The Sopranos was a groundbreaking TV series often hailed as the finest in the US, mostly in part due to its tragic twists. One of the show’s most shocking moments was when Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, killed Christopher Moltisanti. Even years after the series concluded in 2006, fans are still haunted by one burning question: why did Tony kill Christopher?
It’s time we do a bit of pain-shopping and delve once more into the complex relationship between these two characters and the underlying reasons behind Tony’s shocking decision in Season 6 of The Sopranos.
Christopher Was a Danger to Everyone, Even Himself
Tony’s decision to end Christopher’s life was not a simple mob hit; it was driven by his desire to protect those he loved.
In the episode “Kennedy and Heidi,” Christopher’s spiraling drug addiction reaches a dangerous climax after crashing his car with Tony in the passenger seat. There, he confesses that he can’t pass a drug test and that they must switch seats, practically nailing the coffin shut for their relationship.
Tony, as a mentor figure to Christopher, saw this as a tough moment, an opportunity to prevent Christopher from self-destruction and taking others down with him.
The mere act of crashing the car he’s driving due to his narcotics addiction—nearly killing Tony (and himself) was enough to justify Christopher’s instability. He was a liability to everyone, including himself.
Tony’s Inner Struggle
Tony’s own internal struggles as a parent likely played a significant role in Christopher’s demise.
If you can recall, A.J., Tony’s son, faced a severe bout of depression, leading Tony to question his effectiveness as a parent. He even grappled with the guilt of passing on what he saw as “rotten” genes to his son.
As Christopher’s addiction spiraled out of control, we can assume that Tony’s subconscious guilt took over, compelling him to make the painful choice of killing his nephew to save him from a more tragic death. What Tony couldn’t fix in A.J., he saw as an opportunity to fix in Christopher, much to the latter’s misfortune.
You could also argue that it was Tony being his usual sociopathic self. After all, he’s television’s most popular sociopath, and even his in-depth therapy sessions didn’t help much in curbing Tony’s impulsive behavior.
The Complex Mafia Relationship
Despite not being blood-related (since they are merely cousins-in-law), Tony and Christopher’s relationship was akin to that of uncle and nephew.
They undoubtedly shared a deep connection, and viewers saw them evolve together over the seasons. In The Sopranos, it’s worth noting that the relationships were often as complicated as the characters themselves, and Tony’s decision to kill Christopher left fans bewildered.
It wasn’t until later in the series and the release of The Many Saints of Newark that the full depth of their relationship and the reasons behind Christopher’s demise began to emerge.
The Many Saints of Newark’s Revelation
The prequel movie released long after The Sopranos has ended, The Many Saints of Newark, provided deeper insights into Christopher’s character and the impact of his death. Christopher’s narration, delivered from beyond the grave, portrayed him as a complex individual who understood the reasons behind his own demise.
The film not only enhanced our understanding of Tony and Christopher’s relationship but also shed light on the profound impact of Christopher’s death on the DiMeo crime family.
In hindsight, you can view Christopher’s death as a form of karma. Throughout The Sopranos, Christopher was responsible for the deaths of nine people, including his first and last kills. Such is the life of a mafioso, however.
One particularly disturbing incident involved him killing a dog while high on heroin, which basically every fan finds unforgivable. Just as Tony grappled with the consequences of his actions, Christopher’s own misdeeds caught up with him, and his death was the price he had to pay for his past.
Michael Imperioli’s Insights
Michael Imperioli, the actor who portrayed Christopher, even shared his perspective on the infamous scene. He discussed how, while filming it, the impact of Christopher’s death didn’t hit home until after the episode had aired.
He also noted several subtle callbacks in the show that linked Christopher’s fate to the beginning, such as his recurring use of baseball caps and a crow, a symbol of bad omens. These details reinforce The Sopranos‘ clever foreshadowing and the meticulousness of its storytelling.
But even without that kind of foreshadowing, the answer would have been the same as to why did Tony kill Christopher. The young mafioso would eventually transform into a ticking time bomb for his whole circle.