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Series / The Sopranos

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"I'm in the waste management business. Everybody immediately assumes you're mobbed up. It's a stereotype, and it's offensive."
Tony Soprano

The Sopranos is a deconstructive Criminal Procedural series centered around North Jersey Mob Boss Tony Soprano, who after a panic attack secretly begins seeing a therapist. Hilarious Reality Ensues as his therapy coincides with him sending his troublesome, sociopathic mother Livia into a nursing home when it becomes apparent that she's no longer able to take care of herself.

The show focuses on Tony's problematic dual families: his biological family — long-suffering wife Carmela, his straight-A student daughter Meadow, underachiever son A.J., and his equally morally bankrupt sister Janice — and the organized crime family he is involved in, who include his bitter uncle Junior, his 'nephew' (actually his wife's cousin) Christopher, and more.

The series ultimately ended with one of the most infamous cases of No Ending ever to air on an American TV show. See the WMG page for various interpretations.


Created by David Chase, the Pilot Episode was shot in 1997, the show premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, and ended its original run of six seasons and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007.

A Licensed Game called The Sopranos: Road to Respect set between between seasons five and six was released in 2006.

A prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark written by Chase is due for release in 2020. Taking place during the Newark riots in the 1960s, the film stars Alessandro Nivola as Christopher's father Dickie Moltisanti and James Gandolfini's son Michael as young Tony Soprano.

The Film-Within-The-Show Cleaver has its own work page.


This show provides examples of:

