Characters: The Godfather

The characters of The Godfather trilogy and any associated works.
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     The Corleone Family 

Don Vito Corleone

Left: Vito in Part II — Right: Vito in The Godfather
"A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."

Portrayed By: Marlon Brando (The Godfather), Robert De Niro (Part II)

Born Vito Andolini, he is the founder of the Corleone crime family.

Collectively, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Vito behaves like — and, in some ways, is — a family-oriented leader of his community, doing favors for the weak and punishing the wicked (so long as it doesn't interfere with business). In some ways this is an enforced Invoked Trope.
  • The Don: The original Godfather, the Don of a New York crime family.
  • Family Values Villain: Vito firmly believes and teaches that blood is Thicker Than Water.
  • Good Parents: He genuinely and deeply loves his children, and his children love him unconditionaly.
  • Papa Wolf: He shows hints of this towards his own children, especially for his youngest son, Michael. When arranging Michael's safe return from exile with the other heads of the crime families, he makes it clear that anyone who messes with his son will regret it.

In Part I, this character exhibits examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Treats everybody that works for him with sincere respect.
  • Acrofatic: A minor case, but his surprising quickness for his size saves his life during Sollozzo's ambush.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Trope Namer. Coined by Michael to illustrate how Vito reached an agreement with a band leader to release Johnny Fontane from a contract.
  • Badass Moustache: He sports a badass moustache, and he only begins wearing it after he gains power as a Mafia kingpin.
  • Benevolent Boss: Compared to Michael and Vinnie, Vito is extremely forgiving. He even publicly admits to other Dons that he will not seek revenge for Sonny's death. Although this can be interpreted as more of a case of Exact Words.
  • The Chessmaster: Especially in the book where it is more obvious that Michael's purge of the five families was orchestrated by Vito years before, at his negotiations to bring Michael home from Sicily.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: He and Michael are aware of many of the trades and tropes of his profession, invoke some of them and make plans and gambits accordingly, hence their success.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Marlon Brando had star billing and a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, but he was gunned down less than forty minutes in and spent a good deal of the rest of the film lying in a hospital bed before dying of a heart attack. His son Michael was the "hero" of the film.
  • Every One Has Standards: He believes that his political connections, which regard gambling as "a harmless vice", will abandon the Family if they learn that hard drugs like heroin are being sold. Even after they agree to the trade, the Dons refuse to allow the drugs into schools or to be sold to children.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: To Michael. Vito figures on Sonny following his path, and Fredo... well... He wanted something better with Michael. The expression on his face when he's told that Michael killed Sollozzo and McCluskey is one of pure heartbreak.
  • Go Out with a Smile: When he dies, he dies playing with his grandson.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Wanted to turn the family legit and go into politics.
  • Manly Tears: When he learns of Sonny's death, and then later when he takes the corpse to the undertaker. Also at the hospital when he realizes Michael is taking his side in the family business.
  • Parental Favoritism: Towards Michael, meant for a higher purpose. The original novel tries to explain why Sonny is the heir exempt from Evil Parents Want Good Kids because Sonny choose a criminal life after witnessing Vito killing Fanucci. (Part II disregards this)

In Part II, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Foil: To Michael. Vito believes above all in family and in loyalty, but unlike Michael and Sonny he doesn't take it personally when he gets betrayed or otherwise messed around with. For example, when his boss Genco' father has to fire him because the local Don wants his nephew to have Vito's job, Vito politely turns down the offer of compensation and assures him that he bears him no grudge. He then fixes the problem by cold-bloodedly killing the Don, thereby removing the problem. He then makes Genco his consigliere, and Genco is forever loyal.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Started out as a poor Italian immigrant.
  • The Ghost: Marlon Brando was supposed to reprise his role as "old" Vito for the 1941 flashback at the end of Part II, but when he failed to turn up for the shoot, the scene was rewritten to keep him offscreen.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Ran away from a crime lord, only to become himself.
  • Misery Builds Character: After running away to America alone as a child, he builds up his reputations on the streets.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of them were killed in Sicily by the local mafia. His older brother Paolo got himself killed trying to avenge their father.
  • Posthumous Character: His story is told throughout a flashback since he already passed away in the first film.
  • Revenge: Against Francesco Ciccio for killing his parents.
  • Tranquil Fury: Probably the reason why the other guys in the neighbourhood recognise Vito as a leader.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: His parents' deaths is what turns him into a Don like he was today.
  • You Killed My Father: The beginning of Part II' tells or shows that Vito's father, mother (and brother) are murdered by a Sicilian mafia boss, Don Ciccio, when Vito is a child. He escapes to the U.S., becomes an influential crime boss there, and eventually returns to Sicily to meet Don Ciccio.

