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Series / The Sopranos

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Dr. Jennifer Melfi: [...] But, who said that after getting out of the dirt and the poverty, do we have to stop looking for pain and truth?
Tony Soprano: Pain and truth? Come on, I'm a fat fucking crook from New Jersey.

The Sopranos is a deconstructive Criminal Procedural series created by David Chase. Its Pilot Episode was shot in 1997, and the show premiered on HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, concluding its original run of six seasons and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007, with one of the most infamous endings in American television historynote .

The series is centered around North Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who after a panic attack secretly begins seeing a therapist. Hilarity and 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.

From there, the series focuses on Tony's problematic dual families: his biological family — long-suffering wife Carmela, straight-A student daughter Meadow, underachiever son A.J., and 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 Sopranos was a major ratings success throughout its run, despite being aired on premium cable network HBO, which at the time of the show's premiere had been available in significantly fewer American homes than regular networks. The show frequently attracted equal or larger audiences than most popular network shows of the time.

The show had a significant impact on the American television industry. It is commonly credited with ushering the golden age of television and has been characterized by critics as one of the most influential artistic works of the 2000s as well as helping turn serial television into a legitimate art form on the same level as feature films, literature, and theater. The show ushered in the age of morally complex protagonists and directly influenced shows such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, (the latter two programs had showrunners that worked on The Sopranos) as well as the age of complex storytelling and lack of handholding. The series helped establish HBO as producers of critically acclaimed and commercially successful original television series. It became the first cable program to be both nominated and win an Emmy award.

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

A prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark written by David Chase, was released in 2021. Taking place during the Newark riots in the 1960s, the film stars Jon Bernthal as Tony's father Johnny Boy Soprano, Vera Farmiga as his mother Livia Soprano, Alessandro Nivola as Christopher's father Dickie Moltisanti, and Gandolfini's son Michael as a young Tony. Chase and series writer Terence Winter have discussed the possibilty of additional prequels to the show, contingent upon the success of Many Saints.

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 are what turned him into a violent, sociopathic adult. As the series goes on, after the cumulative effects of therapy, separation, and a near-death experience, Tony ends up subverting this trope with his own kids; he's nowhere near father of the year material, but still manages to be a better parent than the people who raised him.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: In "Funhouse", Tony eats some bad shellfish and has an extremely long dream sequence where he finally admits to himself that Big Pussy Bonpenseiro (in the form of a talking fish), one of his few real friends, has become a federal informant. When he wakes up, he acts on this information and murders Pussy.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "The Blue Comet", 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 to make 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 and was the only actor to write multiple episodes. This would probably explain Christopher's interest in screenwriting and production.
  • Actor/Role Confusion: Tony idolizes Gary Cooper, who in his mind epitomizes "the strong silent type," the ideal kind of American from a long-gone era. He's called on this by Silvio, who points out he's mixing the real life person with the characters that he played. Tony still argues that the icon is what matters.
  • Adam Westing:
    • Jon Favreau appeared on as a name-dropping, overly-pretentious jerkass version of himself who'd come to New Jersey to make a movie. Star-struck gangster Christopher was delighted to hang out with "Jon"...until "Jon" stole all his ideas.
    • Frank Sinatra couldn't show up to lampoon his own mob ties, so instead we get Frank Sinatra Jr. playing poker and Nancy Sinatra performing a private concert.
    • When Christopher pitches his idea for Cleaver to Sir Ben Kingsley, Kingsley is unimpressed with the idea and turned off by Chris's lack of professionalism. So instead, they have to settle for Daniel Baldwin.
    • The same episode features a cameo by Lauren Bacall, who pretty much plays herself––a charming, potty-mouthed Hollywood legend.
  • Adventures in Comaland: After getting shot by a delirious Uncle Junior in season six, Tony spends a few episodes in a coma dream sequence. He was in a distant city, where he'd accidentally switched his wallet and briefcase with a man named Kevin Finnerty, and everyone else thinks he actually is this man. Curiously, in this dream, Tony's heavy New Jersey accent drops significantly and his posture is better.
  • Age-Gap Romance
    • Virtually all of the "goomahs" of the mob men are significantly younger than them. Irina is 12+ years Tony's junior, Bobbi even more to Junior. Tracee is 20 years old with the 40+-year-old Ralphie, making her murder at his hands all the more tragic.
    • A 20-year-old AJ starts a relationship with Blanca, a 30-year-old single mother. His parents disparage the relationship (Tony because she's Puerto Rican, Carmella because of the age gap), but figure it's a good thing that she's at least Catholic. The relationship doesn't last; it's implied that while Blanca recognizes that AJ has a good heart, she was better off with someone her own age. AJ becomes so depressed that he attempts suicide.
  • 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.
    • Fabian "Febby" Petrulio’s last words before Tony garrotes him: "Please, Tony...I’m begging you".
  • 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 Bikers Are Hell's Angels: "The Ride" had Tony and Christopher coming across two bikers stealing fine wine. When they decide to steal the wine from them, the bikers arrogantly proclaim, "We're with The Vipers!" Tony and Christopher are naturally unimpressed.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight for almost all the female characters. Played with by Melfi, who feels an unhealthy attraction to Tony but is able to fight it off.
    • Noticeably subverted in AJ's case. As the series goes on, he dates a succession of very attractive young women, despite being a sullen, scrawny wimp.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: In the episode where Tony's debts with his Jewish friend and loan shark Hesh grows out of control, he complains about him fitting this trope to his shrink. She responds by saying that it's an ugly stereotype. In a first-season episode Hesh does almost spoil Tony's and Johnny Sack's plan to bail Hesh himself out of some hock with Junior, who has instituted a retroactive tax on Hesh's businesses upon becoming boss. Junior listens and "magnanimously" lowers the rate, and the back taxes owed to "three hundred". Before anyone else can react, Hesh says, "Two-fifty!" There's a moment of brittle silence, and then Junior smiles. "What did I tell you? Hang on to your cock when you negotiate with these desert people!"
  • All Just a Dream: The series has a lot of these as a way to get into Tony's head, although it was made apparent to the audience what they were.
  • 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.
  • Always Someone Better: The show focuses on the lavish lifestyles of gangsters, but it will occasionally undercut how successful they really are in the grand scheme of things.
    • Tony Soprano is The Don, but his crime family is just a big fish in a small pond compared to the New York gangsters across the river.
    • American gangsters overall are humbled when they visit Italy and see how actual Italian gangsters live in opulence.
    • Meadow is a high achiever in high school who grew up in a life of luxury thanks to Tony. When she begins attending Columbia, she has to adjust to the reality that most of the students there are just as, or even more, intelligent as she is and many of them come from families whose lineage or careers are far more prestigious than her family of mobsters.
    • AJ waxes philosophical about the trials of being born rich. Then he's embarrassed to discover that his girlfriend is Secretly Wealthy and lives in a stately mansion far greater than his own home. The Sopranos, for all their underworld power, are upper-middle class at best.
    • Little Carmine, a mafia prince who could have run all of New York City had he wanted to, is just as flabbergasted as Christopher by the lifestyle of Hollywood elites, who have luxury goods thrown at them for free just for the publicity.
  • Ambiguous Ending: After disposing of his arch-nemesis Phil Leotardo, Tony is seen taking his wife Carmela and son AJ to a diner, later to be joined by their daughter Meadow. It's seemingly an upbeat scene, with the exception of Tony discussing potential legal troubles on the horizon. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" starts playing in the background, and you begin to see curious shots of seemingly random persons in the diner mixed in with shots of Tony and his family happily chomping down on onion rings. The music swells, an unseen person enters the restaurant, Tony looks up, and suddenly—cut to black, series over. Was Tony suddenly shot as the screen cut to black (perhaps by the man in the Member's Only jacket?), or no? Or is it symbolic of how the possibility of a whacking always hangs over Tony's head? This was left a mystery for years.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Did Ralphie kill his racehorse Pie-Oh-My for the insurance money? He never admits anything, but it's absolutely the kind of thing he'd do.
    • Johnny Sack's wife and eldest daughter are both substantially overweight, while his youngest daughter (played by a young Cristin Milioti) is unusually thin. The subject of food is a Berserk Button for the youngest daughter, as seen when she yells at her family for even bringing up the subject. It's implied but never explored, that she has an eating disorder.
  • 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 angsts about it often enough to make the rest of the cast frustrated, and when he finds out that Tony had his brother killed for trash-talking him, Patsy gets drunk and pees in Tony's pool (after seriously contemplating killing Tony in revenge).
  • 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: Dwight Harris is the Knight in Sour Armor variant. He possesses a cold and humorless demeanor, but he is a good guy who is doing his job to maintain the peace.
  • Anyone Can Die: This pretty much became the hook of the show, to the extent that it was called "The Big Pussy Rule". No one was safe, be it the lowest goon or Tony himself. Due to the fact that they were never informed well in advance, many of the actors explicitly expressed suspense and fear for their careers should the writers suddenly choose the sword to fall on their head. (Though in the case of Livia, it was the actress that died first.)
    • Most of the most notorious deaths of major characters such as Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, Vito Spatafore, Adriana La Cerva and Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri came, predictably, as a result of mob hits. However, arguably the most shocking death occurred in Season 6 when Christopher Moltisanti is wounded when the car he is riding in with Tony flips over (his death hastened by Tony suffocating him.)
    • And then there's the series' infamously inconclusive ending, which led many viewers to assume that Tony himself may or may not have been assassinated as well.
  • Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster: Played with in regard to Corrado "Junior" Soprano. After a brief power struggle in the first few episodes, he winds up under house arrest and, now that he's removed from direct power, his nephew Tony allows him to believe he's The Don while Tony is the de facto boss. However, Junior still tries his best to leverage his seniority and the loyalty of his underlings to run things behind Tony's back, undermining and even attempting to organize a hit on his nephew. To the feds, of course, he plays the part of a bemused senior who doesn't know anything, while simultaneously trying to act tough and in-control around Tony and the other gangsters; the truth is somewhere in the middle, and as he gets older he begins to show signs of genuine dementia.
  • Arc Welding: At the end of the first season, Big Pussy has vanished. No one knows anything. The writers were just going to let it go at that—people do, indeed, vanish with no explanation, though it's rare. However, when they heard how the fans were wondering what happened to him, they welded Pussy into the story of Jimmy's being The Mole, with him being a second one.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 asks "Don't you love me?" to Junior who is going through the early stages of dementia and has behaved badly toward 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 the 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. Adding to the confusion is that the judge who hears the motion to put Junior on house arrest has a New Jersey flag in his chambers (federal judges generally only have U.S. flags), but also clearly refers to the prosecution as "the Government" (which is only done in federal prosecutions; in a state criminal case in N.J., the prosecution is "the State").
    • Several episodes show convicted felons like Phil Leotardo visiting prisoners who are incarcerated. Unless they are blood relatives, this is not allowed by most prison systems, including the ones shown in the series.
  • 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.
  • 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 Daniel Baldwin.
    • Nancy Sinatra is the entertainment at a party hosted by Phil Leotardo.
    • Invoked in "The Test Dream". Annette Bening 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.
  • 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.
  • As You Know: In season 5, Barbara's first scene after being recast, she greets Tony with a "Hello, big brother!" to help the audience figure out who she is.
  • 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 originally appeared in the series pilot as an unnamed hostess at Artie Bucco's restaurant with just a couple of lines. However, producers of the show were so impressed by what they saw of Drea de Matteo's acting skills, that she was quickly promoted as Christopher's love interest and a major character in the show.
  • Asian Airhead: Of the Indian variant - Ambujam, Meadow's college acquaintance who appears in maybe 2 scenes. "Fock you, betch!" and "Mead, he was soch a drep!" referring to Jackie Jr.
  • Ass Shove: It's mentioned off-handedly that Vito Spatafore was sodomized with a broomstick while they were murdering him.
  • Asshole Victim: "College", has a rather famous invoked example. It was the first episode in the series' run that actually showed Tony Soprano committing a murder on-screen; before it, he had always left the dirty work to his underlings. Being an early episode, though, network executives at HBO still had their doubts about whether or not the show could sustain an audience in the long-term, and they argued that viewers would drop out in droves if they had to see the show's protagonist remorselessly killing an FBI informant without consequences. First, they tried to convince David Chase to write an alternate version with Tony letting the informant live, or just having Christopher kill him instead. When that didn't work, Chase compromised by agreeing to make the guy as unsympathetic as possible, writing in additional scenes where he's seen peddling drugs to local teenagers.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: 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.
  • 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).
  • Author Appeal: Many references to media figures reflect the tastes of the show makers. The band Scout appears as the fictional band Miami Relatives because the episode's writer Michael Imperioli is a fan. A W. C. Fields film is on the television in the same episode because David Chase is a fan.
  • 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.
  • Automobile Opening: The intro features Tony driving from New York to his home in New Jersey. His route is deliberately inefficient to provide more interesting visuals: it runs through Newark and Kearney to get to Tony's house in North Caldwell, but any reasonable driver going from New York to North Caldwell would never get as far as Newark on the Turnpike but rather get off the Turnpike onto NJ Route 3 at Secaucus and get home from there. One supposes that perhaps Tony intends to visit Satriale's (fictively in Newark, with the actual building being in Kearney), but we don't see that in the intro.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Johnny Sacks being Happily Married to Ginny is an outlier for the mob family. Husbands having several "goomahs" is simply expected; being emotionally or even physically abusive to their wives even moreso. Divorce is out of the question, however, largely due to the characters' Catholic upbringings. One such example is Angie Bonpensiero, wife of "Big Pussy," who devolves into a nervous wreck when he returns home. Carmela is sympathetic, but actively tries to steer Angie away from divorcing him.
