Tony Soprano’s Greatest Moments

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During any debate over the all-time greatest TV character, there will be certain names that always crop up. The likes of President Jed Bartlet and Tyrion Lannister have to be up there, likewise Don Draper and Walter White. However pipping them all to the accolade for me is New Jersey’s finest, Tony Soprano. Across six engrossing seasons, James Gandolfini’s delivered a performance like no other. Powerful, brutal and troubled, he is a man torn between two families as he battles depression, loses friends, gains enemies and tries to keep his misdemeanours secret. Tony’s arc is expertly plotted by show runner David Chase, as this violent criminal and loving family man tries to do right by those who rely on him. Here is just a small selection of Tony’s finest moments:

*WARNING : SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!!*


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Tony kills the rat: S1 E5 “College”

One of the show’s finest ever episodes sees Tony taking Meadow to look at colleges in the North East only for him to face the prospect of his two worlds colliding when he sees a former rat who had been placed in witness protection. Gandolfini was on fire in this episode, showing both a compassionate father batting of questions from his daughter over his links to organised crime, and a brutal killer who refused to let sleeping dogs lie. Tony hunts the rat down and takes violent revenge for his crimes against the crew. The two sides of Tony Soprano perfectly epitomised.

Tony fights off two hitmen: S1 E12 “Isabella”

Tony is suffering from severe depression at this stage of the first season and along with his increased medication intake, it’s leaving him at a low ebb as he struggles to get out of bed. His ongoing rivalry with Uncle Junior is causing him nothing but stress and when his uncle hires hitmen to take him out, we fear the worst. However as the two assailants attack, it invigorates Toy and he snaps out of his funk and in a visceral sequence fights off two men and makes a brief getaway before crashing his car. This was Tony’s moment of clarity, as his primal instincts kicked in and he reminded us all just how badass he can be when called upon.

Tony and Big Pussy get some revenge : S2 E9 “From Where To Eternity”

Tony’s relationship with cousin Christopher is a complex one, ranging from deep affection to extreme frustration. Tony gets exacerbated by Christopher’s frequent protestations and regularly loses his temper with him, but woe betide any other man who tries to hurt his family. After Big Pussy comes to him with news on the whereabouts of the man who was responsible for Chris’s shooting in Season 2, the pair of them set off in pursuit. Once they catch up with him, Tony mercilessly intimidates the unfortunate soul and after tormenting him for a short while he summarily kills him in empathic fashion. It was a big risk for Tony to have a hand in this execution himself, but it demonstrated his protective nature and underlined that his loved ones were not to be messed with.

Tony kills Ralphie: S4 E9 “Whoever Did This”

Of all the characters to get under Tony’s skin on the show, perhaps none deserved a bloody ending more so than Ralph Cifaretto. A generally all round terrible human being, Ralphie had long deserved his comeuppance and it was no surprise that it proved to be Tony who delivered it. After Tony’s beloved horse dies in a fire that may or may not have been started by Ralphie, Tony goes to talk to him and the pair soon end up fighting. Tony’s rage is truly terrifying, his affection for his horse eclipsing all reason as he snaps and delivers a brutal beating ending with him strangling a helpless Ralphie on the kitchen floor. Tony shows his brute strength and short temper here, a dangerous combination which reared its head on many occasions.

Showing he’s still the boss: S6 E5 “Mr and Mrs John Sacrimoni Request”

After spending some time recovering from a gunshot wound, Tony returns to the day-to-day running of his crew and begins to sense they may not see him as the same untouchable leader he once was. He decides to stamp his authority back on the group by picking a fight with the biggest soldier in the room. He starts an argument on the flimsiest pretext and then proceeds to beat his minion to the ground. It’s a vicious act but it’s one that reasserts his dominance over the group and shows once more why he is a leader to be feared. As the soldier is led away a bloody mess, Tony retires to the bathroom, flashes the mirror a sadistic grin then begins to vomit. He’s still not a well man, but in his crew’s eyes, he’s back in charge.

Saving AJ: S6 E19 “The Second Coming”

This moment in one of the shows final episodes was one of the most powerful scenes in its entire run. We’ve witnessed AJ struggling with mental health issues for a while now but it was still a shock to see him attempt to commit suicide in the family pool by jumping in with a bag over his head and his foot tied to a cinder block. After regretting his decision at the last second, he’s struggling to stay above the surface when Tony arrives home. At this point the tough guy façade just melts away and Tony shows he’s just like any other loving parent when it comes to protecting their children. After he dives in to rescue AJ and lies there cradling him in his arms, we see just how much his kids mean to him. This scene was an absolute masterclass form Gandolfini, the blend of anger, confusion and sheer panic on his face is gripping to watch.

(Photo Credit : HBO)

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