‘The Sopranos’ Greatest Hits
Hesh once told Christopher, “a hit is a hit.” So, who knew he meant something other than billboard music chart-toppers. In the day and age of DNA, security cameras, and good old-fashioned witnesses, the members of the Soprano family and associates were wildly successful and efficient killers (I doubt they could function effectively today with the invention of Ring and cloud-based systems, but I’m not here to quibble). They, however, managed to avoid being arrested for any “hit” by government enforcement agencies for almost a decade (or maybe Tony was a mole all along).
After 86 episodes (which we completely ranked just yesterday), hundreds of bullets, gallons of blood, numerous pleas for one’s mommy, and one bowling ball later, we have collected (we think) every death that happened at the hands of another, with a few educated guesses. Anything that wasn’t happening within the moment on-screen was left out (sorry, Pie-O-My), and some exceptions were made.
Would you please read the definitive list of the greatest game of “whack-a-mole” that was ever played below? One thing is for certain, however: since watching the show, I haven’t visited a local butcher shop since, and I am pretty sure David Chase and company are responsible for that dying trade.
#44 & #43: Credenso Curtis and Stanley Johnson [Season 4, Episode 13, “Whitecaps”] / John Clayborn and Rasheen Ray [Season 1, Episode 12, “Isabella”]
Tony takes out two men Junior hired to kill him and make it look like a car-jacking in the episode titled “Isabella.” In “Whitecaps,” Christopher makes sure the ones to whack Carmine, and they would also make it look like a robbery, so they “don’t talk.” This is an unfortunate pattern of stereotypes that the show often used to portray African-American characters as criminals or used to fool police officers who would not be able to put two and two together.
#42: Valery, the tragic figure [Season 3, Episode 11, “Pine Barrens”]
In a shining moment for fans of the Laurel & Hardy shenanigans of Paulie and Christopher, they are sent to collect money from a Russian named Valery ( The American’s Vitali Baganov) for Sil, who has the flu, things go bad, terrible. Things almost always go like this, they say for men in small rooms, not to mention the woods, and in the middle of winter. The boys try to bury the man, who, of course, escapes (why so many people didn’t think of using a shovel as a weapon before Valery was told to dig his own grave, I’ll never know), and they never will see him again.
Don’t Feel Bad: Valery was a former special-ops Chechen soldier; he may have found a hospital, get help with his substance abuse, and don’t forget that head wound, so there is a chance he then lived out his days happily.
#41: The director of the “hotel at Captain Teebs” [Season 2, Episode 2, “Do Not Resuscitate”]
The Green Grove retirement community director couldn’t help himself, spreading rumors all over Camden County about how Tony Soprano tried to smother his Mother and spread a rumor she was sleeping with her dead husband’s brother.
Don’t Feel Bad: A clear example of if you are stupid enough to do this, you deserve what you get.
#40: Gilbert [Season 5, Episode 12, “Long Term Parking]
In one of the very few oddly out-of-place moments of the show, a murder occurred we never saw before, and seen in flashbacks, Adrianna walked in on a hostile patron named Gilbert who confronted a drug dealer we have seen before named Matush. He is then wrestled to the ground, then stabbed multiple times, and they dispose of the body off-camera.
Don’t Feel Bad: This scene was told in flashbacks, seemed to be created to get Adrianna squeezed by the feds. After watching it, I am unsure whether she is lying to cover for Christopher or herself. I’ll take it as an aberration.
#39: Gallegos [Season 1, Episode 10, “A Hit is a Hit”]
Paulie gives one of his trademark contradictory directives to a Columbian mobster, telling him to give his crew a message, and then shoots him in the head immediately after.
Don’t Feel Bad: I mean, he was a bag man for a rival mob, so, as The Omar Rule states, he knew the rules of the game.
#38: Carlo [Season 3, Episode 12, “Amour Fou”]
Carlo was a late addition to the crew that attempted to move up the food chain by robbing a poker game that hosted many of the regular Sopranos cast, including Christopher.
Don’t Feel Bad: We hardly knew him, but he was associated with Matush and selling drugs to kids.
#37: Jeep Owner [Season 6, Episode 10, “Moe n’ Joe”]
A man who parks on the street to gather his mail has his car rear-ended by a drunk gangster on the lam. He gets Vito to admit it was his fault and tells him he can head with him to the house so they can file a report with the police for his insurance. He then passively, almost inertly, turns his back to him, allowing Vito to pull out a gun and shoots him the back.
Don’t Feel Bad: The car owner is arrogant, so does the world really need another gasbag?
