Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti have one of the most complicated relationships on The Sopranos, and that even goes for how the two are related. While Tony (James Gandolfini) is the figurehead of the DiMeo crime family and the lead character of The Sopranos, Christopher (Michael Imperioli) is one of the most tragic characters to serve beneath him. Across the show the pair show both love and hate towards one another, mixing respect and familial loyalty with jealously and rage.
Christopher is seen by Tony as the heir to his empire, even though he isn’t his son – Tony has long since realized that Anthony Jr. isn’t going to be cut out for a life of crime, but Chris, who is steadily working his way up the ladder, could one day take over. While the relationship between Tony and Christopher often plays out as father and son, with all the drama that comes with it, The Sopranos frequently has Tony refer to Chris as his nephew, and likewise Christopher calls Tony his uncle, but that’s not how they’re really related.
Rather than being uncle and nephew, Tony and Christopher are actually cousins. On top of that, while Tony again frequently says that Christopher is not only his nephew, but his blood, that also isn’t accurate. Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father, is the first cousin of Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco), whose last name before marriage was DeAngelis. So, Christopher is really Carmela’s first cousin once-removed, and only a cousin through marriage to Tony. However, since Tony was close to Dickie and has acted like a father to Christopher for most of his life, Tony calls him his uncle – as Adrianna (Drea de Matteo) explains all of this to the FBI in The Sopranos season 5, it’s “an Italian thing.”
That’s not the only way Tony and Christopher are linked by family though. Chris’ mother, Joanne, comes from the Blundetto family. Her brother, Al, is Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi)’s father, and so Tony B and Christopher are first cousins. Of course, Tony B and Tony Soprano are also first cousins, through Tony B’s mother (the sister of Tony Soprano’s mom), but still Christopher and Tony Soprano aren’t related to one another directly.
As if that’s not a confusing enough, there is also a chance that Tony and Christopher really are related by blood: Adrianna mentions that Joanne is Tony’s cousin from back in the old country, while Tony has a dream where she’s his cousin. If that were true, then Chris and Tony really would be related by blood. It’s interesting to consider whether a closer blood relationship might have changed anything between the pair on The Sopranos. Tony may have treated Christopher like he was family, but deep down always knew he wasn’t – and so, when he kills him in season 6, he’s not killing his own blood. The way things were playing out that may well have happened anyway, but it also might’ve given Tony just a little bit more reason to pause.