The Sopranos

The Sopranos: 5 Times We Loved Tony Soprano (& 5 Times We Despised Him)

Tony Soprano was one of TV's most complex characters and he had the power to make fans of HBO's The Sopranos both love and despise him.

Tony Soprano is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating characters ever put to television. The Sopranos helped revolutionize TV by introducing anti-heroes as their protagonists, and these people are by no means good. But that doesn’t mean Tony Soprano can’t be lovable. Despite their status as criminals and murderers, The Sopranos was wildly popular throughout the 2000s thanks in large part to the charisma of its cast.

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That’s what makes Tony Soprano such an iconic character. We know he’s a bad guy, but we can’t stop ourselves from loving him. These are five times we loved Tony Soprano, and five times we despised him.

Love: The Ducks

One of the greatest parts of the pilot has to be the ducks that fly away from Tony’s pool. The metaphor is quite obvious. But then again, as Melfi points out, it’s meant to be quite obvious.

Tony is feeling incredibly anxious about his children growing up and leaving the nest, and he saw the ducks as a way to retain their youth and innocence – as a way to remain a proud father. Despite being a career criminal, Tony is also a devoted family man, and that comes through in the ducks.

Despise: Killing Christopher

Everyone knows that Christopher was a sloppy criminal. He continuously fell into drugs, he was generally immature and unpredictable, and he had second, third, fourth, and fifth chances within the organization.

But that still doesn’t warrant Tony brutally plugging his nose and forcing him to strangle on his own blood. Tony justifies the decision by looking at the car seat, but that’s just a means of telling himself it’s OK. He knows, deep down, that it’s not.

Love: Going To Therapy

Dr. Melfi talks to Tony for the first time

One of the things that made The Sopranos so good was its relatability and its subversion of the traditional mob story. In most mob stories, the characters are remorseless characters who conduct violence without a second thought.

In The Sopranos, Tony is a vulnerable person who requires therapy to make his way in the world of violence and family troubles. He inquires about the strong, silent Gary Cooper type, and that’s a way for The Sopranos to acknowledge that its story was entering the modern age of sensitivity and openness.

Despise: Confronting Melfi

If there’s one really cringy thing about Tony’s character, it’s his misaimed confidence in courting Melfi.

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For one thing, it is totally unprofessional for an ex-therapy patient to ask out his therapist. Melfi acknowledges this, but deep down, the issue stems from something else – Tony is a bad person. After numerous rebuffs, Melfi finally reveals the truth to Tony. And rather than taking it as a moment for self-reflection, he yells in her face, storms off, and calls her a c***. Charming.

Love: Comforting Melfi

Dr Melfi and Tony Soprano in The Sopranos.

The relationship between Tony and Melfi is undeniably one of the strongest in the show. There’s a lot of good, and a lot of bad, to be found within Tony Soprano – and this greatly entices Dr. Melfi. After Melfi is raped in the parking garage, she contemplates telling Tony.

She doesn’t go through with it, but she certainly grapples with the decision. Tony does what he can to comfort her, and the viewer knows that he would do anything to protect her dignity and honor. Even outright murder.

Despise: Encouraging Chris To Drink

Tony never really respected Christopher’s sobriety. This is most evident in the dinner scene involving himself, Christopher, and Tony B. While celebrating, the two Tonys enjoy a beer while Chris has a soda. The fact that the two drink alcohol in front of a recovered Chris is disgusting enough.

But then the two Tonys start digging into Christopher for his sobriety as if that’s something to joke about. Not only that, but Tony also encourages Chris, a recovered drug addict, to have a drink so he can “loosen up” and take their jokes in stride.

Love: Hitting (And Eventually Killing) Ralphie

Ralph Cifaretto from The Sopranos sits in a chair

One of the defining moments of The Sopranos saw Ralphie beating the pregnant Tracee to death outside the Bada Bing.

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It was one of the show’s darker moments, and it proved a litmus test for its characters. Ralphie brushes off the murder, whereas Tony takes great issue with it. He hits Ralphie for his behavior, and in season four, he outright murders him for his behavior. Tony uses Pie-O-My’s death as a pretense for attacking Ralphie, but we all know who the “she” really was…

Despise: Antagonizing Janice

Tony makes fun of Janice after she tells him she is seeing a therapist in The Sopranos

Janice certainly isn’t a good person by any means, but she tries to do better. Unlike Tony. While Tony attends therapy, he often disregards his lessons (whether intentionally or not).

Janice, meanwhile, seems to take her anger management seriously. Perhaps feeling jealous of Janice’s betterment, or maybe because he’s just an a**hole, Tony intentionally antagonizes Janice for the sole purpose of dragging her back down to his level. No one can be happy if Tony isn’t happy.

Love: Being A Father

This isn’t one particular moment, but a series of moments. As much as Tony was a horrible person who refused to grow, he was a good dad when he wanted to be.

Some of the show’s cutest and most charming moments involved Tony and A.J., like making ice cream, going for a boat ride, bringing pizza to apologize for his behavior, and letting A.J. watch baseball with Artie and Tony B. Maybe in another life, Tony and his family would have been happy.

Despise: Fighting With Carmela

James Gandolfini as Tony and Edie Falco as Carmela in The Sopranos (Chasing It)

Like Janice, Carmela is no saint. She often turns a blind eye to Tony’s “business” and utilizes his riches and power for her own personal gain.

But that doesn’t excuse Tony’s behavior towards her. Especially when he says horrible, despicable things like “The fact is, you’re a s***ty businesswoman who built a piece of s*** house that’s gonna cave in and kill that f***ing unborn baby any day!” No one deserves to be spoken to like that.

NEXT: The Sop

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