The Best 'Sopranos' Moments to Watch Before Seeing 'The Many Saints of Newark'

Before catching 'The Many Saints of Newark,' we’re looking back at some of 'The Sopranos' best episodes and key scenes that made the show a powerhouse.

The Sopranos Best Moments

Image via HBO

The Sopranos Best Moments

In January 1999, the landscape of television was forever changed. HBO premiered a new series, The Sopranos, which was pitched to the world as “so a gangster walks into a therapist’s office.” What the series ended up being in its six seasons is a crash course in what the next two decades of television could be. Mixing humor, violence, and an eye for high art, The Sopranos is the bullet-ridden Bible to series like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and anything else flying under the “Peak TV” umbrella.

Since then, things have gotten interesting for the series. On October 1, 2021, Warner Bros. will be releasing The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos focusing on young Tony Soprano (portrayed by the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael) and Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Michael Imperioli’s character Christopher. It’s set in Newark, New Jersey during the 1960s and ‘70s, giving us a peak into the world we’d heard so much about during six seasons of The Sopranos. It’d make sense that, prior to diving into the story before The Sopranos, we take a look at the scenes from The Sopranos that we hold so dear, right?

Being one of the biggest Sopranos fans that I know, I looked over the 86 episodes of this iconic series on HBO Max and carved out 10 moments that I felt were heads above the rest. A definitive look at what stands out the most from this series. Here are the 10 best moments from The Sopranos.

[Ed. Note: Spoiler alert for any of you who have played yourselves by not being up on The Sopranos.]

11. The final scene

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Episode: "Made in America" (Season 6, Episode 21)

The finale of The Sopranos tied up a number of loose ends, including, possibly, the biggest of the series: the fate of Tony Soprano. As Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" plays, we see the immediate Soprano family gathering at an eatery for the last time (figuratively and literally). Fans have dissected the scene ad nauseam at this point, which is deserved. The debate over whether Tony lived or was taken out when the screen cut to black will rage on, but the fact that Chase and co. were able to keep us guessing led to the legacy of the series living longer than we'd imagine. Also, props to that scene for pushing that Journey single up 482 percent on the iTunes charts.

10. AJ's suicide attempt

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Episode: "The Second Coming" (Season 6, Episode 19)

Growing up a kid in the Soprano household had to be tough as hell. Growing up as AJ Soprano, Tony's lone son, who wasn't fit to be a part of the, ahem, "family business"? That took a toll on Anthony Jr., which led to him tying a cement slab to his legs, throwing a plastic bag over his face, and trying to take his own life. And in AJ fashion, he realized when it was too late that he was in over his head, and luckily his father was there to save per usual. It's a sad sight, highlighting how hard life as a Soprano kid can be.

9. Christopher's intervention

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Episode: "The Strong, Silent Type" (Season 4, Episode 10)

In the series built on a premise of a mob boss seeing a shrink, it's always intriguing to see how the characters react in "regular" situations. Wiseguys get addicted to drugs, too, so of course we'd eventually see Christopher have to face his family (both blood and extended) for the wildest episode of Intervention ever. From a number of gut-wrenching letters being read to Paulie's tough love, it's no surprise that this scene ended with a beatdown. It's the Soprano way.

8. Fabian Petrulio gets whacked

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Episode: "College" (Season 1, Episode 5)

"College" is not only one of the early standout episodes of The Sopranos, it's one of the greatest episodes in the series. Taking his daughter, Meadow, to tour college campuses (while explaining what it is he does for a living), Tony randomly spots a former associate-turnt-rat hiding out. While Meadow's trying to figure out her future, Tony's trying to put an end to his past. "The hustle never ends" is a comment Tony utters before taking Fabian out, which is a lesson he should've learned years prior. It's also intriguing; instead of throwing a few shots into Fabian's dome, Tony takes things into his own hands. Wild, memorable moment.

7. Adriana gets whacked

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Episode: "Long Term Parking" (Season 5, Episode 12)

One of the bigger arcs was Christopher's fiancée Adriana talking to the feds. When she can't physically take it anymore, she lets Christopher know what she's done, in hopes that she'll be able to flip him and have them run away from the life together. Christopher's ties run deeper for his family than his love, and while we all knew how this would end, it was insane to get the 52 fake-out in regards to Adriana's daydream sequence of being taken somewhere other than to her demise. Even though we don't get to see Silvio take her out, it's almost more heartbreaking to see her, realizing that this is her end, scurrying out of the car and whimpering while he gives chase.

