James Gandolfini's best 'Sopranos' lines: The Tao of Tony

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Image Credit: HBO

While James Gandolfini died Wednesday at the far-too-young age of 51, the actor left behind a body of work that belies his only half-century of life. And nothing stands out in that career quite like Gandolfini’s near-decade embodying Tony Soprano on HBO’s The Sopranos.

David Chase’s groundbreaking series about the complicated mob boss was powerful for many reasons, none more so than Gandolfini’s delivery of Chase’s dynamic dialogue. During six seasons and 86 episodes, Gandolfini’s Soprano unspooled a life philosophy through impatient (but ultimately loving) interactions with his family, gruff instructions to his underlings and reluctant therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi.

Here is Life According to Tony Soprano, in his 16 best quotes:

On feelings: “Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody’s gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on Sally Jessy Raphael and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn’t know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn’t be able to shut him up! And then it’s dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!”

On second chances: “There’s an old Italian saying: you f— up once, you lose two teeth.”

On the internet: “Log off. That ‘cookies’ sh-t makes me nervous.”

On knowing what you want: “A wrong decision is better than indecision.”

On following the rules: “If you can quote the rules, then you can obey them.”

On nostalgia: “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.”

On moms: “This is gonna sound stupid, but I saw at one point that our mothers are … bus drivers. No, they are the bus. See, they’re the vehicle that gets us here. They drop us off and go on their way. They continue on their journey. And the problem is that we keep tryin’ to get back on the bus, instead of just lettin’ it go.”

On sympathy: “Oh, poor baby. What do you want, a Whitman’s Sampler?”

On romance: “When you’re married, you’ll understand the importance of fresh produce.”

On being the boss: “All due respect, you got no f—in’ idea what it’s like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other f—in’ thing. It’s too much to deal with almost. And in the end you’re completely alone with it all.”

On interventions: “The only reason I did this is because you’re my nephew, and I love you. If it were anybody else, they would’ve gotten that intervention through the back of their f—ing head.”

On always being prepared: “What use is an unloaded gun?”

On putting on a brave face: “I find I have to be the sad clown: laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.”

On getting in early: “It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.”

On gifts: “They say every day’s a gift, but why does it have to be a pair of socks?”

On life: “Those who want respect, give respect.”

Read more:
James Gandolfini dead at 51
David Chase on James Gandolfini: ‘He was a genius’
Celebrities react to James Gandolfini’s death

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