Tony Soprano & 9 More Unforgettable Characters That Redefined the Hero Role

In the wake of actor James Gandolfini's tragic heart attack that took his life at just 51, much is being made of his amazing role in The Sopranos. Gandolfini turned in plenty of great performances over his career (he was memorably creepy in True Romance, and heartbreakingly self-destructive in Killing Them Softly, to name just two), but nothing quite like flawed mob boss Tony Soprano. His pitch-perfect acting brought that character to life in a truly inventive way: Tony was, by many accounts, television's first antihero.

The notion of an antihero -- a character who blurs the the line between hero and villain -- isn't unfamiliar these days, but most of the characters we love to hate (or hate to love, depending on the details of any given episode) owe thanks to Tony Soprano for paving the way.

Check out these 9 unforgettable antiheroes we can't get enough of -- who would you add to the list?

Image via HBO