James Gandolfini, The Sopranos

HBO Barry Wetcher

We never stopped believin' that Tony Soprano would live to see another five years.

When the lights were turned out on his entire life so abruptly—and iconically—on The Sopranos' series finale on June 10, 2007, we hoped (damn you, David Chase!) that the ruthless yet introspective mob boss made it out of that diner alive.

If he did, surely the long-suffering Carmela would be making birthday lasagna in honor of her terribly unloyal hubby's 52nd birthday today and they'd be gathering around the table with A.J. and Meadow, who must be done parking by now, right?

Meanwhile, we'll go ahead and mark the occasion by thanking Tony for the gift he gave us—the small-screen antiheroes he left in his wake. The conflicted, selfish bastards who are constantly tempting us to hate them but end up with nothing but our undying loyalty in return.

Don Draper, Nucky Thompson, Jimmy McNulty, Walter White, Gregory House, Vic Mackey, etc: You're all fatally flawed and we love you for it. But Tony came first.

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