The Soprano's was the greatest television drama ever created - not The Wire, Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Sorry. Just earlier this month it was named by the Writer's Guild of America at the top of their 100 best list.
The reason for that is because before David Chase brought his New Jersey mob family to HBO, television dramas were good but they weren't the epic sagas that they've come to be today. The Sopranos ushered that in with its novel worthy characters and commitment to in-depth story.
With the untimely passing of its most notable character, Tony Soprano, now is a time for fans to look back at one of the most complex characters to ever grace the small screen. These are Tony Soprano's 10 greatest moments.
When you're the boss you have to get your hands dirty occasionally, and one of the more poignant examples of this is the task of Tony whacking his own cousin. When Tony Blundetto is released from prison he tries to go straight but it's not long before they pull him back in. One thing leads to another and he ends up killing Joey Peeps of Johnny Sack's crew who is now demanding that Tony hand over his cousin for justice. Tony takes matters into his own hands and tracks down his cousin who's on the run. With Van Morrison blasting and an even louder shotgun blast, it's lights out for Blundetto.
Mother and son relationships are often complicated and when the family business is organized crime things are even more tumultuous. Tony's mother was never very loving and when he discovers that she's conspiring with Uncle Junior against him, he becomes enraged. At this point, Tony has little sympathy for his mother who's just had a stroke but still has an evil smile across her face.
Tony's relationships with the women in his life are often dramatic, and his relationship with his psychiatrist Dr. Melfi is no different. Tony first starts visiting Dr. Melfi to deal with his panic attacks, but it comes immediately evident that there's a romantic attraction, at least on one side of the couch.
Many a Soprano's dinner has taken place in family friend Artie Bucco's restaurant. In this particular scene Tony addresses the family and associates concerning his cousin's offenses and what it means to watch out for members of the family. The scene doesn't reference the classic mafia saying "this thing of ours" but the point is driven home.
New York family boss Johnny Sack always had a strained relationship with Tony and it's perhaps never been under greater pressure than after Tony's cousin killed a member of Johnny's crew. The two kingpins meet under the moonlight of the light the Brooklyn Bridge to try to come to a compromise, but Johnny Sack won't budge. Johnny's got Tony under his thumb and this is perhaps the closest we ever see Tony come to graveling. Before a final f*ck you of course.
Second only to Tony, Carmela Soprano was probably the most complex character on the show. She hates her husband's criminal activity and numerous affairs, but buries her anger in the comfortable lifestyle he's afforded her. When Tony fronts her money to invest in a real estate deal that goes under, she can't help but lash out at him in one of the couple's most epic fights. Despite Tony's non-so-legit business, he's still a better business man and that's just one more reason to resent him.
Christopher Moltisanti may be Tony's family but that doesn't stop him from dealing with his heroin addicted nephew in the harshest way possible. After a bad car crash, Tony seizes upon the opportunity to rid himself the years of trouble caused by Christopher with the simple pinch of a nose.
Ask any Soprano's fan which character on the show they most despised and Ralphie Cifaretto will almost always float to the top of the list. Crude, rude, and heartless to any man, woman or beast that crossed his path, Ralph angers Tony for the final time after killing his beloved race horse Pie-O-My in a stable fire.
After a strenuous physical recovery from a gunshot wound, Tony senses his command with his crew slowly slipping away. In an effort to restore respect and instill fear back into his subordinates, Tony picks a fight with the biggest soldier in the room, beating him down in front of everyone.
Perhaps one of the best episodes of the series was "College" the fifth episode of the first season, in which Tony takes daughter Meadow to visit schools. During his trip he encounters a rat and stalks him throughout the college visit, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It's a scene that paints for viewers the full picture of Tony Soprano - a loving father, but at the same time a cold-blooded killer who rules with a ruthless power.