"I'm in the waste management business. Everybody immediately assumes you're mobbed up. It's a stereotype, and it's offensive."
The Sopranos is centered around New Jersey Mob Boss Tony Soprano, who after a panic attack secretly begins seeing a therapist. Hilarity Ensues as his therapy coincides with him sending his troublesome, sociopathic mother Livia into a nursing home when it becomes apparent that she's no longer able to take care of herself.
The show focuses on Tony's dual families: his biological family -- long-suffering wife Carmela, his straight-A student daughter Meadow, underachiever son AJ, and his equally morally bankrupt sister Janice -- and the organized crime family he is involved in, who include his bitter uncle Junior, his 'nephew' (actually his wife's cousin) Christopher, and more.
- Abusive Parents: Tony is emotionally manipulated and terrorized by his difficult mother throughout his childhood and well into his adult life. One notable incident featured his mother threatening to stick a fork in his eye when he was only ten years old. Tony's father was outwardly friendly, yet also a manipulative sociopath who indoctrinated his son into violent crime and the mob. It's implied that the various degrees of emotional manipulation and terror Tony suffered under his parents is what turned him into the violent sociopath that heads the New Jersey crime families. Oddly enough, Tony manages to become a better father to his kids than his parents ever were to him (despite being an aforementioned violent sociopath), and his children turn out relatively nice and normal, even if they have a few issues of their own.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Christopher in Season 1 when he suffers a mock execution : Totally reversed later in Season 5 when Tony is about to kill him and Chris doesn't back down from an accusation.
- Alas, Poor Yorick: Christopher holds a skull this way when he is relocating the bones of an old murder.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Uncle Junior had been an unpleasant and uncompromising person throughout the whole series but his final scene certainty plays his dementia as a tragedy.in fact Junior's fate is so upsetting it moves Tony to finally let go of his hatred for his uncle.
- Johnny Sack's death from cancer.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight for almost all the female characters. Arguably averted for Melfi, but even she feels an unhealthy attraction to Tony.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Averted. Tony Soprano cites Freud (whom he learned about in his "semester and a half" of college) to explain to Melfi that he understands therapy "as a concept", but the show deals with psychology a lot, and it really isn't here. Often called the most accurate fictional depiction of what actually happens in therapy. Freud, however, is the Trope Codifier of the Oedipus Complex, one of the Mommy Issues mentioned often by Melfi despite Tony's repulsion.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Pat Parisy.
- Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain: Depending on your viewpoint.
- Anyone Can Die: Too recent to call it the codifier, but probably the first series a lot of people think of when they think of this trope. Many deaths are out of the blue, making wham episodes frequent.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Tony asking "Don't you love me?" to Junior who is going through early stages of dementia and has behaved badly to Tony. Junior is left shaken, speechless and showing a Single Tear.
- The Art of War:
- Tony praises the book and gives practical use to the teachings that Sun-Tzu provides in it.
- On a later Season, Paulie tries to emulate Tony and reads it in audiobook form. On one occasion, he tries to boast about it but he can't even say the author's name properly (he utters something like Soon-Tizoong) and gets mocked for being an obnoxious brown noser.
- Ascended Extra: Many characters start out with minor roles and grow more prominent as the series goes on. Johnny Sack and Vito Spatafore are both barely seen in Seasons 1 and 2, but are major players later on; Bobby Bacala is another notable example.
- As Himself:
- Jon Favreau plays a manipulative version of himself who screws Chris out of his ideas. Jeane Garofalo in a movie directed by Favreau.
- Ben Kingsley and Lauren Bacall make a cameo when Christopher is pitching his own movie. The role finally goes to Danny Baldwin.
- Invoked in "The Test Dream". Annette Benning is playing Finn's mother in Tony's dinner dream. He recognizes her, and later in Tony's episode-long dream she appears as herself.
- Ass Shove: It's mentioned offhandedly that Vito Spatafore was sodomized with a broomstick while they were murdering him.
- As the Good Book Says...: Despite their dubious morals, the mafia members all appear to be Catholic and make occasional references to The Bible. Religion is also used as a plot point on occasion; for example, when Christopher recovers from his shooting, he mentions he had a vision of going to hell (or possibly purgatory), and in another episode, Tony tries to persuade A.J. that God exists when he loses faith.
- Truth in Television, as members of the real Mafia are Catholic.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Tony tries this in "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request".
- Authority in Name Only: Corrado Soprano (Junior) is the official boss of the family but not the one calling the shots. Invoked by Tony in Season 1 where he sets up Junior as a fall guy to shield himself. The FBI tries to use it as wedge against them, but Junior denies it.
- Automobile Opening: Tony driving from New York to his home in New Jersey. His route is deliberately inefficient to provide more interesting visuals.
Junior: My nephew running things? Not that strunz. Not in this life.
- Badass in a Nice Suit : Zigzagged, the mobsters like to wear plain sportswear but they dress up according to their fancy businessmen status when the occasion requires it. Members of the Lupertazzi crew can usually be seen in suits, as befitting their more successful and refined nature compared to the Jersey crew. Carmine Lupertazzi also stated to Tony that "a Don doesn't wear shorts".
- Big Brother Instinct: At the end of season 2 Tony does his utmost to prevent authorities from ever discovering Janice's role in Richie's disappearance and defends her from their mother's verbal abuse. Subverted later when Janice is attacked by Russians. He agrees to retaliate but only to avoid appearing weak.
- Bad Guy Bar: The Bing.
- Bad Guys Play Pool: The Bing's back room.
- Being Personal Isn't Professional: One notable concept that Tony never neglects. Particular examples David Scatino, Tony B, Vito, Christopher.
- Berserk Button:
- Junior literally goes to war when his sexual tendency to go "south of the border" and "down to the muff" is mocked by Tony.
- Tony's love of animals, while (theoretically) his big humanizing feature, loses a bit of its luster when he snaps and kills Ralphie Cifaretto over the possibility that he might have been responsible for the death of their race horse. A reaction that seems even more extreme in light of the fact that Ralphie had previously beaten his girlfriend to death for no reason in a public parking lot, and Tony let it slide. Arguably the horse was the straw that broke the camel's back, but still. It's been theorized that the way Tony is talking about the horse as he's beating Ralph to death, is actually his reaction to the death of Tracee.
- The aforementioned Ralphie has a lot of them, some of which make too little sense to even try to explain here. Ditto for Richie Aprile.
- Bobby Baccalieri. When Tony made a crack about Janice (Bobby's wife at the time) and her high school promiscuity, Bobby was offended enough to initiate a room-wrecking fist fight with the Boss.
- Johnny Sack is usually calm and collected, unless someone makes a remark about his wife.
- After a certain dream and resulting boat ride in "Funhouse" singing fish are this for Tony: "Take me to the river, drop me in the water."
- Big Applesauce: The much larger NY families become major players in the final seasons.
- Big Bad: Not in the typical Once a Season of many shows but Season 2 had Richie Aprile and the final season had Phil Leotardo.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Sopranos, the two families (the criminal one also called DiMeo sometimes). Tony tries his best to avert it. The mere basis of the show.
- Bilingual Bonus: Too many to mention if you know Italian.
- Black and Gray Morality
- Black Comedy
- Born in the Wrong Decade: A constant source of drama. Tony and his pals are well aware that the mob's heyday is long over with, but have a hard time coming to terms with this. Tony says it explicitly at one point.
Meadow: It's the 90s, parents are supposed to talk about sex with their kids.
- Break the Cutie:
- Tracee, who gets no respect from anyone she tries to impress and gets beaten to death by Ralphie.
