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The Sopranos: Why Did Tony Kill Christopher?

"The Sopranos" pulls off an impressive trick over the course of its six-season run, and it was one of the first shows on television to do it. Not only did HBO's early prestige television series make viewers invest in and even care for its often callous and despicable central character, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), but it also gave him myriad friends and associates for fans to get even more invested in, even as they double deal and turn on each other.

However, no relationship in "The Sopranos" is perhaps as complex as Tony's relationship with his cousin Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). Though the two aren't actually related by blood at all, they're so close that they refer to each other as uncle and nephew in conversation with others. Still, no amount of closeness could stop Tony from inevitably choosing to kill Christopher during a desperate moment. This decision still puzzles some fans to this day.

Ultimately, it seems like Tony is finally fed up with Christopher's dependence on drugs in "The Sopranos," something that the character had been struggling with for years in the crime drama. This is the main reason that, personally and professionally, he decides to kill Christopher. However, there are definitely other layers to Tony's fateful decision to murder one of those closest to him.

The episode shows Tony at perhaps his most sociopathic

After a meeting with Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) in New York, Christopher is driving Tony back to New Jersey when he begins veering wildly on the highway due to being high on narcotics. Unfortunately, his reckless driving causes a severe car accident and a rollover, and Christopher, who is not wearing a seatbelt, is badly injured as a result.

As Christopher fights for his breath due to internal bleeding, he tells Tony that he won't pass a drug test. Though Tony considers dialing 911, this appears to be the moment where he instead makes the choice that arguably damns his character morally for the remainder of "The Sopranos." He looks into the back seat and sees that a tree branch has impaled its way through the car seat of Christopher's daughter and kills him by holding his nose shut.

With Christopher struggling as he chokes to death on his own blood, Tony seems to show little to no remorse. In fact, he practically struggles to hold in his glee for what he has done and how easily he got away with it as the episode continues. He makes crass comments about Christopher's character to his therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), and even talks poorly about him after his own funeral, during a wake being held at Tony's house.

Tony relentlessly adds insult to injury throughout the episode

While "The Sopranos" regularly dances around the notion of Tony being a possible sociopath, a diagnosis that is known today as antisocial personality disorder, Season 6, Episode 18, "Kennedy and Heidi" is probably the strongest indication that he does indeed struggle with the mental illness, on top of his already crushing depression and anxiety.

Though Tony's mental health struggles allow the audience to empathize with his character, he slowly burns away the goodwill of viewers over the course of the episode before he really decides to spit on Christopher's legacy. Fed up with hearing the cries and wails of mourners, Tony takes a solo trip to Las Vegas, where he callously sleeps with an old flame of Christopher's.

Furthermore, Tony shows that he is, as Christopher once said, an enabler and a hypocrite. Tony gets high on peyote with Sonya (Sarah Shahi) and gambles away his money before falling to the floor of the casino in gales of laughter while saying, "He's dead!" repeatedly.

Christopher's drug use and his liability to Tony as the head of the New Jersey mafia seem to ultimately be the central reasons why the latter killed the former. There's also the possibility that Christopher's infant daughter could have been killed – sociopaths are said to be able to relate especially to infants and animals. But it's Tony's disregard for what he's done that seemingly seals his fate in the remaining episodes of "The Sopranos."