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Television has not made many series focusing on the mafia but the characters created within those series were some of the best in television history. The Sopranos may have been the most popular mafia story ever told on television but it was not the only series that delved into organized crime and the mafia.
The newest mafia television series is "Boardwalk." The series tells the story of the emerging organized crime syndicate from it's early beginnings. A young Al Capone, Meyer Lanski and Lucky Luciano are featured in the series. The series tells the story of how these figures rose to become more powerful than the local governments or is some cases the federal government.
With "Boardwalk" still in it's first season it may be premature to insert them into this list just yet but in the next few years they will make it. The following are the the most popular and most hated mafia figures ever to grace the silver screen.
No. 10 "Crime Story's" Ray Luca: Anthony John Denison
"Crime Story" fell through the cracks as one of the better television series of the '80s. The show began in Chicago in the early '60s and ended up in Las Vegas. Ray Luca was the center of attention in the crime drama as detective Mike Torello chased him relentlessly. Luca was a made man with the Chicago Outfit was a major player in Chicago and Las Vegas.
No. 9 "Wise Guy's" Vinnie Terranova: Ken Wahl
Vinnie Terranova is the main character in the mafia series "Wise Guy." He is actually an undercover agent posing as a mafia member in order to infiltrate a mafia family. The show had it's moments and Wahl was believable and sympathetic figure.
No. 8 "The Sopranos" Ralphie Cifaretto: Joey Pantiolano
Although the character Ralphie Cifaretto only lasted a few years on the mafia series "The Sopranos" he made his mark as one of the most complex characters in the shows history. Cifaretto was a bitter soldier for Tony Soprano who was always looking to get ahead and always slipping up and causing Tony problems. In the end Tony took care of Ralphie himself in one of the greatest fight scenes in the shows run.
No. 7 "The Last Don's" Don Domenico Clericuzio: Danny Aiello
Danny Aiello is one of the most underrated actors in movies and television and his portrayal of Don Domenico Clericuzio in the mafia mini series "The Last Don" makes this character come to life and the head of a mafia family looking to move their way into conventional society.
No. 6 "Underbelly's" Alphonse Gangitano: Vincent Colosimo
The Australian made mafia series "Underbelly" featured slick crime boss Alphonse Gangitano. The real life character may have been flashier than the one portrayed by Vincent Colosimo. Colosimo's portrayal of Gangitano was gritty and real.
No. 5 "Brotherhood's" Michael Caffee: Jason Isaacs
"Brotherhood's" co main character Michael Caffee is a ruthless Irish Mob member in the old neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. Caffee is brutal and honest but he always watches out for his brother who is a rising member of the local political scene.
No. 4 "The Last Don's" Pipi De Leno: Joe Mantegna
Joe Mantegna is at his best when he plays a rough and surly member of the mafia and this character suited him well. The name alone, Pipi De Leno, has been made famous over the years with off handed references here and there. Mantegna's portrayal of Pipi De Lino was nominated for an Emmy Award but he lost to Beau Bridges.
No. 3 "The Sopranos" Paulie Gualtieri: Tony Sirico
"Paulie Walnuts" was a hit from the first time he walked on the screen with gray streaked wings in his air and his classic looks. Paulie was a childhood friend of Tony's father and "Johnny Boy" Soprano and is a hot head that leads to problems for Tony Soprano on occasion. His colorful nickname comes from his early years in crime. He hijacked a truck that was said to have televisions but in reality it was carrying walnuts. Paulie's classic expressions and looks were a highlight of every Sopranos episode.
No. 2 "The Sopranos" Christopher Moltisanti: Anthony Imperioli
Christopher Moltisanti was groomed by Tony Soprano to eventually replace him. The character struggled with drugs and alcohol abuse and was a brutal killer. Moltisanti almost turns on Tony Soprano in the last season of the series but he changes his mind and instead he offers up his fiance who has already been gathering evidence for the FBI. Although Anthony Imperioli was nominated five times for an Emmy Award he won just one in 2004.
No.1 "The Sopranos" Tony Soprano: James Gandolfini
The character of Tony Soprano created a phenomenon in modern television series. It was rare for the villain such as Tony Soprano to be the lead character and hero of a television series. James Gandofini's portrayal of the mafia boss with anxiety and the normal dysfunctional family issues drew critical acclaim and was among the highest rated HBO series in the history of the network. James Gandolfini won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Tony Soprano.
- Paulie Gualtieri
- Tony Soprano
- The Sopranos
- Crime Story
- The Last Don
- Lucky Luciano
- Anthony John Denison