- Near the end of the show Christopher, who after a long struggle and heavy personal sacrifices is now redeemed and happy, he is a captain, has a new and stable family and his long-awaited movie project is a reality. Then comes an ugly feud with Paulie, some disrespectful jokes and a general lack of empathy with Tony that combined makes him snap and relapse into his drug habits, with fatal consequences. .
- Break the Haughty: In Season 6, Johnny Sack ... he goes through hell once he is the big boss; arrested, incarcerated, embargoed and humiliated in front of his family and friends on the day of his daughter's wedding. He shames himself by breaking the Omertà code of silence to lower his sentence, only to die of cancer not much later.
- Broken Ace: Tony, top of the line in his profession, wealthy, charismatic, powerful, ruthless, a keen business acumen, a beautiful family and drop-dead goomahs. Underneath it all, he suffers from some serious Parental Issues and other mental problems, which cause him to have panic attacks.
- Broken Pedestal: Chris and Tony, Tony with his father, uncle and other old-schoolers. Zigzagged most of the time as things are never black or white and character's internal struggle is one of the dynamics of the show.
- Bungled Suicide: Anthony Jr. in "The Second Coming".
- Burial At Sea: After Tony Soprano and his gang kill Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (a long-time friend who has betrayed them to the FBI), they wrap up his body and, with heavy hearts, give it a decent burial at sea. Overlaps with Cement Shoes, a common way of body disposal during the series. Chains and actual concrete blocks are used as an anchor.
- Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Tony angrily mocks this when Janice asks hims what has been done with Richie's remains: "We buried him on a hill overlooking a little river, with pine cones all around. C'mon Janice!, what the fuck? You want to know?
- Bury Your Gays: Vito. Essentially commits suicide by returning to the fold despite having found a new life and an attractive boyfriend.
- Butt Monkey:
- Artie Bucco and Georgie, who is often beaten up brutally for... well, no reason at all.
- A.J. too, though this is only in the later seasons. He's one of the dumbest characters on the show, but lacks the ruthless spirit that a mobster needs, so he has no real place in the world.
- Can You Hear Me Now?: Poor telecommunication service is the source of problems in the episode Pine Barrens when Paulie and Chris get lost in a frozen forest. Tony gets gradually more and more agitated and has to give them orders very loudly and full of profanity while his parents-in-law are in his house.
- Bad Boss: Tony... where to begin with Tony?
- Frequently assaults the bartender who works for him until he gets permanent hearing loss.
- Contemplates Killing Paulie for being an annoyance.
- Belittles Chris for his drug addiction.
- Alienates Hesh by borrowing money and stubbornly refuses to pay it back until Hesh's girlfriend dies.
- Celebrity Paradox:
- In one episode, Tony watches The Fugitive -- oddly, he doesn't notice that Ralphie has a minor role in it.
- Goodfellas. It's mentioned quite a few times in the series, even though half of the major cast are in it, including but not limited to Michael Imperioli (Christopher), Vincent Pastore (Pussy), Tony Sirico (Paulie), Frank Vincent (Phil) and Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Melfi), who played a major supporting role in the film as the main character's wife.
- Similarly, The Godfather Part II is referenced a number of times, in which Dominick Chianese (Uncle Junior) has a supporting role as Johnny Ola.
- Frankie Valli is mentioned several times, is an acquaintance of Tony's and the names of some of his songs are used in a few episode titles. He appears in later seasons playing the New York under-boss Rusty Millio.
- Chris references Bruce Springsteen in one episode, even though Steven Van Zandt (Silvio) is guitar player in the E Street Band.
- The Chains of Commanding: Played with. Tony mentions the trope often, argues that his greedy underlings have no idea how hard it is to be a boss and warns his friend Johnny Sack about it several times.
- Chronic Villainy: Played for tragedy in the case of Cousin Tony.
- Cliff Hanger: Notably averted, creator David Chase considered them a cheap narrative device and the sequences are never split between episodes. One very rare cliffhanger is used at the end of Season 6 opener -- Tony laying on the ground with a bullet wound -- and the end of the second to last episode could be interpreted as one.
- Cluster F-Bomb: This video shows the nearly thirty minutes of Cluster F-Bomb employed throughout the series.
- Comedic Sociopathy: While the series on the whole is aimed at creating disgust with the mob's brutality, the violence is often played for laughs. Particularly Paulie is a bit of a Comedic Sociopath.
- Comically Missing the Point: Christopher is the major offender, seconded by Paulie.
- Tony debriefs Paulie and Chris over the phone about a guy they have to deal with:
Tony: "He is an ex-commando! He killed sixteen Chechen rebels single-handed! He was with the Interior Ministry. Guy's like a Russian green beret. He can not come back and tell this story. You understand?"
- Silvio and Chris get Tony exasperated when he argues about his strong, silent type role model:
Christopher: "He was gay, Gary Cooper?"
- Paulie during a dinner trying to appear cultivated:
Paulie : "That’s why dinosaurs don’t exist no more"
- Christopher, discussing Johnny Sack's daughter's name:
Christopher: "Allegra? Ain't that a cold medicine?"
- Subverted by Christopher when he punctures through a Young Earth Creationist theory.
Christopher : "What's he saying? There were Dinosaurs back with Adam and Eve?"
- Confessional: Carmela requires it during one of her crisis of conscience.
- The Consigliere: Silvio Dante, and he calls himself that sometimes.
- Consummate Liar: Lying and deceiving is a second nature to most of the characters. Tony is so adept at it that he can smell most lies a mile away.
- Continuity Nod: Many episodes reference very minute details from several seasons ago. Unemphatic Continuity Porn. The CallBacks would need their own page. Some examples:
- In an early episode, Tony tells A.J. "there's an old Italian saying: you screw up once, you lose two teeth." Much later on in Season Five, Tony has a lengthy dream and during it, he loses two of his teeth.
- Pussy Malanga, the enemy that Junior wants dead in the pilot episode, shows up again in Junior's mind in the first episode of the last season.
- In the Season 1 finale, in a restaurant, Tony advices his children to "try to remember the times that were good." A.J. brings the phrase back in another restaurant in the series finale, but Tony doesn't remember his own counsel.
- Carmine Sr. dismissively calls the Jersey Family "a glorified crew" in Season 4. Phil Leotardo cites his words near the end of the show.
- Conversation Casualty: Christopher shoots Emil Kolar in the back of the head after a polite discussion.
- Cool Boat: Tony's yatch, The Stugots. Envied and praised by some characters, and a common place for Tony's escapades. The name is a derivative of stu cazzo the Napolitan term for "testicles" and also an insult.
- Corrupt Politician: Several examples, most notably State Assemblyman Zellman who is Tony's equal partner in a major scam.
- Country Matters:
- Season 2 has a scene where Tony applies the word to Big Pussy's wife, causing Carmella to stop him mid-sentence and shut him up.
- Tony insults Melphi with the term when she carefully refuses his advances. He gets called on it when he later apologizes
- "Come on, come on! Fuckin' cunt!" Silvio's Pre-Mortem One-Liner delivered to Adriana.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Christopher could be this way with Adriana
- Creator Cameo: David Chase is the Italian man who ignores Paulie in "Commendatori". He also appears as an extra in "Luxury Lounge" and is the voice on the phone in "The Test Dream".
- Crime-Time TV
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: In the first few seasons, Dr. Melfi gradually gets distraught by her therapy sessions with Tony Soprano, leading to weight gains, drinking, and needing therapy herself. In Season 6, Dr. Melfi learns of a psychological study which discourages the use of traditional psychoanalysis with career criminals, as it too often validates the use of hypocrisy and deception for them; this is apparently a significant factor in her decision to end Tony's therapy.
