Mob movies and TV shows have proven that family is precious to organized crime players. The case isn’t different in The Sopranos. The majority of gangsters in the series have wives that they cherish. The only notable exceptions are Tony’s uncle Corrado “Junior” Soprano, who is an unmarried 70-year-old man, and Paulie, who prefers escorts.
Even though there are over a dozen mob wives in the series, not all of them are influential in the proceedings. Patty Leotardo’s only key scene involves her watching her villainous husband get whacked while Suzanne only appears briefly as she tries to get her husband Eugene to retire from the mob. Bobby’s first wife Karen also dies before audiences can get to know her better. Still, it’s possible to pinpoint the most and least likable of the bunch.
While describing his dead father Johnny Boy Soprano’s relationship with his mother Livia to the therapist Dr. Melfi, Tony says: “My dad was tough. He ran his own crew. A guy like that and my mother wore him down to a little nub.” That statement alone sums up Livia’s character.
Livia gives endless headaches to those around her. She tries to get her own son Tony killed twice, first by manipulating Junior and second by telling Artie that it was the DiMeo boss who burned down his restaurant. She also creates bad blood between Carmela and her parents as well as Carmela and Tony. Though she is annoying, Livia’s villainy makes her quite intriguing.
Janice often exhibits the same traits as her mother. During her time in the series, she gets romantically involved with 3 different mobsters. Somehow, all of them end up dead. After leaving her first husband—a French-Canadian man named Eugene—she reunites with her on-and-off sweetheart Richie. As they plan a wedding, she tries to get him to overthrow Tony so that she can be the wife of a boss. Before such events can unfold, she shoots him dead for punching her in the face.
Janice then settles with psychotic DiMeo Crime Family capo, Richie Aprille. That relationship doesn’t last as she dumps him for his weird fetishes. She then manipulates her way to the heart of the nicer Bobby Bacalla after Karen’s death. Though Bobby is wary of her, he still marries her. When Bobby dies, she only appears concerned about her inheritance.
After Adriana’s death, Christopher settles with Kelli Lombardo. The two come off as an adorable couple at first but their bond never seems as strong as that of Christopher and Adriana. When she gets pregnant, she is devastated but Christopher is glad because he can finally get to have a child, something he wouldn’t have been able to do with Adriana due to fertility struggles.
Though she was supportive, Kelli is very indifferent. Christopher’s long absences and infidelity don’t bother her. And when he gets killed by Tony, she shows no signs of sorrow.
As Tony’s wife, Carmela is the most influential mob wife in the series but she isn’t exactly likable. She appears hypocritical because she keeps complaining about Tony’s lifestyle yet she gladly accepts the perks that come with it. She comes off as materialistic especially when she tells Tony to buy her a house as a condition for getting back together with him.
And even though she is somehow justified for cheating on Tony as retaliation for his numerous infidelities, she puts the lives of her lovers in danger. She bluntly tells Tony that she is in love with his henchman Furio, thus making Tony set up a manhunt for him. She also goes on open dates with AJ’s guidance counselor, making it possible for them to be spotted by Tony’s associates.
Angie and her husband Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero have frequent arguments that mostly stem from his tendency to disappear. He never tells her that he is an FBI informant either. Despite the marital problems, she opts against divorcing he husband after Carmela urges her to stay true to her Catholic faith. Quite ironical as Carmela was quick to dump Tony.
When Big Pussy gets killed for snitching, Angie believes that he has abandoned her. Tony continues to give her a monthly allowance but instead of using the money for necessities, she buys a Cadillac. She redeems herself when Tony makes her manager of her later husband’s auto body shop. Later in the series, business appears to be booming.
Despite being married to Vito for years, Marie is unaware that he is gay. And even when she finally finds out, she remains loyal to him instead of feeling betrayed. This is despite the fact that he had abandoned her and their children after being spotted at a gay club. This says a lot about her personality.
Marie is devastated when Vito gets killed by homophobic mobsters, insisting that he was a good man and good father. Her toughness as a mob wife is also seen when she forces her undisciplined son into a boot camp for delinquents.
Rosalie becomes a widow early in the series after her husband Jackie Aprile Sr. suddenly dies but she still remains an influential mob wife. Years later, she begins seeing Ralph who influences her son Jackie Jr. to become a mobster, yet Jackie Sr. wanted a different life for him. And when Jackie Jr. messes up by robbing an important card game, it’s the same Ralphie who sanctions a hit on him.
Being in a relationship with a man who orders the death of your son is quite unfortunate. It’s hard not to sympathize with Rosalie for losing the two most important men in her life. Either way, she puts her grief aside and offers sound advice to fellow mobsters including telling Carmela to not cheat on Tony with the decorator Vic Musto.
Gabriella and Consigliere Silvio Dante are very happy together. During the mob wife hangouts where everyone opens up about their frustrations, Gabriella rarely has anything to complain about.
She adores her husband (the fact that he is tough and respectful helps) and she also wants him to be the best man he can be. When Silvio takes over as acting boss after Tony’s shooting, Gabriella is excited and tries to prepare him for the possibility of taking over as boss permanently. That doesn’t happen but she remains content.
Adriana could have had a great run as a mob wife if the FBI hadn’t singled her out and forced her to be an informant. She is totally loyal to Christopher and supports him in all his endeavors, including his dream of being a filmmaker.
Adriana also proves to be a great businesswoman when she is put in charge of a nightclub by Tony and Christopher. Most importantly, she refuses to give the FBI any meaningful information about the DiMeo Crime Family. Unfortunately, she still gets killed because mobsters just can’t let informants run free.
Like Gabriella and Silvio, Ginny and Lupertazzi Crime Family boss Johnny Sack also have a very happy marriage. Other mobsters constantly make fun of her weight but Johnny loves her as she is. He describes her as “Rubenesque” and is ready to kill Ralph when he finds out about an inappropriate joke her made about Ginny.
Ginny visits Johnny regularly in jail after he gets arrested. Johnny loses all his assets after his conviction but Ginny never abandons him. John’s luck gets even worse when he is diagnosed with cancer while in jail but Ginny stays by his side. She is the last person seen on his deathbed when he succumbs.