The big appeal of The Sopranos is the main character of Tony: a murderous mob boss who ironically empathizes with animals. Tony is one of the most three-dimensional and well-written characters in TV history, but he’s still propped up by a just-as-strong supporting cast.
In fact, some of the greatest characters in The Sopranos weren’t even introduced until the second season or later. Between mystifyingly stupid mob bosses, embarrassing relatives, and Italian sweet talkers, the show introduced characters that were equal parts comedic relief and gruelingly realistic.
There’s something about TV characters named Janice, as they’re almost always a strong personality, whether it’s Friends or The Sopranos. Janice is the opposite of Tony in almost every way, and she’s the yin to Tony’s yang. Where Tony is reserved and calculated, Janice is outgoing and loves to be heard.
The character was introduced in season 2, and she injected some humor into the somber show. But at the same time, Janice isn’t just comedic relief, as she’s imperative to many of the series’ narratives due to being so closely tied to the family. She even almost instigated a mob war with the Russian mafia over something as menial as a record collection, but this is a Sopranos storyline that was never resolved.
Joe Pantoliano is a character actor, and he has made an incredible career out of playing seedy villains, whether it’s Cipher in The Matrix or Teddy in Memento. Ralph Cifaretto is no different.
The character came into the fold in season 3 as a captain of the DiMeo crime family, and though they’re technically on the same team, he is one of Tony Soprano’s most dangerous enemies. The character is obnoxious, hates women, and is an all-around horrible human being, but his character is still entertaining to watch play out on-screen, especially when he’s locking horns with Tony.
Patsy is one of the more prolific supporting characters in the show, as he appeared in more than half of the series’ episodes from when he first appeared in season 2. Being a soldier for Junior’s crew and then Tony’s crew, Patsy had a great run in the series and he was intimidating and was much more agile than the rest of the gang.
But the most exciting storyline involving Patsy was when Tony murdered his twin brother, as Patsy came dangerously close to whacking the mob boss. There’s even a fan theory that it was Patsy who had Tony murdered at the end of season 6.
Little Carmine wasn’t introduced in the show until season 4 when Tony sought his help in Miami to blow over a dispute between him and Little Carmine’s father. What’s fascinating about Little Carmine is how much power he has compared to what little intellect he has.
Despite coming off as cocky, Carmine Jr. is full of malapropisms and is terrible at problem-solving, but that’s what makes him such a joy to watch. And as dimwitted as he often seems, he does have a good grasp of what people think of him, and he plays into that in hilarious ways.
The Sopranos is full of FBI informants, but Eugene has one of the most fascinating story arcs. Though it seems like he is given a lifeline when he inherits his aunt’s fortune, he was actually dealt a bad hand, and even with that hand, he played it badly.
Eugene was introduced in season 3 as a made man, but when he asks Tony if he can retire, Tony declines, and it leads Eugene on a downward spiral. He works with the FBI as an informant, and after feeling trapped, he ends up taking his own life. It’s one of the more depressing storylines, but also the most realistic, as it depicts the gritty realness of the world of crime in a way that few other shows do.
Vito Spatafore was introduced in season 2, and though his part is generally small, it grows into a key role until his death in season 6. Vito was a fun character who wasn’t involved in much of the action, that is until it’s revealed that he is secretly gay.
Vito is caught in a gay club and his fate was one of The Sopranos’ saddest character deaths. As he was murdered for his sexual orientation, that toxic homophobia in the mafia is exactly the reason why he had to keep it a secret. It’s another realistic depiction of how grim the mob world can be.
Big Pussy’s death was one of the first heartbreaking moments for audiences, as he was a fan-favorite character, and what made it worse was that it made Angie a widow. Angie was introduced in season 2, and it was easy for fans to sympathize with her, as not only did she become a widow, but she was depressed and suicidal too.
But fans’ feelings toward her were bittersweet, as what made her interesting was that she was a classic mob wife, constantly complaining about where the money came from but still enjoying spending it. That mindset continued even after her husband’s death, as she complained to Carmela about money problems but bought a Cadillac with the allowance that Tony was giving her.
Bobby was brought into the series in season 2 along with Janice, as he’s Janice’s husband and that’s how he first got connected with the DiMeo crime family. Bobby’s fighting ability on The Sopranos is completely unrivaled, and he’s even tougher than Tony, but it isn’t his brawn that makes him a great character.
Despite being the strongest character in the series, Bobby doesn’t enjoy fighting, and he only ever murdered one person in the series. Though that might be one person too many, it still makes him seem like an angel relative to the other characters. He is also loyal to his wife, which is another rarity amongst men in the mafia.
Furio became a recurring character in season 2, as Tony hired him when he was impressed by his loyalty and intimidation tactics. The best thing about Furio was that he carried himself in a manner unlike any other character in the series, as he was surprisingly gentlemanly and kind.
However, Furio’s fate is something that remains up in the air. It doesn’t matter how strong or brave somebody is, there is no way they’d dare try it on with Tony Soprano’s wife, and that’s the exact mindset that Furio had. The character fled back to Italy before anything could happen between the two of them, and it’s a storyline that the show mysteriously dropped.
Just like Angie, Gabriella is a classic mob wife, and though she doesn’t have much to say about Silvio’s work, she’s as wholesome as a mob wife could possibly be.
She supports Silvio in every way, including when he potentially could become the head of the DiMeo crime family after Tony was in critical condition, and the two have never had a single argument. Silvio and Gabriella are one of the best couples in The Sopranos, and when she was introduced in season 2, it was the first time there had ever been a sturdy couple in the series.