‘The Sopranos’: Livia’s Death Was Scrapped From Season 1 for a Heartwarming Reason

The Sopranos is widely considered to be one of the greatest TV shows ever made. With the trappings of a mob drama, The Sopranos focused on the personal and professional life of Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini.

The Sopranos received critical acclaim from day one, with viewers and journalists alike praising the show’s writing, acting, and character development. These days, fans still recall the series fondly and continue to enjoy it through binge-watching sessions — as well as learning what they can about the behind the scenes history of the show. 

‘The Sopranos’ is one of America’s great television dramas

The Sopranos premiered on HBO in 1999, and immediately changed the face of television. It ran for six seasons, following a linear storyline that featured a plethora of different characters.

Although Tony Soprano, the mob boss, was the series lead, the show also heavily featured appearances from Tony’s family members, including his wife and his cousin Christopher — as well as his combative and vindictive mother, Livia Soprano. 

The actors on the show seemed born for their roles, and as many critics pointed out, the show combined cutting-edge storytelling with the nostalgic trappings of classic gangster films. The Sopranos ran until 2007 until it ended with a bang.

The series finale is still considered to be one of the greatest television finales that ever aired, and fans still debate what exactly happened in those final few minutes. Most of the actors involved in The Sopranos have gone on to other major projects — however, actress Nancy Marchand’s best-known role is undoubtedly the one that she played on The Sopranos

Nancy Marchand portrayed Livia Soprano

Lorraine Bracco And James Gandolfini | Getty Images

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Nancy Marchand played Tony Soprano’s mother, Livia Soprano, on The Sopranos. An established character actress, Marchand was a member of the Actor’s Studio and had extensive experience on Broadway, including appearing in many Shakespearean plays.

In the sixties and seventies, Marchand had a thriving career on television, acting in various television series as well as made-for-TV films. By the time that Marchand was hired for the first season of The Sopranos, viewers everywhere were familiar with her face, even if they might not have known her by name.

Still, her portrayal of Livia Soprano received acclaim from both critics and fans, and her scenes with James Gandolfini provided some of the first season’s finest moments.

Livia Soprano was supposed to die on the first season

A recent report reveals that even though Nancy Marchand was a series standout, she was initially supposed to only appear in the first season. The article states that originally, Livia would have died at the end of season one after she failed in having Tony killed.

Tony was going to be the one to do her in, suffocating her with a pillow in dramatic fashion. However, Marchand was going through her own private battle behind the scenes. 

Marchand was actually suffering from cancer during her time on the show, and reportedly, she asked showrunners to allow her to continue working on The Sopranos past the first season: “David, just keep me working.” Producers obliged the veteran actress’s request and wrote her into the second season.

Ultimately, Marchand lost her battle with cancer and passed away in early 2000. However, she was able to keep working right up until the end, which probably made her last days a little less painful. These days, she is remembered fondly by fans of The Sopranos for her fascinating, riveting turn as Livia Soprano.