The Sopranos is arguably the greatest written television show of all time. What showrunner David Chase and his team of writers pulled off is nothing short of exceptional, crafting a living and breathing show that continues to amaze over 20 years later.
One of the greatest aspects of the show’s screenplay are the malapropisms that the characters constantly spout. The show rarely draws attention to them, allowing the viewer to wonder, “Wait, did I just hear that?” The inclusions of these misquotes are richly unique, realistic, and wonderfully creative, not to mention absolutely hilarious.
“Certain Events Have Expired.”
Little Carmine is essentially a walking malapropism, as he doesn’t often make sense and constantly mangles the English language. One of the greatest examples is when he states that “certain events have expired.”
It’s hilarious to hear coming from a mob boss, and it instantly makes him a walking joke. The contrast between his language and his position of power is one of the funniest aspects of The Sopranos.
“I Was Prostate With Grief.”
Tony Soprano is arguably one of the smartest characters on the show, but even he is known to spout a malapropism or two. One of the funniest comes in the sixth season episode Kennedy and Heidi. While discussing Christopher’s death with Dr. Melfi, he explains that he was “prostate with grief.”
The correct word here is “prostrate”, meaning weakened or submissive. It’s not only one of the funniest misquotes of the series, but also one of the most realistic and understandable. It’s amazing how much one simple letter can change the meaning of an entire sentence.
“I’ve Been Totally F***ing Ostrafied”.
Christopher Moltisanti is arguably the saddest character on The Sopranos. Not only is his storyline tragic, but he remains incredibly lonely throughout much of the series’ run, and he’s not very smart to boot. One of the most tragic aspects of his character is his prolonged battles with addiction and sobriety.
Once he goes sober, most of his friends and acquaintances abandon him. As such, he hilariously tells an AA friend that he’s been “totally f***in’ ostrafied” by his buddies. The correct word is “ostracized”. “Ostrafied” is not a word. But at least he had the right idea.
“Very Observant. The Sacred AND The Propane.”
Little Carmine strikes gold with “the sacred and the propane”, which is undeniably one of the greatest and funniest misquotes of the series. He seems to mean “The sacred and the profane” regarding the symbolism found in the slasher movie Cleaver.
But this being Little Carmine, he misspeaks and mistakes “profane” for “propane”. Aside from sounding similar, there is no connection shared between the two worlds, and Carmine’s statement ends up making no sense at all.
“Sun Ta-zoo! The Chinese Prince Matchabelli!”
Paulie has some of the funniest quotes of the series, and that includes this beauty of a mistake. Paulie is attempting to be more literate and worldly by reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Unfortunately, the literature seems far above Paulie’s pay grade, as evident by the hilarious mistakes he makes when referencing it.
Not only does he mispronounce Sun Tzu’s name, but he refers to him as “The Chinese Prince Matchabelli”, mistaking Machiavelli for a perfume. It’s a perfect storm of mistakes, so close to the truth yet so far.
“You Know, Quasimodo Predicted All This.”
Bobby Bacala is arguably the nicest and most sympathetic character on the show, becoming a fan favorite thanks to his kind heart and childish soul. One of the most memorable sequences involving Bobby sees him and Tony eating in a diner.
When referencing the decline of modern society, Bobby claims that “Quasimodo predicted all this”. He means Nostradamus, and Tony rightly corrects him. But replacing Nostradamus with Quasimodo makes for comedy gold, and the path between the two (Nostradamus sounds like Notre Dame, and Quasimodo lives in Notre Dame) is absolutely brilliant.
“We’re In A F***in’ Stagmire.”
When the New York factions go to war, Little Carmine hilariously claims that they’re in a “f***in’ stagmire”. This is nothing but Carmine attempting to sound more intelligent than he actually is and absolutely bungling the sentence with nonsense.
“Stagmire” is not a word. Instead, it’s a nonsensical combination of “quagmire” (an awkward occurrence) and “stagnant” (having no activity). Carmine seems to mean that they’re in an endlessly awkward situation. But instead of saying something of the like, he instead goes with “stagmire”.
“He Killed 16 Czechoslovakians. Guy Was An Interior Decorator!”
One of the best episodes of The Sopranos, “Pine Barrens” has remained a fan favorite for 20 years thanks to some impeccable acting and genius writing. Not only is it legitimately tense at times, but it’s also wonderfully hilarious, containing one of the greatest misquotes in the series’ history.
Tony calls Paulie, telling him that the guy they’re hunting “killed sixteen Chechen rebels” and that he was “with the Interior Ministry”. Paulie mishears or misunderstands most of this, relaying to Chris that he “killed sixteen Czechoslovakians” and that he’s an “interior decorator”. The hilarious line is one of the most memorable and quoted of the series.
“Create A Little Dysentery Among The Ranks!”
In season 4, Christopher theorizes that Vesuvio’s has been bugged by the FBI. When Silvio chastises him for the “conspiracy theory”, Chris answers, “Why not? Create a little dysentery among the ranks!” The quote is hilarious both for the replacement word that Christopher uses and for the fact that it’s so close to what he actually means.
He obviously means “dissent among the ranks”, but misspeaks and references bloody diarrhea instead. The greatest malapropisms are the ones that conjure hilarious images from so simple a mistake. In this case, the mistake is both realistic, understandable, and utterly gut-busting.
“It’s More Like A Hotel At Captain Teeb’s!”
Perhaps the greatest misquote of the entire series, Tony tells Livia that the retirement community is “like a hotel at Captain Teeb’s”. It beautifully showcases Tony’s penchant for wishing to sound smarter and more cultured than he actually is, not to mention parroting what other, smarter people tell him.
It’s Dr. Melfi who originally makes the comparison, stating that the retirement community is like a hotel in the Cap d’Antibes peninsula of southeastern France. Tony repeats this to his mother, mistaking Cap d’Antibes for “Captain Teeb’s”.