Olivia "Livia" Soprano (née Pollio), played by Nancy Marchand, was the mother of Tony, Janice, and Barbara, and wife of Johnny Boy Soprano. She was a very abusive mother, and was very hateful of her son, Tony. She suffered a stroke in the I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano episode, after which Tony ignored her completely, ending all contact and financial support. In the Proshai, Livushka episode, she died in her sleep due to a stroke. Livia's death was due to Nancy Marchand's death on June 18 2000 from lung cancer.
Livia was an abusive mother towards her three children (Tony, Barbara, and Janice). She was simply not cut out to be a mother, saying that children were like dogs to her.
She soon developed a deep, personal hatred for her son when he put her in a nursing home (though he said it was a 'retirement community'), and even tried to manipulate her own brother-in-law, Junior, into putting a hit on her own son, by mentioning to him that Tony had been seeing a psychiatrist, and how three of Junior's capos also had their mothers placed in the same nursing home, after she learned about the psychiatrist from AJ (Anthony Jr.).
When she received a visit from Artie Bucco whilst she was in hospital, Livia told him that it was Tony who had burned down his beloved restaurant, presumably in another attempt to have him killed. After this move went wrong, Tony eventually overheard his own mother conspiring with Junior to have him killed (thanks to the FBI having bugged Green Grove, Livia's nursing home).
Tony tried to exact revenge on his mother, but his plan was foiled when she suffered from a pseudo-stroke, which was said to be induced by repressed rage. Tony originally planned to suffocate Livia with a pillow, but, upon hearing about her stroke, abandoned the idea, and publicly threatened to kill her, saying that, thanks to "the fucking FBI tapes", he had learned what his mother had tried to do. He told her that he was "gonna live a nice, long, happy life, which is more then I can say for you". However, when Tony said this, he was held back, and he saw Livia smirking at him. When he pointed out "she's got a fucking smile on her face", he had to be restrained by hospital staff.
When Livia got out of hospital, Tony was acting as though she was already dead, attempting to end all contact and financial support, and forbid that anyone mentioned her in the house. However, that didn't stop Meadow, AJ, and others (except Tony) from visiting her while she was in hospital. Janice and Richie Aprile ended up looking after her when she got out of hospital.
After Janice had to depart after she murdered Richie, Tony had to finally visit Livia to discuss her living arrangements. She was told to leave the country by Tony, who gave her two stolen airline tickets, so she could take her sister, Quintina, with her. She was eventually taken into airport security, because the tickets were stolen property. The original plan in the series was that Livia would have to be called into court to testify and give evidence against her own son on the stolen airline tickets. However, Nancy Marchand, Livia's actress, died before this planned storyline could be filmed.
In Proshai, Livushka, Livia was more tolerated by Tony, though this may have something to do with his enforced responsibility of her, because of Janice's departure at the end of the previous season. In the same episode, Tony has a brief meeting with Livia, and this ends with the pair arguing before Tony storms out of the house. Because Nancy Marchand had passed away prior to this episode, computer-generated imagery was used to make a final scene between Tony and Livia, before the character herself passed away, dying from a massive stroke in her sleep.
Livia had also made other people suffer, through such actions as estranging Carmela from her own parents, telling Carmela that Tony would soon grow bored of her.
Livia was a miserable, selfish, cagey and generally unpleasant pessimist, who became worse with age.
Although a woman who was paranoid about her son's intentions (after he put her in Green Grove nursing home), Livia pretended to be a harmless old widow, despite Tony later mentioning that he can't ever remember his mother visiting his father's grave. She was also conniving, manipulative, and insecure, as mostly evidenced in when she tried to have Tony killed off, by manipulating Junior, intentionally disclosing to him what Tony was doing at Green Grove and how his son was seeing a shrink.
She was extremely hostile and spiteful towards her own children, and seemingly derived very little pleasure from other life, other than to make her children's lives misery. Dr. Melfi speculated that she may have suffered from borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. However, she did seem to love her children and grandchildren and took pleasure in classical music. She was overjoyed when Anthony Jr. came to visit her at the hospital and gave Meadow money as a reward for getting into good colleges.
Livia saved very few of Barbara's possessions, and none of Janice's. She did, however, keep the varsity letters from Tony when he used to play football. Tony was touched to find these letters after her death. Strangely, despite being surrounded by mobster-figures like Tony and Junior, Livia hated swearing and cursing, and also disliked other people swearing in front of her.
Livia was an extremely dysfunctional woman, who in the end, never wanted a funeral or remembrance to be held for her because she didn't think anybody would attend the service. As Carmela said, "She knew there was a problem". When she was younger, she was shown to be a very dramatic character, to the point of threatening to poke her own son in the eye with a fork, and even threatening to smother her own children. Ultimately, it was she who actually destroyed the family, and who helped drive Johnny Soprano to start seeing the other women behind her back.