For a mob drama, The Sopranos is actually quite scary. The show was notorious for flipping expectations and doing things that its audience never expected, and that includes portraying some nightmare-inducing sequences. These scenes would often come out of nowhere and were typically fueled by one of Tony’s many dreams.
In some cases, these sequences are even scarier than some scenes found in horror shows and movies. The Sopranos always knew how to entertain and shock its audience, and that includes throwing in an unsettling scene every now and then.
10: When Ralph Kills Tracee
While not scary in the traditional sense, Ralphie’s killing of Tracee is arguably the darkest moment on The Sopranos, and it makes for incredibly difficult viewing. Some viewers may definitely feel scared while watching the sequence.
It takes place at night and Ralph is mostly shrouded in shadow, almost like a deathly spirit. The way in which he disposes of the pregnant Tracee is also incredibly vicious, blending visuals and sound design to a sickening degree.
9: Tony’s Boardwalk Dream
Tony’s dream sequences are typically good for a scare, and this is certainly the case with season two’s “Funhouse.” This one contains a fair share of disturbing imagery, including Junior Soprano watching Tony from a window and Big Pussy staring straight ahead while everyone else is talking.
But perhaps the creepiest sight is Spoons turning his head to reveal a graphic gunshot wound. The whole dream has an eerie and surreal quality to it, and it perfectly nails the nonsensical nature of nightmares.
8: When Chris Dreams About Emil
Most people on The Sopranos suffer negative mental effects after killing, including Christopher Moltisanti. After disposing of Emil Kolar, Christopher dreams about the deceased man visiting him at Satriale’s.
The entire nightmare is incredibly unsettling, complete with an eerie yellowish-red glow, deafening wind, Emil’s ghostly voice, and the horrifying sight of his pale and bloodied corpse wrapped in a body bag. Another nice detail of the scene is Chris saying, “You come here every night,” indicating that this is a recurring nightmare of his.
7: Janice’s Fantasy
Janice was one of the best Sopranos characters introduced after season one, turning instantly memorable through her selfish behavior and Livia-lite attitudes. She is extremely selfish – so much so that she envisions killing her own mother simply to inherit her house.
The vision is extremely creepy, mainly due to its bizarre filming technique and the unsettling image of Livia’s shocked face superimposed over the fire sign. It comes out of nowhere, and it’s enough to send shivers down spines.
6: Big Pussy In The Mirror
Livia’s wake is one of those scenes that make viewers nervous on a rewatch. The whole thing is tainted by an obvious creep factor, and it makes for some unsettling viewing. Perhaps its most famous visual, though, is that of Big Pussy standing in the hallway.
The shot is very brief, so much so that viewers may question what they just saw. Ghosts are very real within the world of The Sopranos, and it’s very eerie knowing that the deceased Pussy is standing with the rest of his friends at Livia’s wake.
5: When Tony Dreams About Gloria
Gloria is perhaps the most tragic of Tony’s mistresses. She is mentally unstable, which is continuously brought up by Melfi. But Tony dates her anyway, and in the end, she takes her own life after Tony leaves her. Tony feels incredible guilt over Gloria’s death and suffers a very eerie nightmare.
There’s nothing graphic about the dream itself, but the haunting image of Gloria’s neck hidden by a scarf is more powerful than any graphic visual.
4: When AJ Sees His Dead Grandma
The entirety of Livia’s death episode is unsettling, and it even reaches innocent AJ. Meadow helps AJ interpret Robert Frost’s famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and the deathly themes begin to permeate in AJ’s mind. Left all alone in the darkened house, AJ hears a creaking noise and goes to investigate.
Viewers then get a long shot of AJ peeking from his room, and he asks into the silent hallway, “Grandma?” Did AJ see the ghost of his recently deceased grandmother? Even if he didn’t, it’s one creepy scene.
3: Shadow Livia In The House
Many people think that Tony’s coma adventure is one of the worst storylines of The Sopranos, but there’s no denying that it gives viewers one of its scariest sequences. Just as Tony is about to enter the house (in which case he would die), he sees a shadow figure that resembles Livia standing in the doorway.
It only lasts for a couple of seconds, but it’s a very unnerving image nevertheless. It’s perturbing to know that Livia was there, standing silently by and waiting for her son to join her in the afterlife.
2: When Paulie Sees The Virgin Mary
One of the most infamous scenes in The Sopranos has Paulie witnessing The Virgin Mary in the Bada Bing. The scene is very creepy for a number of reasons. It literally comes out of nowhere and without warning, so viewers are taken incredibly off guard.
The image of the floating Virgin Mary is also quite disturbing, and when paired with the loud guitar chords, it makes for one of the show’s scariest images. Perhaps the worst part of all is that there is no further explanation given, leaving both the viewers and Paulie to suss out its meaning (or whether it even happened).
1: When Tony Sees Shadow Livia On The Stairs In His Dream
The scariest scene of The Sopranos is ripped straight from a supernatural horror movie. Tony has a dream in which he slowly approaches an abandoned farmhouse. When he looks inside, a frightening shadow figure begins to slowly descend the stairs.
It then stops and quietly stares at Tony, and it’s then that both Tony and the viewer realize that the shadow bears a striking resemblance to his dead mother. It’s a perfect example of sound design and visuals coming together to create a thrillingly effective scary sequence.