Anthony John Soprano, Sr., played by James Gandolfini, is a fictional character on the HBO TV series The Sopranos. The series' exceedingly complex protagonist, he is the only character to appear in every episode of the show. He is the De facto Boss of the DiMeo Crime Family.
Tony has to juggle northern New Jersey's most powerful criminal organization, keeping it functioning properly and keeping dissonance to a minimum. The relationship between Tony and his uncle, Corrado Soprano, (better known as Junior Soprano), was very close for many years, with Junior acting as a father figure for Tony following the death of Giovanni Soprano, Tony's father. However, the relationship was strained when a disgruntled Junior became more and more marginalized in the organization as the FBI's investigation into his activities increased. He had Brendan Filone killed, which infuriated Tony. Furthermore, he conspired with Tony's own mother, Livia Soprano, to have Tony killed (although the hit failed).
Despite a level of local notoriety, Tony has represented himself publicly as a waste management consultant to Barone Sanitation, one of the many fronts for his criminal enterprises. Tony had been using his putative nephew Christopher Moltisanti as a buffer between him and his capos during the past two seasons in order to insulate himself from the FBI. This subterfuge ended when Moltisanti was killed by Tony after an automobile accident. Bobby Baccalieri was being groomed as Moltisanti's replacement until he was killed by Phil Leotardo's hitmen when the Lupertazzi Crime Family launched a war against the DiMeo Crime Family. Tony managed to strike a truce with Phil's underlings, however, and after Phil is assassinated, Tony returns safely to his criminal enterprise. He is last shown having dinner with his family at the famous Holsten's restaurant in New Jersey, though the possibility of a criminal indictment, thanks to a gun charge and testimony from Carlo Gervasi, looms over his head. A patron in Holsten's credited as "Man in Members Only Jacket" ominously looks twice in Tony's direction and then walks past Tony's booth to the bathroom. With the song Don't Stop Believing playing in the background, the scene stops after his daughter Meadow approaches the restaurant and he simply looks up at the door with a simple stare; the blank screen continues for ten seconds before the credits. This ending's significance has been a subject of heavy discussion whether he was actually killed in the restaurant or not.
Tony was born on August 24, 1960, to Livia and "Johnny Boy" Soprano. Tony grew up living with his mother, father, and two sisters Janice and Barbara in the Ironbound in Newark, New Jersey. His father was always involved in crime and Tony recalls some of his activities in flashbacks on the show.
A young Tony has been portrayed by several actors. Bobby Boriello played Tony in the episode "Down Neck" when he had his first panic attack, prompted by seeing his father mutilate the hand of a pork store owner and then his mother's intense pleasure at receiving free meat.
Tony's Uncle Corrado (Junior) Soprano lived nearby and worked with Johnny Boy closely when Tony was a child.
In another flashback sequence, Tony recalled his father's relationship with his older sister, Janice, and his use of her as a cover for attending meetings with criminal associates at a children's fair. At the time, Tony thought Janice was his father's favorite child. In therapy, when asked to remember happy childhood memories about his mother, Tony struggled to come up with any; he later described her as a joyless woman who wore his father down "to a little nub." Tony also has a mostly unfriendly relationship with Janice because she always asking him for money and once tried to sell Livia's house for sale by herself. Tony also had to deal with her previous boyfriend Richie Aprile, after Janice killed him.
Tony went to high school with Artie Bucco and Davey Scatino and remained friends with them into later life. It was in high school he met his future bride, Carmela DeAngelis. Tony was also close to his cousin Tony Blundetto, and neighborhood kids used to call them Tony Uncle-Al and Tony Uncle-Johnny after their fathers to tell them apart.
In their teenage years, the two Tonys spent summers at their Uncle Pat Blundetto's farm — Pat was a soldier in the DiMeo organization. They were sometimes joined by their younger cousin Christopher Moltisanti, whom they bullied. Tony B was arrested for his part in a hijacking when the two Tonys were young men. Tony S was supposed to join Tony B on the job but failed to because of a panic attack; at the time, he told people he'd been attacked by a couple of "mulignans" and injured. Tony also attended Seton Hall University for a semester and a half before dropping out.
Tony was part of an unofficial crew of young criminals consisting of Silvio Dante, Ralph Cifaretto and Jackie Aprile, Sr Tony gained notoriety in the DiMeo crime family by robbing a card game run by Feech La Manna along with Silvio and Jackie. From then on, he was on a fast track to becoming a made man. He committed his first murder on Labor Day 1982.
