The HBO hit series, The Sopranos, is a Mafia tale, but not everyone is a “made guy” or in the process of becoming one. Gun-wielding gangsters aside, the series is also populated with ordinary citizens, associates and family members who have somehow found themselves caught up in the wide Tony Soprano web.
Assemblyman Zellman helps both the DiMeo and Lupertazzi crime families in acquiring special contracts, while Detective Makazian makes sure to inform Tony about any informants in his crew. While these non-Mafia characters are useful, there are a couple of others that impact the proceedings more than the rest.
Artie and Tony have an unbreakable tie, judging from the numerous friendship scenes they share. They have been friends since childhood and they remain dear to each other in adulthood. Though Artie can be annoying and self-loathing, with a penchant for crossing personal boundaries, Tony loves him the way he is.
The restaurateur is flawed, but he has his admirable qualities. He is an amiable man in a world where friends betray or whack each other without thinking twice. There isn’t a single moment where his loyalty to Tony wavers and he holds no grudges either. This is best demonstrated when he pardons Tony for the arson attack on Vesuvio.
Father Phil is fond of two of the most likable mob wives in The Sopranos: Carmela and Rosalie. He enjoys dining with them in private, something that makes Tony uncomfortable. After Carmela realizes how close Phil is to Rosalie, she gets jealous and accuses the priest of using spiritually thirsty women to get meals and gifts.
Phil is the poster boy for bad adult habits. As a priest, he is supposed to follow the laws of the church in a strict manner, but he has somehow redefined right and wrong, and spending time with other people’s wives is okay to him. Exploring their refrigerators and cupboards is no sin either. His actions are a testament to his brave side since the wives he hangs out with are married to mobsters.
Out of all of Tony’s mistresses and love affairs, Gloria Trillo is the one with the best character development. She portrays herself as an independent woman, something Tony finds fascinating, only for her to start causing him problems. She gives Carmela a lift just to toy with the don’s mind, then threatens to expose him if he dares leave her.
The sales representative gives Tony a reality check, prompting him to the realization that things can go very bad when you decide to cheat on your partner. In his and her story, she is the villain and conveyor of comeuppance, while Tony is the person desperately trying to find an escape route. He finally succeeds to free himself from the claws of Trillo, but not without some help from a subordinate.
Following in the father’s footsteps is a common trend in the mob, but there’s never a moment where A.J. looks like he’ll ever be half the man Tony is. This would be okay if he had a promising future in the white-collar world, but good grades are a mystery to him. But things aren’t forever bleak. In the end, he gets to be part of the greatest redemption stories.
A.J. is a standout character because he is unique from everyone else. While everyone else has mastered a thing or two, he is simply floating through life, hoping that things will figure themselves out. In almost every episode, viewers look forward to what new thing he’ll be able to stress his parents with.
Adriana’s life runs smoothly until she is targeted as the perfect person to replace the deceased FBI informant Big Pussy as the snitch-in-chief to report on matters of the DiMeo Crime Family. She struggles to hide this for a while but she eventually tells Christopher. This proves to be a mistake because Christopher tells Tony, who tells Silvio to whack her.
Adriana is a symbol of loyalty. After being forced to work with the feds, she refuses to give up any meaningful information that would put any of Christopher’s associates in danger. She is also an honest person, as she decides to tell Christopher the truth, rather than keep things secret.
Carmela is a supportive wife, but she is also obsessed with money and expensive jewelry. The fact that her husband is a high-ranking criminal gives her easy access to the best material offerings. Only one thing troubles her—her husband’s infidelity. To punish him, she goes the eye-for-eye route by cheating too.
Marital unions have various challenges and Carmela’s storylines are mostly structured to remind viewers of this fact. Carmela is both a villain and a hero, depending on which episode it is. Her lack of tolerance is selective. She has tough stances regarding her husband but is tolerant of her children’s bad behavior.
Though she is not in the mob, Janice is heavily involved with several members of the DiMeo Crime Family. She goads her fiancé Richie Aprille into attempting a coup against her own brother, Tony, one of the worst things he does. Janice just wants to be the wife of a boss. She then dates the high-earning capo, Ralph, before marrying Junior’s right-hand man, Bobby Bacala.
Janice has mastered the art of manipulation and this makes her easy to loathe but very addictive to watch. There is just about nothing she won’t do to get what she wants. Suggesting a change in regime to Richie as they are having sex is a genius move. Scaring Bobby’s children through fake online accounts so as to later comfort them and prove herself as a potential wife is evil but genius too.
As one of the most heroic law enforcement officers in the series, Harris is initially tasked with bringing down the giant that is Tony Soprano, but he finds himself becoming buddies with him. The two develop a “scratch my back, I scratch yours” kind of relationship. Tony feeds him intel about terrorist cells (since that’s the FBI’s new focus), while Harris alerts him about threats from rivals.
Harris brings a whole new meaning to the hunter vs hunted dynamic. It doesn’t always have to be about chasing each other around. Harris never wages war against Tony and, as such, viewers don’t get to hate him as the man who wants to ruin the antihero’s fun. He adopts an arm-around-shoulder approach that turns out beneficial for both.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Tony finds himself in need of a psychiatrist when he starts having panic attacks. He begins seeing Dr. Melfi and the two develop a very close relationship that lasts the entire series. Thanks to doctor-patient confidentiality, Tony tells her almost everything about his mob life and his personal life, and she gives him some great pieces of advice.
Dr. Melfi effortlessly unpacks Tony’s thoughts, enabling viewers to figure him out. Why does he do the things he does? She creates a human out of a man that would otherwise be seen as a monster. Melfi is also the only person who isn’t intimidated by Tony, always dismissing him calmly whenever he has explosions of rage. She is also principled. She is the only woman to reject his advances a number of times, as she neither has the desire to be a mistress nor to mix work with pleasure.
It’s revealed that the only reason Hesh isn’t a “made guy” is because he is not Italian-American. Nevertheless, he provides Tony with wise counsel and even uses his capacity as a loan shark to lend him money when his deals go south.
Hesh is not only a responsible person but also a poor money manager. In his feud with Tony over unpaid debts, viewers can tell that it’s the New Jersey mob boss that’s being unreasonable. The mob has plenty of outdated practices, such as discrimination against non-Italian Americans, but Hesh still doesn’t feel disgruntled about not being a made guy and just appreciates what he has.