Over a decade after The Sopranos ended its successful six-season run, show creator David Chase may have accidentally answered the question long debated by fans—what happened to Tony Soprano in the final scene?
The beloved HBO hit centering around Soprano, a New Jersey mobster, ended with Tony and his family eating at the diner, with Tony keeping a vigilant eye on those coming and going, until everything cuts to black.
The finale has caused much debate over the years, with fans and TV critics torn between interpretations. Did Tony make it out of that diner alive? Or was the sudden cut to black supposed to signify that one of the shady figures hanging around the diner had finally taken the crime lord out?
A recently resurfaced interview for The Soprano Sessions may have provided the answer. TV critic and co-author of the book, Alan Sepinwall, talked to Chase about the infamous finale.
“When you said there was an end point, you don’t mean Tony at Holsten’s [the diner] you just meant, ‘I think I have two more years’ worth of stories left in me,’” Sepinwall theorized.
“Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end…But we didn’t do that,” Chase replied.
The book’s other co-author, Matt Zoller Seitz, quickly seized on Chase’s choice of words, firing back: “You realize, of course, that you just referred to that as a death scene.”
David Chase: “Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end … But we didn’t do that”
Interviewer: “You realize, of course, that you just referred to that as a death scene”
— David S. Joachim (@davidjoachim) June 11, 2020
Fans got pretty worked up over the whole thing.
Chase has been notoriously tight-lipped about spelling out his intent behind the final scene of the show, despite fans asking over and over again throughout the years. But the idea that he thinks of it as a death scene obviously says a lot.
My opinion: Tony was hit in Holsten’s. Member’s Only guy came out of the bathroom (another one of many ‘Godfather’ reference in Sopranos) and shot Tony as he looked up to see Meadow entering. Tony’s consciousness, and TV screen, went blank. He never heard the bullet. Too close. https://t.co/HJo8SJISnL
— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) June 11, 2020
He never said the death scene was Tony’s death. It’s probably not. The real death solidifies the sopranos as the #1 series of all time
— aaron bird 😀🔑 (@aaronbbird) June 11, 2020
Didn’t they say something like “it probably just goes black.” Something along those lines?
— Petrov McGuire (@McguirePetrov) June 11, 2020
Sometimes closure is overrated. I always saw the iconic snap to black as the death of Tony Soprano “the crime boss” not the person. Visualized an arrest and then spending the rest of his life in prison. This was always his last night of freedom in my mind. https://t.co/I1TooNwP24
— grit (@GRITknox) June 11, 2020
Just read that Sopranos creator David Chase finally slipped up and said that the last scene was a “death scene” and Journey’s Don’t Stop simultaneously came on the radio. So weird
— Alan Robert (@arobert) June 11, 2020
What would be the point of watching Sopranos for six seasons – and investing in the box sets – all to have Tony get whacked at the very end – off camera? My ‘take’ allows our ‘anti-hero’ to live on, and gives the viewer the ‘excitement’ of ‘being whacked’.. Just an opinion.
— brian lehman (@namhelnairb) June 12, 2020
But Sepinwall says people are misinterpreting the conversation.
“That story is aggregating a year-and-a-half-old story that was already aggregating the interview from The Sopranos Sessions, and wildly misinterpreting what David Chase actually told us,” he tweeted. “Which is more or less what he predicted would happen after we had that conversation.”
— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) June 11, 2020
According to the book, Chase walked back his comments, clarifying that while he had originally considered doing a “straight death scene,” the ending was ambiguous because what happens to Tony is ambiguous.
“So the point of the scene is not ‘they whacked him in the diner?’” Sepinwall asked. “It’s that he could have been whacked?”
“Yes, that he could have been whacked in the diner. We all could be whacked in a diner,” Chase agreed. “That was the point of the scene. He could have been whacked.”
The creator then reiterated the stance he’s always maintained, which is that it’s not his job to interpret the ending for Sopranos fans — he crafted it the way he did for a reason. And it’s up to us to read it how we choose…even if that means we keep debating what really happened for another decade or two.