    Carmela: (To Tony) And then you would come down the stairs...And I felt probably like someone who is terminally ill and somehow they managed to forget it for a minute...And then it allll comes back...
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Richie Aprile.
    Richie: Did you ever meditate?
    Beansie: Me, meditate? Ha, are you crazy?
    Richie: Not as crazy as I used to be, still crazy enough to take an eye out.
    • Other mobsters with an extremely homicidal behavior definitely qualify... or with a temper that would not have any mentally balanced person: Paulie, Christopher Moltisanti, Ralph Cifaretto, Feech la Manna, Johnny Boy Soprano and Phil Leotardo are straight examples. Even Tony Soprano has traits of one.
  • 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 Ralph Cifaretto, 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 Ralph'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.
  • Bad Present: A mundane example: a large number of Mafiosi are released from long prison sentences throughout the series; Season 5 sees the release of "the class of 2004", a group of New Jersey and New York wiseguys convicted and given 20-year sentences in the big Mob prosecutions of the early 1980s. Many of these guys have some issues with the way the Mob works in the 21st century—including its increasing suburbanization (both the Jersey boss and Lupertazzi underboss live in North Caldwell), its increasing cooperation with other criminal organizations, and the laxity of certain Mob traditions.
  • 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.
  • A Beast in Name and Nature: Phil Leotardo takes to referring to Tony Blundetto as "Animal Blundetto" after the latter murdered his brother Billy during the Lupertazzi civil war. In reality, Tony B. was more of a Beware the Nice Ones-type guy who got in over his head when he recklessly tried to make a name for himself, with the vicious, hotheaded Phil himself being a much better candidate for that title.
  • Beauty to Beast: Valentina loses her beauty after being disfigured in a kitchen fire.
  • 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.
  • Better with Non-Human Company: Tony Soprano loves animals and animal abusers are a major Berserk Button for him but he has absolutely no problem maiming, torturing, or killing someone. This is part of what makes his therapist realize he's an incurable sociopath and sever ties with him.
  • Big Applesauce: The much larger NY families become major players in the final seasons.
  • Big Bad: Season 2 has Richie Aprile and the final season has Phil Leotardo. Partial examples include 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 Bad Ensemble: Season 2 initially sets up both Richie Aprile and Big Pussy as the plot's main antagonists. Upon being released from prison, Richie actively undermines Tony's authority as boss of the DiMeo crime family and ultimately moves to have him killed towards the end of the story arc. As for Pussy, he is revealed to be a FBI informant whose likable persona is revealed to be a facade masking his growing bitterness towards Tony. However, whereas Richie's actions are a constant threat to Tony's control over the family, Pussy ultimately proves to be an unreliable asset to his FBI handlers and is abruptly whacked in the season finale after having little impact on the course of the plot.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Jackie Aprile Jr., the spoiled and overly-ambitious son of a deceased mobster who thinks he can rise through the ranks like Tony did and become the boss. Nobody wanted him in the business, not even his father, but he insists on pushing his way in and feels entitled to respect because of his heritage. All he ends up doing is causing tensions with the DiMeo crime family after he stupidly attempts to rob a card game held by them, which results in his crew getting slaughtered when the robbery predictably goes south. He never once approaches anywhere near the power needed to take on Tony and the second it looks like he might, Tony casually has him killed.
    • A later example is Feech la Manna. Like Jackie, he tries to scheme his way to the top, but by that point, Tony's learned to nip this sort of nonsense in the bud and manipulates him into getting sent back to prison before he can cause trouble.
  • Big Eater: Pretty much everyone, bordering on Food Porn. They're eating in every episode: big, heavy, Italian meals of pasta and meat and sauces and alcohol.
  • Big Fancy House: Tony is a successful mobster and lives in a nice, large house with a big backyard and a pool in a good neighborhood. His son waxes philosophical about the trials of being born rich to his new girlfriend, humble-bragging about the nice home he lives in. Then he visits his girlfriend's house and discovers to his horror that it's five times the size of his own. He's really only upper-middle class, while his girlfriend has been Secretly Wealthy the whole time.
  • 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.
  • Black Screen of Death: Debatably used in the finale, as Tony Soprano may have been killed just after a quick cut to the credits. Among the suspects: a character identified in the credits as "Members Only", plausibly, a Call-Back to the episode of the same name.
  • 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.
  • Bleached Underpants: The creators made sure to be prepared to bleach their own underpants for syndication. They would frequently record alternate versions of scenes where a nude character (often the strippers in the club) would be in bikinis or lingerie, and occasionally a scene would be recorded with softer dialogue to avoid Hong Kong Dub later.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: Inverted. Livia constantly refers to her nursing homenote as if it's a hell-hole (and that Tony doesn't visit her often), but on the whole it's shown to be a relatively pleasant place to live (and that Tony visits as frequently as his schedule allows, and substantially more often than a lot of others might).
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The famous ending uses this somewhat. Fans have long debated whether the cut-to-black means somebody shot Tony, or if a deeper symbolism is in play.
  • Book Ends: Implied. Although the show's infamous Ambiguous Ending makes it difficult to know for sure, it's strongly hinted that the final season begins and ends with Tony getting shot, and with a man in a "Members Only" jacket shooting someone to death in a diner.
  • Born in the Wrong Decade: Tony and his friends are well aware that the mob's heyday is long over with, but they have a hard time coming to terms with it. Especially with the fact that modern technology and science continue to make running protection rackets and committing crimes without getting caught more and more difficult.
    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?
  • Bowdlerization: The syndicated version survives relatively unscathed sex and violence-wise, as David Chase filmed alternate scenes (the scenes at the Bada Bing Strip Club have scantily-clad dancers who don't take off their clothes and the violent deaths are often replaced with shots of someone's face or shown at an angle so the violence won't be as severe). However, all of the profanity and explicit sexual lines are redubbed with toned-down versions that either weaken the dramatic impact or are just plain Narmy. One particularly notorious instance of editing came when the line "...sucking on a Cub Scout's ass" became "...chewing on a Cub Scout's ear" note .
    • Before the show went syndicated, MADtv had a parody of the show that depicted just how disjointed they thought the show would be if it was shown on a non-premium cable channel and edited for all manners of violence, sex (the scene of Tony getting a lap dance was so severely edited that it just showed the stripper coming in and finishing up), and foul, abusive language (even going as far as editing out all mention of Big Pussy's name). The actual syndicated version on A&E isn't as bad as the parody MADtv came up with (which depicted The Sopranos on PAX, of all channels, and featured an entire episode lasting less than five minutes), but it's still pretty funny that the show predicted how the show might be Edited for Syndication.
  • 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".
    • Adriana is so dumb she believes a drug dealer when he says that the money from drug dealing goes towards poor children.
    • Jackie Jr is a great example of this. Uncle Junior states that he once came close to drowning in three inches of water.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Meadow during the first few seasons. Of course, what teenager wouldn't be a little bratty with parents like Tony and Carmela?
  • Break the Cutie: Tracee gets no respect from anyone she tries to impress and is beaten to death by Ralphie.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A subtle case in 5x03, "Where's Johnny?" When Junior is returned to his home by a couple of cops, Junior tells the one of the cops to "Go shit in your hat." The scene briefly changes to Bobby's daughter Sophia looking at the camera and giggling.
  • 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."
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants:
    • Christopher "does a number two in his pants" as girlfriend Adriana puts it when he is mock executed by a pair of Russian gangsters.
    • Later on, Jackie Jr. pees himself in a car seat when Christopher and another mobster rob a benefit concert.
    • And then there was a "businessman" who wet his pants as he was dragged into a dark room so a bunch of mobsters could bash him up.
  • Broken Ace: Tony Soprano is the mob boss of all New Jersey; charismatic, powerful, ruthless, and has keen business acumen. 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.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Adrianna reveals to Christopher that she is an informant for the FBI, and asks him to run away with her. Christopher instead chooses to reveal this to Tony and cover up her murder.
  • Bungled Suicide: A.J. tries to drown himself in his pool by tying a cinder block to his feet. A last minute change of heart leaves him stranded in the middle of the pool with his head barely above water.
  • 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.
  • Burner Phones: Tony and other mafia figures would use burner phones from time to time in order to avoid eavesdropping by law enforcement.
  • 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?"
  • Business Trip Adultery: Tony does this throughout the series. In one episode, he goes to Vegas to inform Chris's ex-mistress of his death. Not surprisingly, they have sex that night and do peyote. Carmela asks about the "business trip" when he returns home, unaware of what it entailed. He sweetens her up with a new gold watch.
  • Busman's Vocabulary: Near the end of an episode, 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 someone to fix his burst water heater.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Tony once told a story about a boy with a speech impediment he and his bully friends used to abuse in school (namely, made him sing silly songs and laughed their asses off). It took him quite a while to understand this wasn't the nicest thing to do.
    • Artie Bucco becomes increasingly pathetic to watch as the show progresses.
    • 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.
    • Bobby Baccalieri, who, along with Vito, is constantly mocked due to his weight and his non-mobster-like niceness toward others. Even Tony, who isn't exactly a male model, can't seem to stop harping on how fat Bobby is - to his face, of course, as often as possible.
    • Sal Vitro is a 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.
    • Adriana, once the feds get their meat hooks in her.
    • J.T. Dolan, the TV writer and recovering addict whom Christopher lures into a high-stakes card game - and a correspondingly high gambling debt - and later bullies into writing a screenplay for him.
  • 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 he 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:
    • Subverted: After Tony finds out that his mother tried to have him killed, he goes to her retirement home to call her out, only to find that she's had a stress-induced stroke, and is probably unable to consciously hear any of his rage-fueled confrontations. This continues in later seasons, as Tony tries to call her out more than once about her attempt at killing him, and the heaps of psychological abuse she's put on him and his family over the years. Each attempt never comes to any kind of definitive resolution of their issues. In the end, she dies at the beginning of the third season, leaving Tony psychologically scarred with no clear picture or resolution of his feelings toward his mother, and this affects him for years afterward.
    • 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: Tony's (truthful) denials that he had an affair with Adriana are disbelieved by pretty much everyone, given his reputation as The Casanova and a serial philanderer.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Tony has "You've gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me", "End of story", and "She's dead to me" in Season 2.
    • "Fuhgeddaboutit" and 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 season invokes "Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in."
    • Livia mournfully saying "He was a saint" regarding her late husband.
  • Caught in the Bad Part of Town:
    • In "The Strong Silent Type", Chris tries to buy scag in a rundown Latino neighborhood. He gets robbed of his Range Rover and wallet, and then gets the absolute shit beat out of him.
    • A downplayed example in "Watching Too Much Television". The locals in the rundown Black ghetto make it clear to Tony and A.J. that they aren't welcome if they aren't there to buy drugs. Despite one of the locals drawing a gun, and Tony Tempting Fate being a Deadpan Snarker, they're allowed to drive out without further incident.
    • In "Moe N Joe", Bobby picks up a late-night collection in the run-down neighborhood late at night. He gets ambushed and beaten by several Black youths armed with baseball bats, robbed of his cash and his gun, and takes a ricochet bullet in the eye.
  • 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 fuck Angie Dickinson, let's see who gets lucky first.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • In one episode, Tony watches The Fugitive — oddly, he doesn't notice that Ralph Cifaretto has a minor role in it.
      • Same goes for The Matrix DVD that AJ buys for Carmela.
    • 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 Henry Hill'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 seasons 5 and 6 as Lupertazzi capo Rusty Millio.
    • Bruce Springsteen is referenced several times, even though Steven Van Zandt (Silvio) is the guitar player for 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.
    • In the finale, Tony hums the Rocky theme. Burt Young (Paulie) also played Bobby's father.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • Most of Tony's angst derives from his position as 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.
  • Cement Shoes:
    • In "The Second Coming", AJ tries to commit suicide in a manner similar to this.
    • Also Subverted: In "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano", you are led to believe that, since Tony plans to have Chucky Signore whacked on or around a boat, cement shoes or something like it are in the offing; it turns out that no, Tony shoots him in port and then takes him out to sea to dispose of the body.
  • Central Theme: Being Evil Sucks, no matter how one tries to deny or justify it.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Carmela in the first season is 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.
    • Christopher is absolutely terrified during his mock execution, soiling himself and begging for his life. This is the one and only instance he shows fear in such a situation; every other time he stares down a barrel, it's with utter defiance. Possibly justified in that he's climbed the Mafia ladder since then and feels better protected by the Plot Armour his position affords him, but he's utterly fearless even when dealing with assailants who have no reason to respect this.
    • 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.
    • Adriana mentions that Vito was bombarding her with leering texts when Christopher was indisposed; Vito tells the same story but with her as the initiator. It's a bit weird in either case, as with the late series twist surrounding him he clearly wouldn't have been interested.
    • In the pilot, Silvio speaks about Artie as if he doesn't know the guy at all. They're both long-time friends of Tony's and all three have daughters the same age, attending the same school; Silvio and Artie are also portrayed as decent friends in subsequent episodes and the three interact frequently at barbecues and soccer practice. Not quite a Plot Hole, but still quite weird.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Deliberately subverted with Valery the Russian in "Pine Barrens". After his one big appearance, he seemingly escapes from Paulie and Christopher despite being wounded. The viewer is left expecting him to return in some way eventually and bring hell down on the protagonists. He never does. He becomes just one of those unsolved mysteries of life, his fate forever unknown.
    • Subverted by the "Man in Members Only Jacket" in "Made in America".
    • Played straight by Tony Blundetto, whose actions in the fifth season are arguably the main catalyst for the New York-New Jersey War in the last season.
