The Sopranos is a groundbreaking television series. In many important ways, it helped shape the television landscape of the 2000s – a landscape that included tons of shows centered around a morally ambiguous antihero. That’s because Tony Soprano is perhaps the most morally ambiguous of them all, and his writing and characterization proved so popular and so interesting that it helped influence countless other shows that followed.
Tony may be a likable protagonist, but he is certainly not a good person. That is made abundantly clear throughout the series, as Tony has done some truly depraved and questionable things.
His Extramarital Affairs
Tony Soprano is a bit of a womanizer, and it comes at the expense of his marriage to poor Carmela. It’s an open secret within the mafia (or at least within the world of The Sopranos) that members engage in numerous extramarital affairs with women they call “goomahs.”
Tony has certainly engaged in his fair share of extramarital affairs, and each time it makes him more and more unlikable. It eventually culminates in his (brief) divorce from Carmela, as she grows sick and tired of his adulterous behavior.
He Gets A Police Officer Demoted
Season three’s “Another Toothpick” sees a rather vindictive Tony getting a police officer fired over a speeding ticket. After he is pulled over, Tony tries bribing the police officer. This, of course, only makes things worse, and Tony is given the ticket.
He calls a New Jersey Assemblyman to complain, and the police officer is demoted to the property room. He is then forced to take a job at a local gardening store as a means to supplement his low income. This is Tony at his most spiteful.
He Takes Johnny’s House
By seasons five and six, Tony has grown into a horribly spiteful person who will do anything to anyone, as long as it’s advantageous to him. Case in point – stealing Johnny Sac’s house.
Johnny’s assets are seized after he is convicted and sent to prison, and he arranges to sell his house for dirt cheap to Tony’s sister, Janice. Janice gleefully moves in, and Johnny’s wife, Ginny Sac, is effectively kicked out and left homeless.
He Scares Noah Away With His Racism
The Sopranos was never afraid to depict Tony as a scumbag – even if that meant making him an overt racist. Meadow meets a mixed-race man at Columbia named Noah Tannenbaum, and she takes him home to watch a movie.
While there, he meets the vicious and disapproving Tony. Tony all but kicks him out of his house and tells him to stay away from Meadow, owing to his mixed-race heritage. It drives a massive wedge between Tony and Meadow – and Tony and the viewer, as well.
He Ruins Davey’s Life
Tony is certainly at his worst throughout the fifth and sixth seasons, but he was always a troublesome character who ruined the lives of those around him. While he only appeared in three episodes, the subplot concerning Davey Scatino is one of the show’s most tragic.
Davey gets himself in debt with the mafia after losing at high stakes poker. Unable to pay the debt, Davey is beaten by Tony, his son’s SUV is repossessed, he splits from his wife, and his sporting goods store is eventually taken over by the mafia, resulting in bankruptcy and suicidal thoughts. He is later placed in a mental institution – likely due to the stress caused by Tony and the mob.
He Makes Bobby Kill
The sixth season episode, “Soprano Home Movies,” is often regarded as one of the series’ best. At the heart of the episode is Tony’s childish insecurity, as he is beaten by Bobby after insulting Janice.
Feeling insecure after losing the fight, Tony orders the innocent and playful Bobby to “pop his cherry” and murder the brother-in-law of one of his business partners. Bobby goes through with the hit, but it comes at the expense of his soul. He returns to his loving daughter a different man, having been broken by none other than Tony Soprano.
He Beats Georgie
Poor Georgie Santorelli is always at the brunt of Tony’s wrath. Serving as the dimwitted bartender of the Bada Bing, Georgie often irritates Tony with his stupidity and incompetence.
This usually results in a vicious beating from Tony, with Tony beating Georgie with the likes of phones, ice trays, cash registers, and even a Big Mouth Billy Bass. In one case, Georgie even threatens to quit the Bing after Tony causes him permanent ear damage.
He Commits His First On-Screen Murder
Season one’s “College” served as a huge turning point for both The Sopranos and Tony Soprano as a character. While Tony wasn’t depicted as a good man, it was “College” that portrayed him as a cold-blooded murderer.
While touring colleges with Meadow, Tony comes across an old acquaintance, who is now in the Witness Protection Program. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, Tony stalks the man and eventually garrotes him with a piece of wire.
He Has Adriana Killed
A major turning point in Tony’s character comes in the fifth season episode, “Long Term Parking.” It’s in this episode that Christopher learns that Adriana is working with the feds. Rather than running away with her (as she suggests), Chris goes to Tony and informs on his girlfriend.
Tony, in turn, has Adriana killed by Silvio. It hurt him to do it (as evident by the end of the episode), but it remains one of his most heartless actions.
He Kills Christopher
Despite Christopher’s undying loyalty to Tony, Tony eventually murders him after he makes one too many mistakes. In the sixth season episode, “Kennedy & Heidi,” Christopher crashes the SUV after veering into the wrong lane.
Seeing the destroyed baby seat in the backseat, Tony strangles the incompetent Christopher by plugging his nose and causing him to choke on his own blood. Tony never shows remorse for his actions, and he even goes to Vegas and is seemingly “rewarded” for his actions.