Michael Corleone

"Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgement."

"Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer."

Portrayed By: Al Pacino

The youngest child of the family. He doesn't want to join the family business. When Sollozzo and McCluskey make another attempt on his father's life, he is forced to join the family business and kills them. He becomes the new Don at the end of the movie. By the second movie, Michael becomes a full-fledged ruthless Don. In the third movie, he strives to stay legitimate, but his past finally catches up. He ultimately fails, with tragic consequences.

Collectively, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Being Evil Sucks: He justifies his descent into mob villainy as being done for the well-being of his family, but by the end of the second movie he starts to realize that it has destroyed his family. By the end of the third movie almost all the people he cared for are dead or driven away as a result of his choices.
  • Berserk Button: Michael believes in two things; Family and Loyalty to the family. Going after or betraying the family sets him off.
  • The Chessmaster: He proves himself to be this at least twice during Part I, and continuously throughout Part II, using devious and brutal schemes to keep the Corleone Family strong, despite their (numerous) ups and downs.
  • The Don: After Vito died in 1955 Michael officially became Don.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In the first two movies, he's polite, icy and ruthless. He sweet-talks Kay to make her believe he's not going to be a criminal while his revenge plans are already in motion. He invokes a false veneer of amicability by keeping his friends close but his enemies closer.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible to Sonny and Fredo's Foolish.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Michael plays both roles to get information from people who betray him. He will act polite, friendly, like all is forgiven if they just tell him the truth. Then as soon as he gets the information he needs, he becomes Bad Cop.
  • Meaningful Name: Michael is an angel and its supposed to symbolize that the youngest Corleone son will turn out different than his brothers. But he didn't.
  • The Protagonist: Is the main character of The Godfather film series.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The entire series is all about Michael Corleone's transformation from White Sheep of a crime family to its ruthless leader, and subsequent doomed attempts to atone.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The cold hearted Blue Oni to Sonny's Red.
  • Tragic Villain: He starts as an independent minded War Hero, but he is gradually dragged into mob life to protect his father and his family. He fought his perceived enemies with cold ruthlessness for years while he struggles to achieve legitimacy, and by the time he gets there, he admits that it's too late and that he is too tired and past redemption, and passes the torch to a new Don.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Despite his early attempts to avoid it, he ends up in the exact same role as his father.
  • Young Conqueror: Is Don by default after Vito's passing.

In Part I, this character exhibits examples of:

  • The Dutiful Son: It's the reason why Michael gets involved in the family business. After the death of Sonny, Michael takes even more of an active role of leading.
  • Face-Heel Turn: He goes from being the one person in his family that could possibly go legit into a cold-blooded Mafioso who can lie to his wife's face and feel no remorse.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: A subtle example. At the wedding, his hair is shorter and parted at the side, emphasizing his innocence. After shooting Sollozzo, he never has his hair like this again. When he returns to America, he has his hair slicked back, like the stereotypical mafia don image.
  • Happily Married:
    • With Apollonia until her death.
    • He later marries Kay but their marriage is a total disaster.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The reason he got into the Corleone family business in the first place was to do his part in protecting his family. But he ends up just as monstrous as his enemies.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal
    Michael: "That's my family, Kaye. That's not me."
  • Knight Templar Patriarch: Don't you ever go against the family. It gets even worse in the second movie.
  • Love at First Sight: When he meets Apollonia.
  • Necessarily Evil: Tries to justify himself as this, at least to Kay.
  • Non-Action Guy: His brothers and the caporegimes see him as this in the first film, even though he was in the Army, because he never wanted to get involved with the family business. When he offers to shoot Sollozzo and McCluskey, they all laugh at him.
    Sonny: What are you gonna do? Nice college boy, didn't want to get mixed up in the family business. Now you want to gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped you in the face a little? What, do you think this like the Army where you can shoot 'em from a mile away? No, you gotta get up like this and, badda-bing, you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit!
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: He was chosen to negotiate with The Turk because he had no known connections to his family's criminal empire. Michael kills The Turk and the mediating police captain, and he just gets worse from there.
  • Start of Darkness: Apollonia's death is the ultimate trigger.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: He has killed and ordered others to kill in his name, but after Sonny's brutal murder and accidentally killing Apollonia, it's not hard to feel like those victims had it coming.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He claims, and to an extent believes, that he is doing what he does for the sake of his family, and only against those who deserve it. This justification gradually erodes over the course of the movie.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Not even Vito would have gone as far as he did to secure the power of his empire. He gets called out on this twice, by his sister and later by Kay.
  • White Sheep: He was raised to be the white sheep; he was supposed to begin the family's shift into respectability. Vito expresses regret shortly before his death that he ended up being the one to succeed his father, since he'd wanted him to be "Senator Corleone" or "Governor Corleone," and Michael reassures him that "we'll get there."
  • Youngest Child Wins: He manages to subdue all of the family's enemies and secures his position as Don... of course, was it really worth it?