    • Subverted with Furio. He goes back to Italy, seemingly intent on killing Tony so he can be with Carmela... and we never see him again.
    • Subverted with the cat in the final episode. It keeps staring ominously at Chris's photo on the wall of the pork store, even after Paulie moves it. We never find out why.
  • Chiaroscuro: Used frequently in the lighting setup, to show the moral ambiguity of all the characters.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Everyone is Catholic. Justified, in that they're all members of the same big Italian family.
    • Subverted when he’s visited in the hospital by a Protestant minister who preaches young-earth creationism. Tony and his mobster friends are simply baffled. (Truth in Television, as the Catholic Church has long accepted evolution.)
  • Chronic Villainy: Played for tragedy in the case of Cousin Tony.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After appearing in several episodes, including one with a subplot focused on her, AJ's fantastically rich girlfriend Devin disappears between seasons 5 and 6. He shows up to the wedding of Allegra Sacrimoni with an new, unnamed girlfriend.
  • 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."
  • Commuting on a Bus:
    • After essentially being the Big Bad for the first season, Uncle Junior was gradually phased out as his ailments got worse and worse. In season 5 he only appeared in half of the episodes and season 6 carted him off to a nursing home where he spent most of his time offscreen. Notably, Junior only appears in two episodes during the final batch of 9 episodes.
    • In season 6 Johnny Sacks got put in prison and appeared infrequently before dying of cancer after having been central to the storyline of the previous two seasons.
  • The Con: Tony and his associates scheme a very profitable real estate scam, whose boundaries cause some friction with New York.
  • 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.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: When Tony is asked point-blank by his daughter whether he's a Mafia boss, he denies it, but then grudgingly admits that his business does include some illegal gambling.
  • 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. He shows up briefly at a mob event and is dragged away by police for violating his house arrest. He 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 Big Sis: Carmela is angry with Meadow for covering up for little brother Anthony getting a downtown hotel room and getting drunk with his friends; Tony responds, based on his own childhood, that that's what big sisters should do.
  • 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 Guns: Tony Soprano uses a Beretta Cheetah 85 BB on several occasions in The Sopranos, befitting his Italian heritage.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Inverted in "Irregular Around the Margins." Despite a growing attraction to Adriana, Tony makes an actual effort to avoid an intimate relationship on the advice of Dr. Melfi. A car accident where Tony and Adriana are both in the vehicle leads to salacious rumors, bitter resentment from Carmela, and a near-fatal confrontation with Christopher. The irony of the situation is not lost on Tony.
      Tony (in Dr. Melfi's office): You know, I might as well have fucked her. Thanks.
  • 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."
    • Uncle Junior, a by-definition old geezer, breaks his hip in the shower and exclaims "YOUR SISTER'S CUNT!"
    • In another case, Christopher gets to go on a movie set and suggests a curse word alternative to bitch — pucchiacha. When asked what it means, he simply deadpans: "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 "Stage 5".
  • Criminal Craves Legitimacy: Carmela is in deep denial about her husband Tony's crimes, but they do give her a life of luxury. The only way she truly expresses how much she truly knows is that she's desperate for her and Tony's daughter Meadow to become a paediatrician, a highly-respected career that's nothing to do with the mob. It doesn't happen. Meadow switches majors and is well on her way to becoming a mob lawyer.
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: A rare nonlethal literal example occurs in "The Second Coming", where Tony gives Coco a vicious beatdown for messing with his daughter, capping it off with a curbstomp on a step. He finds a tooth in his pants leg later.
  • 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 Versus 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!: Zig-zagged and deconstructed. The show can make gangsters look cool at times and uncool at others. Working in The Mafia has its own perks, but we're also shown how much of it is not so glamorous and sometimes even dark. Sure, Tony has a nice house and is relatively well-off, but he has to face his boorish family all the time (and vice versa), suffers from depression and anxiety attacks, and he always worries about his "friends" turning on him, maybe leading to his arrest or assassination. As Tony's nephew Christopher learns the hard way when he finally gets made, it means that he's under even more pressure to earn when he thought it was much easy.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Jackie "The Chemo-sabe" Aprile a realistic example, until the cancer finally kills him.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Tony gets very angry when his daughter dates a boy who is half African American and half Jewish.
  • 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.
  • Deadly Bath: Brendan Filone is inside his bathtub when Mickey Palmice visits him to deliver a Moe Green Especial on Junior's orders.
  • Deadly Closing Credits: The series might have ended with this. Maybe. We don't really know for sure.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost the entire cast. Silvio, Carmela, Junior, and Dr. Melfi deserve special mention, although Tony can hold his own with them himself.
  • Death Amnesia: Tony's coma dream flows steadily out of his memory, with the exception of the beckoning light.
  • Death by Irony: The ends with an infamous Ambiguous Ending, but it's very strongly implied that Tony suffered this in the final scene of the series. In "Johnny Cakes", AJ mentions that Tony's favorite movie scene of all time is the famous scene in The Godfather where Michael Corleone shoots Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey in a restaurant after retrieving a hidden gun from the bathroom. In the final episode, it's very possible that Tony is murdered in exactly the same way; while having dinner with his family in a diner, he gets several suspicious glances from a mysterious fellow in a Members Only jacket, who is last seen walking into the bathroom. Of course, the screen abruptly cuts to black before we actually learn whether he lives or dies.
  • Death by Recognition: One (of several) fan theories about the ending is that it's Tony having a heart attack as he sees who's entering the restaurant.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Tony Soprano deconstructs The Don. He's not a ridiculously powerful kingpin with high resources like most Mafia bosses in fiction. Sure, he's well-off, but these resources are limited. It makes sense as the show is set in modern times, where tougher anti-racketeering laws and possible informants give Tony nightmares. Besides, his crime family shows that the Mob today is at a downfall from informants, the government, hostility from other families, and drugs. All these attributes make him one of the most realistic representations of an American mob boss in the modern-day.
  • Deconstruction: Easily one of the biggest deconstructions of The Mafia. Instead of portraying the Mafia as a synonym of loyalty, power, and success (like The Godfather), here it's the opposite. Very few members are really loyal (it's telling something that Silvio was the single most loyal member of the mob) and most of them are more than willing to betray their partners for vengeance, resentment, or greed. Also, while many of the mobsters live in the lap of luxury, it comes at the cost of being in constant fear over imminent death or indictments, in which all of that wealth and status can completely evaporate.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In its desire to authentically depict the Italian-American criminal subculture, the series does not shy away from the casual racism, sexism, gay-bashing and Moral Myopia that are commonplace within it, even among the (by comparison) more sympathetic characters. Among other things, Tony disapproves that his daughter dates a black man in college; it's seen as normal for mafiosos to have affairs with women but a mob boss' wife having an affair is generally not tolerated; the crew are considering giving the gay Vito a pass for his homosexual activity until they find out he's the receiver; and even Hesh catches a few slurs (clearly intended as affectionate, but the character often seems to be holding back irritation when it happens).
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Little Carmine Lupertazzi, in his constant efforts to demonstrate erudition he never had and couldn't begin to spell, fell prey to this with monotonous regularity.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Lorenzo Barese. After he is sent to jail in the season 1 finale he only appears from time to time but maintains his captaincy throughout the series.
    • Father Intintola is a major character in the first season, making only occasional appearances afterward.
    • Irina Peltsin is Tony's regular mistress until he dumps her. She makes continues to make occasional appearances over the next couple of seasons, but her role is greatly reduced.
    • Undercover FBI agent Deborah Ciccerone is introduced in season three and has a major role through a number of episodes in season four. We even get scenes from her point of view with her husband and child. Once her cover as Adriana's friend is blown, however, Adriana gets a new handler in Robyn Sanseverino. From that point on, Deborah only appears in a few brief office meetings and has no further effect on the plot.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: In "All Happy Families...", AJ's friends shave his eyebrows off while stoned. It takes Tony a minute to catch on the first time he sees him.
    Tony: (stares blankly) What's different about you?
    Carmela: He has no eyebrows, Tony!
  • Digital Headswap: Nancy Marchand (who played Livia Soprano) died in the interim between filming seasons 2 and 3, leading the producers to have to drop a story arc and kill her character off. In the second episode of the third season, "Proshai, Livushka", the producers combined this with a stunt double and alternate takes of dialogue to give her one last scene, at a cost of $250,000. The results were... less than convincing.
  • Dirty Business: When Tony Blundetto kills Billy Leotardo as revenge for the murder of Angelo Garepe, Billy's brother Phil swears revenge. Despite Tony Soprano being subject to heavy pressure to deliver his cousin to Johnny Sack (who has taken over the Lupertazzi crime family after Little Carmine's abdication) explicitly so he can be tortured and killed, Tony refuses and protects Blundetto against Phil. But Phil begins stalking New Jersey looking for Blundetto, hounding Christopher's mother, and brutally beating up Benny Fazio. It soon becomes clear that Tony's men refuse to allow themselves to be endangered all for the sake of protecting Blundetto, so Tony is forced to act. He tracks down Blundetto at their uncle Pat Blundetto's farm and kills him with a 12-gauge shotgun point-blank in order to save him from the worse fate he would've received at Phil's hands. Tony then gives Johnny Sack the location. Phil is furious to be deprived of his vengeance, but Tony and Johnny reach an accord over Blundetto's demise.
  • Disappearing Bullets: Many mobsters who have talked to the Feds, pissed off the wrong capo, or just outlived their usefulness to the organization get clipped in a car. Apparently, the side windows of their cars are bulletproof.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: Tony Soprano usually has little tolerance for beating around the bush, particularly when in an irritable mood (which is a lot of the time). He's very much a "let's get straight to business" kind of guy.
  • Disposing of a Body: Pops up frequently. Cement Shoes or Burial at Sea (after some body hacking) are the standard methods 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. The trope is discussed in an early episode, where Big Pussy explains to Chris why it's better for a dead rival mobster to "disappear" than for them to send a message by leaving his corpse somewhere it'll be found.
  • 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 the main traits of Carmela Soprano. For her husband and mob boss Tony, the standard way out of a marital problem is to bury it under gifts or loads of money.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Season 4 ends with a violent confrontation between Tony and Carmela and she insists that they separate. A season later he's Out-Gambitted her in the divorce proceedings because he's talked to most of the major divorce attorneys in town and the others won't take Carmela's case because of Tony's reputation. Later on he wins her back and they stay together for the rest of the series.
  • 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 describes 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.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Done between adults when Tony uses his belt to hit his corrupt congressman lackey for sleeping with his mistress. Even though he had (apparently) okayed it earlier.
  • Doppelgänger Dating: Almost all of Tony's mistresses are impossible-to-please dark-haired beauties with serious psychological issues — that is to say, just like his mom. The most striking example comes in the third season when Tony starts seeing a new mistress, the beautiful but depressive and temperamental Gloria Trillo. After complaining about her to Dr. Melfi in therapy, Melfi points out that his description of her (much more psychologically than physically) sounds eerily like his recently deceased mother, Livia. Tony had a bit of a shock when Gloria told him, "Oh, poor you!' just like his mother used to.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Used occasionally in episode names:
    • "Boca" (Spanish for "Mouth") revolves around Uncle Junior's relationship with his mistress in Boca Raton, Florida, but it also involves a sensitive bit of word-of-mouth gossip that Tony exploits to damage Junior's reputation. For the hat trick: the gossip involves Junior's willingness to give his mistress oral sex, which is seen as unmanly in the Mafia.
    • "Eloise", the penultimate episode of Season 4, includes a pivotal scene where Meadow and Carmella have brunch at the Plaza Hotel under the famous painting of the eponymous character of Eloise at the Plaza. More subtly, though, the title alludes to Carmella's dissatisfaction in her marriage and to the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Furio, which evokes the tragic love affair of Abelard and Heloise. The latter meaning is made clearer in the following season when Carmella takes an interest in the letters of Abelard and Heloise shortly after separating from Tony.
    • "Rat Pack", which can refer to the famous Rat Pack from the 60s, a picture of which Tony receives as a present, though the same episode also focused on the FBI's multiple informants within the Mafia, making them a "rat pack" too.
  • 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.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: In season 1, Tony allowed his Uncle Junior to become the official Boss of the family since he would become the FBI's main target instead of Tony, who could still exercise power through the other capos, who recognized him as de facto leader. Eventually, it resulted in a minor Mob War when Junior realized that his nephew had fleeced him, one which Tony won.
  • 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.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: In season 1, Tony allowed his Uncle Junior to become the official Boss of the family since he would become the FBI's main target instead of Tony, who could still exercise power through the other capos, who recognized him as de facto leader. Eventually, it resulted in a minor Mob War when Junior realized that his nephew had fleeced him, one which Tony won.
  • Dreaming the Truth:
    • Tony had a dream where he was forced to face that he knew Big Pussy was wearing a wire.
    • Dr. Melfi has a dream which leads her to realize that she can, if she wants to, have Tony punish her rapist — though she chooses not to.
    • Carmela has a dream where she's forced to confront the possibility that Adriana was killed. Previously, she'd been led to believe that the latter had abandoned the family.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Vin Makazian, Gloria Trillo, and Eugene Pontecorvo.
    • A.J. and Artie both attempt it, but fail.
    • 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 the 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.
    • Bobby struggles to be taken seriously by his fellow mobsters. In season one he's a glorified gofer for Junior Soprano. He complains a lot about it, and eventually rises to become Tony's de facto third in command.
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: Anthony Junior (AJ) is a lazy and spoiled kid without any real drive or ambitions in life. He frequently performed poorly in school, until eventually dropping out of college.