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  • Abusive Parents: Tony is emotionally manipulated and terrorized by his difficult mother throughout his childhood and well into his adult life. One notable incident featured his mother threatening to stick a fork in his eye when he was only ten years old. Tony's father was outwardly friendly, but also a manipulative sociopath who indoctrinated his son into violent crime and the mob. It's implied that the various degrees of emotional manipulation and terror Tony suffered under his parents is what turned him into the violent sociopath that heads the New Jersey crime families. Oddly enough, Tony manages to become a better father to his kids than his parents ever were to him (despite being an aforementioned violent sociopath), and his children turn out relatively nice and normal, even if they have a few issues of their own.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In one episode, Paulie says, "I lived through The '70s by the skin of my nuts when the Colombos were goin' at it." Tony Sirico, the actor who plays Paulie, actually was an associate of the Colombo crime family before turning to acting.
    • There are several references to Bruce Springsteen in the show (Chris: "The turnpike is jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive."), whom Steven van Zandt has played with for years. But it's difficult to tell if it's a deliberate Allusion because, hey, it's Jersey.
    • Gloria Trillo really loves a song played on the radio, Steve Van Zandt's Affection.
    • A recursive one. The lead in Christopher's movie Cleaver is named Michael. The character is based on Chris himself, who is played by Michael Imperioli. In-universe it is probably a Shout-Out to Michael Corleone from The Godfather.
    • Chris shoots a bakery worker in the foot for taking too long with his order. In Goodfellas, he was shot in the foot for taking too long making a drink.
    • The murder of Angelo Garepe referred back to the death of Billy Batts in Goodfellas; both were beaten, thrown into a car trunk, and shot while pleading for their life. Batts was played by actor Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo) who reverses his role from victim to executioner.
    • Michael Imperioli wrote five episodes of The Sopranos and was the only actor to write multiple episodes. This would probably explain Christopher's interest in screenwriting and production.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
    • Christopher in Season 1 when he suffers a mock execution. Reversed later in Season 5 when Tony is about to kill him and Chris doesn't back down from an accusation.
    • Lorraine Calluzzo offers to blow the Leotardo brothers during what turns out to be a mock execution.
    • Matthew Bevilaqua's last action was to pitifully beg for his life. Tony wasn't moved.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Christopher holds a skull this way when he is relocating the bones of an old murder.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In a rare occurrence, Johnny Sack is given a touching and empathic death scene, dying after a long illness and surrounded by his anguished family. The show makes a point about a broken mobster dying of cancer is still a human being, a father and a husband. In-universe, even the mobsters who felt betrayed by the man mourn his loss and honor his memory.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight for almost all the female characters. Played with Melfi, who feels an unhealthy attraction to Tony but is able to fight it off.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Played with. Tony Soprano cites Sigmund Freud (whom he learned about in his "semester and a half" of college) to explain to Melfi that he understands therapy "as a concept", but the show deals with psychology a lot, and it really isn't here. Often called the most accurate fictional depiction of what actually happens in therapy. Tony however is diagnosed with a compelling Freudian Excuse and Freud is also the Trope Codifier for Oedipus Complex, one of the Freudian Excuses mentioned often by Melfi despite Tony's repulsion.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In-universe; Christopher thinks the Cuban Missile Crisis was a fictional event made up for the film Thirteen Days.
  • Amoral Attorney: Neil Mink and Harold Melvoin, traditional and very expensive mob-lawyers who reinforce the genre-savviness of the bosses and their ability to commit crime or get away with it.
  • And a Diet Coke: Vito orders a Grande Nacho and a Diet Coke at Crazy Horse in "Pie-O-My".
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Patsy Parisi.
  • Animal Motifs: Several used as symbolism throughout the series, e.g felines represent Adriana or Chris and migratory ducks the fragile family of Tony. A more concrete example is the parting gift Tony gives to his goomahs, a horseshoe-shaped jewel.
  • Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain: Tony Soprano, depending on your viewpoint.
  • Anyone Can Die: Too recent to call it the codifier, but was probably the first series a lot of people thought of when they think of this trope, until another HBO series usurped that title. Many deaths are out of the blue, making wham episodes frequent.
  • Arcade Sounds: Bobby Baccalieri's son plays a computer full of generic laser blasts, beeps, doots, and other such game noises. The game he's playing is Max Payne...
  • Arc Words: "Oh, poor you," Livia's sarcastic rejoinder to Tony's complaints. When his mistress also says it, Tony realizes he'd sought her out because she is like his mother. In season 6, Tony in turn says it to his son.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Meadow catches Tony off-guard when she asks him "Are you in the Mafia?". Tony replies there is no Mafia and discloses that he's indeed into some illegal activities such as gambling.
    • Tony asking "Don't you love me?" to Junior who is going through early stages of dementia and has behaved badly to Tony. Junior is left shaken, speechless, and showing a Single Tear.
    • "Hey, Pussy... did she even really exist?"
    • Carmela to Tony after he says he was attracted to the one-legged Russian because he could converse with her: "what about the thousand other fucking pigs you had your dick in over the years, the strippers, the cocktail waitresses. Were you best friends with all of them too?"
  • Artistic License – Law: Or at the very least, Legal Voodoo Shark, respecting Junior's indictments and jail in Seasons 1-2. The indictments appear to be federal ones, but then Junior is apparently detained before hearing. After a few weeks, his lawyer gets him out by claiming health problems, allowing Junior to be held on house arrest. All of this is a big to-do in the family. However, federal defendants are rarely held before trial and rarely have to post bail; instead, they are simply detained, released with conditions (like Junior's house arrest), or released without conditions, and this decision is made within a few days of the arrest. Junior would have never been held for more than 2-3 days in a real federal prosecution. Now, Junior could have been held longer on state charges (at the time; New Jersey would later adopt a federal-like system), but the charges are clearly federal.
    • The feds give Adrianna an ultimatum that is basically presented as a Morton's Fork, saying that she can either face 25 years in prison or become an FBI informant. In reality, if she wasn't under arrest she had every right to walk out of there and immediately lawyer up. At the very least, a good attorney could've made the case that the stalking and bullying that Ade suffered at the hands of the feds was unprofessional. Could be Truth in Television as well, however, as she wouldn't be the first American to be ignorant of their rights.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe: the DiMeo Crime Family, of which the Soprano crew is a part, still bears Ercole "Ecky" DiMeo's name, even though he's been in prison for decades, and no one named "DiMeo" has any part in running the family or even appears on-camera.
  • Ascended Extra: Many characters start out with minor roles and grow more prominent as the series goes on.
    • Johnny Sack and Vito Spatafore are both barely seen in Seasons 1 and 2, but are major players later on (In Vito's case, his actor Joseph R. Gannascoli plays an innocent bystander during an incident with Christopher at a bakery in Season 1)
    • Bobby Bacala is another notable example.
    • Adriana was promoted to main character and Chris' girlfriend only after the pilot.
  • As Himself:
    • Frank Sinatra Jr. is a player at a high-stakes poker game hosted by the DiMeo family in Season 2.
    • Jon Favreau plays a manipulative version of himself who screws Chris out of his ideas.
    • Janeane Garofalo and Sandra Bernhard appear in a movie directed by Favreau.
    • Ben Kingsley and Lauren Bacall make a cameo when Christopher is pitching his own movie. The role finally goes to Danny Baldwin.
    • Nancy Sinatra is the entertainment at a party hosted by Phil Leotardo.
    • Invoked in "The Test Dream". Annette Benning is playing Finn's mother in Tony's dinner dream. He recognizes her, and later in Tony's episode-long dream she appears as herself.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: While Tony recovers from a severe gunshot wound, he notices that his old lieutenants don't follow his orders as readily as they used to, and he suspects that they now see him as weak. Tony responds by goading his hotheaded, musclebound bodyguard into fighting him. He kicks the everloving shit out of the much younger man in front of his entire crew, to their visible shock, then calmly walks into the bathroom and coughs up blood into the sink. No one questions his orders after that.
  • Ass Shove: It's mentioned off-handedly that Vito Spatafore was sodomized with a broomstick while they were murdering him.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Despite their dubious morals, the mafia members all appear to be Catholic, which is Truth in Television, and make occasional references to The Bible. Religion is also used as a plot point on occasion; for example, when Christopher recovers from his shooting, he mentions he had a vision of going to hell (or possibly purgatory), and in another episode, Tony tries to persuade A.J. that God exists when he loses faith.
  • Automobile Opening: Tony driving from New York to his home in New Jersey. His route is deliberately inefficient to provide more interesting visuals (nobody in their right mind would go from Manhattan to North Caldwell by going through surface streets in Kearny and Newark).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: All of the capos and bosses in the mob are either capable fighters and killers, or they used to be in their younger days before they rose so high that they no longer need to get their hands dirty.
  • Authority in Name Only: Corrado Soprano (Junior) is the official boss of the family, but not the one calling the shots. Invoked by Tony in season 1 when he sets up Junior as a fall guy to shield himself. The FBI tries to use it as wedge against them, but Junior denies it.
    Junior: My nephew running things? Not that strunz. Not in this life.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Zig-zagged. The mobsters like to wear plain sportswear, showcasing their rather common and vulgar hoodlum condition, but they tend to dress up according to their fancy businessmen status when the occasion requires it. Members of the Lupertazzi crew can usually be seen in suits, befitting their more successful and refined nature when compared to the Jersey crew. Carmine Lupertazzi keenly states to Tony that "a Don doesn't wear shorts".
  • Bad Boss: Tony is a successful manager, but he verbally shreds his underlings on a regular basis. He is entitled by the hierarchical level of the Mafia, but crosses the line once and gets called on it when he physically assaults Ralph, as beating another made-man is a violation of Mafia protocol. He later kills Ralph, which is also against the rules. Christopher is another victim of this kind of abuse.
    • Ironically, while Tony was out of line when he beat the piss out of Ralphie Ciffaretto, he could have had the man killed at any time that he wanted, for any reason. Which is more or less why no one asked any questions about Ralphie's death; that, and no one was sad to see him go. The world of the Mafia, folks.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Bing.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: The Bing's back room.
  • Bambification: A minor character has a quiet moment with a deer. Then it runs away and Tony brutally garrotes him.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In season five, a marauding bear drops by the Sopranos' compound a number of times, alarming Carmela and panicking A.J. At that moment, Tony isn't living there, so he posts some of his underlings as guardians. Eventually he defends the fort himself, posted through the night with weapon in hand, emphasizing the necessity of a strong male family leader.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Season 1, Chris is upset that he is too unestablished for the FBI to bother targeting him. In later seasons, the FBI actually does make Chris a major target... and it ultimately ruins his life.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Though the series has a Do Not Do This Cool Thing element, it does also show the Mafia to be an insecure life of murder, violence, threats, paranoia, betrayal, and relentless police investigations, that often ends in a sudden and violent death. It is suggested, particularly by Dr. Melfi, that Tony's business is actually the cause of his health problems.
  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: One notable concept that Tony never neglects. Particular examples include David Scatino, Tony B, Vito, and Christopher.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Tony always loses it when he learns of animals being harmed. Chris and Ralph learn it the hard way when they kill a dog and presumably a horse.
    • Johnny Sack is usually calm and collected, unless someone makes a remark about his wife.
    • Tony doesn't take it well when he is reminded on several times that he never had the makings of a varsity athlete.
    • At one point, Tony thinks Janice is acting way too nice and out of character, so he deliberately invokes Janice's button by asking questions about her strayed son. Janice being Janice, it's malignant and amusing at the same time.
  • Big Applesauce: The much larger NY families become major players in the final seasons.
  • Big Bad: Not in the typical Once a Season fashion of many shows; season 2 has Richie Aprile and Big Pussy and the final season has Phil Leotardo. Partial examples in Junior in season 1, in tandem with Livia, and Johnny Sack in season 5, as they stay agreeable for the most part and while there is some build-up or major conflict, it gets resolved or defused very quickly before becoming an arc.
    • Alternatively, the show has three successive Big Bads, each lasting two seasons: Livia Soprano, Ralph Cifaretto, and Phil Leotardo.
  • Big Fancy House: The Soprano McMansion. It turns out, it's only a modest estate compared to the houses of other rich, legitimate people of the state.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Sopranos, the two families (the criminal one also called DiMeo sometimes). Tony tries his best to avert it. The mere basis of the show.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Too many to mention if you know Italian.
  • Black Comedy: A gritty portrayal of the mob life where the hypocritical nature and sociopathic deeds of the characters generate humor, sometimes bordering on the absurd while keeping the realistic feel. The show places such an emphasis on humor that David Chase is quoted as once having said that sometimes he and the writers weren't sure whether they were making a drama or a comedy.
  • Bland-Name Product: Zig-zagged, especially as regards certain items of New Jersey culture:
    • In some cases, it's played straight. For example, in "Mr. Ruggiero's Neighborhood" (S03E01), some of the FBI agents disguise themselves as utility maintenance men from "New Jersey Gas and Electric"—which is clearly based on the real electric and gas utility in North Jersey,note  Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG).
    • In other cases, it's averted. For instance, the newspaper practically everyone reads is The Star-Ledger, an actual Newark-based paper that serves as North Jersey's newspaper of record.
  • Blatant Lies: Chris arrives at Ralph's house to find Ralph's dead body on the floor and Tony looking beaten up and covered in blood.
    Tony: I found him like this.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: Livia insists the home Tony put her in is one of these. From what we see of it, she's wrong. Later, we see a contrasting example when Junior is in the mental health facility and then a state-run nursing home.
  • Born in the Wrong Decade: A constant source of drama. Tony and his pals are well aware that the mob's heyday is long over with, but they have a hard time coming to terms with it. Tony says it explicitly at one point.
    Meadow: It's the 90s, parents are supposed to talk about sex with their kids.
    Tony: No, you got it wrong. Out there, it's the 90s. In this house, it's 1954. 90s... (points to the open front door) ...1954 (points to the floor). Got it?
  • Brainless Beauty: Lorraine Calluzo's "life partner" (aka boyfriend) Jason Evanina. Made obvious when Jason tries to weigh in about Phil in a meeting and Lorraine tells him "Jason, be quiet. Men are talking".
  • Break the Cutie: Tracee gets no respect from anyone she tries to impress and is beaten to death by Ralphie.
  • Brick Joke: Several, but the one with the longest payoff between setup and punchline involves Phil Leotardo. When he is first introduced, one of the first things you hear anyone say about him is that he is "a pimple." His last scene has him shot multiple times, falling to the ground in such a way that an SUV left unattended rolls over his head, crushing it, followed almost immediately by an FBI agent informing Agent Harris that "Phil Leotardo got popped."
  • Broken Ace: Tony. Top of the line in his profession, wealthy, charismatic, powerful, ruthless, has keen business acumen, a beautiful family, and drop-dead goomahs. Underneath it all, he suffers from some serious Parental Issues and other mental problems, which cause him to have panic attacks.
  • Broken Pedestal: Chris and Tony, Tony with his father, uncle, and other old-schoolers. Zig-zagged most of the time as things are never black or white and the character's internal struggle is one of the dynamics of the show.
  • Bungled Suicide: Anthony Jr. in "The Second Coming".
  • Burial at Sea: After Tony Soprano and his gang kill Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (a long-time friend who betrays them to the FBI), they wrap up his body, and with heavy hearts, give it a decent burial at sea. Overlaps with Cement Shoes, a common way of body disposal during the series. Chains and actual concrete blocks are used as an anchor.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Tony angrily mocks this when Janice asks him what was done with Richie's remains. "We buried him on a hill overlooking a little river, with pine cones all around. C'mon Janice, what the fuck? You want to know?"
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Artie Bucco and Georgie, who is often beaten up brutally for... well, no reason at all.
    • A.J. too, though this is only in the later seasons. He's one of the dumbest characters on the show, but lacks the ruthless spirit that a mobster needs, so he has no real place in the world.
    • A recurring gardener keeps running afoul of the Mafia, getting his hand stomped by Feech, and then arrested by the FBI when they take down Johnny Sack.
  • Call-Back:
    • Carmela and Tony reference Christopher's drug-fueled rant at Livia's wake the year prior.
    • Chris and Paulie relate the then-three year old story of the Russian in the woods in Season 5.
    • Tony mentions the troubles him and Junior have had in the past (i.e. Junior trying to have him killed) to Janice.
    • While talking to Hollywood screenwriter J.T. Dolan in Season 5 Episode 8, Chris disparages the industry by referring to the time when his ideas were ostensibly stolen by director Jon Favreau back in Season 2.
    • In several of the therapy sessions throughout the series, Tony refers to the time he saw his father chop off a debtor's pinky finger with a butcher knife as a child.
    • Carmella and A.J both reference A.J's actions in previous seasons; both his side-business organizing parties in high school and the "god-is-dead business" on the day of his confirmation are brought up.
    • "Remember When" is replete with references to past events; Paulie reminisces on Ralph and the madcap stories related to him, while Tony repeatedly tries to get Paulie to admit that he was the one who told Johnny Sack about the infamous "mole" joke.