In Part II, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Broken Ace: Especially towards the end. He is the most powerful Mafia Don in the country, has secured the Corleone Family's power and prosperity, and eliminated all his enemies, but he has alienated those who love him and relinquished his own happiness in the process.
  • Cain and Abel: With Fredo. As the film goes on they swap roles — Fredo becomes less Cain and more Abel, and Michael less Abel and more Cain, then even more Cain still by having Fredo killed.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Naturally his reaction when he discovers that his brother had been talking to Johnny Ola about his plans to kill him.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Specifically delays his revenge on Fredo until after his mother passes away, because he knew she would be devastated if anything happened to him.
  • Kiss of Death: After he finds out that Fredo betrayed him.
  • Motive Decay: It's become less about the welfare of his family and more about the welfare of the family business; and by the end of the film, the greatest enemy of Michael's family is clearly Michael himself.
    • The Paranoiac: Michael likely doesn't see a difference. In his mind, all the problems the family faced in the first movie came down to them not being respected or feared enough, which is why he is so ruthless and why he can't make the family go legit, as their enemies would see that as weakness; he probably hoped Kay would just one day accept that. He thinks protecting her and the kids is the main reason he is doing this, which is why he goes ballistic when she turns on him too.
  • Villain Protagonist: Started out pretty heroic in Part I, but he's solidly villainous in Part II.

In Part III, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Amicably Divorced: With Kay.
  • Anti-Villain: He desperately tries to do good, going so far as to assure the protection of Pope John Paul I, only to fail.
  • The Atoner: He even confesses in church for his crimes; this is how badly he wants to become good.
  • Chronic Villainy
    Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.
  • Dying Alone: In stark contrast to Vito.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Michael refuses to have her daughter Mary involved in the business and does whatever he can to keep her out of the loop.
  • Heartbroken Badass: He starts crying when his son sings a Sicilian ballad that reminds me him of Apollonia.
  • Hypocrite: Michael tries to push Tony to complete Law School so that he could become a family lawyer and gets upset when Tony chooses pursuing a dream to become a singer. Michael himself was resistant against becoming a politician despite being pushed by his family and choose to enlist.
  • Lonely at the Top: It becomes the focal point for the final movie in the trilogy. Michael Corleone tries to repair the relationship with his wife and children now that he's legit in the eyes of the public (which was his ultimate goal for the family). He goes to a Catholic Priest and confesses his ultimate sin of having his older brother Fredo killed. He finds a worthy successor to take over the business when he's gone. And just when things are looking up, his daughter gets killed by his enemies, breaking him for good.
  • Passing the Torch: To Vincent.

Sonny Corleone

"Goddamn FBI don't respect nothin'."

"I want Sollozzo, if not, it's all out war, we go to the mattresses!"

Portrayed By: James Caan

The eldest child of the family and the hothead.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Hurting his younger sister will earn you a free trip to the emergency room.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He launches into one of the most epic No Holds Barred eatdowns in film history against his brother-in-law after he finds his sister with a black eye. The enemy family Barzini later uses this instinct against Sonny by paying Carlo to deliver a savage beating to his wife in order to easily set up an ambush for Sonny.
  • Brooklyn Rage / Unstoppable Rage: Somebody that messed with Sonny's sister caused him to pummel that man well into submission.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: In Part I, Sonny is the most violent and hotheaded of the brothers, but most of his violence is directed at those who hurt his family. It's clear that he is very protective of them and hurting them is his Berserk Button. Like Vito, his acceptance of Tom as a brother also shows that he is not as racist as most Sicilian mafioso.

Fredo Corleone

"I can handle things! I'm smart, not like everybody says, like, dumb! I'm smart, and I want respect!"

