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The characters of The Godfather trilogy and its 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 in Sicily, he is the patriarch of the Corleone family and founder of its crime organization.

  • Accidental Misnaming: When he arrived at Ellis Island, his information was given to the clerk as "Vito Andolini from Corleone". The clerk misheard and wrote down Corleone as his surname.
  • Affably Evil: 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. People are expected to treat Don Vito the same way — like a treasured and respected friend. During his first scene, he chides Bonasera the mortician for not being more sociable with him and only visiting when he needs a favour.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Both of the films he appears in initially appear to be about him, but end up being more about Michael, and both times Vito eventually drops out of the narrative.
  • The Don: The original Godfather, the Don of a New York crime family.
  • Establishing Character Moment: One of the most famous in cinema history to the point where it's been parodied to hell and back for decades. An associate comes to Don Vito on the day of his daughter's wedding and asks him to conduct a hit on a pair of men that had severely beaten and attempted to rape his daughter. Vito refuses to have the men murdered and then is quick to point out that his associate has never once treated him like a friend and only seems to view him as a force of nature for vengeance. However Vito ends up agreeing to help him anyway, even turning down money for the job and instead simply asking for a favor some day. A day that "may never come". Vito is an immensely powerful and feared crime boss, yet he values family and camaraderie over monetary wealth and as long as you are a good friend to him he will take care of you.
  • Family Man: Vito is rather straight-laced and conservative when it comes to sex. When his friend at the theater asks for his thoughts on his hot new girlfriend, Vito only politely says that she is nice, but he has eyes only for his beloved wife. Vito is a very devoted family man and frowns on extramarital sex among his followers. Michael inherited these values. Sonny and Fredo...not so much.
  • Family Values Villain: Vito firmly believes and teaches that blood is Thicker Than Water. But unfortunately, some inner tensions within the family soon explode not long after his death.
  • Good Parents: He genuinely and deeply loves his children, and his children love him unconditionally.
  • Happily Married: With his wife Carmela.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: His reflections on his life:
    Vito [to Michael]: I worked my whole life. I don't apologize for taking care of my family. And I refused to be a fool, dancing on a string held by all those big shots. I don't apologize. That's my life, but I thought that when it was your time, you would be the one to hold the strings
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: A Composite Character based on several real-life Mafia bosses, most notably Frank Costello, Carlo Gambino, Joe Bonanno, Raymond Patriarca, Santo Trafficante Sr., Sam DeCavalcante, Frank Balistrieri and Lucky Luciano.
  • 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.
  • Parental Substitute: Unofficially adopts Tom Hagen after he was found by Sonny as a homeless orphan. He doesn't formally adopt him because he doesn't want to disrespect Tom's birth parents, but Tom considers Vito to be his true father. It's implied that this was him paying it forward: In Part II, he says that Genco Abbandando and his family took him in and gave him a job at his grocery store when he was himself an orphan immigrant with absolutely nothing, giving him a livelihood, and even after Fanucci forces Signor Abbandando to fire him he says he won't forget what they did for him.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: He lives a honest life in America for years. Petty crime only ensues after he's fired, and he only becomes a killer when Fanucci threatens his livelihood once again. After that it gets downplayed almost to subversion levels, in that Vito is not that evil by the standards of the story. He's a Friendly Neighborhood Gangster who for the most part is pitted against people who are more evil. All things considered, his worst known in-universe deeds during his time as Don boil down to having a horse killed just to intimidate its owner, and making An Offer You Can't Refuse to a band leader after a failed negotiation, and that loses some effect by being Offstage Villainy.
  • Speech Impediment: His raspy voice is the result of a characterization decision by Brando, who felt Vito the gangster was shot in the throat. Part II RetCons this with a straight young Vito having already had that voice, hinting it comes from his feeble health as a child. Word of God not addressed in the movies.
  • Villain Protagonist: The secondary main character after his son Michael. Part II's flashback segments reveals how he became an Affably Evil Anti-Villain.

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 Vincent, 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He believes that his political connections, which regard gambling as "a harmless vice", will abandon the Family in a heartbeat 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.
  • Famous Last Words: In the novel: "Life is so beautiful..."
  • Go Out with a Smile: When he dies, he dies playing with his grandson.
  • Hidden Eyes: Brando's strong brow coupled with the lighting often casts shadows over his eyes. It adds to Vito's pensive nature and serves to give him an air of intimidating mystery.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Vito has no illusions that the things he's done in his life were crimes, but he rationalizes that he did what he had to do to take care of his family - otherwise he'd still be a poor immigrant being pushed around by powers bigger than himself. He neither condones nor condemns the things he's done: he felt he did the only thing he could to survive. Even so, he must still have been uncomfortable with them in the back of his mind, because he always hoped that when he grew up Michael wouldn't have to be involved in a life of crime to be a powerful man.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Wanted to turn the family legit and go into politics.
  • Made of Iron: Shot five times by Salazzo's men, everyone is astonished that he nonetheless survived. Partially subverted in that he is still severely injured, and spends months incapacitated in the hospital - but still, five times.
  • 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 chose a criminal life after witnessing Vito murdering Don Fanucci. (Part II disregards this)
  • The Patriarch: Of his family and his Family.
  • Pet the Dog: Considering how insular, xenophobic and racist the Sicilian Mafia is, Vito's acceptance of Tom (who is German-Irish) as a son, even if it's not in name, is an exceptionally magnanimous gesture of kindness.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Don Vito does not oppose the drug trade because of any moral opposition to drugs, but because he fears that it will destroy their political connections.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: His reason for why he refuses to enter the narcotics business with Sollozzo.

In Part II, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In the first movie, despite his reputation and intimidating nature, we never see him personally kill or intimidate, save for a Noodle Incident mentioned by Michael. In Part II we see how he rose to the ranks by killing Don Fanucci and Don Ciccio.
  • Crazy-Prepared: After Fanucci's murder Vito smashes apart the revolver he used and disposes of the pieces down different chimneys and vent pipes. Although this was before people even considered things like forensics, he ensured there was no physical connection likely to be found between him and the murder.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Politely implied when he refuses to accept the basket of food that a heartbroken Signor Abbandando gives to Vito as severance and genuine gift after Don Fanucci's nephew takes Vito's job. Vito is like family, but the handout does not sit well with his pride or his self-governing nature. Subsequently, Vito finds his own ways to provide for his family and petty crime ensues. Alternatively, Vito knew that Abbandando and his family couldn't really afford to give him the severance package, and cared about them too much to take advantage of the generosity, despite his need.
  • The Exile: He makes America his new home out of of necessity when he has to flee from Corleone, Sicily after Don Ciccio refuses to spare his life.
  • 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's 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 an orphaned kid stuck in an unknown country.
  • 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.note 
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Ran away from a Mafia Don in Sicily, only to become one himself.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: He arrives at Ellis Island from Sicily in 1901.
  • Misery Builds Character: After running away to America alone as an orphaned child, he builds up his reputation 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.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Part II details his journey from Sicilian immigrant to mob boss.
  • The Quiet One: As a child he hardly ever talked, which made his family think he was dull-witted. This is later shown to not be the case. The book elaborates, saying that in actuality Vito was an observer and not a talker; it also says that what cemented his friendship with Peter Clemenza was that Clemenza was a storyteller and Vito was a listener to storytellers.
  • Revenge: Against Don Francesco Ciccio for killing his parents and brother Paolo. And in the recut, against the capos that were looking for him before he escaped too. It Should be noted that this is the only time Vito killed someone out of pure and simple revenge rather than for business reasons.
  • Tranquil Fury: Probably the reason why the other guys in the neighbourhood recognise Vito as a leader.
  • 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 America, becomes an influential crime boss there, and eventually returns to Sicily to take revenge on 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 son of the family, who 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.