    • In the season one finale, in a restaurant, Tony advises his children to "try to remember the times that were good". A.J. brings the phrase back in another restaurant in the series finale, but Tony doesn't remember his own counsel.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Meadow calls Tony out a number of times on his hypocrisy and line of work. Tony calls her back, pointing out he is the one who puts food on the table and that everything she enjoys is based on that. She gradually becomes less rebellious and more assimilated by the masquerade.
  • Car Fu: Tony and Richie viciously rely on the pedal to enforce their wills over hirkers.
  • The Cast Show Off: Dominic Chianese (Junior) is a talented tenor (having released at least two albums of Italian and American songs), and it's his voice we hear when Junior sings Salvatore Cardillo's "Core 'ngrato" ("Ungrateful Heart") at the end of "Army of One."
  • Catchphrase:
    • Tony has "You've gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me", "End of story", and "She's dead to me" in Season 2.
    • "Fuhgeddaboutit" and an overuse of OH! for everybody.
    • "Always with the drama!", recurringly used by Johnny Boy, Tony, and AJ Soprano.
    • Silvio's impersonation of Michael Corleone in the first seasons invokes "Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in."
    • Livia mournfully saying "He was a saint" regarding her late husband.
  • Celeb Crush: A throwaway line by Uncle Junior after he's been arrested by the FBI and they're trying to get him to turn federal witness:
    Junior: I want to bang Angie Dickinson. See which one of us gets lucky first.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • In one episode, Tony watches The Fugitive — oddly, he doesn't notice that Ralphie has a minor role in it.
      • Same goes for The Matrix DVD that AJ buys for Carmella
    • Goodfellas. It's mentioned quite a few times in the series, even though half of the major cast are in it, including but not limited to Michael Imperioli (Christopher), Vincent Pastore (Pussy), Tony Sirico (Paulie), Frank Vincent (Phil), and Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Melfi), who played a major supporting role in the film as the main character's wife.
    • Similarly, The Godfather Part II is referenced a number of times, in which Dominick Chianese (Uncle Junior) has a supporting role as Johnny Ola.
    • Christopher mentions Scarface (1983) as a film in the first season. In season 5 Robert Loggia, who played Frank Lopez in the film, appears as Feech La Manna.
    • Frankie Valli is mentioned several times, is an acquaintance of Tony's and the names of some of his songs are used in a few episode titles. He appears in later seasons playing the New York underboss Rusty Millio.
    • Chris references Bruce Springsteen in one episode, even though Steven Van Zandt (Silvio) is guitar player in the E Street Band.
    • Noah Tannenbaum's father, a Hollywood attorney who frequently represents celebrities, claims to have met the actor Tim Daly before. Tim Daly would later go on to play the recurring character J.T. Dolan.
    • The similarities between Tony's life and Analyze This don't go unnoticed, but no one seems to note that Benny Fazio (Max Casella) has a small role in it.
    • Tony gives his mother an audio version of Mario Puzo's Omerta, read by none other than Christopher.
    • Christopher watches Saw leading up to his making Cleaver - Tobin Bell plays both Jigsaw and the administrator of the Hudson Military Institute, Major Zwingli.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • Most of Tony's angst derives from his position of boss. He mentions the trope often, argues that his greedy underlings have no idea how hard it is to be a boss, and warns his friend Johnny Sack about it several times.
    • In season 6 Silvio doesn't last more than a few days as regent because the responsibility quickly takes a toll on his health.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Poor telecommunication service is the source of problems in "Pine Barrens", where Paulie and Chris get lost in a frozen forest. Tony gets gradually more and more agitated and has to give them orders very loudly and full of profanity while his parents-in-law are in his house. Justified to no small degree; if any part of New Jersey would have patchy/poor/nonexistent cell phone coverage in 2001, it would be the Pine Barrens.
  • Characterization Marches On/Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Carmela in the first season is a more of a gun moll than in later seasons. In The Pilot, after hearing a noise in the night, she expertly locks and loads an assault rifle, ready to throw down. In later seasons she's more of a sheltered suburban housewife. A later episode has her again looking for a possible intruder in the house, and she's much less prepared.
    • In the pilot, shot a year before the dubious greenlight, Tony is already a peerless boss, not a mere capo and provides a voiceover. Some later recasts and several physical changes are noticeable.
    • Bobby Baccala is hateful, cynical, and outspoken in private towards Tony in his first appearances, in contrast with his Gentle Giant/Extreme Doormat usual behavior.
    • In The Pilot, it clearly has not yet been established that Tony has a sister.
  • Chiaroscuro: Used frequently in the lighting setup, to show the moral ambiguity of all the characters.
  • Chronic Villainy: Played for tragedy in the case of Cousin Tony.
  • Cliffhanger: Notably averted. Creator David Chase considered them a cheap narrative device and the sequences are never split between episodes. One very rare cliffhanger is used at the end of Season 6 opener — Tony laying on the ground with a bullet wound — and the end of the second to last episode could be interpreted as one.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This video shows the nearly thirty minutes of Cluster F-Bomb employed throughout the series.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: While the series on the whole is aimed at creating disgust with the mob's brutality, the violence is often played for laughs. Paulie is particularly a bit of a Comedic Sociopath.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Christopher is the major offender, seconded by Paulie.
    • Tony debriefs Paulie and Chris over the phone about a guy they have to deal with:
      Tony: "He is an ex-commando! He killed sixteen Chechen rebels single-handed! He was with the Interior Ministry. Guy's like a Russian green beret. He can not come back and tell this story. You understand?"
      Paulie: "You're not gonna believe this. He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. Guy was an interior decorator.
      Chris: "His house looked like shit."
    • Silvio and Chris get Tony exasperated when he argues about his strong, silent type role model:
      Christopher: "He was gay, Gary Cooper?"
    • Paulie during a dinner, trying to appear cultivated:
      Paulie: "That's why dinosaurs don't exist no more."
      Goomar: "Wasn't it a meteor?"
      Paulie: "They’re all meat-eaters."
      Christopher: "METEOR! METEOR!"
      Paulie: "Take it easy."
    • Christopher, discussing Johnny Sack's daughter's name:
      Christopher: "Allegra? Ain't that a cold medicine?"
      Paulie: "It means happiness in Italian."
      Christopher: "...What the fuck's that got to do with cold medicine?"
    • Subverted by Christopher when he punctures through a Young Earth Creationist theory.
      Christopher: "What's he saying? There were Dinosaurs back with Adam and Eve?"
      Tony: "I guess."
      Christopher : "No way. T-Rex in the Garden of Eden? Adam and Eve would be running all the time, scared shitless, but the Bible says it was paradise."
  • Confess in Confidence:
    • Discussed early in the show. In theory, everything said during therapy falls under doctor-patient privilege and is out of reach from the law, but there are instances where this doesn't apply so Tony remains cryptic in many conversations, hindering the effectiveness of his treatment and frustrating his doctor.
    • The doctor-patient privilege is also used to have meetings with Junior in his doctor's office when he's on trial, as the government can't wiretap the doctor's office. The feds get around this by having a female agent pose as a nurse and listen in on Junior's conversations, as well as detail the people present in their meetings.
    • Junior also uses his lawyer's office for the same purpose, as the same rules apply.
  • Confessional: Carmela requires it during one of her crises of conscience.
  • The Consigliere: Silvio Dante has that official role in Tony Soprano's crew/family. On several occasions, we see other mobsters complaining about Tony's decisions behind his back, and Silvio is the one to raise the issue with Tony face-to-face.
  • Consummate Liar: Lying and deceiving is a second nature to most of the characters. Tony is so adept at it that he can smell most lies a mile away.
  • Continuity Nod: Many episodes reference very minute details from several seasons ago. Unemphatic Continuity Porn. Some examples:
    • In "46 Long," which was barely the second episode in the series, Tony stops by his mother's house and starts looking over her pictures; one of them shows a younger Livia Soprano enjoying a cigarette. In Season 5, years after Livia's death, Tony notices and briefly examines the same picture hanging in his Aunt Quintina's house.
    • At the end of Season 1, "Larry Boy" Barese is formally indicted along with Junior Soprano, and is not seen or heard from again until much later. "Larry Boy" appears non-verbally in Season 4 during Junior's trial because they were both taken into custody as part of the same wave of indictments, and are therefore being tried for the same crimes at the same time.
    • In an early episode, Tony tells A.J., "There's an old Italian saying: you screw up once, you lose two teeth." Much later on, in season five, Tony has a lengthy dream and during it, he loses two of his teeth.
    • Pussy Malanga, the enemy that Junior wants dead in the pilot episode, shows up again in Junior's mind in the first episode of the last season.
    • Christopher is shot in the torso and critically wounded in Season 2. While he recovers, the scarring is visible on his stomach for the duration of the series. He also mentions later that he had to have his spleen removed.
    • Carmine Sr. dismissively calls the Jersey Family "a glorified crew" in Season 4. Phil Leotardo cites his words near the end of the show.
    • In Season 3, Tony sees Carmine Sr. telling Johnny Sack to "answer the fucking thing," referring to the latter's phone. In a dream sequence two seasons later, Carmine appears telling Tony to "answer the fucking thing," referring to a ringing hotel phone.
    • In Season 4, Christopher references the crow that was ostensibly watching him when he got made the prior the season.
    • Also in Season 4, Carmela's cousin Brian secretly meets with Tony under the pretense of picking up a power drill, taking the tool with him as he leaves. A season later, Tony searches for the tool to no avail.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Paulie Walnuts drops Valery's universal remote and gives a sarcastic oops after Valery tells him sternly, in his thick Russian accent, that "remote goes on docking station". Unsurprisingly, the conflict escalates from there.
  • Conversation Casualty: Christopher shoots Emil Kolar in the back of the head after a polite discussion.
  • Cool Boat: Tony's yacht, The Stugots. Envied and praised by some characters, and a common place for Tony's escapades. The name is a derivative of stu cazzo, the Napolitan term for "these testicles" (or perhaps more fittingly, "deez nuts"), and an insult.
  • Cool Car: Lots of them, as befits the lavish lifestyle of the mobsters. One of the primary Conspicuous Consumption objects. Examples with plot relevancy include:
    • The Jersey crew steals high-end vehicles which are later sold to the Camorra in Napoli (yes, like in Italy), which then sells them in Eastern Europe.
    • Gloria Trillo is a saleswoman for Mercedes.
    • Johnny Sack buys a striking Maserati during his happy days. The car has to be sold later unofficially to Christopher and is finally impounded.
  • Cool Horse: Pie-O-My, Ralph Cifaretto's racehorse. Tony grows immensely fond of the horse, referring to it as "our girl," in direct contrast to Ralph, who brusquely instructs the trainer to whip it good. Tony's growing expectation of an increasing share of the winnings creates tension between the two. The poor animal dies in a mysterious fire which ends up ruining a few lives and sending ripples through the entire criminal underworld.
  • Corpsing: During Paulie's hilarious lecture about the lack of hygiene in men's public toilets, some of the other actors can be seen struggling not to laugh.
  • Corrupt Politician: Several examples, most notably State Assemblyman Zellman, who is Tony's equal partner in a major scam.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
    • Tony's reflections about the struggle with his uncle.
      Tony: "Uncle Junior and I, we had our problems with the business but I never should have razzed him about eating pussy. This whole war could have been averted. Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this."
    • Little Carmine slides from pompous to pragmatist in late seasons and mentions the trope identifying phrase sometimes. Other New York bosses do the opposite.
    • The episode "Pine Barrens" features probably the most heralded example. Paulie and Christopher, making a collection for Silvio, assault former Russian special agent Valery, attempting to dispose of his supposed dead body in the eponymous woods. But when Valery turns out to be Not Quite Dead and turns the tables on his assailants, escaping into the wilderness even after being shot in the head, Paulie and Chris end up getting lost overnight in the freezing cold. All because Paulie felt like being a dick and needlessly broke the guy's universal remote.
  • Country Matters: Regularly. It's generally not treated as a big deal nor used for shock value, with some exceptions.
    • Season two has a scene where Tony applies the word to Big Pussy's wife, causing Carmela to stop him mid-sentence and shut him up.
    • Tony insults Melfi with the term when she carefully refuses his advances. He gets called on it when he later apologizes.
    • Silvio's Pre-Mortem One-Liner delivered to Adriana: "Come on, come on! Fuckin' cunt!"
    • Paulie refers to the old lady who is mean to his mother as a "malignant cunt."
  • Crapsack World: Any character at any moment can be killed by mobsters or meet death in any other way. Crime is rampant, and most mobsters get away with every murder they commit (even though most of them gets their comeuppance at the end of the series). As if that was not enough, there are a lot of Ax-Crazy people out there who could hurt you for the slightest offense towards them. It's telling something that the most remotely likable characters are Punch Clock Villains.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Christopher could be this way with Adriana.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • David Chase is the Italian man who ignores Paulie in "Commendatori". He also appears as an extra in "Luxury Lounge" and is the voice on the phone in "The Test Dream".
    • Matthew Weiner plays TV-pundit and mafia expert Manny Safier in "Two Tonys" and in "Stage 5".
  • Criminal Procedural: Organized crime variety. A relatively "blue collar" gangster family overshadowed by New York. The focus is set on how the professional and personal issues tend to overlap and conflict.
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: In the first few seasons, Dr. Melfi gradually gets distraught by her therapy sessions with Tony Soprano, leading to weight gain, drinking, and needing therapy herself. In season 6, Dr. Melfi learns of a psychological study which discourages the use of traditional psychoanalysis with career criminals, as it too often validates the use of hypocrisy and deception for them; this is apparently a significant factor in her decision to end Tony's therapy.
  • Cryptic Conversation:
    • The mobsters actively avoid using incriminating words and have colorful euphemisms and Trouble Entendre for their illegal enterprises.
    • Tony tells a guy that a job might involve "getting messy, real wet work". The FBI agents listening prick up their ears, only to realize a few seconds later he's asking a plumber to fix his burst water heater.
    • Parodied in the last season when Johnny Sack's 'civilian' brother-in-law gives a shot at the Spy Speak, but his efforts comically complicate the conversations.
  • Cure Your Gays: When Finn asks what is going to happen with Vito, Chris tries to ease his mind by telling him that they'll make Vito pay for some therapy. A classic mix of Blatant Lies with amusingly ignorant comments so prevalent in the show. Vito also tries to discuss it with Tony, to no avail.
    Vito: It was the medication I was on. For my blood pressure. It fucked with my head, but I'm over that now. I could probably get a letter from my doctor
    Tony: A note from your doctor saying you don't like to suck cock?
  • Cut Himself Shaving: After the "intervention" for Chris' drug addiction (where he gets the crap beaten out of him), he is taken to the ER. Tony explains to the nurse that he sustained his injuries "slipping off the kitchen counter while spraying for ants". At her skeptical look, Tony elaborates, "Well, he was wearing socks."
  • Darker and Edgier: This may explain the show's success. Much like Watchmen did for comics, The Sopranos had a significant impact on the shape of the American television industry, creating a huge push for more Darker and Edgier TV shows with difficult and controversial subjects including crime, Italian-American stereotypes, graphic sex, graphic violence, Black Comedy, Evil vs. Evil conflicts, unsympathetic characters, and villainous protagonists. The show itself became increasingly dark and violent starting with Season 3. As for cinematography, there's the bleak, almost eerie atmosphere, especially in the final season.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: The main focus of the show is a thorough deconstruction of this trope.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: The FBI investigates the killing of Willie Overall, Tony's first murder way back in 1982. After Overall's body is found and excavated, the investigation is eventually called off, when, thanks to misinformation provided by Di Meo capo "Larry Boy" Barese, the decades old murder is pinned on Jackie Aprile, Sr., who has been dead himself for several years.
  • Dead Man Honking:
    • When The Mafia disposes of two would-be assassins to be absolutely certain that they won't tell tales, they crash their car so the dead driver slumps over and sounds the horn as the mobsters make their own getaway.
    • Evoked with Tony Soprano. In two separate car crashes caused by an assassination attempt and a panic attack, Tony is incapacitated and falls onto the steering wheel, leaving his Suburban honking.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tony, Paulie and Tony B., among others.
  • Deadly Bath: Brendan Filone is in his bathtub when he is shot by Mikey Palmice.
  • Death Equals Redemption: After his son is shot in the chest with an arrow, Ralphie starts to regret the bad things he's done; soon after, he is killed by Tony during a fight over Ralphie's "possible" involvement with killing Pie-O-My. Tony even had a dream about him that showed a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next, all while perched on his bald head.
  • Death Glare: Tony gives Chris a venomous one at the meeting with Johnny Sack... Tony warned Chris to stay quiet beforehand. Chris keeps yapping, and the situation goes south pretty fast.
  • Decapitated Army: Invoked by Phil in season six. Killing Jersey's leadership would make its crew assimilable or at least easier and cheaper to deal with.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Evoked; while the series wasn't set in the past (for the most part) when it aired, members of the DiMeo crew constantly make homophobic, racist, and misogynistic comments throughout the series. For instance, Tony belittles his daughter's Afro-Jewish boyfriend to his face and in private in regards to his race and ethnicity.
  • Demoted to Extra: Larry Barese, an important captain in season one, who only makes punctual appearances later.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: A.J.'s eyebrows.
  • Dirty Business / Necessarily Evil: Tony killing Tony B. to prevent a war with New York in the season 5 finale.
  • Disposing of a Body: One of the 'professional challenges' that pop-up from time to time. Cement Shoes / Burial at Sea (after some body hacking) is the standard method of choice, but straight ground burial is also used. It tends to generate problems in the long-term, as the threat of unburial and discovery is always a possibility.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Ralphie makes a joke about Ginny Sack's weight. Johnny Sack's reaction? He attempts to place a hit on him.