"Fredo has a good heart, but he's weak... and stupid."
Michael Corleone

Portrayed By: John Cazale

The middle child of the family. He is the stupid one, but has a warm heart. "Fredo" has now become shorthand for "weak link".

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp: In the book the reader is informed that Fredo was a tough guy who just took his eye off the ball during the attempted assassination of Vito and then suffered from being corrupted by the inevitable Hookers and Blow that went with running the Family business in Vegas. None of this shows up in the movies, where he comes across as an incompetent boob. Given that any toughness or competence on Fredo's part was certainly an informed ability, perhaps that was for the best.
  • Bad Liar: He reveals himself as The Mole by pretending in front of Michael that he's never met Johnny Ola and then, hours later at most, blithely shouting that it was Johnny Ola who told him about the sex show. If he ever figures out how he gave it away, we don't see when. An almost comical example happens earlier: in bed with his wife, he answers the phone to have a whispered conversation full of lines like "You guys lied to me!" and then, when she asks who it was, just says, "Wrong number."
  • Cain and Abel: with Michael. Ironically, after Michael has Fredo killed, Michael remembers how Fredo was the only one who spoke up for Michael's decision to drop out of college and join the Marines.
  • Cool Uncle: Ironically he is this to Tony and Mary, Michael's kids.
  • Heel-Face Turn: He knows he screwed up in betraying Michael to Hyman Roth, and tries to earn forgiveness during the later half of Part II. He's even seen being genuinely kind to his nephew Anthony as the two work on fishing in Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately, Michael is NOT in the mood to forgive anyone this time...
  • Henpecked Husband: To Deanna in Part II.
  • Kavorka Man: Nowhere near as Badass as Sonny, and definitely not as smart as Michael, but Moe Green complains that he's "banging cocktail waitresses, two at a time". In the novel, it's stated that this fact greatly displeased Don Vito, as the Don was always very straitlaced about sex.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Fredo has this in spades. Sonny has the brawn, Michael has the brains, and Tom Hagen plays the traditional middle child role of mediating between them. While introducing Kay to his family during the novel's opening sections, Michael acknowledges that Fredo serves almost no purpose in the Corleone family.
  • Momma's Boy: Described in the first novel as the son every Italian mother longs for.
  • The Resenter: Though he never showed any real aptitude for the family business, he gets sick of being treated as a gofer and an errand boy, while his younger brother becomes the Don. This leads him to his ill-fated deal with Hyman Roth.
    "Send Fredo off to do this, send Fredo off to do that! Let Fredo take care of some Mickey-Mouse nightclub somewhere! Send Fredo to pick somebody up at the airport! I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!"
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ugly Guy to Deanna's Hot Wife in Part II.
  • The Unfavorite: By the second movie, he's developed a complex over this.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Tries everything he can to please Michael, but it just doesn't work out.

Contanza "Connie" Corleone

Connie: Michael. Now they'll fear you.
Michael: Maybe they should fear YOU!

Portrayed By: Talia Shire

The youngest of Vito Corleone's children and his only daughter.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Daddy's Girl: Vito loves her very dearly.
  • Domestic Abuse: Experiences this at the hands of Carlo
  • Mafia Princess: The archetypal example of this. By the end of the first film however, when her abusive husband is murdered by her brother Michael for his role in setting up the murder of the oldest sibling Sonny, Connie finds herself quite jaded and goes into a downward spiral of debauchery and drinking to punish her brother Michael. It takes the death of her mother Carmela to get her to clean her act up, at which point she convinces Michael to reconcile with turncoat brother Fredo. By the third film, she's been upgraded to full-blown Godmother and has taken the role of adviser/Corleone Family mentor to Sonny's illegitimate son Vinnie, who has followed his father's footsteps into organized crime.
  • Older and Wiser: She is practically a load in her younger years since the business is not female-friendly, but she evolves and by Part III she is Lady Macbeth.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: She's the only daughter of the Corleone family with three older brothers (Sonny, Fredo and Michael) and another adopted brother Tom Hagen.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Part III, becomes Michael's de facto consigliere, ordering hits without his permission. She even assists in killing Altobello, who is her godfather, with poisoned cannoli during the final parts of Part III.