  • 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.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: His hair goes from loose and boyish in the beginning of the first movie to slicked back when he's older and more ruthless later in the film and in Part II.
  • Evil Genius: He Michael proves himself to be this using devious and brutal schemes to keep the Corleone Family strong, despite their (numerous) ups and downs.
  • 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.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Michael went from being a captain in the United States Marine Corps to the most ruthless and cunning mafia don around.
  • 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.
  • I Am Not My Father: "That's my family Kay. It's not me." Subverted, as he turns out to be Not So Different.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In the novel, he comes to realize during his time in exile that the Mafia had been the ruin of Sicily, and further realizes that if the Mafia, including specifically "his father's empire" is allowed to grow, it will be the ruin of America too. Needless to say, this does not stop him from taking over his father's empire and continuing to spread its corruption.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Attended Dartmouth College. We're never really told how good a student he was.
  • Meaningful Name: Michael is an archangel and it's supposed to symbolize that the youngest Corleone son will turn out different than his family. But he didn't.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: He was loosely based on Bill Bonanno, the son of Joe Bonanno. Like Corleone himself, Joe wanted his son to go legitimate, but he ended up becoming the Bonanno family's consigliere. Personality wise however, Bill was more like Fredo than Michael, as many of the street guys viewed him as a mob prince who lacked the street cred his father earned years earlier; Bill even lacked the ruthlessness his own father or Michael carried. The fact that Bonanno promoted his attention-seeking son to such a high position rankled many in the Bonanno family, triggering an internal war in the 1960s. Also has some elements of Thomas Gambino (son of Carlo Gambino) and Santo Trafficante Jr.
  • Odd Name Out: Unlike his parents and his siblings, he's the only one not to have an Italian name.
  • 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.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: He tries to avoid joining the Family in the first film, discusses his attempts to leave it in the second film, and conclusively fails in the third film.
  • Semper Fi: Michael enlisted in the Marines during World War II and saw combat in the Pacific. As a testament to his bravery, he received a battlefield commission and left the service as a Captain. He also received the Navy Cross, the second-highest award a Marine or Sailor can receive behind the Medal of Honor.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: After returning from Sicily and with Sonny gone, Michael embraces his fate and gradually becomes his father's son, hatching their revenge for years. He marries Kay in the middle of his transformation, the son of a criminal who claims to be struggling for legitimacy. In a natural, magnified but equal iteration of his first evil act, he becomes a full-fledged Don by killing all of his underworld rivals. The real descent comes in that he crosses lines that Vito never had to cross, alienates his family and becomes callous in his personal life, thereby leading to his Pyrrhic Villainy by the end of Part II.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Part II, Michael grows a heart of stone (and far worse he has a completely innocent prostitute killed for the sake of the business) yet personality-wise he is not unprovokedly abrupt until the final part, when he offends Tom Hagen for no reason. This is somehow inverted during the two decades gap and by Part III Michael has mellowed out and is now The Atoner. Kay is now the one who is abrasive towards him and on a high horse, despite that he voluntarily gave up custody of their children to her and she is not squeaky-clean either.
  • 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.
  • Unexpected Successor: Vito never wanted this for Michael, but alas, with Santino dead, Michael becomes the only viable heir.
  • Verbal Tic: You're not going to forget Diane Keaton's character's name is "Kay". He says it in almost every sentence of his dialogue with her.
  • Villain Protagonist: He's the main character of the series. He starts out as somewhat of an Anti Villain in Part I, but he's very solidly villainous in Part II.
  • Young Conqueror: Is Don by default after Vito's passing.

In Part I, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Initially a heroic character, but by the end of the movie he becomes something of this status.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: At the start of the movie, Michael was completely uninterested in the Family Business. Then rival families went after his family.
  • Badass Bookworm: He was a decorated Marine in World War II and also an Ivy League student.
  • Cop Killer: He has to hide out in Sicily for years to escape retribution for killing a corrupt police captain who was in the pocket of another family.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: He starts as a principled war hero firmly detached from the family business, only to be gradually dragged into the criminal world and ending up as the new Don, cold and ruthless, alienated from his family.
  • 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 leadership role.
  • The Exile: He takes refuge] in Sicily to avoid the heat of the mob war that ensues.
  • 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 becomes a total disaster in Part II.
  • 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, Kay. It's not me."
  • Knight Templar Parent: Don't you ever go against the family. It gets even worse in the second movie.
  • Love at First Sight: When he meets Apollonia.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Subverted. Michael detached himself from the business and is laughed at by other members of the family when he proposes a hit against Sollozzo and McCluskey. They consider him ignorant and too trigger happy. Michael deliberately continues to project this image.
  • Necessarily Evil: Tries to justify himself as this, at least to Kay.
  • Neutral No Longer: He's pulled into the family business when his father is almost killed by a rival who will keep on trying. Ironically the United States abandoning its neutrality after the attack on Pearl Harbor is the event that makes Michael declare his own neutrality away from the path of his father; he joins the Marine Corps the day after.
  • Nice Hat: He dons a Homburg hat (now also known as a Godfather hat) when he begins to work for his father.
  • 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.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He deliberately projects the image of a weak boss and even his capos start to doubt his leadership. Not-So-Harmless Villain ensues.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has this reaction when he realizes that another assassination attempt against his father was carried out at the hospital.
  • 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:

  • Awesome by Analysis: By observing a single Cuban rebel commit murder-suicide, Michael is immediately able to gain a deeper appreciation of the true political situation in Cuba than people who have been operating there for years.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: His own ruthless style of leadership eventually becomes a much bigger threat to the Family than Sollozzo, Barzini, or Hyman Roth ever were.
  • 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.
  • Facepalm: His appalled reaction when he realizes Fredo's betrayal.
  • Kiss of Death: After he finds out that Fredo betrayed him.
  • Lonely at the Top: By 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.
  • 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.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: 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. Even Michael himself seems to feel his victory empty at the end of the movie.

In Part III, this character exhibits examples of:

  • Affably Evil: In his old age, Michael has become more genuinely friendly and kind, even if he still is nominally the most powerful Mafia Don in the country.
  • Amicably Divorced: With Kay, somewhat surprisingly.
  • The Atoner: He desperately tries to do good, going so far as to assure the protection of Pope John Paul I, only to fail. 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.
  • Cool Uncle: He acts this way toward Vincent, and becomes his Consigliere like his father was to him, and practically to all his nephews, even his adopted brother's Tom Hagen's children, who love him unconditionally, and he has become a Parental Substitute to all them.
  • Death Wail: His scream when Mary dies was supposedly so primal and intense that the audio had to be cut from the movie.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Mary gets killed.
  • 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 him of Apollonia.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: 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 priest, Cardinal Lamberto, and confesses his greatest 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.
  • Hypocrite: Michael tries to push Tony to complete law school so that he could become a family lawyer, and gets upset when Tony instead pursues his dream to become a singer. Michael himself resisted his family's push to become a politician, and instead chose to enlist. In his defence, however, he eventually realises he is in the wrong and gives Tony his blessing, and says he is proud of him.
  • The Mentor: To Vincent.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At the time of this movie, it's clear he feels deeply remorseful for having Fredo killed. In fact, when he confesses his sins to Cardinal Lamberto, the future Pope John Paul I, the murder of his brother is the one crime that Michael seems to feel real guilt about, which causes him to break down.
  • Passing the Torch: To Vincent.
  • Redemption Rejection: As his priest puts it, while Michael can be forgiven for his sins, as long as Michael himself does not believe he can earn forgiveness, he will never truly change his ways.
    Cardinal Lamberto: Your sins are terrible. It is just that you suffer. Your life could be redeemed, but I know you don't believe that. You will not change.

    Santino "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.