  • Dwindling Party: By the end of the series, almost all the significant members of the DiMeo crime family are dead, incarcerated, have disappeared from the narrative, or have suffered an arguable Fate Worse than Death. (As in the case of Silvio) It's basically just Tony, Paulie, and Patsy at the end.
  • 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.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first season is a mild example, playing somewhat more like a lampoon of the gangster genre. It emphasizes the zaniness of Tony's two lives as a family man and a "Family" man. His wife gets this treatment as well. In one scene she expertly cocks and loads an AK-47 when she thinks there's an intruder. In the following seasons, she's just a typical housewife. The supporting gangsters are also constantly quoting famous mob movies, showing that modern mob culture is partially based on imitating fiction. This is de-emphasized in the rest of the show, though never completely goes away.
    • In the pilot episode, it clearly has not yet been established that Tony has sisters.
    • Tony giving Ralph a beating after the Tracee incident is the source of a lot of conflicts, as physically assaulting a made man is against the Mafia's rules. He attacked Mikey Palmice, another made man (and Junior's right-hand man to boot) in the first season with no such drama.
  • Elvis Impersonator: Big Pussy kills an Elvis impersonator named Jimmy Bones for running into him while meeting with his FBI handler.
  • End of an Era: The series takes place in the waning days of the Mafia. Various Mafiosi lament that things used to be different back in the mob's heyday.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: Tony has a Hair-Trigger Temper in general, but the stupidity of his mooks and his son ranks near the top of his list of triggers. In "Remember When", he considers murdering Paulie for his annoying and dimwitted tendencies.
  • 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.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: When it comes out that Vito was spotted at a gay bar, most of the crime family's members are either crying out for his blood or at the very least, calling for him to be removed completely. Patsy is the only one to declare that he has no problem with homosexuality. While Tony does have a problem with it, he has a far bigger problem with the fact that Vito is extremely competent and makes him vast amounts of money and wants to keep him on in an indirect fashion. However, his most homophobic members start crying too loud for him to ignore. Though the decision is eventually taken out of his hand by an even more homophobic member of another family.
  • 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.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Christopher thinks the Cuban Missile Crisis was a fictional event made up for the film Thirteen Days.
  • 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, in spite of his serious Mommy Issues, will instinctively defend his mother. In an early episode, he 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 is extremely protective of his mother and serves as a doting son. It's his one virtue. However, even his love is tested when he finds out that his mother is actually his aunt and has been lying to him his whole life. He gets over it, however, and soon reconciles with her. In season 6, he mourns his mother's passing and is enraged at the skimpy showing at her funeral.
    • 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 Loved Ones: Tony is a Villain Protagonist through and through and over the course of the series, discards nearly every virtue that he seemingly started with. However, the redeeming quality he carries to the end is his adoration for his two children and he tries his absolute best to be a much better parent to them than his mother and father were to him.
  • 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.
    • Tony, Sil, and Paulie are all disgusted and angered by Richie Aprile running over Beansie and crippling him for life, to the point where it casts a grey cloud over Richie's standing within the DiMeo family permanently.
    • Phil Leotardo is disgusted that Tony would screw over his own uncle to become Don.
    • 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 of 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 condones the beating of a woman if, and only if, she's your wife.
    • When Gigi Cestone suffers a fatal heart attack on the toilet, the mobsters seem to be genuinely sorry for him.
    • 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.
    • Even after all the homophobia expressed by mobsters after Vito was outed, they were all disgusted and grossed out upon hearing of the Cruel and Unusual Death inflicted upon him by Phil Leotardo. And when Carlo praises Phil for taking care of Vito himself, pretty much all of them ignore him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mobsters might be amoral bastards, but family is a big deal to them.
    • For all of Dr. Melfi's accusations that Tony is a sociopath, he does clearly love his family in his own way. He feels guilty about what he puts his wife through, sees Meadow as an innocent in need of protection, and is tortured by AJ's floundering.
    • Phil Leotardo really loved his brother and mourns his murder bitterly for years afterward.
    • Johnny Sack's family seems to be quite loving.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: 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.
  • Everything Is Racist: Sil viewing Anti-Columbus Day protesters as racist against Italians.
  • Evil Is Easy: Tony's curse is that he has a measure of self-awareness, and on some vague, ephemeral level he wants to be a "good guy." He's just completely unwilling to accept any sacrifice or inconvenience required to actually be one because it's just easier for him to do what he's always done — hurt people for profit.
  • 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 Silvio and Carlo. Bad move.
    • Christopher seems to have a genuine friend in his AA sponsor, a man who he met while in rehab for his drug use. Chris then gets the guy to play in Tony's card game, covers his losses, then ensnares him in the same debtor cycle gangsters have been subjecting people to for centuries. He even beats the hell out of the guy for not paying up. When the guy understandably relapses, Chris looks at him with disgust and eventually takes possession of his car to cover part of the loan.
  • Evil Matriarch: Livia is the mother of Tony and has held a vice grip over his emotions for many years, using spite, jealousy, and guilt as her weapons.
  • Evil Old Folks:
    • Possibly the evilest person in the show (which, for the record, is about Mafiosi) is Livia Soprano, Tony's aged mother. Extraordinarily manipulative, and not above putting a hit on her own son if it gets her what she wants.
    • Uncle Junior, Tony's uncle, and of Livia's generation. In the first episode, he is plotting to kill a rival at his favorite restaurant. He becomes boss of the North Jersey Mob shortly thereafter and conspires with Livia to kill Tony.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids:
    • Tony Soprano is adamant that his son AJ doesn't go into the mob life like him, mainly because he's simply not cut out for it. AJ is spoiled, sheltered, not particularly bright, and starts suffering from the same panic attacks that his father was diagnosed with as an adult. Tony himself also grew up in a mob family, but he was exposed to the realities of this lifestyle early on and as The Many Saints of Newark shows, he was already profiled as a high-IQ individual with "leadership qualities" when he was in high school.
    • Even more than AJ, Tony has big dreams for his daughter Meadow. In talks with Dr. Melfi, he often expresses his wish that she'd be a doctor, maybe even a pediatrician, something far removed from his own life of violence and crime.
    • Jackie Aprile Sr. 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 Versus Evil: 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 Beams: Paulie mentions hallucinating Uncle Junior doing this after taking LSD in the 60s.
  • 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 Death with Dignity: Zig-zagged with Big Pussy's death. He first tries to talk his way out of being killed, but once he realizes it's not working, he calmly walks to the middle of the room allowing the men to shoot him, only politely requesting that they don't shoot him in the face. However, after they pull out their guns he starts to lose his composure and begins to panic, asking that he be allowed to sit down first; at that point, the men just shoot him. (They do spare his face as he had requested, though it's unclear if they were intentionally honoring his wishes.)
  • Face–Heel 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 facial expression.
  • Fake Guest Star: Jerry Adler guest-starred as Hesh Rabkin in 27 episodes throughout the course of the series yet never received billing. This was in a series that tended to eventually give in-episode billing to actors in recurring roles.
  • Fake Shemp:
    • Nancy Marchand died between seasons two and three. Her final scene was in the premiere of the following season and was cobbled together using voice clips from previous scenes and a CGI head of her character (whose lighting does not match the rest of the scene) pasted onto a body double.
    • Several seasons later, while Tony is in a coma and envisions standing before a house that is implied to be the gateway to the afterlife, there's a shot of an old woman at the door who turns away before we see her face — based on her hairstyle and movements, this is almost universally interpreted as being Marchand's character (Tony's mother).
  • 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 Man: Just like the mafia films, the series is also about the family and the patriarch who wants to get their family united, no matter the cost.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: In the final season, it is revealed that Paulie Walnuts has been raised by his aunt his entire life because his mother was a nun who broke her vow of chastity with an American soldier.
  • Family-Values Villain: While there is some serious variability in how good they are at it, most of the mobsters at least attempt to do this.
    • Livia Soprano seems at first to merely be a grumpy old lady. She is very insistent that nobody swears or smokes in her presence. Then she all but encourages her brother-in-law to put a hit out on her own son.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Whenever Tony gets at least half-naked, especially during his sex scenes.
    • Lorraine Calluzzo in season 5. She's in the shower when 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:
  • Fanservice Extra: Any stripper we see on stage at the Bada Bing qualifies, unless, of course, one of them becomes part of the episode's plot.
  • Fat Bastard: Tony Soprano and many other mobsters are very noticeably overweight or even obese. Tony even calls other people "fat fuck". Averted with Bobby Baccalieri, who's both the fattest mobster and the Token Good Teammate.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Tony Soprano's Wrath and short fuse sometimes got the better of him.
    • Despite being one of the most ruthless characters in the series, Phil Leotardo considers himself too agreeable in nature and willing to compromise for his own good. In reality, it is his obsession with preserving his alpha-male persona at all costs that proves to be his downfall.
    • Christopher Moltisanti's Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster! tendencies. He doesn't realize being a made man in The Mafia comes with a lot of responsibility, which means he cannot goof around when he's under tremendous pressure from his bosses to earn more money. By the time of his death, Tony had realized that Chris was The Load to the family. While being a mafioso has its perks, Chris should have known that some parts of a mobster's life can be boring and dangerous at times.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Tony Soprano Zigzags between this and Affably Evil. He can be genuinely friendly and does make an effort to look out for those he cares about, but he gradually loses any real redeeming qualities. He will often act friendly to those he is just about to do something horrible to, like Jackie Jr and Phil Leotardo, just to taunt them. This is mostly relegated to people who piss him off, but Tony clearly gets a kick out of it.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Or, just stole the whole thing.
  • Fever Dream Episode:
    • "Funhouse" contains multiple fever dreams after Tony gets a bad case of food poisoning. In one of them, Tony douses himself with gasoline and lights himself on fire.
    • Similarly in some early Season 6 episodes, after falling unconscious from some gunshot wounds, Tony has a series of strange dreams during his coma.
  • 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".
    • 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).
  • Follow the Leader: An in-universe example. Jackie Jr. learns that Tony and co. had their major breakthrough in the criminal world when they robbed Feech la Manna's poker game, so Jackie decides to follow the example. It ends badly, Furio is injured, while the card dealer is killed, and Jackie Jr. gets whacked for it.
  • Food Porn: The series is a delight for food-watchers, as they're eating in almost every scene. Chef Artie Bucco is a particular purveyor of this as he loves to discuss his ingredients at length.
  • 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 (1931).
    • 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the Season 5 episode "All Due Respect," Carlo Gervasi asks Bobby "Baccala" Baccalieri, "You really think New York would come after you?"
    • 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!"
    • At Christopher's intervention, Tony threatens to suffocate him. Later on, he does.
    • In the Season 1 finale, the feds tell an incarcerated Junior that the guy they're really interested in busting is Johnny Sack. Come the Season 5 finale...
  • 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.
  • Formerly Fat: Vito Spatafore loses 160 lbs between seasons 5 and 6. This was Real Life Writes the Plot, as actor Joseph R. Gannascoli had lost a similar amount of weight for health reasons.
  • 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 Excuse Is No Excuse: Whenever Meadow's boyfriend Finn voices his reservations regarding Tony and his associates' work, Meadow justifies on the basis that the poverty and dire conditions of Southern Italy bred their mindset and it can't be helped. Finn finally calls bullshit on this after he's forced to tell the mobsters he saw Vito giving a man a blowjob, telling her that they are generations separated from that environment and nothing their ancestors went through justifies executing a person just because they're gay.
  • 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?!
  • Freudian Threat: In Season One, Tony Soprano is having a guy beaten up, but he proves stubborn. He's advised to try this trope instead, and it works. So we have a Soprano threatening to make someone else a soprano.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: The New York family that Tony's feuds with hang out in Little Italy, which is rapidly being swallowed by Chinatown in real life. The characters comment on this.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: A few of the gangsters have some military background:
    • Corrado "Junior" Soprano was a veteran of World War II.
    • Paulie Gualtieri served for a few years in the US Army. Though it's downplayed because he never experienced any wars.
    • Russian mobsters Slava Malevsky and Valery are both veterans of the First Chechen War. Valery in particular was reportedly such a badass, that he allegedly killed 16 Chechen rebels by himself.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: An occasional source of humor: the adults swear constantly, but when a child (especially their own) does the same they're appalled.
  • Gainax Ending: The series famously ended with a mid-scene cut to black. This may or may not have signified Tony's death. The explanation of the showrunners has it make a lot more sense. Since he is unable to bring himself to leave his life of crime, every day brings the uncertainty of being mundane or the day he is whacked. The audience does not know whether he experiences a routine day or finally meets his fate, and that's how he's going to have to live the rest of his life.
  • 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.
  • Gangsta Style: In "46 Long", Brendan berates Special K for holding his gun this way during a truck hijacking. The idiot immediately goes back to holding his gun this way afterward. This is primarily to show them to be Stupid Crooks; the hijacking inevitably goes bad and they end up dead as a result when word gets back to the boss.
  • 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.
  • Gayngst: Vito spends a significant amount of time in Season Six experiencing gayngst when he is inadvertently outed to both his and Phil Leotardo's (somewhat homophobic) crews, flees to a small town in New Hampshire, and struggles with his duties to his wife and kids, his crew, and the web of lies he has to tell his newfound lover in New Hampshire to protect himself. His gayngst arguably results in his death at the hands of Phil.
  • Gayngster: Vito Spatafore is a straight deconstruction; the other gangsters find it disgusting, Tony, his only defender, is given a hard time, and 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.
  • 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 then telling 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 mustache 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 with Tony's crew is reassigned to anti-terrorism, he starts frequenting Satriale's, Tony's hangout, because the sandwiches are so good.