Kay Adams-Corleone

Portrayed By: Diane Keaton

Michael's long-time girlfriend that he met at college. She is somewhat of an outsider from the beginning and symbolizes Michael's initial desire to live a more Americanized life - viewing her as a way of breaking away from the family business. He eventually falls out of love with her but proposes to her years later in order to start a family. She becomes his second wife and they have two children but their relationship is not a happy one. Michael continuously mistreats Kay and it ends bitterly with a divorce in Part II after Kay tells Michael that she has aborted their third child to spite him. In Part III, Michael has mellowed out and they attempt to reconcile their relationship but then their daughter, Mary dies.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Betty and Veronica: Looks like the Betty but is the Veronica while Apollonia is the Betty who looks like the Veronica.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Subverted. Kay Corleone apparently suffers this trope, only to be revealed later that she aborted the child out of hatred towards her Catholic husband and because she can't stand the idea of another child being raised into his criminal family.
  • First Love: To Michael. He ends up marrying her after his first relationship didn't pan out.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: She is this to provide a contrast between a "normal" American in The Forties and the Corleones.

Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone

Portrayed By: Simonetta Stefanelli

Shortly after Michael arrives in Sicily following his escape from New York, he meets a local woman named Apollonia. Michael falls deeply and passionately in love with her (which is described as being "struck by the thunderbolt"). After a brief period of courtship, Michael marries her and she becomes his first wife. His relationship with her is what helps him re-connect with his Sicilian roots and find out where he truly belongs. The pregnant Apollonia dies in a car bomb set by Fabrizio (one of Michael's bodyguards) that was intended to kill him. Her death makes Michael a man with an uncontrollable thirst for revenge, which would eventually lead him to betray his family.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Babies Ever After: Subverted. Michael and Apollonia expected this kind of life (especially since they had sex every night) but Apollonia was murdered during her pregnancy and thus their unborn child died as well.
  • Foil: To Kay. Apollonia represents traditions and Italian life whereas Kay represents modernity and American life.
  • Happily Married: With Michael. Their marriage brings Michael back to his Sicilian roots.
  • Language Barrier: Has trouble communicating with Michael as she only speaks Italian and he primarily speaks English with only a little Italian, they end up having a loving relationship despite this obstacle.
  • Meaningful Name: Her name is derived from the Greek god, Apollo (god of light and the sun). This symbolises that Apollonia is the light - the happiness and innocence of Michael's life. Thus her death is also the loss of this innocence and Michael's Start of Darkness.

Vincent "Vinnie" Mancini-Corleone

Portrayed By: Andy Garcia

Sonny's illegitimate son and Michael's nephew. He is a hothead like his father.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Badass: Comfortably kills two guys sent to kill him.
  • Canon Foreigner: He wasn't in the book at all. In fact Sonny's mistress was explicitly stated to have not gotten pregnant by him.
  • Generation Xerox: Although from all indications, he would probably be a better Don than Sonny could have been.
  • Hot-Blooded: Must run in the family.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's impulsive and hotheaded, but loves his family deeply and is very protective of them.
  • Kissing Cousins: With Mary, but it doesn't last.
  • Shoo the Dog: At Michael's request, he tells Mary that he cannot be with her since his business is too dangerous for them to be together.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Michael and the Corleone family.

Mary Corleone

Portrayed By: Sofia Coppola

The youngest of Michael's children. Sofia's being cast as her was a very controversial decision, though in truth she was just a last-minute replacement for Winona Ryder, and only took the part reluctantly.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Daddy's Girl: No good comes of it to her.
  • Kill the Cutie: She is shot with a bullet meant for Michael near the end of Part III.
  • Kissing Cousins: With Vincent, but it doesn't last.
  • Mafia Princess: She is legitimately oblivious to her father's corrupt ways, also striking a romance with her cousin Vinnie. The poor kid ends up shot to death as a result of her father's crimes coming back to bite him on the ass, since an assassin sent to snipe Michael after her brother's opera debut shoots her instead by mistake; she dies in Michael's arms, and he's pushed to the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Has no knowledge of what her father has done as Don.

Anthony "Tony" Corleone

Portrayed By: Franc D'Ambrosio

Michael's oldest child and his initial heir apparent. Anthony, however, has different ideas and by Part III, is openly refusing to become a part of his father's criminal empire, instead opting to become an opera singer.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Calling the Old Man Out: He delivers a particularly devastating one to Michael at the beginning of Part III.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Initially in Part II, right after his parents' separation, the young Anthony is portrayed as being cold and distant towards his mother, seemingly blaming her for the breakup. By the third film, however, it is Michael that he resents, mostly because he discovered the truth that Michael ordered the murder of Fredo, his favorite uncle.
  • Nice Guy: Wants nothing to do with the criminal empire and is sweet, polite and loves his family.
  • Please Wake Up: A mild example, but the baby Anthony is the only other person present during Vito's death.

