Good character development is a key ingredient in most decent TV shows. Sometimes things appear to be going south for some of the characters but then they redeem themselves in the eyes of the audience. It’s always a joyous moment for both viewers and the characters themselves when that happens.
Being a show about organized crime, The Sopranos was packed with more characters that got worse and worse as they saw their fortunes crumble. Most characters seemed to have no intention of becoming better people by changing their trajectories. However, a couple of notable redemption stories found their way into the script.
Though he often wallowed in self-pity, restaurateur Artie was one of the most adored characters. Having been Tony’s friend since childhood, the mob boss respected Artie and never acted violently towards him. Artie owned the upscale restaurant Nuovo Vesuvio, which was frequented by wealthy mobsters, but business was riddled with setbacks.
Tony had to order his men to torch Vesuvio to prevent Junior from conducting a hit at the premises. Tony knew the hit would scare customers forever. The place was rebuilt but there were other woes such as American Express refusing to work with Vesuvio due to fraud by mobsters. The new restaurant named Da Giovanni’s almost took away all of Artie’s clients too. Luckily, at the end of the series, it was revealed that Arite had sorted out his financial problems. Business was booming so much that celebrities were even dining at his restaurant.
Angie Bonpensiero’s problems began when her husband Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero was whacked for being an FBI informant. After Big Pussy’s death, Angie sunk into a poor financial state. Though Tony normally sent her some cash, it wasn’t enough. She was even seen working at the Pathmark store.
Her fortunes turned around when Tony allowed her to run Big Pussy’s car repair shop. She proved to be an astute businesswoman, turning the shop into a successful enterprise. This enabled her to live a luxurious lifestyle. She even bought a Corvette, something that made Carmella jealous. Angie had so much money that she set up a side business as a loan shark too.
Christopher had a troubled life in general but one area where he eventually saw success was in movie-making. From the start of the series, he had a deep desire to get into Hollywood and become a screenwriter. However, he lacked support at first, with Tony even warning him to stay focused on his mob activities.
The young mobster was then snubbed by director Jon Favreau and his assistant Amy. Famous actor Ben Kingsley ignored Christopher when he approached him. Luckily, Christopher managed to get his movie made thanks to funding from his fellow mobsters. He even got Daniel Baldwin to play the lead role.
A.J. was portrayed as a spoiled child. He wasn’t smart enough to get good grades, not hardworking enough to keep a job, and not tough enough to ever join the mob. His lack of drive led to regular fights with his parents. They tried getting jobs for him and even planned for him to join military school but that didn’t work out.
Personal ghosts haunted A.J. too. He hated his life, something that led him to attempt suicide. And after proposing to Blanca, she gave him back his ring and broke up with him. But by the end of the series, life had gotten better for A.J. He had a new girlfriend and a new job at Little Carmine’s production company.
Paulie appeared disgruntled many times during the early seasons. He was jealous of Ralphie’s earning ability, which exceeded his by far because Ralphie had ties to labor unions. After being overlooked by Tony a number of times, Paulie considered switching sides to the Lupertazzi crime family of New York.
After realizing he had no chance of joining the guys at New York since the boss Carmine didn’t even know him, Paulie stayed focused at home once more. He became extremely loyal and increased his earnings. This led to Tony promoting him from capo to underboss. By the end of the series, Paulie was the only member of Tony’s inner circle to have escaped death or physical harm.
When he was first introduced, Bobby was shy and nice. These were rare traits for a mobster. His fellow mobsters enjoyed making fun of him due to his personality but he never took offense. Bobby was also part of Junior’s crew. This put him in danger during the brief war between Tony and Junior. Luckily, Bobby’s life was spared when Junior’s other soldiers were killed.
Bobby then joined Tony’s crew and it was at this point that his personality changed. He ended up marrying Tony’s sister Janice, something that brought him even closer to the mob boss. Having only been Junior’s driver at the start of the series, Bobby had become an underboss when the series was coming to a close. Unfortunately, he was whacked by Phil Leotardo’s men in the finale.
Tony’s redemption can mostly be seen in his marriage. In the first few seasons, he was quite the philandering husband. There was no woman he didn’t try to sleep with, including his therapist Dr. Melfi. The chickens soon came home to roost when one of his mistresses called his house and exposed him. This led to an ugly fight that led to Carmela breaking up with him.
The don managed to get on his wife’s good side again when he agreed to fund her dream spec house. After the reconciliation, Tony put a cap on his infidelity. He had the opportunity to sleep with a few women like the realtor Julianna Skiff but he turned them down. His marriage also remained intact after the reunion.
Agent Dwight Harris
Agent Harris was tasked with taking down Tony Soprano in the first few seasons of the series. Unfortunately for him, his job wasn’t easy because Tony was a very smart and cautious boss. Harris thus appeared to have failed in his mission when he got transferred to the FBI’s counter-terrorism division.
At that point, he befriended Tony, asking him for information about financiers of terrorism in the New Jersey underworld. In return, Harris promised to put in a good word for Tony in case he ever got charged with a crime. But his biggest contribution was telling Tony the location of Lupertazzi crime family boss Phil Leotardo. Tony’s men quickly whacked Phil and upon hearing the news, Harris celebrated. He had failed to take down Tony, but his intel had led to the death of another major boss that the FBI was after.
Benny Fazio’s career as a mobster appeared to have been over when he was jailed for a robbery. Luckily, he was released early and assigned to Christopher’s crew.
His star soon began to rise as he was awarded a “no-work” job at the esplanade construction site, a gig that every mobster considered lucrative. He was also assigned high-profile hits on the regular. Benny would soon grow to be a trusted associate to Tony, acting as his driver and occasional bodyguard.
Larry was one of the soft-spoken members of the DiMeo Crime Family. He often cracked jokes and was well-liked by his fellow mobsters. He was close to Tony, too, supporting him over Junior when the capos were deciding who would be the new boss.
Larry’s fortunes took a nosedive when he was arrested at Christopher’s movie premiere for violating his probation terms. The FBI then coerced him to be an informant, which he agreed to. This was a big sin in the eyes of his colleagues but despite leading the feds to the body of Tony’s first victim, Larry lied to them that it was the dead boss Jackie Aprile Sr. who committed the crime. By protecting Tony, he had earned his redemption.