  • God Is Dead: Stated by A.J in season 2, as part of his briefly becoming a Straw Nihilist.
  • 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.
    Tony: Oh yeah, I remember that picture of Albert Anastasia lying there all "amicable" on the barbershop floor.
  • Golf Clubbing: "Mustang" Sally cracks Bryan Spatafore's head with a putter for talking to his girlfriend. Of course, because the man he did this happens to be Vito's brother, Sally gets a bullet to the head shortly thereafter.
  • 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 about 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.
  • Goths Have It Hard: Vito Spatafore is murdered by his cousin-in-law Phil Leotardo for being gay, which is a huge no-no in the highly homophobic mafia. His son, Vito Spatafore Jr., starts to dress in all black and act out in school. Phil rather sanctimoniously tries to teach him to "man up" and take charge of his family now that his father is gone, and when he still refuses, Tony has him shipped off to a Military School.
  • Grin of Rage: Tony Soprano does this very effectively, often smiling or grinning as a way to hide how angry he is, but also as an intimidation tactic. It usually doesn't take long for the mask to slip, making the other person realize a little too late that they're seriously screwed.
  • Groin Attack: Mobsters fight dirty.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: A real estate agent refuses to do business with Tony, so he has some of his men park a boat next to the agent's beach house and play loud music.

  • 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: A throwaway subplot in season three sees a lesbian tennis coach show 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 that 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.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Janice's estranged son Harpo is mentioned repeatedly over the course of the show, but never seen.
  • 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.
    • Artie is under constant criticism from his wife Charmaine, mostly about his decisions when running the restaurant. This and other factors lead to the two nearly divorcing.
  • Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Christopher produces a horror film, Cleaver, where undead mobster Michael comes back for revenge on his boss Salvatore and his cheating fiancé It's quite obvious that Michael is a stand-in for Christopher, Salvatore for Tony, and Michael's fiancée for Adriana, but Christopher vehemently denies it.
  • Heritage Disconnect: A recurring theme throughout the show is that, while the mobsters and their families take a lot of pride in their Italian roots and culture, the things they know and practice are really a bastardized version of it caused by being generations separated from living in Italy and the insular nature of their group. The result is that many native Italians and even civilian Italian-Americans look down on the group and consider them a bunch of uneducated, boorish louts. It's best shown when Tony, Christopher, and Paulie travel to Naples and the mobsters there witness Paulie's behavior:
    Neapolitan Mobster: (to his associate in Italian) And you thought the Germans were classless pieces of shit.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Weapons: When assassinating Chucky, Tony hides a gun in a fish; this is because he's ambushing the guy at the docks.
  • High-Class Gloves: Carmela and Meadow have a tradition of going out to a fancy restaurant wearing long gloves on her birthday. Meadow decides that it's a childish custom and refuses to participate.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Meadow has a noticeably darker complexion than everyone else in her family. Jamie-Lynn Sigler is actually half Cuban and half Ashkenazi Jew rather than Italian-American. This gets brought up in dialogue in the fifth season when Carmela recalls how her mother lamented "She's so dark!" when she first saw her granddaughter.
  • Hollywood Psych: Dr. Melfi acts as both a psychiatrist (a medical doctor that prescribes the medication) and a psychologist (a counselor or therapist who engages in talk therapy). In reality, those are two separate professions, a psychiatrist generally only sees you for about 15-20 minutes once a month to adjust medication levels while a psychologist is the one who will see you for an hour a week to talk through issues (but cannot prescribe medication).
  • 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:
    • Played With in "Denial Anger Acceptance]]". A woman in a Hello Nurse outfit comes to check on Jackie Aprile, who insists she's not his nurse. About the point her tits start falling out of her jacket, he realizes that she's one of the girls from the Bada Bing club, whom Tony hired to come out and show Jackie a good time.
    • Junior is fooled by an attractive nurse who is revealed to be a mole planted by the FBI.
  • Hot for Preacher: The sexual tension between Carmela Soprano and Father Intintola is a plot point in season 1.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Silvio, by the end of the show. Throughout the series, he swaggers around his strip club, always totally in control of "his girls." At the pork store, he always knows what to say as Tony's consigliere. As an executioner, he is able to take out victims like Adriana La Cerva and Burt Gervasi with ease. By the finale, after nearly getting shot to death in the previous episode, Silvio is in the hospital, comatose and breathing through a respirator. (Symbolized by his hair, of all things: his pompadour is gone, for the first and only time in the entire series.)
  • 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.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Selfishness, myopia, and dysfunction are portrayed as the constants of the human condition.
  • 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 a 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 mob wives, 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 about how the media portrays them as violent, uneducated mobsters. It becomes humorous when you realize that almost every character in the series falls into at least one of those categories.
  • I Gave My Word: When Carmella and Tony are discussing ratting out other criminals and going into witness protection, Tony says this. Carmella replies: "What are you, a kid in a treehouse?" A nice way to point out how ridiculous this trope can be when the choice is following your word or protecting your family.
  • 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 Just Want to Be Loved:
    • With the overall poor parenting of his father and mother, Tony has one chip on his shoulder when it comes to parental figures. He tries to bond with his uncle Junior, but the latter's increasing dementia makes it hard for them to make a full connection.
    Tony: I mean, don't you love me?
    • Having lost his father at a very young age, Christopher always tries to find a surrogate. The most obvious choice is Tony, but given their line of work, their chain of command, and their respective mental situations, the relationship slowly sours until it's rotten.
  • "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."
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Dr. Melfi takes a shot of vodka upon noticing the next appointment is Tony in "House Arrest."
  • Idiot Ball: Loan Shark Tony takes an 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 the boy. Not surprisingly, a fight emerges between father and daughter. Tony is normally a lot cannier than that.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Nearly every character:
    • One of the sharper examples is Phil Leotardo, who wages a brutal turf war against Tony during the final seasons. Tony attempts to put an end to it while Leotardo recovers from a heart attack in the hospital, pleading that they could bury the hatchet and live long enough to see their grandkids, which moved Phil to tears. But ultimately Phil's anger and resentments overrode his willingness to compromise, with disastrous results.
    • Tony, of course, struggled constantly with the bad man that he is, and his therapy sessions often forced him to admit his faults. But his attempts at self-improvement never really take, and by the end of the show, it's difficult to say that he's changed much at all.
    • Janice also saw a therapist for anger management, though her sessions were court-ordered. She seemed to be making progress at first, but Tony goads her into losing control basically out of resentment shortly after. By the end of the show, whatever stability and self-control she'd managed were completely undone after the murder of her husband.
  • 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.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Furio with Carmela. Subverted in that Furio is a gangster too, but Tony is the boss.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Inherently Funny Words: A lot of the series' more light-hearted (or, blackly comedic) moments tend to involve the characters' favorite foods, which always seem to have really silly names. Choice examples include "gabagool"note , "buffalo mozzarella"note , and of course, that time Chrissy shot a rude bakery cashier in the foot over a box of sfogliatellenote  and cannolisnote .
  • Injun Country: Tony visits an Indian casino that is owned and run by a shady white businessman with perhaps a drop of Indian ancestry.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: In "From Here to Eternity", Chris has a near-death experience where he visits Hell or Purgatory that's an Irish bar where every day is Saint Patrick's Day and you spend all eternity getting beaten in card games.
  • 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.
  • Interrupted by the End: The series infamously ended in the middle of the lyrics of "Don't Stop Believing" as part of its Gainax Ending.
    Don't stop—
  • Ironic Echo Cut: "Whoever Did This" has a darkly funny example: Ralphie's son Justin is tragically injured, and he suffers significant blood loss and brain damage, with doctors saying that he could potentially end up being disabled. Later on, as Ralphie sits beside Justin's hospital bed, Rosalie Aprile comes into the room. She consoles him, saying:
    Rosalie: Justin's gonna be alright. You'll see. He's gonna be fine.
    [cut to Rosalie talking to Carmela over dinner at a restaurant]
    Rosalie: He's gonna be a vegetable.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" had Chris being abducted and mock executed by Russians while Meadow sang "All Through The Night" in the school choir.
  • 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.
  • Is That a Threat?:
    Tony: What's that, a threat?
    Carmela: No, Tony, it's a rave review!
  • Italians Talk with Hands: Some characters do this more than others, especially if they get excited or aggravated. Paulie is a particular example. Pointing with his pinkie extended is practically a nonverbal catchphrase.
  • It Can't Be Helped: All the time, in the form of "[But] What are you gonna do?"
  • It Tastes Like Feet: In "The Strong, Silent Type," Tony and Junior are sampling some wine Furio brought back from Italy, which Junior grumps "reminds [him] of people's feet." After which, he continues drinking it.
  • 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 makes a big show of being an all-loving, progressive hippy, but she's extremely self-centered and manipulative, twisting every situation around her own feelings and insecurities.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Meadow is an undergraduate student at Columbia. However, it's made clear she only got in because Carmela implicitly uses the nefarious power of their surname to grant her admission.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: Sean Gismonte and Matthew Bevilaqua try to kill Christopher by shooting him from a car. When Christopher starts shooting back, Matthew exits the car and gets away, but Sean gets tangled up in his seatbelt. Unfortunately for him, this makes him a pretty easy target.
  • 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 stands out as the meanest character in the show; rude, disrespectful, obnoxious, depraved and pointlessly violent.
  • Joggers Find Death: Mikey Palmice is killed by Chris and Paulie in the middle of his jogging routine.
  • 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 using Eugene Pontecorvo to threaten the safety of the juror's family.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: Various characters (Richie Aprile, Tony Blundetto, and Phil Leotardo, most prominently), only show up once they're released from jail, as a fairly justified way of having the characters be old friends without using Remember the New Guy?.
  • Karmic Nod: Discussed by the wise guys. Christopher is conflicted because when he nearly died he had a dream where he found himself in Hell, but Paulie corrects him and claims that he was in Purgatory. He further states that they'll probably have to spend several hundred years in torment for their crimes before going to Heaven, highlighting how the mobsters still fundamentally see themselves as good guys.
  • 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.
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • Little Carmine, the Inadequate Inheritor of the Lupertazzi crime family, is the one-time lover of his second cousin Lorraine Calluzzo, a minor associate. Johnny Sack, the underboss to Carmine Sr., is disgusted by it.
    • Vito Spatafore boasts about "how close" he got with Adriana La Cerva, Christopher's girlfriend after it seems that she had an affair with Tony behind Christopher's back. Not only is Vito a closeted gay man, but Adriana is also his first cousin; Richie Aprile is both Vito's and Adriana's uncle. Perhaps a result of the writers simply forgetting who was related to who.
  • 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.
  • Kosher Nostra:
    • Hesh is an associate of the Italian Mafia in spite of being Jewish. He seems to have a low opinion of other Jewish gangsters and doesn't associate with them much. In the first season, he warns Tony against doing business with some shady Hasidim.
    • In Season 2, Melfi's family therapist brags about having family who were associated with Murder Inc., crowing, "Those were some tough Jews!" He sees Jewish gangsters as exotic and exciting because they no longer reflect poorly on their community. This stands in contrast to earlier in the episode when Melfi's family laments how the Mafia continued to cast a shadow on the reputation of Italian-Americans.
  • 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.
  • Last Disrespects: Deconstructed. Upon Livia's death, Janice decides to throw a wake for her despite her own expressed wish not to have one. After many phony expressions of sympathy and mourning from all attendees, it finally takes Carmella to speak up that she was a horribly dysfunctional and manipulative woman who spread misery to everyone who spent time with her and didn't want a funeral because she thought no one would miss her. No one argues with this assessment, least of all Tony (she even gets a hear hear).
  • Laughably Evil: Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri. A ridiculously rapacious and cheap bastard. Comically absurd like many of his shenanigans.
  • Lazy Bum: Tony has the hardest time getting his spoiled son A.J. to do any work whatsoever, and almost never without a ton of whining beforehand.
  • Leatherman: Vito is seen by some low-ranking soldiers attending a gay bar in one of these outfits, which seals his fate.
  • 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.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Dr. Melfi helps Tony realize that his tumultuous relationship with his mother leads him to attempt relationships with women almost exactly like her personality-wise. His girlfriend of the third season, Gloria, is arguably the worst in this regard (even using the same "Poor you" catchphrase as his mother), and the consequences are disastrous.
  • Little "No": One of the most powerful moments in the series occurs when Dr. Melfi tells Tony "No" when he asks her if there's anything he can do when she starts crying in a therapy session. It's powerful, because she'd been raped earlier in the episode, and had seriously contemplated telling Tony and using her connection to him to have the rapist killed.
  • 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.
  • Loan Shark: Used quite a lot. It's all but stated that this is one of their main sources of income.
    • David Scatino is a local sporting goods store owner who gets in over his head in poker debts to Tony. Tony then "busts out" Scatino's store, buying random crap and exhausting its assets and lines of credit until it is forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation). (Scatino says in-universe it's going to be Chapter 11. While he may have intended to file for Chapter 11—reorganization of debts, with creditors to be repaid from future profits—we very clearly see the liquidators roll into the store, take everything, and put up a "for lease" sign, so we can be reasonably sure that even if he filed an 11, it was converted to a 7). This culminates when Tony, in a genius move, gives Meadow an SUV that he took as collateral from Scatino, her boyfriend's father.
      • This situation actually presents a very peculiar circumstance for a bankruptcy attorney: after the "bust-out", Scatino's debts must have been staggering, but in theory at least, all the crap Scatino's business "gave" for the mobsters to sell (or take for themselves) were a fraudulent transfer or an unfair preference, so David and/or the trustee would be well within their rights to sue Tony to make him give the money back, and Scatino would win given the amount of evidence in his favor (then again, who in their right mind sues a mobster?). The FBI could've also used this as a means to flip David.
