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Adriana LaCerva, 'The Sopranos'
Season 5, Episode 12, "Long Term Parking"
Cause of death: Shot dead by Silvio Dante on Tony Soprano's orders
Why it was a shock: Adriana, the uber-bimbo girlfriend of Tony Soprano's lunkheaded nephew Christopher, began "The Sopranos" as the kind of incidental character whose death would scarcely have raised a shrug early in the series; perhaps what was most unexpected about her bleak, rat-in-a-trap death was the depth of feeling it provoked, as we realized just how subtly her character had been built up over the years. There was a clammy inevitability to her fate, even: turning informant for the FBI was never likely to end well, and Adriana wasn't wily or resolute enough a person to get away with it; the dramatic beauty of her arc is that we wound up hoping for an escape route with much the same knowing futility that she did. Drea DeMatteo gave one of the series' greatest performances in Adriana's final episodes, conveying the painful desperation of a woman watching her options disappear, one by one, before her very eyes. She deservedly won an Emmy for her work; some characters have to die to have lived.
- Guy Lodge