His father shepherded Tony through his ascendancy until his death in 1986 from emphysema. When he died, Johnny Boy had risen to the level of captain of his own crew — as had his brother Junior. Junior took over the paternal role and continued to advise and assist Tony. Tony remembers having to buy expensive dinners for Richie Aprile as a newly made man. Soldiers from Johnny Boy's crew, Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero and Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri, passed their loyalty on to Tony, and he became capo of his father's old crew. Old friend Silvio Dante joined him in the group.
By 1995, Tony was a well-respected Capo in the organization when the boss of the family, Eckley DiMeo, was sent to prison. Tony's longtime friend and fellow captain Jackie Aprile, Sr. took on the role of acting boss in December 1995. With DiMeo in prison, Aprile became the official Acting Boss of the family.
Under Jackie's wise and respected rule, the DiMeo Family was peaceful and prosperous until 1998. Jackie was diagnosed with intestinal cancer early in the year, and the family slowly descended into turmoil. With Jackie in and out of the hospital, and as such not able to fully run the family, Tony began to take on many of his duties, much to Uncle Junior's chagrin.
For a time in early 1999, Jackie seemed cured and was back on the street as boss and the family's woes were eased. But by late spring, he was back in the hospital and had begun chemotherapy treatments. With Tony's role in the family's operation increasing and disagreements including Tony thwarting Junior's plot to kill Pussy Malanga, tensions between Tony and Uncle Junior rose and reached an all-time high as Jackie's condition turned for the worse.
With Jackie's death in mid-1999, a crisis emerged as to who would run the family, and the soldiers and other captains began to prepare for all-out war within the family, but Tony brought a quick end to the conflict by making Junior the nominal boss of the family. Junior would unknowingly act as the lightning rod for the feds, while Tony would run the family from behind the scenes.
Tony's grandfather, Corrado Soprano Sr. was a stone mason who emigrated from Avellino in Italy in 1910. He helped to build a church in Tony's old neighborhood that Tony occasionally takes his children to so he can tell them about their past. Tony also recalls that when he was 13 his father would let him play around on his construction sites, even driving heavy machinery.
Murders Committed By Tony Soprano
Tony has personally committed at least 8 categoric murders in the show, although he may have committed others that have not been shown or referenced considering his lengthy career in the mafia. However, as a Boss, he is fully responsible for the deaths of others killed on his orders. The 8 known killings, all (save the first) explicitly presented onscreen, were:
Willie Overall, shot and killed by Tony to become a made guy (1982)
Fabian "Febby" Petrullio, strangled by Tony for ratting out members of Paulie and Pussy's crew and joining witness protection. (1999)
Chucky Signore, shot and killed by Tony for conspiring to kill him with Junior (1999)
Matthew Bevilaqua, killed by Tony and Big Pussy for attempting to kill Christopher (2000)
Sal "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, executed by Tony, Silvio and Paulie after discovering he was an FBI informant (2000)
Ralph Cifaretto, choked/bludgeoned to death for supposedly killing Tony's prize winning race horse Pie-O-My for insurance money (2002)
Tony Blundetto, shot and killed by Tony for the unauthorized killings of Joe Peeps and Billy Leotardo [Prevents a blood war with NY] (2004)
Christopher Moltisanti, suffocated by Tony after a major car accident. (2007)
Some murders hit him on a personal and emotional level leaving him perplexed as to how to cope with the situation.
Most notably, after the murder of his "nephew" Christopher Moltisanti in Kennedy and Heidi, throughout the episode he feels a rush of relief for finally being rid of his nephew whose troubling habits throughout the years could've landed him in jail. However, he was plagued in having to "show the sad face" while the rest of his family grieves. However, Tony reassures himself that Chris's murder was necessary, despite the hurt caused to the people closest to Christopher.
The murder of "Big Pussy" in Funhouse weighed heavily on Tony. Being his closest ally turned informant, Tony almost felt he wanted to give him a pass, but in the end knew what his priorities were. In the years to follow, Tony along with Silvio and Paulie had haunting dreams of the murder of their best friend.
Ralph Cifaretto's death came from Tony's pure outrage as he accused Ralph of killing his horse in Whoever Did This. Tony tried to confront Ralph about the situation but after some heated words, Tony lost control and violently murdered Ralph. Though no solid proof was found that the fire killing Pie-O-My was arson, Tony was convinced Ralph did it. Despite Cifaretto's claims, Tony took satisfaction in disposing of his capo, putting his mind at ease about his horse.
The murder of Matthew Bevilaqua was pure vengeance and an act that had to be carried out since Christopher getting shot was a direct insult to him. Tony took satisfaction in bringing the young associate's demise.
The murder of his cousin Tony Blundetto was solely to save him the painful death if he were to fall into Phil's hands, and also so that Tony did not lose his reputation as a boss.