The Sopranos has some of the greatest cast members ever seen in a dramatic television series. And not only are the characters impeccably cast and performed, but the writing is so strong that it imbued each character with their own unique personality, story arc, and iconic scene.
These are classic characters, and every single one brings with them an iconic sequence that immediately springs to mind. Of course, this is somewhat subjective, but there’s no denying that certain sequences will forever remain intrinsically linked to certain characters.
Tony: Killing Christopher
There is a slew of iconic Tony Soprano scenes, and fans could easily name 100 of their favorite sequences involving the famous mobster. But perhaps the most iconic is the killing of Christopher Moltisanti, which has always been regarded as one of the most shocking deaths of the series.
James Gandolfini is sensational in the sequence, depicting Tony at the end of his rope and mercilessly strangling Chris with hollowed eyes that depict emptiness, hatred, and impatience. It’s a major turning point in Tony’s character development, and with it, many devoted viewers officially lost all sympathy for the protagonist.
Carmela: Receiving Blunt Advice
Carmela’s most iconic sequence involves therapy and an especially antagonistic therapist. After visiting Dr. Melfi, Carmela is told to visit a therapist named Dr. Krakower. While visiting him, Carmela is subjected to brutal judgment, as Krakower chastises Carmela for enabling Tony and in no uncertain terms tells her to leave him before it’s too late.
It’s a great sequence, as Krakower proves a moral voice in a show filled with immoral characters. The scene is also monumentally important to Carmela’s character development, as she makes a conscious decision to stay with Tony, despite being bluntly told otherwise.
Meadow: “Are You In The Mafia?”
Meadow consistently remained one of the most innocent characters throughout the show, favoring a serious ivy-league education over the family’s business and antagonizing her father over his morals and career choice. But in one of the show’s very first episodes, in one of her best quotes in the series, Meadow directly asks Tony if he’s in the mafia.
It shocks both Tony and the viewer, and it finally becomes clear that the teenaged Meadow is not ignorant of what her father does for a living. It depicts her as a smart young woman, and it adds a great dimension of family drama and intrigue to the show.
AJ: Attempt To Take His Own Life
Throughout much of The Sopranos, AJ is depicted as a bumbling, aimless teenager with little ambition. He is largely used as comic relief, which only serves to contrast with his surprisingly dark storyline of season six. AJ grows more and more depressed and nihilistic, and it culminates in an attempt to end his life in the family pool.
Luckily, Tony is there to save him in the nick of time. It’s one of The Sopranos most shocking and emotional scenes, and it finally forced viewers (and Tony) to take AJ seriously.
Christopher: “The Regularness Of Life”
Early in The Sopranos‘ run, it was obvious that the show would be more than a mafia drama. Rather than focusing on blood and violence, the show was veering more towards introspective thoughts regarding depression and the inability to be vulnerable.
Christopher wonderfully imbibes this theme in The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti, when he famously says to Tony, “The regularness of life is too f***in’ hard for me.” It allows viewers to sympathize with Christopher, and it furthers one of the show’s primary themes of spiritual weakness.
Paulie: “Guy Was An Interior Decorator”
Paulie is undeniably the funniest character on The Sopranos, and most of his scenes make for uproarious viewing. Perhaps his greatest hour, though, is in “Pine Barrens,” in which he provides one of the greatest misquotes of the entire series.
His “interior decorator” line is arguably the most famous comedic bit of dialogue from the show, a perfect marriage of impeccable writing and performance. Most of Paulie’s scenes are memorable to some degree, but this particular sequence has become iconic within The Sopranos‘ fanbase.
Silvio: Whacking Adriana
In a show filled with violent sociopaths, Silvio may be the worst and most violent of them all. He is a man of very few words, but his actions are often horrifically antagonistic and cold. The best example of this is when he takes kills Adriana.
It’s completely and utterly remorseless, and he performs the action without any semblance of hesitancy. He is a methodical killer, and this scene showed that – despite his numerous funny lines – he is a merciless man who is not to be admired or even liked.
Dr. Melfi: “No.”
Melfi’s sexual assault is one of those storylines that the show methodically dropped, but it forever left an indelible mark in the memories of viewers. Season 3’s “Employee of the Month” is arguably one of the show’s darkest hours, as Melfi is sexually assaulted and briefly considers telling Tony so he will enact a certain brand of street justice.
The concept of a therapist hiring her mafia boss client to kill someone is a thrilling and richly creative storyline, and it culminates in a beautiful moment when Tony asks if a clearly upset Melfi has something to say. That simple “no” speaks volumes, as Melfi irrevocably distanced herself from association, her strict morals overcoming her desire for revenge.
Junior: The Nursing Home
The Sopranos always stuck close to reality, and that included a rather unpredictable conclusion to Junior’s story arc. Junior begins to exhibit signs of mental illness, and he’s eventually diagnosed with dementia. Viewers are forced to watch his slow downward spiral throughout the rest of the series, culminating in a brutally sad scene in which Tony visits Junior at the nursing home.
The acting and writing throughout the sequence are simply brilliant, as Tony finally realizes that his uncle is totally lost and gone. It’s devastating, and the scene manages to garner incredible amounts of sympathy for both men.
Livia: Sanctioning The Hit On Her Own Son
Livia only appeared in two of the show’s six seasons. However, she draws such a massive shadow and remains such an incredible influence on Tony’s character that many fans regard her as a primary character. Many of her scenes and lines are iconic, but perhaps the most memorable sequence sees her sanctioning a hit on her own son.
It’s a remarkable scene, depicting a scenario that few shows would have the fortitude to try and showcasing Livia as a far smarter and more manipulative character than she appears.