  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • He launches into one of the most epic No Holds Barred Beatdowns 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.
    • He has a minor one with Michael too, when they are planning out the hit on Sollozzo, he threatens that someone better be good at providing Michael the gun.
      Sonny: Hey listen, I want someone good and I mean really good to plant that gun. I don't want my brother to come out of the toilet with just his dick in his hand.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Less blatant in the film than in the book, where it is deconstructed as the size makes the sex extremely uncomfortable to his partners except to Lucy, who has an abnormally large vagina.
  • 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. Like Vito, his acceptance of Tom as a brother also shows that he is not as racist as most Sicilian mafioso.
  • The Brute: Despite doing his best to fill the roles of underboss (read: general), and later acting Don, the only thing Sonny is ever really good at is violence (well, outside the bedroom that is...). It's during these times that Tom's importance as Sonny's advisor really becomes significant
  • The Casanova: Downplayed. He has sort of a macho attitude and extramarital affairs. In Part III Michael mentions that his brother was good with women, when talking with Vincent.
  • Didn't Think This Through: He's so consumed with rage when he discovers that Carlo has beaten Connie again that it doesn't occur to him that driving off alone without his bodyguards in the middle of a war would likely end badly. It turns out to have been premeditated by Don Barzini and Carlo.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Became acting Don after Vito was shot and wounded.
  • Fatal Flaw: Sonny's Hot Bloodedness combined with an overzealous Big Brother Instinct allowed Carlo to lure him to his death.
  • Evil Virtues: Despite his rage and tendency towards violence, Sonny also firmly believes in honor and refuses to fight anyone who cannot fight back. The traitorous Carlo uses against Sonny, when he subjects him to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for beating Connie. While Sonny does beat the snort out of Carlo, Carlo makes it a point to be as passive as possible during the beat down and never hits back, leading Sonny to eventually back off as he decides that Carlo is Not Worth Killing.
    • In the book, it's explicitly stated that despite his violent temper, he has never and would never hit a woman or a child.
  • Gag Penis: Actually a minor plot point in the book.
  • Generation Xerox: Like his grandfather, Antonio, Sonny was proud, hot-tempered, and stubborn. Both of them ended up dead because of those traits.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Easily one of his most defining characteristics. It ultimately gets him killed.
  • Hot-Blooded: The most impulsive, aggressive and violent of Vito's sons.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: What he did to Carlo after beating up Connie.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Downplayed. Sonny is at the beginning of the story set to inherit the family business by virtue of being the firstborn son of Vito. While Sonny certainly has the guts to be the leader of a crime syndicate, his explosive temper, impulsivity, and lack of patience are all set to work against him.
  • Ironic Name: Santino means "little Saint". Though he's a loving family man and protective of his siblings Sonny is still far from a saint.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a violent thug who openly cheats on his wife but also a genuinely loving husband, father, and brother.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Beating up Carlo for abusing Connie.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: After being riddled with bullets by hitmen, Sonny is given an extra few rounds once he falls to the ground, and kicked in the head for good measure.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: This trait ends up being his downfall.
  • The Match Maker: In a bit of irony it is revealed in the flashback at the end of "Part II" that he was this for his sister Connie and Carlo.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He shows he's interested in Sollozzo's deal, despite his father saying he wants nothing to do with drugs. As this shows internal dissent in the family, Sonny is reprimanded for this cock-up, and it leads directly to the attempt on his father's life, Sollozzo having assumed that if he gets rid of Don Corleone, he can make a deal with Sonny.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Unlike his father and brothers, he isn't above dropping racial slurs in conversation.
  • Rambunctious Italian: A loud, passionate, aggressive Italian-American.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The hot blooded Red Oni to Michael's Blue.
  • Spiteful Spit: He spits on the identification of an FBI Agent who is posted outside of Connie's wedding.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Somebody that messed with Sonny's sister caused him to pummel that man well into submission.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Him showing interest in Sollozzo's deal, despite his father's opposition to said deal, is what spurs Sollozzo into plotting the attempt on his father's life, and everything that happens as a result of it.
    • In Part II, it's revealed that he's the one who invited Carlo to Vito's birthday and introduced him to Connie, setting up their eventual wedding. Which is doubly painful in that Carlo turns out to be an abusive husband, and that Sonny's violent retaliation against Carlo leads to Carlo staging a fight with Connie to set up Sonny's assassination.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: "You touch my sister again and I'll kill ya."
  • Your Cheating Heart: However his infidelities did not trouble his wife because the size of Sonny's "endowment" made having sex with him very uncomfortable to her.

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

  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Appears only in a few scenes of the first film, but he gets a bigger role in the second film.
  • 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.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: He has an outburst of anger against the arrangements made by his father Vito and continued by Michael, who is his kid brother but is to all effects a second father figure; the Godfather.
  • Cool Uncle: Ironically, he is this to Tony and Mary, Michael's kids, especially Tony. In fact, the reason why Anthony eventually resents his father mostly is because he discovered that Michael ordered the murder of Fredo, his favorite uncle.
  • Disappointing Older Sibling: Fredo's older than his brother Michael but proves to be too weak, feckless, and incompetent to take over for Sonny after his murder. Thus, Michael has to usurp his place in the family hierarchy.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: At the end the reason why he betrays Michael for Hyman Roth is not for ambition or greed, or even true hate for his brother Michael, but for the need to be respected and valued as member of the Family.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: 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.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: He might be the second child of Vito, but he is pretty much excluded from the line of inheritance because of his dimwitted nature.
  • 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.
  • The Load: He is the only brother to be completely out of step with the rest of the family, and does have a troubling penchant for seeing things from the enemy's point of view...
  • 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.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: He cites being displaced by his kid brother and only trusted with minor and distant business as a reason behind his behavior.
  • Momma's Boy: Described in the first novel as the son every Italian mother longs for.
  • Motive Rant: Fredo gives one to Michael when the latter confronts him about his betrayal.
  • Nice Guy: People outside the immediate Corleone family consider him to be the most likable. While Sonny has a hair-trigger temper, and one always has to be on guard with Tom and Michael for subtle nuances and double meanings, Fredo has the distinction of being both friendly and harmless, the most easily approachable of the Corleones for a drink and casual conversation.
  • Pet the Dog: He's the only member of the Corleone family to openly support Michael's decision to enlist in the military. This makes Michael's decision to have Fredo killed all the more tragic.
  • 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!"
  • Saying Too Much: He claims he never met Johnny Ola, but during the sex club scene excitedly talks of how Ola introduced him to the place. Michael's shocked expression says everything as he realises his own brother has betrayed him.
  • Straight Gay: Mainly discussed in the original book and the Mark Winegardner follow-ups:
    • Many of the personality conflicts he has with Michael and other Made Men are because of his issues dealing with his extremely repressed sexuality, occasionally leading to drunken one-night affairs, and his overcompensation by cultivating a reputation as a Vegas ladies' man. This gives him the impression of being inconsistent, flighty, and unreliable, all traits that attract the wrong kinds of attention and are liabilities for a man looking to make himself useful in the family business.
    • Subtly referenced in Part II. In Cuba, Michael gives Fredo the task of arranging entertainment for his visiting guests, all VIPs and politicians he hopes to win over and expedite his investment in the Cuban hotel industry. Fredo's choice of venue is a seedy club hosting a sex show, starring 'Superman'. While all the guests are laughing in good-natured disbelief at the size of Superman's more-powerful-than-a-locomotive, there is a two-second shot of Fredo staring, unblinking and almost trembling.
  • 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.

     Constanzia "Connie" Corleone
"Michael, I hated you for so many years. I think that I did things to myself, to hurt myself so that you'd know - that I could hurt you. You were just being strong for all of us the way Papa was. And I forgive you."
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.

  • Ascended Extra: Connie is the least important of the Corleone siblings In-Universe (what with being a woman and all that), however, by Part III with Fredo, Tom and Sonny out of the way she temporarily replaces Michael as family boss when he falls ill in the middle of a gang war.
  • Alliterative Name: Constanzia "Connie" Corleone
  • Break the Cutie: Goes from the beloved only daughter of a loving family to being beaten regularly by her husband, even while she is pregnant with their child, with her family doing nothing to intervene. When her older brother Sonny does try to stop Carlo, he is murdered, after which her husband stops abusing her and their marriage becomes somewhat loving. Then her husband is murdered by her brother Michael.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: She aggressively confronts Michael in the aftermath of the Carlo situation. She later confesses she behaves badly in order to get back at Michael and hurt him.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In Part I Connie is (an informed) civilian who marries well before her husband treats her like crap and is murdered; in Part II she turns to leeching off Michael (while spiting him) but staying out of the business; in Part III she is an active player in family affairs
  • 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 Vincent, 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 an adopted brother, Tom Hagen.
  • Spiteful Spit: She tries this when confronting Michael about Carlo's death, but she's too distraught to work up any saliva.
  • 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.

     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.