Tom Hagen

"I have a special practice. I handle one client."

"A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns."
Vito Corleone

Portrayed By: Robert Duvall

An orphaned childhood friend of Sonny´s, Tom was unofficially adopted by Don Vito. He´s the family´s lawyer and Consigliere.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: A dignified mob lawyer.
  • Badass Bookworm: A lawyer by profession and undoubtedly one of the most intelligent members of the Corleone family, he also killed two people in The Godfather Returns strangling one with his belt and shooting another. Then, in the same book, there's his ease in putting Fredo on the ground when attacked in a fit of anger. (Fredo later compliments him on his reflexes. Tom's response: "lots of coffee".)
  • Bald of Awesome: By the second movie, he's going bald.
  • The Consigliere: Trope Codifier. Close to a Unbuilt Trope in that Tom, though well-meaning, isn't a particularly good Consigliere during wartime. He admits it to himself in the book after Sonny dies. Michael replaces him with his father, although he still listens to him until he grows unhappy with Tom in Part II.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Despite his integral role in the first two films, his death is only briefly mentioned in passing at the beginning of Part III.
  • Happily Adopted: Although the Don never formally adopted him, Hagen thought of Vito Corleone as his true father.
  • Heroic BSOD: In the original novel, he suffers a very minor breakdown when he learns that Sonny has just been murdered, and needs a stiff drink before plucking up the courage to tell Vito. Vito lampshades this to Tom, but permits him to finish his drink before saying what he's afraid to say.
  • Non-Action Guy: In the movies, anyway. This fact is lampshaded by Virgil Sollozzo:
    "I know you're not in the muscle-end of the family, Tom, so I don't want you to be scared."
  • Only Sane Man: Finds himself playing this part when Sonny or Michael start getting too bloodthirsty.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Tom's a very serious guy at heart, but he can be surprisingly warm-hearted towards friends and family.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Corleone family.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Implied by Michael.

     Corleone Family Associates 

Capo Peter Clemenza

Portrayed By: Richard Castellano (The Godfather), Bruno Kirby (Part II)

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Both the book and the film show him as a surprisingly agile dancer at the Corleone wedding.
  • Affably Evil: To his friends and associates, Clemenza's regarded as a friendly, jovial kind of guy, always happy to talk and always happy to share his tales of the good old days.
  • Big Fun: Seems to provide a comedic scene or two, the quote above being the top example on how funny he can get.
  • The Big Guy: As a Capo of the family, he takes a direct role in controlling the movements of the family soldiers; for good measure, he's occasionally called upon to act as a hitman.
  • Cool Uncle: To Vito's children, even if not by blood.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dialogue in the second film implies that he died of a heart attack between movies.
    • Considering his looks and lifestyle this surprises no one. He's introduced in the first movie trying to catch a breath after dancing looking like he's about to have a heart attack then.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Vito and Tessio.
  • Honorary Uncle: To Vito's children.
  • Fat Bastard: Has a reputation for violent, ruthless tactics in gang wars.
  • Hidden Depths: An excellent cook, even showing Michael how to make spaghetti sauce, and a history buff who compares Solozzo's actions to Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch.
  • The Mentor: According to the book, he taught Sonny how to fight and kill, though he was a bit disappointed that Sonny never showed any particular liking for the garotte. In both the film and the book, he also advises Michael on carrying out the killing of Solozzo and McCluskey.
  • Real Men Dont Cry: Averted in The Godfather Returns, he will not watch Tessio's execution because "there are some things a guy doesn't want to see."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Tessio's blue.

Capo Salvatore Tessio

"Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."

Portrayed By: Abe Vigoda

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Been There, Shaped History: The novel narrates that he killed Salvatore Maranzano in a Brooklyn restaurant.
  • The Cameo: Briefly appears in Part II.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Once it's clear that he can't talk his way out of his execution, he calmly and willingly steps into the car without another word of protest.
  • The Mole: Secretly works for Barzini.
  • Nothing Personal: After being discovered as Don Barzini's mole in the Corleone family, he explains that nothing about his betrayal was personal.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Clemenza's red.
  • The Smart Guy: Considered the smarter of the two Caporegimes, and usually makes the tactical decisions of the Family soldiers.

