"All due respect, you got no f**king idea what it's like to be number one. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other f**king thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it."
The pressures of running 'the family' have taken their toll on Tony. As the acting boss of the DiMeo family, Anthony Soprano heads the most powerful criminal organization in New Jersey. A second-generation wise guy, he's the son of the late Johnny Boy Soprano, a DiMeo capo who brought his boy into his profession and showed him the ropes. After Johnny's death, Tony was mentored by his old man's closest associates, Hesh Rabkin, Jackie Aprile, and Pussy Bonpensiero, as well as Johnny's older brother, Corrado "Junior" Soprano.
Tony was born in 1959 and grew up in Newark and West Orange, New Jersey. Violence was a staple of his childhood: he once witnessed his dad and uncle viciously beating a guy for being late with a numbers payment. Another time he watched Johnny Boy amputate a debtor's finger with a meat cleaver. And though he never struck his two daughters, when Tony transgressed his father sent him flying. Tony's mother, Livia, was busy doling out emotional beatings. Depressive and paranoid, Livia was incapable of affection--she once threatened to plunge a fork into her son's eye--and constantly told Tony he'd never amount to anything. But the coup de grace came years later: when Tony put Livia into a nursing home, she conspired with Junior to have him killed.
These days Tony has his hands full, to put it mildly. The perks of being the boss come at an increasingly high price. He's already had to take out some of his closest associates: Pussy, whom he loved like a brother, when he was recruited as government informant; and Jackie Aprile's son, when he ran afoul of the organization. More recently, when his cousin Tony B. 'went into business for himself,' Tony had to make an agonizing decision: take him out or face an all out war with the New York organization.
If these pressures weren't enough, his personal life is not exactly a suburban idyll. He's had his battles with his Columbia grad daughter Meadow, and routinely clashes with his son, Anthony, Jr., a lackluster student who seems to be having trouble finding his place in life. At least his marriage to Carmela, strained almost to divorce by years of infidelity, appears to have settled into a somewhat peaceful understanding.
It should come as no surprise then that Tony ended up in therapy. He first went to see Dr. Jennifer Melfi for his debilitating anxiety attacks, which were similar to the ones suffered by his late father and now his son. Despite the raised eyebrows of his associates, Tony has mostly stayed in therapy, albeit his own variety (which included trying to start a romantic relationship with his therapist.)
The treatment - and a near-fatal gunshot wound courtesy of the now senile Uncle Junior - have led to an awareness in Tony that life is fragile. In his family life, and his sometimes tenuous relationship with his New York colleagues, he's enjoying a newfound perspective. Despite the aggravations of everyday life, he's making an effort to see every day as a gift, even if some days, the gift seems to be a pair of socks.
played by James Gandolfini