The Sopranos will say its final "ciao" later this month when the final episode airs to much fan speculation about whether Tony will die, get pinched by the feds or, most likely, sit in a chair and stare into his backyard as the closing credits begin to roll.
But if the show has given us anything in its nuanced, carefully plotted depiction of mob life, it's the dozens and dozens of lovingly violent deaths on which we can fixate our collective pay-cable-having bloodlust. Here are 10 of the most memorable in the show's six seasons.
(Warning: If you are not a member of the pay-cable-having public and at any point wish to watch this show on DVD, take note that this piece contains huge spoilers that will kind of ruin the fun. What I'm saying is don't come blaming me. Likewise, if I have failed to include what you think is a particularly notable death in this list, let's just imagine I did, shall we?)
Whacked By: Tony Soprano
For: Joining the Witness Protection Program after ratting out a fellow made man.
Method: The old standard of strangulation with a wire.
Why It's Memorable: While Tony was taking his daughter Meadow out to several different college campuses to figure out which one would be best for her to attend (and also ogling the girls at said colleges), he took some time out his busy day of helping his daughter to off a guy. I'm sure any number of fathers out there would also get some relief from murdering someone while they take their kids around to look at colleges. Also notable for the exchange between Tony and his victim, which went something like this:
TONY: If you had shot me at that motel, your life wouldn't be flushed down the pisciadood.
FEBBY: Please, Tony, I'm begging you...aggghghaghgh...
TONY: Jimmy says hello from hell, you fuck!
FEBBY: Gaggggh! Agghaghhaghhghahgghgh!
Paulie Walnuts malaprops:
"It's fookin' mayham!"
Whacked By: His partner-in-crime, Rasheen Ray
For: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a failed assassination attempt on Tony Soprano.
Method: Took an accidental gunshot in the face, leading his partner to kind of be like, "my bad."
Why It's Memorable: Clayborn was one of the two unfortunate rubes hired by Uncle Junior and his and Livia Soprano's attempt to off their respective nephew and son, Tony. Tony, after tragically losing an entire container of orange juice when a shot missed him, showed off just how badass he was by holding Ray's arm out while he fired so he would hit his partner in crime from across the front seat of Tony's SUV. Then Tony started driving and shook off Ray before hitting a telephone pole. Ray has not again been heard from, and will likely return with the Russian from season three, Furio and Livia's ghost in a collective effort to finally bring Tony down in the last episode using an old-fashioned barrel filled with TNT.
"Create a little dysentery among the ranks."
Whacked By: Ralph Cifaretto
For: Slapping Ralph.
Method: A brutal, awful, horrible, but kind of weirdly ridiculous beating.
Why It's Memorable: It's quite possibly the most horrific death in the entire series, partially because she was likely pregnant with Ralph's child. And it involves someone named "Tracee." With two e's. Certainly, The Sopranos was a show that bucked stereotypes.
Little Carmine malaprops:
"You're at the precipice of an enormous crossroads."
Whacked By: Janice Soprano
For: Punching Janice during an argument about whether he son is gay and generally being a dick.
Method: A gunshot in the chest and then another one in the head (just to make sure).
Why It's Memorable: For a couple reasons. One, it showed that Janice can be just as ruthless as her brother, and twice as ugly. Secondly, because of the meticulous cleanup effort, which involved Christopher and Furio taking the body to Satriale's Pork Store, cutting up the body and disposing of it, with no one else in the organization being the wiser. Also, Tony sent Janice to Seattle, which meant we got to go almost a whole season without seeing her. Whoo!
Carmine Lupertazzi malaprops:
"There's no stigmata connected to going to a shrink."
Whacked By: Tony Soprano, Silvio Dante and Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri
For: Being an FBI informant.
Method: Far more gunshots than necessary to the chest.
Why It's Memorable: The closest thing Tony had to a best friend, Big Pussy's death on a boat and subsequent dumping in the ocean still haunts the big guy, and even caused him to have a long dream about fish talking to him with Pussy's voice. Yes, there's certainly a joke in there somewhere about Pussy smelling like fish, but I'll let you work that out for yourself.
"I was prostate with grief."
Whacked By: A stroke
For: Being old and mean and horrible.
Method: The stroke sneaked up on Livia while she was asleep and bonked her on the head.
Why It's Memorable: Because it put a capstone on what had been essentially the driving force behind the show's first two seasons: Tony's domineering mother. After her death, the show had to focus on other things, like how no one pronounces the "r" in Christopher's name and how loudly Tony breathes.
Johnny Soprano malaprops:
"She's an albacore around my neck."
Whacked By: Tony Soprano
For: Admitting to burning down the stable in which Tony housed his racehorse, Pie-oh-My.
Method: First brutally beaten, then strangled, then decapitated, Ralph holds the distinction of the only Sopranos character to be triple-whacked.
Why It's Memorable: For one thing, it was over a horse. For another, the fight scene between Ralph and Tony is kind of hilarious. Ralph and Tony talk things out over breakfast before things get heated, one thing leads to another, and they're slinging pans full of eggs and cereal bowls at each other. Then Ralph sprays Tony in the eyes with some Raid, a product placement that doubles as one of the most cartoonish moments in the whole series. You half expect Tony's eyes to bug out and for him to have to pop them back into his head. But then Tony slams Ralph's head on the floor several times, and it's not so cartoony anymore.
"A guy like that is going out with a woman, he could technically not have penissary contact with her Volvo."
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