  • Abusive Parents: Tom's father was a violent alcoholic and his mother (who was described as 'moronic and slovenly') was completely neglectful towards him.
  • Affectionate Nickname: In the novels (mainly The Family Corleone), his family calls him Tommy.
  • Amoral Attorney: A dignified mob lawyer. He actually considers it to be the lesser of two evils. According to the novels, after graduation he got a job working for an auto company, where he was asked to do a cost-benefit analysis of a vehicle recall, weighing the cost of the recall against the cost of paying death benefits to the families of the projected casualties. He submitted his report along with his resignation and went to work for Vito the next day, where any screwing over he had to do would be on those who took their chances and had it coming.
  • 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.
  • Bus Crash: The central story of Part III was going to be a full-on war between Michael and Tom, but Tom was dropped from the final film and his recent death is mentioned briefly in a scene with his son. Robert Duvall thought it was unfair for him to receive only a fifth of Al Pacino's salary and Coppola didn't have enough traction to amend it.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Tom was born into a German-Irish family but raised by Sicilians. As an adult, he often acts as a buffer between the Corleones and their WASP colleagues.
  • 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.
  • Cool Uncle: To Michael's kids. When Michael is away in Cuba, Tom buys his son a motorized car for his birthday.
  • The Dragon: To Vito.
  • 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. In the books, he is drowned in the Florida Everglades by Nick "Ace" Geraci, as part of Geraci's plan to bring down Michael's support structure en route to taking over the family.
  • The Good Chancellor: Spends most of the films urging caution over bloodshed.
  • The Handler: He's consigliere to Don Vito.
  • Happily Adopted: Although the Don never formally adopted him, he treated him just like his birth children and Tom thinks of Vito as his true father. The Corleone children think of him as another sibling and not just Sonny's friend who came to live with them. Even after his death, his wife and children still attend family events where they are treated as family and Michael still calls him his brother.
  • 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.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: He needs a drink before bringing himself to tell his Don the news about Sonny.
  • Liminal Being: He's an American man of German-Irish descent who was adopted by a Sicilian family, so he has a foot in both cultures. His heritage and lack of blood ties to the Corleones technically make him an outsider in the mafia, but his role as a trusted consigliere paradoxically makes him an insider.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: If you know Nibelungenlied.
  • 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.
  • Not So Stoic: The one person who consistently gets under his skin and causes him to display his impatience is Sonny. Just about every conversation they have ends with Tom raising his voice, something he hardly ever does with anyone else.
  • Only Sane Man: Finds himself playing this part when Sonny or Michael start getting too bloodthirsty.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mother died from an unknown sickness and an eye infection, father drank himself to death shortly afterwards.
  • Parental Neglect: Whereas his biological father was a violent drunk, his mother never gave him any affection, physical or otherwise.
  • The Stoic: Insults, threats, betrayals, Tom takes them all with calm equanimity.
  • 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 in Part II.
    Michael: You gonna come along with me in these things I have to do. Because if not you can take your wife, your family, and your mistress — and move 'em all to Las Vegas.

     Kay Adams-Corleone
"Is it true?"
Michael: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man who’s responsible for other people, like a senator or a president.
Kay: You know how naive you sound?
Michael: Why?
Kay: Senators and presidents don’t have men killed.
Michael: Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?

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. In Part III, Michael has mellowed out and they attempt to reconcile their relationship but then their daughter, Mary dies.

  • Amicably Divorced: With Michael in Part III, surprisingly enough.
  • Artistic License – History: Kay meets Michael at Dartmouth College in 1945, but Dartmouth didn't accept women until 1972.
  • 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 apparently suffers this trope, only to be revealed later that she aborted the child because she can't stand the idea of another child being raised into his criminal life.
  • Converting for Love: Subverted. Kay was a Baptist, but she wasn't pressured into converting to Catholicism in order to marry Michael. She decides to convert a few years into their marriage, so she can pray for the soul of her husband like Carmela Corleone does for hers.
  • First Love: To Michael. He ends up marrying her after his first marriage didn't pan out.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted.
  • Naïve Newcomer: In the first movie. Zigzagged as she is aware of some of the nasty things but Michael tries to downplay the criminal side of his family.
  • Not So Above It All: For all her talk about how wrong killing is and how Michael's life of crime is going nowhere, she was willing to abort her and Michael's unborn child as a means to an end. Something she herself lampshaded.
    Kay: It was an abortion Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that's unholy and evil.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: She is this to provide a contrast between a "normal" American in The '40s and the Corleones.

     Deanna Dunn-Corleone
"Never marry a wop, they treat their wives like shit!"
Portrayed By: Marianna Hill

A Hollywood actress in decline and Fredo's wife. Divorced him before his death.

  • Alliterative Name: Deanna Dunn
  • Amicably Divorced: More so on her part than Fredo's in the novel.
  • Dumb Blonde: So much it's actually painful, completely ignorant of wedding traditions and etiquette.
  • Gold Digger: The impression she gives, and how the Corleone family views her.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Book only. While she's heavily promiscuous (so far as to having being caught by Fredo having sex with a film co-star), she did show Fredo some affection. She gave him bit parts in her films and bought a large headstone for him when he died.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While Fredo is plain-looking, she is a gorgeous actress.

     Carmela Corleone
"You can never lose your family."
Portrayed By: Morgana King

Vito's religious and traditional wife and the mother of Sonny, Fredo, Michael and Connie, as well as the adoptive mother of Tom.

     Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone
Michael: "She was wonderful, beautiful. I loved her. And then she died. My trusted bodyguard planted a bomb in my car. She drove it before I did."
Portrayed By: Simonetta Stefanelli

Shortly after Michael arrives in Sicily following his escape from New York, he meets a young 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 reconnect 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.

  • Babies Ever After: Subverted. Michael and Apollonia wanted this to happen since they had sex every night. Apollonia finds out she is expecting and Michael is overjoyed, but she is murdered during her pregnancy thus their child dies too.
  • Foil: To Kay. Apollonia represents traditions and Italian life whereas Kay represents modernity and mainstream American life.
  • Friendly Target: Via car bomb. Michael, however, was the intended target..
  • 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.
  • Lost Lenore: To Michael.
  • Meaningful Name: Her name is derived from the Greek god, Apollo (god of light and the sun). This symbolizes how 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.
  • Nature Adores a Virgin: A huge deal is made about her purity and how Michael must marry her before diving into his carnal desires.
  • One True Love: What Michael sees her as.
  • Second Love: To Michael, and also his greatest love.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Despite her small role, her death sets Michael's ruthlessness rise to Don in motion.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: She does not appear much and we know little about her, but her death is what leads to his Face–Heel Turn.

     Vincent Mancini
"Love somebody else."
"I am your son. Command me in all things."

Portrayed By: Andy García

Sonny's illegitimate son and Michael's nephew. He is a hothead like his father, but under Michael's tutelage becomes a more reasoned, calculating crime boss.

  • 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.
  • Fake Defector: Michael puts him under the tutelage of Don Altobello. Michael takes some precautions to avoid an obvious identification of the trope.
  • Generation Xerox: Although from all indications, he would probably be a better Don than Sonny could have been.
    • Specifically, to Michael. He steps in when a rogue gangster almost has the current Don killed, murders the gangster in broad daylight, and proceeds to adopt his predecessor's traits to become the new Don.
  • Heroic Bastard: Goes by his mother's last name, since he was born out of wedlock.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Rename: Michael eventually orders him to call himself "Vincent Corleone".
  • Rambunctious Italian: He takes after his father in this regard, though he doesn't seem to be as ruled by his emotions.
  • 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
"I'll always love you."
"I would burn in Hell to keep you safe."
Michael Corleone

Portrayed By: Sofia Coppola

Michael's daughter and the youngest of his two children.

  • 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 Vincent. 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.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Michael is adamantly opposed to her marrying Vincent.

     Anthony "Tony" Corleone
"I'll always be your son, but I want nothing to do with your business."
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.

  • 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 toddler Anthony is the only other person present during Vito's death.
  • White Sheep: Anthony wants nothing to do with his father's business and wants to becomes a opera singer, although by Part III all Michael wants is for Anthony to graduate from law school.

     Carlo Rizzi
"Come on, all you Corleones are murderers anyway."
Portrayed by: Gianni Russo

Connie's husband. An inept and short-tempered man, he takes out his frustrations on her, leading quickly to tension with Sonny.

