After years of speculation on the finale of The Sopranos, it has been confirmed that the abrupt cut to black signified Tony Sopranos’ death. Tony then joins the long list of characters who were killed off on the show, many by his own hand. But as deadly as the series could be, some characters made it to the end
Despite being introduced in the very first season, these characters defied the odds and lasted the entire run of the show. Whether it was their intelligence, scheming or plain luck, these characters were the rare survivors of The Sopranos.
The recent death of actor Tony Sirico devastated many fans of The Sopranos as he gave an iconic performance as Paulie Walnuts. He was one of the top men in Tony’s organization and always entertaining to watch.
Perhaps it was Paulie’s humor that allowed him to survive as fans would likely have hated to lose such a funny character. The last that is seen of Paulie, he is reluctantly accepting Tony’s offer to take the old Aprile crew. Given the bad luck that position has had, it is possible Paulie didn’t last much longer than Tony.
Though Hesh is not a made man due to his Jewish heritage, he is a very important part of Tony’s operations. He was an old friend of Tony’s father and continues to act as an advisor to the organization.
Hesh is valued by Tony and keeps a low profile which makes him feel safer than many of the other characters in the series. Though his shrewd business tactics also make him one of The Sopranos‘ low-key villains. There was one instance in which Hesh’s life was in question as Tony owed him money and contemplated killing him rather than paying, but he manages to escape the grim fate.
Artie Bucco is a great example of how Tony Soprano can poison the lives of those around him, even those that aren’t involved in organized crime. Artie is a childhood friend of Tony’s and a restaurant owner who keeps getting pulled into Tony’s crime world, either against his will or due to his own longing for the lifestyle.
Artie had several close brushes with death, including when he nearly killed Tony after learning the truth about his restaurant burning down. But while he was certainly corrupted at times, Artie seemed to be refocused on his business by the end of the series.
One of the most interesting aspects of the show was how it showed both Tony’s violent and thrilling work life as well as his struggles at home. Tony’s relatives on The Sopranos are always a big part of the story with his daughter Meadow being a particularly interesting character.
Meadow is an outspoken and much more progressive person than her parents, often challenging their outdated opinions. She also criticizes Tony’s work on a number of occasions. During the final scene of the series, Meadow is shown parking her car in a drawn-out sequence adding to the tension of the moment. However, there is no indication anything befalls her before she reaches the diner.
One of the first episodes of the series finds Tony’s son A.J. learning the truth about his father’s business. It is a revelation that he struggles with throughout the series as he gradually learns he does not have what it takes to be a part of that world.
A.J. is not always the most ambitious young man and even attempts suicide at one point in the show. But in the end, he seems to have settled into a path of making a career for himself. Though since he is present at the diner, it is likely he would have witnessed his father being murdered which would no doubt affect him greatly.
Another key member of Tony’s crew is Silvio. Though he can be quieter than some others in the group, Silvio is also an intimidating presence at times and a charming comedic figure at other times.
He often serves as Tony’s moral compass when it comes to business decisions, genuinely caring for his boss and helping him deal with his demons. Though Silvio is alive by the end of the series, he is left in a coma following an assassination attempt and the outlook is not optimistic. It is possible he followed Tony in death shortly after the show ended.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Dr. Melfi’s survival in the show is even more impressive than some others because she actually shares the opening scene of the series with Tony. As his therapist, Melfi is continuously drawn into his violent world despite attempts to keep things strictly professional.
Melfi continuously struggles with being fascinated and terrified of Tony with several of their sessions getting quite heated. In the end, she makes the somewhat rash decision that Tony is not interested in being helped and ends their sessions. Though she might have been wrong in her assessment of Tony, distancing herself from him might also have been a good idea.
Judging by the animosity that develops between Tony and his uncle Junior early in the show, it is quite surprising that the old man made it to the end without dying. Feeling that his leadership in the crime family was being challenged by Tony, Junior put out a hit on his nephew turning it into perhaps the biggest feud in The Sopranos.
Junior would have been killed in retaliation by Tony if he hadn’t been arrested first. He spent the rest of the series watching his status as a gangster slowly fade. He is last seen in a retirement home, not even able to remember that he was once a part of the organized crime world.
As Tony’s wife, Carmela is a very complex character. Given that she knows the type of business Tony is in, it could be argued she is complicit. However, it seems clear that she would be horrified to learn some of the things Tony does.
Tony and Carmela have an uneasy marriage with his constant infidelities being the main cause of their trouble. Though Tony is never violent with her, some of their fights, including when she finally kicks him out, could have had fans worrying about her safety. In the end, she is there with Tony right before he apparently meets his end.