    • Christopher loaning to, beating, and ultimately murdering his Narcotics Anonymous sponsor.
    • One of the thugs exploits Vito by borrowing money from him, then turning him in to the rival New York family that wanted him dead.
    • Even Angie Bonpensiero gets in on the game, "putting money out on the street" after she gets ahold of Big Pussy's old body shop. (She doesn't do any beating herself, but it's obvious she controls guys who do).
  • Local Hangout: The Bada Bing!, a strip joint that Tony owns and operates.
  • 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).
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: When Junior Soprano attacks another patient in the psychiatric unit, his slipper flies off as he kicks him.
  • 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 is this to Christopher. She believes that deep down Christopher is a good person and would choose her over the mob in a heartbeat. When she is forced to become an informant to the FBI, she tells Christopher and after the third beating, she gives him the choice. Christopher chooses the mob and it results in Adrianna's death.
  • Lucky Charms Title: A Beretta pistol pointed downwards serves as the "r" in the show's logo.
  • 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 the mobster, is Tony's main money launderer.
  • Mafia Princess: Meadow Soprano. At first, subverted then embraced: Meadow knows full well that her dad is a mobster, going so far as to out their father to her younger brother AJ when kids at his school start dropping anvils about how AJ can't be bullied because of the fact that the bullies fear what AJ's dad will do to them and their families if they tormented him. However, when Meadow finally confronts her father during a road trip to visit a college, Tony lies and Meadow believes him, even as Tony lies to her about him sneaking out during one of their nights away in order to kill a mob snitch in hiding who they had encountered by chance. She later ends up with Jackie Aprile, Jr.—son and namesake of a respected former boss of the Jersey family.

    Later, after Tony orders Jackie Jr.'s death (not for dating Meadow but for being an idiot who jeopardized the family's security and stability), Carmela gives Meadow a Stepford Smiler speech ordering her to make a vow never to believe the idea that her father ordered Jackie Jr.'s death. This is the turning point, as she ends up having no trouble living the lie, even chiding a fellow mafia princess for speaking of it in front of an outsider, and by the finale ends up telling her father that she is proud of what he does and curses the government for "tormenting" the family in its quest to bust her father. She even announces she's going to become a mob lawyer, though she puts it in much more idealistic terms than that.
  • 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: A running gag throughout the series is mobsters mangling idioms and getting their vocabulary mixed up. This serves as a constant reminder that, in spite of how cunning and successful many of these men are, they have terrible educations. 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".
    • An FBI agent ogles Adriana's lithe figure in her skimpy tennis outfit, then nearly explodes when both she and her svelte tennis instructor bend over at the same time.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Everyone connected to the mob resists the idea of dating outside of Italians. The farther away from Italy, the stronger the objection.
    • Tony has fits that Meadow dates a man who is half-Jewish and half-black, seeming to resent the black side much more than the Jewish. It creates serious drama in the household, and Carmela isn't happy about it either.
    • Carmela smiles politely to AJ's long-term girlfriend Blanca, but behind her back, she balks at the fact that she's Puerto Rican. Tony points out that at least she's Catholic.
    • Christopher claims that he doesn't bring his goomar around because she's black and knows that guys like Paulie wouldn't be OK with it. The others find this sentiment wise.
  • Manly Gay: Vito is a tragically closeted example.
  • 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 on 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 complaints about hauntings and curses might be legit or just the result of troubled minds and mafioso superstitions. We never get a definite answer either way.
    • Paulie visits a psychic who seems to have knowledge of Paulie's murder victims beyond what a common shyster could fake.
    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?
    • All the various dreams that characters have. Are they just premonitions and guilt, or are they messages from the other side?
  • Meaningful Background Event: The FBI approaches 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, who shares her name with the Magnificent Bastard mother in I, Claudius.
    • 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.
    • Vesuvio is named for Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that destroyed several Roman cities. Vesuvio burns down.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: Parodied. Most of the characters do this from time to time but the most egregious perpetrator, by far, is Little Carmine. He would frequently misuse or mispronounce big words in an effort to sound smart or eloquent. Even characters on the show recognized his stupidity.
    "We're in a f**king stagmire."
    "You're very observant: the sacred and the propane."
    "There's no stigmata connected with going to a shrink".
  • Men Don't Cry: Phil Leotardo loses all respect for Johnny Sack when he cries in public.
  • Military School: In "Army of One", Tony and Carmela disagree vehemently over whether to send A.J. to a Military School after he gets expelled from his original Catholic school, Verbum Dei. It turns out that A.J. gets panic attacks like his father—and, it seems, like the whole Soprano line going back generations—and couldn't go to military school for health reasons.
  • 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 feature 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-Boss Suit Fitting: "Pax Soprana" shows Corrado "Junior" Soprano, newly designated head of the Di Meo crime family of New Jersey, being fitted for a new suit. His tailor tells "Uncle Junior" that the tailor's grandson recently committed suicide due to drugs sold to him by a member of the Soprano crew. Junior promptly has the dealer killed.
  • Mob War: The threat of Tony Soprano's New Jersey mob family breaking out into open civil war or becoming embroiled with one of the New York families hangs overhead for several seasons. In the last half of season 6, open war breaks out between the Soprano crew and the Lupertazzi family under Phil Leotardo.
  • 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."
  • Most Writers Are Writers: In addition to the strong theme of characters referencing movies and literature, Christopher is a cinephile and aspiring screenwriter who gets involved in a lot of screenwriting-related plots.
  • 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 headshot but manages to escape into the pine barrens. His uncertain fate leads 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.
    • Paulie and Christopher needlessly pick a fight with Valery, who turns out to be a Russian special forces veteran and ends up causing them a lot of trouble.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: The mafia action appealed to fans of mob movies (up to and including actual mobsters), the well-realized characters and drama appealed to fans of family dramas, the excellent acting, directing, and production values appealed to film lovers, the excellent soundtrack appealed to rock lovers, the wry wit and middle-aged characters appealed to older audiences, and the complex themes appealed to intellectuals.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Averted mostly. David Chase had wanted to only use "in-universe" music, but sometimes music plays with no apparent source. When this does occur, the music underscores and emphasizes the emotional effect. "The Beast In Me" plays over the end sequence and credits of the first episode, for example.
    • An especially good one is the season three premiere's use of the Peter Gunn theme song and "Every Breath You Take" played simultaneously. The two songs have exactly the same beat and work surprisingly well together.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Almost all the gangsters cheat on their wives and have sex with prostitutes while expecting 100% faithfulness from their wives — a rumor of infidelity leads to one woman being brutally beaten while already injured from a car crash — and viewing prostitutes as worthless.
  • 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 fur with nothing underneath.
  • Naturalized Name: Phil Leotardo tells a bunch of kids about how his family's name was changed at Ellis Island — it was originally "Leonardo," but the American clerks screwed up and registered the name as "Leotardo." Notably, Phil doesn't treat this as a charming story of his family's assimilation — he's actually still really pissed off about it, as "Leonardo" is a noble name associated with a brilliant artist and inventor, while "Leotardo" is associated with an obnoxious piece of exercise wear.
  • 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: The Jersey mobsters still have a few traditions from the old times that attempt this:
    • They throw a traditional Santa Claus party and distribute presents to local children during the Christmas season.
    • The mob is responsible for putting on a carnival during the Feast of St. Joseph. When Paulie cuts corners that cause a ride to malfunction, Tony criticizes him for the bad press.
    • 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.
    • Tony praises the neighborhood where he has business ventures for being an old-fashioned place that hasn't been swallowed by corporations. He's seen as a community leader in the area, as evidenced by an old lady who asks him to speak to some Puerto Rican business owners for playing their music too loud. Later, he sells the business she was sitting outside of to Jamba Juice.
  • Nepotism:
    • Zig-Zagged by Chris. He isn't totally incompetent and his status as Tony's cousin/"nephew" doesn't exempt him from hazing like random strip searches and having to buy everyone's meals. However, he rises up the ranks much faster than he probably would on his own merits, and is allowed far more free passes and second chances than Tony would ordinarily grant. Played straight when Tony privately tells Chris that he plans to eventually make Chris his Underboss rather than any of his longer serving and more qualified soldiers solely because he is “blood”.
    • Subverted by Jackie Junior, who feels that since he is the son of a legendary mafioso, he is entitled to be a powerful and respected mob boss. Nobody takes him seriously, Tony actively prevents him from getting involved in anything, and his attempts to be a badass criminal end up getting him killed.
    • "Little Carmine" Lupertazzi is a straight example, he really isn't cut out for the mafia, and likely wouldn't have ended up with the kind of money and influence he has if it weren't for his dad.
    • Subverted by Bobby 'Bacala' Baccalieri. He marries Tony's sister, but his rise from Junior's flunky to #3 in the family is accompanied by him revealing himself to be much more competent and reliable than his initial appearances indicated.
  • Nerd Glasses: Uncle Junior wears these. Dominic Chianese said that these glasses pretty much were Junior.
  • Never Lend to a Friend: Very frequent:
    • Tony tries to keep his childhood friend David Scatino away from his illegal high-stakes poker game. When Scatino insists and runs up a ridiculous losing streak, Tony agrees to lend him the money to cover it, but at the same terms as anyone else. Scatino soon becomes swallowed by the interest, which destroys his business and marriage. Tony is unmoved by Scatino's plight.
    • Artie tries to borrow money for an investment deal from Ralphie, who hears him out but ultimately refuses, reasoning that if Artie couldn't pay, he'd have to beat him up, and he doesn't want to be put in that position. Tony gets offended that Artie didn't come to him first and insists on loaning Artie the money. Artie's investment falls through, leaving him in a hopeless situation. Tony ultimately forgives the debt and lets Artie repay him with free meals at his restaurant. Artie is grateful, but he also accuses Tony of realizing that lending him money was a Xanatos Gambit all along. Their friendship is never quite the same.
    • Tony himself runs up some gambling debts and ends up owing money to his Jewish friend Hesh. When Hesh asks for it back, Tony gets defensive and resentful and starts making Greedy Jew jokes. Their long friendship ends.
    • Christopher's friend JT Dolan from AA runs up a large gambling debt, and Chris lends him the money to cover it. Dolan balks at the fact that Christopher charges him the same punishing vig as anyone else, but Christopher counters that he won't enable Dolan's bad decisions. Dolan has trouble paying the money back, causing Christopher to pummel him and steal his possessions, ultimately costing Dolan everything but the shirt off his back. From then on, Dolan is resentful and afraid of Chris, but Chris doesn't seem to notice.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead:
    • A variation Tony once notes that despite the hostility his mother held for his father when he was alive, she's viewed him as a saint ever since his death. Livia, however, is mostly directly invoking the idea for manipulative persons (usually comparing Tony to his father to himself or somebody else, or calling herself a victim for being deprived of him and stuck with the living).
    • Subverted when Livia dies. At first, everyone is mourning her death and consoling her family. However, Carmela eventually calls her a sick and twisted woman when they try to think of good things about Livia, and everyone remembers that she was a senile old woman who was generally unpleasant.
  • 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.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Lou Di Maggio and the Atwell Avenue Boys. The whole scene involving them is genuinely disturbing.
  • 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 Bisexuals: Despite Vito Spatafore having a wife, children, and mistress he is viewed by everyone as exclusively gay when it becomes apparent that he secretly sleeps with men on the side. The word "bisexual" is never even mentioned throughout the entire story arc. Although, a least partially Justified by the fact that mobsters wouldn't have the most nuanced view of sexuality, and anything less than 100% stereotypical macho heteronormativity would be viewed as "gay" by them, in an earlier episode it's revealed that even performing oral sex on a woman is considered potential evidence of homosexuality.
  • 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 Dead Body Poops: Averted during the suicide of Eugene Pontecorvo, who also gets A Death in the Limelight.
  • No Ending: Probably the most notorious example. Take a look at 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.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
    • The DiMeos were based on the Real Life DeCavalcante crime family, which controls much of central New Jersey (South New Jersey is part of the Philly Mob's turf, while northern New Jersey is controlled by the Five Families, especially the Genovese and Lucchese families).
    • Ercole "Eckley" DiMeo, the crime family's namesake, was based on Simone "Samuel" DeCavalcante, who was nicknamed "Sam the Plumber" because he owned and operated a heating and plumbing company in Kenilworth, NJ. But he loathed that nickname and preferred to be called "the Count" because he often claimed that he was of Blue Blood.
    • Tony Soprano was based on real-life New Jersey mobster Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo, who later became the DeCavalcante crime family's acting boss (acting on behalf of Giovanni Riggi) before becoming an FBI informant in 2003. Elements of Sam DeCavalcante were also added to Tony Soprano.
    • Corrado "Junior" Soprano was based on Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi, who became boss of the DeCavalcante crime family after Sam DeCavalcante stepped down in 1982.
  • No Name Given: Tony is seen on dates and in bed several times with a blond, Scandinavian flight attendant who is never referred to by name and always credited as "Miss Reykjavik."
