Given the huge fanbase of the show, The Sopranos‘ characters continue to hold a memorable status among audiences. Apart from the antihero Tony Soprano and his family members, most of the main cast included Tony’s close associates in the criminal world. Tony’s therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi also appears as a prominent character, with her arc forming a major element in the show’s overall storyline.
Most of the characters appear for the first time in the same episode — the pilot simply known as “The Sopranos.” The critically-acclaimed finale “Made In America” also marked their final appearance and in total, these characters were on the screen anywhere from 50 to 80 episodes.
Janice Soprano: 50 Episodes
Janice first appeared in the Season 1 Sopranos episode, “Down Neck,” as a child in a flashback sequence. Present in every season since then, Janice’s final appearance was in “Made in America,” which deals with her fate after her partner Bobby Baccalieri’s murder.
Most of her episodes find her making impulsive decisions, be it in terms of her career or the toxic men she dates (Bobby being the exception). A recurring theme is her constant rivalry with her younger brother, Tony, who initially refuses to help her but eventually gives in to familial ties.
Corrado “Junior” Soprano: 55 Episodes
Popularly known as “Junior,” Corrado Soprano is a recurring cast member who first appeared in the series pilot, “The Sopranos.” Since then, he has appeared in a varied set of episodes in different roles as the DiMeo Family’s capo, boss, and retired boss. “Made In America” marked his final appearance.
A lot changed in Junior’s personality during his six-season run. Initially, he was an aged yet ruthless mobster who was willing to do away with his own nephew for absolute control over the family. However, when Tony gains power, Junior mellows out. Towards the end, he proves to be less of a threat, owing to old age and illness.
Dr. Jennifer Melfi: 69 Episodes
Dr. Jennifer Melfi has been a part of The Sopranos ensemble right from the start, as Tony Soprano becomes her client right from the very first episode, “The Sopranos.” Like many other main characters on The Sopranos, the psychiatrist makes her last appearance in the series finale.
Melfi mostly appears in one-on-one conversations, offering pieces of advice to Tony. While the gangster visits her for his panic attacks, he eventually starts fancying her, which makes their relationship more complicated. At times, she can also be seen outside her office with her romantic partners or academic friends.
Meadow Soprano: 70 Episodes
Another one of The Sopranos characters who debuted in the pilot episode, Meadow is Tony’s daughter and also changed a lot over the seasons. As the finale is increasingly family-centric, Meadow made her final appearance in this episode (particularly in a shocking diner scene). Out of all her appearances, “College” continues to be a fan favorite, as she finally gets to know the true nature of Tony’s business, which can be summed up in the quote, “Dad, are you in the Mafia?”
Originally, Meadow was seen as a troublemaking teenager, but she seems to give up her bratty behavior as she grows older and understands the real-life consequences of her father’s criminal activities. She also becomes increasingly involved in activism and legal aid towards the show’s latter half.
Anthony Soprano, Jr.: 72 Episodes
Anthony aka AJ is Tony and Carmela Soprano’s son, who is mostly depicted as an underachieving youngster with insecurities and self-esteem issues. Apart from his debut (“The Sopranos”) and final appearance (“Made In America”), he has been present in some heavily emotional episodes, such as season 6’s “The Second Coming.”
Much like his sister, Meadow, AJ was just another bratty teenager in the initial episodes. Later, he seems to go through a cynical phase when he gets involved with philosophical readings. He also, at times, uses his father’s influence to cause trouble, but eventually gives up on his criminal fantasies. AJ’s professional fate is left uncertain in the finale, but he finally seems to have found a purpose in life as Tony gets him a job at a film production company.
Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri: 74 Episodes
A close aide to Tony Soprano, Paulie Walnuts is one of the most distinct characters on the series with his outbursts of anger, love for Italian cuisine, and his classic catchphrase, “Get the f*** outta here.” He debuts in “The Sopranos” as a family foot soldier, but he is eventually promoted to capo from season 2 onwards, a position he continues to hold until his last appearance in “Made In America.”
Wile Paulie can be paranoid and short-tempered, his presence can also make for some comedic moments. For instance, his banter with Christopher in a wintry forest makes “Pine Barrens” one of the best episodes of The Sopranos.
Silvio Dante: 78 Episodes
One of Tony’s closest friends in The Sopranos and a consigliere to the family, Silvio Dante is increasingly loyal to the series protagonist and appears alongside him in a vast majority of episodes. “The Blue Comet” proves to be a major episode in season 6 when Silvio is shot in the chest as the Lupertazzis wage a rebellion against Tony.
Silvio does appear in the finale, but in a comatose state, and Tony just tearfully stares at him, not knowing whether he will live or not. As Tony’s close associate, Silvio had to make some important decisions for the family. A major example is the episode “Long Term Parking,” in which he killed Adriana.
Christopher Moltisanti: 80 Episodes
Tony’s nephew and protege, Christopher Moltisanti, is one of the most identifiable characters in the series. While he is as loyal as Paulie and Silvio, he does not shy away from expressing his displeasure towards Tony’s leadership, at times. He has been a series mainstay since “The Sopranos” until his shocking death in the season 6 episode, “Kennedy and Heidi.”
While his death at the hands of Tony came off as an unexpected plot twist, it also makes sense given how troublesome he had become for Tony’s business. Other Christopher episodes in The Sopranos, like “Commendatori,” “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti,” and “Cold Cuts” reveal his substance abuse issues, his love for Hollywood over crime, and the constant insecurities he faces in front of Tony.
Carmela Soprano: 85 Episodes
Carmela Soprano might not be a part of her husband’s criminal operations, but her story is heavily integral to the overall narrative of the show. Starting with “The Sopranos” and ending with “Made In America,” Carmela has appeared in every episode of the series barring “Where’s Johnny” in season 5.
Often suffering the brunt of Tony’s infidelity and temper, Carmela matures throughout the series and becomes more independent. “Whitecaps” reveals more of Tony and Carmela’s toxic relationship as she shows feelings for Furio, calling Tony a hypocrite. Towards the finale, she reconciles with Tony and her children, offering hope for their otherwise dysfunctional family.
Tony Soprano: 86 Episodes
It is not surprising to find that Tony Soprano appears in each and every episode of The Sopranos. From opening up about his issues to Dr. Melfi to ordering the hit on his enemies, Tony goes through a lot of mental struggle as the head honcho of the DiMeo Crime Family.
Apart from being a questionable husband to Carmela, he is also not a great parent given the way he shouts at AJ and Meadow and trivializes their interests. However, in episodes like “College” and “Second Coming,” he is willing to make amends with his family. Another common thread to Tony’s best episodes includes his hallucinatory sequences as can be seen in episodes like “Isabella” and “Kennedy And Heidi.” The rest of the episodes find him doubting the loyalty of his friends and family, be it Uncle Junior or Christopher.