You can’t deny the fact that Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) put up with a lot. Throughout six seasons on The Sopranos (available anytime on HBO Now), he reigns supreme as both the well-meaning patriarch of one family, and the cunning godfather of the other. While there are some moments when his emotions get the better of him, Tony does, believe it or not, work hard to not completely lose it at the drop of a hat… for the most part. For those moments when you find yourself on the verge of losing it, here are some nuggets of Tony Soprano’s (curt and frustrated) wisdom for you to relate to and maybe repeat should the situation warrant it.
“Ask now. ‘Cause we’re not discussing this again.”
During the end of the show’s first season, as a gang war between Tony and his uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) continues to escalate, Tony feels the need to address something directly with his crew. After sitting down Paulie (Tony Sirico), Silvio (Steven Van Zandt), and Christopher (Michael Imperioli), he breaks the big news: he’s seeing a psychiatrist. While the reactions are mixed-to-positive (turns out Paulie’s been seeing one himself), Tony’s states that he will give a one-time only chance to ask him questions about the situation. This is the kind of line you need when you’ve got something that needs to be out in the open, but only for the sake of everyone’s sanity — especially yours.
“There’s an old Italian saying: You f*ck up once, you lose two teeth.”
Never is Tony’s parenting philosophy more concisely explained than it is here, as his sister and constant thorn in his side, Janice (Aida Turturro), suggests to him that “for every 20 wrongs a child does, ignore 19.” While Tony does his best to avoid the act of corporal punishment at home (not exactly his idea), he’s never ready to back down from an argument with his sister, hence this gem of a comeback.
“‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.”
This is one of those lines you can only really use when you absolutely need to vacate the conversation, particularly those that do nothing but reminisce about the ‘good old days’ (reading list articles about classic TV shows is totally okay, though), like the one Tony finds himself in with Paulie and Beansie (Paul Herman) down in Florida. A line like this is absolutely perfect for making an exit should you find yourself on the brink.
“When you’re married, you’ll understand the importance of fresh produce.”
One of Tony’s constant sources of frustration is his nephew, Christopher, particularly as he keeps finding himself distracted by the allure of becoming a Hollywood big-shot. At one point, Christopher becomes so wrapped up with the idea of movie making (and a certain D-Girl, played by Alicia Witt), that he grows more and more agitated with the constant small talk about weddings, caterers, and food.
Even though Tony does his best to calmly get a handle on the situation, it simply doesn’t work, and Christopher pours his glass of wine into his food and storms out of the restaurant. Despite all this, Tony gets an E for “effort” for no other reason than because he manages to stay calm. Maybe doling out the occasional bit of obscure advice is all you can do to keep it together.
“If you can quote the rules, then you can f*ckin’ obey ’em. You hear me?”
This pleasant reminder that Tony was the boss may have been directed at Paulie, but it was really about Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano), a guy who was so sleazy and untrustworthy that even his fellow mobsters couldn’t stand him.
While his feud with Ralph ended up boiling over in an unexpected, but oh-so satisfying, way Tony does his best to remind Paulie, who might hate Ralph more than anyone, that there are definite rules in place. Depending on how close you are to losing it, you may want to dial back on either the profanity and the terrifying, dagger-eyed stare for your own sake.
“Alright, but you gotta get over it.”
It’s one of those quintessential Tony Soprano moments. Furio (Federico Castelluccio) is madly in love with Carmela (Edie Falco), Tony’s wife. Torn over what to do, Furio simply sits in his car and cries while thinking of her. “I’m sad for my father,” he tells Tony, having just come back from his father’s funeral in Italy. Tony, once again balancing his position as boss against the smallest amount of compassion he’s required to muster, doles out this bit of buck up-style advice before crying to his therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), about the loss of a racehorse.
Tony’s glaring cold-hearted hypocrisy aside, this is a perfect line for when you need to abruptly cut to the chase while not getting bogged down in other people’s emotional problems.
“Jesus Christ, Paulie. Everyone is going to get old and die.”
Some people in your life are going to constantly worry while others are going to constantly talk. In Tony’s life, Paulie does both. A mostly loyal Soprano family captain, Paulie seems to spend most of his time worrying about money, germs, Russians, the police, and most of all his elderly mother — and he does almost all of it out loud. For those moments when you just need a precious moment of silence, there’s nothing better than an abrupt reminder that death comes for us all to help buy you a few minutes.
“You know what? Tell it to Frankie Valli when you talk to him.”
One of The Sopranos‘ all-time best comedic rants starts with one of Tony’s oldest musings, “What ever happened to Gary Cooper?” After a mish-mash of misunderstood arguments between him, Christopher, Patsy (Dan Grimaldi), and Silvio (mostly Silvio), Tony’s original point is all but lost. There simply may not be a better way to bring a long-winded, incoherent back-and-forth to a close than with a reminder that sometimes holding it together is much harder than you’d think.