- Cryptic Conversation:
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: The main focus of the show is a thorough deconstruction of this trope.
- Deadpan Snarker: Many: Tony, Paulie, Tony B. among others.
- Death Equals Redemption: With Ralphie, when Justin (his son) was shot in the chest with an arrow, he starts to regrets the bad things he's done, but is short-lived, when he was killed by Tony during a fight over Ralphie's "possible" involvement with killing Pie-O-My. Tony even had a dream about him that showed a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next all while perched on his bald head.
- Decapitated Army: Invoked by Phil in Season 6. Killing Jersey's leadership would make its crew assimilable or at least easier and cheaper to deal with.
- Demoted to Extra: Larry Barese, an important captain in Season 1 who only makes punctual appearances later.
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: A.J.'s eyebrows.
- Dirty Business / Necessary Evil: Tony killing Tony B to prevent a war with New York in the Season 5 finale.
- Disposing of a Body: One of the 'professional challenges' that pop-up from time to time. Cement Shoes / Burial At Sea after some body hacking is the standard method of choice but straight ground burial is also used. It tends to generate problems in the long-term as the threat of unburial and discovery is always a possibility.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Ralphie makes a joke about Ginny Sack's weight. Johnny Sack's reaction? He attempts to place a hit on him.
- Divorce Is Temporary: The Buccos and The Sopranos. Tony basically bribes his way out.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- A small comedic subplot involved Tony meeting a gangsta rapper in the next hospital bed over during his recuperation. One of the guys' entourage is a fledgling rapper who realizes that surviving a shooting is key to getting famous, to which he hires Bobby Baccala to do it. Bobby shoots him in the ass. If the connection wasn't apparent enough, they dress the character in white pants, a white tank top, and a white hat at the time.
- This is done more seriously in an early subplot involving Carmella's "affair" with her priest.
- The Don:
- Tony, who is nominally the acting boss for Junior and for the now jailed Don, Ercole DiMeo.
- Carmine Lupertazzi in New York. He scolds Tony for doing un-Don-like things like wearing shorts and disregards the Jersey Family as "a glorified crew".
- Don't Ask / You Do NOT Want to Know : A rare instance where Tony slips some factual and true information about whackings to Carmela, when she asks about the Janice and Richie situation.
Tony He's gone [..] Carmela, after 18 years of marriage don't make me make you an accessory after the fact [...] Stop asking. I took care of it.
- Don't Explain the Joke:
- Johnny Sack describing the joke Ralphie made about his wife. "He said she was having a 90 pound mole removed from her ass. The implication was that her ass is so big she could have a mole that size removed from it."
- Paulie has a habit of repeating the setup and punch line to his jokes.
- Double Standard: The writers didn't really have any. The characters, on the other hand...
- The Dragon: Abundant. Paulie, Sil, and even Christopher serve in this role for Tony. Johnny Sack was Carmine Lupertazzi's, and later Phil Leotardo was Johnny's.
- Dragon Ascendant: Phil Leotardo in the second part of Season Six.
- Dreaming the Truth: How Tony finally realizes that Big Pussy has been turned.
- Dream Sequence: Done several times over the course of the show, but exaggerated in "The Test Dream", in which the titular dream lasts a full 20 minutes. Then even further in "Join the Club" and "Mayham", where Tony falls into a coma after getting shot and has a long dream that extends over two episodes.
- Driven to Suicide: Vin Makazian, Gloria Trillo, and Eugene Pontecorvo. Subverted with A.J..
- Drop What You Are Doing: Meadow drops the phone after she's informed of Jackie Jr.'s death.
- Drugs Are Bad: Chris struggles with heroin and cocaine addictions, and is berated and adjudged hopeless and unworthy by Tony and the gang. Paulie particularly.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: A major issue for Christopher. He spends the entire show carving an status for himself and yet after deep personal sacrifices and a rank of Captain, he gets and feels disrespected, helplessly. And that triggers his final demise.
- Epiphany Therapy: Subverted to hell and back; Tony mostly uses what he learns in therapy to be a more efficient mob boss. Dr. Melfi finally realizes that and terminates the sessions for good.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
- Paulie Walnuts. And how. His love is fickle, though, as seen in "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh": turns out he only loves his mama as long as she really is his biological mama. He gets over it eventually, though.
- Tony. He literally goes berserk when Dr. Melfi diagnoses Livia with Borderline Personality Disorder and reads the symptoms to him.
- Christopher also has a soft spot for his mother. He brings her a picture of his father hoping it will move her and is ready to give away his position when he sees Phil threatening her.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Tony and the crew are appropriately horrified and disgusted when Ralph beats to death a stripper pregnant with his child.
- Phil Leotardo is disgusted that Tony would screw over his own Uncle to become Don.
- The gang was downright appalled when they heard about Coach Don Hauser's affair with one of Meadow's high-school friends.
- The mobsters all express disapproval at Christopher's drug habits.
- Richie Aprile, who condones the beating of a woman if, and only if the man is her husband.
- Uncle Junior and Bobby both find it incredibly callous When Tony sends a terminally ill man on a suicide Mission.
- Junior is saddened when one of the drug dealers employed by the organization sells drugs to a child and causes it's death.He is so infuriated that he has the dealer Killed upsetting his more pragmatic associates.
- When Vito's homosexuality is revealed Tony is (or tries to be) the sole voice of reason arguing that it is no one's business but Vito's.
- Tony detests animal cruelty.
- Unlike their associates Johnny Sack and Bobby insist on remaining faithful to their spouse.
- Despite his dislike of Davey, Richie actually does try to prevent him from becoming buried in debt and cuts him off to Keep Davey from gambling away more of his money.
Tony is appalled when he learns to What extent his father disregarded the family 's interests and silently Vows to never be like him. Carmine is hinted to have similar views on marriage as Johnny Sack and Bobby.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones
- Junior dislikes people making fun of his deceased mentally handicapped brother Eckley and snaps at Tony for doing so.
- Tony deeply loves his son and daughter. He is very angered when he suspects Jackie may be mistreating Meadow, and AJ's attempted suicide affects him deeply.
- Part of Phil's motivation for hating Tony is that he holds him responsible for the death of his younger brother Billy.
- Johnny Sack loves his wife and kids. This is exploited by the FBI to force him into a plea deal in order to ensure his wife isn't left penniless. This costs him the respect of his associates though he regains it in time.
- Pussy became a rat because he was caught selling Heroin when he was trying to make enough money to give his kids a good education.
- Carmine is doting towards his son.
- When Ralph's son Justin was in an accident he was guilt-ridden and even seemed as though he may redeem himself. We'll never Know if this change would have lasted as Tony murders him before we have the chance to find out.
- Eugene looks at pictures of his family before committing suicide.
- Patsy is infuriated When Tony has his brother murdered.
- Johnny Soprano went out of his way to provide for Eckley until his death.
- Everything Is Racist:
- The Coalition of Italian-American Associations issued a joint statement in 2002 condemning the show for perpetuating negative Italian-American stereotypes.
- Done In-Universe as well with Sil viewing Anti-Columbus Day protestors as racist against Italians.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: In Season 5, a marauding bear drops a number of times by the Sopranos' compound, alarming Carmela and panicking A.J. At that moment, Tony is not living there so he posts some of his underlings as guardians. Eventually, he defends the fort himself, posted through the night weapon in hand, emphasizing the necessity of a strong male family leader.
- Evil Matriarch: Livia. LIVIA.
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Tony is adamant that A.J. doesn't go into the life like him, partly because he's simply not cut out for it. Jackie Aprile also felt this way towards his own son, and arranged with Tony to make sure this wouldn't happen before he himself died in the fourth episode. Tony doesn't succeed and Jackie Jr. ends up dead later on, further strengthening his decision to keep A.J. out of it.
- Tony B does not want his Kids committing crime either.
- Expy: Done in-universe, the nasty boss from Cleaver is modeled almost verbatim after Tony who fails to realize this at first but then it's a major and definitive wedge between him and Chris. Chris, terrified by the implications strong-arms the nominal writer into taking credit for the character. He claims that he stole the character from another movie but Tony who was on the fence about the thing easily sees past the lie, checks the original movie and takes serious offense on the whole issue.
- Eye Scream:
- Mikey, before executing Brendan Filone:
Mikey: "Hijack, bye, Jack."
- Lampshaded by Big Pussy, who requests not to get shot in the face so he can keep his eyes.
- Georgie is whacked in the eye by a ball-and-chain-like weapon by Ralphie.
- That is, literally whacked, not the other kind.
- Bobby gets mugged and beaten up by a gang of kids in Season 6. They don't kill him, but one of them shoots the pavement next to his face, which causes asphalt to shoot in his eye.
- Face Heel Turn: From Phil's point of view, "the Leotardo family has been taking shit from everybody the minute they got off the boat from Italy."
- Face of a Thug: Silvio always has a trademark, weird face expression.
- Family Values Villain: Phil Leotardo.
- Fan Service:
- Fat Girl: Ginny Sack, an acceptable target for the Jersey Crew and a Berserk Button for the husband and New York under-boss Johnny Sack.
- Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Or, just stole the whole thing.
- Fish Out of Water:
- Chris and Paulie in the episode "Pine Barrens", with some elements of Those Two Bad Guys.
- The visit to the Mother Country in "Commendatori".
- Five-Bad Band: Tony's crew in the first season.
- Five Stages of Grief: Alluded from time to time, a Season 1 episode has some of them as a title. "Denial, Anger, Acceptance".
- Foe Cooties: Tony was more than happy to have sex with his rival Ralfies girlfriend Valentina but refused to make her his permanent mistress until he found out she never had sex with Ralf (due to sexual tastes being for S + M rather than conventional sex).
- Follow the Leader:
- As discussed above, this show opened the door for a lot of shows that tried to show "gritty" depictions of crime families. Most of those shows only copied the shocking violence, and not the great dialogue, wicked sense of humor, complex themes and excellent acting that made this show a success, which is why they're all gone. The show itself isn't subtle in it's attempts to pick up where Goodfellas left off in its demythologizing of the Mafia. A truly impressive amount of the cast of this show had parts of varying significance in that film. In case it wasn't obvious enough, their first choice to play Tony Soprano was Ray Liotta.
- An in-universe Real Life emulation. Jackie Jr. learns that Tony and co. had their major breakthrough in the criminal world when they robbed a poker game organized by a big shot mobster so Jackie decides to follow the example. It ends badly, a made-man is killed and Jackie gets whacked for it.
- French Jerk: The man who embarks Artie in a very bad business deal, if not an outright con.
- Freudian Slip: Tony has one about Vito in the Season Six episode "Live Free Or Die".
Tony: This guy that got outed, look. The guys that work for me are asking for head. His head. What the fuck?!
- The Gambling Addict:
- Tony's friend David Scatino, who tragically gets Trapped by Gambling Debts.
- Chris's friend and sponsor J.T Dolan, in a very reminiscent way, but he manages to stay afloat.
- Tony himself ends up 'chasing it' after a bad luck streak. He being rich and powerful can afford it but goes through it in a very unpleasant mood and insults his friend and moneylender Hesh with the All Jews Are Cheapskates trope.
- Gayngster: Vito Spatafore.
- Genre Savvy: In Season 5, Tony gets Feech La Manna sent back to jail after realizing he shows the exact same signs of wanting to usurp his power like Richie Aprile in Season 2.
- Girls with Moustaches: In one episode, several of the wiseguys are sitting around their no-work jobs, "breaking balls" about each others' girlfriends. One teases another, saying his girl had a mustache so bad it must have been like kissing a fireman.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Once the FBI agent tasked to Tony's crew is re-assigned to anti-terrorism, he starts frequenting Satriale's, Tony's hangout, because the sandwiches are so good.
- Good Is Not Nice: The FBI are portrayed as manipulative, condescending jerks, but still unambiguously better than the mob.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Most of the mob executions are shown in their bloody entirety... except Adriana's.
- Groin Attack: Mobsters fight dirty.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Basically, you wanted to watch what you said around pretty much anyone in the cast. While there were a few exceptions that were a little more level-headed, they all had their Berserk Button.
- Henpecked Husband
- Tony's father:
Tony Now that my father's dead, he's a saint. When he was alive, nothing. And my dad was tough. He ran his own crew. A guy like that, and my mother wore him down to a little nub. He was a squeaking little gerbil when he died.
- Secondary characters like Artie and Tony's father-in-law.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: What Christopher quite blatantly attempts with his film scripts.
- Hero Antagonist: The FBI, Agent Harris in particular, Friendly Enemy of Tony's and eventually Enemy Mine against Phil because some developments about the War On Terror.
- Heroic BSOD/Villainous BSOD: Tony's panic attacks, triggered by repressed phobias, thoughts and feelings and by some unpleasant situations.
- Hollywood Sex: Vito and Johnny Cakes.
- Honorary Uncle: The mob guys are all honorary uncles towards their associates' respective children.
- Hookers and Blow: The Bada-Bing is a magnet for this.
- Hot Librarian: Dr. Melfi.
- Hypocrite: If you ask most characters, being a mafioso or abetting family member of one doesn't go in the way of being a good christian or upstanding citizen.
- Imagine Spot: Adriana has a particularly sad one in "Long Term Parking".
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Mentioned often by Tony "I'm running a fuckin' business, not a popularity contest!" Besides his close family and business associates, he has no real friends; he manages to alienate Artie, David Scatino, Hesh Rabkin, and Zellman among others.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Tony has several sex fantasies, including one where we see him with a woman while wearing a Centurion uniform. Melfi even has one about Tony!
- Inherently Funny Words: Gabagool.
- It's All About Me:
- Livia Soprano. She's always complaining about how everyone's mistreating her and how her son does not appreciate her.
- Janice, although in a much sneakier way.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Furio's old country wine, according to Junior.
- Ivy League for Everyone
- Jerkass: A lot of guys could qualify - almost every made man, minus Bobby (but still, YMMV on said character), but nobody matches up to the level of sheer obnoxiousness that is Ralph Cifaretto, who... well. Just watch the man in action, why don't you.
- Karma Houdini: Double Subversion for Jesus Rossi. First, he rapes Dr. Melfi, but not even a day later, gets caught by the police. ...And then another day later, is released due to a computer error. Melfi even has the chance to tell Tony about what happened to her (which would inevitably lead to Rossi being mutilated or killed) but chooses not to.
- Kavorka Man: Despite being a criminal prone to violent outbursts and not being particularly attractive in terms of appearance (he's middle aged, balding, and noticeably overweight), Tony finds himself in relationships with several women throughout the show in addition to his wife, Carmela. Evil Is Sexy and All Girls Want Bad Boys working in his favor, no doubt.
- Kill'Em All: The last few episodes "take care of" Christopher, Bobby Bacala and Phil Leotardo, while Silvio is in a coma he may never wake up from, and also Tony himself may have been shot in the final scene.
- Kneecapping: Paulie threatens a sports teacher who inherits the garbage business with this. Later on, Paulie obliges.
- Lampshade Hanging: In the Season 6 opener, Tony tells Dr. Melfi when they're discussing Vito's secret homosexuality that it bothers him how every other show on TV tends to rub the gay agenda or lifestyle in your nose.
- The Last Dance: Baccala Sr. has a pretty awesome/brutal one, while in the terminal stages of lung cancer.
- Let Me Tell You a Story: Tony tells Junior the story of how Octavian became Augustus and ruler of The Roman Empire. The aesop about greed and generosity is unclear and it's lost on Junior, so Tony switches to a more mundane story about two bulls mating with as many cows as possible.
- Literalist Snarking: Richie Aprile, who runs over a man with his car.
Tony: I thought I told you to back off Beansie!
- Loads and Loads of Characters. Some of them only show up every few years, and are, in the case of Tony's other sister and Flashback Livia, recast without notice.
- Long Runners: Eight years is a long time for an HBO show (they tend to run for six seasons, which The Sopranos did, but spread over only six years).
- Loud of War: Tony resorts to this against a man who refuses to return him the entrance fee of a house that Tony no longer wants. The man lives by the sea so Tony's men play invasive crooner music day and night from a boat with almost sheer impunity. The man finally caves in.
- Love Martyr: Adriana.
- The Mafia: Obviously.
- Mafia Princess: Meadow.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: A twisted version near the end of the show: Tony suffocates Christopher when they suffer an accident, killing him. The doctors think Christopher might have made it but they have no way to determine the actual fact.
- Malaproper: About half the characters, and supposedly a major reason for the show's popularity in its midlife. Little Carmine Lupertazzi is one of the most frequent offenders, to the point where other characters refer to him as "Brainless the Second" and exchange confused looks during one of his malapropism-riddled speeches. Examples:
- Meaningful Background Event: The FBI approaching Johnny Sack from behind when he is talking with Tony, who reacts in time.
- Meaningful Funeral: Frequent for violent and natural reasons; big families have a lot of relatives.
- Against Tony's opinion, Janice tries to forcefully do one for Livia but it totally backfires. A stoned Christopher delivers a bizarre eulogy, the relatives don't have anything good to say about the deceased, Carmela and her father explode against Livia and their rant is shared by others.
- Season 3 ends with Jackie Jr's wake and half the cast bawling to Uncle Junior's Italian song.
- Subverted with Junior as he doesn't actually care about some deceased individuals and he just want to attend to any planned funeral to dodge his house arrest for a while.
- Meaningful Name:
- Mind Screw: Several.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Happens to Adriana in "Irregular Around The Margins". Aggravated by Gossip Evolution.
- Mob War. Avoiding it is a major concern as blood is expensive but several times it just happens:
- Junior vs Tony in Season 1.
- In Season 5, Johnny Sack vs Little Carmine.
- In the last episodes, Phil Leotardo vs Tony Soprano.
- Moe Greene Special: Big Pussy uses that exact name after Brendan gets whacked.
- The Mole: Big Pussy, Adriana la Cerva, and Raymond Curto are the three most notable ones.
- Mommy Issues: And how. Tony goes out of his way to please his miserable Mother who is a Manipulative, self-pitying control freak who resents her children for being happier than her. The Moral Event Horizon comes when she tries to put a hit out on him. Despite this, Tony seems to be a much better parent. Janice, on the other hand, inherited her narcissism, self-pity and lack of empathy.
- Mood Whiplash: Often masterfully done. Scenes of deep introspection or lighthearted comedy will sometimes, without warning, erupt into frantic violence.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: One-legged and determined Svetlana remarks that Americans don't know what a real problem is, live an easy existence compared to the average miserable life in Russia/USSR and yet they are wimpy complainers. And then there is VALERY, the Russian Rambo who outfights Chris and Paulie in a frozen forest when he was suppressed and about to be executed. In the meantime, he shouts proudly that harsh weather is warm to him. His uncertain fate lead to WMG that David Chase deliberately HandWaved in Season 5 opener.
- Morality Pet: In "Boca", Artie and Melfi talk Tony out of killing a coach who abused his position to sleep with one of his students.
- Mercy Kill: Tony Kills Tony B to keep him from having to suffer Phil's torture.
- Ms. Fanservice: Adriana. If she's not parading around in her undies for Chris, she's bending over a trash can wearing very tight pants. Lampshaded in the third season opener when the FBI agent keeping tabs on her prays to God that he not be reassigned.
- Mugging the Monster: Bobby goes to make his pickups from an inner-city Newark "client" late at night, and winds up getting robbed by some street kids. Because he didn't bring any backup, they get away with it, and the rest of Tony's crew mock Bobby for quite some time.
- Music Video Syndrome: Averted. Almost all music has a source or reason.
- Nepotism: Tony would not hesitate to Kill anyone else in his organization who was guilty of substance abuse however he gives Chris a pass due to their close relationship. This is also shown during the conflict with New York brought on by Tony Blundetto. Tony keeps everyone else on the street to earn but has Chris moved out of harm's way.
- Naive Newcomer: The FBI sends a younger agent to "turn" Adrianna because they think she'll respond better to a young woman. When Adrianna is discovered and murdered by Silvio, Chris plants her car at the airport long-term parking to suggest that she ran away. Only the new FBI agent believes it, and the other agents' laughter at her gullibility is a serious Tear Jerker.
- Naked in Mink
- Native American Casino: Tony makes a deal with the owner of such an establishment (and even visits his casino) in an attempt to use backdoor politics to stop a Native American protest of a Christopher Columbus parade.
- Nice to the Waiter: Paulie and Chris kill a waiter who confronts them over a very low tip. They guy has a sudden seizure and Paulie, to resolve the issue simply shoots the poor bastard on the spot.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Anthony Jr. briefly becomes one in Season 2. To his parents' dismay, he suddenly starts espousing a nihilistic worldview, questions the purpose of life, name-checks Nietzsche, and declares that God Is Dead.
- Noble Bigot: Tony believes he is doing the righteous thing when he abrasively confronts Noah -- Meadow's boyfriend and Black-Jewish -- on race grounds. Noah even gets admonished by Tony because he thinks that Noah plays the race card, as he identifies himself only as black.
- No Dead Body Poops: Averted during the suicide of Eugene Pontecorvo, who also gets A Death in the Limelight.
- No Ending: Probably the most notorious example. Take a look at this, this, and this to see portions of the ending, as well as details that pop up in it.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: As mentioned above, Steve Van Zandt is primarily a musician. Silvio is his only acting role.
- The Nothing After Death: The last season in particular. The finale, if one interpretation is to be believed.
- Not in the Face: Pussy resorts to this before being killed.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Chris gets this occasionally, an important one when he -long time Captain by then- brings a serious feud he has with Paulie only to be nagged by Tony for the interruption.
- Offing the Offspring: Tony's mother tried to do this.
- Once a Season: The first episode of a mid-season shows Tony walking to the front of his house in his bathrobe to pick up the newspaper. In later seasons, he doesn't but there is a logical explanation for it.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. A lot of strange nicknames made up for it though.
- Even the nicknames start to overlap. In the pilot, there is some consternation when rumors get around that Uncle Junior wants to kill "Big Pussy" - one of Tony's right hand men, and not "Little Pussy" - one of Junior's.
- Also subverted. Tony and his son have the same first name, but the latter is always called A.J. to prevent confusion.
- Overly Long Gag: Paulie's habit of repeating his jokes is a funnier quirk on its own.
- Papa Wolf: Never ever threaten Tony's daughter.
- He also exacted brutal revenge on Matthew Bevilaqua in retaliation for an attempt on his nephew's life.
- Passed Over Promotion
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Played with.
- Tony deciding against his initial feelings during the Blundetto crisis. His crew is uneasy but Tony is a bit shielded as only Silvio manifests the opposition face to face. It's complicated as violent pressure from New York is a major consideration too.
- Tony deciding against his personal criteria during the Vito situation, his soldiers and captains are openly rebellious about it and he finally gives the go ahead basically because of peer pressure. A moot dilemma in the end because Phil beats him to the punch.
- Averted by A.J., who befriends some gangster wannabees who idolize him for being the son of the big man and make him accessory to some violent extortions, but he is unaffected.
- Pet the Dog: Literally. One of Tony's few virtues is a love of animals. It was was used against him via Melfi's fellow shrink friends, who point out that Tony's empathy for animals is also a sign of being a cold-blooded monster, since animals often mean more to such people than humans.
- This is also used after Melfi is raped. Tony is clearly upset when she calls and tells him she was in a car crash and later does Everything in his power to comfort her When she breaks down during one of their sessions.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The mobsters all have "legitimate" jobs, which they never show up for, and don't actually work when they do.
- Christopher is the only one seen regularly earning, but then again he is a rookie while the rest of the characters we mostly see are bosses and spend most of their time hanging around Bada Bing or Satriales. Explained by the hierarchical system; senior mobsters have their own crews and do mostly managerial work or collections yet they perform delicate tasks or street jobs from time to time, Paulie assaults Columbian drug dealers in Season 6.
- Subverted during an episode after Tony believes the FBI is about to pinch him for executing one of the Mooks who shot Christopher. While he doesn't get pinched, Tony's lawyer suggests he clock in at his trash collection company just to create the mask of "respectable businessman". The job bores Tony to tears and he even develops a rash from the change in routine. So he goes back to hanging out at his restaurant with his crew and everything goes back to normal.
- Begets major plot points later: When Meadow uses her dad to get Finn an allegedly "No Work" job at a construction site, he's is not comfortable spending time with the mobsters so he actually works. And being the young go-getter that he is, he shows up early to see Vito and another man having sex in the parking lot. Later, the man who owns Barone Sanitation dies, and his son (unaware of his father's "arrangements") tries to sell, threatening Paulie's legitimate income cover. Paulie viciously attacks him.
- Playing Sick: Junior, feigning dementia to avoid criminal prosecution. Invoked and then twisted as Junior is really going senile.
- Police Are Useless: Apparently, there is no law enforcement in the state of New Jersey. Tony and his crew are endlessly worrying about the FBI but there's never a hint of state and local cops investigating them for their various crimes. It's hinted and shown that the Mafia has influence and leverage over the civil servants who can control the local police (e.g. Zellman) and some cops are on the Mafia's payroll; Bobby mentions a local police as one of his sources of information. Season 1 explores this with Vin Makazian, the detective who feds information to Tony, and yet Tony treats him with contempt and not as a valuable asset.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Well, pretty much all of the male gangster characters who are quite politically incorrect and are (obviously) professional criminals. Phil might count in particular, as he is a more homophobic/generally unpleasant person than Tony (although not necessarily much more evil). Nicely illustrated during a conversation about Vito's strayed son.
Phil : I guess the turd doesn't fall far from the faggot ass.
- Post Modernism: Very often, almost Once Per Episode the show features some classic movies and songs relevant to the plot and references to other fictional works are common. Tony himself is a movie buff with a great VHS and DVD collection and at one point the roots of gangster cinema are discussed, including the The Public Enemy, the film cited by Creator David Chase as one of his major influences building the main characters.
- Pretty in Mink
- Put on a Bus:
- Finn, who put himself on a bus to San Francisco because he discovered Vito was gay.
- Also Furio, because of the Unresolved Sexual Tension between him and Carmela.
- Also Tony puts Janice on a bus to Seattle, after she shoots her fiance, Richie Aprile. Tony's solace is short-lived, she is back 'for good', on a plane (that Tony has to pay) the next season... two episodes later.
- Rape as Drama: Melfi is raped in a rather horrific sequence and later finds out, due to the police screwing up when they arrested the man, that they can't bring charges against them. And then has the misfortune of finding out that her rapist is "Employee of the Month" at a coffee shop she frequents. Angry and full of rage and realizing that Tony would easily murder the scumbag rapist, with or without her permission if told about it, Melfi decides to keep what happened to her a secret.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Jesus Rossi may be one of the least-sympathetic characters on the series.
- Real Estate Scam: Tony and his associates scheme a very profitable one, whose boundaries cause some friction with New York.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: In contrast to typical Hollywood portrayals, the experience of being shot in the head at close range would in fact be very much like "cutting to black" - the bullet would pierce the brain before it could process the sound of the gunshot.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- Nancy Marchand (Livia Soprano) died between seasons. The writers gave her a final scene with Tony cut from her previous work with Tony. It was terrible. Most jarring was that Livias lines were pretty generic with Tony's dialogue made to fit. Not to mention that Tony probably wouldn't have visited his mother or even talked to her at that point.
- Tony Sirico (Paulie Gualtieri) underwent back surgery around Season 4 and was thrown in a jail to reduce his appearances. His role was fully restored once the actor recovered.
- A Real Made Man is a Killer: Implied by an spiteful Tony when he assigns Bobby a mission to pop his cherry.
- Real Men Wear Pink:
- Bobby Baccala and his love of toy trains.
- Furio's silk shirts.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)" by Alabama 3.
- Redemption Rejection: Phil Leotardo. After nearly dying from a heart attack and crying in front of Tony when he gave him advice at the end of Part 1 of Season 6, it seemed like he was finally going to change his ways. And then Part 2 came out. This was arguably the reason why Tony killed Christopher. Despite going to rehab and getting his act together, Christopher still did drugs from time to time, which resulted in the car crash with him and Tony.
- Red Herring Twist: During a food poisoning induced dream sequence, Tony encounters a talking Red Herring that lays down some pretty hard truths Tony does not want to admit.
- Reformed but Rejected: Chris sobriety makes him drift apart from his pals, as the Bada Bing and other work places are a source of temptation. The others resent him for this. He carefully explains in an A.A. meeting how his sobriety hinders him professionally. Very sad how his almost unbearable struggle and related problems combined with some disrespectful jokes Paulie cracks about him and his daughter makes him relapse, eventually leading to his fatal car crash with Tony.
- Remember the New Guy?: Richie Aprile, Ralph, Tony B and Phil Leotardo. Justified as they were in jail since '83, the Jersey crew avoids contact with their pinched guys (Paulie in Season 4) and internally coherent, the big boss Ercole DiMeo is "a guest of the government" and he is rarely alluded, if ever, after the first episodes.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Silvio literally remembers this to Eugene Pontecorvo.
- Revealing Hug: Chris and Tony during Caitlin's baptism. Without any words, their chilling stares powerfully convey a primal fear and a bitter disappointment.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The dynamics between Tony, Phil and agent Harris in the last episode are identical to the DeVecchio FBI case. link
- Rogue Juror: A man is successfully threatened by Bobby to be this in Junior's trial.
- Rule of Three: Alluded by Tony regarding his close encounters with Death, after the second one.
- Running Gag: Silvio's Al Pacino impression.
- Sad Clown:
- Tony describes himself as one; putting on a happy, joking face to his family and friends while keeping his pain locked away. His claims -contested by Dr. Melfi- come across more as self-pitying than anything else, given his behavior throughout the series
- Reversed with Christopher's death; for Tony a big liability is 'gone' and he is very happy about that, but has to put on a sad grimace in front of the families. Eventually, he suddenly just goes to Las Vegas to enjoy himself.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Fat Dom's voice noticeably goes up an octave or so after Carlo stabs him with a cooking knife.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: Paulie resents Chris for playing the blood relation card too many times, but he is not above enforcing the trope, shamelessly; his attitude towards Finn takes a radical turn once he learns he is Meadow's boyfriend.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Matush when he hears a gunshot during Jackie Jr.'s card game heist. And then later, Jackie himself, who steals a car and leaves his friend Dino to get slaughtered.
- Secret Identity: Tony often conceals his real name to 'civilian' clerks and receptionists. This backfires soundly when he tries to use one of his usual alias -- Mr. Spears -- with a new psychiatrist aware of Tony's identity and line of work and who is Genre Savvy as he has watched Analyze This. Tony tries to argue that he is Wrong Genre Savvy as Analyze This is a comedy, but gets rejected anyway.
- Sexy Priest: Father Intintola, who also develops feelings for Carmela and needs to beat a hasty retreat out of town.
- Shout-Out: Up to Eleven Loads and loads of them, and then more.
- A playful one when Johnny Sack, on the day of his daughter's wedding asks Tony for a professional favor. Christopher casually points out that Tony can't refuse as the whole thing is identical to the one from The Godfather, Tony corrects him telling is the other way around, the father of the bride is the one who cannot refuse.
- Shown Their Work: In true Godfather style, Ralph gives pasta-cooking advice to his stepson Jackie. Writer Michael "Christopher Moltisanti" Imperioli learned it from a chef/fellow castmember, and advised people (on the commentary track) to try it. It works.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Distingished Meadow and lazy airhead A.J.
- Skunk Stripe: Paulie's trademark. It gets discussed and parodied.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Very, very cynical.
- Smoking Is Cool: Tony's signature cigars. It gets visually lampshaded when Winston Churchill, another badass Cigar Chomper shows up in a documentary that Tony is watching.
- Smug Snake: Jackie Aprile Jr., who is all cool persona and zero competence. Varying cases could be made for a lot of the main cast too. His step father Ralphie is probably the worst one in the series.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Non-diegetic music is relatively rare on the show, and when it does appear it's often incongruous.
- Sour Grapes: Many times when a character gets a rejection he twists the facts around out of hubris and tells a fantasized version to his peers in order not to lose face.
Chris : "Fuck Ben Kingsley. Danny Baldwin took him to fucking acting school."
- Spiritual Successor:
- The Starscream: Just about everyone. One of the episodes lampshades this completely.
- Stealth Pun: Phil coming out of the closet when he is handling the resolution of Vito's situation.
- Stiff Upper Lip:
- Ben Kingsley never loses his polite and calm demeanor when he is uncomfortably approached by some mafia men who are in fact deflected by his suave manners and refrain from further pressure. The mobsters however get frustrated by it and they violently mug an 81 years old Lauren Bacall so they don't leave their trip empty-handed.
- Kingsley gets to express some restrained disdain and profanity when he finds himself sharing a flight with the gangsters. It's implied he knows they are the ones behind his friend Bacall's incident.
- The Stoic: This is what Tony would like to be and sometimes laments the Americans -including him- have gone soft, always whining, complaining and dominated by their emotions. His role model is Gary Cooper; the strong, silent type.
- Stolen Good, Returned Better: Dr. Melfi is having trouble with her car, and with the mechanics who are fixing it. When Tony learns this during one of his therapy sessions, he has her car stolen, fixed, and returned that night. She's grateful, but not happy about it.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Tony, near the end of the show's run, because all of his smart, capable underlings had died, fled, or turned witness.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands:
- The FBI bugs the nursing home where Livia is Junior's Lady Macbeth and plots against Tony.
- The FBI has A Day in the Limelight episode where the procedure regarding how to plant a surveillance bug in Tony's house is shown in detail. Tony is a Properly Paranoid boss who regularly sweeps his headquarter for bugs, relies on PayPhones and avoids talking shop inside his house but he is vulnerable in the noisy basement. The bug eventually has a very limited use and the trope is subverted because the judge is adamant and the FBI is only given one shot at this method that is never used again.
- Take a Third Option:
- In the pilot, Junior wants to kill Pussy Malanga, one of his underlings, he insists on doing it in Artie Bucco's restaurant. Tony, knowing that would destroy his friend's business, tries to stop Junior. When Junior refuses to be swayed, Tony burns the restaurant down so Artie can at least take the insurance and start over. After some time Artie gets suspicious and resents Tony for it, who feels victim of the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished syndrome.
- During the alleged Tony-Adriana affair the two suffer a car accident that arouses much suspicion and gossip. Chris refuses to believe Tony's innocence plea and Tony feels his only option is to kill the erratic Chris for it. Blundetto meddles and suggest and alternative; they go and ask the E.R. guy who treated the car accident. Blundetto, thanks to his medical knowledge asks the right questions that debunk the rumors about Adriana and Tony (the driver receiving a blowjob, mind you).
- Take That: When J.T. attempts to pawn his Emmy in order to pay Chris what he owes him, the dealer only offers him $15. "Maybe if it was an Oscar, you know, an Academy Award.... but TV?"
- Taking the Kids: Done in a consensual manner; A.J. moves quite happily with his father for a while, but it doesn't work as Tony is not exactly a pushover.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
- Christopher and another mobster shoot Dino Zerilli in the head three times...and then Christopher walks up to his corpse and shoots him in the head two more times.
- A capo who disrespected Phil Leotardo is whacked by a few hitmen. One of them shoots him in the eye, and then riddles his abdomen with bullets.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Christopher and Paulie often fit this trope, especially in the Pine Barrens episode.
- Too Dumb to Live: Some of the minor characters are positively suicidal. For example:
- In Season 2, two small players decide to try and kill Christopher in an attempt to please Richie Aprile, who despises him, with the hopes that they'll get promoted. It doesn't work.
- Then there's also Darwin Award winner Jackie Aprile Jr. who tries the same thing in Season 3 by robbing Tony's gang.
- Also in Season 6, after Vito gets brutally murdered because it was discovered he's gay, one of the visiting New York guys openly implies in front of Silvio and Carlo that they had gay sex with him. Hilarity ensues.
- Tragic Hero/Tragic Villain: Tony does try to be a good person for his family and friends. The fact he's a a sociopath does kind of hinder that, though.
- Truth in Television: Junior's gradual descent into senile dementia was realistically done, including accurate depictions of the victim's good and bad days, and the eventual separation from reality.
- Turncoat: A disgruntled Paulie tries to defect to New York so he starts feeding sensitive information to a cajoling Johnny Sack. Paulie discovers he has been duped when he learns that the New York big boss practically doesn't know who he is.
- TV Never Lies: Adriana gets the idea from a TV legal show she is watching that married people can't testify against their spouses, and decides to marry Chris to gain this protection. But a real lawyer tells her it doesn't work that way, mentioning retroactivity and precedents where the Department of Justice circumvented the privilege.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Almost every single male character is married or in a relationship with insanely hot women, while usually also cheating on them with other even hotter women. Subverted with Johnny Sack: due to his high rank in the New York crew it's assumed that like all the others he has a hot wife with affairs on the side. In Season 4, we see however that his wife is a rather large woman who he loves deeply and does not cheat on.
- The Un-Reveal: So did Ralphie really kill Pie-Oh-My? What happened to the Russian? Did Hadyu really kill Christopher's father? And what about that ending?
- Undignified Death: Gigi Cestone, who suffers a heart attack while constipated on the Bada Bing toilet and surrounded by porn magazines.
- The Unfair Sex: Averted. The two female characters who appear on the show are as ruthless as the male gangsters. There's also Evil Matriarch Livia and immoral Janice. The wives on the show are depicted as hypocritical for claiming to be religious while living off blood money.