  • Nominal Hero: Tony Soprano is a con artist, a thug, a womanizer, a thief, a murderer, an extortionist, and an adulterer. But the things separating him from a Villain Protagonist are his genuine love for his family, kindness to his friends, occasional pangs of guilt and moments of vulnerability, and the fact that his friends (and enemies) are even worse than he is. It actually makes him seem like a milder case of the trope... and then he loses much of it by Season 6B and the finale.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Steve Van Zandt is primarily a musician. Silvio was his first acting role (it gets somewhat resumed in Lilyhammer). Van Zandt also served as a music consultant for the show and picked songs for the soundtrack from time to time.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Despite being a Mafia Princess, Meadow works for a time as a social worker: hardly good pay, and you work with the poor.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used To Be: A running theme. Tony often laments that the then-current Mafia (the late 90s/early 00s) is nothing like it used to be. He imagines the mob in the days of his father (mid to late 70s), picturing loyal mobsters who would never turn state's evidence and instead just take their prison sentences like "real men", as a period where the mob was "honorable" and well respected by the community. Flashbacks indicate that if anything, his father's day was just as bad or even worse.
  • Nostalgia Filter: A common theme is various gangsters missing the good old days, when the Mafia had more power, men were more honorable and acted like "the strong, silent type". The flashbacks we see make it clear that men like Johnny Boy and Junior were as bad, probably worse, than the current generation.
  • 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.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: In "Marco Polo", a revered (and rather snooty) erudite named Dr. Russ Fegoli attends the 75th birthday of Carmella's father Hugh. Tony, upon meeting him:
    Tony: A doctor in the house, huh? That’s good ‘cause someone usually goes down at these things.
    Mary: He's just joking!
    Fegoli: Unfortunately, my doctorate is in International Affairs.
    Tony: So your a doctor like Kissinger’s a doctor?
    Fegoli: Yes.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Old mafia widow Livia Soprano engineers a hit on her son Tony, and though she is definitely somewhat senile, it's heavily implied that she's playing it up to give herself some plausible deniability after the plan fails.
  • Oblivious to Hints: Robert Wegler, a school official Carmela is having an affair with, calls her for sexy talk when Tony is standing a few feet away in the kitchen. He ignores some pretty obvious brush-off attempts on her part.
  • Oedipus Complex: Tony has an Oedipus complex relating to his mother, and it is repeatedly shown to impact his relationships with other women in his life.
  • Off on a Technicality: After Dr. Melfi is raped, her rapist is immediately arrested and then set free on a technicality. In the end, the doctor chooses to allow him to remain a Karma Houdini rather than call in some Soprano Justice.
  • Off the Wagon:
    • Chris relapses several times over the course of the series.
    • Vito starts eating unhealthy food and smoking again after going on the run. He also stops ordering "hot water with lemon" and goes back to coffee. Part of the problem is that he falls in love with a short-order cook and orders big, unhealthy breakfasts to spend time with him.
  • Offing the Mouth: While Jackie and two accomplices are robbing the Pontecorvo poker game at gunpoint, dealer Sunshine heckles them in an attempt to make them leave. Jackie shoots him, which mostly seems to be an act of panic.
  • Offing the Offspring: Tony's mother tried to do this.
  • Offscreen Inertia:
    • The ending of the series. Complete with soundtrack.
    • Uncle Junior gets his hand stuck in the drain of the kitchen sink. Near the end of the episode, we discover that Uncle Junior never got his hand unstuck, and has been standing in the kitchen for an entire day.
  • 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 realizes he's just ordered Tony Soprano's potential future son-in-law to clean dog mess off his tires.
  • Once a Season:
    • At some point in the season, Tony will walk to the front of his house in his bathrobe to pick up the newspaper, usually in the first episode.
    • One episode per season to showcase Tony's dream sequences.
    • In every season, even seasons where his storyline is not particularly prominent, everything will stop so we can focus on Christopher. Other characters receive episodes featuring them prominently but most of these episodes focus almost solely on Christopher's development or he is at least most central to the storyline:
      • Season 1: "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti"
      • Season 2:" D-Girl" and to a certain extent "Full Leather Jacket"
      • Season 3: Fortunate Son
      • Season 4: This one's debatable but the season premiere and "The Strong Silent Type" are the prime candidates.
      • Season 5: "Long Term Parking"
      • Season 6 part 1: "The Ride"
      • Season 6 part 2: "Walk Like a Man"
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Opinion-Changing Dream: Several characters have opinion-changing dreams. Tony has one about Big Pussy which finally forces him to confront the truth that he had betrayed them, and has another after being seriously wounded that lasts several episodes.
  • Outdated Outfit: Tony Blundetto went to prison in The '80s. It shows.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Paulie's habit of repeating his jokes is a funnier quirk on its own.
  • Pac Man Fever: "Meadowlands" has Tony coming in to find A.J. playing Mario Kart 64 and then joins him in the race. We get the correct sounds, there is a cartridge in the Nintendo 64 and they consistently stay on the same track (Luigi Circuit); A.J. does a bit of button-mashing, but not too egregious. A.J. does mention to Tony that he should "watch out for the ghosts" and, while ghosts are one of the weaker items (and a non-avoidable one), they do at least exist in the game. To really nitpick, they complete all three laps of Luigi Circuit in some 20 seconds (though the time shown on the screen shows a more realistic 2 minutes 27 seconds)! All in all a pretty faithful representation of Mario Kart on TV. Oh, did I mention that Tony holds the N64 controller one-handed, using the central grip, only moving the analog stick?
  • Parking Garage: Dr. Melfi is raped in one.
  • Papa Wolf: All of the mobsters get very violent when their children are threatened. It's also an enforced trope in the mobster world, as mobsters are expected to get murderous when their children are in any way threatened. Janice criticizes her Gentle Giant husband Bobby for not beating up a carnival ride owner for endangering their daughter, causing Bobby to seek him out and deliver a beating after the fact. At other times, mobsters will use real or perceived threats to their children as an excuse to make business moves or take out rivals.
  • 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 trigger 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 Christopher 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 decides 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 decides 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 an accessory to some violent extortions, but he is unaffected.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In "Commendatori", Paulie Walnuts deals with a recalcitrant DVD player with what his Army Signal Corps training referred to as a "brogan adjustment". It works about as well as you'd expect a Paulie Walnuts plan to work.
  • Perilous Marriage Proposal: Christopher's proposal to Adriana is bad for both of them, though ultimately much worse for her. It already takes place in perilous circumstances; she's already broken up with him for his physical and emotional abuse. Her mother warns her that if she takes Christopher back, she won't be able to come back when it (inevitably) goes wrong again, but she says yes anyway. All of that happens, and then right after the proposal, Christopher gets betrayed and shot (though he does recover with Adriana caring for him). This also turns out to foreshadow exactly how bad her engagement to Christopher would be for Adriana, which ultimately led to her being recruited as an FBI informant because she was Christopher's fiancée, suffering years of mental anguish, being increasingly physically abused as he descended into drug addiction, and being betrayed by Christopher and murdered when he found out she was an informant, all the while holding onto her Tragic Dream that they would get married.
  • Perverted Sniffing: In "Second Opinion", newly "made" man Christopher receives a surprise, late-night visit at his apartment from his immediate superior in the crime family Paulie Walnuts and Patsy Parisi. The two gangsters comb through Chris and his girlfriend Adriana's belongings to cherry-pick Christopher's stolen swag. Chris catches Paulie taking a mighty sniff of a pair of panties from Adriana's lingerie drawer.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally. One of Tony's few virtues is a love of animals. It 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.
  • Picky Eater: In "Members Only," Silvio is unimpressed with Artie's table rolls at Nuovo Vesuvio.
    Silvio: Where'd he get this bread? The bread museum?
  • 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 a "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.
  • Plot Hole: In Season 1, Livia's house is sold by Tony and she is told about it in no uncertain terms, an event which plays a major part in making her angry and colluding with Junior to take Tony out. Come Season 2 and the house is only "on the market", and eventually inhabited by Janice and Livia again.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 eviler). 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 (1931), the film cited by Creator David Chase as one of his major influences building the main characters.
  • Posthumous Character: "Johnny Boy" Soprano (a.k.a. Tony's father) plays an important role in several characters' backstories and appears in numerous flashbacks, but has already been dead for years by the time the series begins. Jackie Aprile, while alive at the beginning, dies of cancer after a few episodes and only a few minutes of screen time, but continues to be talked about by his friends, family, and associates throughout the series.
  • 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.
  • Product Placement:
    • If characters aren't drinking alcohol at the dinner table, they'll almost invariably have Coca-Cola or Diet Coke.
    • Tony frequently fetches and drinks Tropicana orange juice from the fridge. He even argues with Carmela that he prefers the variety with "some pulp." In some scenes, a carton is simply sitting out on the kitchen counter.
    • One must wonder whether Mercedes-Benz paid for the season three plot line where Tony has an affair with a Benz saleswoman. The cars are prominently featured and the company is brought up frequently as a high-end brand.
    • In season 5, Tony buys Tony B a new cell phone. One of his contacts asks, "Is that the new Motorola?" Tony replies, "Yeah, it's supposed to be the best." When Tony calls Tony B, he makes a pretense of asking about how the phone is working. Tony says that the signal is great even though he's in his mother's basement. What a phone!
    • Tony buys AJ a Nissan SUV and crows about how it's top of the line and has Nissan's "triple safety philosophy.
    • Tony spends a whole scene fawning over Johnny Sack's new Maserati, with Sack supplying a variety of technical details about the car.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Paulie is a servile brown noser who shows his true allegiance the minute his boss Tony gets indisposed.
  • Protection Racket: Played with in the final season. One of the family's minor protected businesses folds and is replaced with a Brand X Starbucks. Patsy Parisi and one of his guys go in to try this routine on the new manager. The manager recognizes what they are doing, but in an almost sympathetic tone he points out that the company is a billion-dollar multinational with complete insurance so they won't care — or even notice — if the place is vandalized. What's more, every single bean is in the computer so he can't even cave under personal threats, since if he started skimming for the mob he'd be fired immediately and a new manager brought in. The two mobsters leave, complaining about the state of modern business and how tough things have gotten for 'the little guy'. The episode ends with Tony Soprano himself selling one of his buildings in Newark to Jamba Juice who push out the current tenant to install a franchise, and when Patsy learns about that he wonders what is even happening to the city.
  • 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.
  • Punch a Wall: In "Whitecaps", after Carmela reveals to Tony that she has been secretly in love with Furio for months. He then punches the wall behind her several times in anger.
  • 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, and Junior made several appearances in his psychiatric hospital.
  • Put on a Prison Bus: In season five, Feech La Manna is released after nearly twenty years in prison. As a sign of respect and as a reward for not snitching, Tony allows him to collect money from various illegal activities. However, Feech stills sees Tony as a kid, completely ignores Tony's status as the boss, and begins to cause headaches. First, he breaks the arm of landscaper Salvatore Vitro to force him to give up some of his routes. Vitro is forced to go to Tony for help and ultimately suffers enough financial difficulty that he has to pull his son from college and landscape both Tony and Johnny Sack's large homes for free. Feech apologizes to Tony and pledges his respect, but when he hears Dr. Ira Fried speak of his daughter's lavish, expensive wedding he organizes a mass hijacking of the guests' expensive cars, causing more headaches for Tony. Because he cannot have such a respected gangster killed, Tony has to resort to alternative means to get him out of the way. To do this, he has Chris and Benny trick Feech into storing stolen plasma televisions in his garage, then they tip off his parole officer. The last scene of Feech in the series is him on the bus to prison, catching as much of the outside world as he can before he returns to prison for the rest of his life.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Nice-guy mobster Bobby Baccalieri has a big interest in trains and can be seen building and playing with model trains in his garage (sometimes while dressed as a conductor). He gets made fun of for this hobby and he is eventually killed while buying a model train at a hobby shop.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: During a period while Tony has had a falling out with Dr. Melfi, he briefly tries to enlist Hesh as a surrogate, but it doesn't work since everything Tony tries to confide just gets Hesh started on a rambling anecdote.
  • Rambunctious Italian: Tony Soprano is an aggressive, belligerent, and short-tempered Italian-American.
  • 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.
    • Phil Leotardo, one of the most depraved mobsters in the series, attempted to have a rookie FBI agent gang raped and beaten. This is one of the reasons that Harris decides to team up with Tony to take Phil down.
  • 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.
  • Reaction Shot: One explanation for the abrupt cut-to-black ending is that the final scene builds up a pattern of reaction shots establishing that we are seeing Tony being whacked, from Tony's point of view.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The series generally avoids non-diegetic music. When it does appear, it's always very noticeable, and the most dramatic scenes tend to be music-free.
  • 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 was unfortunately born into the Mafia life.
    • Furio's Eurotrashy silk shirts, due to being a mobster raised in Italy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: During his intervention, Christopher responds to the criticism of his drug habit by calling out Tony, Sil, and Paulie for their own screw-ups.
  • 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 (who also fits the physical description he was given) 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, now actively working as an informant behind Tony's back, before he too is found out and killed by Tony, Paulie, and Sal.
  • Redemption Rejection:
  • 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.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Chris's sobriety makes him drift apart from his pals, as the Bada Bing and other workplaces 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.
  • Relationship Reveal: Christopher has a new girlfriend, Kaisha; he tells his boss Tony that he's never brought her around because he doesn't want to deal with the racism of the other Mafiosi. A couple of scenes later, we realize he was lying; his girlfriend is actually Julianna, the hot realtor that Tony has been unsuccessfully trying to hook up with.
  • Released to Elsewhere: Appears to be played straight with Tony, though it's subverted in that his father actually does send the dog to live with a nice family.
    Tony: Father told me he took him to live on a farm.
    Bobby: That's what they always say. That same farm must have 17 billion dogs on it. Dogshit up to the rafters.
  • 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:
    • Eugene Pontecorvo requests a resignation from the mob to retire to Florida after getting a hefty inheritance from his aunt. Tony brings up omerta and disallows Pontecorvo's retirement. It also turns out that Eugene is an FBI informant, and they also disallow his retirement, insisting that he continue to spy on the mob.
