moment, claiming that Skip is a mob associate from Dover named Joey.
Being a snitch is a cardinal sin in the mob, hence Big Pussy does well by thinking on his feet and coming up with a creative alias immediately. It’s a convincing lie since Bones stops doubting and goes about his business. Nevertheless, viewers get to see one of the most unnecessary kills in the show when a paranoid Big Pussy follows Bones to his home and beats him to death just to be sure he won’t say anything to anyone.
The Mayor Of Munchkinland
During the power struggle that follows after Carmine Lupertazzi’s death, Rusty Millo makes himself an enemy of both Phil and Johnny Sack. Afraid that Rusty might organize a coup, Sack orders his men to kill that “Mayor of Munchkinland.”
The label is a clever one since it demonstrates Sack’s pop-culture knowledge. By referring to Rusty as the Mayor of Munchkinland, Sack is making fun of his short stature. The Munchkinland mayor is one of the many iconic characters in The Wizard of Oz, who happens to be very short.
Tony’s uncle Corrado Soprano is mostly known as “Uncle Jun” within the Cosa Nostra circles. There isn’t a depth of history behind the name, but Jun is an abbreviated form of “Junior.” He earned the name “Junior” because he is the son of Corrado Sr.
Even though the name sounds like it should be used in an affectionate manner, Tony mostly uses it when he is angry. The two rarely get along for most of the series and it’s mostly out of jealousy. Junior isn’t happy about Tony surpassing him in New Jersey’s underworld. Nevertheless, Tony tries to remain as respectful as possible.
As AJ morphs into an adult, he lets his hair grow out. The first time Paulie sees him with flowing hair, he jokingly refers to him as Van Helsing, after the long-haired character from the movie.
This is but one of the many occasions when Paulie lights up the room with a hilarious remark. AJ with long hair also acts a lot like the fictional character that Paulie likens him to. He is bolder and braver and he even shocks everyone by attempting to kill Junior for accidentally shooting Tony.
The King Of Dermabrasion
Seeking to stage a coup-de-tat against Tony after being persuaded by Janice to do so, Richie visits the new Barese crew Capo Albert Barese to win his allegiance. He asks him how his cousin, “The King Of Dermabrasion” is doing. He is talking about Larry Barese, the previous capo who is rumored to have undergone a plastic surgery procedure.
It’s bold of the mobster to insult the cousin of a man whose allegiance he seeks. Dermabrasion isn’t a procedure that everyone is familiar with, so kudos to Richie for making viewers want to research it. Unfortunately, it makes Larry lose respect within mob circles.