Introducing The Sopranos
It's the show that changed television as we know it. On January 10, 1999, HBO introduced viewers to one of the most indelible antiheroes of all time: New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano. Created by producer David Chase, The Sopranos dove deep into the psyche of its titular mafioso (played by James Gandolfini)—including the constant internal struggle between life as a family man and a made man. Over the course of its six-season run, The Sopranos would collect 21 Emmy awards and cement its status as an instant classic of the medium. Now, ahead of the debut of the prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, starring Gandolfini's son Michael as a young Tony, LIFE looks back on the celebrated series—from its inception by Chase to the legacy left by Gandolfini following his untimely death. The show may have faded to black more than a decade ago, but fans have never stopped believing.