  • Asshole Victim: The BEST example of this trope ever being used to end a story. After spending much of his time in the movie physically beating Connie over minor stuff (or for no reason at all as implied in some scenes) and being responsible for Sonny's death by luring him into a trap after whipping Connie with a belt in her bathroom, he gets choked to death from behind the car seat that he thought was going to send him to the West Coast. The scene was so brutal that you can see Carlo desperately struggling, and he even reflexively kicks and breaks the front windshield of the vehicle as he struggles to escape the choke.
  • Dirty Coward: Beats Connie (who loves him so much that she tries to rationalize that it's her fault that he beats hernote , and even cries when she confronts Michael after his death EVEN KNOWING he's responsible for his brother's death) but RUNS away when Sonny confronts and whimpers like a puppy after being cornered as he gets beaten up by Sonny. He is so cowardly he didn't even participate in the ambush that killed Sonny, instead staying far away as safe as possible. This is not even counting how he actually LIES about having nothing to do with Sonny's death and denying being involved with the other Mafia family's operations when Michael confronts him at the end of the first movie and then begs for his life to Michael to spare him after being busted as a lying bullshitter..
  • The Exile: Michael tells him that his punishment is being exiled from the family. He is instead exiled from life.
  • Gold Digger: Carlo is a failed male example.
  • Hate Sink: He's not the worst villain in the trilogy, but there's nothing to like about him. Just an abusive, inept Dirty Coward who beats up his pregnant wife and even takes advantage of this to lure his brother-in-law Sonny into a death trap.
  • Hidden Depths: He's smart enough to use Sonny's temper and protectiveness over his sister against him.
  • Hollywood Healing: All told, in the film it's pretty remarkable he healed from that beating as quickly as he did, without any signs of scarring no less.
  • Hope Spot: He puffs up considerably when it seems like Michael, in contrast to his father, intends to make him a significant part of the family business. This turns out to be a ruse to keep him close until the plan to wipe out the leaders of the other families is enacted, at which point Michael takes revenge for Carlo's betrayal of Sonny.
  • Jerkass: Beating the mother of your unborn child definitely qualifies you for this trope.
  • Karmic Death: He helped conspired to have one of his brothers-in-law murdered. He ends up getting killed himself by the orders of his other vengeful brother-in-law.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Not that he didn't have it coming, but he is easily convinced to betray Sonny after he brutally beats him in public.
  • Oh, Crap!: He has this reaction shortly after beating Connie when he sees a very pissed-off Sonny running towards him. Has another one when Michael reveals he knows about Carlo's involvement in Sonny's murder.
  • The Resenter: He's shut out of the family business except for minor living to enable him to support Connie and his family, and consequently stews with bitterness about this. This leads to him beating Connie and, along with Sonny beating him in retribution, is implied to lead him to make a deal with Barzini.
  • Would Hit a Girl: A Domestic Abuser who is physically abusive to Connie.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Implied by a suspect phone call Connie receives asking about Carlo though it's just as likely to be a way to provoke Connie into getting upset so that Carlo would beat her to provoke Sonny as part of his deal with Barzini, to cause the tollbooth ambush. Confirmed in the novel.

Corleone Family Associates

     Peter Clemenza
"You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they should never let him get away with that, they was just asking for trouble."
Portrayed By: Richard Castellano (The Godfather), Bruno Kirby (Part II)

One of Vito's caporegimes, who helped initiate Vito's criminal career and became one of his most trusted advisors. Serves as a mentor to Michael and other members of the Family.

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.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
  • Bus Crash: He dies of a heart attack — although Cicci implies foul play — between the events of the first and second films and his position as capo of the Corleone family's New York branch passes to Frank Pentangeli, his Suspiciously Similar Substitute. This was not originally going to happen; the reason for this change was a disagreement between actor Richard Castellano and Coppola (Castellano wanted creative control over his character and Coppola would not allow it, so Castellano was dropped from the film).
  • Cool Uncle: To Vito's children, even if not by blood.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: While killing Carlo Rizzi.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dialogue in the second film implies that he died of a heart attack between movies.
  • Formerly Fit: In Part II, when played by Bruno Kirby in his youth, Clemenza was a lot skinnier than when played by Richard Castellano. Though the younger Clemenza is a bit thicker than the younger Vito and Tessio and can be seen eating a lot. His final scene in the flashback shows him gaining much more weight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Vito and Tessio.
  • Ironic Name: The professional killer's last name means "mercy" in Italian.
  • 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 Sollozzo's actions to Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch.
    • The movie additionally emphasizes how Tessio is the "smarter" of the two Corleone Capos, but Clemenza demonstrates a fairly calculating demeanor when walking Michael through the best way to assassinate Sollozzo and McCluskey.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Personally kills Carlo Rizzi by strangling him in a car. It was probably personal since Sonny, who Carlo lured to his death, was Clemenza's godson.
  • 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 Sollozzo and McCluskey.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Frank Labruzzo, Joe Bonanno's brother-in-law who stayed loyal to him even during the tumultuous Bananas Wars in the 1960s. Also had some elements of Joe Magliocco, Giuseppe Profaci's underboss and cousin, and as well as Vincent Gigante, Vito Genovese's protege and future boss. The assassination of Victor Stracci by Clemenza was partially based on the botched hit on Frank Costello in 1957; Gigante's unintentional warning only grazed Costello's scalp, but Costello saw the writing on the wall and later stepped down as boss.
  • 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: There's a lot of love between him and Vito and Vito's family. In the end he's the one who remains loyal to them whilst Tessio and Frankie betray them.

     Salvatore Tessio
We hit Bruno Tattaglia at four o'clock this morning.
"Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."

Portrayed By: Abe Vigoda (The Godfather), John Aprea (Part II)

Another associate of Vito's from the old days, a Corleone family capo based in Brooklyn, considered more cautious and intelligent than Clemenza.

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.
  • Defector from Decadence: It's implied that Michael's apparent weakness and lack of resolution (a ruse meant to lull the other families into a false sense of security as well as to force the hand of any potential traitors) is the reason behind his betrayal. Factored in and hinted by the two main capos announcing their intention to spin-off from the Family because of Michael's incapacity to defend their own territories.
  • 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.
    • Subverted in the game, where you have to chase him down and kill him and he begs for his life.
  • The Mole: Secretly works for Barzini.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Gaspar DiGregorio, a capo in the Bonanno family, a trusted friend, and distant relative of Joe Bonanno. But when Bonanno promoted his son Bill to consigliere, this left hard feelings on DiGregorio, who then plots with rival bosses (who were already incensed with Bonanno's plot to kill them) to orchestrate Bonanno's ouster, splitting the family into two rival factions. Like Tessio, who set up Michael for an assassination in a supposed "sit-down", DiGregorio arranged an ambush on Bonanno's son, but not a single shot aimed by DiGregorio's men hit their intended target. But unlike Tessio, who gets a "one-way ride", DiGregorio was rebuked by the Commission for his incompetence on the ambush against Bill Bonanno and was forced to step down, living in relative obscurity until his death in 1970.
  • 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
"Don Corleone, I am honoured and grateful that you have invited me to your home today on the day of your daughters wedding... and I hope that their first child, be a masculine child."
Portrayed By: Lenny Montana