Luca Brasi

Portrayed By: Lenny Montoya

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Clearly seen struggling with English during his introduction at the wedding, but has no problems using colloquial Italian later.
  • Hidden Depths: The movie doesn't make him look particularly intelligent, but the book explains how part of what made him so dangerous was his ability to commit murders all by himself; most enforcers need backup on a hit. And when you commit a murder by yourself, there's no one to tell the police what happened.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Went on one after an attempt on Vito's life in the Olive Oil War. It took Vito recovering and personally calling him off to avoid Luca dropping enough bodies to make peace impossible. The Turk has him killed before they attempt to kill Vito to avoid this happening to him.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: To extreme levels.
  • The Worf Effect: Established as Don Corleone's most fearsome right-hand man at the beginning of the first film, but then is quickly taken out by the Tattaglia family to show the grave danger the Corleones are facing.

Aldo Trapani

"Everybody loses something."

Portrayed By: Andrew Pifko (The Godfather [game]), Rick Pasqualone (Part II [game])

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Been There, Shaped History: He is responsible for helping Rocco in removing Khartoum's head and placing it in Woltz's bed, beating the two kids who tried to rape Bonasera's daughter, assassinating both Paulie Gatto and Salvatore Tessio for betraying the Family, hiding the pistol Michael would use to kill Solozzo and McCluskey, and participating in the assassination of the heads of the Five Families.
  • Retcon: It's a goal to become "Don of New York" in the game, with a cinematic showing it is exactly what it sounds like as he oversees Manhattan in a high rise building with Mafia dons as his lackeys. Come to "Part II" and he's a capo with no hints of having rose anywhere above it.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Briefly appears in Part II.
  • Villain Protagonist: While he certainly is better than his enemies, and maintains a good relationship with everyone he meets, he still beats and maims shop owners for protection money and dives head-first into the Mafia lifestyle with no hesitation.
  • You Killed My Father: He guns down Barzini at the steps of the City Hall.

Al Neri

Portrayed By: Richard Bright

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: By the second film, he becomes one of Michael's most trusted subordinates. And by the third, he's next to Connie in terms of power in the Family.
  • Badass: Kills Barzini, his bodyguard and his drive before any of them can draw a gun.
  • Co-Dragons: With Rocco, for Michael.
  • Cowboy Cop: What got him fired from the Force and into the Family.
  • The Dragon: For Michael.
  • The Dreaded: One assumes this after Tom says of him to Michael "Now you've got your Luca"
  • Genius Bruiser: Genius might be an overstatement, but Al is a very intelligent and Michael seeks and trusts his input.
  • The Quiet One: Says nothing in the first two films.

Rocco Lampone

Portrayed By: Tom Rosqui

This character exhibits examples of:

Willie Cicci

Portrayed By: Joe Spinell

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: While named in the books in the first film his name goes unsaid despite his killing of Cuneo and Tessio however in the second film he gets far more lines.
  • Made of Iron: Dude was shot then struck by a car and survived.
  • Number Two: Becomes this to Frank Pentangeli in Part II.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Along with Pentangeli in Part II.

Capo Frankie Pentangeli

Portrayed by: Michael V. Gazzo

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Driven to Suicide: Slits his wrists after Tom pays him a visit so his family could be looked after..
  • Expy: Pentangeli was written to replace Clemenza when Castellano didn't return for Part II.
  • Hidden Depths: Demonstrates a knowledge of history, when he references the practice of attainted Romans committing suicide so that their families would be spared the Emperor's wrath. This is exactly what he does to atone for his betrayal.
  • The Stool Pigeon: With Willie Cicci after he mistakenly assumes Michael put a hit out on him. Though he recants at the last minute when his brother paid him a visit.

     Other Crime Bosses 

Virgil Sollozzo

Portrayed By: Al Lettieri

  • Big Bad Duumvirate: He seems to be this with Tattaglia.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Takes out Luca Brasi before attacking the Corleones as anything happening to Vito would have meant Luca going on a rampage.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Shot halfway through by Michael.
  • Faux Affably Evil: A ruthless businessman who behaves in a polite and personable manner when he's not murdering people.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Speaks it fluently like a native despite being known as "The Turk."
  • Knife Nut: Sollozzo is said to be very good with a knife, but being a businessman he avoids fighting if he can help it. This shows up briefly in the film when Luca Brasi meets with him in Bruno Tattaglia's nightclub.
  • Knight of Cerebus: His arrival marks the steady erosion of the unassailable position held by the Corleone Family at the beginning of the beginning. He stabs Luca Brasi's right hand, pinning it to the bar while one of Bruno's men garrotes Luca.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: He had a very elaborate plan with Tattaglia to take down the Corelone's. Judging from Brasi's death, it's a very violent plan too.

