In the HBO hit TV series The Sopranos, Corrado John Soprano (Dominic Chianese), usually referred to as “Uncle Junior” or “Uncle Jun”, is the head of the DiMeo crime family. He is also the uncle of the main character Tony Soprano and the elder brother of Johnny Soprano.
Junior is often portrayed as deceitful and humorous. After he tries to get Tony killed the two end up having a rivalry that plays out for most of the series. Junior also faces several setbacks including age-related illnesses and run-ins with the law. Here are his best quotes on the show.
“Some People Are So Far Behind In A Race That They Actually Believe They’re Leading.”
In as much as Tony Soprano was the main man, not many people gave him a run for his money the way Uncle Junior did. Many wished their rivalry would have ended with one of them whacking the other (as is the norm with mafia tales) instead of it ending naturally because of Junior’s illness.
In Season 2’s sixth episode titled “The Happy Wanderer,” Junior had a rather interesting way of letting Tony know that he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was by saying the statement above. To be fair, Tony was a smart man who believed he had everything under control but so did Uncle Junior. The two men were more similar than they thought. In the long run, it is Tony who made a couple of smart moves that put him way above Junior.
“Teddy Roosevelt Once Gave An Entire Speech With A Bullet Lodged In His Chest. Some Things Are Just A Matter Of Duty.”
In the Season 3 episode titled “Another Toothpick,” Uncle Junior emphasized on the importance of never having excuses. No matter the situation you are in, you can still manage to perform your duties or go about your daily activities. Junior knows this all too well, considering that he ran his crime family while mostly being ill.
With the statement, Junior referred to the 1912 incident in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where an assassination attempt was made on President Roosevelt. Despite being shot on the chest, Roosevelt insisted on finishing his speech and went on to address the crowd for 90 more minutes before seeking medical attention. What was even better was the manner in which he concluded the speech: “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
“Take It Easy. We’re Not Making A Western, Here.”
In the third episode of Season 1, Mikey Palmice is seen having a conversation with Junior where he suggests that Junior should have handled the Christopher Moltisanti issue with brutality instead of being casual about it. According to Mikey, this could have sent a clear message.
However, Junior shuts him down by saying that he doesn’t need to put up such a tough persona like they are filming a Western. In The Sopranos, there were plenty of people who felt they needed to prove they were tough guys but bosses like Tony and Junior normally saw through this behavior. They considered it lame. Tony even referred to it as “Cowboy-itis.”
“Don’t Be So Smart. Things Could’ve Gone The Other Way, My Little Nephew.”
In the mob, everyone is always trying to kill someone. Even your best friend will gladly kill you without thinking long and hard about it. We saw recently saw this in The Irishman when Frank Sheeran (Rober De Niro) shot Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) twice.
In the second episode of Season 2 titled “Do Not Resuscitate,” Uncle Junior is having a conversation with Tony when he says these words. This is after Junior broke the “family first” rule and tried to get Tony whacked but the plan failed. Junior tells Tony to not be proud because he could be dead by now.
“You Heard About The Chinese Godfather? He Made Them An Offer They Couldn’t Understand.”
By the fourth episode of Season 1, Uncle Junior was already establishing himself as the Lord Of One-Liners. And he really enjoyed making fun of the Chinese. In this episode, he put a twist to the saying “Make you an offer you can’t refuse” by making a joke about a Chinese godfather.
From past mob movies, it’s clear that anyone who refuses the offer of the boss usually ends up dead. So, no one usually dares to refuse. However, Uncle Junior feels that it would be hard to accept (let alone refuse) the offer of a Chinese boss because of a communication breakdown.
“You tell me to take a crap on the deck of the Queen Mary, an hour later they’re hosing it off with disinfectant.”
Throughout the first seasons of the series, it was revealed just how much Uncle Junior was obsessed with President John F Kennedy. Kennedy—whose death has been linked to the mafia by conspiracy theorists—happened to be one of Uncle Junior’s favorite historical figures.
His obsession with President John F Kenedy was so intense that when a doctor told him he was about to perform surgery on him to remove a tumor, he didn’t even ask questions. This was because the doctor’s name was Dr. John Kennedy. He suggests that he’ll do anything the doctor asks, even if it means using the queen’s desk as a toilet.
“I’m Sitting Here Like Patience On A Monument Waiting For Discipline To Be Handed Down”
There were many times when Uncle Junior proved that he was not just an ordinary gangster in North Jersey but a well-read one. In the season one episode titled “Meadowlands”, he rants about the delay of discipline by using the “Sat like Patience on a monument” quote.
This quote can actually be traced back to William Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.” The statement was uttered by Viola, the main character. The allegorical statues of Patience were often common on top of tombstones during the Renaissance era hence the inspiration for the phrase.
“You Steer The Ship The Best Way You Know. Sometimes It’s Smooth. Sometimes You Hit The Rocks. “
In the Season 3 episode “He Is Risen,” Uncle Junior made a more serious statement that doesn’t just apply to leadership but to general life as well. As the boss, Junior faced plenty of setbacks but he never appeared to worry. Not even once.
Both in life and in leadership, it is important to do your best at all times. Sometimes everything will go well and sometimes everything will go south. No matter the circumstances, you remain grateful, knowing that you did the best you could.
“Livia Is Like A Woman With A Virginia Ham Under Her Arm, Crying The Blues ‘Cause She Has No Bread.”
Also in the episode “The Happy Wanderer”, Junior sums up Livia Soprano’s personality quite perfectly. Livia was Tony Soprano’s mother and she was never easy to deal with. In some of his therapy sessions, Tony even confessed to being stressed up by his mother’s behavior.
Interestingly, David Chase—the creator of the series—confessed that Livia was based on his own mother. She mustn’t have been a fan of her son’s hit TV show then. In 2016, Livia was also ranked 3rd on Rolling Stone‘s list of “40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time.”
“What The Hell Would We Have In Common? Bunions?”
When one of Junior’s top henchmen Bobby Baccalà suggests that his boss should form a friendship with Catherine Romano (Mary Louise Wilson), who he believes is a decent woman, Junior shoots the idea down. He reminds Bobby just how he hates bonding with new people.
And he makes sure to do this in the best way possible by suggesting that the only things he might have in common with Catherine are bunions on the feet. Bunions are bony bumps that normally form at the joints of the toes. Trust Junior to be the only person capable of coming up with such a statement.