    • "Doc" Santoro takes a piece of food off Phil Leotardo's plate during a very private meeting. Phil's reaction? He orders a few hitmen to shoot him and his bodyguard multiple times.
  • Distracted by the Luxury: One of Carmela's main traits. For Tony, the standard way out of a marital problem is to bury it under gifts or loads of money.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: The Buccos and The Sopranos. Tony basically bribes his way out.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Played with in "College", where Carmela's relationship with her priest, Father Phil Intintola, is portrayed in such a way that recalls Tony's relationship with Dr. Melfi. Carmela clearly lusts after him, but the episode ultimately shows her taking the same solace in religion that Tony takes in therapy—complete with a private confession session that recalls a therapy session. Amusingly, Tony even accuses Carmela of having an affair with him after finding out that he spent the night at their house while Tony was away; barely a minute later, Carmela accuses Tony of doing the same with Dr. Melfi after finding out that she's a woman (a fact that Tony had tried to conceal).
  • The Don:
    • Tony, who is nominally the acting boss for Junior and for the now jailed Don, Ercole DiMeo.
    • Carmine Lupertazzi in New York. He scolds Tony for doing un-Don-like things like wearing shorts, and disregards the Jersey Family as "a glorified crew".
  • Don't Ask / You Do NOT Want to Know: A rare instance where Tony slips some true information about whackings to Carmela, when she asks about the Janice and Richie situation.
    Tony He's gone [...] Carmela, after 18 years of marriage, don't make me make you an accessory after the fact. [...] Stop asking. I took care of it.
  • Don't Explain the Joke:
    • Johnny Sack describing the joke Ralphie made about his wife. "He said she was having a 90 pound mole removed from her ass. The implication was that her ass is so big she could have a mole that size removed from it."
    • Paulie has a habit of repeating the setup and punchline to his jokes.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Used occasionally in episode names, e.g. "Rat Pack" refers to Frank Sinatra and co. but also to the multiple FBI moles.
  • Double Standard: The writers didn't really have any. The characters, on the other hand...
  • Downer Ending: Nothing upbeat about the finale: even though Phil Leotardo is killed, ending the mob war between New Jersey and New York crews, most of Tony's key guys are either dead or otherwise incapacitated, making the future of the Soprano crime family pretty grim. Even worse, Carlo, one of the last trusted members of the organization, decides to testify against Tony and others. Meanwhile, while AJ finally gets his life back on track, Meadow essentially becomes her mother, with prospects of marrying a mob lawyer. Uncle Junior completely loses himself and is left to die in a mental hospital, and Bobby's kids are stuck with Janice, who starts resembling her and Tony's mother Livia. Tony himself stops visiting Dr. Melfi as she realizes he cannot be saved and abruptly ends Tony's therapy, with no real conclusion. And, finally, the last scene of the series implies Tony might have been killed in front of his family... or not. Everybody loses. Tony just left a lot of loose ends, after all. Paulie is the one character who comes out on top, so make of it what you will.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • Meadow drops the phone after she's informed of Jackie Jr.'s death.
    • The same situation happens again when Kelli is told the news about Christopher's death.
  • Dream Sequence: Done several times over the course of the show, but exaggerated in "The Test Dream", in which the titular dream lasts a full 20 minutes. It's taken even further in "Join the Club" and "Mayham", where Tony falls into a coma after getting shot and has a long dream that extends over ''two episodes''.
  • Dreaming the Truth: How Tony finally realizes that Big Pussy has been turned.
  • The Dragon: Abundant. Paulie, Sil, and even Christopher serve in this role for Tony. Johnny Sack was Carmine Lupertazzi's, and later on Phil Leotardo was Johnny's.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Phil Leotardo in the second part of season six.
  • Driven to Suicide: Vin Makazian, Gloria Trillo, and Eugene Pontecorvo. Subverted with A.J. and Artie
    • Satriale's aka the pork store that Tony and company hang out in was acquired by Johnny Boy Soprano when the owner Mr. Satriale killed himself over his debts to the mafia.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: A major issue for Christopher. He spends the entire show carving a status for himself, yet after deep personal sacrifices and a rank of Captain, he gets and feels disrespected. Near the end of the show, after a long struggle, he seems redeemed and happy; he is a captain, has a new and stable family, and his long-awaited movie project is a reality. Then comes an ugly feud with Paulie, some disrespectful jokes, and a general lack of empathy with Tony, which, when combined, make him snap and relapse into his drug habits, with fatal consequences.
  • Dysfunction Junction: You'll be hard-pressed to find a single regular character that doesn't suffer from deep psychological issues manifesting as either hysteria or sociopathy. At the very least, the characters will be involved in dysfunctional relationships. An interesting example in a world that averts There Are No Therapists; it's just that the therapist herself is also dysfunctional.
  • End of an Era: Even though the life of a mobster is sometimes glamorous, the series takes place long after the Mafia's heyday, and many characters are aware of this on some level.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Subverted to hell and back; Tony mostly uses what he learns in therapy to be a more efficient mob boss. Dr. Melfi eventually realizes this and terminates the sessions for good.
  • Erotic Dream: Tony Soprano has had more than a few erotic dreams throughout the series, including one with his psychiatrist Dr. Melfi in her office, and another one with his friend Artie Buco's wife as he's cheering them on. Interestingly, Dr. Melfi also dreams about having sex with her patient at one point.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Deconstructed. While the values of mafia and home life nominally require the men of the series to show respect and affection towards their mothers, the show also shows how mothers end up receiving the brunt of their sons' scorn. Tony Soprano, while having good reason to resent his mother for his emotionally abusive upbringing, generally idealizes his father at the expense of his mother, blaming her for most of his childhood issues. However, in the Season 5 episode "In Camelot," it's shown that Johnny Soprano was a very neglectful father and husband, failing to visit Livia when she was in the hospital after having had a miscarriage. To a lesser extent, A.J. Soprano is much colder towards his mother than his father during their separation in Season 5.
    • In the beginning of the series, Tony plays this trope straight. He literally goes berserk when Dr. Melfi diagnoses Livia with borderline personality disorder and reads the symptoms to him. It's zig-zagged many times, as Tony is full of love and hate.
    • Paulie Walnuts. And how. His love is fickle, though, as seen in "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh": turns out he only loves his mama as long as she really is his biological mama. He gets over it eventually.
    • Christopher has also a soft spot for his mother, and Phil Leotardo harassing her comes out as one of the nastier Kick the Dog moments for Phil.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Tony and the crew are appropriately horrified and disgusted when Ralph beats a stripper, pregnant with his own child, to death.
    • Phil Leotardo is disgusted that Tony would screw over his own uncle to become Don.
      • Bit of a dark Hilariousin Hindsight as Tony was reluctant to usurp Junior, while they capo's themselves wanted him over Junior.
    • The gang is downright appalled when they hear about Coach Don Hauser's affair with one of Meadow's high-school friends.
    • The mobsters all express disapproval at Christopher's drug habits.
      • Taken up a notch at his intervention. They freak out when it comes out that Chris accidentally sat on and killed Adriana's dog while high.
    • Richie Aprile, who condones the beating of a woman if, and only if, the man is her husband.
    • During the uproar within the gang after Vito gets outed, Tony is (or at least tries to be) the lone voice of tolerance, suggesting that perhaps Vito's sexuality is his own business and not sufficient reason to have him whacked.
      • The gangsters seem themselves as this as well, one even goes so far as to claim that Vito's actions go against their principles and is "a sin". Tony doesn't hesitate to call him out on this.
  • Everything Is Racist: Sil viewing Anti-Columbus Day protesters as racist against Italians.
  • Evil Is Petty: The mobsters all do horrible things at various points but still find time to be complete dicks too. Notable examples include:
    • Tony forces the kind, gentle Bobby to commit murder, his first, as payback for Bobby offending his pride by beating him in a fight. This was after Tony deliberately and repeatedly antagonized Bobby's wife Janice with crude insults, even after Bobby asked Tony to stop.
    • Paulie is especially petty. For instance, when Chris is forced to pick up the tab, he pointedly drives up the bill any way he can.
    • Ralphie Ciferetto is passed over for the promotion to capo in favor of Gigi. Ralphie immediately starts antagonizing Gigi every single opportunity he gets.
    • "Fat Dom" Gamiello takes rather obnoxious glee at gloating over Vito Spatafore's death to Sil and Carlo. Bad move.
  • Evil Matriarch: Livia. LIVIA.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids:
    • Tony is adamant that A.J. doesn't go into the mob life like him, partly because he's simply not cut out for it.
    • Jackie Aprile also felt this way towards his own son, and arranged with Tony to make sure this wouldn't happen before he himself died in the fourth episode. Tony doesn't succeed and Jackie Jr. ends up dead later on, further strengthening his decision to keep A.J. out of it.
    • While calling Carmela 'evil' might be a stretch, one of the ways she shows she's not in complete denial is that she longs for her daughter, Meadow, not to follow in her footsteps. It fails completely, as Meadow drops out of med school and decides to become a lawyer.
  • Evil vs. Evil/A Lighter Shade of Black: Tony and his friends ain't no saints, but the other mobsters who are against them are much worse.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Self-exile in "Army of One": In the midst of their fight about sending A.J. to Military School, Carmela starts picking up blankets and pillows; then Tony grabs them, and says, "leave it to me!"
  • Expy:
    • Done in-universe. The nasty boss from Cleaver is modeled almost verbatim after Tony, who fails to realize this at first. It becomes a major wedge between him and Chris. Chris, terrified by the implications, strong-arms the nominal writer into taking credit for the character. He claims that he stole the character from another movie, but Tony (who's on the fence about the thing) easily sees past the lie, checks the original movie, and takes serious offense to the whole issue.
    • Steven van Zandt takes Silvio on the road wholesale for the show Lilyhammer.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Mikey, before executing Brendan Filone:
      Mikey: "Hijack, bye, Jack."
    • Lampshaded by Big Pussy, who requests not to be shot in the face so he can keep his eyes.
    • Georgie is whacked in the eye by a ball-and-chain-like weapon by Ralphie.
    • Bobby gets mugged and beaten up by a gang of kids in season 6. They don't kill him, but one of them shoots the pavement next to his face, which causes asphalt to shoot in his eye.
    • Happens to minor season 6 character Faustino "Doc" Santoro during a power struggle over the next New York boss.
  • Face–Heel Turn/Hazy Feel Turn: From Phil's point of view, "The Leotardo family has been taking shit from everybody the minute they got off the boat from Italy."
  • Face of a Thug: Silvio always has a trademark, weird face expression.
  • Family Business: The lack of an appropriate heir is a source of concern for Tony; since A.J. is not cut out for it, Christopher is groomed as one.
  • Family Values Villain: Phil Leotardo.
  • Fan Disservice: Tony in his robe and underwear. Especially his sex scenes.
    • Lorraine Calluzzo in season 5. She's in the shower when the Phil Leotardo and the hitmen go after her, and she runs through the house completely naked before they shoot her. It's not pretty.
  • Fanservice:
  • Fat Girl: The obese Ginny Sack is an acceptable target for the Jersey Crew, which is an issue for the husband and New York underboss Johnny Sack.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Or, just stole the whole thing.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Alluded to from time to time. One season 1 episode is titled "Denial, Anger, Acceptance".
  • Fish out of Water:
    • Chris and Paulie in "Pine Barrens", with some elements of Those Two Bad Guys.
    • The visit to the Mother Country in "Commendatori".
  • Flashback: Used occasionally to recall significant events of Tony's life.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Discussed. Tony quickly develops feelings towards his therapist, which are unrequited for pragmatic reasons.
  • Foe Cooties: Tony was more than happy to have sex with his rival Ralphie's girlfriend, Valentina, but refused to make her his permanent mistress until he found out she never had sex with Ralph (due to sexual tastes being for S&M rather than conventional sex).
  • Food Porn: They're eating elaborate meals in almost every scene.
  • Food Slap:
    • An enraged Gloria Trillo throws a steak at Tony's head.
    • Christopher throws a sandwich at Vito and insults his weight.
    • A literal example happens when Christopher slaps an ice cream out of Patsy's hand.
    • Artie and Tony's frustration with each other culminates in a childish food fight after Artie throws bacon at him.
    • Junior breaks up with his talkative girlfriend with a dramatic Pie in the Face. A shout-out to The Public Enemy.
    • Carmela is about to throw a glass at Tony's face when he is making a confession. Subverted as soon as she hears the topic is the start of his therapy.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • As discussed above, this show opened the door for a lot of shows that tried to show "gritty" depictions of crime families. Most of those shows only copied the shocking violence, and not the great dialogue, wicked sense of humor, complex themes, and excellent acting that made this show a success, which is why they're all gone. The show itself isn't subtle in its attempts to pick up where Goodfellas left off in its demythologizing of the Mafia. A truly impressive amount of the cast of this show had parts of varying significance in that film. In case it wasn't obvious enough, their first choice to play Tony Soprano was Ray Liotta.
    • An in-universe Real Life emulation. Jackie Jr. learns that Tony and co. had their major breakthrough in the criminal world when they robbed a poker game organized by a big shot mobster, so Jackie decides to follow the example. It ends badly, a made-man is injured, while the card dealer is killed, and Jackie gets whacked for it.
  • Foreshadowing: After Johnny Sack confesses in court his involvement in the mafia and is sent to prison, a disgusted and infuriated Tony tells Silvio:
    "To think that piece of shit was my friend once. I hope he dies in there!"
  • For Want of a Nail: Ralphie's cruel joke about Ginny Sacrimoni resulted in a lot of headaches for everyone. A war nearly started when John found out, and Ralphie, Paulie, and even John himself came very close to being killed over the fallout.
  • French Jerk: The man who embarks Artie in a very bad business deal, if not an outright con.
  • Freudian Excuse: Constantly explored. He hates the mere concept of the excuse, yet he's diagnosed with a very powerful one; Tony was literally born into the mob, and his abusive parents wrote the proverbial book about how not to raise a model citizen. His mommy issues are one of his major malfunctions. He still goes out of his way to please his miserable mother, a manipulative, self-pitying control freak who resents her children for being happier than her. The Moral Event Horizon comes when she tries to put a hit out on him. Despite this, Tony seems to be a much better parent. Janice, on the other hand, inherited her narcissism, self-pity, and lack of empathy.
  • Freudian Slip: Tony has one about Vito in the season six episode "Live Free Or Die."
    Tony: This guy that got outed, look. The guys that work for me are asking for head. ...his head. (rolls eyes) What the fuck?!
  • Gainax Ending: A subtler example than most, but damn.
  • The Gambling Addict:
    • Tony's friend David Scatino, who tragically gets Trapped by Gambling Debts.
    • Chris's friend and sponsor J.T Dolan, in a very reminiscent way, but he manages to stay afloat.
    • Tony himself ends up 'chasing it' after a bad luck streak. Being rich and powerful, he can afford it, but goes through it in a very unpleasant mood and insults his friend and moneylender Hesh with the All Jews Are Cheapskates trope.
  • Gangsterland: New Jersey is portrayed as this in the series. It's a city filled with drug dealers, Loan Sharks, drug cartels, contract killers, criminal organizations, illegal business, corruption, illegal gambling, and mobsters.
  • Gayngster: Vito Spatafore is a straight deconstruction; the other gangsters find it disgusting, Tony, his only defender, is given a hard time, the guy has to flee and is eventually killed for being gay. Vito essentially commits suicide by returning to the fold despite having found a new life and an attractive boyfriend.
  • Genius Bruiser: Tony Blundetto's IQ was revealed to be 158. Given his line of work, he almost certainly qualifies for the bruiser aspect as well.
  • Genre Savvy: Tony tries to get Paulie to admit he was the one who told Johnny Sack about Ralph's joke about Ginny, that its no longer a big deal as both Johnny and Ralph are dead and the matter is closed. Paulie doesn't fall for it, which undoubtedly saved his life.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Uncle Junior confides in Tony that he has cancer, and makes him promise not to tell anyone. Tony assures him he will not. Next scene-
    Janice: [answering the phone]: Hello?
    Tony: Uncle Jun has cancer.
    • Ralph Cifaretto's son Justin is accidentally shot with an arrow, resulting in significant blood loss and brain damage. Rosalie Aprile comforts Ralph, telling him "He's gonna be fine." [cut to Rosalie talking to Carmela]: He's gonna be a vegetable.
  • Girls with Moustaches: In one episode, several of the wiseguys are sitting around their no-work jobs, "breaking balls" about each other's girlfriends. One teases another, saying his girl had a moustache so bad it must have been like kissing a fireman.
  • Go into the Light: When Tony Soprano is comatose after a shooting, he dreams that he's going to a family reunion. He's greeted in front by his dead cousin, who urges him to hand over his briefcase (despite his protest that "my whole life's in here") and go into the party in the white building they're standing in front of. As he approaches the door, the inside of the house becomes a white blur—but he hears his family calling him to come back, refuses to hand over the briefcase, and wakes up on the hospital bed.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Once the FBI agent tasked to Tony's crew is re-assigned to anti-terrorism, he starts frequenting Satriale's, Tony's hangout, because the sandwiches are so good.
  • Golden Age: Junior tends to look back on the old days of the mob with rose-tinted glasses. Tony is more skeptical:
    Junior: You know, back in the 50s, we worked together. Even rival families settled their differences amicably.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The FBI are portrayed as manipulative, condescending jerks, but still unambiguously better than the mob.
    • The Feds do everything they can to ruin Allegra Sacrimoni's wedding day. They succeed by brusquely taking her father into custody, embarrassing them all in front of the entire wedding party.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Most of the mob executions are shown in their bloody entirety... except Adriana's.
  • Gossip Evolution: Tony gets in a car accident with Adriana as a passenger. Rumors circulate into Tony crashing the car while Adriana was giving him a blowjob and go from there; the rumors aren't true, but the two did share a lot of Unresolved Sexual Tension that they most likely would have resolved (if you follow) had they made it to their destination.
  • Groin Attack: Mobsters fight dirty.