6. Ralphie gets whacked

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Episode: "Whoever Did This" (Season 4, Episode 9)

Truth be told, Ralphie's story couldn't end any other way. He was trouble from the moment he appeared, spouting film references and doling out violence when he saw fit. While he was one of the best earners in the squad, he was also a habitual line stepper, causing trouble every time he acted out. When the racehorse he owned with Tony died in a fire, Tony was broken up, leading him to Ralphie's home. It's hard to tell if Tony was correct in his assumption that Ralphie "cooked that fucking horse" or not, but their seasons-long friction culminated in this knockdown, drag-out fight that ended with Ralphie paying the ultimate price for all of his debts.

5. Richie gets whacked

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Episode: "Knight in White Satin Armor" (Season 2, Episode 12)

While Aprile family members like Jackie Sr. and Rosalie have been some of the Soprano family's best friends, Richie Aprile was a thorn in Tony's side. That said, it was surprising that it was Janice, Tony's sister (and Richie's fiancée), who pulled the trigger to end his life. Their relationship started back in the day and picked up after Richie got out of the clink. A toxic individual, Richie put his hands on Janice one night during dinner, and she responded by putting some heat into him. Much deserved, and proof that Tony isn't the only shooter in the Soprano home.

4. Big Pussy gets whacked

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Episode: "Funhouse" (Season 2, Episode 13)

One of the biggest murders in the history of The Sopranos was when Big Pussy finally got offed to close out Season 2. During a season that found Tony and his goons trying to figure out if Big Pussy was actually the rat he ended up being, it took a fever dream after a bad meal to help Tony figure out what his friend was all about. Then it was off to test drive the boat that became the vessel Big Pussy's life ended in. It's a tense conversation, seeing him try to charm his way out of his eventual demise; jokes are cracked and threats are uttered, but, ultimately, it's his time to go. Big Pussy, knowing his fate is sealed, has one final request: that he not be shot in the face. A fitting end to one of the most memorable characters from the earlier seasons of the series.

3. Chris and Paulie get lost

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Episode: "Pine Barrens" (Season 3, Episode 11)

Season 3 is arguably one of the best in the history of The Sopranos, and part of that owes to episodes like "Pine Barrens." The Steve Buscemi-directed opus features a standalone tale full of mystery, hilarity, and a slice of life you'd only find in Jersey. Where else could you get that deep into the woods but still be close enough for your homies to hop off the turnpike to rescue you? It has its own debates (did they really kill dude?), comedy (from Chrissy and Paulie eating ketchup packets in an abandoned van to the broken-up calls they have with Tony via cellphone), and more, and we ultimately get to see Christopher and Paulie's toxic relationship come to a head in a situation where they have to stick together or they'll be toast. It's one of those episodes that has nothing and everything to do with the main story of the series, and it's a true masterpiece of modern television.

2. Tony and Carmela's fight

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Episode: "Whitecaps" (Season 4, Episode 13)

Early on, we understand that while Tony has a loving wife and family at home, he has no problem stepping out with all manner of women. It's who he is, one of his biggest faults, and the source of his issues with Carmela. While they'd had their ups and downs over the preceding three seasons, Season 4 is primarily when Carmela is done being afraid to step to Tony, calling him out on his shit. That results in a blow-up during the season finale, "Whitecaps," which finds them learning harsh truths about each other via some massive arguments.

The final argument, which sets the tone for Season 5 and their split, finds Carmela keeping it a buck with what's gone on while Tony wasn't around—shit we've known about, and things we'd imagine lesser people would've been killed over. Tony takes it about as well as he can (aka grabbing Carm by the neck and punching holes in the wall), and the tension between the two finally being released turns into one of the most painful episodes many have witnessed from any television series.

It was an acting showcase for Gandolfini and Edie Falco, finally being able to (verbally) lay into each other. It felt real, it felt raw, and it netted The Sopranos three Emmys: one apiece for Gandolfini and Falco, and a third for the writing on the episode. It's landmark television, and one of the greatest episodes of anything you'll ever see.

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