#36: Tracee [Season 3, Episode 6, “University”]
Ralphie kills Tracee after disrespecting her at The Bing in front of his crew, and Tony attacks him, even though he is a made guy.
Don’t Feel Bad: I would never condone violence against women, but the writers made sure to let the audience know that Tracee had her son taken away for burning him with her own lit cigarettes for a reason. You knew right then and there she was a goner.
#35: Vito [Season 6, Episode 11, “Cold Stones”]
Phil kills Vito, ironically, by hiding and coming out of his closet while waiting for him to come home (brutal; sure, he was a killer, but Vito might be the most brutal death for simply being himself.)
Don’t Feel Bad: It’s a hate crime, yes, but Vito was responsible for several killings, including Jackie Jr.
#34: Colombian #1 & Luiz Ruiz [Season 6, Episode 3, “Mayhem”]
Paulie and a friend come away with the biggest score of his career, as they knock off a superintendent and a man credited as Columbian #1.
Don’t Feel Bad: Please allow me to cite the Omar rule for the second time.
#33: Rusty Irish [Season 1, Episode 6, “Pax Soprano”]
Mikey Palmice and an associate, in broad daylight, mind you, take a local drug dealer named Rusty Irish to a bridge overlooking Patterson falls and toss him over to the rocks below. This hit would set the tone for a series that kept upping itself in terms of its constant whack-a-mole.
Don’t Feel Bad: Rusty Irish was his best earner but sold the drugs to old-man Lapri’s 14-year old grandson that got him hooked and eventually committing suicide over, you guessed it, over Patterson Falls.
#32: Jimmy Bones [Season 2, Episode 4, “Commendatori”]
Years before Joaquin did it in You Were Never Really Here, Big P***y (is there a Little P***y we never met in the show?) takes a hammer to his friend Jimmy Bones, who he ran into while meeting with his FBI handler, which he then tried to pass off as a friend from Delaware.
Don’t Feel Bad: This is no Heart Break Hotel because this is one less Elvis impersonator we have to deal with in the grand scheme of things.
#31: Sunshine [Season 3, Episode 12, “Amour Fou”]
Like most card dealers, Sunshine was engaging and very entertaining in the limited episodes he appeared in. He just picked the wrong time to be at his snarky best.
Don’t Feel Bad: When you start breaking balls of the guys holding firearms as they are in the process of taking your money, you deserve what you get.
#30: Eugene [Season 6, Episode 1, “Members Only”]
Eugene, who specialized in muscle and no-show jobs, hangs himself when he sees no way out and because his oldest son is hooked on heroin. This would allow his wife and kids to move out of North Jersey and take his family to Florida for a better life.
Don’t Feel Bad: Eugene hit little Paulie in the head with a glass bottle, but that’s just made men being made men. Killing a witness during a Soprano family trial was wrong, but I guess that gave that us more memorable Junior Soprano episodes in later seasons.
#29: Sean [Season 2, Episode 8, “Full Leather Jacket”]
While trying to kill Christopher for Richie, Sean and Matt get caught on his seat belt, and Christopher then gets a shot off that hits him in the head.
Don’t Feel Bad: He sold a fake stock that ripped off millions from people who then would lose their savings, most likely causing suicides in the process.
#28: Jackie Jr. [Season 3, Episode 13, “Army of One”]
Jackie Jr. thought his place as the heir to the throne was a given, but he never wanted to put the work in. His ambition was always bigger than his stomach, killing a car dealer, shooting Furio in the leg while attempting to rob a card game. This allowed Vito to make his nut by shooting him from behind when he takes a walk to the park, with the family later spinning the story that drug dealers gunned him down.
Don’t Feel Bad: He killed Sunshine and robbed a charity event at Rutgers, so this is one less lost in the woods millennial the world has to deal with.
#27: Donny Boy [Season 1, Episode 12, “Isabella”]
Junior tells Mikey to take out Donny Boy because he talks too much. After Mikey drives away, in a hilarious moment, the head of the Jersey mob is seen peeking over the door frame, still hiding in the backseat.
Don’t Feel Bad: Donny is the middleman that mobsters use in North Jersey to find hitmen that won’t be tracked back to his clients. Today, he would be replaced by the dark web.
#26: Philly [Season 2, Episode 1, “A Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist’s Office”]
Philly gets whacked by a member of his own family, Gigi, for spreading rumors of the personal fallout of Tony and his Uncle June.
Don’t Feel Bad: David Chase pulls a Scooby-Doo and brings back actor Daniel “Dan” Grimaldi as Philly’s twin brother Patsy. He comes back in the Season 2 finale titled “The Funhouse,” now just wearing a pair of glasses.
