When “The Sopranos” came to a close after six seasons in the summer of 2006, it was a major television event. HBO‘s groundbreaking drama —voted by the Writer’s Guild of America as the Best Written TV Series Of All Time— had over 11 million people watching the finale, which is still one of the most talked about moments in television history. With Tony Soprano seemingly surviving the chaos around him, he meets his family for dinner at a diner. Each member of the family arrives separately, while peripherally, potentially dangerous figures hang around. And just when Tony Soprano’s daughter Meadow is about to walk in, the scene cuts to black. It was an ending that angered many fans, confused others, and led many to discuss what it meant. Was Tony killed by one of those creepy guys in the diner? What was the significance of Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believing” playing over the sequence? Was the show’s creator David Chase just fucking with everybody? For years, Chase has refused to elaborate on the fate of Tony Soprano. Until now. Sort of.
The folks over at Vox managed to get answer out of the writer/director about whether or not Tony Soprano is dead: “No, he isn’t.” And that’s all Chase will say, though he does remind the site that the finale wasn’t the first time “The Sopranos” dabbled in ambiguity.
In the season three episode “Pine Barrens,” a Russian mobster is beaten by Tony and his crew and driven out into the wintry woods to be disposed of. But miraculously, the mobster manages to escape…never to be seen from again. Did he live? Did he die? “I don’t give a fuck about the Russian,” Chase says about that dangling plot element. This certainly opens up a larger conversation about whether audiences can or should be left to fill in the blanks themselves, and what the value of that approach adds to a show. If creators leave too much up in the air, they risk alienating audiences, but when it works, leaving viewers to do some of the narrative lifting can be very rewarding.
But back to Tony —we know he’s alive, but did David Chase owe audiences more after six seasons? Or is leaving much up to the imagination of the audience the only way Chase could possibly meet expectations? Let us know in the comments section, and below check out an analysis of the final scene, along with the scene itself.
Update: Reps for David Chase say his comments were taken out of context.
A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying,“ Tony Soprano is not dead,” is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.
As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, “Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.” To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of THE SOPRANOS raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.