Vito's feared bodyguard and personal hatchet man.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the novel Luca was infamous for his violence and cruelty with a couple of brutal murders and even the murder of his own infant child to his name. The Corleone family even fears him and his allegiance to them isn't guaranteed as much as they'd like. The film omits many of his harsher actions, including the infanticide and on the whole his major scene of him at the party serves to humanize him as a bumbling but still affectionate follower of Vitos. Similarly the Corleone family is more confident in his loyalty and there's never any fear of him turning on them.
  • Ax-Crazy: Implied to be one in the book.
  • The Dragon: He is the Corleone's most trusted bodyguard, though he's also The Brute.
  • The Dreaded:
    • In the novel even Vito is afraid of him, to the point of being apprehensive when he has to receive Brasi's congratulations on his daughter's wedding day despite Brasi being the only one of these visitors not to include the request of a favour with the congratulations. When Sollozzo's men make it clear to the Corleones that they have killed Brasi, the Corleones are relieved to know that Sollozo had not turned him and that he isn't coming after them.
    • As this Cracked article notes, the movie inverts this; the fact that the huge and terrifying Brasi is seen nervously reciting his speech to Corleone only to awkwardly stutter through it and mess it up when actually in the Don's presence makes it clear exactly who the really scary one in this version is. Although even then, the Don is uncomfortable around him, as evidenced by him asking Tom if it's necessary for him to meet with Luca that day.
  • Dumb Muscle: He would often have to rehearse what he said to someone before speaking with them.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Clearly seen struggling with English during his introduction at the wedding, but has no problems using colloquial Italian later.
  • Fake Defector: Don Corleone sends him to infiltrate the gang of Sollozzo to garner information, but Sollozzo is wise to the plot and Luca ends up sleeping with the fishes.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: To extreme levels.
  • 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.
  • Informed Ability: None of the brutality that he is supposedly capable of is seen on screen, but everyone talks about it. The only story told about Brasi is fairly meek compared to the on-screen action: Michael tells Kay that Brasi once pointed a gun to a music director to extort him to sign Johnny Fontane away. When Don Vito gives Brasi the task of pretending to go work for Sollozzo, Brasi fails and gets killed before doing anything. The book is more explicit about Brasi's savagery although always as Offstage Villainy in the distant past.
    • Justified thematically in that Luca, like Vito, is getting older and his Glory Days (such as they were) are behind him.
  • Jerkass: He's a bumbling thug in the film who is revealed to be a horrible human being in the novel.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted in the book when he's strangled.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Brasi was mostly based on Willie "Moore" Moretti, Frank Costello's right-hand man. He also had some elements of Albert Anastasia, a vicious mob boss, and Carmine Galante, a violent hit man and underboss to Joe Bonanno.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In the book, he has his half Irish illegitimate baby killed because he believes "None of that race should live."
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath: More evident in the novel than the film.
  • 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 Sollozzo 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.

     Albert "Al" Neri
"Look! I'd love to smack Joey Zasa and then whack the bag, Okay? But it's impossible. He's always mingling with people. In front of TV cameras, in his own neighborhood, it's impossible."
"[referring to Tom Hagen and Neri] I trust these men with my life, Senator. To ask them to leave would be an insult."
Michael Corleone
Portrayed By: Richard Bright

A former NYPD cop expelled for Police Brutality, he was taken in by the Corleones as a hitman. Eventually became Michael's right-hand man and his most trusted bodyguard and advisor.

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.
  • Co-Dragons: With Rocco, for Michael.
  • Cowboy Cop: What got him fired from the Force and into the Family.
  • The Dragon: He and Rocco take over as Michael's main enforcers and gunmen. Al also survives the second film unlike Rocco which leaves him as the sole Dragon.
  • The Dreaded: One assumes this after Tom says of him to Michael "Now you've got your Luca."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A small moment, but you can see that he looks down after Michael orders him to kill Fredo with just a look.
  • Genius Bruiser: Genius might be an overstatement, but Al is very intelligent and Michael seeks and trusts his input.
  • Impersonating an Officer: He does this in order to assassinate Barzini.
    • In the books, Al Neri was previously an actual police officer until he killed a perpetrator while on the job rather than arresting him. The Corleones took a look at the circumstances and decided to provide him a high-powered defence to get him off the hook at the later trial, after which he came to work for the family.
  • Kick the Dog: To blackmail Senator Geary in Part II the Mob kills an innocent hooker and positions it near him as he sleeps to make him think he did it. It's implied that Al was the one who killed her.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: In the novel, he is revealed to be an incorruptible but ferocious cop. When a Pay Evil unto Evil situation does not quite go as planned, he winds up convicted of manslaughter. Michael gets him off with a suspended sentence; in gratitude, he becomes Michael's most trusted bodyguard and Professional Killer.
  • Mook Promotion: He goes from a "Button Man" to Michael's trusted caporegime.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Carmine Galante, a vicious hitman and underboss to Joe Bonanno.
  • The Quiet One: Says nothing in the first film, and only a few scattered lines in the second.
  • The Stoic: The closest thing he exhibits to an emotion is concentration when preparing to kill Barzini.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Michael.

     Rocco Lampone
"These things happen, nobody's perfect."
"Difficult, not impossible."

Portrayed By: Tom Rosqui

A Corleone soldier who works his way from hitman to trusted advisor.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Like Neri, has much more screen time and importance in Part II than the original.
  • Co-Dragons: With Neri, for Michael.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Kills Roth before being gunned down.
  • Handicapped Badass: In the novel, Rocco suffered a crippling knee injury during World War II, which didn't prevent him from being a tough and efficient assassin. This backstory's left out of the film.
  • Mook Promotion: He goes from a "Button Man" to Michael's caporegime.
  • Rite of Passage: Killing Paulie is how Rocco 'makes his bones'

     Willie Cicci
"The family had a lot of buffers."

Portrayed By: Joe Spinell

Another Corleone soldier who becomes Frank Pentangeli's aide in Part II. Like his boss he testifies before the Senate committee investigating Michael, albeit without providing useful evidence.

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 and screen time.
  • Bus Crash: He was reportedly supposed to have a major part in Part III but after Coppola learned of the death of actor Joe Spinell, the character was changed to Joey Zaza. Interestingly enough, Cicci was one of the loose ends from ''Part II'' as his final fate was left unclear. Most assume that he would have been dead by then (probably killed in prison), given his violation of omertà.
  • Dumb Muscle: Implied in Part II; Cicci can't understand the Senators' questions ("Could you amplify your answer a bit?" "Huh?") without an attorney prompting him. Though it's also possible he's Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Made of Iron: Dude was shot then struck by a car and survived.
  • Mook Promotion: He is a button in Part I and became Frank Pentangeli's capo in Part II. In Part III he was originally planned to be the one who took over Michael's New York operation after he became legitimate, but actor Joe Spinell died before filming began. He was replaced by a new character, Joey Zasa.
  • Number Two: Becomes this to Frank Pentangeli in Part II.
  • Slasher Smile: When he kills Cuneo in the first film.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Along with Pentangeli in Part II.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Due to the Bus Crash mentioned above, his fate's left unresolved after his Senate testimony. He gets prison time anyway due to his admission of crimes that he committed. It is not known what ultimately happened to him but most assume that he would eventually have been killed in prison due to his violation of omertà.

     Frank "Frankie Five Angels" Pentangeli
"Your father did business with Hyman Roth, your father respected Hyman Roth, but your father never trusted Hyman Roth!"
"Those were the great old days, you know. And we was like the Roman Empire. The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire."

Portrayed by: Michael V. Gazzo

Clemenza's successor running the Corleone family's New York operations, he's quick-tempered and spoiling for a fight with Hyman Roth and his allies, the Rosato Brothers. He's eventually trapped into informing on Michael, and his incriminating testimony to the Senate becomes a major plot point.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Bath Suicide: In Part II, Tom Hagen visits him in prison and talks about this practice in the Roman Empire, hinting that if he does this his family will be spared. He does, and they are. The camera shot depicting the outcome is a Shout-Out to the painting The Death of Marat.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's initially introduced as a goofy comic relief character who tries in exasperation to get the Communion band to play a Tarantella. It's worth remembering that he's a high ranking lieutenant in the Corleone family, and in ''Part II' proper he becomes extremely dangerous by initially being willing to testify to Michael's criminal activities; unlike Willi Cicci he would have been able to implicate Michael directly.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Pentangeli is perfectly willing to openly call out Michael for his dealings with Roth, and is not shaken when Michael tries to cite his superiority.
  • Cassandra Truth: He warns Michael early on that Roth is behind his trouble with the Rosato brothers. Michael ignores him, to his peril.
  • Driven to Suicide: Slits his wrists after Tom pays him a visit so his family could be looked after..
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted, Pentangeli is put under Witness Protection and is going to testify against the Corleone family. Michael and Tom Hagen find a way to prevent him breaking the omertà; his brother shows up the day he has to testify. It's not stated if they stop Pentangeli by shaming him in front of his old school brother or there's some kind of Implied Death Threat going on. note 
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Family wants him dead, but Tom Hagen tells him that if he kills himself the Corleones will provide for his surviving family from that point on.
  • 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.
  • Hot-Blooded: He'd much rather kill the Rosatos than talk with them.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Reportedly a composite of crime boss Joe Profaci (founder of the Colombo crime family and a notoriously greedy boss), Carmine Persico and informant Joe Valachi. The Rosato brothers' hit on Pentangeli resembles a similarly botched attack on Larry Gallo, down to the policeman interrupting.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on his face when he shares a look with his brother before the hearing, realizing what will happen if he violates the omertà (potentially to his family in particular).
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Cites the Rosatos hiring blacks and Hispanics as one reason he hates them so much. His comments towards Roth drip with thinly-veiled anti-Semitism, wondering how Michael could trust a Jew against "his own blood."
  • Remember the New Guy?: A classic example, with Fredo gushing over Frankie as a long-lost friend we'd never seen before.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Pentangeli was written to replace Clemenza when Castellano didn't return for Part II.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Villain: He's essentially a pawn in Michael and Roth's conflict, becoming an antagonist through no fault of his own. He only turns against Michael after he's convinced that Michael tried to kill him.