#25: Rene Lecours [Season 6, Episode 13, “Soprano Home Movies”]
To get revenge on Bobby knocking Tony down for the count, Bobby is sent to perform a contract hit on a deadbeat, trying to use his son as a bargaining chip. Bobby pops his Mafioso cherry for the first time after confiding in Tony that he was proud he has never had to perform a hit.
Don’t Feel Bad: Rene was a deadbeat using his son as a pawn to get his ex-wife to pay him a healthy divorce settlement, then, and then only, would he let his son be with his mother.
#24: Brendan Felone [Season 1, Episode 3, “Denial, Anger, Acceptance”]
Goodbye, Brendan Felone; you didn’t know The Sopranos would turn into a cultural touchstone, as you were killed off in episode three of season one, by Mikey Palmice, for stealing suits out of one of Junior’s trucks.
Don’t Feel Bad: Brendan sells drugs to kids, was responsible for a citizen’s death when attempting to hijack a semi-truck, and repeatedly tried to get with an underage Hunter. When you do that to the daughter who created the show in the first place, you are probably not long for North Caldwell, New Jersey.
#23: Angelo [Season 5, Episode 11, “The Test Stream”]
Phil Leotardo whacks Angelo Garepe in the trunk of his car when he wouldn’t stay retired (coincidentally, Frank Vincent played the doomed mobster Joe Pesci killed similarly in a trunk in the opening sequence of Goodfellas).
Don’t Feel Bad: Angelo stepped back in the game, and he knew the rules.
#22: Chucky Signore [Season 1, Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”]
In the first of three killings in the season one finale, Tony takes out Chucky with a gun hidden deep inside what looks like a giant Red Snapper.
Don’t Feel Bad: When Mikey Palmice’s wife, JoJo, considers Chucky “a sick f**k,” you know he must have done something bad to be at the receiving end of this karma.
#21: Lt. Barry Haydu [Season 4, Episode 1, “For All Debts Public and Private”]
Christopher plays with Detective Lieutenant Barry Hayden while high as a kite on heroin but eventually takes out the man who killed his father on his first night of retirement.
Don’t Feel Bad: Barry Hayden was a dirty cop who took an oath and broke it, killing Christopher’s father and most likely breaking several hundred laws that hurt citizens along the way.
#20: Minn Matrone [Season 4, Episode 12, “Eloise”]
Paulie takes out his mother’s friend, Min Matrone, who comes upon him stealing her stash of cash she keeps in a shoebox under her bed. Oh, that Paulie.
Don’t Feel Bad: She’s a big old mean girl, who makes fun of Paulie’s adorable mother, and steals her leftovers. The last part I can’t forgive.
#19: Mustang Sally and Carlos [Season 3, Episode 5, “Another Toothpick”]
Bobby Sr. takes out two lowlifes, one of them being a hot-head named Mustang Sally, at the orders of Junior, even though he has cancer. After the hits, the exertion was too much for him, trying to reach for an inhaler on the car floor before passing out and crashing his car into a pole.
Don’t Feel Bad: Mustang Sally is a hothead, who beat the wrong man, a good Samaritan who happened to be Vito’s brother with a golf club because he offered to give his girlfriend a ride after they argued.
#18: J.T. Dolan [Season 6, Episode 17, “Walk Like a Man”]
Tim Daly’s character J.T. Dolan wisely, so he thinks, tells Christopher to stop telling him his very “secret” problems because “you’re in the mob!” Christopher sees his point, so he shoots him in the head.
Don’t Feel Bad: One less below-average television writer probably helped extend what is now known as the golden age of television.
#17: Matt Bevilaqua [Season 2, Episode 9, “From Where to Eternity”]
Tony and P***y catch Matt Bevilaqua, who they drag to a closed concession stand, allow to drink a diet soda, then pump some hot lead into as he cries out for his mother.
Don’t Feel Bad: Well, Matt put Christopher in the hospital and took a bat to the working man when trying to break up a strike. The real atrocity is beating the crap out of Big Bang Theory’s Kevin Sussman; you don’t do that.
#16: Phil Leotardo [Season 6, Episode 21, “Made in America”]
Phil Leotardo is gunned down by Walden (who was the almost mob equivalent of the out of nowhere Star Trek character who you know is going to be killed, so I can’t believe he didn’t qualify to make this list) in true dark comic Sopranos fashion, in front of his wife and grandkids.
