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Every season of ‘The Sopranos’ ranked worst to best

They're all gaba-good, but which is the bada-best?

via HBO

The Sopranos, simply put, is one of the most iconic television shows of all time. Nominated for an insanely impressive 111 Emmys during its run, the show amassed a huge audience and massive success. It follows the story of Tony Soprano, who is tasked with the challenge of keeping track of and mitigating the number of problems that emerge in a family-like mob.

While each season is remarkable in its own right and contains everything that audiences turn to The Sopranos for, like power struggles, violence, betrayal, etc., there are some that some think are better than others. Although there is no official consensus on the order of the best The Sopranos seasons to the worst, we’ve aggregated the opinions of fans, critics, and this writer to make our choices.

Season 2 (2000)

The gang from The Sopranos stand together for a drink.
via HBO

The second season of The Sopranos has some big moments, such as Tony’s trip to Italy, and the deaths of Richie (David Proval) and Big Pussy (Vincent Pastore), but it’s a bit too dreamy for our sensibilities. We mean that literally. Season two has more scenes featuring the characters’ unconscious inventions than any other.

While we’re not dream sequence haters (some of the dreams, especially in later seasons, are among the best parts of the series), season two is a little too heavy on fantasy and a little too light on the cynical, yet believable, reality that The Sopranos expertly cultivated.

Season 5 (2004)

Characters from The Soprano sit in a car, looking stressed.
via HBO

Season five is arguably the least memorable run of The Sopranos. While it wasn’t the best season, there were some exceptional moments. For example, Steve Buscemi’s character, Tony Blundetto, and his death at the barrel of Tony Soprano’s shotgun had viewers on the edge of their seats.

Adriana’s (Drea de Matteo) cooperation with the FBI inevitably catching up to her and Vito’s (Joseph R. Gannascoli) extra mafioso activities were also highlights of the season. The black bear in Carmela’s backyard was another memorable moment, in an otherwise mostly unmemorable season.

Besides those storylines, season five didn’t have the makings of a varsity season, but it still collected four Emmys.

Season 4 (2002)

Tony from The Sopranos finds himself in an odd position, on a horse in a living room.
via HBO

Some fans consider season four of The Sopranos to be melodramatic. Much revolves around romance, but it’s some of the most tense, explosive, and downright deadly romance ever depicted on screen.

Tony and Carmela’s marriage deteriorates, facilitating exceptional acting from James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, respectively. Carmela has an emotional and near-physical affair with Tony’s bodyguard Furio (Federico Castelluccio). Not only that, but Tony has a quasi-romantic relationship with Ralph Cifaretto’s (Joe Pantoliano) racehorse who dies in a stable fire, which Tony blames on Ralph and kills him for it.

Season 4 also spawned one of the most controversial episodes in the series’ run, Christopher. The episode was about Silvio and Ralph being upset about Native Americans protesting against the Columbus Day parade, as well as Carmela being frustrated at anti-Mafia remarks that were made at an Italian pride lunch.

Season 1 (1999)

Tony from The Sopranos stands fully clothed in a pool.
via HBO

The first season of The Sopranos gets credit for starting it all: presenting TV viewers with an animal-loving, therapy-attending mobster and his complex circle of (dis)trust.

Beyond introducing these characters and their incredible actors, season one features such seminal storylines as Tony’s first onscreen hit, his toxic relationship with his mother Livia (Nancy Marchand), his children discovering his mafia ties, and the attempted assassination of his life. The Sopranos was finding itself during its first season, which we appreciate but must also count against its ranking.

Season 3 (2001)

Two characters from The Sopranos stand next to each other in the woods, cold and injured.
via HBO

Season three of The Sopranos is the only installment with a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It contains, among many other hallmarks, the rise and fall of Jackie Jr. (Jason Cerbone), the rape of Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) and her annoyingly ethical restraint, and Tony’s guilt surrounding a demoted traffic cop.

This season also boasted the highest-rated episode, “Pine Barrens,”. which sees Christopher (Michael Imperioli) and Paulie (Tony Sirico) track a resilient Russian through the titular, snowy woods. The worst we can say about season three is CGI Livia. Shivers.

Season 6 (2006/2007)

A character from The Sopranos sits in a hotel room, looking sad and alone.
via HBO

The final season of The Sopranos was released in two parts: 12 episodes in 2006 and nine episodes in 2007. While some publications rank the parts separately, we’ve squished the whole thing together and found it too stacked to put anywhere but the floor.

Season six has Uncle Junior’s (Dominic Chianese) sad descent into dementia and Tony’s near-fatal shooting, resulting in a coma, and transformation into Kevin Finnerty.

It also included a fantasy Tony who traded his criminal case for a briefcase, Vito being outed and ousted, and AJ’s (Robert Iler) suicide attempt. In addition to all that, there was Tony and Bobby’s (Steve Schirripa) drunken brawl and the deaths of many iconic characters.

Known as one of the most shocking TV episodes of all time, The Sopranos finale contributed to season 6’s prime spot on this list.

Of course, the finale’s cut to black left a lot of fans feeling cheated, but not us because

About the author

Shane Fraser