  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Anyone would want to watch their step around pretty much anyone in the cast. While there are a few exceptions that are a little more level-headed, they all fly into a rage pretty quickly.
  • Hands-On Approach: Done by a lesbian tennis coach showing blatant favoritism towards Adriana when she and Carmela take up tennis. The reason why is all but spelled out, but Adriana herself doesn't get it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe example: Chris groused about the Feds not investigating him like they were the senior Mafiosi, and he even bought a stack of newspapers which referred to him as a "local mobster". One has to wonder if he ruefully reflected on this in later seasons, when the FBI spent what must have been thousands of taxpayer dollars to specifically bring him down — oh, and it indirectly/directly resulted in Adriana's death, too.
  • Henpecked Husband
    • Tony's father.
      Tony: Now that my father's dead, he's a saint. When he was alive, nothing. And my dad was tough. He ran his own crew. A guy like that, and my mother wore him down to a little nub. He was a squeaking little gerbil when he died.
    • Secondary characters like Artie and Tony's father-in-law.
  • Hero Antagonist: The FBI agents who oppose the mobsters provide anti-hero, manipulative, and callous versions. Agent Harris in particular is a Friendly Enemy of Tony's and eventually forms an Enemy Mine against Phil because of some developments about the War on Terror.
  • High Turn Over Rate: The Aprile crew experiments an even higher mortality rate than the rest of the organization, with the other members believing the head position is jinxed.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: The murder of Vito Spatafore by Phil Leotardo and his men was motivated by Leotardo's homophobia and the homophobic culture of the Sicilian mafia in general. This one's especially wrenching because of the cold-blooded way the whacking is carried out and the look on poor Vito's face when he realizes that he is going to die.
  • Honorary Uncle: The mob guys are all honorary uncles towards their associates' respective children.
  • Hookers and Blow: The Bada-Bing is a magnet for this.
  • Hope Spot: After her fallout with Christopher regarding the FBI, Adriana is seen driving alone with a suitcase and possibly leaving everything behind to start a new life. Turns out it's just a daydream and she's a passenger with Silvio at the wheel, taking her on the last car ride of her tragic life.
  • Hospital Hottie:
    • Jack Aprile is pranked with a supposed nurse who turns out to be an stripper/prostitute from the Bing.
    • Junior is fooled by an attractive nurse who is revealed to be a mole planted by the FBI.
  • Hot Librarian: Dr. Melfi.
  • How We Got Here: Done at the beginning of an episode when Tony suffers a panic attack, the action is literally rewinded to the moment he meets Meadow's black-Jewish new boyfriend.
  • Humiliation Conga: Season six includes a neutral one with Johnny Sack going through hell once he's the big boss; arrested, incarcerated, embargoed, and humiliated in front of his family and friends on the day of his daughter's wedding. He shames himself by breaking the Omertà code of silence to lower his sentence, only to die of cancer not much later.
  • Hypocrite: If you ask most characters, being a mafioso or abetting family member of one doesn't go in the way of being a good Christian or upstanding citizen.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The characters' numerous hypocrisies are frequently showcased for laughs and irony:
    • Many of the mobsters consider themselves to be observant Catholics, and the mobwives, who live on blood money, are very devout and self-righteous.
      • Carmella is finally told this explicitly in Season 3 in her one meeting with psychiatrist Dr. Krakauer, who tells her he's refusing her payment because he won't take blood money, and the only way for her to ever feel good about herself is to leave Tony and never again accept anything from him.
    • There is also season 4's "Christopher", where many characters associate protests against Columbus day as a slight against Italian-Americans and complain how the media portrays them as violent, uneducated mobsters. It becomes humorous when you realize that almost every character on the series falls into at least one of those categories.
  • Idiot Ball: Loan Shark Tony takes a SUV used by David Scatino's son as collateral from the busted-out Scatino, and then gives it to Meadow, who is a close friend of said son. Not surprisingly, a fight emerges between father and daughter.
    • For that matter, David Scatino himself. If you're in debt by $8,000 to Richie Aprile and can't even make the interest payments on that, going another $50,000 or so in debt to Tony himself is unlikely to improve your situation.
  • I Have a Family: A waiter uses this argument when he comes out to confront Christopher and Paulie over the small tip he was left. It doesn't help his cause.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Tony tries this with Uncle Junior when the latter is in the grips of Alzheimer's, but he's only able to get the slightest bit of recognition when he says a talismanic Mafia phrase: "This thing of ours."
  • Imagine Spot: Adriana has a particularly sad one in "Long Term Parking".
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A few times in the series, most notably when Matthew Bevilacqua and Sean Gismonte attempt a hit on Christopher. Sean connects with the first shot, then empties his clip at a range of only a few feet, managing only to graze his shoulder. Matthew fires over 15 shots and doesn't even come close once.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Mentioned often by Tony. "I'm running a fuckin' business, not a popularity contest!" Besides his close family and business associates, he has no real friends; he manages to alienate Artie, David Scatino, Hesh Rabkin, and Zellman among others.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Tony has several sex fantasies, including one where we see him with a woman while wearing a Centurion uniform. Melfi even has one about Tony!
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Dr. Melfi takes a shot of vodka upon noticing the next appointment is Tony in "House Arrest."
  • Inherently Funny Words: Gabagool.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • "Big Pussy" gets a second one, much to his chagrin, Tony keeps calling him "beached whale".
    • Phil gets called "The Shah of Iran". He resents it and brings it up when he summarizes the reason why the DiMeo family sucks.
  • Insistent Terminology: Tony has an issue with a "retirement community" being called a "nursing home" and corrects the term every time. In later seasons when his mother is no longer in one, he does the opposite correction.
  • Irony: Tony, along with Silvio and Jackie Aprile ascended in the Mafia at a young age by some audacious violations of mob protocol, as they were respected for their moxie. Brendan Filone, Jackie Aprile Jr, Dino Zirelli, Carlo Renzi, Matthew Bevilaqua, Sean Gismonte... pretty much the entire cast of young De Meo gangsters aside from Chris... are all killed trying to follow this example.
  • Italians Talk with Hands:
    • Some characters do this more than others, especially if they get excited or aggravated.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Livia Soprano. She's always complaining about how everyone's mistreating her and how her son does not appreciate her.
    • Janice, although in a much sneakier way.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Furio's old country wine, according to Junior.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Meadow is an undergraduate student at Columbia. Carmela implicitly uses the nefarious power of their surname to grant her admission.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: How Sean Gismonte ends up getting killed.
  • Jerkass: The show doesn't shy away from portraying the Mafia as full of people with anti-social behavior or outright sociopathy, and while a lot of guys do qualify, nobody matches up to the level of sheer obnoxiousness that is Ralph Cifaretto, who... well. Just watch the man in action, why don't you.
  • Joisey: Most of the series takes place in Essex County, and much of the rest is in Hudson County.
    • Tony was born in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark; like any true Newarker of his age he calls the neighborhood "Down Neck." Livia's house (later Janice's and then Tony's during his separation) is here, as is Uncle Junior's. Uncle Junior's trial also takes place in Newark, at the federal courthouse. Additionally, "the Esplanade", one of the most important plot points in the series, is an urban redevelopment project in Newark.
    • The Soprano McMansion is in North Caldwell.
    • The series makes the occasional foray into Montclair.
    • Furio's house is in Nutley.
    • It's not quite clear where Bada Bing and Satriale's Pork Store are supposed to be (there are some indications that Satriale's is supposed to be in or very near Newark, as there's a sign with directions to the PATH right next to it); the place that doubled for Satriale's is in Kearny and the place that doubled for the Bing is in Lodi.
    • "Pine Barrens" takes the series on a rare trip to South Jersey, going as it does to, um, the Pine Barrens.
    • A few episodes also take us to Atlantic City.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: Corrado Soprano Jr. persuades a juror not to deliver a guilty verdict against him by hiring someone to threaten the safety of the juror's family.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: Despite Tony's Karma Houdini tendencies, the series ends with him facing prison time and very possibly murdered.
  • Kavorka Man: Despite being a criminal prone to violent outbursts and not being particularly attractive in terms of appearance (he's middle aged, balding, and noticeably overweight), Tony finds himself in relationships with several women throughout the show in addition to his wife, Carmela. Evil Is Sexy and All Girls Want Bad Boys working in his favor, no doubt. As does wanting to get ahead at the Bing.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Georgie gets gratuitously beaten up on a regular basis.
    • Ralph beating Tracee to death.
    • Corrado's constant mistreatment of Bobby is precisely written to balance the sympathy/empathy attached to his increasing emasculation and senility.
    • When Chris is torn apart after ratting on Adriana, Tony gets annoyed by his nephew's plight and brutally beats him instead of giving any kind of humane support.
    • Phil killing Vito on merely homophobic grounds and extending his scorn to Vito's strayed son.
    • Paulie and his cronies pointlessly bully Christopher and disrespect his daughter. In turn, the evoked sympathy is lost when Chris kills Dolan, his sponsor and only friend as a consequence of said disrespect.
    • Tony making contemptuous remarks against Kelli for being too melodramatic during the funeral of her late husband, like "Jackie Kennedy".
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Towards the end of Season 4, Paulie suffocates an elderly woman to death while trying to steal her money. However, she was a snobby bitch who was mean to Paulie's mother for picayune reasons, and Paulie (at first) had no intentions of killing her. No one even rose an eyebrow after she died.
  • Kill 'Em All: The last few episodes "take care of" Christopher, Bobby Bacala, and Phil Leotardo while Silvio is in a coma he may never wake up from, and Tony himself may have been shot in the final scene.
  • Knee-capping: Paulie threatens a sports teacher who inherits the garbage business with this. Later on, Paulie obliges. Furio does this to a massage parlor owner who owes Tony money in "Big Girls Don't Cry", beating him with a pipe and slapping the man's wife around for good measure.
  • Lampshade Hanging/Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the season 6 opener, Tony tells Dr. Melfi when they're discussing Vito's secret homosexuality that it bothers him how every other show on TV tends to rub the gay agenda or lifestyle in your nose.
  • The Last Dance: Baccala Sr. has a pretty awesome/brutal one, while in the terminal stages of lung cancer.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Tony tells Junior the story of how Octavian became Augustus and ruler of The Roman Empire. The aesop about greed and generosity is unclear and it's lost on Junior, so Tony switches to a more mundane story about two bulls mating with as many cows as possible.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Released by Stern Pinball in 2005, and covers the first five seasons. Click here for details.
  • Literalist Snarking: Richie Aprile, who runs over a man with his car.
    Tony: I thought I told you to back off Beansie!
    Richie: I did. Then I put it in drive.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters. Some of them only show up every few years, and are, in the case of Tony's other sister and Flashback Livia, recast without notice.
  • Loan Shark: The mobsters, naturally. One of their usual sources of revenue.
  • Long-Runners: Eight years is a long time for an HBO show (they tend to run for six seasons, which The Sopranos did, but spread over only six years).
  • The Lost Woods: The Pine Barrens Chris and Paulie visit in, um, "Pine Barrens." Yes, they're real, and yes, they can be that creepy.
  • Loud of War: Tony resorts to this against a man who refuses to return him the entrance fee of a house that Tony no longer wants. The man lives by the sea, so Tony's men play invasive crooner music day and night from a boat with almost sheer impunity until the man finally caves in.
  • Love Martyr: Adriana.
  • The Mafia: Obviously.
  • The Mafiya: Makes a rare appearance, most notably in "Pine Barrens", in which a Russian mobster proves surprisingly difficult to kill. Slava, the head of the Jersey branch and close friend of said mobster, is Tony's main money launderer.
  • Mafia Princess: Meadow and Adriana.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: A twisted version near the end of the show: Tony suffocates Christopher when they have an accident, killing him. The doctors think Christopher might have made it, but they have no way to determine the actual fact.
  • Malaproper: About half the characters, and supposedly a major reason for the show's popularity in its midlife. Little Carmine Lupertazzi is one of the most frequent offenders, to the point where other characters refer to him as "Brainless the Second" and exchange confused looks during one of his malapropism-riddled speeches. Some examples:
    Little Carmine:
    A pint of blood is worth more than a gallon of gold.
    We're in a fucking stagmire.
    You're very observant: the sacred and the propane.
    I give him his present, this mellifluous box.
    There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink.
    You're at the precipice of an enormous crossroad.
    You'd think I was Hannibal Lecture before or something.
    I was prostate with grief.
    A guy like that is going out with a woman, he could technically not have penissary contact with her Volvo.
    I agree with that Senator Sanatorium, says if we let this stuff go too far, pretty soon we'll be fuckin' dogs.
    Create a little dysentery among the ranks.
    He is the hair apparent.
    Sun-Tuh-Zoo. He's the Chinese Prince Matchabelli.
    They release these fucks from the can. Obviously, he wasn't rea-bull-ated.
  • Male Gaze: Tony Blundetto lets his minicam linger on Carmela's ample posterior for a nice long while in "Marco Polo".
  • Masquerade: Tony tries to shield his children from the truth and denies the existence of The Mafia, but Meadow is too smart for that. She gradually embarks in the same masquerade in front of outsiders, a thing noted by her parents.
  • Matricide: Subverted in the season 1 finale. Livia Soprano manipulates Uncle Junior to arrange a hit on her son Tony (Junior's nephew) out of resentment for putting her in a nursing home. After Tony's faction wins the civil war against Junior, Tony tries to smother Livia with a pillow, but ultimately decides against it.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Christopher's trip to Hell (Purgatory?) and Paulie's hauntings might have been legit or just the result of troubled minds and mafioso superstitions. But we never get a definite answer either way.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The FBI approaching Johnny Sack from behind when he is talking with Tony, who reacts in time.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Frequent for violent and natural reasons; big families have a lot of relatives.
    • Against Tony's opinion, Janice tries to forcefully do one for Livia, but it totally backfires. A stoned Christopher delivers a bizarre eulogy, the relatives don't have anything good to say about the deceased, Carmela and her father explode against Livia, and their rant is shared by others.
    • Season 3 ends with Jackie Jr.'s wake and half the cast bawling to Uncle Junior's Italian song.
    • Subverted with Junior, as he doesn't actually care about some deceased individuals and he just wants to attend to any planned funeral to dodge his house arrest for a while.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Livia.
    • A "soprano" is a woman with a high-pitched singing voice. In times past, choirboys would be castrated before puberty in order to retain their soprano voice. At the beginning of the series, Tony Soprano is a man who's afraid that he's losing hold of his masculinity.
    • The musical term "soprano" is derived from the Italian word "sopra", which means "above". This could be a reference to Tony's status as the head of the Jersey family.
    • Many people have pointed out that Dr. Melfi's last name sounds very similar to "milfy," which is exactly how Tony sees her.
  • Military School: One of the contested options for A.J.. in the episode "Army of One"
  • Mind Screw: Several.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Happens to Adriana in "Irregular Around The Margins". Aggravated by Gossip Evolution.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: "To Save Us All From Satan's Power." The brief 1995 sequences include multiple references to O.J. Simpson and Valujet, and features Jackie Sr. and Big Pussy prominently smoking in a restaurant. (It also mentions Pussy's wife booking a cruise on the Dawn Princess, which actually set sail two years later, but that's neither here nor there).
  • Mob War: Avoiding it is a major concern, as blood is expensive, but several times it just happens:
    • Junior vs Tony in season 1.
    • In season 5, Johnny Sack vs Little Carmine.
    • In the last episodes, Phil Leotardo vs Tony Soprano.
  • Moe Greene Special: Big Pussy uses that exact name and cites the source of the term after Brendan gets whacked.
  • The Mole: Big Pussy, Adriana la Cerva, and Raymond Curto are the three most notable ones.
  • Mood Whiplash: Often masterfully done. Scenes of deep introspection or lighthearted comedy will sometimes, without warning, erupt into frantic violence.
  • Moral Myopia: The mobsters' extreme case of it is a frequent source of both Hypocritical Humor and drama.
  • Morton's Fork: Christopher faces one every time he attempts to get sober. When he doesn't drink, he is called out for being weak. When he does drink, he is called out for being a fuckup. He points this out to Tony and Paulie, who both wonder why he can't just be "normal."
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong:
    • One-legged and determined Svetlana remarks that Americans don't know what a real problem is and live an easy existence compared to the average miserable life in Russia/USSR, yet they are wimpy complainers.
    • Valery, a Mafiya member and former Spetsnaz who boasts in a frozen forest about harsh weather being warm to him, and gets away from Chris and Paulie when he was suppressed and about to be executed. He seemingly gets his throat crushed and his head shot, but manages to escape into the pine barrens. His uncertain fate lead to a WMG that David Chase deliberately HandWaved in the season 5 opener.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Adriana. If she's not parading around in her undies for Chris, she's bending over a trash can wearing very tight pants. Lampshaded in the third season opener when the FBI agent keeping tabs on her prays to God that he not be reassigned.
  • Mugging the Monster: Bobby goes to make his pickups from an inner-city Newark "client" late at night, and winds up getting robbed by some street kids. Because he didn't bring any backup, they get away with it, and the rest of Tony's crew mock Bobby for quite some time.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Averted. Almost all music has a Source or reason.
  • My Greatest Failure: Villainous variety. Tony Soprano eventually gets to evaluate Christopher as this.

