Tony Soprano was a monster, but an oddly relatable one. He struggled with his family, whether enduring the caustic disapproval of his mother or the misbehavior of his kids, and went to therapy to deal with panic attacks and a wide-ranging feeling of depression. But he also had no compunction about strangling a man to death while taking daughter Meadow on a college tour. He was vulnerable. He was charming. He was cruel and vindictive and angry and practically drowning in self-pity.
Tony Soprano is one of the greatest TV Characters ever concocted and ever acted. Soprano makes Draper look like amateur hour. I always hoped to see Gandolfini appear in more roles, and every time I did see him it made me smile. He never was Tony Soprano again, and that was OK, but he also never made you think the character he was playing at the time was anything but that character.
Gandolfini probably could have made a career playing mobster roles, like Cruise playing super-cop roles, but instead he had roles where he was a gay hit man. Rest in peace, James Gandolfini.