    • Tony tells Dr. Melfi on a few occasions that for a guy in his position, the only way out is prison or a bullet in the head.
    • In "Another Toothpick," Bobby Bacala's father is called out of retirement to carry out a hit.
      Bobby: I'm worried about my father - he can't do this! He's been retired seven years!
      Junior: What's this we're in, the Navy?
      • Later in the episode:
      Junior: You choose this life, it comes with responsibility. No one knows that better than your old man.
  • Retired Monster: How some of the older members of the mob end their careers - the lucky ones. Then again, Uncle Junior's gradual descent into dementia, eventually rendering him a frail, senile husk of his former self condemned to spend the remainder of his life in a dank state-run facility unable to even recognize his family or recall his own accomplishments is one of the most depressing and haunting plotlines in the show.
  • Retirony: Tony points out to Christopher a man enjoying his retirement party in the nearby restaurant as being the Corrupt Cop who murdered his father. When an understandably incensed Christopher asks him why he's only just now being told this, Tony explains the man has been useful. Until tonight, of course.
  • Revealing Hug: Chris and Tony — whose relation is falling over — seem to cordially embrace during a baptism, but without any words, their chilling stares powerfully convey a primal fear and a bitter disappointment.
  • Revealing Injury: Tony Blundetto is identified as the killer of Joey Peeps after witnesses claimed Peeps' killer ran away with a limp. Blundetto received the injury when Peeps' car ran over his foot.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • What makes "Pine Barrens" such a well-known episode. What the hell did happen to that Russian mobster?
    • What happened to Tony in "Made in America" after there was a Smash to Black? According to Matt Servitto, the scene was at least meant to be less ambiguous with his character coming out of the bathroom and walking towards Tony. Still doesn't explain if he was going to kill him or if he just wanted to talk to him.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The dynamics between Tony, Phil, and agent Harris in the last episode are identical to the DeVecchio FBI case. link.
  • Road Apples: Ralph purchases a racehorse. His mistress, Valentina La Paz, tricks him into stepping into horse manure; partly as a prank to make her and the others laugh and partly because according to superstition, accidentally stepping in horse dung is a sign of good luck.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank:
    • In "46 Long", Christopher and Brendan Filone start hijacking trucks. The owner of the trucks pays Junior for protection and Junior orders them to stop, but their need to feed their drug addictions forces them to continue. After a driver is accidentally killed, Junior orders retaliation against them. Brendan is killed in his bathtub while Christopher is subject to a mock execution.
    • In "Amour Fou", Jackie Aprile Jr. and his idiot stoner friends rob a mob poker game, trying to replicate the legendary stunt that marked out Jackie Sr. and Tony for greatness. Unfortunately, they mess it up, wound Furio (a made man), and kill a bystander, and Jackie's stepdad doesn't shield them the way Tony's father and uncle did, and they are swiftly killed in retaliation.
  • Rogue Juror: Implied when Uncle Junior is on trial. Some of June's associates find one of the jurors (buying candy for his son, no less) and gently inform him that they know where he lives. In the next episode, the jury is hung with a single holdout, leading to a mistrial — and that poor juror is hated by all the others.
  • 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 Gangbangers 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 himself.
  • Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven 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."
    • Ralph is obsessed with the movie Gladiator, notes he's seen it many, many times, and quotes from it endlessly. In a bit of Hypocritical Humor, the other mobsters roll their eyes at him even though they do the same thing with mafia movies. AJ shares Ralph's fondness for the movie, at least.
  • 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.
  • Serious Business: Junior ends his relationship with his girlfriend (who he quite genuinely loves) and comes within a hair's breadth of physically abusing her after he realizes that she told her friends he was performing oral sex on her. He told her not to, and she tried to keep it a secret, but she let it slip, and it ended up trickling down to Tony, who used it to mock his uncle. This utterly baffles Junior's poor girlfriend, who can't understand why it's such a big deal. It doesn't help that Junior's explanation is that the people he hangs out with consider a man going down a woman evidence that he's actually gay.
  • Sexposition: There are numerous scenes where The Mafia is 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 cast member 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 of 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 favor. Christopher casually points out that Tony can't refuse, as the whole thing is identical to the one from The Godfather; Tony corrects him by telling him it's the other way around, the father of the bride is the one who cannot refuse.
    • There's another nod to The Godfather when Tony visits an undertaker to discuss Livia's funeral. The undertaker even offers to use "all my powers, all my skills..."
    • 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, especially 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?"
  • Shown Their Work: The writers carefully researched the ways in which mobsters controlled and laundered their money in order to make Tony Soprano as realistic as possible, and they employed New York Assistant District Attorney Dan Castleman to advise them on this issue. When Castleman was asked how much they had decided Tony would really be worth, he stated that it was roughly $5-6 million, an amount that fluctuated, of course, because of Tony's substantial gambling problem.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Distinguished 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.
  • Situational Sexuality:
    • The prison variant is discussed during one of Tony's therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi. Turns out you get a pass on that in the Sicilian mafia, but actively seeking out men outside of prison is crossing a line for them.
      Tony: Well, what are you gonna do? There's no women there! You're there five, ten years! [beat] Just for the record, my incarceration was very short term, so I never had any need for any anal— you know. (...) You think I'm lying, don't you?
    • The very homophobic Phil Leotardo, who did twenty fucking years in the can, very pointedly mentions that he always "jerked off in a tissue" whenever he wanted to be with a woman. The Suspiciously Specific Denial nature of this line, along with a Visual Pun where Phil literally emerges from a motel closet, has led some viewers to suspect that Phil had some sort of sexual encounter with a fellow inmate and is projecting his self-hatred onto Vito Spatafore.
  • 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 Versus 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.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: With a few twists and turns in the earlier seasons, but played straight towards the end of the series.
    • Season 1 gives us Junior and his second, Mikey Palmice. They're dangerous and have some nebulous backing from New York, but Junior lacks his own capos' support and is unseated easily once he blows his chance to assassinate Tony. Mikey and Junior's other key players are whacked, and Junior himself is undone by an incidental ploy that marked him as the family's Fall Guy.
    • Season 2 introduces Richie Aprile, a brutal mobster who sours on Tony's leadership and conspires with the deposed Junior to get rid of him. As cruel and personally formidable as Richie is, he's not powerful or charismatic enough to garner sufficient support for a coup, and Junior decides to side with Tony instead. He's ultimately killed during a completely unrelated domestic dispute.
    • Season 3 muddies things with Ralph Cifaretto, who is more depraved and erratic than his predecessors but much lower on the Mafia totem pole; an overthrow is never seriously on the cards. It's as much a personal feud between Ralph and Tony as it is a mob dispute; Tony despises Ralph and knows he can be rid of him at any time, but has to take Mafia customs into family politics into account. Tony chooses to give him a pardon, and the two seem to bury the hatchet... for now. His machinations spur Big Bad Wannabe Jackie Jr. on a destructive course, but all the kid manages to do is to get himself killed.
    • Season 4 takes an introspective turn, with No Antagonist until the end of the season, when Carmine Lupertazzi positions himself as Tony's major foe. Things do get messy, but the two bosses settle things amicably; their conflict is more a taste of what's to come than a real war.
    • Season 5 brings New York to the fore, firmly casting Johnny Sack as the Big Bad and his brutal right-hand Phil Leotardo as The Dragon. An escalating Enemy Civil War also spills over into Jersey, when Tony Blundetto turns rogue agent and murders two well-connected New York guys, including Phil's beloved younger brother, but Tony S is able to tentatively placate his opponents by killing his cousin.
    • Season 6 dives into an all-out Mob War, with Phil's ascension to the boss. More savage and ruthless than any of Tony's prior enemies, Phil decapitates most of the Jersey crew's leadership when things go sour between him and Tony, before finally being undone by an Enemy Mine between Tony and FBI agent Harris.
  • 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:
  • Spooky Painting: Tony is sufficiently unsettled by the dreary-looking painting of a barn outside Melfi's office to accuse her of deliberately placing it there to fuck with him.
  • 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 comes 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 frustrated 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.
  • Stupid Crooks: A few of the younger mobsters prove themselves ill-suited to the life through sheer stupidity and terrible decision-making.
    • Brendan Filone, warned multiple times to behave himself, can't help but disrespect those who command actual respect and has the bright idea to screw with the acting boss of the family. Junior eventually has enough and has him shot in the bath.
    • Matt and Sean, two overambitious imbeciles attached to Christopher, hedge all the wrong bets and fail miserably to endear themselves to Tony. They then get the absurd idea to whack the boss' nephew as a "favor" to another mobster, who doesn't like Chris. The hit is a total failure and leaves one of them dead anyway, and all it does it mark the other for death. Even Richie, guilty himself of dipping into this trope where drugs are concerned, is aghast at how utterly idiotic this plan was (not least of all because it could see him dead, too, if Tony believes he had something to do with it).
    • Jackie Jr., the late boss' son, throws his weight around and invokes his revered father's name to get his way. He's a fine soldier, but lacks the brains for the boss-like image he'd like to cultivate; he is manipulated by Ralphie into robbing a card game, with fatal consequences.
  • Stylistic Suck: Christopher's screenplay for Made Man in Season 1 is riddled with spelling errors. Even Adriana calls him out in it.
  • 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 payphones, and avoids talking shop inside his house, but he is vulnerable in the noisy basement. The bug has 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 a 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 rumors 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 Award 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?"
    • In "Kaisha," Chris offers to watch a DVD of Get Rich or Die Tryin' with his goomar:
    Chris: They were giving it away at the car wash.
  • 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 Ally Boy Barese 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.
  • Thicker Than Water: Family is a key theme of the show, and the importance of blood and marriage is played in every which way. Tony and Christopher's relationship is the premier example, although their actual blood ties are a bit vague (an FBI agent has to pick Adriana's brain to make sense of it: Chris is Carmela's cousin by blood, and Tony's honourary nephew... but Ade claims they're actual cousins too through extended family). Tony trusts and favors Christopher over more proven and competent underlings, as their familial bond ensures his loyalty. In theory, at least — Christopher's constant fuck ups and poor judgment eventually torpedo Tony's plan to groom him as an heir.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Some of the minor characters are positively suicidal. For example:
    • In season 2, Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte, 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. Sean is killed by Christopher in self-defense during the attack when his seatbelt jams, while Matt gets hunted down and butchered by Tony. It doesn't even succeed in impressing Richie, who Hot-Blooded as he may be, sees immediately how stupid it is and chases Matt off for fear of being connected to the hit.
    • 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 Dream:
    • Adriana has her dream to get married and have kids with Christopher. It's pretty clear to the observer that this won't end well, given that Christopher is extremely violent to her. And Adriana has stated fertility problems, and then she flips and turns informant. She still holds out hope that she and Christopher will run away together, and he seems to briefly consider it...then he tells Tony.
    • Carmela has her hope that the intelligent Meadow will become a doctor, giving her mainstream social respect and putting her out of the mob's reach. Then, after some back-and-forth where it seems like it might come true, Meadow opts instead to be a lawyer, putting her right back in the mob's pocket.
  • 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 for 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.
    • In season 2 David Scatino's brother-in-law, and Melfi's therapist, try to talk them into going to addiction programs for gambling and alcohol respectively, but are unsuccessful.
  • 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 an obese woman whom he loves deeply and does not cheat on.
  • Undignified Death: Gigi Cestone, who suffers a heart attack while constipated on the toilet and surrounded by porn magazines.
  • Unfortunate Names: Phil Leotardo openly complains that his legal family name used to be "Leonardo," as 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 Unreveal: 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 like 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 its ranks. It can still produce a lot of damage to society, though.
  • Villain Eats Your Lunch: "Doc" Santoro takes a piece of food off Phil Leotardo's plate during a meeting. Leotardo is so offended that he has him whacked.
  • Villain of Another Story: Tony's crew sometimes has to deal with similar mafia organizations, particularly the Lupertazzi family in New York. Sometimes allies and sometimes rivals, the Lupertazzis are indicated to be much larger and have a much wider reach than Tony does but their criminal empire never really comes into focus since they're not the main characters. Even within the Soprano family itself, most of the characters we see are upper management (bosses, underbosses, capos, and consiglieres), while most of the soldiers are out doing their own thing and kicking money upstairs.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tony's panic attacks are triggered by repressed phobias, thoughts, 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, is 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.
  • Visual Pun: In Season 6A, "Members Only," Junior has Tony digging holes in his backyard to try to find a buried stash of cash. Junior can't remember the exact location, either due to his dementia, or he has in fact invented the money ever being there, so he has holes in his memory.
  • 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 by 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."
    • "I used to fuck your husband."
    • From the season 2 finale: "You know I've been working with the government, right, Ton'?" It was heavily implied since about halfway through the first season, though, and this is in an Acid Reflux Nightmare where a fish is speaking in Pussy's voice; the wham isn't in the confirmation that Pussy is The Mole, but rather in Tony finally admitting as much to himself.
    • "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.
    • Phil has two when he escalates the conflict to unprecedented levels:
  • 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 realizes 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 and 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... 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.
  • The Worf Effect: Happens both out of and in-universe when Tony comes back after his near-death experience and worries that his men will see him as weak. He visually examines each of his soldiers and settles on the hulking Perry Anunziato (a brand-new character) as the strongest, then beats him up to show that he's still strong.
  • World of Jerkass: Even for a show about the mafia, it's easier to name the characters who aren't reprehensible assholes.
  • 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 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 an 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?:

Alternative Title(s): Sopranos


Don't stop-

The infamous ending of The Sopranos, cutting to black in mid-sentence.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SmashToBlack

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