Sopranos Ending: What Really Happened?

It was one of the most frustrating few seconds in the history of television: The screen cuts to black while viewers wait to learn the fate of hero/villain Tony Soprano. Writer David Chase defends his choice.

James Gandolfini in the series finale of The Sopranos

Millions of fans of the hit HBO drama The Sopranos were left angry and frustrated by the series finale: In the final seconds, as we waited to see if Tony Soprano would be gunned down in front of his family, the screen cut to black in a move worthy of sliding the episode onto our list of top 10 series finales.

So what gives? Writer and series creator David Chase talked to the AP about the infamous ending while promoting his new movie Not Fade Away.

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"Did Tony die or didn't he die? Well, first of all, it really comes down to this: There was, what, six seasons of that show? Seven? Am I supposed to do a scene and ending where it shows that crime doesn't pay?" Chase told the Associated Press.

'Well, we saw that crime pays. We've been seeing that for how many years? Now, in another sense, we saw that crime didn't pay because it wasn't making him happy. He was an extremely isolated, unhappy man. And then finally, once in a while he would make a connection with his family and be happy there. But in this case, whatever happened, we never got to see the result of that. It was torn away from him and from us."

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"It's really about time, to me — just to me — and love. What else do we have in this universe? It's a cold universe. People said, 'Oh, the show is so dark,' and it posited the notion that nobody ever changes. That was never my intention. Change is hard to come by, and like most of us, he wasn't trying hard enough."

"People said, 'Oh, it got worse and worse and worse.' I think he's the same guy in the beginning as he was in the end. Maybe had a little bit more capacity for compassion for people, I don't know."

"I said it's a cold universe and I don't mean that metaphorically. If you go out into space, it's cold. It's really cold and we don't know what's up there. We happen to be in this little pocket where there's a sun. What have we got except love and each other to guard against all that isolation and loneliness?"

In other words, Chase doesn't know if Tony Soprano died either.

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Comments on "Did Tony Soprano die or what? David Chase talks"

Jake September 30, 2013 | 9:45 PM

Mike, it's just not so. Chase did not ever take a definitive stance on whether or not Tony died, but he did make it clear that there were no "clues" during the episode one way or another. The played out speculation about Tony's point of view is just nonsense. Something is always going to be left hanging when a series closes spontaneously in the middle of a diner scene. The brilliance of the Sopranos was that we never had a clear image of what was right and wrong, and we never quite knew how much omniscience we were being granted as viewers. To imply suddenly that the end of Tony's life would be the total blackout is silly. The show frequently built up elaborate and complex stories completely independent of Tony altogether. I can't say that Tony didn't die at the end of the episode, but only that it's certainly not a clear idea the writers were trying to convey. Tony's life was fraught with danger anyways. He could've died in the next hour, or day. It totally misses the point. My best guess is that the series ended so abruptly because there is no perfect, poetic way to end six seasons of unmitigated brilliance and depth of plot development. You have no choice but to cut to blackness in the middle of a mundane scene in a diner.

Mike June 21, 2013 | 10:22 AM

Caroline do some research before you make stupid claims like this, have you even watched the show? Tony most definitely did die, but David Chase won't say it out loud because then it would end all of the discussion. Google "Sopranos ending explained" and read "the definitive explanation of the end. Notice he never says "yes or no" he just gives abstract suggestions. The final scene was from Tony's point of view. Each time someone walked in the door you heard a bell, they showed Tony's face, then showed whoever was walking in (what he was seeing). So when Meadow finally walks in they show him and you hear the bell, the next thing you're supposed to see is Meadow walking in, but instead it smash cuts to black. Why? Because blackness is now Tony's POV, he isn't seeing or hearing anything because he is dead. They wanted to use 30 seconds of black at the end If that's not enough, how about the random flashback to Bobby and him on the lake where Bobby says something like "poor probably never even heard it coming." And plus, everyone knows in the mob you either die or go to jail. Also, people had been cheering this guy on for years, showing him bleeding out in front of his family would have been a horrible way to end the show. But that's what happened, he got shot by the guy in the Members Only jacket that walked to the bathroom before Meadow walked in, Tony got shot right as she was walking in.

Tony June 19, 2013 | 4:37 PM

Well it looks like hes dead now :(

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