How could any two people (OK, they’re fictional, but still) be more different than Harry Potter and Tony Soprano?
One’s scrawny, clever, good-hearted, steadfast. The other’s hefty, menacing, philandering, morally unsound. Yet by a quirk of timing that has both their final chapters unfolding within a month and change, they’re linked as 2007’s icons of pop culture. Last month we agitated, cogitated, speculated over whether Tony would live or die. (Some are still wondering, but let’s not go there again.) Now, Internet spoilers aside, we’re desperately waiting to see what happens to Harry, beloved of millions, in J.K. Rowling’s final tome.
But is that all they share? Come to think of it, maybe these two characters do have a few things in common worth exploring. (After all, what else is there to do before Friday at midnight?)
Similar life spanHarry: Seven books.Tony: Six seasons.
Many namesHarry: The Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, the Seeker.Tony: Skip (by Silvio), Chief, Boss (by Paulie), $%&.% (by Carmela, sometimes), Waste Management Consultant (on his tax returns).
A longstanding nemesisHarry: Lord Voldemort, aka Tom Riddle, the Dark Lord, You Know Who, or He Who Must Not Be Named.Tony: Phil Leotardo, aka New York, or He Who Got Crushed By His SUV.
Colorful worldHarry: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Muggles and Magic realms.Tony: The Bada Bing, the Pork Store.
Parental issuesHarry: Longs for his dead mother and father.Tony: Longed for his mother to be dead.
Bad unclesHarry: Lives with wicked mortal Uncle Vernon Dursley.Tony: Got shot by senile mortal Uncle “Junior” Soprano.
Loyal to their buddiesHarry: Stays tight with cute, rascally Ron Weasley; sweet, brainy Hermione Granger.Tony: Stayed tight with stoic henchman Silvio Dante, mercurial Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, softie brother-in-law Bobby Bacala, self-absorbed nephew Christopher Molti... um, scratch that last one.
Mentors, confidant(ed)sHarry: Sought guidance from his beloved headmaster, Dumbledore, before he was killed.Tony: Sought guidance from his shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, before she dumped him.
Complicated love interestsHarry: Discovers romantic feelings for Ginny Weasley, but can’t act on them for her protection.Tony: Discovered carnal feelings for unstable car saleswoman Gloria, and did act on them, along with many others. Flirted unsuccessfully with above-mentioned Dr. Melfi.
Protracted fight with demonsHarry: Pursues an epic fight against Voldemort, the dark wizard, whose soul is sometimes separated into pieces.Tony: Pursued rival Mob figures or rats from his own side, whose bodies were then separated into pieces.
The end of the road
Harry: Does he win the ultimate confrontation with Voldemort? Does good triumph over evil in Rowling’s massive world of wizards? Fans are counting on some clarity from the author, unlike what happened with ...Tony: Did that guy kill him on the way back from the john? Did the cholesterol from the onion rings eventually get him? Alas, our chance for closure is over, and we’ll never know where Tony ended up, making series creator David Chase a hero to some, and to others their own personal Voldemort. (Ms. Rowling, please don’t cut to black.)