     Senator Patrick Geary
"I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself. You and your whole fucking family."

Portrayed by: G.D. Spradlin

A crooked Nevada politician in Part II, whom Michael blackmails into supporting him.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Anything That Moves: Hookers, night club singers, he's a womanizer and proud of it.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: He tries to extort and bully Michael... and not out of greed but because he's a racist spiteful bastard.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: How Tom blackmails him.
  • Malicious Misnaming: He publicly mispronounces "Corleone," only to pronounce it accurately in private conversation.
  • The Mole: He's part of the Senate committee investigating Michael while being blackmailed by the Corleones.
  • Mugging the Monster: He tries to extort and bully Michael for a gambling license. A nonchalant Michael bides his time and turns the tables with a cold frameup. It's worth pointing out that the Senator knows Michael is a powerful criminal but misevaluates him as harmless thinking that a political leader is out of his nefarious reach.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Based on real-life Nevada Senator Patrick McCarran, to the point where he was even named McGarry in an early script draft until Coppola decided it was too on the nose. Like Geary, McCarran was long rumored to have ties to the Las Vegas mob, and also called for harsh restrictions on immigration to the United States, invoked here by Geary's insults towards Michael's heritage. Today he's probably best-remembered for his role in the Red Scare of the early '50s, and because of the Las Vegas airport which bears his name.
  • No Party Given: Several passages in the script strongly imply he's a Democrat,note  but these aren't present in the movie.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Drops some savage anti-Italian slurs in conversation with Michael.
  • Sleazy Politician: Corrupt, in bed with the Mafia and cavorts with hookers. He's this trope to a T.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: His over-the-top defense of Italian-Americans at the Senate hearings.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: "I remember she was laughing."

Other Crime Bosses

     Virgil Sollozzo
"What guarantees can I give you?"
"I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman. Blood is a big expense."

Portrayed By: Al Lettieri

A freelance criminal allied with the Tattaglia family, who urges Vito and the other dons to expand into narcotics. He engineers the attempt on Vito's life, setting the plot in motion.

  • Big Bad Duumvirate: He seems to be this with Tattaglia.
  • Blatant Lies: When Michael meets with him at the restaurant, Michael insists that any deal requires Sollozzo stopping his attempts to kill Vito. Sollozzo doesn't answer that request, deflecting it trying to claim "I'm the hunted one... You think too much of me kid." It's clear to Michael (and the audience) that Sollozzo won't stop making it easier to sympathize with Michael when he kills Sollozzo.
  • Co-Dragons: He and Tattaglia serve as this to the real Big Bad, Emilio Barzini.
  • Boom, Headshot!: This is how he dies, courtesy of Michael Corleone.
  • 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."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sollozzo ordered the hit on Vito Corleone after Sonny expressed interest in the drug deal, expecting Sonny to take him up on the offer after Vito turned him down. Instead Sonny initiates a war among the Five Families and helps plot Michael's assassination of Sollozzo.
  • 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 Brasi.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Had some elements of Joe Colombo, in that he and Joe Magliocco were used as fronts by Joe Bonanno in his bid to take over the Mafia.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He proclaims he doesn't like violence because he is a businessman. "Blood is a big expense." Tom Hagen agrees with this view, while Sonny puts revenge before the business.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: He had a very elaborate plan with Tattaglia to take down the Corleones. Judging from Brasi's death, it's a very violent plan too.
  • Sinister Schnoz: One of the reasons why he was called "The Turk" was because he had a nose like a Turkish scimitar.

     Philip Tattaglia
"But I must have strict assurance from Corleone. As time goes by and his position becomes stronger, will he attempt any individual vendetta?"
"He [Vito] had all the judges and politicians in his pocket. He refused to share them."

Portrayed By: Victor Rendina

Heads one of New York's Five Families, allies with Sollozzo (and Barzini) against Vito to advance his standing.

  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Virgil Sollozzo as a front.
  • Co-Dragons: He and Sollozzo serve as this to the real Big Bad, Emilio Barzini.
  • Decoy Antagonist: Appears to be the main villain in the early stages. It's actually Barzini.
  • Dirty Coward: He's still a dirty pimp that barely lifts a finger for Barzini's plans. He tends to avoid facing danger if the opportunity arises.
  • Dirty Old Man: He's old enough to have a middle-aged son and he still consorts with prostitutes.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: More evident in the novel; he specializes in prostitution and is subsequently treated with thinly-veiled contempt by most of the other Families.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Tommy Lucchese, who was short in height. Other than that, Lucchese did not specialize in prostitution, but in other areas such as Manhattan's Garment District, union racketeering, narcotics trafficking and also had control over rackets at Idlewild Airport (now JFK Airport). Also has some elements of Joe Magliocco, in that he and Joe Colombo were used as fronts by Joe Bonanno in his bid to take over the Mafia.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Unlike the other Family heads, he still speaks with a pronounced Italian accent.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Two of Michael's henchmen, armed with automatic weapons, attack him while he is in bed with a prostitute. They pump him, the bed, and the unfortunate prostitute full of lead in the process.

     Emilio Barzini
"A refusal is not the act of a friend."
"If Don Corleone had all the judges and politicians in New York, then he must share them or let others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well."'

Portrayed By: Richard Conte

Heads the second-most powerful New York family, regarded as a power broker among the feuding families. He's revealed to be the one pulling the strings behind Sollozzo and Tattaglia.

  • Big Bad: The true antagonist of Part I.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In a seemingly friendly gesture, he accepts Don Vito'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.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Appears at Connie's wedding long before his importance to the plot is established.
  • 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 cold-hearted and calculated man who has no scruples about employing brutal and underhanded tactics to increase his power.
  • 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 viciously beaten in order to provoke her hot-headed brother, Santino, and lure him to his death.
  • No Historical Figures 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, most notably Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia and Lucky Luciano. Also had some elements of Joe Bonanno, who, like Genovese, wanted to become the Mafia's overlord by eliminating several of his rivals by using Joe Colombo and Joe Magliocco as fronts.
  • Out-Gambitted: Both Vito and Michael Corleone have outsmarted Barzini by deliberately letting him and the other bosses whittle away the Corleone interests in order to lull them into a false sense of security. Before his death, Vito warns his son that Barzini will try to have Michael eliminated under the guise of a peace meeting, and that whoever approaches Michael about the meeting will be exposed as the traitor within the family. Michael uses this info to his advantage, and silently eliminates the the other Mafia heads (including Barzini). Sal Tessio (who reveals himself to be the traitor at Vito's funeral, albeit unknowingly) and Carlo Rizzi (for conspiring with Barzini to abuse Connie) were later executed for betraying the Corleones.

     Moe Greene
"You goddamn guineas you really make me laugh."
"Do you know who I am? I'm Moe Greene! I made my bones while you were going out with cheerleaders!"

Portrayed By: Alex Rocco

Hotheaded Las Vegas crime boss who runs afoul of Michael's plans to relocate the Corleone Family to Nevada. In Part II, he's revealed to have been a protégé of Hyman Roth, providing Roth motivation for revenge against Michael.

  • Hot-Blooded: Very quickly goes from affable host to angry, blustering defiance when meeting with Michael.
  • Kick the Dog: His treatment of Fredo.
  • Kosher Nostra: Of Jewish background.
  • Moe Greene Special: The Trope Namer.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Based on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, a friend and partner of Meyer Lansky who played a key role in developing the Las Vegas Strip and died in a manner similar to Greene. His name is a portmanteau of two other Las Vegas gangsters, Moe Dalitz and Gus Greenbaum, who were Siegel's contemporaries.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Calls Michael a "guinea".
  • Small Role, Big Impact: His actual screen time is rather brief, but his death plays a major role in Part II.
  • Smug Snake: He's not nearly as powerful (or secure) as he thinks he is. Somewhat justified, as he's aware of the turmoil within the Corleone Family and doesn't see Michael as a serious threat.
  • Stupid Evil: Not only does he aggressively refuse Michael's offer of a buyout, he blurts out that Barzini has already contacted him. Thus confirming for Michael who the real Big Bad is, and marking Greene himself for execution.
  • Visionary Villain: According to Hyman Roth, he created Las Vegas's gambling and vice rackets virtually from scratch.

