One of the few loyal members of Junior Soprano (Dominic Chianese) and his crew, Mikey (Al Sapienza) met an untimely end when Paulie (Tony Sirico) and Christopher (Michael Imperioli) gunned him down in a forest. While the murder doesn't sound that gruesome, Mikey was surprise attacked while out on his morning jog, shocking both the viewer and the unsuspecting mafioso. Paulie's insidious smile makes the killing an eerie foray into the sick mind of Soprano family captain Paulie. Plus, Christopher fired until his clip was out, watching Mikey's lifeless body writhe against a log. This image stuck with us longer than Paulie's poison ivy.
During the rival New York wars, Lorraine Calluzzo (Patti D'Arbanville) made it known that her loyalty lay with the Carmine clan and not de facto new boss, John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni (Vincent Curatola). Lorraine is brutally hunted in her own home after getting out of the shower. She slips and falls as her towel unravels, revealing her naked body. Lorraine calls for her boyfriend-turned-bodyguard for help before she trips on his corpse. The only Italian-American female captain on the series begs for her life, offering sexual favors, before being shot point blank.
Did anyone see this coming? We all knew that Tony (James Gandolfini) had it out for Richie Aprile (David Proval), and after Tony ordered the hit, his sister Janice (Aida Turturro) took matters into her own hands. Just in case we needed a reminder of why Janice is secretly the fiercest character on The Sopranos, she shoots her fiancé Richie point blank in the kitchen after he punches her. Of course, Tony helps her bury the body. Talk about sibling bonding!
Aprile showers bring May flowers? It was truly a Sopranos spring cleaning after Jackie April, Jr. (Jason Cerbone) was tracked down by Vito Spatafore (Joseph R. Gannascoli) and shot in the head while on the run. From cheating on Tony's daughter Meadow (Jamie Lynn Sigler) to firing at made men, Jackie's time was up before it even started. It still didn't make his death any less sad, though.
The rightful king of New York in season six, Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) took a few bullets as his wife and grandchildren watched. Oh, and don't forget that his decapitated head was run over at a gas station.
Ralph, Ralph, Ralph: There's a reason hothead Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) is a fan favorite. The eccentric gangster always played by his own rules...that is, Tony whacked him for injuring his racehorse Pie-Oh-My. Christopher was tasked with cutting up Ralph's body and not shipping it to the glue factory.
The Sopranos really is about mental illness and the inherent hardships of the human condition, and Eugene Pontecorvo (Robert Funaro) embodied the intersection between duty and desire. He felt there was no way out of his blood oath to the mob and hanged himself.
Tony's cousin Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi) was trying to make a life for himself as a masseur outside of the mob world following his prison stint. Yet, just when Tony B. thought he was out, he was pulled right back in. After taking a stand in the New York gang family war, Tony B. was on the run...and Tony S. put him out of his misery with a quick death by shotgun.
Family man and well-respected head of the New York crime family until his imprisonment, John "Johnny Sack" Sacrimoni (Vincent Curatola) had one of the most fascinating arcs on the series. His descent into paranoia and consequently, his ordering of bloodshed, was Shakespearean. No wonder he had a tragic death: Johnny Sack died of cancer while in jail.
Sleeping with the fishes. Sal "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) was brutally murdered on Tony's boat Stugots after the Soprano family realized Pussy was a rat for the F.B.I. Tony is haunted by dreams of Sal speaking through dead trout, and it's safe to say he can't look at a fish the same way again.
Vito Spatafore (Joseph R. Gannascoli) is a divisive character: on one hand, he was Tony's top earner after Ralph's death. On the other, even Carmela (Edie Falco) knew that Vito was only out for himself—and potentially a threat to Tony. However, after the mob learns that Vito is a closeted homosexual, Vito is forced to leave his family and hide in New Hampshire. There, he finds a sweet boyfriend, starts writing a novel and seems to be content with his new small town life. That is, until Vito starts to miss the gore, power and money of the Italian crime family. He returns to New Jersey, only to be ambushed by two of brother-in-law Phil's men and murdered in a horrific, homophobic way.
Probably the most decent man in the whole show, Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa) went from being Junior's nurse to marrying Janice and running his own crew. Child-at-heart Bobby is shot multiple times while buying toy trains in a darkly poetic conclusion to his innocent arc on the series.
Tracee (Ariel Kiley) was an exotic dancer and single mom who idolized Tony. Even though she was only in one episode, Ralph's mistress Tracee left a huge impression, and had one of the most iconic deaths in the franchise. Her murder eventually lead to Tony killing Ralph and questioning his own parenting style with his daughter, Meadow.
Tony's nephew and protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) just wanted to be a screenwriter. While he was chasing his Hollywood dreams with Cleaver—and shooting heroin to escape his sinful reality—Christopher slowly was cut out of Tony's circle of trust. After a car accident, Tony suffocates Christopher (presumably) to protect Christopher's young daughter. The saddest part? A cursed Christopher believed he was going to hell.
One reason Christopher may be convinced he's doomed is because of fiancée Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo). Adriana was blackmailed into being an F.B.I. informant, but she hoped it could be a way out for her and Christopher. Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) picks up Adriana, tells her to run for her life and then shoots her. While some fan theories point out that viewers never saw the bullet go into Adriana, her ghost appears twice to Carmela in dream sequences. At least in the afterlife, Adriana is reunited with her poodle that Christopher also recklessly killed.
OK, we know this is controversial...but it's true: Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) died at the end of The Sopranos. All his friends are dead or soon to be, his paranoia is getting the better of him and New York is out for blood after Tony ordered Phil's death. But, the worst part is, Tony knew this was all inevitable. He orders onion rings (fried food that his doctor specifically told him not to eat), and revels in the disillusionment of it all. Yes, the screen fades to black, but Tony is dead. Whether it was at the diner over dinner with his family, or the next day, or the next year, Tony dies. It's the end of both the Sopranos and The Sopranos.
Showrunner David Chase revealed in 2015 that the final scene was not supposed to be debated—and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" was the ultimate clue. "That's what I wanted people to believe, that life ends and death comes, but don't stop believing," Chase told the Directors Guild of America magazine, DGA Quarterly. "There are attachments we make in life, even though it's all going to come to an end, that are worth so much, and we're so lucky to have been able to experience them. Life is short. Either it ends here for Tony or some other time. But in spite of that, it's really worth it. So don't stop believing."