The Sopranos

The Sopranos: Why Tony Doesn’t Have Uncle Junior Whacked

Carrado "Junior" Soprano was a thorn in the side of his nephew, Tony, in The Sopranos, so why did the boss of the family never have him killed?

Carrado Soprano, otherwise known as Uncle Junior, was a key player in The Sopranos and frequently butted heads with Tony, so why did his nephew never have him killed off? Uncle Junior, played by Dominic Chianese, was one of the earliest antagonists of The Sopranos, as his crew caused major problems for Tony (James Gandolfini)’s back in season 1., including right from the very first episode, when Junior attempts to have a man killed at the restaurant of Tony’s friend, Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia).

The tensions between Tony’s crew and Junior’s continued to escalate throughout season 1, as the latter is finally named boss of the DiMeo Crime Family, but it’s the former who is really in control. When Junior learns about this from Tony’s mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand), who poisons her brother-in-law against her own son, he pushes forward with an assassination attempt, which obviously fails. In retaliation, Tony has two of Junior’s men whacked, but before he can get to his uncle Junior is arrested by the FBI.

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Ultimately, Uncle Junior doesn’t go to prison for long and is released under house arrest, but Tony doesn’t make any attempt to get revenge on him for the betrayal, which begs the question of why not. The key reason is that Uncle Junior is of more use to Tony alive than he is dead, since he is still the boss of the family in the eyes of the Feds. By allowing Junior to live and keep up the pretence of being the boss, then that means much of the FBI’s focus is on him instead of Tony; they spend more effort in compiling a case against him, allowing Tony and his crew to breathe a little easier while also doing the actual day-to-day running of operations.

The Sopranos Junior Soprano

Of course, as ever with The Sopranos, things do also run a little deeper for Tony. Although he may well have killed Uncle Junior before his arrest in season 1, he’s aware that the FBI will be expecting him to react when he’s released from prison. If he did carry out a hit on Junior, then he’d only be putting himself even further in their line of fire. By allowing things to run this way, Junior was kept in check and didn’t interfere too much with what Tony wanted to do, but also got to stay alive, making it a deal advantageous to both parties.

There’s also Tony’s complicated relationship with his family to consider. While he’s frequently shown to have feelings of anger and hatred to his mother, and his sister Janice (Aida Turturro), he can never quite bring himself to break free from them because they’re family. The same goes for Corrado, who is his uncle at the end of the day, and a man who was at least in part something of a father figure to him after the death of Tony’s dad. Of course, Tony did kill Christopher Molitsanti (Michael Imperioli) and Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi), so he was prepared to whack his family when absolutely necessary, but that wasn’t the case with Uncle Junior.

This also allows Tony to keep his fragile sense of balance and reality in check, especially with regards to his mother, who was really behind the hit. If Tony were to fully seek revenge on Junior rather than letting him off and accepting it was a business decision, then he’d also have to face the truth that his mother wanted him dead, which is something he long struggles with. Because of all that, Tony had several reasons to keep Uncle Junior around, and it’s a good job too, as he became one of The Sopranos‘ richest and most memorable supporting characters.

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