Don’t Feel Bad: Phil was one of the most ruthless characters in the show’s history, so there was a reason the writers went for a dark joke, having Phil’s head being run over off-camera in front of dozens of onlookers. If they don’t care, why should you?
#15: Emil [Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”]
Christopher performs his first, taking out a nephew of a Czechoslovakian named Emil, whose family is creeping closer to their garbage business, marking the first hit of the television classic.
Don’t Feel Bad: Emil, while young, is involved heavily in illegal dealings, and you should never turn your back on a man inside Satriale’s (the family operates out of a butcher shop for a reason).
#14: Tony B [Season 5, Episode 13, “All Due Respect”]
Tony never had a brother in blood but had it with his cousin Tony B, having his back after killing Phil Leotardo’s little brother as revenge for killing Angelo. In the end, after the walls start to close in, costing his capos money and no resolution in sight, Tone does the only merciful thing he knows how: He shoots his cousin quickly with a shotgun blast so that Phil won’t have his way with him.
Don’t Feel Bad: Tony B. was responsible for multiple murders and fire settings, including Phil’s little brother Billy. He even beat up Mr. Kim and, frankly, was a terrible father. It would help if you didn’t lose a good night’s sleep over this.
#13: Bobby Bacala [Season 6, Episode 20, “The Blue Comet]
Steven Schirripa, in a surprising display of pensive tender regret, laments that his son doesn’t want to spend time with him anymore, just before two of Phil Leotardo’s hired guns come into the toy store and gun him down while holding a toy train called “the Blue Comet.”
Don’t Feel Bad: Bobby was always the soft soul of the group, never cheating on his then-wife with a goomar, but specialized in racketeering and did whack a Frenchman over a custody dispute. He was married to Janice, so any sins he made on earth were forgiven, and he has paid his debt.
#12: Jimmy Altieri [Season 1, Episode 12, “Isabella”]
Christopher leads one of the family’s capos, Jimmy, into a trap, distracting men the only way that works by having a beautiful woman always stroll by. Sil then pops out from a door behind the couch and shoots Jimmy in the head just after he tells him they know he is a rat.
Don’t Feel Bad: Jimmy was a capo in a major crime family. Lord knows what he had to do to get here.
#11: Det. Vin Makazian [Season 1, Episode 11, “Nobody Knows Anything”]
Vin, Tony’s mole inside the police department, tells Tony that Big P***y is a rat, publicly humiliated when caught up in a call-girl sting. Then, in a scene that I have never seen done before or repeated after, he honks his horn in manic behavior (which remains one of the iconic moments in the show’s history), needing to get out of the traffic jam so he can get where he needs to go. A few minutes later, he gets to a bridge, puts his badge clipped to his suit coat pocket, and lets himself go, killing himself.
Don’t Feel Bad: He assaulted Dr. Melfi’s date, beating him in front of her, and is one less dirty cop off the streets.
#10: Mikey ‘Grab My Bag’ Palmice [Season 1, Episode 13, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”]
Not sure what it is about Jeannie Cusamano, but she must be worth killing for back in the day, as the episode named for her has three made men gunned down, the last one being Mikey Palmice. After trying to blame “Mr. Magoo,” he was killed by Christopher as revenge for taking out his best friend Brendan, and Paulie took him out for causing him to run into some poison ivy.
Don’t Feel Bad: This cost the taxpayers nothing as Mikey was a trained killer on the show, always being let off his leash by Uncle June.
#9: Doc and friends [Season 6, Episode 15, “Remember When”]
Doc took over the New York crime family when Johnny Sack was in the can and when Phil recovered from his heart attack. What did him in was his showy style and penchant for gluttonous behavior when he took over the big chair? This resulted in one of the most cinematic (one might say, conventional) scenes in the show’s history; three masked men take out Doc and his security detail as he leaves the restaurant.
Don’t Feel Bad: Doc literally took the food right off Phil’s plate, which would result in a similar outcome in any of my own holiday dinners growing up. Good riddance.
#8: Fred Peters [Season 1, Episode 5, “College”]
What makes Tony Soprano such an effective leader is his ability to multi-task. When taking his daughter on a college tour, he sees and tracks down “Fred Peters,” a former associate when T was starting, that turned state’s evidence. Tony eventually locates him, tracks him down, and gets back in time to pick up Meadow from her on-campus tour.
Don’t Feel Bad: Freddy never learned the error of his ways, still selling drugs to the locals. Tony was his third strike.
#7: Cosette [Season 4, Episode 10, “The Strong, Silent Type]
A trademark of the show, The Sopranos, has the innate ability to unnerve you immediately. The Strong, Silent Type does just that, as Christopher takes out Ade’s dog Cosette when he accidentally sits on her when high on heroin.