  • Naïve Newcomer: The FBI sends a younger agent to "turn" Adrianna because they think she'll respond better to a young woman. When Adrianna is discovered and murdered by Silvio, Chris plants her car at the airport long-term parking to suggest that she ran away. Only the new FBI agent believes it, and the other agents' laughter at her gullibility is a serious Tear Jerker.
  • Naked in Mink: Some ladies would wear a fur with nothing underneath.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Furio," lampshaded in his introduction.
  • Native American Casino: Tony makes a deal with the owner of such an establishment (and even visits his casino) in an attempt to use backdoor politics to stop a Native American protest of a Christopher Columbus parade.
  • Near-Death Experience: After Tony is shot in the season 6 premiere by a senile Uncle Junior, he goes into a coma where he dreams about being in another city when his wallet and ticket back home get stolen. Before he wakes up he's standing in front of a house party where a person he had killed offers to take his bag and tells him to come inside, but he's distracted from moving on by voices in the wind calling for him (his family in the hospital).
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Generally averted, since the predatory nature of the mob is not hidden and the local business suffer regularly, but the Jersey mobsters throw a traditional Santa Claus party and occasionally organize activities for the community. Deconstructed examples:
    • Junior liquidates a drug dealer for selling drugs to children. This is viewed as old-fashioned and the other capos resent him, as it was a bad business decision.
    • Paulie is appointed manager of an amusement fair. He is such a cheapskate that he cuts corners and security budget to the point one ride becomes hazardous and an accident ensues.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The whole business (and misery for all involved) with Valery was totally unnecessary. It all occurred because Paulie was in a rotten mood and acted like a dick.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • Paulie and Chris kill a waiter who confronts them over a very low tip. First Christopher hits the guy with a brick, causing him to have a seizure, then Paulie, to resolve the issue, simply shoots the poor bastard on the spot.
    • Tony and Ralph's mistreatment of Bada Bing's bartender Georgie reaches absurd levels. Compilation
    • Junor's behavior towards his devoted and kind-hearted assistant Bobby Baccala is unpleasantly harsh.
  • Noble Bigot: Tony is more tolerant than many of his friends and colleagues, but even he freaks out when he discovers Meadow is dating a half-black, half-Jewish classmate from a wealthy New York family.
    • He also spews a lot of homophobic slurs after finding out Vito is gay, but when Dr. Melfi points out that he doesn't sound like he means it, he admits that his true feelings are closer to "Who gives a shit?" He even initially tries to find a way to keep Vito in the fold, but the realities of mob culture conspire against him.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted during the suicide of Eugene Pontecorvo, who also gets A Death in the Limelight.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A small comedic subplot involved Tony meeting a gangsta rapper in the next hospital bed over during his recuperation. One of the guys' entourage is a fledgling rapper who realizes that surviving a shooting is key to getting famous, to which he hires Bobby Baccala to do it. Bobby shoots him in the ass. If the connection wasn't apparent enough, they dress the character in white pants, a white tank top, and a white hat at the time.
  • No Ending: Probably the most notorious example. Take a look at this, this, and this to see portions of the ending, as well as details that pop up in it. As for the actual ending itself: Tony and his family sit and eat in a restaurant, with Tony continually looking up at the door to see who walks in, obviously extremely nervous. Just as another person walks in, the show immediately cuts to black, and after a few seconds the credits roll.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: As mentioned above, Steve Van Zandt is primarily a musician. Silvio was his first acting role (it gets somewhat resumed in Lilyhammer). Van Zandt also served as music consultor for the show and picked songs for the soundtrack from time to time.
  • The Nothing After Death: The last season in particular. The finale, if one interpretation is to be believed.
  • Not in the Face!: Pussy resorts to this before being killed.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Chris gets this occasionally, an important one when he — long-time Captain by then — brings a serious feud he has with Paulie only to be nagged by Tony for the interruption.
  • Offing the Offspring: Tony's mother tried to do this.
  • Oh, Crap!: Many, many times.
    • Applies frequently when someone knows they are about to die.
    • Paulie and Chris, when they realize Valery is more than they bargained for and again when they realize they are lost in The Pine Barrens.
    • David Scatino, when Tony confronts him in his office to collect.
    • Vito, when he sees Phil Leotardo in his hotel room.
    • Adriana zones out while Sil drives her across the state to a hospital to see her fiancé—and has an Oh, Crap! when the car stops in the middle of the woods, and she realizes what the drive was really for.
  • Paulie's reaction when he realises he's just ordered Tony Soprano's potential future son-in-law to clean dog mess off his tires.
  • Once a Season: The first episode of a mid-season shows Tony walking to the front of his house in his bathrobe to pick up the newspaper. In later seasons he doesn't, but there is a logical explanation for it.
    • The unlucky barkeep at the Bada Bing will once a season, without fail, be beaten up by another character for no good reason.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Completely averted, repeatedly. A lot of strange nicknames made up for it, though.
    • Even the nicknames start to overlap, though.. In the pilot, there is some consternation when rumors get around that Uncle Junior wants to kill "Big Pussy" — one of Tony's right hand men, and not "Little Pussy" — one of Junior's.
    • The two Tonys, Soprano and Blundetto, were referred to as "Tony uncle Johnny" and "Tony uncle Al" as children, later simplified as Tony A. and Tony B.
    • Also subverted. Tony and his son have the same first name, but the latter is always called A.J. to prevent confusion.
      • This is actually a three-person case: Tony and A.J. are Anthony John Soprano, Sr., and Anthony John Soprano, Jr., respectively, so the natural choice of nickname for the latter would be "Junior;" however, "Junior" is already Corrado Soprano, Jr., Tony's "Uncle Jun."
    • The name "Jason" has to take the cake for most common among satellite characters. You have Jason La Penna, Jason Blundetto, Jason Barone, the "two Jasons" Gervasi and Parisi, and Lorraine Calluzo's younger boyfriend Jason.
    • Tony worries Uncle Junior might be going senile when Junior mentions meeting a long-dead friend earlier that day, and Junior has to angrily clarify that he meant Jr., not Sr.
  • Overly Long Gag: Paulie's habit of repeating his jokes is a funnier quirk on its own.
  • Panty Shot: Tony's escort in "The Test Dream" provides us with a rather lovely one.
  • Papa Wolf: Never EVER threaten Tony's daughter.
  • Parents as People:
    • Tony, Silvio, and Artie are understandably outraged that their daughters' soccer coach was having an affair with one of the other girls on the team.
    • Tony and Carmela were incensed that Meadow, threw a party at Livia's house. To be fair, the house was utterly trashed, and to make matters worse, ecstasy, Ketamine, and alcohol were found at the scene.
    • Tony and Carmela also genuinely love Meadow and A.J., and Carmela especially tries to do what's best for them (such as getting Meadow out of the life), although they range from ineffective to aggressive, although it's still pretty impressive given that Tony was raised by Livia.
  • Passed-Over Promotion:
    • One of the factors that triggers a power struggle between Tony and Junior, acting boss and nominal boss respectively.
    • Tony does this to Ralph, who was a veteran of his crew and a big earner but obnoxious and erratic; he gives a captaincy to Gigi, who was from another crew, but also more docile and easier to control.
      • Junior lightly reproves Tony for this move, but then admits Tony didn't really have any good options for the captaincy at that point.
    • Both Silvio Dante and Patsy Parisi feel severely slighted when Chistopher Moltisanti is declared temporary captain of Paulie Walnuts' crew, and unofficially Tony's successor. In retaliation, they conspire to undermine Christopher's authority and torpedo his endeavors.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Played with.
    • Tony deciding against his initial feelings during the Blundetto crisis. His crew is uneasy, but Tony is a bit shielded, as only Silvio manifests the opposition face to face. It's complicated, as violent pressure from New York is a major consideration too.
    • Tony deciding against his personal criteria during the Vito situation in season 6; his soldiers and captains are openly rebellious about it, and he finally gives the go ahead basically because of peer pressure. A moot dilemma in the end because Phil beats him to the punch.
    • Averted by A.J., who befriends some gangster wannabes who idolize him for being the son of the big man and make him accessory to some violent extortions, but he is unaffected.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally. One of Tony's few virtues is a love of animals. It was was used against him via Melfi's fellow shrink friends, who point out that Tony's empathy for animals is also a sign of being a cold-blooded monster, since animals often mean more to such people than humans.
  • Phony Psychic: Averted (apparently) by the one Paulie visits. Paulie freaks out when the psychic appears to be communicating with some of his victims.
    Psychic: Charles Pagano.
    Paulie: How the fuck do you know that?
    Psychic: He says he was your first, but I feel many more.
    Paulie: Hey!
    Psychic: This one's laughing. Poison ivy? He wants to know if it still itches?
    Paulie: Don't fuck with me! Who you been talkin' to?
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • The mobsters all have "legitimate" jobs, which they never show up for, and don't actually work when they do. Getting such "no-show" jobs is an important point during negotiations; the mobsters have to have a legitimate job for tax and medical insurance purposes.
    • Christopher is the only one seen regularly earning, but then again, he is a rookie while the rest of the characters we mostly see are bosses and spend most of their time hanging around Bada Bing or Satriales. Explained by the hierarchical system; senior mobsters have their own crews and do mostly managerial work or collections, but do perform delicate tasks or street jobs from time to time — Paulie assaults Columbian drug dealers in Season 6.
    • Subverted during an episode after Tony believes the FBI is about to pinch him for executing one of the mooks who shot Christopher. While he doesn't get pinched, Tony's lawyer suggests he clock in at his trash collection company just to create the mask of "respectable businessman." The job bores Tony to tears and he even develops a rash from the change in routine. So he goes back to hanging out at his restaurant with his crew and everything goes back to normal.
    • Begets major plot points later: When Meadow uses her dad to get Finn an allegedly "No Work" job at a construction site, he's not comfortable spending time with the mobsters, so he actually works. And being the young go-getter that he is, he shows up early to see Vito and another man having sex in the parking lot. Later, the man who owns Barone Sanitation dies, and his son (unaware of his father's "arrangements") tries to sell, threatening Paulie's legitimate income cover. Paulie viciously attacks him.
  • Playing Sick: Junior, feigning dementia to avoid criminal prosecution. Invoked and then twisted, as Junior is really going senile.
  • Police are Useless: Apparently there is no law enforcement in the state of New Jersey. Tony and his crew are endlessly worrying about the FBI, but there's never a hint of state and local cops investigating them for their various crimes. It's hinted and shown that the Mafia has influence and leverage over the civil servants who can control the local police (e.g. Zellman) and some cops are on the Mafia's payroll; Bobby mentions a local police as one of his sources of information. Season 1 explores this with Vin Makazian, the detective who feeds information to Tony, and yet Tony treats him with contempt and not as a valuable asset.
    • This makes sense to anyone who knows New Jersey; the state gives local government a lot of power and has a very town-centric mindset; areas that might be one municipality elsewhere often form several in NJ.note  Consequently, police forces are weakened by division: the areas with the most crime tend to be the poorest and most underfunded (and therefore most likely to be corrupt), while the areas with the cash to fund a good police force tend to be low-crime anyway, with cops mostly focusing on traffic violations and adolescent shenanigans rather than Mob business. More generally, organized crime had, thanks to RICO, really become a main focus for the Feds by the 90s, more or less preempting the local law-enforcement efforts.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Well, pretty much all of the male gangster characters are quite politically incorrect and are (obviously) professional criminals. Phil might count in particular, as he is a more homophobic/generally unpleasant person than Tony (although not necessarily much more evil). Nicely illustrated during a conversation about Vito's strayed son.
    Phil: I guess the turd doesn't fall far from the faggot ass.
    Tony (quietly disgusted): That's beautifully put, but you are family, right?
    • An aversion exists with Pasquale "Patsy" Parisi. When it comes out that Vito is gay, while he laughs at some of the jokes, he makes it clear that he is the only person in the family that has no problem with homosexuality.
    • Notably, most of the characters are apparently self-aware enough to know that they lack N-Word Privileges and tend to use variations of the Italian mulignan (from mulignana, lit. eggplant) or ditsoon (from tizzun, lit. charcoal). One very odd case is Richie Aprille, who prefers the Unusual Euphemism Nigerian.
  • Porn Stash: When the FBI raids the Sopranos' compound, the main concern of the Soprano children is the discovery of A.J.'s computer, full of porn.
  • Postmodernism: Very often, almost Once per Episode the show features some classic movies and songs relevant to the plot and references to other fictional works are common. Tony himself is a movie buff with a great VHS and DVD collection and at one point the roots of gangster cinema are discussed, including the The Public Enemy, the film cited by Creator David Chase as one of his major influences building the main characters.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Displayed numerous times; the level-headed mobsters know when to avoid high-profile crimes, because being flashy is bad for business. One specific example has Tony berating Richie for selling drugs in the garbage routes, but only because it will draw the attention of the Federal Government, not out of any moral qualms. An issue explored in other works of the genre alluded to in-universe and Truth in Television.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • One of the most iconic instances of this trope on this show comes from Tony to Matt Bevilaqua: "'Cause that sugarless motherfucker, it's the last fucking drink you're ever gonna have."
    • Silvio and Chris taunt the government informant Jimmy Altieri before shooting him.
    Silvio: Why don't you call for help in your radio mike? You fuckin' rat.
    Jimmy: Mother of god.
    Silvio: What's the matter? Not wearin' one tonight?
    Christopher: Nah. He didn't have time to put on anything decent.
    • Gigi Cestone before killing Philly Spoons: "Here YOU go, you big mouth fuck! Fuck!"
    • Silvio to Adrianna: ""Come on, come on! Fuckin' cunt!"
  • Pretty in Mink: Several ladies wear furs.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Several characters are debatable examples, but Paulie in particular exemplifies this trope. He has the petty self-centeredness and impulsivity of a spoiled child, and the callous disregard for human life of a stone-cold murderer.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Finn, who put himself on a bus to San Francisco because he discovered Vito was gay.
    • Also Furio, because of the Unresolved Sexual Tension between him and Carmela.
    • Also Tony puts Janice on a bus to Seattle, after she shoots her fiance, Richie Aprile. Tony's solace is short-lived; she comes back 'for good' on a plane (that Tony has to pay for) the next season... two episodes later.
    • Lots of averted examples. Johnny Sack managed to last for another season after being sent to jail, Rosalie and Angie appeared throughout most of the series despite their husbands being whacked fairly early on, Junior made several appearances in his psychiatric hospital.
  • Rape as Drama: Melfi is raped in a rather disturbing sequence and later finds out, due to the police screwing up when they arrested the man, that they can't bring charges against him. And then has the misfortune of finding out that her rapist is "Employee of the Month" at a sandwich shop she frequents. Angry, full of rage, and realizing that Tony would easily murder the scumbag rapist, with or without her permission if told about it, Melfi decides to keep what happened to her a secret.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Jesus Rossi, Melfi's rapist, may be one of the least-sympathetic characters in the whole series.