     Hyman Roth
"Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power."
"Michael, we're bigger than U.S. Steel."

Portrayed By: Lee Strasberg

Born Hyman Suchowsky, the Jewish-American Roth befriended Vito during Prohibition, but later set up his own organization in Miami. Aging and perhaps terminally ill, Roth invites Michael to join his operations in Cuba, but he's soon revealed to be plotting against Michael.

     Don Francesco Ciccio
"It's not his words I'm afraid of!"
— on Vito

Portrayed By: Giuseppe Sillato

A Sicilian Mafia chief who kills Vito's father, brother and mother, forcing him to flee to the United States. Decades later, Vito returns to Sicily, seeking revenge.

  • Asshole Victim: This is the man that killed Vito's parents and older brother... it's hard to shed a tear for him when Vito finally gets his long-sought and very well-deserved revenge.
  • Big Bad: Of Vito's story in Part II.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Evil vs. Evil example. Killing off Vito's entire family eventually led to the kid growing up to become a (very vengeful) crime lord himself.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He killed Vito's father Antonio Andolini just for insulting him. To think that if it weren't for Ciccio having such a fragile ego, the whole Godfather saga wouldn't even have happened.
  • The Don: The top crime boss of Corleone, Sicily at the beginning of the 20th century, until his assassination.
  • Fat Bastard: An overweight, child-murdering mob boss.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He can can act polite and friendly during business meetings, but is ruthless enough to have whole families killed if they cross him.
  • Jerkass: He was more than willing to kill Vito as a child to ensure he wouldn't return for revenge.
  • Karmic Death: He gets his stomach stabbed and sliced by Vito Andolini, the now-grown-up boy whom Ciccio had orphaned so long ago.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: He attempts to kill all of Antonio Andolini's male relatives, including his 9-year-old son Vito, knowing they would be honor-bound to avenge Antonio's murder. This forces Vito to escape to America, where he becomes a Don himself, eventually giving him the ability to return and kill Don Ciccio.
  • 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
"Tell your friends I don't want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak."

Portrayed By: Gastone Moschin

A small-time extortionist terrorizing Little Italy in the 1910s, who drives Vito to a life of crime.

  • Backup Bluff: A villainous example, and his entire MO. He scares the people in the neighborhood into thinking he is a member of the Black Hand.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: He is very feared and acts all ruthless, but he is a Paper Tiger: there are some paisans who don't pay him any tribute, he has no real muscle and resorts to police threats to enforce his demands. After Vito tests him by only paying half of his debt, he decides that he's no threat and kills him.
  • The Bully: He was more of a neighborhood bully in Little Italy rather than a true mobster.
  • Catchphrase: Fond of telling people he needs to "wet my beak," i.e. skim their profits.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: For Vito, killing Fanucci turns him from petty criminal to respected godfather.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He uses his power to get his nephew a job (at the cost of Vito's) and when intimidating Vito Fanucci takes a dress from Vito's store to give to one of his own daughters.
  • Karmic Death: He gets Vito fired from his job, forcing him to become a criminal. Vito killing him seems just punishment.
  • Stupid Evil: When he smugly attempts to extort money from Vito, he: a.) threatens Vito not with violence but with a visit from the cops, suggesting that he's got no actual muscle; b.) first asks for $200, then halves it to $100 when Vito doesn't immediately capitulate, suggesting that he lacks force of will; c.) doesn't offer Vito anything at all (except the implication that he won't call the cops.) All this does is show Vito that Don Fanucci is not a serious threat, and that killing him will annoy no-one.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He was willing to threaten a young lady with a knife to her neck, just to extort more money out of her father.

     Joey Zasa
"As for Don Corleone, he makes it very clear to me today, that he is my enemy. You must choose between us."

Portrayed By: Joe Mantegna

A flamboyant associate of the Corleones, trying to gain power in New York City. Michael and the other crime bosses consider him an embarrassment for his media grandstanding.

  • Man of Wealth and Taste: He likes to be known for his well dressed style and as a champion of Italian-American heritage. It doesn't exactly endear him to his fellow mafiosi.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: A thinly-veiled up-yours against Joseph Colombo, from his personality to the Italian-American heritage organization Zasa fronts, resembling Colombo's Italian-American Civil Rights League which caused Coppola headaches during the first film. His over-the-top, media-friendly persona also recalls John Gotti, Carmine Persico, Paul Castellano and "Crazy" Joe Gallo.
  • Remember the New Guy?: As with Pentangeli in Part II, a case of Real Life Writes the Plot. Originally Zasa was to be Willie Cicci, but Joe Spinell's death forced Coppola to rewrite his storyline for a new character.
  • The Starscream: He is hinted as wanting to take over Altobello's plan so he can be Don.

     Don Altobello
"The richest man is the one with the most powerful friends."

Portrayed By: Eli Wallach

Long-time friend of the Corleone family (he was even Connie's godfather), revealed to be the Big Bad manipulating events in Part III.

  • 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.
  • False Friend: To the Corleone family, secretly being the Big Bad.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?: He calls himself the Corleone family's "oldest friend." One wonders where he's been for the past two movies.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Connie seems to be a bit sad after poisoning him as he was her godfather.
  • Wicked Cultured: He genuinely enjoyed the opera reciting with the performers.

     Don Licio Lucchesi
"Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger."

Portrayed By: Enzo Robutti

An Italian politician involved in the Vatican Bank, with heavy ties to organized crime, and Michael's enemy Altobello in particular.

  • Big Bad: Of Part III, secretly being Michael's enemy.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Don Altobello.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Prominently wears a pair of glasses, which is ironically used to kill him.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Stabbed to death by his own glasses in his throat.
  • No Historical Figures 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. He also shares a lot of traits (down to his first name) with Licio Gelli a grandmaster of the Freemasons.

     Archbishop Gilday
"It seems the power to absolve debt is greater than the power of forgiveness".

Portrayed by: Donal Donnelly

High-ranking Church official, involved with the Vatican Bank. Michael enlists him as an ally in his effort to purchase Immobiliare, unaware that he's working with Altobello and Lucchesi.

  • The Chessmaster: Quite good at manipulating Michael through outward displays of friendship. It's implied that he's the one who engineers Pope John Paul's death.
  • Disney Villain Death: Shot by Neri then falls down a staircase.
  • Faux Affably Evil: A very charming and soft-spoken man in public, but a ruthless schemer behind closed doors.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Like other characters in Part III, Gilday is based on a major figure in the Vatican Bank scandals, in this case American-born Archbishop Paul Marcinkus. Unlike his film counterpart, Marcinkus remained head of the Vatican Bank through 1990 and died of natural causes in 2006.
  • Sinister Minister: If not his demeanor, then certainly his actions.

     Frederick Keinszig
"Everything will be out in the open if Corleone dies."

Portrayed by: Helmut Berger

A Swiss banker who helps negotiate the Immobiliare deal. Fearing exposure, he skips town with a Briefcase Full of Money and incriminating documents, which doesn't save him.

  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Happily sells out his co-conspirators as well as Michael. Vincent sums him up well:
    "That little Swiss banker fuck — he's been swindling everyone from the beginning. Fuck him."
  • Ironic Nickname: "God's Banker."
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: An archetypal example, especially given his ties to a Corrupt Church and The Mafia.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: For Roberto Calvi, chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, one of the key players in the Vatican Bank scandals of the '80s. Keinszig's fate is explicitly modeled off Calvi's death; the banker was found hanging from Blackfriar's Bridge in London in 1982.
  • Smug Snake: Condescending, arrogant and untrustworthy; no one much likes him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When Pope John Paul I takes power, he decides to backstab not only Michael but Altobello, Lucchesi and the Vatican, running off with a suitcase full of cash, bonds and Church documents. Really, what did he expect to happen?


Example of: