- The Sopranos’ effective character deaths created genuine emotions and added to the show’s realism, like Christopher Moltisanti’s mysterious demise.
- Though some characters on the show deserved more development before being killed off, it wasn’t always the show’s fault for not elaborating.
- Characters like Jimmy Altieri and Bobby Baccalieri Sr. left a lasting impact despite their short appearances, leaving viewers wanting more.
An underrated reason why The Sopranos is considered one of the best TV shows ever made is that when a character died, their death resonated, but some of them deserved more screen time before they were killed off. When certain characters from The Sopranos died, the death mattered due to the time they’d been on screen. Christopher Moltisanti’s death in season 6 for reasons unknown, for example, was one of the show’s most iconic moments because there still isn’t a concrete reason explaining why Tony killed him. Instead, there were only theories.
That’s one of the better examples of how effectively The Sopranos killed off characters without making it feel like they were repeating themselves. How they executed their death could make the audience feel heartbroken, elated, confused, or all three. It made the show feel like it was all real. While The Sopranos didn’t necessarily make any big mistakes with their characters, some of the characters deserved more elaboration before getting zed, although, at times, that wasn’t The Sopranos‘ fault.
6. Jimmy Altieri
Last appearance: Season 1, Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeanie Cusimano”
Jimmy Altieri didn’t get much screen time during his run on The Sopranos. All that was known about him was that he was a Capo in the Dimeo family who was arrested for gun charges while running a poker game. However, because Tony suspects that Vin Makazian named the wrong mobster – primarily due to denial – he believes Jimmy has become an FBI informant. While others seemed to confirm that his behavior would give him the appearance of a rat, all of it was rooted in confirmation bias.
What makes Jimmy Altieri’s death all the sadder is that the motive for his murder was that Tony and his crew refused to accept that Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensero had betrayed them and directed their suspicion onto Jimmy. Because it was never confirmed if Jimmy Altieri was an FBI informant, along with Pussy’s status as a rat being confirmed, Altieri’s murder remains an underrated tragedy on The Sopranos. It’s very possible both he and Pussy were informants, but they never had concrete evidence on the former.
5. Bobby Baccalieri Sr.
Last appearance: Season 3, Episode 5, “Another Toothpick”
He only made one appearance, but Bobby Baccalieri Sr. made himself one of The Sopranos fan favorites in his very short time on the show. Baccalieri Sr. stood out because he was a senior citizen and retired gangster dying from lung cancer before he got one last kill in. The setup was brilliant. After Mustang Sally brutally attacked Vito Spatafore’s brother, Tony sent Bobby to kill him, believing Sally wouldn’t believe his own Godfather wouldn’t kill him especially knowing the frail state he was in. Once Baccalieri got the job done, viewers could see he was a man who missed the life as a contract killer, killing Sally and his roommate not just because he was asked but for the thrill.
What also made the aging mobster so appealing was how much he differed from his son, Bobby Baccalieri Jr., who was perhaps the least violent mobster on the show. Jr. didn’t carry out hits until very late in the show and wasn’t violent unless provoked. Sr.’s time on the show was so epic that it would have been awesome to see more of him, perhaps in his younger days. If that’s not enough, Jr. said that his dad, “wished he coulda just stayed in the shop full-time, just cut hair,” making for quite an ironic quote and one of Bacala’s best quotes on The Sopranos.
4. Vin Makazian
Last appearance (canonically): Season 1, Episode 11, “Nobody Knows Anything”
On the surface, Vin Makazian seemed like a typical dirty cop who would do the dirty work to look good for the mafia. However, there was more to him than that. Despite being a crooked cop, Makazian suffered from depression, gambling addiction, and loneliness. He genuinely wanted to befriend Tony and the others. He also proved his worth when he exposed Pussy for being “wired for sound,” which initially fell on deaf ears because of Pussy’s rapport with everyone else.
Because Makazian was arrested in a brothel, he was going to not only lose his badge but also face charges, which pushed him to suicide. While he brought a lot of his troubles onto himself, Makazian desired friendship. Even worse, he could have been an excellent asset for Tony and his crew with the information he had. They may have refused to believe it initially, but he was right about Pussy. Had he lived, Makazian could have been a game-changer for a lot of Tony’s problems.
3. Gloria Trillo
Last appearance (canonically): Season 3, Episode 12, “Amour Fou”
Despite The Sopranos being a show about stone-cold killer mafiosos, Gloria Trillo stood out as arguably the show’s most insane character. Initially appearing as an intelligent and charming beauty, Gloria later proved to be mentally unstable, manipulative, and melodramatic. She loved creating drama so much that she resorted to driving Carmela home just to get a rise out of Tony. She was so disturbed that she tried to goad Tony into killing her instead of ending their relationship, ranking her among Tony’s top mistresses in The Sopranos.
Her struggles with mental illness made her one of the show’s saddest and yet most intimidating characters. She had one of the most fascinating shortlived arcs in the show, but, knowing that she committed suicide after the breakup, it would have been interesting to see how she would have done if she had first tried to move on from Tony. Or worse yet, if she tried to start again with him. While Gloria clearly had serious issues, viewers could have seen more of who she truly was if she had tried to push her luck with Tony even after Patsy Parisi threatened her life.
2. Jackie Aprile Sr.
Last appearance (canonically): Season 1, Episode 4, “Meadowlands”
Jackie Aprile was not only the previous boss before Tony took over but was one of Tony’s closest friends. When The Sopranos begins, Jackie is dying from stomach cancer, thus potentially leaving an opening for his replacement. Before his death, Jackie was well-respected as the boss of the family. After his death, The Sopranos shows how good of a boss he was whenever he made deals, as he always had a cool but upfront demeanor in discussions.
Because the show revolves around the never-ending struggles Tony goes through in his day-to-day life as a mafioso and a family man, the show could have delved into whether Jackie had similar problems. The Sopranos always told the story from Tony’s perspective. Jackie Aprile was immortalized as the boss, but that didn’t necessarily have to be true. Seeing Jackie’s struggles could have served as a warning for Tony that being the boss isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
1. Livia Soprano
Last appearance: Season 3, Episode 2, “Proshai, Livushka”
Anyone who loved The Sopranos knew this was coming due in part because there was originally no intention to kill off Livia Soprano. At least, not after season 2 wrapped up. Livia Soprano was easily the show’s most despicable character because no matter what anyone did for her, she would always twist it in any way she could to make those around her as miserable as she was. Even more disturbing was that she ordered Tony’s murder as revenge for sending her to a retirement facility.
Before Nancy Marchand’s death, The Sopranos’ original plan with Livia could have changed everything for Tony because she was supposed to testify against her own son for giving her stolen airline tickets. Since Livia had betrayed Tony before, it’s not hard to imagine she’ll do what she can to get herself out of trouble. Had she done so, it would have made for one of The Sopranos‘ greatest betrayals. It’s very impressive that The Sopranos wound up being arguably the greatest show ever made, and yet one can only wonder what would have happened if Livia, the show’s best villain even if she had a sad backstory, had been in the show longer.