The Sopranos

The Sopranos: The Bravest Non-Mafia Characters

The bravest characters in The Sopranos are mostly the made men and the mob wives, but there are a few non-mafia characters who shine too.

While The Sopranos prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark wasn’t a hit, there’s no denying the power of the original show. A story about organized crime, The Sopranos shows how cutthroat the New Jersey underworld is, and only the smart and the brave get to survive. Courage is therefore a common trait but it isn’t just exclusive to the “made guys” and mob wives. A couple of non-mafia characters are shown to be intrepid too.

For some, brave actions lead to serious consequences whereas others are rewarded for it. The gallantry of some of these characters makes them more likable while others only come off as more annoying while doing so. Nonetheless, the daring nature of these individuals still results in great storylines.

Father Phil

Father Phil greets Carmela at the Newark Catholic convention - The Sopranos

The clergyman is close to the mob wives but even though he convinces himself that he is offering spiritual therapy, his behavior is questionable. Carmela later accuses him of using women for food and gifts.

Getting too close to the wives of hard-boiled organized criminals takes some guts. A number of the mobsters, including Tony, air out their concerns about his frequent visits, but Phil keeps coming. However, when faced with imminent danger, he recoils. This is best seen when Carmela happily grabs a gun to check the source of noise outside while Phil panics and remains inside.

Artie Bucco

Artie dares Benny Fazio to fight him in The Sopranos

The owner of the Vesuvio has been friends with Tony since childhood. For this reason, the DiMeo crime family boss demonstrates more tolerance for him than anyone else.

Artie’s courage and cowardice are always on a seesaw. For example, he has to mentally prepare himself before collecting a debt from Jean-Phillip, even rehearsing in front of the mirror — and he still gets beaten by the man. On the other hand, Artie has no problem confronting one of the best Sopranos street soldiers, Benny Fazio, on his own. Furthermore, in what is an even riskier move, Artie tries to embarrass the man in front of his wife as the two are dining at the Vesuvio.

Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau interrogates Christopher about the mob life

Eager to make his Hollywood dreams a reality, Christopher meets up with director Jon Favreau, who plays himself, However, after making Christopher tell him his mafia tales, Favreau abandons him and steals his story as a screenplay for his own movie.

By betraying Christopher’s trust, Favreau shows just how much guts he has. Christopher even shows him his gun, implying that he might whack him if he plays around, but this doesn’t scare the director into helping the young mobster as promised. Instead, Favreau gladly uses the story for his own project. Luckily, Christopher doesn’t choose to pursue him in California.

Assemblyman Zellman

The politician is the person Tony goes to whenever he needs a piece of legislation to go in his favor. The two fall out briefly over Irina but they patch things up again later in the series.

By helping a mafia don, Zellman risks his career as he is likely to lose his seat if such information became public. Still, he keeps doing so. And as someone who’s close to Tony, he is aware of how ruthless he is, yet he still goes on to date Irina, someone whom the DiMeo crime family boss really likes. This causes Zellman to get assaulted but never gets killed.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi

Sopranos scene with Tony facing Dr. Melfi Tony

Over the course of the series, Dr. Jennifer Melfi helps Tony tackle many of his personal problems. But in the final season, she parts ways with him after being manipulated by one of the low-key villains in The Sopranos, Dr. Elliott Kupferberg.

Having a patient that’s a mafia don is risky but Dr. Melfi keeps helping Tony anyway. Even when she is forced to go into hiding because of a potential threat to Tony and those close to him, she still maintains the doctor-patient relationship. And during the few moments when Tony has anger outbursts during sessions, Dr. Melfi never feels intimidated. Instead, she literally parents him into calming down.

A.J. Soprano

AJ Soprano in the Sopranos, outside yelling

Tony’s son is depicted as the black sheep of the family. He is neither bright in school nor street-smart enough to have a career in the New Jersey underworld like his father.

A.J. puts a stamp on his own audacity with his Michael Corleone moment where he walks into Wyckoff Psychiatric Center with the intention of killing his uncle Junior for shooting Tony. It’s a badass moment that beats many others on the show. Additionally, almost everyone who’s close to Tony knows not to mess with him but A.J. never sees his father as a threat. He constantly questions Tony’s directives or outrightly refuses to do as told.

Svetlana Kirilenko

Svetlana flirts with Tony in The Sopranos

Soon after being hired as Junior Soprano’s nurse, Svetlana starts an affair with Tony. A feud also develops between her and Janice over Livia’s possessions.

Most of the decisions Svetlana makes have serious potential consequences but she doesn’t care. She sleeps with Tony despite having a fiancé that works for the New York Mets. She also does so while knowing her cousin Irina is still in love with Tony. And in what is a more badass move, Svetlana sends her Russian gangster friends after Janice as revenge for Janice stealing her prosthetic leg.

Agent Harris

Agent Harris learns about Phil's death in The Sopranos

The FBI agent is tasked with taking down the DiMeo crime family but ends up becoming friends with Tony. The two develop a quid pro quo relationship where Tony provides him with information about terrorist cells in New Jersey while he lets Tony know about the rival Lupertazzi crime family’s plans.

It isn’t exactly safe for an FBI agent to hang around mobsters but Harris does it on the regular, even preferring the mob-infested Satriale’s Pork Store to any other diner. Additionally, Harris never hesitates to play rival mob factions against each other. By doing this, he makes Tony’s crew take out Lupertazzi don, Phil Leotardo.

Officer Leon Wilmore

Tony finds Officer Leon Wilmore working as a salesman to pay his bills

Wilmore pulls over Tony for speeding and gives him a ticket. He rejects a bribe too and as such, Tony pulls strings and has him transferred to the property room.

Arguably the most principled character on the show, Wilmore is aware that there will be consequences for his actions but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t show the slightest fear either when Tony claims to know the police chief. And even Tony finds him selling household items to supplement his low property room income, he still doesn’t cower at the sight of the mob boss.

Gloria Trillo

Tony and his mistress Gloria Trillo kiss inside her apartment in The Sopranos

Gloria is the best character of all Tony Soprano’s mistresses. At first, the don is fascinated by her because she is an independent woman compared to his other lovers but she switches into horror villain mode when he threatens to leave her.

Before Patsy Parisi points a gun at her, Gloria is mostly portrayed as a person immune to threats. Tony orders her to stay away but she instead doubles the drama by offering Carmela a lift as she debates in her mind whether she should expose the cheating mob boss. She eventually keeps off but Gloria leaves a legacy as the only person to make Tony genuinely terrified, and also the only person Tony is unable to handle on his own.

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