Often billed as the greatest television drama of all time, The Sopranos helped revolutionize television with its excellent acting and writing quality. Never before has a series achieved such an incredible blend of character depth, realistic and memorable dialogue, gripping storylines, and ambitious thematic reach that touched on so many aspects of 21st century life.
Like any TV show, certain episodes tend to stand out and directly contributed to the reputation of the show. The Sopranos is serialized drama, so episodes tend to intersect, but that never stopped some hours from standing out more than others.
ten All Respect (2004): 9.3 / 10
Serving as the fifth season finale, “All Due Respect” aired in June 2004 and was written by series creator David Chase and creative partners Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess. We remember the episode for the death of Tony Blundetto, which Tony personally kills to appease Phil Leotardo.
It also ends with the arrest of Johnny Sack, who will remain behind bars for the remainder of the series. For many, it was a perfect ending to a perfect season, and like many episodes involving the death of a major character, it is highly rated on IMDb.
9 Irregular around the margins (2004): 9.3 / 10
Written by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, “Irregular Around the Margins” served as the fifth episode of the fifth season. Tony and Adriana almost sleep together while Chris is out of town, and when he finds out he beats Adriana and falls back into heroin addiction. When he shoots down Tony’s car, Tony takes him to the Meadowlands and almost has him executed.
The episode is fondly remembered and was overwhelmed by Emmy recognition. Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo won the award for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess were nominated for their writing and Allen Coulter for his directing.
8 The knight in white satin armor (2000): 9.3 / 10
Serving as the penultimate episode of season two, “The Knight in White Satin Armor” set a precedent for The Sopranos placing most of the action and major plot developments in the penultimate episode rather than the finale itself, as was typical for the time.
In this case, the major plot development is the shocking death of Richie Aprile, who is gunned down by a vengeful Janice after punching her in the mouth. The episode is critically acclaimed and was nominated for three Emmy Awards – Allen Coulter for directing, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess for writing, and William B. Stich for editing.
7 The One Who Done This (2002): 9.3 / 10
The fourth season of the series is generally considered one of the worst (although even below par Soprano is still a great TV), often drawing criticism for its slow pace, lack of major plot development, and rambling storytelling. “Whoever Did This” serves as a bright spot in an otherwise divisive season, remembered for the death of Ralph Cifaretto.
Ralph’s death was a surprise and showed The Sopranos at its most unpredictable and violent. Not only did the death come out of nowhere in the middle of the episode, but it also occurred in the ninth episode of the season – a radical departure from the typical TV storytelling that often sees major deaths occur in premieres. and / or finals.
6 The Second Coming (2007): 9.3 / 10
“The Second Coming” is easily one of the The Sopranos’ darkest and most disturbing episodes, hence its strong notoriety. One scenario sees Coco punching Meadow in a restaurant, prompting Tony to brake him and break some of his teeth. In another, AJ sinks into a deep depression and attempts to kill himself in the family pool.
The episode has long been acclaimed for its drama and escalating sense of intrigue. With this episode, viewers knew they were finally headed for a not-so-happy ending. For his work on the episode, writer Terence Winter received the Outstanding Writing Award for a Drama Series from the Writers Guild of America.
5 Made in America (2007): 9.3 / 10
A show lives or dies on its finale. A bad finale can completely undermine a show’s reputation, while a grand finale can secure its place in the pantheon.
“Made In America” is the latter. Containing one of the most infamous but discussed endings in television history, “Made In America” sent The Sopranos by forcing its viewers to think, contemplate and debate. The episode is highly regarded within Soprano circles, serving as the perfect finale to the series and earning David Chase his third Emmy for Outstanding Writing.
4 Funhouse (2000): 9.4 / 10
The Sopranos had a knack for delivering solid season finals, and that includes season two’s “Funhouse”. This is often seen as a brilliant episode, perfectly blending the series’ ambiguous and literary dream sequences with straightforward excitement.
At the end of this episode, Tony, Silvio, and Paulie take Big Pussy to the boat and kill him for talking to the FBI. It was the series’ first major death, and it was devastating.
3 The blue comet (2007): 9.6 / 10
Serving as the series’ penultimate episode, “The Blue Comet” portrays a lot of plot momentum – most of the tragic variety. In this episode alone, Melfi drops Tony as a client (losing all hope of improving him as a person), Artie and Charmaine’s story ends, and Bobby Baccalieri is killed by Lupertazzi hitmen.
It also contains one of the biggest endings in the series, with Tony hiding in a safe house and wielding an assault rifle, preparing for war. It heralded great things for the upcoming final.
2 Long-term parking (2004): 9.7 / 10
Season five’s “Long Term Parking Lot” is well regarded for two main reasons – Christopher’s collapse as a redeemable character and Adriana’s death. Christopher learns that his girlfriend worked with the FBI, and rather than running away with her for witness protection, he goes to Tony and has her killed, marking one of the many times fans hated Christopher.
Her death is easily one of the most tragic in the entire series, and it marked a drastic change in the tone of the series, fully embracing the dramatic and tragic half of her identity.
1 Pine Barrens (2001): 9.7 / 10
Often considered the show’s best hour, season three’s “Pine Barrens” is a stellar bottle episode – not to mention one of the funniest on the show. Most of the episode centers around Christopher and Paulie’s exploits in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as they attempt to keep Death from freezing.
The episode contains some of the show’s most memorable lines of dialogue, and the storyline effortlessly mixes comedy with authentic tension. It’s a short survival movie embedded in The Sopranoslarger story, and it helps to deepen Paulie’s character, establishing her as a rather helpless, incompetent, and unbalanced soldier.
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