You Should Feel Bad: Well, you should. Everyone loves dogs. It is though a testament to Chase’s writing that he can put one of the funniest scenes in the show’s history (the gang throws an intervention for Christopher) that makes you forget what Christopher did to poor Cosette in the first place.
#6: Big P***y Bumpensaro [Season 2, Episode 13, “Funhouse”]
The almost two-season arc Big P***y Bumpensaro came to an end as he fell for the old let’s-take-the-boat-out-for-a-spin con, taken below deck by his best friends, and shot to death for ratting out the family to the feds to avoid jail time for dealing heroin.
Don’t Feel Bad: P***y was a good guy and a terrific godfather to Aj, but he ruined countless lives by dealing heroin. Meanwhile, he even killed a citizen when trying to cover up the fact he turned state’s evidence.
#5: Christopher Moltisanti [Season 6, Episode 18, “Kennedy and Heidi”]
In one of the most shocking deaths in the show’s history, Chris is high again and crashes their SUV off the highway and down an embankment within the episode’s first few minutes. He tells his “uncle” to call a cab because he won’t pass a drug test. Tony realizes he is vulnerable to Christopher being a liability, looks around, reaches through the window, and suffocates him to death. Not many shows would kill off a long-term main character in such an unexpected way with a handful of episodes left because that’s life.
Don’t Feel Bad: Christopher killed dozens of people, abused his poor Ade, killed her dog, and was directly behind the death of his fiancé. One of the least redeemable characters on the show that somehow Imperioli humanized.
#5: Richie Aprile [Season 2, Episode 12, “The Knight in White Satin Armor”]
Janice and Richie have that spark that most couples can’t duplicate; unfortunately, that spark comes from two shots Janice put into Richie, one in the chest and the other in the forehead after he physically abuses her.
Don’t Feel Bad: Richie put our poor beloved pizza shop owner Beansie in a wheelchair for success while he was in the can.
#4: Adrianna La Cerva [Season 5, Episode 12, “Long Term Parking”]
Ade was a victim of bad taste in men and some opportunistic G-men, who targeted her as an informant of the Tony Soprano crew, turning on her fiancé Christopher. In a well-plotted scene that even had me thinking Ade was in the clear, she soon realizes, like the rest of us, the drive with Sil to a hospital in the country to see Christopher was a lie. Sil takes an unexpected exit and shoots Adrianna while she crawls through some fall-colored leaves off-camera.
You Should Feel Bad: You should. Her death on the show mirrored old-school attitudes towards women who have ambition, which ultimately cost her in the end—still one of the most polarizing deaths in television this century.
#3: Dino Zerilli [Season 3, Episode 12, “Amour Fou”]
Jackie Jr. leaves Dino at the gangster wannabee alter, so to speak, so Christopher and Albert take him out in a shot that even Patsy would call cinematic.
Don’t Feel Bad: Dino peddled drugs, most likely to kids, and was arrested. Let the criminals police themselves, I always say.
#2: Ralphie Cifaretto [Season 4, Episode 9, “Whoever Did This”]
Shocking, unexpected, and violent, we bid farewell to Ralphie, who is killed by Tony, when a fight breaks out over how his beloved horse Pie-O-My died after Ralphie gets back from the hospital from visiting his young son who was fighting for his life.
Don’t Feel Bad: Ralphie is a bad father, makes awful jokes (making fun of Jeanie Sack’s weight and making light of Vito’s brother Bryan coming out of a coma with brain damage), and abandoned Rosalie Aprille when she needed him the most. He is the type of toxic person you always cut out of your life.
#1 Tony Soprano [Season 6, Episode 21, “Made in America”]
In the episode “From Where to Eternity,” Christopher wakes up out of a coma, where he tells Tony, and Paulie Mike Palmice told him about hell, and to tell them, “three-o’clock.” Tony remarks to Paulie that “none of this s**t means a goddamn thing,” taking into account his overall belief in the lack of an afterlife. I think we can reasonably conclude the man with the members-only jacket waits until a woman comes through the front door to distract Tony (remember what I said about the only way to distract a man is by a woman or food), and then comes out of the bathroom to shoot Don Antonio in the back of the head. There is no afterlife, everything turns black, and the small part that played in the world is over.
Plus, Mike Palmice might have been giving Tony a warning (and Paulie as well, since he was always Tone’s protective muscle) about the time because, you know, time is relative, and it has to be three-o’clock somewhere.
Don’t Feel Bad: Well, let me tell you what I th….