The Sopranos earned acclaim for its unique style of storytelling (among many other things). While most television shows liked to stick to obvious tropes and predictable storytelling devices, The Sopranos often zigged when fans thought it would zag, resulting in a story that was both supremely exciting and entirely impossible to predict.
Of course, subverting storylines for the mere sake of subversion often leads to irritated fans and a nonsensical storyline. So while The Sopranos has a reputation for its fun twists and unpredictable storytelling, there were a few moments that everyone saw coming.
When Livia’s Suddenly Passed Away
The show dropped the entire Livia storyline out of the blue, albeit through no fault of its own. Just when it looked like the FBI was going after Livia and turning her against Tony, she passed away. While it comes as quite a sudden surprise in-show, it would have been no surprise for any fan with a passing interest in the show’s cast.
It was a known fact that Nancy Marchand was ill and she sadly passed away in June of 2000 – nine months before the premiere of season three. Going into the third season, it was obvious, unfortunately, that Livia would not be a part of it.
When Carmela Split Up With Tony
By the end of the fourth season, Tony and Carmela’s personal relationship is in such disarray that they end up splitting up. This could have proved a potentially shocking development if it weren’t for the countless clues that permeated the show’s fourth season.
The whole season was building towards their collapse, with many factors (the family’s financial insecurity, Tony’s constant cheating and lying, the recent loss of Meadow) aiming towards the fateful dissolution. As equally un-shocking was the quick reversal, with Carmela rapidly returning to Tony and the lifestyle.
When Tony Blundetto Goes Bad
The fifth season showcased an attempt at going straight – something that (rather surprisingly) hadn’t really been tried. It came in the form of Tony Blundetto, who is released from prison and attempts to start his own massage therapy business.
However, Tony snaps one day and beats up his business associate before running to Tony Soprano and asking to be included in the family business. The turn itself comes out of nowhere within the episode, but like Tony and Carmela’s crumbling relationship, the clues that Tony would be going bad were quite numerous and obvious.
When Tony Decides To Kill Tony Blundetto
Tony enacted some of the coldest kills in the series during his tenure as boss, including his targeting of Tony Blundetto. Tony ventures into a one-man war with New York, and Phil Leotardo isn’t having any of it. He personally seeks out Tony Blundetto, but Soprano beats him to the punch and kills Blundetto to both appease Phil and prevent Tony B.’s malicious torture.
It’s a surprising turn of events, and the manner in which Tony executes Blundetto is both quick and unemotional. But it wasn’t exactly shocking, given the entire episode was about Tony’s moral and personal dilemma in disposing of his own cousin.
AJ’s Suicide Attempt
AJ’s attempt to end his own life is easily one of the darkest moments on the show, and for some, it could come as quite a surprise. After all, AJ is typically associated with comic relief, and seeing him in such a dreary state proves a little bewildering. But it was one of the natural conclusions to his ever-darkening storyline of season six.
AJ was slipping further and further into dangerous nihilism, and he recently split from his girlfriend — a relationship that was providing him with some much-needed grounding and happiness. Some fans were left shocked, but others saw the attempt coming.
When Tony Has Adriana Killed
Two things were made readily apparent throughout the show. One, that Christopher was unendingly loyal to Tony Soprano. Two, that Tony has no patience for backstabbers. Viewers knew that Adriana was done for the second she started working with the FBI.
And while her daydream provided a startling degree of comfort and unpredictability, it only turned out to be a bit of misdirection from the writers. Adriana’s fate was, unfortunately, sealed the second she revealed the truth to Christopher.
When Melfi Drops Tony
Perhaps the most flabbergasting thing about Melfi dropping Tony was how long it took her to do it. In the penultimate episode of the series, Melfi finally realizes that her therapy and smartest pieces of advice she gave Tony were falling on deaf ears (perhaps even making him worse), and so she decides to drop Tony as a client.
It’s undoubtedly sad to watch their relationship fall apart in such a short amount of time, but Melfi’s dropping of Tony was a long time coming and many viewers weren’t surprised to see her finally do it.
When Tony Kills Christopher
Christopher’s death is undoubtedly one of the most shocking deaths in The Sopranos. However, it’s the manner of his death that proves surprising here, not necessarily the death itself. Everyone knew that Christopher was going to die, as he and Tony had been feuding for quite some time prior to the events of this episode.
What they couldn’t predict was how Christopher would die, and that twist did indeed prove rather unpredictable. Christopher’s death was the perfect blend between unforeseeable storytelling and remaining true to the characters and situations.
When Tony And Bobby’s Relationship Turns Sour
The Sopranos contains more than its share of twisty plot developments, including Bobby’s first killing and the complete dissolution of his and Tony’s personal relationship. It comes during one drunken night when Tony makes one too many inappropriate jokes regarding his sister.
Bobby’s attack on Tony proves jolting, but it should have come as no surprise given the personalities of these characters. It was only a matter of time before the over-protective Bobby attacked Tony, given his penchant for bullying Janice.
When New Jersey And New York Go To War
The entirety of The Sopranos was building towards an all-out war between New Jersey and New York. Things obviously come to a head throughout the fifth and sixth seasons, with Phil Leotardo leading the charge against Tony Soprano and New Jersey.
However, tensions had been building since the second or third seasons, when Johnny Sack was having personal difficulties with Ralphie and learning of New Jersey’s deceits from Paulie. The war was a culmination of years and seasons’ worth of story.