- "After sixteen years of uninterrupted potty mouth from you people, I get slammed?"
- ―A.J. Soprano[src]
Anthony John "A.J." Soprano, Jr. (b. June 17, 1986), played by Robert Iler, is the son of Carmela and Tony Soprano. He is a prototypical underachiever and is a constant source of stress and anxiety for his parents. While he is the only son of the Don, it becomes obvious he lacks potential for a career in his father's organization, though he tries to kill his own uncle, Junior Soprano, as retaliation for the shooting of his father.
Anthony John Soprano Jr. was born on June 17 1986 (in the first episode of the series, tony reads a star ledger dated June 17 1998, in the same episode AJ is celebrating his 12th birthday). Anthony is the chaotic younger brother of his more accomplished sister, Meadow. As a chronic underachiever with many doubts about life, A.J. is diagnosed as borderline Attention Deficit Disorder. Additionally, he crashed his mother's car, smoked marijuana at his own confirmation, got drunk on stolen communion wine, vandalized his school swimming pool, and was finally expelled after cheating on a test. As a result, his parents arrange to send him to military school, until they discover that he suffers from the same panic attacks that plagued his father and grandfather. Instead, he is sent to another private school.
A.J. is shown to be lazy, selfish, and self-centered, often showing himself to be a stereotypical spoiled rich teen who takes everything for granted and whines incessantly when he doesn't get his way; much of this is a direct result of his parents not enforcing rules or boundaries and frequently spoiling him with lavish gifts, especially Tony. In the episode "Two Tonys," it is revealed that Tony had bought A.J. an elaborate $5,000 drum set, and in the episode "All Happy Families...," despite discovering that A.J. is not doing well in school and does not have an optimistic future as far as college is concerned, Tony buys him a brand-new Nissan Xterra, though Tony claims it is a "motivational tool." A.J. is clearly excited about the truck, though he initially whines about the environmental impact of SUV's and claims he may encounter social pressure from school friends to drive a different vehicle. During the fifth season he also shows an increasing amount of disrespect to his mother, presumably due to the separation. He tends to relate to his father and ends up moving in with him during the separation, believing that his father will not enforce the rules and imagining life in his father's house will resemble some type of male bonding; however, he quickly lapses back into his disrespectful and entitled self, talking back to and disrespecting his father and culminating in the episode "Sentimental Education," when A.J. and Tony get into a scuffle over A.J.'s disrespect; as his father has him pinned against the wall, A.J. says, "One of these days, you wait...I'm going to kick your fucking ass." Immediately afterwards, A.J. decides he wants to move back in with his mother, and during the subsequent "family meeting" he seems to have completely rewritten history, claiming he never said he moved out because of his mother and snidely threatening to call social services due to the ongoing "violence against children" present in his father's home. Carmela takes the opportunity to demand certain things from A.J. in return for allowing him to move back in; ironically, the things she demands are very basic expectations and rules that should have been enforced from the beginning, like showing respect to his mother by not swearing at her and attending to schoolwork.
Frequently throughout the series, Tony and Carmela express concern about A.J.'s future. Tony has no desire to groom his son into a position within his organization. In the fifth season of the show, A.J. displays an unexpected interest in pursuing a career in event planning, but later derides his parents' mentions of it (e.g., in "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request..."). In all seasons, A.J. is portrayed as a fan of heavy metal music, via product placements (shirts, coats, posters and stickers) of bands like Pantera, Nevermore, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Coal Chamber, Trivium, Machine Head, and Limp Bizkit; as early as season 1, a poster of black metal bands' Ulver's album can be spotted in his room.
In "Full Leather Jacket", A.J. says that he wants to go to Harvard University or West Point for college. Tony dismisses the idea as unrealistic, given A.J.'s poor academic performance. During Season 3, when Tony asks him about it at a family dinner, A.J. claims that he never said that, as he knows his grades wouldn't be good enough. Throughout Season 5, references are made to the unlikelihood of A.J.'s being admitted to a four-year university.
In Season 6, A.J. admits to his parents that he has flunked out of the community college he was attending, a worrying parallel to Tony's own youth. A.J. acquires a large knife and goes to the institution where Uncle Junior is being held, in a futile effort to exact revenge for his father. He is arrested but later released without charge thanks to his father's political connections. At this time, he has been seen delving into the New York City club scene and experimenting with cocaine.
After several days of Anthony's claiming to be searching for jobs on the internet with no result, Tony intervenes and arranges a construction job for his son. A.J. first claims he cannot do it because he will be trying again for community college, but Tony says that is not a problem as many of the men who work in construction are high school and college students. A.J. is reluctant to accept the job because of the early hours and outdoor work, which makes Tony angry. Tony grabs a football helmet and smashes the windshield of A.J.'s SUV and warns A.J. not to test him. A.J. reluctantly works at the construction site, where he meets Blanca Selgado and they begin dating. Blanca, who is Puerto Rican and has a three-year-old son named Hector, meets with Carmela's disapproval. Tony, however, is more approving of the relationship, commenting that Blanca was Catholic like the Sopranos, at least.
In 2007, A.J. proposes to Blanca at a fancy restaurant dinner by telling her that he will own a couple of restaurants in a couple of years. However, Blanca soon gives the ring back and breaks up with him, leaving A.J. severely depressed. He quits his job and mopes about until his father forces him to attend a fraternity party with the college-age relatives of his fellow mafiosi. A.J. grudgingly attends, but soon starts to enjoy himself. Several of the boys run sports betting operation at the college and after a night of drinking, they beat and torture a college student who neglected to pay them by pouring acid on his foot. A.J. joins in to help forget his relationship problems. Later, he joins his new friends again when on of them carelessly opens the door of his car, hitting a passerby on a bicycle. They make racial slurs towards the man, blame the accident on him, and attack the man. A.J. stands by, neither helping his friends, nor aiding the victim. Following that, A.J. is seen telling his psychiatrist that he is once again depressed about the world due to that incident.
This depression would lead to a suicide attempt, wherein A.J. ties a cinder block to his leg with a too-long length of rope and attempts to drown himself in the pool at the Soprano home. His father hears his cries for help and dives into the pool and rescues him. He is then placed in a facility to get psychiatric care, where he meets Rhiannon, an ex-girlfriend of his former friend Hernan O'Brien. After Tony tells him that his uncle Bobby has been shot dead, A.J. begins to cry and complain about how Bobby's death negatively affects him. While this incident would have been an obvious trigger of depression, Tony loses his patience with A.J's attitude, as well as the situation at hand affords them no time to grieve. Tony violently drags him out of his bed, slaps him around, and tells him to pack as the family leaves home quickly to elude a possible attack by Phil Leotardo's crew.
In the final episode, A.J. is in his Nissan Xterra with Rhiannon, his new girlfriend, and starts making out with her, but they both rush out of the vehicle when it catches fire due to A.J.'s parking it over a pile of leaves. He later decides he wants to join the Army, but is talked out of it by his parents and girlfriend. Instead, Tony gets him a new BMW M3 and a job working for Little Carmine's production company. This sense of direction seems to alleviate A.J.'s depression, at least temporarily, and he is last seen having dinner with his family. In the cut to black ending scene of the series if tony was shot and killed, A.J. witnessed it.