Philip Tattaglia

Portrayed By: Victor Rendina

Emilio Barzini

Portrayed By: Richard Conte

  • Big Bad: The real one of the first film in The Godfather Trilogy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In a seemingly friendly gesture, he accepts Don Vito Corleone's request to help set up peace summit called to bring an end to the Five Families War. This is ultimately revealed to be a cynical ploy when Barzini uses the summit as an opportunity to subject Vito to a shakedown resulting in the forceful appropriation of much of the latter's power and influence.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He exhibits a very diplomatic and pleasant demeanor in his dealings with business partners and other associates. However, in reality, he is a very coldhearted and calculated man who has no scruples about employing brutal and underhanded tactics to increase his power.
  • The Chessmaster: Had his plan to take down the Corleone's set up very well. However, Michael managed to out-gambit him.
  • The Don: Of the Barzini Family.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He is ultimately revealed to be the mastermind behind a conspiracy to usurp power from the Corleone originally believed to be led by Philip Tattaglia.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He secretly conspires with Carlo Rizzi to have Connie Corleone viciously beaten in order to provoke her hot-headed brother, Santino, and lure him to his death.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: His character is loosely based on Vito Genovese, a ruthless mob boss who sought to become the "Boss of all Bosses" by capitalizing on the sale of narcotics and eliminating all potential rivals within the criminal underworld.

Hyman Roth

Portrayed By: Lee Strasberg

"We're bigger than U.S. Steel."

  • Affably Evil: In most of his scenes, he comes across as a friendly old man who honestly wants to advise Michael and leave behind something worthwhile for his friends.
  • Big Bad: Of Michael's story in Part II.
  • The Chessmaster: Tries to outwit Michael, but like Barzini, he gets out-gambitted by Michael and dies for it.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Don Vito.
  • Kosher Nostra: He is Jewish like Moe Greene.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Roth was very heavily based off the notorious and powerful Jewish gangster/adviser to the Mafia Meyer Lansky. Lansky reportedly called Lee Strasberg (the father of Method Acting), the actor playing Roth, and congratulated him on his performance, but added, "You could have made me more sympathetic."
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He is very sick but no less effective as a Big Bad.
  • Tranquil Fury: Is a lot more angry over his protege Moe Greene's death than he's letting on, and has a very good idea who's responsible.

Francesco Ciccio

Portrayed By: Giuseppe Sillato

  • Asshole Victim: This is the man that killed Vito's parents... it's hard to shed a tear for him when Vito finally gets his sought-out revenge.
  • Big Bad: Of Vito's story in Part II.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Knows full well that if he lets Vito live he will try to avenge his father, brother, and mother when he grows up. However, Vito managed to escape to America before he could have him murdered.
  • Jerkass: He was more than willing to kill Vito as a child to ensure he wouldn't return for revenge.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When he gets carved by Vito.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He has grown too old and almost blind by the time Vito arrives to take his revenge. It doesn't stop him from delivering it anyway.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Had Vito's older brother Paolo killed for attempting to avenge his father, and tried to have Vito killed since Vito would do the same.

Don Fanucci

Portrayed By: Gastone Moschin

  • Big Bad Wannabe: Despite his pretentions, his power is weak enough for Vito to exploit.

Joey Zasa

Portrayed By: Joe Mantegna

  • The Starscream: He is hinted as wanting to take over Altobello's plan so he can be Don.

Don Altobello

Portrayed By: Eli Wallach

  • Big Bad: Of Part III, secretly being Michael's enemy.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Don Lucchesi.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He managed to fool the Corleones for a long while with a friendly, yet senile disposition; he even managed to become Connie's godfather thanks to his act.
  • The Chessmaster: He has an elaborate plan to kill Michael and his pomps so he can take over his operations. However, like the others, Michael manages to catch on to his betrayal and outsmart him.
  • Evil Old Folks: Despite his age, he's still the antagonist of Part III for a reason.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Polite, friendly and a bit senile but it's all an act.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He's the one behind Joey Zasa, among other things.

Don Licio Lucchesi

Portrayed By: Enzo Robutti

  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Stabbed to death by his own glasses in his throat.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lucchesi is modeled on Giulio Andreotti, who was the prime minister of Italy during III's release and was convicted (then acquitted) of his links with the Real Life mafia. The line Lucchesi's killer gives before Lucchesi's murder — "Power wears out those who don't have it" — is a direct quote from Andreotti.