    • It's worth noting that the main characters, as despicable and morally bankrupt as they are, were not known to be rapists and considered it to be a reprehensible crime. The only semi-regular character who is hinted to be sexually abusive is Richie Aprile, who is regarded as a hateful prick even by mob standards.
  • Rasputinian Death: The Russian mobster from "Pine Barrens". After seemingly getting his throat crushed, he turns out to still be alive. After seemingly getting shot in the head, he simply disappears into the Pine Barrens. Paulie even compares him to Rasputin, and we never find out what happened to him or if he even died of his injuries.
  • Rated M for Manly: Sex, drugs, violence, male bonding, fatherhood, and diatribes about the emasculated state of contemporary Western society abound. The show is a deconstruction and frequently subverts itself, though, by reminding viewers that most of the "manly men" in question are in fact morally bankrupt human beings whose inability to express themselves in any way other than aggression makes both them and their families miserable.
  • Reality Ensues: It's difficult to remember that the series is following the lives of violent sociopathic morally bankrupt hardened criminals who in real life suffer from high mortality rates, which makes for one heck of a wakeup call in the episodes where the day finally comes for one of them to be brought to justice or murdered by their comrades.
  • Real Estate Scam: Tony and his associates scheme a very profitable one, whose boundaries cause some friction with New York.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In contrast to typical Hollywood portrayals, the experience of being shot in the head at close range would in fact be very much like "cutting to black" — the bullet would pierce the brain before it could process the sound of the gunshot.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Nancy Marchand (Livia Soprano) died between seasons. The writers gave her a final scene with Tony, cut from her previous work with him. It was terrible. Most jarring was that Livia's lines are pretty generic with Tony's dialogue made to fit. Not to mention that Tony probably wouldn't have visited his mother or even talked to her at that point.
    • Tony Sirico (Paulie Gualtieri) underwent back surgery around season 4 and was thrown in a jail to reduce his appearances. His role was fully restored once the actor recovered.
    • Vito's weight loss was written into the plot due to actor Joseph R. Gannascoli's actual weight loss. It's made surprisingly tragic.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Implied by a spiteful Tony when he assigns Bobby a mission to pop his cherry.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Bobby Baccala and his love of toy trains, though it goes toward characterizing him as something of a Manchild who happens to also be a mobster.
    • Furio's Eurotrashy silk shirts, due to being a mobster raised in Italy.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)" by Alabama 3. A Thematic Theme Tune almost expository. Lyrics. Initially, David Chase wanted a different opening music for every episode, but the final theme changed his mind.
  • Redemption Rejection:
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Chris's sobriety makes him drift apart from his pals, as the Bada Bing and other work places are a source of temptation. The others resent him for this. He carefully explains in an A.A. meeting how his sobriety hinders him professionally. Very sad how his almost unbearable struggle and related problems, combined with some disrespectful jokes Paulie cracks about him and his daughter, make him relapse, eventually leading to his fatal car crash with Tony.
  • Red Herring Mole: Subverted. Tony suspects that Big Pussy, one of his oldest friends in the mob, has become an informant for the Feds. After Paulie tries to confirm that Pussy is carrying a wire by taking him to a sauna, Pussy refuses to take his clothes off and skips town. Tony discovers that Jimmy Altieri has been working with the Feds and has him killed with Uncle Junior's approval, while worrying that Paulie killed Pussy on his own initiative. Pussy later returns, actively working as an informant behind Tony's back, before he too is found out and killed by Tony, Paulie, and Sil.
  • Red Herring Twist: During a food poisoning-induced dream sequence, Tony encounters a talking Red Herring that lays down some pretty hard truths Tony does not want to admit.
  • Relationship Reveal: Chris tells Tony he doesn't bring around his new girlfriend, Kaisha, to spare her from the racist mafiosi. When he goes off to meet her, we see his real girlfriend is Julianna, who Tony has been unsuccessfully trying to get with for several episodes.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Ralph is in Miami during the first two seasons before he shows up in Jersey.
    • Richie Aprile, Tony B, and Phil Leotardo, who were in jail since '83. The Jersey crew avoiding their pinched guys (Paulie in season 4) is internally coherent; the big boss Ecole DiMeo is "a guest of the government" and he is rarely alluded to, if ever, after the first episodes. Lampshaded when Bobby Jr. mentions that he's never heard of Tony B.
    • Avoided with "Feech" LaManna, released together with Tony B and Phil Leotardo at the beginning of season 5, but who was frequently mentioned and referred to in season 3, with Ralph recounting how "Feech's" card game was hit and inspiring his stepson to attempt to reenact it. The same anecdote is replayed once "Feech" is released.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Silvio literally recites this to Eugene Pontecorvo.
  • Retirony: Detective Barry Haydu is killed just a few hours after his retirement party, and Angelo Garepe is killed because he wouldn't retire.
  • Revealing Hug: Chris and Tony during Caitlin's baptism. Without any words, their chilling stares powerfully convey a primal fear and a bitter disappointment.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What makes "Pine Barrens" such a well-known episode. What the hell did happen to that Russian mobster?
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The dynamics between Tony, Phil, and agent Harris in the last episode are identical to the DeVecchio FBI case. link.
  • Rogue Juror: A man is successfully threatened by Bobby to be this in Junior's trial.
  • Rule of Three: Alluded to by Tony regarding his close encounters with death, after the second one.
  • Running Gag: Silvio's Al Pacino impression.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: While the New Jersey home team is not made of Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters, Furio from the old country is introduced as a fiercer type of enforcer and the antagonist mobsters from New York have an even nastier vibe, especially Phil Leotardo. Several strategic hits are outsourced to Professional Killers from Italy or to black Gang Bangers to maintain Plausible Deniability.
  • Sad Clown:
    • Tony describes himself as one, in the Stepford Smiler sense; putting on a happy, joking face to his family and friends while keeping his pain locked away. His claims — contested by Dr. Melfi — come across more as self-pitying than anything else, given his behavior throughout the series.
    • Reversed with Christopher's death; for Tony, a big liability is 'gone' and he is very happy about that, but he has to put on a sad grimace in front of the families. Eventually, he suddenly just goes to Las Vegas to enjoy himsef.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Gangsta Rap exec Massive Genius expresses (in "A Hit Is a Hit") his admiration for the Cosa Nostra by saying he had watched The Godfather "like 200 times."
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Fat Dom's voice noticeably goes up an octave or so after Carlo stabs him with a cooking knife.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Only implied. Given the realistic approach of the show, Tony making unilateral life and death decisions is a departure from the Mafia code, as a high-level sit-down is required before the liquidation of a made-man gets approved.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Matush when he hears a gunshot during Jackie Jr.'s card game heist. And then later, Jackie himself, who steals a car and leaves his friend Dino to get slaughtered.
  • Secret Identity: Tony often conceals his real name to 'civilian' clerks and receptionists. This backfires soundly when he tries to use one of his usual aliases (Mr. Spears) with a new psychiatrist — aware of Tony's identity and line of work — who is Genre Savvy, as he had seen Analyze This. Tony tries to argue that he is Wrong Genre Savvy as "Analyze This" is a comedy, but gets rejected anyway.
  • Sexposition: There are numerous scenes where The Mafia are discussing important plot points in the Bada Bing strip club. Although if it's something really important or incriminating, they'll take the conversation into the backroom instead.
  • Sexy Priest: Father Intintola, who also develops feelings for Carmela and needs to beat a hasty retreat out of town after Carmella accuses him of using his position to gain intimacy and gifts from female parishioners.
  • Shown Their Work: In true Godfather style, Ralph gives pasta-cooking advice to his stepson Jackie. Writer Michael "Christopher Moltisanti" Imperioli learned it from a chef/fellow castmember, and advised people (on the commentary track) to try it. It works.
  • Shout-Out: A staple of the show. Loads and loads of them, and then more. Examples include:
    • Tony rates The Godfather Part II above the original and is not very fond of Part III. The gang starts to watch the movie after they steal some DVDs. And if course there's Sil's famous Michael Corleone impressions...
    • In the first season, Christopher is Wrong Genre Savvy and thinks any business-related problem is resolved with violence, bazooka in hand and More Dakka à la Scarface (1983).
    • Junior comes across an episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and thinks it's a cheap Made-for-TV Movie about his trial. The resemblance is certainly there.
    • A playful one when Johnny Sack, on the day of his daughter's wedding, asks Tony for a professional favour. Christopher casually points out that Tony can't refuse, as the whole thing is identical to the one from The Godfather; Tony corrects him telling it's the other way around, the father of the bride is the one who cannot refuse.
    • Ralphie is a fanboy of Gladiator who disregards Spartacus — a recommendation from Chris — as unrealistic, and who reenacts one scene on Georgie's head.
    • Tony is a fanboy of Gary Cooper, "The strong, silent type". Tony seems to blur the lines between reality and fiction with High Noon and the film appears in his dreams. Funnily enough, he also loves its Spiritual Antithesis Rio Bravo, specially the song "My rifle, my pony and me."
    • Silvio and Tony have a Friendship Moment in which they mimic boxing moves while Cavalleria Rusticana plays.
    • Numerous little nods and subtle references here and there to Goodfellas, a film defined by David Chase as "My Koran". For example, several characters joke about how scared Christopher is when he becomes a "made man", telling him he "watches too many movies"; in Goodfellas, Tommy's induction ceremony is a ruse to kill him.
    • Tony praises The Art of War, ranks it way above The Prince, and gives practical use to the teachings that Sun-Tzu provides in it. Later on, Paulie tries to emulate Tony and reads it in audiobook form. On one occasion, he tries to boast about it, but can't even say the author's name properly (he utters something like Soon-Tizoong) and gets mocked for being an obnoxious brown-noser.
  • Shovel Strike: Former Russian special forces soldier Valery does this to (try to) escape Paulie and Christopher in "Pine Barrens".
    • Paulie gets the drop on two landscapers with this technique in "Where's Johnny?".
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Distingished Meadow and lazy airhead A.J..
    • Richie Aprile is covetous and bloodthirsty, while Jackie is benevolent and easygoing.
  • Silent Credits: After the infamous finale. Executive Meddling vetoed an intended Fade to Black with no credits at all.
  • Skunk Stripe: Paulie's trademark. It gets discussed and parodied.
    Tony B: Grandpa Munster over here.
  • Sleeping with the Boss's Wife: This forms a major subplot in season 4, when there is massive Unresolved Sexual Tension between Tony's underling Furio and Tony's wife Carmella. They never consummate it, but Furio does consider murdering Tony before skipping the country and going back to Italy. When Tony finds out, he has a contract put out on him.
  • Slice of Life: The show is a character study rather than a thesis-oriented work.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very, very cynical. While there's some room for interpretation, by and large the show can be seen as an extended critical examination of human nature, and more often than not the conclusions aren't pretty. What unites people of all races, sexes, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as far as The Sopranos is concerned, is selfishness, myopia, and hypocrisy (though also love, family, and moral agency).
  • Smash to Black: The infamous ending, in the middle of a scene, hell, in the middle of a Journey lyric.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Tony's signature cigars. It gets visually lampshaded when Winston Churchill, another badass Cigar Chomper, shows up in a documentary that Tony is watching.
  • Smug Snake: Jackie Aprile Jr., who is all cool persona and zero competence. Varying cases could be made for a lot of the main cast too. His stepfather Ralphie is probably the worst one in the series.
  • Sore Loser: Silvio is not a pleasant guy to be around when he's losing at poker.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Non-diegetic music is relatively rare on the show, and when it does appear it's often incongruous.
  • Sour Grapes: Many times when a character gets a rejection, he twists the facts around out of hubris and tells a fantasized version to his peers in order not to lose face.
    Chris: "Fuck Ben Kingsley. Danny Baldwin took him to fucking acting school."
  • Speech-Centric Work: Most episodes feature dialogue heavily, and Tony's sessions with his therapist are nothing but.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Staging an Intervention: There's an intervention to stop Chris from taking heroin. It's fairly hypocritical on the part of the mob guys calling Chris out on his addiction, which he doesn't fail to point out. It turns violent when Chris insults his own mother and Paulie beats his face in.
  • The Starscream: Just about everyone. One of the episodes lampshades this completely.
  • Stealth Pun: Phil coming out of the closet when he is handling the resolution of Vito's situation.
  • Stiff Upper Lip:
    • Ben Kingsley never loses his polite and calm demeanor when he is uncomfortably approached by some mafia men, who are in fact deflected by his suave manners and refrain from further pressure. The mobsters, however, get frustated by it and they violently mug an 81-year-old Lauren Bacall so they don't leave their trip empty-handed.
    • Kingsley gets to express some restrained disdain and profanity when he finds himself sharing a flight with the gangsters. It's implied he knows they are the ones behind his friend Bacall's incident.
  • Stock Sound Effect: When Tony gets food poisoning, the noises coming from his bathroom are obvious generic farting sound effects.
  • The Stoic: This is what Tony would like to be and sometimes laments that Americans - including himself - have gone soft, always whining, complaining, and dominated by their emotions. His role model is Gary Cooper; the strong, silent type.
  • Stolen Good, Returned Better: Dr. Melfi is having trouble with her car, and with the mechanics who are fixing it. When Tony learns this during one of his therapy sessions, he has her car stolen, fixed, and returned that night. She's grateful, but not happy about it.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: A lot of the released Mafiosi — including members of "the Class of 2004" — who were in the can for 20 years are jolted by the changes since The '80s, particularly the increasing laxness respecting Mob tradition. Phil Leotardo is a particular example.
  • Straw Nihilist: Anthony Jr. briefly becomes one in season 2. To his parents' dismay, he suddenly starts espousing a nihilistic worldview, questions the purpose of life, name-checks Nietzsche, and declares that God Is Dead. It pops back up again in season 6 after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Succession Crisis: Happens in Jersey after the death of Jack Aprile Sr. and in New York after Carmine Luppertazzi and Johnny Sack pass away. It gets settled by the usual and ancestral methods.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Tony, near the end of the show's run, because all of his smart, capable underlings had died, fled, or turned witness.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands:
    • The FBI bugs the nursing home where Livia is Junior's Lady Macbeth and plots against Tony.
    • The FBI has A Day In The Lime Light episode where the procedure regarding how to plant a surveillance bug in Tony's house is shown in detail. Tony is a Properly Paranoid boss who regularly sweeps his headquarters for bugs, relies on Pay Phones, and avoids talking shop inside his house, but he is vulnerable in the noisy basement. The bug eventually has a very limited use and the trope is subverted because the judge is adamant and the FBI is only given one shot at this method that is never used again.
    • An overall subversion is also justified.
      FBI guy: We've had every one of Tony Soprano's phones bugged for four years, but the guy says less than Harpo Marx.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Tony eventually comes to feel this for Officer Leon Wilmore after seeing the damage he's done to Wilmore's life.

