In The Sopranos, one of the fan-favorite Capos in New Jersey’s DiMeo crime family was Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri. As a member of Tony’s inner circle, Paulie was always involved in all the major issues that affected the family.
But as much as he was a fun character, Paulie had his fair share of negative traits. He was impulsive and violent. He was a bully too and wouldn’t let younger mobsters like Christopher do their business in peace. However, Paulie’s good traits shone brighter, making him one of the most formidable characters that the show had to offer.
Paulie Was Competitive And Always Wanted To Be The Best
Paulie wasn’t too thrilled with the fact that Ralph was bringing in more money to the family than him, thanks to Ralph’s involvement with the Newark Esplanade project. Paulie also clashed with Christopher frequently as the two were both seeking to impress Tony.
The Capo’s desire to be the best benefited him since it helped him remain an important member of the DiMeo Crime Family throughout the series whereas those he competed with eventually fell out of favor with Tony, and one way or another ended up dead. This trait also cushioned Paulie’s pockets against any economic turmoil.
Paulie Was Loving To His Aunt Nucci
Though Paulie didn’t have a wife, he was very loving towards his aunt Marianucci “Nucci” Gualtieri since she was the one who had raised him. When her health was declining, he placed her at the expensive Green Grove Retirement Community to ensure she got the best care. Prior to that, he had interceded when her neighbors were making her life difficult.
Paulie’s deep love for his aunt was what made him one of the most likable Capos in The Sopranos. While he was mostly ruthless, this side of him showed that he was human after all. Even more impressive was that his love mostly extended to all women, including the sex workers he was involved with. Paulie always accorded respect, unlike his fellow mobsters, who were often quite misogynistic.
Paulie Was Cautious And Outlived His Fellow Mobsters
Almost every member of Tony’s inner circle ended up dead by the time the series came to a close. The only exceptions were Paulie and Silvio (who was actually in a coma). Despite loving violence and being one of the characters with the highest kill counts on The Sopranos, Paulie never got harmed physically. Not even a single bullet wound.
This impressive feat showed just how careful Paulie was. In a world where people got whacked over the slightest reasons, Paulie proved to be different by striding through the New Jersey underworld with eyes both at his front and his back. It helped that he had been a mobster for decades. This helped him know exactly how to avoid dangerous situations.
Paulie Practiced Self-Care And Saw A Therapist
Tony spent the first half of season 1 worrying that his subordinates and associates would find out he was seeing a therapist. To his relief, Paulie told him that it was no big deal since he himself had been seeing one too so that he could be a better man.
Among Dr. Melfi’s best pieces of advice to Tony was that one should always love themselves first so as to be able to relate well with others. Though Paulie’s sessions with his therapist were never documented, he adhered to this particular bit of advice. It was obvious that he was never going to let himself turn reckless and unreasonable like Richie or Ralph. Paulie had to be in control of his own actions at all times, and if a therapist could help him achieve that, he was more than happy to visit one.
Paulie Was Funny And The Show’s Comic Relief
Paule was often seen cracking jokes with his associates. He was also receptive to jokes about him, including the fact that he had been given one of the best nicknames on The Sopranos because he had accidentally hijacked a walnuts truck, thinking it was carrying electronics.
Though the high-ranking DiMeo crime family members’ tendency to crack jokes at the expense of his friends and colleagues made them uncomfortable, the incidents always came off as hilarious to viewers. The show was a slow burn with heavy themes — hence Paulie’s injection of humor was very much appreciated.
Paulie’s Ambition Made Him Underboss
Tony had his flaws and there came a time when he was blindly focused on Christopher and Ralph, ignoring Paulie’s contributions. Feeling his career wasn’t progressing in the DiMeo crime family, Paulie considered switching over to the Lupertazzi Crime Family.
Though it was a risky thing to do, it showed that Paulie wasn’t okay with just being an ordinary mobster. He wanted to achieve as much as possible before the worst happened. It’s why he was different from Big Pussy, who had been okay with being a street soldier since the ’80s. Paulie’s ambition eventually paid off as he became the Underboss of the family towards the end of the show.
Paulie Was Brave — Especially In The “Pine Barrens” Episode
Paulie served four years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He also conducted some of the most high-profile heists in the family. His bravery was demonstrated once again when he spent a night in the woods in “Pine Barrens,” one of the best episodes of The Sopranos, as he hunted the dangerous Russian mobster Valery.
Courage is always an important trait to have in the mob since each day presents fresh horrors that ought to be addressed. It also takes courage to be a mobster for close to three decades. The ordinary person would have felt the heat and gotten out of the kitchen. Paulie was never afraid, even when he knew death was a possibility. An example of this was when he got into the boat with Tony, knowing the boss might whack him for telling Johnny Sacks about Ralph’s insensitive joke.
Paulie Was Loyal And Never Became An Informant
The Capo was sometimes keen on his own interests, but he was always loyal to the family. It was revealed that he had been arrested a few times before the start of the series but never became a turncoat. The authorities also nabbed him in Youngstown, Ohio in season 4 but he chose to spend four months in jail rather than be an informant.
Being an informant is a cardinal sin in the Cosa Nostra with deadly consequences. Unfortunately, mobsters like Big Pussy and Febby Petrulio never understood this. Paulie, on the other hand, knew what lines never to cross. He was unhappy with Tony a number of times but not once did Paulie’s allegiance shift to the authorities.
Paulie Was Reliable Enough To Keep Himself Alive
Paulie was given many tasks on the show and he executed them all efficiently. He was able to take out key members of Junior’s crew like his consigliere Mikey Palmice during the bloody war between Junior and Tony. He also helped run the executive card game and successfully made collections from people who were refusing to cooperate.
Paulie’s usefulness to the family benefited him in many ways. Not only did it earn him a higher rank but it also made Tony reconsider killing him on the boat. The family would have struggled without his services and Tony knew that. Paulie’s reliability also helped keep him busy as he never missed out on the most important of opportunities.