- Unfortunate Names: Phil Leotardo openly complains that his legal family name used to be "Leonardo", like the painter. But an Ellis Island bureaucrat goofed it up, and now he's saddled with a name for a ballet outfit.
- Vader Breath: Tony snorts heavily when he gets particularly agitated.
- Verbal Tic: Paulie's he-he. Tony gets annoyed by it and asks Paulie if he has ever been checked for Tourettes Syndrome.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villains Out Shopping: Omnipresent, since the show focuses on both the personal and professional lives of the mobsters.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Averted. Frequently. If someone pukes on this show, there's a 95% chance the bile will be shown.
- Vorpal Pillow: Tony grabs a pillow and is going to use this kind of retaliation against his mother, but he gets interrupted. Melfi makes a Call Back to it much later, but Tony is in denial.
- Wakeup Makeup: Subverted, Tony frequently rocks some impressive bed-head.
- We Could Have Avoided All This:
- Tony's reflections about the struggle with his uncle.
Tony "Uncle Junior and I, we had our problems with the business but I never should have razzed him about eating pussy. This whole war could have been averted. Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this."
- Little Carmine slides from pompous to pragmatist in late seasons and mentions the trope sometimes. Other New York bosses do the opposite.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Christopher is this to Tony despite not technically being his father.
- We Used to Be Friends: Tony bitterly comments this regarding Johnny Sack as the New York boss gets more ruthless and less pragmatic and amiable. Still, Tony is very sad when Johnny passes away and still loves him despite some of his final actions.
- Wham! Line:
- What Does She See in Him?: Adriana and Chris.
Tony: "Frankly, you scored so far over your head. She's a knockout, a 10, and look at you. You're average at best."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Or to the Russian. It gets discussed briefly and hand-waved in Season 5 as David Chase deemed it unimportant.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Tony's/Gandolfini's signature Joisey accent drops significantly during his Season 6 Adventures in Coma Land.
- Wicked Cultured: Zigzagged.
- While Tony has moments of unsophistication he is not the average goombah, his "semester and a half of college" background really shows up from time to time and he can hold his ground intellectually with Dr Melfi, understanding many references and complex concepts (e.g he can cite Freud and Sun-Tzu).
- Paulie tries too hard to emulate Tony and appear cultivated but he fails many times, he is prone to malapropisms and misconceptions.
- With Due Respect: Done in the episode "All Due Respect".
- Silvio pulls this with Tony when Tony seems willing to go to war against New York over the Blundetto-Leotardo situation. Tony gives it right back to him:
Tony All due respect, you got no fuckin' idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fuckin' thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all.
- Tony with Johnny Sack in a heated discussion regarding the Blundetto situation. Tony then gets tired of this formality and delivers an outright insult.
- Witness Protection
- A former associate turned informant and relocated via it is found and executed by Tony during a trip with Meadow.
- Chris and Adriana contemplate the option of joining it. They don't.
- World of Snark: While some characters are more sarcastic than others, most characters make at least one memorable sarcastic quip. It's particularly notable in the "meeting of minds" between Tony and Phil, which features these exchanges:
Little Carmine: For whatever reason, certain incidents have expired lately, that, in addition to being dangerous, could have an adverse impact on our respective bottom lines.
- Then a few seconds later:
Phil: He's MIA, a lot of people are concerned for his well-being.
- Would Hit a Girl:
- Christopher and Tony. Subverted in the Season 4 finale, when Tony stops himself from hitting Carmela and punches the wall.
- Ralphie takes this to the extreme and not only punches a pregnant woman, but beats her to death.
- Tony nearly chokes Gloria to death when she threatens to tell his family about their affair and barely refrains himself from Killing her.
- Hot-headed Richie Aprile hits Janice. She hits him back. With a gun.
- X Meets Y: Chris summarizes his movie as "Saw meets The Godfather".
- You Always Hear the Bullet: Discussed and debunked by Tony, Bobby, Silvio and physically averted in the final scene, according to the main theory.
- You Look Familiar: Joseph R. Gannascoli played a random bakery client named Gino in a Season 1 scene (the one mentioned in Actor Allusion in the Trivia section) before landing into his Vito Spatafore role in Season 2.
- Your Cheating Heart: Tony's extramarital affairs are naturally explored and generate a great deal of problems.
- You Remind Me of X: As pointed by his shrink, Tony's goomars bear a resemblance to his unpleasable mother -dark hair, contemptuous and with issues- and even to Dr. Melfi herself -interesting, independent/ sophisticated women. Tony ask his first and simplest lover to dress more businesslike, with Melfi in mind. Later on, Tony makes a explicit mother connection with the troubled Gloria Trillo.
- Your Head Asplode: Phil Leotardo after his head is run over by a tire. Off-screen. Given his nature, that was probably something the viewers wanted to see.
- You Talkin' to Me?:
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Lost in Pine Barrens, fearing for his life Chris draws a gun on Paulie, who tries to calm him down:
Paulie: All the shit we been through. You think I'd really kill you?
Cleaver is a Show Within a Show movie written and produced by Christopher Moltesanti in season 6, but who has been working on and off on the project since season 1. It is about Michael, a Mafia hitman who gets set up and killed by his associates. This is done at the instigation of Michael's boss Salvatore, who is lusting after Michael’s fiancé. Michael is then resurrected as the eponymous "Cleaver", an undead zombie who kills off all his former enemies one by one, including his boss and former fiancé.
- Asian Hooker Stereotype: Michael's Asian-American fiancé is due to marry him in two days and is initially worried when he goes missing, but all it needs to convince her to forget about him and bang his boss is two tacky come-on lines from Sal. Notable primarily for being a Race Lift, since Adriana was white.
- Bad Boss: Salvatore is shown to be quite trigger-happy and unwilling to listen to reason while having a discussion with his crew. He probably even set up Michael’s death to put the moves on his fiancé.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Christopher's life.
- The Don: Mob boss Salvatore, played by Daniel Baldwin.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Michael as an undead killer.
- Fat Bastard: Downplayed. Salvatore is not morbidly overweight, but is shown to have quite a gut while talking to his underlings.
- Faux Symbolism: For no real reason the movie closes on a close-up shot of a crucifix and a cornicello, to "juxtapose the sacred and the profane".
- Follow the Leader: Chris pitches the movie as trying to cash in on the Saw craze.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Christopher mentions that Michael rises from the grave, but doesn't decide whether it's done through technological or supernatural means.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Sal arranges to have Michael killed because he wants to sleep with his fiancé.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Said by the Cleaver before killing Sal:
Michael: Well, this is mine too Sal. [holds up meat cleaver] And you can have it!
- Professional Killer: Michael before his demise.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Michael is resurrected so that he can kill the people responsible for his death.
- Self-Insert Fic: It's quite obvious that Michael is a stand-in for Christopher, Salvatore for Tony, and Michael’s fiancé for Adriana.
- Tantrum Throwing: Salvatore angrily throws a bottle of coins against a cellar wall, shattering it.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In a roundabout way. Christopher consciously or unconsciously based much of the movie on his own life, Tony's behaviour, and his suspicions regarding Tony and Adriana having slept together. Carmela calls it "a revenge fantasy that ends up with the boss's head split open by a meat cleaver".
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted. Sal's first reaction to seeing the undead Michael is to empty his gun into him.
- Write What You Know: Chris took inspiration for the script from parts of his own life.
- X Meets Y: The movie is described as "Saw meets The Godfather".
- Your Cheating Heart: Michael's fiancé and Sal.
- he is not exactly "a Cutie" but since he attempts redemption he gets more sympathetically and is not a haughty
- antagonist but not a heinous villain by the shows standards