  • Take a Third Option:
    • In the pilot, Junior wants to kill Pussy Malanga, one of his underlings, and insists on doing it in Artie Bucco's restaurant. Tony, knowing that would destroy his friend's business, tries to stop Junior. When Junior refuses to be swayed, Tony burns the restaurant down so Artie can at least take the insurance and start over. After some time, Artie gets suspicious and resents Tony for it, who feels victim of the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished syndrome.
    • During the alleged Tony-Adriana affair, the two suffer a car accident that arouses much suspicion and gossip. Chris refuses to believe Tony's innocence plea and Tony feels his only option is to kill the erratic Chris for it. Blundetto meddles and suggests an alternative; they go and ask the E.R. guy who treated the car accident. Blundetto, thanks to his medical knowledge, asks the right questions that debunk the rumours about Adriana and Tony (the driver receiving a blowjob, mind you).
  • Taking the Kids: Done in a consensual manner; A.J. moves quite happily with his father for a while, but it doesn't work as Tony is not exactly a pushover.
  • Talking Your Way Out: David Scatino seems pretty confident in his ability to do this. He tries to keep Tony at bay with this, but Tony isn't amused.
  • Take That!: When J.T. attempts to pawn his Emmy in order to pay Chris what he owes him, the dealer only offers him $15. "Maybe if it was an Oscar, you know, an Academy Award... but TV?"
  • Tantrum Throwing: Tony is prone to this, a trait later recreated by the boss in Cleaver. Tony is also at the receiving end of a steak when he infuriates Gloria Trillo.
  • Technology Marches On: Used in-universe to deconstruct several tropes:
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: A recurring, discussed theme. Tony considers that therapy is for the meek and has to keep his a secret, because if a guy in his line of work is known to be talkative, he may very well end up dead.
    Tony: Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody's gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on "Sally Jessy Raphael" and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn't be able to shut him up! And then it's dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • In retribution for an attempt on Christopher's life, Matthew Bevilaqua is shot over twenty times by Tony and Big Pussy.
    • Christopher and another mobster shoot Dino Zerilli in the head three times... and then Christopher walks up to his corpse and shoots him in the head two more times. This happens after the Pine Barrens incident, and Chris has valid reasons for making sure a dead body stays dead.
    • A capo who disrespected Phil Leotardo is whacked by a few hitmen. One of them shoots him in the eye, and then riddles his abdomen with bullets.
    • An unintentional example occurs in the final episode, "Made in America". The New Jersey/New York mob war ends when Tony discovers Phil Leotardo's location and Soprano family members Benny Fazio and Walden Belfiore shoot Phil in the head at point blank range outside his Ford Expedition. By sheer happenstance, Leotardo's dead body falls under the car and the large SUV rolls forward, crushing the mob boss's skull.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Christopher and Paulie often fit this trope, especially in the "Pine Barrens" episode.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Some of the minor characters are positively suicidal. For example:
    • In season 2, two small players decide to try and kill Christopher in an attempt to please Richie Aprile, who despises him, with the hopes that they'll get promoted. It doesn't work. One of them is killed during the attack, and the other gets hunted down and butchered by Tony.
    • Then there's also Darwin Award winner Jackie Aprile Jr., who tries the same thing in season 3 by robbing Tony's gang.
    • The waiter in "Two Tonys". He chooses to accost no less than Christopher and goddamn Paulie Walnuts while they're in the midst of a heated argument and apparently about to come to blows, and nag them about the low tip he received.
    • Also, in season 6, after Vito gets brutally murdered because it was discovered he's gay, one of the visiting New York guys openly implies in front of Silvio and Carlo that they had gay sex with him. Hilarity ensues.
    • New York mobster Salvatore "Coco" Cogliano spots Meadow having dinner with her fiance, and has the bright idea to come over and sexually harass her. He's lucky he was only beaten within an inch of his life by Tony.
  • Tragic Hero / Tragic Villain: Tony does try to be a good person for his family and friends. The fact he's a a sociopath does kind of hinder that, though.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Tony actively defies it with an artistic picture of Pie-O-My. He gets rid of it because it brings painful memories and gets very angry when he discovers that Paulie rescued it from the garbage and restored it. The picture is finally disposed of for good.
  • Trouble Entendre: In the first episode, Tony is about to tell Melfi what he did to a guy who owed him money, when she interrupts by telling him that knowing the details of his crimes would put her in a very precarious legal situation. So Tony tells her that he took the guy out to coffee. The scene then cuts to a flashback of Tony running the guy over and beating him up. Tony slips some feeble truth in the story, as he was finishing a coffee in the meantime.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Christopher occasionally goes to a meeting on account of his drug addiction.
  • Truth in Television: Junior's gradual descent into senile dementia was realistically done, including accurate depictions of the victim's good and bad days, and the eventual separation from reality.
    • The depiction of Tony's depression is also excruciatingly realistic, with his condition rising and falling continuously even after he starts therapy and medication.
  • Turn Coat: A disgruntled Paulie tries to defect to New York, so he starts feeding sensitive information to a cajoling Johnny Sack. Paulie discovers he has been duped when he learns that the New York big boss practically doesn't know who he is.
  • TV Never Lies: Adriana gets the idea from a TV legal show she's watching that married people can't testify against their spouses, and decides to marry Chris to gain this protection. But a real lawyer tells her it doesn't work that way, mentioning retroactivity and precedents where the Department of Justice circumvented the privilege.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Tony and Carmela in the episode "Marco Polo".
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Almost every single male character is married or in a relationship with insanely hot women, while usually also cheating on them with other even hotter women. Subverted with Johnny Sack: due to his high rank in the New York crew, it's assumed that like all the others, he has a hot wife with affairs on the side. In season 3, however, we see that his wife is a rather large woman who he loves deeply and does not cheat on.
  • Undignified Death: Gigi Cestone, who suffers a heart attack while constipated on the Bada Bing toilet and surrounded by porn magazines.
  • Unfortunate Names: Phil Leotardo openly complains that his legal family name used to be "Leonardo," like the painter. But an Ellis Island bureaucrat goofed it up, and now he's saddled with a name for a ballet outfit.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted. Annalisa Zucca and Lorraine Calluzzo, the two female Mafioso characters who appear on the show, are as ruthless as the male gangsters. There's also Evil Matriarch Livia and immoral Janice. The wives on the show are depicted as hypocritical for claiming to be religious while living off blood money.
  • The Un-Reveal: So did Ralphie really kill Pie-Oh-My? What happened to the Russian? Did Hadyu really kill Christopher's father? Was the psychic really communicating with Paulie's victims? And what about that ending?
  • The Unseen: Janice's son Harpo, who is mentioned repeatedly but never appears.
  • Vader Breath: Tony snorts heavily when he gets particularly agitated.
  • Verbal Tic: Paulie's heh-heh. Tony gets annoyed by it and asks Paulie if he has ever been checked for Tourette's Syndrome.
  • Vestigial Empire: The mafia is shown as this, a tired organization nostalgic for the golden days, tracked by the FBI, avoiding conflict with other gangsters, rotten with internal strife and having problems renewing it's ranks. It can still produce a lot of damage on society, though.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tony's panic attacks are triggered by repressed phobias, thoughts, and feelings and some unpleasant situations. He also can't go an episode without breaking down in anger or throwing a temper tantrum.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tony himself isn't one of the show's best protagonists. He is a thug who kills other mobsters, being a womanizer and adulterer who cheats on his wife behind her back, has a gambling addiction in the form of horse races, not a nice mafia boss to work for, and not to mention, being an asshole who frequently curses.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Omnipresent, since the show focuses on both the personal and professional lives of the mobsters.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Chris and Paulie, sometimes. Their relationship varies from brotherly buddies to hating each other's guts. They tend to be polar in this regard.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Averted. Frequently. If someone pukes on this show, there's a 95% chance the bile will be shown. One messy example has the FBI guys affected by the splash.
  • Vorpal Pillow:
    • Tony grabs a pillow and is going to smother his mother, but he gets interrupted. Melfi makes a Call-Back to it much later, but Tony is in denial.
    • Paulie smothers an old woman with a pillow when she surprises him breaking and entering.
  • Wager Slave: What David Scatino becomes to Tony when he "busts him out."
  • Wake Up Makeup: Averted, Tony frequently rocks some impressive bed-head.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Tony bitterly comments this regarding Johnny Sack as the New York boss gets more ruthless and less pragmatic and amiable. Still, Tony is very sad when Johnny passes away and still loves him despite some of his final actions.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • Tony is this to Christopher, who regards him as a Parental Substitute.
    • Tony goes out of his way to please his unreasonable and sociopathic mother. Since he's never able to reach some harmony, he's helplessly haunted by this failure long after her death.
      Tony: Our mothers are... bus drivers. No, they are the bus. See, they're the vehicle that gets us here. They drop us off and go on their way. They continue on their journey. And the problem is that we keep tryin' to get back on the bus, instead of just lettin' it go.
  • Wham Line:
  • "I'm sure he's tellin' his psychiatrist it's all his mother's fault."
  • "Can I tell you something, Tony? The last year I have been dreaming, and fantasizing, and in love with Furio."
  • "Angelo got it. Last night. Probably Phil."
That line, received by Tony over the phone by Silvio, immediately lets Tony and the viewers know that when the highly volatile Tony B. hears that his old friend and mentor has been murdered, bad, bad shit is about to go down.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Adriana and Chris. His looks aside, his demeanor in general was extremely creepy, and he certainly did not treat Adriana well. Tony says it himself:
    Tony: "Frankly, you scored so far over your head. She's a knockout, a 10, and look at you. You're average at best."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Or to the Russian. It gets discussed briefly and handwaved in season 5, as David Chase deemed it unimportant.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: James Gandolfini's signature Joisey accent drops significantly during his season 6 Adventures In Coma Land.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Melfi gets an awesome one of these in season three. After getting raped, she realises that she could tell Tony, and he would ensure that the rapist died screaming... and chooses not to.
  • Wicked Cultured:
    • Zig-zagged. As mentioned above, depending on the occasion, the mobsters dress sharply or casually. They often enjoy luxury items, refined cuisine, and Artie's restaurant is one of the usual hangouts. On the other hand, below the surface, they are somewhat glorified ruffians.
    • While Tony has moments of unsophistication, he is not the average goombah, his "semester and a half of college" background really shows up from time to time, he is attracted to sophisticated women, and can hold his ground intellectually with Dr. Melfi, understanding many references and complex concepts, e.g. he can cite Freud and Sun-Tzu. This particularly shows in his happiness that Meadow is on the path to a professional career, and his disappointment in A.J.'s... um... divergent... trajectory.
    • Paulie tries too hard to emulate Tony and appear cultivated (he appropriates a fine painting made for Tony), but he fails many times; he is prone to malapropisms and misconceptions.
  • With Due Respect: Done in the episode ''All Due Respect''.
    • Silvio pulls this with Tony when Tony seems willing to go to war against New York over the Blundetto-Leotardo situation. Tony gives it right back to him:
      Tony: All due respect, you got no fuckin' idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fuckin' thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all.
    • Tony with Johnny Sack in a heated discussion regarding the Blundetto situation. Tony then gets tired of this formality and delivers an outright insult.
  • Witness Protection:
    • A former associate turned informant and relocated via it is found and executed by Tony during a trip with Meadow.
    • Chris and Adriana contemplate the option of joining it. They don't.
    • The mobsters tend to use "witness protection" as an explanation for the whereabouts of many of the colleagues they murdered.
  • Women Are Wiser: Played straight more often than not; while there are certainly a few dimwitted or crazy women in the cast, the major female characters tend to be wiser or at least more mentally stable than the men.
  • World of Snark: While some characters are more sarcastic than others, most characters make at least one memorable sarcastic quip. It's particularly notable in the "meeting of minds" between Tony and Phil, which features these exchanges:
    Little Carmine: For whatever reason, certain incidents have expired lately, that, in addition to being dangerous, could have an adverse impact on our respective bottom lines.
    Phil: I know Vito's bottom was impacted if that's what you're referring to.
    • Then a few seconds later:
    Phil: He's MIA, a lot of people are concerned for his well-being.
    Tony: So what the fuck would I know about that?
    Phil: Well as coincidence would have it, he was last seen in New Jersey.
    Tony: So was the Hindenburg, maybe you wanna look into that too.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Christopher and Tony. Subverted in the Season 4 finale, when Tony stops himself from hitting Carmela and punches the wall.
    • Ralphie takes this to the extreme and not only punches a pregnant woman, but beats her to death.
    • Hot-headed Richie Aprile hits Janice. She hits him back. With a bullet to the chest.
  • You Always Hear the Bullet: Discussed and debunked by Tony, Bobby, Silvio, and physically averted in the final scene, according to the main theory.
  • You Look Familiar: Joseph R. Gannascoli played a random bakery client named Gino in a season 1 scene (the one mentioned in Actor Allusion above) before landing into his Vito Spatafore role in Season 2.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Tony's extramarital affairs are naturally explored and generate a great deal of problems.
    • Practically all the mobsters indulge in this; it comes with the job description to have a goomah. The only exceptions are Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri and Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni, who both love their wives deeply.
    • Carmela initially tolerates and rationalizes Tony's extramarital activities as a meaningless valve of escape, and she longs for one herself until season 5, in which she has an affair with A.J.'s principal who identifies it as Sex for Services.
  • You Remind Me of X: As pointed out by his shrink, Tony's goomahs bear a resemblance to his unpleasable mother — dark hair, contemptuous, and with issues — and even to Dr. Melfi herself — interesting, independent, and sophisticated women. Tony asks his first and simplest lover to dress more businesslike, with Melfi in mind. Later on, Tony makes a explicit mother connection with the troubled Gloria Trillo.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Lost in Pine Barrens and fearing for his life, Chris draws a gun on Paulie, who tries to calm him down:
    Paulie: All the shit we been through. You think I'd really kill you?
    Chris: Yeah, I do.
  • Your Head A-Splode: In the series finale, the fate of Phil Leotardo after his head is run over by a tire. Off-screen. Given his nature, that was probably something the viewers wanted to see.
  • You Talkin' to Me?:


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The Sopranos

Livia Soprano gets one last scene after Nancy Marchand's death.

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